Indian women have been granted an unprecedented break–8 women-only commuter trains. Was anyone else struck by this headline news, and by “struck” I mean,… did you pause?
On these trains known as Ladies Specials, a weight has been lifted. Men are not there to do what they reportedly do onboard every day–pinch, grope, molest, threaten and shout insults at the women. Apparently, this harassment is the norm. Apparently, it was bad enough to warrant the government stepping in.
Imagine a women-only train. It might be like a big slumber party. In my world, it would manifest as a man-free subway at 4am on a Saturday night. Oooooo. How fucking freeing! What about a man-free traveling experience? I would drive across America or any wild country and push deep into the night, until I collapsed alone and sleepy in my car, a tent, or a grassy ditch on the side of the road. I’d be relaxed, watching the stars sparkle without letting my imagination roar me into at least twenty minutes of heart palpitations: A man is going to find me here and hurt me. A man is going to find me here and hurt me. (An aside: I know plenty of women who are braver than me on that front.) Though I am deeply nourished by the different men in my life, I am also convinced, after 30 short years of living, that this fear of men is inherent in all women, even those who refuse to admit it.
Why? There are so many books that attempt to pin it down, so many poems. No need to descend into the messy discussion of biology (predators, the mechanics of body parts, sowing seeds, choosing carefully for your womb and all that fraught stuff). Instead, here’s some wisdom from a man on the topic… Continue reading
Tuesday morning was the first time I left a twenty foot radius from my infant’s side. She’s still reticent to accept a bottle after a week of coaxing, but it was time for me to get back to teaching my Playwriting class. I had to convince myself that she would survive the two hours away from her primary food source while in the care of her doting dad. So, I borrowed Joe’s car and headed to the university, listening to NPR for the first time in over a month. A soldier was talking about the blog he kept in Afghanistan. He said that the Army offers medicine for depression, sleeplessness and anxiety, but that he found writing to be better than any drug.
Then, bam. I was rear-ended just a block from the university. Since this was the first time I was outside of the twenty-foot-from-infant radius, it was also the first time I had been in a car without her since she was born. My mind raced from oh my god I can’t believe that just happened to what if she were in the car with me? Would she be hurt? And what if this had happened, and she were in the car, and it was that first day or two of parenting when I kept buckling her legs through the arm straps? What then? Or what if this accident were worse, and something happened to me, and she can’t drink from a bottle?
No tears. No screams. And all I had was half a glass of Prosecco eight hours before my daughter, Francesca, showed off her pipes and I had her little naked body in my arms. My doctor told our doula (childbirth coach), “This is rare, isn’t it? You don’t see births like this.” Cindy, who calls her practice Gentle Birth Doula Services, attempted to convince the doctor that she had seen births like this. The RN added, “Still, I bet you wish you had filmed it.” Cindy, just shook her head, smiling. “If I had,” she said. “No one would believe me that she wasn’t on drugs!”
Evidently I smiled before each push.
The RN suggested that I not tell other women about my experience. “They’ll hate you,” she told me, only half joking. So here I am, two weeks later, telling every woman who happens to read Crucial Minutiae that by the time I got to the hospital, after laboring at the mall, my friend’s party, our bathtub and bedroom, I was fully dilated and all I had to do was to push.
Some things you just know. I (and thank goodness I have back-up on this one) knew I was having a baby girl. At 19 weeks, the sonographer scratched her head and said, “Huh. I thought it was a girl too,” but printed out a picture that said “It’s a boy!” And off we went to announce to everyone that mama’s intuition is a myth and that we better buy some Vikings baby gear. I was confused by the news that disproved both my gut feelings and a beautiful dream that Joe had of his long-haired daughter chatting him up, but I didn’t want to act like i didn’t want a boy. I would love a boy. So I started trying to love my “boy.” But every now and then we’d ask each other, “What if the ultrasound technician was wrong? What if all these blue clothes are for a little girl?”
“As long as the baby’s healthy” is one of the cliches mocked in the song “Pregnant Women are Smug.” Of course, I found myself saying it today, since this was the sonogram that I mentioned in my last post, to determine if the baby was too small. And no, not too small. Not too big. Just not a boy. One of my best friends flew in to visit within an hour of the appointment and was able to join us in the doctor’s office. To her credit, she said to our new ultrasound technician, “I still think it’s a girl” moments before we learned that she was. We all saw clear as day that the baby due to arrive in one week is a GIRL. I’d post a sonogram picture for you, but when I say clear as day, I mean it. And I don’t think that’s how she should make her first appearance on the Web.
I’m going to take a page out of Girl with Pen‘s and Dooce‘s sites and “pregnancy blog.” Less than two weeks to the day when I get to meet this person who has been using my ribs as a jungle gym and my cervix as a moon bounce for the greater part of this year. Outside of a couple of scares and the headaches of switching OB offices three times to finally find a doctor I liked (who then quit her practice after two appointments with me, but I’m guessing not because of me), gratefully, this has been a smooth pregnancy. And yet, I’m up from roughly 3:00-6:00 a.m. the last three nights, thanks to my newest doctor’s newest concern. “You’re measuring small.”
How many times in a woman’s life is this an insult? A threat even! “Your husband’s over 6’3″? If he was 5’8″, I might let this go. No, we’ll have to do another sonogram to make sure the baby’s not growth restricted and that there’s enough fluid, or we’ll induce.” Since I’m guessing that not all of you have read the latest books and documentaries on how interventions in pregnancy lead to more interventions in delivery, I’ll just cut to the chase by voicing my personal preference for tea and sex as induction methods over an IV drip of manmade hormones, reported to dramatically increase the intensity of contractions. Did you see the New York Times article on how redheads feel more pain?
“Maybe we’re having a Sardinian baby,” Joe says cheerfully.
Remember studying The Jungle by Upton Sinclair in Civics class? We read excerpts and made gagging noises when we got to the parts about rat pieces and feces found in American food. Maybe we didn’t quite understand the other call for social reform in the book: to end the profound mistreatment of immigrant workers at the turn of the century. 1906 seemed like another world. We had no idea how close this book hit to home, to now.
Everyone who eats should watch Food, Inc. Or at least the trailer.
Should you buy popcorn and M&Ms? Probably not– unless you can down them during the previews. This documentary isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s tasteful and informative. Most importantly, it argues for our right to knowledge, to be able to find out “what’s in the kitchen.”
I heard her music played around a campfire in the Catskills, the first songs worth earning callouses on new guitarists’ fingers. I listened intently to her lyrics, repeated in these voices– so honest and clear while still weaved in metaphor. I took Ani back to high school with me and then on to college. I’ve been toting her tapes, cds and mp3s ever since, but I’d never seen her in performance until last night. A powerful voice emanates from her small body while she attacks the strings on her guitar, tuned uniquely for each song, with fingers wrapped in electrical tape.
When we first decided to move to Buffalo, I daydreamed that I would meet Ani in the produce section at the Wegman’s in her hometown. Luckily for all parties involved, this hasn’t happened yet. Remember how cool I was when I met (/stalked into an Irish Bar) the Swell Season? I tried to behave better when I met Ani’s bass player at a friend’s apartment in New York, but mistakenly assumed that he played bass guitar and not the upright. Had I been listening to the music instead of the lyrics all those years, this would have been obvious. It’s not much of a defense, but I am a word person.