Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Child's Genitals Are Not Up For Discussion

So mostly I talk about silly stuff my kid or my husband says, or something funny I saw on the internet, or something I'm eating (or would like to eat.) Occasionally I get a little maudlin and talk about politics or something else that I take seriously, usually in regards to how it relates to me or my family.

This is a little bit like that. But not really. But sort of. I'm deadly fucking serious right now.

There is a lot of talk out there on the internet about circumcision, especially among parents or about-to-be parents. Especially right now, in light of the Momversation webcasts.

I would like to go on the record and say that I think all of the participants made excellent points. I think some of them made them in ways that left something to be desired, but people have strong points of view on circumcision. I understand and respect that.

However, some of the commenters on some of the participants' sites have left a bad taste in my mouth. Because I left the last comment on Mighty Girl's blog before she closed the comments, I am concerned that a lot of wind might blow in this direction, so I would like to fully articulate my position on the subject.

  • I have a son, so obviously, the topic of circumcision has come up between my husband and I.
  • I am pregnant again, and for that reason, I anticpate that the subject will come up again.
  • Male circumcision is a personal choice, typically made by a parent or parents.
  • Male circumcision is not the same as female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation. They are comparing apples to oranges.
  • My son's penis is the business of expressly no one but myself, his father, and his pediatrician, should need arise.

For the record, I very much resent on the behalf of parents who have made or will make the decision to circumcise their sons the implication that female genital mutilation is comparable.

Here are some facts about this practice:

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia. External genitals include the clitoris, labia, mons pubis (the fatty tissue over the pubic bone), and the urethral and vaginal openings. (Source: World Health Organization, 1995. "Female Genital Mutilation: Report of a WHO Technical Working Group". )

The practice of FGM is often called "female circumcision" (FC), implying that it is similar to male circumcision. However, the degree of cutting is much more extensive, often impairing a woman's sexual and reproductive functions. (Source: Toubia, N., 1993. "Female Genital Mutilation: A Call for Global Action." New York: Women, Ink)

Female Genital Mutilation is practiced globally.

FGM is practiced in at least 26 of 43 African countries; the prevalence varies from 98 percent in Somalia to 5 percent in Zaire. A review of country-specific demographic and health surveys shows FGM prevalence rates of 97 percent in Egypt, 94.5 percent in Eritrea, 93.7 percent in Mali, 89.2 percent in Sudan, and 43.4 percent in the Central African Republic.

FGM is also found among some ethnic groups in Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, as well as in parts of India, Indonesia, and Malaysia. (Source: Toubia, N., 1993.)

FGM has become an important issue in Australia, Canada, England, France, and the United States due to the continuation of the practice by immigrants from countries where FGM is common. (Source: Ibid.)

In 1995 the World Health Organization classified FGM into four broad categories. They are as follows:

Type 1
Excision (removal) of the clitoral hood with or without removal of part or all of the clitoris.

Type 2
Removal of the clitoris together with part or all of the labia minora.

Type 3 (infibulation)
Removal of part or all of the external genitalia (clitoris, labia minora, and labia majora) and stitching and/or narrowing of the vaginal opening leaving a small hole for urine and menstrual flow.

Type 4 (unclassified)
All other operations on the female genitalia, including:

  • Pricking, piercing, stretching, or incision of the clitoris and/or labia;
  • Cauterization by burning the clitoris and surrounding tissues;
  • Incisions to the vaginal wall;
  • Scraping (angurya cuts) or cutting (gishiri cuts) of the vagina and surrounding tissues; and
  • Introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina.

Type I and Type II operations account for 85 percent of all FGM. Type III (infibulation) is common in Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan and in parts of Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal.

Complications arising from FGM are frequent and often serious.

The highest maternal and infant mortality rates are in FGM-practicing regions.

The actual number of girls who die as a result of FGM is not known. However, in areas in the Sudan where antibiotics are not available, it is estimated that one-third of the girls undergoing FGM will die.

Conservative estimates suggest that more than one million women in Centrafrican Republic (CAR), Egypt, and Eritrea, the only countries where such data is available, experienced adverse health effects from FGM.

One quarter of women in CAR and 1/5 of women in Eritrea reported FGM-related complications.

Where medical facilities are ill-equipped, emergencies arising from the practice cannot be treated. Thus, a child who develops uncontrolled bleeding or infection after FGM may die within hours.

