Sunday, November 25, 2012

My First NC Thanksgiving as a Married Woman, Some Travel Tips for the Non-Southerners & Life Updates

After over 6 years of marriage, I finally got to take my husband to NC for Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Seriously, because my husband has a worthless union and the same managers took the same holidays EVERY SINGLE YEAR since time began, we had no chance of me ever getting to see my family for a major holiday unless I went by myself.

I don't know about you but me personally, I feel that if you've got a spouse you actually care about you don't go off by yourself to see your family for the holidays. That's what I did when I was single & we were dating; it's a different story if you're happily married. I'd actually miss my husband & be very unpleasant to be around if I didn't get to spend a major holiday with him. Plus, I do tend to get hit on if I do things by myself & who needs that headache?

Finally, you can't underestimate the advantage of moral support if you're essentially a stranger in a strange land like I am in NC. Let me spend time around folk who aren't trying to play fashion police on me or demanding me to be an old frump for the sake of their kids.

Our journey takes place in the small town of Lexington, NC. My mom finally got her dream home out in the middle of nowhere but because of my sister's housing situation, we were placed in a hotel. This hotel was awesome & for more reasons than one.

For one thing, we got an upgrade to a suite since there were no rooms we had booked that were available for our full stay of one week. I called it the "rock star suite" since we had our own fold out couch & a table with chairs as well as a HUGE tub & shower in a decent sized bathroom (if you saw our bathroom at home & bathrooms in NYC generally, you'd agree with me on this). The water pressure there was also the best I've encountered at any hotel, probably better than what we have at home. Oh, and when they'd told my family they pride themselves on their cleanliness they weren't kidding. Our room was pristine!

They also had an eating facility that was open even when the local restaurants weren't. I didn't eat anything there but I liked the convenience factor. We were also near a dollar store, a grocery store, a few gas stations & a lot of stuff. You could feel the train come in on occasion but being on the third floor, it never bothered me in the morning. I only felt it once when my husband told me about it & I felt some shaking in the bed; it just felt like we had a vibrating bed for a moment.

One of my reasons for visiting was to see my niece & nephews. I'm childfree but I don't want these kids not knowing who I am or being influenced by me. I view it as one of my life duties to influence those kids. Heck, my niece looks just like me so as a rule she's got to have some influence from me. I told my mom & sister I'd be making sure my mini-me didn't let anyone push her around or treat her badly. She cried some but I'd find her making noise, talk to her and if she wasn't hungry or in the dark, she'd stop crying and just look at me. She'd also make some noise on occasion like she was trying to talk to me. Having a grown version of her apparently captivated her attention; at least, that's what my family told me.

My younger nephew, though, is totally my sister's kid in the sense that he's a screamer & largely non-verbal. He's sort of known as the problem child. My father's even started calling him "Chuckie" (from the Child's Play series if you don't get the reference; he's not a redhead or afraid of everything like the Rugrats character). Being around that kid & the constant screaming he did (forget my sister even going to the bathroom; he'd scream & bang on the door and stick his feet under like a cat) makes me even more staunchly childfree. He's getting checked out soon for his issues but being around small kids is STILL exhausting & my husband doesn't do well with screaming kids since he gets headaches from that stuff.

He spent more time with my sister's oldest kid, who's 9 & said I was his favorite. That kid is the one who apparently acts most like me since he's like a 20 year old living in a 9 year old's body. My husband was bugging him with tickle attacks & I said he should be nice to my nephew since he'll very likely be taller than my husband when he's a teenager. My sister's hoping for that anyway since she'd like a kid to play basketball for UNC-Chapel Hill.

My younger nephew might have a shot as a wrestler if he keeps his form & demeanor.

Let me tell you, visiting kids is not the same as having them & I'm more than happy to not deal with it. My mother even said that anyone trying to pressure me to have kids or who thought I should was stupid since I pointed out I couldn't handle what my sister is doing in caring for her 2 small kids. I wouldn't have the patience & those kids would end up wearing duct tape as a permanent fashion accessory. Give me a sick cat any day!

Years ago, I thought about what it would be like doing my sister's life instead of being in law school & I felt law school was much easier than being a single parent (this was shortly after her first husband died & my older nephew was himself a little kid, though not a screamer or as difficult).

Thanksgiving itself was fun. My husband got to have Honeybaked Ham (a tradition at my family's along with turkey, homemade pumpkin pie & so forth; he never gets it at any of his family members' homes) though he didn't get to have more Italian fare like we would if we'd gone to his parents' house instead. He also didn't have my mother complaining about cooking; she just got annoyed when she couldn't find things at the store & when the turkey didn't come out to suit her (thought I didn't have any issue with it & my older nephew told her it was good). Overall, my husband said he was thrilled to do Thanksgiving someplace else since he didn't have to deal with his family's drama. My family certainly has drama, don't get me wrong, though I didn't get into any big fights with my sister. My husband pointed this out to me later & said we'd matured. I said "No, I just didn't want to be an asshole having fights in the presence of my younger nephew." Consideration after my former friend decided to have her little outburst in front of her 4 year old.

