Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A little pregnancy rant

So here's the thing...I started this post sometime back in October, and then totally forgot that it existed. Why? Because pregnant. With that said, here's something that should have been committed to the internets several months ago.

I've heard it said that some women enjoy being pregnant. They feel womanly. They feel like they are participating in some higher calling. They feel divine.

Those women are fucking crazy.

Pregnancy, best as I can tell, is a nine months long slog of indignities, some subtle, some less so. Some are inflicted by your own body. Some are inflicted by assholes.

Okay, okay, let me caveat the term "asshole" here. In some cases (many cases?), the assholes I'm referring to are well-intentioned souls who somehow lose all sensibility the minute they spot a pregnant woman. Decorum either goes completely out the window, or comes out in some tortured form.

Probably the most classic example of this is the infamous belly touch. If you've ever been visibly pregnant, you know what I'm talking about. The casual acquaintance or total stranger who suddenly reaches out and pets your belly as though its some shiny inanimate object as opposed to a distended mound attached to a living, breathing, conscious human with boundaries. Just because I now have a bubble protruding from my abdomen does not mean that my personal bubble has ceased to exist, people.

But today, I'm here to complain about two specific pregnancy-related indignities. I refer to these things as "The Door Pretzel" and "Gestational Jeopardy."

The Door Pretzel is a phenomenon that occurs when someone in the vicinity of a pregnant woman and a door decides that all hell will break loose should that pregnant woman be forced to come into contact with said door. Thus, in an effort to keep hell safely contained, this good samaritan engages in what can only be described as great feats of athleticism and acrobatics in order to prevent this contact from happening.

Some sample scenarios from actual experience:

(1) A sprint across the lobby in full Heisman, followed by a stiff-armed thrusting open of the door, requiring me (standing on the other side) to leap backwards in order to avoid being knocked unconscious.

(2) A sprint to catch the door from behind me as I begin to open it, lest I should be forced to open the door the entire way.

(3) Being forced to duck down a good 18 inches while folding myself inward in order to awkwardly maneuver beneath the short-statured gentleman standing on his tip-toes, holding the door open with the fingertips of one hand and beckoning me through with the other.

People, I'm pregnant. I can open a fucking door.


Gestational Jeopardy is something with which you may be more familiar thanks to movies and television. This game happens when someone (usually a total stranger) attempts to guess how many months pregnant you are. This game is never fun, because they always, without exception, guess wrong.

During my first pregnancy, the "you're ready to pop!!!!" comments (from total strangers) began around seven months. When you're seven months pregnant and still barfing in alleys and trashcans and so fucking *over it*, hearing some man you don't know from Adam stop you on the street to casually tell you that you look huge is not endearing. In fact, looking back on it, I'm frankly shocked those men survived. It's only thanks to years of gender normative socialization ("be a nice girl") that a punch wasn't thrown. The placating smile is now reflexive. But I digress...

With baby #2, the comments started much earlier. This was a combination of second pregnancy (bigger, faster) and the fact that I gained about 10lbs less weight, making the contrast between belly and body that much more distinct. Beginning shortly after five months of pregnancy, the comments started to roll in.

"That's a big baby you've got there!"

"Growing a linebacker I see!" (I should have replied "yep, NFL's first female linebacker you POS.")

"Any day now, huh?" (how about three more months?)

"Looks like you're ready to pop!" (Yeah, how about I pop you... right in the nose.)

Of course, just as the comments started earlier, my patience wore out sooner. This reached its apex when a man in an elevator made some remark and I calmly responded, "oh, I'm not pregnant." I think I looked basically like this at the time:

I wish I'd had a camera to capture the look on his face.

By the time I was 8 months pregnant, I'd simply stopped responding.

So... in closing:

(1) Pregnant women can open doors. I promise.

(2) Don't assume gestation. Not worth it.

(3) I am so glad that I never have to be pregnant again. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

No Words

Yesterday, 59 people died in Las Vegas. Over 500 were injured. One gunman, with many high-powered rifles, standing at his window on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, looking out over the glittering expanse of Las Vegas, the beauty of the high desert obscured in darkness beyond, firing down into a crowd of people.

There are no words left to say when these things happen. They've all been said before. They will all be said again when it happens the next time. And of course it will happen again.

When I was 14 years old, crouching beneath my desk in social studies, the school under lockdown as two boys killed 13 people at Columbine High School 30 minutes away, it felt like a terrible anomaly. A once-in-a-lifetime tragedy. Everyone treated it that way.

I remember the quality of the light that afternoon as my friend drove me home in his red Chevy pickup -- a little too stark for Spring, a little colder than it should have been for that April day. I remember listening to Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" play on the radio as we drove in silence.

These massacres have become too commonplace to sear my memory so deeply now.


Two and a half years ago, a man carrying a gun entered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and killed nine people. Nine days later, then-President Obama stood before a crowd of people giving the eulogy for Reverend Pinckney. He stood at the podium. "Amazing grace." Pause. "Amazing grace."

And then, unaccompanied, broke into song, "ahhh-mazing grace, how sweet the sound..."

I remember watching the video of Obama singing for the first time. The hairs on my arms stood on end. My chest tightened. Listening to him sing, then listening again. My mind preserved that memory, that feeling. 