Immediate physical symptoms may include the following:

Intense pain and/or hemorrhage that can lead to shock during and after the procedure. A 1985 Sierra Leone study found that nearly 97 percent of the 269 women interviewed experienced intense pain during and after FGM, and more than 13 percent went into shock.

Hemorrhage can also lead to anemia.

Wound infection, including tetanus. A survey in a clinic outside of Freetown (Sierra Leone) showed that of 100 girls who had FGM, 1 died and 12 required hospitalization. Of the 12 hospitalized, 10 suffered from bleeding and 5 from tetanus. Tetanus is fatal in 50 to 60 percent of all cases.

Damage to adjoining organs from the use of blunt instruments by unskilled operators. According to a 1993 nationwide study in the Sudan, this occurs approximately 0.3 percent of the time.

Urine retention from swelling and/or blockage of the urethra.

Sound pleasant? Not so much.

Let's talk about male circumcision now.

Male circumcision is the removal of some or all of the foreskin (prepuce) from the penis. The word "circumcision" comes from Latin circum (meaning "around") and c├Ždere (meaning "to cut").

This is an operation as old as mankind, highlighted today by Jewish and Muslim tradition in which all males are typically circumcised as a part of their faith and culture. It is performed worldwide by many tribes and cultures as an initiation rite and, despite some aggressive opposition, it is routinely done at birth for the majority of boys in the USA as well as many in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and much of the English speaking world. Overall it is estimated that a quarter of the male population is circumcised - about 750 million males.

Benefits to circumcision:

(I freely acknowledge that this information is appended from a source who is pro-circumcision. Not being in posession of a penis of my own, I have to rely on secondary sources.)

1. Many older men, who have bladder or prostate gland problems, also develop difficulties with their foreskins due to their surgeon's handling, cleaning, and using instruments. Some of these patients will need circumcising.

2. Some older men develop cancer of the penis - about 1 in 1000 - fairly rare, but tragic if you or your son are in that small statistic. Infant circumcision gives almost 100% protection, and young adult circumcision also gives a large degree of protection.

3. Cancer of the cervix in women is due to the Human Papilloma Virus. It thrives under and on the foreskin from where it can be transmitted during intercourse. An article in the British Medical Journal in April 2002 suggested that at least 20% of cancer of the cervix would be avoided if all men were circumcised.

4. Protection against HIV and AIDS. Another British Medical Journal article in May 2000 suggested that circumcised men are 8 times less likely to contract the HIV virus.

5. As with HIV, so some protection exists against other sexually transmitted infections. Accordingly, if a condom splits or comes off, there is some protection for the couple.

6. Lots of men, and their partners, prefer the appearance of their penis after circumcision, It is odor-free, it feels cleaner, and they enjoy better sex. Awareness of a good body image is a very important factor in building self confidence.

7. Balanitis is an unpleasant, often recurring, inflammation of the glans. It is quite common and can be prevented by circumcision.

8 Urinary tract infections sometimes occur in babies and can be quite serious. Circumcision in infancy makes it 10 times less likely.

In comparison, the WHO and every other recognized health, human rights, and civil rights organization who have addressed it have acknowledged that there are few, if any, health or social benefits to FGM, and the drawbacks are numerous and severe.

I am aware that a cost-benefit analysis when it comes to circumcision is not necessarily appropriate. Lots of people have very strong feelings one way or another, which, as I said before, I understand and respect. However, let me say that the research that I've seen against circumcision mostly deals with the fact that it is unnecessary.

At this point, I would like to make something perfectly clear, so sit down, put away your righteous indignation, and listen very carefully, because I am going to say this probably multiple times before anyone listens to me. You can save yourself some time by catching on right now.

Circumcise your son, don't circumcise him. Do it as an infant, do it as a child, let him make the decision for himself later on as an adult. Do it for medical reasons or social reasons or religious reasons. I honestly don't give a tiny rat's ass about your kid's schwantz. I have enough to do, teaching my own son responsible penis usage, without worrying about yours.

One of the things that has truly shocked me as a parent is other parents' willingness to mind my business for me. I would never be so presumptuous as to inquire about a stranger's intent to circumcise their child, or not; and yet I was asked by no fewer than six when I was pregnant and when my son was an infant.