Guess that brings one to the deadbeat report: basically, my former friend is still doing the same shit & her former husband has already found someone else. Good for him, except he's neglecting their kid & epitomizing the term "deadbeat dad." I don't think kids deserve to be blamed for the conduct of their parents or punished for their parents' sins, real or perceived. That's a huge reason I'll get nasty if you ask me things about my parents & use that to make judgements about me or my "status" in your eyes.

Imagine if we blamed everyone for what their parents did or the financial status/family name of their parents: most of us would be in prison & the permanent underclass would be much larger. At the very least, a lot of people would be societal outcasts. Just because someone's parents are scumbags doesn't mean that person became a scumbag as well. Some of us actually learned something from our childhood experiences & had as much contempt for things our parents did as anyone else. Some of us bothered to take steps NOT to be like our parents. I'm an individual, damn it! Judge me on my OWN merits, not that of my family members (especially the ones I don't even talk to or wouldn't piss on if they were on fire). That's how I judge others.

We also got to spend time with my husband's aunt & uncle. This was fun since we didn't go anyplace featuring heavy, greasy food and on Friday, got to go to a tea. It was my first actual one (unless you count the one I planned for my sorority with some help from the member who came up with the idea in the first place; I was told I did a good job, though I felt the credit should have gone to the previous Collegiate/Alumnae Liaison who'd suggested it & graduated before she could execute it). The food & tea were great and the venue was fantastic; in fact, I'd like to do it again sometime.

So, if you're going to travel to the South here are some tips:

1. Try to avoid taking the toll road if you can. Yes, there's a way to get there from NYC without having to pay tolls after leaving NYC. You can't really do this in the winter time but in the spring or summer, you will want to handle it this way.

2. The cuisine in the South is VERY heavy & greasy. Seriously, if you didn't grow up there or you're going after being away from there for years you're going to feel it. I have when I've gone back. There are things I really can't eat anymore or have to eat in limited quantities.

This probably answers the question of why so many Southerners are hell bent on controlling the sex lives of others: little children as well as greasy cuisine are massive libido killers. It made me wonder how I managed to have a functional sex life when I lived down there. Maybe it's because I lived in Atlanta so I had more options. Or my body had adapted to being in all this pain on frequent occasions. Funny thing is once you're down there a while, your body can adapt to it.

However, if you can I strongly suggest getting home cooking. It's less greasy unless, of course, everyone you know who cooks down there drowns everything in lard. When I had Thanksgiving dinner, my stomach didn't feel so bad like it had when we'd had to live off food we got from many places down there. Try to find the non-greasy fare if you can't get home cooking.

3. Make sure you get a hotel room that has a fridge & at least a microwave. I would have liked an oven but at least we could go to the grocery store & get some staples so we didn't have to eat out every single day. When you're a kid, eating out everyday sounds like a good idea. In reality, though, you will start to feel like crap after about 2-3 days. If you don't, you've either got a cast iron stomach or some kind of weird health condition I think I'd rather not know about.

I guess part of my experience is my whole prior baggage of living there. Maybe I'd view the area differently if I hadn't grown up there & had the childhood I did.

Oh, and if you saw my article in the latest New York County Lawyers newsletter, thanks for reading. If you didn't, go here & find it on page 12.

I also got named to be the Subcommittee Chair of Entertainment & Media for the eMIPS committee there (which is short for Entertainment, Media, Intellectual Property & Sports). This came as a total shock since I figured an unconventional type like me had no chance but apparently that whole thing worked this time. Shocked? I certainly am since I'm not the typical bar association leader & it sort of epitomizes my whole making the field fit me instead of conforming to someone else's rules.

I'm using it to my advantage & have my own ideas for things. Just have to talk to some more of my creative peeps before I formalize what I have. As far as I'm concerned, you don't assume what people want & should ask directly. I know what I've seen & how I want to make my mark so instead of making assumptions on what people want or need, I figured it was better to ask directly. Lawyers are in a service industry & if you're in a service industry, you're supposed to be giving the people what THEY want. If you don't, you're messing up big time & will screw yourself in the long run.

Retailers who don't have what I want or listen to my feedback? I don't waste my time on them. This isn't rocket science; it's common sense. We have the Internet & I have happily gone there to buy things I'd buy at a local store if they only bothered to carry them (like a long skirt slip I needed for this long white skirt I have that's totally see through otherwise). Plus, you can't complain if you're part of the problem.

Now to follow up on this job opportunity I interviewed for, do some writing tasks & generally get used to being back in my home with my kitty and in my city. One sign that you belong somewhere is that when you come back, you feel like kissing the ground & hugging people out of happiness. We'll see if my cynicism will still be warranted or not. At the very least, I have a game plan if I didn't get that opportunity.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Paying for Sanity, The Incompetence After the Storm & Why Can't We Get Burlseque at the Bar?

This is a lesson I've had to remind myself of tons of times. As a frugal person by nature, I tend to be very picky about spending money & have refused to spend what I feel is too much on something. My husband has a similar attitude; that's probably one reason our marriage works so well. I don't have to fight with anyone who spends money like a drunken sailor who believes he's never getting laid ever again so has to spend a fortune on entertaining the hottest girl in the room so he won't die without having gotten that quickie along with getting that good, stiff drink since they're no longer making that brand of liquor. We're huge believers in frugality.