At times of tragedy, it is so easy to deliver the same rote platitudes. What can be said? Words themselves are woefully inadequate balms for a battered soul.


It is not the words. Never has that been more evident that yesterday as we woke up to a rising death toll. "Warmest sympathies" were the first words from the President, issued over his Twitter feed to a nation feeling the full brunt of the punch for which we are now perpetually braced. 

"Warmest sympathies." 

A platitude, and a painfully awkward one at that -- "warmest" usually being a word paired with "wishes" or "congratulations," one used for happy occasions: the births of babies, marriages, holidays. It belied something deeper: a man so ill-versed in empathy that even this most rote of phrases was mangled in his delivery. 


"Amazing Grace" was written in 1779, three years after the United States declared its independence. Almost 240 years later, I've come across very few who don't know the words. It's part of the American identity, an acknowledgement of a deeply flawed existence always striving to find the better angels of our nature. 

To sing "Amazing Grace" at a funeral is not a novel idea. It's done all the time. It's quite another to hear it sung by a President, impromptu and unaccompanied, reverberating out across a packed church and dozens of live broadcast channels to a nation thoroughly steeped in rote platitudes about the latest  gun violence tragedy. In the midst of so many tepid, impotent responses, it was a sharp splash of ice water to the face.

On that day, at that funeral, the words of the song "Amazing Grace" were barely relevant. They paled in comparison to how they were voiced. President Obama imbued them with deep empathy for the families of the victims, with a nuanced recognition of the community that had been targeted. In two and a half minutes -- from the first bars of the hymn sung solo, to the great swell of voices rising to join the President, to the speaking of the nines names of the people who died that Wednesday in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church -- Obama did what so many carefully expressed sympathies had failed to do: he reawakened our national grief. He reminded us that this is not normal, that we cannot allow ourselves to go numb, that on these occasions the shutter of our mind should click, capturing the quality of the light, the glitter of so many neon signs against the darkness of a high desert. 


Last night, after I put my daughter to bed, I pulled up Obama's rendition of "Amazing Grace" on YouTube and sat on the couch in the darkness of my living room. 

"Amazing grace." Pause. "Amazing grace." Pause. "Ahhh-mazing grace, how sweet the sound..." 

There are no words. 

But with empathy and grace, there might still be hope. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Can I please just crave a doughnut?

A couple of weeks ago, we finally made public the news that Baby #2 is on the way, due in December. After 6 long months of waiting, I now get to complain.

Here's my litany of excuses for the most recent blog silence:

(1) I'm pregnant
(2) I'm tired
(3) I have a 3 year old
(4) Did I mention that I'm pregnant?
(5) Work is incredibly busy.
(6) Oh, and I'm pregnant with a 3 year old and a full-time job.

I hereby excuse myself. Now on to complaining.

And so will the...cribbage?

I know I start practically every blog post this way, but I'm sorry it's been so long. I have buckets of good excuses. I considered going into them, but I won't. Let me just tell you a funny story.

Back in October 2016 (OMG, almost a year ago!), we were driving to the annual Toddler Nightmare at the Pumpkin Patch (in which we join thousands of other parents and their equally whiny, snotty offspring in the muck and mire of a Seattle October in order to gape at slightly harassed barnyard animals and purchase over-priced gourds in the name of "childhood"). Avery was having an especially whiny morning, and with a good 15 minutes of drive time yet to go, she demanded that "dada" get out of the car. As Dada was driving, this was rather problematic.

Trying to avert a tantrum, Mark gamely explained to his hostile offspring that "if dada gets out of the car, the car will stop." And then something strange happened. Avery repeated this fundamental truth, with one subtle addition: "If dada gets out of the car, the car will stop...and so will the cribbage."

*cue screeching record sounds*

Ummmm... "the cribbage"?

Saturday, January 21, 2017


Dear Women of the United States, thank you for today. Thank you for getting up, for standing up, for shouting up. For demanding visibility and acknowledgment. I was so, so proud to be a woman in America today, and these past few months it hasn't felt very good.

Thank you for recognizing that women are not the only group with a hell of a lot to lose here. For raising your voices for all of those who would be silenced: minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ, the disabled. For demanding better for all of us.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I'm with her. For me.

Dear Daughter,

A little over eight years ago, I stood at a polling station in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia and thought long and hard about the vote I'd cast.

One choice was Hillary Clinton, a woman of tremendous accomplishment and rich experience whose decades in the public spotlight had been hard on her.

The other choice was Barack Obama, a young candidate with much less experience, but whose vision and soaring rhetoric were igniting renewed passion and hope in a nation sorely lacking those things.

No matter what choice I made, one of these candidates would make history: Barack, as the first black man to be a major party candidate; Hillary, as the first woman.

I voted for Barack. I've thought about that choice every day since.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Toddlers, aka Parental Smug-Busters

I've been meaning to post this one for a few months, but alas, my summer was completely insane and involved three major work projects and travel to no less than 7 different states over a 6 week period. Not kidding.

But while work was helping me rack up the frequent flyer miles, my precious baby was rapidly going full-blown toddler on me. I might have been up in the sky, but she made it her mission to take her poor parents down a few pegs.