I politely declined to answer that question, the reason being that I certainly hope no one is discussing my genitals with strangers behind my back, and I think it's an inappropriate topic of conversation. Max may have that conversation with anyone whom he chooses to once he is old enough to do so appropriately, at which point, it will no longer be my business.

I don't care whether your son is circumcised. Please don't ask me whether mine is. It's not your business.

As Maggie points out in the Momversation video, why is it so necessary for people to convince others that they are wrong in order to believe that they, themselves, are right? The tenor of this discussion has gotten way, way, way out of hand and I am insulted on behalf of people who have the temerity to make their own decisions.

Do not tell me how to raise my child. Do not tell me he is too young for potty training or too old to be wearing diapers. Do not tell me why I should have nursed Max longer or gone back to work sooner. I am a full-grown adult, and I will handle that decision for myself. Please feel free to do the same for your child. I will do you the small courtesy of not judging you.

And finally: I welcome vigorous discussion and debate on the topic, but one thing I will not change my mind about is that my son's penis is his business, not yours. By all means, let's talk about it, a lot, but you won't change my mind on that topic. Also, I won't tell you you're wrong, even if I disagree with you, but you also won't change my mind on the fact that circumcision and female genital mutilation are, in fact, not the same thing. Let's just assume that I'm actually quite bright and don't try.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I'm So Glad We Taught Him to Speak

I just had the following conversation with Max:

Me: Max, stop wiping your nose on the bookshelf. (Max ignores me, continues to spread snot everywhere.) Max!

Max: (Gets mad, turns around shakes an index finger at me.) No! You stop yelling! I'm so mad at you! I quit!

Me: Yeah, if I can't quit, you can't quit.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Feeling Like the Clenching of a Fist

Dear Max,

I know the last few days have been hard for you, and uncomfortable, and scary. Someday soon, you'll have forgotten all about it though, and all there'll be to remind you is the hospital bracelet that your bear is wearing. I'd do anything to make you feel better, sweet boy, and so would your daddy; it breaks our hearts to see you like you are right now.

I know you'd never understand it if I told you that something so much more significant is happening right now to us, the importance of which we can only begin to comprehend. You probably won't remember the night that Barack Obama was elected, but your father and I do. We remember standing out on our deck after you went to bed that night. I was thinking about how nights like that were the reason you have kids, the hope that someday they'll see a better, more worthy world with a stronger, more potent voice to follow than their parents had. I was thinking that the past eight years would be a lesson to us, a reason to be more selective when it comes to who we choose to speak for us.

I was thinking that I am lucky to be here, watching this wall come down. I was thinking about 1989, when my mother, your grandma, and I sat in our living room and watched the Berlin Wall be torn down. I was 13 years old at the time, and I remember my mother turning to me and saying "I don't want you to ever forget what you saw tonight." When I was pregnant with you, your father and I went to Roslyn, Virginia, and saw the sections of the Berlin Wall that are there in Freedom Park now, along with things like the bronze casting of Martin Luther King Jr.'s jailhouse door and a boat the size of a wagon powered by a lawnmower engine that refugees from Cuba used to sail to Florida. I remembered watching a crowd full of people who believed so deeply in change that they were willing to die for it pull down a wall.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It's the birthday of a pioneer, someone who wanted better for his kids and for kids everywhere, and in that respect, he was just like any parent anywhere. He translated that desire into action, though, in a way that most people never find a way to do, and that action changed the shape of our country, and for that, I am so truly grateful. Today we are celebrating his commitment to change and peace and the ties between people everywhere, remembering what he wanted for his children and what we want for our own.

Tomorrow at noon, we will stop what we're doing and watch something amazing happen. It will change the shape of our country again, and you are too little to understand this right now, Max, but someday, I hope I can convey to you the need for this change. This has been such a dark place for eight years now, and I'm foolish for pinning my hopes on a person who is, after all, just one man. But I want you to know that what I hope we'll see tomorrow is the change that we've been hoping for, for you and for your little brother or sister on the way.

I hope the next eight years are better than the eight behind us, just like I hope that your fever goes down soon and you become my sweet boy again soon. You are three and a half years old, and on the day before President Barack Obama's inauguration, when I left for work, you were asleep on the couch with your Spanish-to-English dictionary in your arms. Your fever was down again, after running high all night, and you opened your eyes just long enough to tell me goodbye.