At the same time, though I've found there are times when it's okay to spend more money. One of those times was today for gasoline.

You may have read about NYC's gas lines & recent start of rationing. I was awakened Tuesday morning by horn honking from stopped cars that were in a gas line on my block. If they'd not suspended parking that day & my car wasn't already on the proper side to avoid being ticked, I would not have been able to move my car to the proper side. Those parking tickets aren't cheap.

I also saw the craziness in walking around my neighborhood & I'm having none of it. Fortunately, we had more gas in our car pre-Sandy that I thought we had. This meant the freedom of choice. I'd heard there were no lines in Connecticut or near a relative in New Jersey (where I understand gas rationing is still going on but has actually made a difference).

I decided to go to Connecticut to get gas & got up at 7 this morning to make that happen. Bear in mind that lately, I've been waking up around 12/1 p.m. (Sandy also screwed up my sleep schedule). I had to go today in order to be able to go on a trip that's been planned for months. Getting there & back was so much easier, let me tell you.

The station near my house had a line when I left for Connecticut & when I got back at around 9-9:15 this morning, the line had started to take over the main road I had to travel on. A normally 2 lane road was now 1 lane. I paid 50 cents more per gallon but I am more than happy to have paid it, for many reasons.

1. Not sitting in a 30 minutes if I'm lucky line. I'm not a person you want doing that since I've got a temper & if you mess with me, there will be problems. I also never claimed to be a paragon of patience.
2. Not paying increased tolls to get to New Jersey.
3. Not having to drive in Manhattan to go to that part of New Jersey. My route was all highway.
4. Being more familiar with Connecticut since I used to live there. I also know Connecticut doesn't have traffic circles or areas where you can't make left turns.

If this were a credit card commercial, it would end with Saving time & preventing unnecessary arrests: priceless. It's like "Wow, having lived in Connecticut for 3 years & driving around various areas of the state came in handy." That drive also helped me refresh my driving legs for the upcoming road trip & means we can actually take that road trip.

To avoid a gas line, you bet I'll do this. Essentially, it's paying for comfort. I found the same to be true when I took Amtrak on business class. That experience is why I'm not doing anything unless I can pay to get business class or not deal with crazy BS that's just going to raise my blood pressure & feel like Chinese water torture. Or for an analogy closer to home, maybe I should say I try to avoid situations akin to having a thong stuck in your butt & not being able to move it because you're at a work function or business meeting where there's no bathroom in sight or you're stuck with some irritating jerk you're just pretending to like who refuses to mingle.

I tend to resent paying more money for such things but today, I had no problem with it. Extraordinary circumstances & all. Can't believe Bloomberg claims this is going to continue for "a few more weeks." All I can say is he'd better be suspending alternate side parking restrictions while that's going on since I'm not waiting for a gas line to leave my block so I can move my car to the proper place. The street has enough room for one car on it so forget passing anyone; the only way you'll get people to move there is with a weapon or a death threat.

I'm also gratified to hear that people in Long Island started protesting at LIPA's headquarters because of the slow moving progress to restore power. My husband said LIPA is worthless & is glad he doesn't have to deal with them. Most people I know have either long since gotten their power back or never lost it in the first place (including in Long Island). I want their leadership to get nailed by the governor & hopefully forced to pay heavy fines. I'm sure those people without power would also like to see them serve some jail time.

You know, maybe the protestors without power should go camp out at the board members' homes & say "Until you restore our power, we're not moving." Might light some fires under a few behind if you did that, don't you think? Wouldn't it be ironic if they called the cops & the cops who showed up were also without power & sided with the protestors? Or maybe if the cops were human beings & agreed with this act? Gee, desperate times. Anyone get the memo on that?

I can't imagine the management there is sitting with no electricity at this point & I'd bet money they aren't.

Anyhow, another time I have to tell myself it's okay to spend money is if paying more means higher quality. There's also paying for things you don't already have or if you need a replacement. I'm very much of the school of using things until you can't anymore. I feel it's wasteful to get rid of something that still works or still fits you if it's not in disrepair. Had to reluctantly get rid of a rain coat I still can't find a viable replacement for due to it being in disrepair & despite my efforts in sewing up holes. I'd just get new holes in it. That still pisses me off & I can't find a replacement for it in my size. No one seems to have it & I adamantly refuse to get something that looks frumpy, boring or dull. Nor do I get things that look like what everyone else is wearing; kill me for having an aesthetic & caring about my appearance.

In other news, I got a part in the next City Bar show & guess what I'm playing: a "lady of the evening." I did get the one line I asked for & will get some solo singing in a song. This is probably the only venue where I can play that role without worrying about exploitation, losing credibility in my industry or getting a grievance filed against me. I also have to find out the time period of the show so I know how to do costuming. I have ideas; got the boots already though they aren't stripper heels. They come up pretty high on my leg & I've got lots of short skirts.

One thing I know is that I can't dress like I normally do. For one thing, no one's ever mistaken me for a prostitute (even in NC & Atlanta) & I've seen NYC prostitutes. They dress much more revealing than I do.