Feel better, Max. Soon, hopefully, we'll all have a reason to.



Sunday, January 18, 2009

I am an Ugly Person, and Also, I Have a Flat Face.

Max is sick. He's a kid in pre-school, and his father is a public school teacher, so virtually every bug that occurs in nature enters our house. He is relatively seldom sick, too. He's only ever had one stomach bug, and he gets the occasional cold, but I've never seen him the way he was this weekend.

His fever never went below 100, and most of the time it was more like 103. He wouldn't eat, wouldn't drink, cried with no provocation, and mostly, wanted to lie on the couch. And we're not talking about a kid who's normally low-energy, even when he's sick.

Yesterday afternoon, he looked like a deflated balloon. He had slept most of the day, and I hadn't gotten him to eat more than a couple of bites of a popsicle all day. His fever was hovering around 103.8 when I gave into my fear mid-afternoon and told Dan that we needed to go to the Emergency Room.

I am not that mother. Hospitals are where sick people go, usually to get sicker. I don't race him off to the E.R. at the drop of a hat. However, we had several factors working against us. The first was simply his condition. There is a significant difference between Sick Max and Healthy Max, and the difference is obvious. I don't see Sick Max often at all, and this is what I was looking at today. He was sick, getting worse, I'd tried to help him for two days now, and nothing was helping. The second factor was where we are and when it is: it's three days before the Inauguration, in a suburb of Washington D.C. On Monday and Tuesday, if we needed an emergency room, it is very unlikely that we'd have one available to us.

I wrapped him up in a blanket, carried him to the car, and we drove him to the Emergency Room, which is only about eight blocks away. We registered in the E.R. and sat down to wait with him.

A few minutes ago, a very strange-looking man came staggering in the door. After registering, loudly, he came staggering across the room. He said something to Max, I don't remember what, but it was off-putting, and I wanted him to go away. Max gazed at the creepy guy uneasily. "He's sick," I told the creepy guy as icily as I could possibly muster. "Please leave him alone."

He did not do so. He continued to harass us while Max became more and more agitated by the man. Eventually, he took off his sunglasses to show us his face that had quite obviously been crushed by something--a hammer, by the looks of it. Finally, I told Creepy Guy to leave us alone or I would ask someone to call security.

He did not leave us alone. "There's a man over there that won't leave us alone," I said as loudly as I could to the registration desk. I didn't want him to miss who it was that was telling on him. "Could you please alert security that we're being harassed?"

They did so, immediately. This caused quite an interesting scene which, at this point, was mostly amusing to Dan and I. At one point, Creepy Guy announced loudly that he didn't have nothin' to say to them white people. Dan burst out laughing. "Why can't I just be 'that asshole?'" he asked. "Why do we have to be 'them white people?'"

At some point, they convinced him that he would have to be quiet, stop attempting to engage other patients in conversation, and generally reign himself in, or he would be forcibly removed. This was the point at which he stood up, pointed at me, said, "You know what? You ugly. You an ugly person. You and your flat face."

I started to laugh. "Did he say my face was flat," I asked Dan, "or fat?"

Dan was laughing too. "I think he said flat," he said.

"I was just wondering because the second one is sort of true," I said, "but the first one is just weird."

Creepy Guy, who was almost visibly under the influence of some sort of mystery cocktail of substances, went outside at this point, pulled a navel orange from his pocket, and appeared to engage it in a conversation of some kind. At that point, we were called back into the triage area.

Two very capable women quickly assessed Max, weighed him, took a short medical history, discovered that his temperature was now 103.9, his pulse was 178, nearly sixty beats a minute faster than a healthy 3-year-old, and began to work with a sense of urgency to which I am not accustomed to seeing here in the D.C. area, and certainly not in an emergency room. One of them got on the phone. "I have a baby here with a fever of 103.9," she said to whomever was on the other end of the phone. We were whisked through a back door and into the Emergency Ward, a series of three-sided cubicles arranged around a central nurse's station.

We'd not been there fifteen seconds before a nurse whisked in with a digital thermometer in her hand. "I need his shirt off," she said crisply. "His pants too, please." She took a rectal temperature, which I found unpleasant, although I'm sure not nearly so much as Max did.

104.1 now. She patted Max gently on the leg. "We're gonna make you feel better, buddy," she said to him. She took me aside. "He's gonna need an IV," she said. "There's really no option at this point."

"That's fine," I said. "Do it." We were left alone for a minute again, and Dan and I stared at each other. "I'll bet you all the money in my wallet against all the money in your wallet that his doctor is the guy talking to his orange out in front of the Emergency Room entrance," I said to him.

"No bet," Dan said.

His doctor was actually a calm, slender, silver-haired gentleman in a blue button-down shirt and khakis. He was kind and thorough and very gentle with Max, and moved fast. Max claimed that nothing hurt as the doctor prodded and poked at him, and the doctor seemed very concerned. He pulled me aside as well, and said, "Well, I don't like what I'm seeing. His temperature is very concerning to us." I nodded wordlessly. "Let's get that under control and we'll see what happens next. At this point, we start to worry about seizures."

Max was naked, laid out flat on the hospital bed, too scared to cry, whimpering in fear as the nurse, who could not possibly have been doing a better job, showed him exactly what she was going to do to him on his teddy bear. "I'm going to put this piece of rubber around your arm, just like the bear," she said, tying on the tournequet. "Then this little needle is going to stick you just for a minute, and then come right back out, and you'll have tube in your arm. It won't hurt at all once the tube is there."

"Look, Max," I showed him my insulin pump. "Just like Mom's tube." He was not consoled by this information.

Max held Dan's hand with one hand, my hand with the other. A nurse's aide held him down, although he was almost too weak at this point to struggle. He shrieked in terror, and then as she withdrew the needle and taped the IV in place, he calmed to a whimper again. She worked quickly, as quickly as I've ever seen anyone move, taking several tubes of blood, blood cultures, taping a plastic urine culture collection bag in place, the whole time talking to Max to keep him as calm as possible. "I'm giving him heparin in this IV," she said to me as she injected it. "It's an anti-coagulent, which-"

"I'm familiar," I said.

There were ice packs, and cold drinks, and more Motrin, and more Tylenol, and more tears and whimpering. Max still wouldn't drink, and they came and put an IV bag on. Slowly, Max began to look less like a deflated balloon and more like my boy again. He drank a few sips of the apple juice that they brought him and held a graham cracker in his hand, although he didn't eat it. He was dozing off.

His fever was falling, enough that they let us put a blanket over him. His arm hurt and he was crying, but he was also singing. He sang "You Are My Sunshine" to the nurse, whom he was charming thoroughly.

The doctor came in with the results from the labs. "These are largely inconclusive," he said. "His white blood count is borderline-high, which is indicative of an infection, but we don't really know what kind. How does he seem to be doing?"

"Our car got stolen," Max told him. It's a story he's told everyone he's seen since it actually happened. "It got crashed into a gate."

The doctor looked nonplussed. "I'm sorry to hear that," he said. "When was this?"

"This morning," Max said, at the same time as Dan and I both said "December."

"Okay," said the doctor. "Let's watch him a little longer."

Throughout the evening, Max repeated this story to everyone he saw, every time he saw them. At one point, the doctor asked if he'd been perseverating on the car being stolen before he got sick, or if this was possibly an effect of the fever. I am almost positive that he was joking.

Max's heart rate was falling from the 170's, where it had been when we came in, to the 140's, to as low as 129 as he dozed between seeing nurses and doctors. It wasn't low enough for the ER doctor, nor for the on-call pediatrician who was checking in with us too. I was listening to the two of them outside the cubicle, saying things to each other like "spinal tap" and "chest x-ray" and I wanted to cry. I would have changed places with him in a heartbeat.

In the end, they sent us home in the middle of the night, without a spinal tap or a chest x-ray or anything else that was scary for any of us. Max felt better, not much better, but better. His heart rate was down to the 130's, which they were more comfortable with, but not really comfortable. His temperature was down, but not normal. Overall, they were convinced that he didn't have pneumonia or meningitis, that he had a viral infection of some kind, that he was uncomfortable but no longer dangerously dehydrated or feverish. "Keep pushing the fluids," the doctor said. "That's going to make the difference betweeen whether he stays home or comes back here in a couple of days.

He still doesn't want to eat or drink, but he's eating and drinking more. He still has a fever, but it's not out of control like it was. He's testy and uncomfortable, but he doesn't look like roadkill like he did yesterday.