My husband's wary about it but I pointed out that I can't dress in something I'd wear normally (especially in the summer) since that's not honest to the role or the scene if it's present day. I most certainly will make sure nothing's going to be coming out unexpectedly (otherwise, I'd feel too self-conscious) & I've been on stage in all sorts of getup over the years. I've been in a swimsuit & reminded him that I did a song for my law school talent night one year in a lingerie top (a long camisole top that had a bra built in & was in the lingerie section of the store I got it from). We were dating at that time & he did not play Fashion Police over it.

If I get to dress as a modern day prostitute, I'll be thrilled since it will be an opportunity for rebellion. When I read the role, I was in immediately since I thought "In this stuffy forum, getting to do that & get away with it would be awesome!" Plus, no one would get to accuse me of hiding my body in shame or because I have scars or something that embarrasses me. I'm always trying to find ways to rebel in that atmosphere & man, if that's not the ultimate way to do so I'm not sure what is. There's also the stretch of my acting muscles if I get to play it honestly. If it's not present day, I'll have to buy stuff.

I've often thought about how cool it would be if we had burlesque at a bar association event; not all the shows involve nudity & most of the acts I've seen had zero nudity. It's also an art form & does require some talent I don't have. The outfit I have in mind would certainly lend to more clothing than most burlesque performers end up in at the end of their acts. Plus, burlesque is certainly not the same as stripping & only an uncultured idiot who doesn't know anything about it would say it was. There's a different format & tone in burlesque than there is a strip show. I also don't think a burlesque performer will give you a lap dance no matter how much money you offer her (or him, but mostly her). The men would probably still be titillated enough to show up though at the Liberty Belle Spectacular, it was mostly women watching the burlesque performances.

Now to fully enjoy Car 54, Where Are You? Hopefully, I'll be awake enough to watch Dobie Gillis after this. I like both of these shows since they are funny as hell & wish they had good DVD sets. If they did, we'd own them in a heartbeat. I'm sad that Car 54 had cruddy DVD sets. Why can't METv show their full schedule in my area?! I have it on DVD but I'd watch Get Smart on there or see about watching The Donna Reed Show since I've not seen it since the late '80s when we had cable & Nick at Nite. Why can't they show these programs at more convenient times than 2 & 3 a.m. on Saturday nights? I hate the stupid infomercials they show for half the day when we could be watching MeTV shows, considering we don't have Antenna TV.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

So How Come Political Correctness Doesn't Extend to Sexism of Women?

Answer me that, folks. In particular, if we're going to ban certain classic cartoons because of offensive racial stereotypes (and yes, the Censored 11 stuff is pretty bad).

Yet we're STILL being exposed to the stereotypical 1950s housewife types in the classic Twilight Zone along with Olive Oyl in the Popeye series, various bitchy housewives in the Looney Tunes cartoons that beat up on cats for daring to eat birds (usually it's Sylvester because he dared to eat Tweety, who's a freaking canary). When you get down to it, there's a ton of sexism in the old cartoons.

I was watching some Popeye cartoons earlier & my husband reminded me of a rant I've not done: I absolutely can't stand Olive Oyl. She epitomizes everything stereotypical & insulting about women. Cartoon Olive, at least. Comic strip Olive is less offensive since she actually knows how to take care of herself.

I thought my husband & I were the only people who hated Olive Oyl until we watched a special feature on one of the Popeye DVDs that came out. Fortunately, the entire era of the cartoons that we wanted was put out on DVD & we got to buy them. One of the women speaking on this particular feature said she hated Olive Oyl as well. I was like "YES! Finally, someone else feels like I do."

So, why my hatred? I'll gladly explain:

If you've seen classic Twilight Zone episodes, you should be familiar with the bitchy and helpless housewives. Apparently, Rod Serling was not good at writing women in his stories. He admitted this in the introduction of one episode (I believe it was from Season 1) that we caught on DVD. Spotting these characters is like spotting pornography: you can't define it but you'll know it when you see it.

I personally watch these women in action on a lot of them & there are some I don't feel any sympathy for. It's like if some guy were married to them, you could hardly blame them for wanting to beat the crap out of them. Now I'm not a supporter of domestic violence but I'd want to beat them since they annoy the shit out of me.

Olive Oyl in the Popeye cartoons is like these women & I'm going to give you numerous examples of why she sucks.

1. She is a fickle bitch. In most of the Popeye cartoons, she's dating Popeye then tosses him aside for Bluto because she thinks Bluto is more suave or has a clean shave or whatever other reason. In real life, she'd be knocking boots with this guy. You know what we call women like that in modern society? A slut. Loose. Plenty of other names that you don't want to be called if you're a woman. I wouldn't find "fickle" flattering, either.

2. She is a total tease. Probably wrote the book on it, in fact. She acts like she's interested & then when Bluto makes his move, she goes all helpless & whines for Popeye. Popeye, of course, always saves her in the cartoons.

You know what Popeye would have done in real life, especially in today's time if some chick was doing this Olive Oyl impression? He'd say "Fuck you, bitch! You wanted Bluto so have fun. Don't come crying to me!" I know real life men would say something similar. Even Superman did in one story, according to my husband the comics expert.