It's been a bad weekend, mostly for Max, and maybe a little for a guy with a crushed head, who may still be having a conversation with an orange outside Laurel Regional Hospital's Emergency Room.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Facebook, You Are A Hundred Awesome

One of the roughly ho-jillion reasons that I love Facebook (MySpace, not so much: sort of annoying and adolescent) is the ability to re-connect with people I lost touch with years ago.

Interestingly enough, the majority of my Facebook friends are people I met at church camp. Yes, I did indeed go to church camp, for four years and then a fifth year as a staff member. Church camp, when you're 14, is a fully-parentally-sanctioned place to meet boys. There's a lot of hugging, and hormones, and lots of excuses to take pictures and exchange phone numbers with the boys you like the best. It's a weird place, and the fact that it's only a week long once a year makes it a far more heightened atmosphere than high school, which is in some ways the same but with the same people all year. That heightened atmosphere led to some intense friendships--it's when you make the friends who you don't think you can live without, friends who you think will always be your best friends.

Then there's college, which is its own kind of heightened atmosphere in itself. You're losing touch with all those high school and church camp friends and making different friends, and there's the added freedom of being away from home, and testing boundaries that you never had the opportunity or the nerve to test before. Those friends are a different breed of friends than the church camp friends, a more sophisticated sort of thinking you can't live without someone. Still, you're in the process of becoming more yourself, and you've got a bigger pool of people to choose your friends from, and those friends begin to replace your other friends--if not in your mind, certainly in your daily schedule and the forefront of your mind.

There's something about the people who knew you half a lifetime ago. You know their secrets--how one person lost their virginity, how another person got arrested for public nudity, an abortion somebody had, how someone had their heart broken by someone else (of the same sex, but you're really the only one who knows that.) And they're the people who know your secrets, the things you never meant to tell anyone but that just came out, and they never told anyone. You're grateful for having somewhere for all those secrets to go and die, and relieved that somebody knows you this well without ever having to recount your secrets for them, and thankful for the bond of knowing that they know, and knowing that they know you know. You won't ever have someone who knows you this well again until you meet the person you marry (or, if that's not a possibility for you, the person you decide to spend your life with.)

Somehow, this just isn't the kind of friend you make after the age of about 20. You're old enough, at that point, to recognize the transient quality of life, that friends will probably float in and out of your life and be replaced by things like spouses and kids and houses and jobs. Your secrets will seem less dramatic. There will be simple considerations like you don't have the kind of time to have four-hour phone conversations with your camp friends in which you tell them the first name of every boy you ever kissed, or you live too far away to sit on the front steps of the student newspaper with your college suitemate smoking cigarettes and talking about boys. Also, you both quit smoking, which was of course the prudent thing to do.

Facebook is a way to reconnect with the people who knew you that way. There just aren't enough phone books in the world, and there's something awkward about calling up your best camp friend from 20 years earlier: "It's me! No, a different me...from...um..."

I love Facebook because it just reminds of the smallness of the world.

This morning, I had a message from another camp friend. She and her husband (who was yet another camp friend of mine; I was there when they met) moved to Brussels last fall, but the great shock was that they moved there from Greenbelt, Maryland--fifteen minutes from where I live. I was shocked, and a little sad, that they were so close all this time, and now they've moved away. I've thought of them so many times in the last few years, and they have a daughter who, I think, looks close to Max's age. I wish I'd known that sooner.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Repelled, and yet a Little Curious

Best Google Search term ever:

"Dog Elephantitis."

Whoever you are, I hope you found what you were looking for.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Dear Anthony Bourdain: Will You Marry Me?

I once had a conversation via email with Goon Squad Sarah about Anthony Bourdain, about how he was like that guy in high school that you got totally drunk at a party with once and made out with a little, and who then broke your teenage heart when he didn't talk to you the next day in school, and then broke it again when your best friend marched up to him (he was smoking behind the baseball dugout) and asked him why he never called you, and he said that he didn't know your name, and then he hit on your friend. Sarah and I realized that we had actually known the same guys in high school, despite the fact that I grew up in Michigan and she grew up in Florida.

Lord love a duck, I am so hot for Anthony Bourdain. He is beautiful, has an incredibly sexy voice, has Distinguished Silver hair, and can cook like an unmitigated motherfucker. He does eat some of the most disgusting bits of the most disgusting animals I have ever seen in my entire life and I really disagree with him about Hung from Top Chef, but he is hot enough that I don't care. Witness:

Hi Tony. That's a nice...bone. And when I say bone, I mean...you know, bone.

Maybe one of the ten thousand reasons that I love him is the interview I just read with him, in which he says the following about Sandra Lee. You know, Sandra Lee from "Semi-Homemade With Sandra Lee", also known as "The Coming Apocalypse Starring The Food Network?"

On Sandra Lee: “Charles Manson and Betty Crocker’s love child. She gets that
glassy Squeaky Fromme look when she’s talking about her tablescapes. I want to
call security.”

The rest of the interview (which took place in Washington D.C.) can be found right here. We ran into him at Eastern Market when he was in town--this was quite a while ago now, but I did what I typically do when confronted with a famous stranger, which is to stare like I'm suffering from brain damage as he nods politely at me. I am smooth, I tell you.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Tale of Too Stupid

First of all, go and read this post. Then come back.

The upshot is that this mother, in her nightly struggle to get her pre-school-aged daughter to bed and to sleep, in her frustration, wondered aloud via Twitter if it would be acceptable to smother her daughter in order to get her to stay in bed. A woman who follows her on Twitter, who clearly doesn't know her, her morbid sense of humor, or the deep and abiding love for her child that is so obvious to anyone with the common sense God gave pistachio nuts, found this tweet to be objectionable.

Shortly afterwards, the police appeared at her door. At 11 o'clock at night, this woman had to show them her sleeping child in order to prove that she hadn't murdered her own daughter.

I am totally dumbstruck by the ardent stupidity of this entire situation. I am absolutely horrified for this woman, and so sorry for the mortification and abject humiliation she must be feeling.

Dan is a teacher, as are several of our closest friends. They are all required by law and their jobs, not to mention simple human decency and civility, to report suspected physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse of all children they come in contact with. In a thousand years, I cannot imagine anyone legitimately interpreting what this woman was saying as a threat of actual child endangerment.

Not a month ago, I threatened to tape Max in a box with a couple bottles of water and a couple of sandwiches and Fed-Ex him to my parents. Did any of you--seriously, anybody at all--interpret that as something I would publicly brag about doing, let alone actually do? Even for a minute? Did anybody sit down and give it any thought at all, whether that was something I was capable of?

Honest to God, I know my readership isn't enormous or anything, but really--anybody?

People don't brag about murdering their children on Twitter before they actually go and do it, for fucking Christ's sake! Especially not rational, sane, loving parents--as this blogger clearly and obviously is. People abuse children secretly, then they bury the body, or burn it, or chop it into pieces and stow it in their freezer! They don't write about what they're doing on the internet--especially before they do it. Come the fuck on.

That's the point. I've admitted my parenting shortfalls right here on this blog--a year ago, when Max was biting, I admitted to biting him back once. I admitted how terrible it made me feel to have physically done something that made him cry. I've admitted that I'm not the most patient parent on this earth, that I have a tendency to tune him out when I'm deeply involved in something else. Does that qualify as child neglect in somebody's mind? Quick--call child protective services.

This is busybodying run totally amok. This is a woman with not enough to do (and there's a link to her blog at the first link; I won't link to her because, frankly, I don't think she deserves the traffic) and too much time on her hands and too little to think about. I won't go so far as to call her stupid or ignorant, because name-calling is a little inane even in a case like this, but really, I'm starting to think that there ought to be a common sense or I.Q. prerequisite in order to connect to the internet, if for no other reason than to protect us normal, sane, rational human beings.

Friday, January 2, 2009

You're Welcome.

My love of "The West Wing" has been exhaustively declared and demonstrated here, and I won't put you through it again.

But watch this show, this creative, smart, funny, adorable, incredibly good show, again written by Aaron Sorkin. I love this show. I want to cheat on my husband with this show.

(Not really, sweetie. But this show, it is so good.)

It was cancelled after one season, proof positive that everything that Wes Mendel says in the opening monologue is undeniably and sadly true. But no kidding, jump all over this show and French-kiss it.

Also, after watching episode 19 of this, I may have a little crush on Bradley Whitford.

You can see the entire series of this show at http://www.hulu.com/.