3. She's downright shitty to Popeye in plenty of them. Has zero respect or regard for that relationship & then has no regard for Bluto if she's supposed to be with him. She also laughs her ass off at Popeye's expense in many of them. Classless could be an apt description as well.

"So, you still want to save that bitch?" I ask Popeye in my brain. I wouldn't do shit for you if you had dumped me then laughed at my expense when your new significant other was mean to me. Popeye would have moved on in real life.

4. She's totally & completely helpless. You know what would happen if you went all Bluto on a natural redhead & hopefully most modern women? She'd hit you right in a sensitive area & you'd be traumatized from even thinking about sex for a long time. Maybe even years. No, I don't mean the crotch. There are other sensitive areas that work for both genders & any woman who took a self-defense class knows what they are.

Why is it that she can do a token hit but it means nothing? Why is she so damn helpless? I appreciate a guy intervening if some scumbag is bothering me but don't do it because you think I'm helpless! Unlike cartoon Olive Oyl, I'm not helpless.

Most women aren't Olive Oyl. Yes, I'm sure there are Olive Oyl types around encouraging wannabe rapists to hate & attack us but we have our own ways of dealing with them (wannabe rapists & the Olive Oyl types). If I knew any Olive Oyl sorts myself, I'd definitely handle that. No woman in my family fits that one, that's for sure. That includes me, my policy on date paying notwithstanding.

I had respect for men I dated & have respect for my husband. You wouldn't see me ditching him for some guy with more money, a better car, better clothes, whatever. If some woman is doing that, she's not respectable. If she knows about this guy's private parts, you're definitely better off without her.

I also was not a tease. I never led guys on. I was always honest & probably to a fault. That always pissed me off when guys did it so I felt it was uncool to do that to them. Certainly other women agree with me on this. Plus, I have a healthy sex drive (if Manswers is accurate, it's a natural redhead thing but you can't tell me that only the smallest minority on the planet has a healthy sex drive; otherwise, you'd only see natural redheads with kids & all the people in sex therapy would be natural redheads). Most women aren't frigid or asexual. Those are the people who should do their dating on Christian Mingle or create some new dating site for people like themselves since they don't fit the majority of us.

Furthermore, most of us are adults. We don't expect some guy to save us from a situation we created ourselves. Respectable women operate from a place of truth & don't go leading folk on. They aren't assholes or little kids like Olive Oyl. We don't need some pimp to bail us out & I really hope a pimp wouldn't do that.

Nor do they trash someone they supposedly care about with their new beau & later expect them to do shit for them. Nope, if I've insulted you not only have you deserved it but I'd sure not ask for your help later on.

We've already established my lack of helplessness. I'm also not a fan of helpless people. Actually, I really hate helpless people (that is, the ones who can't claim a medically diagnosed condition & have something so bad, they actually need anti-depressants). For one thing, it's a state of mind. Few people are truly helpless & even the people everyone thinks of as being helpless (those who've lost limbs or senses) are usually functioning better than the rest of us.

For another, I believe in being the change you want to see. If you don't like something, you need to get off your butt & do something to change it or shut up for good about it. You don't get the right to bitch about things you took no steps to change.

Finally, if you truly feel helpless & you aren't suffering from a medically diagnosed case of depression (WebMD diagnoses don't count) why are you still doing the same stuff? Take some personal responsibility for YOUR life & YOUR behavior!!!

Maybe that's the crux of why I'm not an Olive Oyl fan: she lacks personal accountability. You never see her making the connection b/t her actions & people's reactions to her. It's like "Are you that dim?" To me, if you're that dim how do you manage to function from day to day? Can you even walk & chew gum at the same time? Maybe we should euthanize you for your own good. Many people ought to be euthanized for their own good but that's never going to fly until laws are changed.

With all this though, you don't see me or some other women's groups sending down a shit storm on broadcasters or anyone else & demanding them to never show some cartoon because of the sexism to women. You don't see networks censoring that stuff but they'll do it for other groups & most recently have done that for Native Americans (yet, you could still see those stereotypes in old cartoons when they aired in the late '80s & early '90s; I know b/c I saw them personally).

How about some respect for women here? Or better yet, no censorship for anyone? Women, Italians, Irish people, no one else who didn't choose their status in life should get to be fair game while other groups aren't. To even encourage it just furthers racism & causes more problems. Discrimination is discrimination. Why don't you PC cops get that?

If you ask me, the portrayals of women you see to this day just further sexism & ill will toward us. I think it's totally undeserved when it comes to me & probably undeserved for many women. How about the PC police tackle that one instead of setting up barriers to honest discourse & meaningful conversation? Olive Oyl doesn't represent me any more than Mitt Romney represents most of the Republicans I know.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

6 Days After the Hurricane - Cabin Fever & Leadership

As we all know, Hurricane (or Big Ass Storm, if you prefer) Sandy came through here last Sunday night/Monday morning. Tons of people lost power, Internet access, TV signals, homes, etc.

The Angry Redheaded Lawyer was not one of them. Nor was anyone living on her block. Despite living surrounded by trees partially threaded with power lines, we didn't lose a single thing. We didn't even lose our TV signal & that's often the first thing to go. Last year, when Irene happened (a huge much ado over nothing) we lost our signal briefly but got it back. The real problem was the Internet & phone line. That started the ordeal that led me to the community board meeting & to call my local representatives; it probably also contributed to the presence of FiOS this year. We got it recently & have been fine.

We also engaged in prep beforehand so we've been fine with food & all that stuff. The big things affecting us are cabin fever & lack of meaningful public transit to Manhattan. I don't consider a 1+ hour bus ride to a subway station that's running to get into Manhattan to be viable public transit. I want my local subway back up, damn it!

There are also the gas lines. My neighborhood is not exactly close to the highway or way out in the suburbs but there are lines at our gas stations, at least 2 that I know of in the area. I passed by one of them on my way home after some neighborhood reconnaissance. If you have to wait in those lines for gas, you've got my sympathies. This is definitely a time I'm glad I don't live in the suburbs & have to drive to work.

I'm hoping the gas situation will be taken care of before 2 weeks from now since we are planning to go out of town & driving for that purpose. Due to the mandatory TSA groping of all people who dare to book an airline ticket combined with not getting to sit next to my spouse, paying to check luggage, ungodly flight delays and the increasing chance of lost luggage, you couldn't pay me to fly on an airplane. I refuse to get on one unless it's a private jet & I vowed years ago never to fly coach again after my luggage was in the wrong place 3 different times. Since holiday travel is a choice, I'll choose driving; we just have to make sure the weather holds for us.

Minor problems, don't you think? Now you see why I didn't do a post about it immediately. I know people who only today got their power back. I know people who know people who lost everything. Some of the folks I know who did fine even went to go volunteer to help those less fortunate.

As I'm not a brawn person & have no way to meaningfully get anywhere, I've opted to stay home & out of the way. I've also thought about the people worse off than me the second I think I've got it rough. I told friends if they were in my area, they could come here for a shower & some cookies (I made a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies with oatmeal on Sunday; I'm told they came out good & I was trying to use up eggs in case our power went out).

After it passed through, I was like "That's it?" We'd done all this prep, had some non-perishable goods & I was ready for the worst. I figured our area got off lucky & asked others how they were holding up. Facebook was a good guide to see where people lost power, pictures of the damage, get updates on friends & loved ones, etc.

In the meantime, I didn't leave my house until today to assess how our area did. Yep, I was in my house for exactly 1 week. My husband was forced to go back to work on Thursday after buses in our area were running but he considered it a relief since he could get to his branch by taking 1 bus and it would get him out of the house. Eventually, cabin fever gets to you. I've promised myself when the transit system returns that I'm living it up in Manhattan. I did consider exploring more of our neighborhood in light of this situation to do something constructive if I got bored but my husband had taken out season 3 of Nurse Jackie on DVD before the storm.

Guess what I ended up doing when there was nothing on TV? Watching Nurse Jackie. If you haven't seen it, you should. Accuracy issues aside, it's a well written and well acted show. It's on Showtime, so what else do you expect? I've not seen many crappy shows on the pay channels. The style reminds me a lot of The Sopranos so if you like that show, you'll probably like Nurse Jackie. It does star Edie Falco, after all & you see Jackie do things you wish people would do in real life.

For instance, in one episode she's in a restaurant having lunch with one of the other characters. You overhear the waitress at another table being berated by this jerky business guy. Jackie, instead of leaving it alone as her doctor companion asks, strolls over, says she's the manager & makes this guy look like shit in front of the client he's trying to impress. The waitress is so grateful to Jackie that she comps their meal.

My husband sees this scene & says "You'd totally do something like that." Probably, considering I have & still do know people working in the service industry.

I also watched other DVDs of mine like the movie Casual Sex? (a film I learned about when living with my law school roommate who'd bought it for herself on DVD). Saw The Nightmare Before Christmas yesterday. My husband & I have a literally crazy amount of DVDs; my sister once said we were Blockbuster b/c we have so many. Except we have a lot of stuff you'd never see in the typical video store aside from any of my company's films. There's a decent amount of obscure titles in there & films from earlier decades. Most films we've seen today or in the past decade are "one & done"; you see them once & there's just no re-watchability to them.

I learned other people I know are in the same boat but it still makes you feel like a member of the 1% to have all that while other people have real problems. Unlike some of these 1% motherfuckers like that Mary Wittenburg, the president of NY Road Runners who apparently went on TV and bitched and moaned about how cancelling the NYC Marathon meant all this lost revenue to the city and how all the runners traveling from out of town lost money or Bloomberg (who we already knew was a scumbag), I have a conscience & enough class not to kick people while they are down by closing off roads, diverting resources, setting up generators for the media, etc.

I do agree that it sucks those people flew in from out of the country & all to run in it. I agree they should have been told sooner so they could change their plans. But I don't think they get to displace homeless storm victims for their little marathon or use up resources that could go to the recovery effort or divert police, sanitation workers, and others trying to help victims for a (as I read it in a few places) "frivolous event." The storm was announced everywhere & surely they could have read about the damage it caused. Would these people have gone to New Orleans a week after Katrina to participate in some event that would close off the few open streets, provide comped water bottles, generators, etc. right in the faces of people who don't have power, clean water, etc.?

I will say this: at least there is more leadership around here than New Orleans had after Katrina. Governor Cuomo also wrote a letter to the utility companies saying that they'd better be getting power returned ASAP, they knew about issues and had better fix them or he'd be revoking their licenses to work in this state. That should make you feel a little better about our leadership. I wish more politicians in all areas of office did that & followed through; I'd be a hard core supporter of someone like that. There's too much pussy footing around in government & really in all parts of life. More people need to grow some balls, say "Don't fuck with me or else!" & then follow through.

At this point, I'm just seeing what happens in the next few weeks. Oh, and there IS looting going on in parts of the city that were affected per someone I know who's out there volunteering. Social media updates from people who are present (especially those you know) are more accurate than the media or what some politician says. Don't ever forget that.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Get Your Tubal If You're Over 18: How to Deal with Paternalistic Asshole Doctors Who Think They Can Intrude on Your Private Life

With all the shit I've read about how there's no lawyer posting this guideline & after reading this Dear Prudence column yesterday where Prudence decides to just be another member of the "You're too young" chorus, I decided enough was enough. A lot of the comments on that letter really pushed me over the edge, particularly those by men who DO NOT have a fucking uterus & can NEVER be forced to carry an unwanted baby.

I even read a while ago in a LiveJournal community the lament of someone who claimed no lawyer cared about this issue.

Well, that commenter is wrong. DEAD wrong! Didn't you hear? I had a tubal at 26; in fact, the XX Factor blog published an essay I wrote on why I have chosen to be childfree. You can find the link in an earlier entry; don't be lazy. I don't abide that mess.

So, I'm going to write that guide. Feel free to pass it on far & wide. In fact, I encourage it. Remember, I want to inspire fear, dread & contempt in the hearts of OB/GYNs who want to create more problems by playing God with women's lives.

Before we get to those tips, some preliminary facts:

* Make damn fucking sure you do not want to have children EVER. Permanent solutions are nothing to mess around with. If the answer to "Do you ever want children?" is anything other than an emphatic "No!" you have no business asking for a tubal. You should get an IUD instead.

You also don't get to call yourself "childfree." You are what we call a "fence sitter," a "maybe" case. If the answer to that question is "Maybe someday," do not waste a doctor's time. A legion of childfree women who want permanent sterilization & can't get it will beat you upside the head (or at least, I'd like them to).

* If you think for even a second that you can sue the doctor if you "change your mind," also don't bother doing it. You are the bitches that make it harder for me & anyone else who has an old soul or sense of who she is to get any credibility or respect on the issue. I'd go so far as to say you're an enemy to women's lib right up there with Todd Akin, Paul Ryan and all the other closet rapists.

Plus, if you live in NY you only get 2 years to sue for medical malpractice. That's it. I forget if the time starts when the malpractice happens or when you discover the malpractice so don't quote me on this but I believe it is when the malpractice happens. You discovered it 20 years later? Tough shit, you've most likely waited too long. As my NY Practice professor in law school said, the doctors have a good lobby that made this the law in NY state. The doctors in your state may also have a good state lobbyist. Check your state laws.

* If you're not good with surgery & willing to sign a waiver saying you won't sue if you "change your mind," don't do it. More setting women back & causing issues. Let me just punch you in the face right now if you pull that.

So, if you are an actual childfree person who is hellbent on never, ever having kids no matter what & will never lament the loss of your unborn rugrats here is what you do:

1. Research, research, research! Research your local state & federal laws when it comes to this subject. Know how long the statute of limitations is for a doctor to be sued for giving sterilization to someone who later changes her mind. Research current news & know about mothers who killed their children, the harm done to children from resentful parents who didn't want them, the consequences of parenthood & what it does or doesn't make you.

2. Have strength in your convictions, no matter what. If anyone can talk you out of it, you aren't prepared to do it.

3. Have logical arguments prepared. Cite the laws on consent, voting, any professional licenses you hold like being an attorney & the process you went through to get that license, etc.

4. Use "Do no harm" to your advantage: ask the busybody doctor about violating that provision by allowing an unborn child to be born to a home where (s)he will not be treated well say not being fed, clothed, etc. Ask about the harm to society, the court system and everyone else who has to get involved in the abuse and neglect involving this kid. Ask about the increased crime rate & future victims of this child born to an unfit parent (and resenting or hating your child certainly qualifies you as an "unfit parent" in my book).

Cite any contacts you may have involved in sexual abuse who might still be in the picture if some unborn child was brought into the world if you had one. Furthermore, ask about the emotional harm being done to you with this paternalistic attempt to shove you into motherhood against your will.

5. Know the slippery slope argument like the back of your hand: when you've asked every single doctor who takes your insurance about this & go to your last ones or the last one, mention that fact. Tell them that all have denied you & they are violating your civil rights with this collective denial.

6. Do NOT, under any circumstances, be deferential to the doctor on this choice. This is YOUR body, YOUR health & YOUR life. Now that doesn't mean "be rude." It means don't act like this doctor is superior to you due to his/her education. Doctors will play that card without question. If you don't have a lawyer card to play, you need to get away from the "he's more educated so he's smarter than me" mindset. No one knows you better than you do. YOU live in your body & your mind. This prick doesn't.

YOU know your household better than any doctor does. (S)he wants to step in? Then that fucker needs to be held liable (maybe criminally in some cases) for denying sterilization & the consequences that result to the woman, family & unborn child. I bet these wannabe gods would think twice about such intrusions if that happened. Don't get sucked into anyone's God complex or allow yourself to be bullied!

Do this stuff before you ever call anyone. To continue,

7. Call the OB/GYN's office & ask the first person you speak to about this. Doing so will save you time, money & heartache. Sometimes, they'll have the answer & sometimes, they'll have someone call you back.

If you don't get a "yes," keep going. Don't waste your time going into anyone's office unless they will do it. If they insist, ask if they are giving you a free consultation or expect you to fall for their bait & switch tactics.

8. If you get push back, cite your valid reasons. Use these logical arguments I mentioned above. Also, ask this doctor point blank about the war on women going on in our current times & the lunatic fringe Republicans trying to outlaw abortion, make contraceptives impossible to get (such as allowing employers to dictate the uses for it in female employees), etc. If you've done that research, you can cite those instances in your state & elsewhere of such laws.

See what this doctor says when you point out that you may not have the option of less permanent contraception if Romney takes office or your local Republican representatives get those harsh, draconian, sexist laws through. Maybe even ask if the doctor is pro-life or pro-choice. That could even be done in the initial phone call but if the doctor says "pro-life" you can ask how bringing unwanted children into the world is in any way healthy or being "pro-life." You could even ask how taking free will away from an adult woman is in any way in keeping with his/her religious faith if the person cites one.

I was raised in an independent Baptist household so I know how the Christian fundies think. If you're also from a religious background, use it to your advantage.

9. If you are outright lied to like the first doctor I had did to me, don't you dare give up. Use Tom Petty's song "I Won't Back Down" as your mantra. You talk to the next doctor & the next, using the same approach. If you really want to get creative, you could even make up a story about having been raped by a family member that you're still forced to have in your life b/c other family members sided w/him & not you i.e. any unborn child would be exposed to a rapist.

Remember also the words of Malcolm X: By whatever means necessary. Considering the US may become just another 3rd world country on this issue soon, you may want to make getting permanent sterilization a high priority lest you end up being forced to raise your rapist's baby or give up your career and all you hold dear for some puking, mulling rugrat you never wanted in the first place. People who aren't uncivilized pieces of garbage will allow abortion for ectopic pregnancies (you know, those ones that have zero chance of viability). If they don't, well maybe these closet rapists should also decriminalize rape since they believe it's "God's will."

Personally, I think if you have to start lying to doctors the doctor/patient privilege is useless. Point out this hypocrisy if you need to.

10. Be civil but don't be nice unless the doctor respects you as an adult woman capable of living your own life & making your own decisions. If your logical arguments have failed, that says the doctor is NOT respectful of you. If you have children & some doctor is doing this, most definitely show no mercy for this blatant paternalism.

It's not just men who engage in this paternalism, by the way. I had women pull this on me as well. Be contrary & if you have to, be a bitch. No, not just a bitch. An unrepentant, bulldozing bitch who won't take shit off the likes of this wannabe God.

Propose that the age of consent, voting, etc. for women be bumped up & zero liability prescribed to you for anything if this doctor wants to deny you the right to make this choice for yourself. Cite figures about women who actually change their minds, the viability of such a lawsuit, whatever fits for the situation.

If you want to tell them not to bullshit you & just be honest, go ahead. Uncovering the motivations behind doctors acting like they know better than adult women is a good idea & should be done more often to assess whether some people should even be in the field in the first place. Would they deny abortions to 12 year old rape victims next? Are they THAT baby happy?

11. If the doctor doesn't want to do it but isn't a total prick about it, ask for the names of people who WILL do it. Not give you maybes or harass you about it but will actually treat you as an adult with a fully functioning brain and free will. Feel free to say that last part to drive your point home.

Maybe something good will come out of it, maybe not. Either way, at least you tried.

12. If you find a doctor who does your surgery & you're happy with the results, spread the word. Tell others about this OB/GYN who is respectful of women & isn't infantalizing adult women (defined as those over 18, not those over 35). I've been more than happy to ID my surgeon to women seeking this in NYC.

I have very little stock in OB/GYNs these days. Since my insurance no longer covers the one who did my surgery & another one I had vanished from the face of the earth, I've not found one who is respectful of women. My mom says that since I already had the tubal, it's too late to worry about that but I disagree. I don't want my copay going to some anti-woman dirtbag who belittles my childfreedom & insists that I'm not a full person or have some kind of mental defect b/c I'm not some baby crazed harpy who treats her husband like a child. No way do I want some gynecologist saying "You could get your tubal reversed. Let's see about doing that," when I'd violently object to it. This issue most certainly is going to affect that health care provider's medical judgment & treatment of me and I'm not interested in that shitty bias.

If you also had this done or are contemplating it, you should definitely consider a future doctor's beliefs on that issue for your future OB/GYN needs if you run into the situation I have.

Finally, I'd like to point out that by the time these objecting doctors think you're "old enough" for a tubal you're already in menopause or a stone's throw away from it.