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Archive for March 2012

Terrifying thought…

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I don’t know about you guys, but I really only had a sprinkling of friends using Facebook in 2008, and none of them had smart phones so there were plenty of long stretches of zero activity on my newsfeed back then.

Which means that this will be my first year of experiencing generally obnoxious Easter Sunday status updates + Election Year Politics at the same time.

Just the thought makes me want to deactivate my account immediately.

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Written by GRSeim

March 31, 2012 at 10:13 am

Baby Girl

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Beauty is a competitive sport, and the losers are often dragged off the field, mangled and bleeding, broken down.

I hope that I’m able to protect you from all of that.

Here’s the truth, kid, because whatever my faults (and we both know I have plenty), you can always trust that I will be honest with you. Beauty is all about comparison. When one person is praised for her beauty, another is implicitly rejected for failing up to that standard. There are very, very few people out there who are truly, naturally beautiful…just like there aren’t too many Olympic athletes or math geniuses or writers of profound, paradigm-shifting literature in the world. There are a few people who are exceptional when compared to the rest of humanity. The rest of us are just normal, and that is something to be celebrated.

We are fortunate to live in a time and in a place where normal people choose their careers and partners; we fall in love, have babies and grand babies, make our own decisions and pursue our own dreams and goals in life. We have enough to eat, we live in warm, comfortable homes, we have pets and holidays and weekends and vacations. Happiness is fully within our grasp, for once.

Don’t let that slip away.

Don’t let greedy companies convince you to live in poverty in exchange for whiter teeth and fuller eyelashes. Don’t trade glowing Christmas celebrations with your grandkids for a crappy relationship with an abusive boyfriend who teaches you to ask permission to breathe, to hate your body, to apologize for existing.

I’m going to tell you a secret here, kid: people who love you will be able to see the beautiful parts of you, without you having to suffer to make that happen. People who love you will treasure you, want what is best for you, take pride in your accomplishments, support you in the hard times and rejoice with you when the sunshine returns.

We can no more attain perfect beauty through our hard work and sacrifice than we can will ourselves to genius, but the good news is…that doesn’t matter.

Love will make up the difference.

Pour your power and energy into finding and cultivating deep, lasting love. Nothing else matters.

Written by GRSeim

March 30, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Posted in Future Feminist

Let’s just start off with this: I am not posting the photo on the Internet.

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I wrote this down a few moths ago, forgot about it, found it again today and still like it. That doesn’t happen often, so I’ve decided to share it.

Spoiler alert, though: I am not posting any nakey lady pics. Some people do that, and that is fine, more power to them…but the Internet is not anonymous enough for me to feel comfortable posting pictures of my unclothed body. I’d love to hear more from other women about their relationships with their bodies, though, particularly those whose bodies do not fit the Western idealized blueprint for beauty. Do you feel beautiful? Do you value beauty? How do you define beauty for yourself? What makes you feel beautiful?

I stepped out of the shower on the morning of my scheduled c-section and admired my pregnant body for the last time. I knew that I was unlikely to have any more children, and I secretly longed to take a picture of my naked self so that I would always remember how beautiful and alive I felt in that moment…but it felt weird to rejoice in my own nakedness, and so silly, to love my body and to feel so good in my own skin when everyone around me was sighing about stretch marks and bloating. I certainly had my share of both! I caved to the societal pressure to perceive myself and my body as inadequate, and I didn’t take the picture. I have kicked myself for that so many times since.

Three months after my daughter was born, my little toddler son stretched his body across my stomach and paused to examine my c-section scar. He frowned for a moment, and then inquired, “Is this where our baby got out of your tummy?”

“That’s the spot,” I assured him for the millionth time.

“Is it an owie?” he asked again.

“Having babies is very hard work,” I replied. “Some parts of it hurt a lot, but I am safe and happy and don’t have any owies now. This line on my tummy lets me remember what it was like to have a baby inside my tummy.”

He smiled and patted my midsection, which jiggled and squished under the pressure of his little hand.

“Your tummy is empty now, huh, Mom? No more babies in there!”

I felt tears spring to my eyes, and then realized that I was gently stroking my own stomach…and again, I was washed with feeling of tenderness for my body. I felt proud of how hard I’d worked, how much I’d endured, how much I’d learned, and profoundly grateful to have had the immeasurable blessing of a healthy body that was able to create beautiful babies for me to love, all on its own.

I looked at the shriveled, scarred, lop-sided mess that two pregnancies had left behind, and smiled a little.

And this time, I took the picture.

Written by GRSeim

March 28, 2012 at 7:20 am

Death: less pearly gates and light-filled tunnels and more like the DMV.

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The intoxicated homeless man stumbles towards me, waving his arms above his head. My children don’t react to this common sight at all. I shake my head in amusement and greet him, “Hello, Jimmy. How’s Elizabeth today?”

“Oh, she’s doing well,” he slurs politely. “And how are my favorite kids doing today?”

“We’re just looking for ducks and squirrels,” my little son informs him.

“Ah, those are some tricky critters to catch, aren’t they,” Jimmy smiles congenially, absent-mindedly flicking some crumbs out of his whiskers as he slows his gait to match our rambling pace.

Darren sighs heavily. “I’ve never caught a squirrel before,” he confesses sadly, his shoulders slumped.

“I did, once,” Jimmy confides, “but it got away before I could show it to anyone.”

“That’s a bummer,” Darren sympathizes.

“Well, yes it was,” Jimmy laughs ruefully. “But it wasn’t the first, and it won’t be the last.”

Jimmy and Elizabeth spend most of their nights in the abandoned schoolyard by our house, and most of their time in the day is spent walking to and from the various churches and community centers in the area that host free meals for the poor.

Here is what I know about them: Jimmy is abusive, sometimes violent. Elizabeth is an alcoholic, and on her last legs. They have three sons who, quite understandably, refuse to have any contact with them.

Every time I hear someone trumpet personal responsibility as it relates to healthcare, gun safety, childcare, the minimum wage…I always want to tell them about Jimmy and Elizabeth. These people are not well. This last winter nearly killed Elizabeth.

Whatever has happened in the past that lead up to their current predicament, they are suffering now and need help, but who will help them?

Their children, who I’m certain have suffered decades of abuse and neglect at their hands? People who will be doing remarkably well in life if they are even able to function normally as adults when you consider the kind of start they had in life?

Or perhaps these generous community centers and churches should ban together to care for our city’s most vulnerable residents: the ones with cancer, HIV, the ones who left limbs behind in Iraq; the ones with dangerous mental illnesses, addictions and criminal histories, stress disorders, violent tendencies and perverted sexual habits? How do you see that working, exactly? Do the Sunday school teachers and front desk receptionists take shifts?

Jimmy and I both know who should be taking this responsibility on: it’s me. I am a CNA and I am completely capable of dealing with people like him. I am not afraid of him. Before I had my kids, I spent about 50 hours a week bathing adults, brushing their teeth, doing their laundry, literally cleaning their shit. And here’s the thing, I don’t just do it, I enjoy it. I connect with these people and sometimes change their lives. I have a unique talent that society desperately needs. I am the answer to this problem.

But I can’t do this work for free.

I can understand how people can look at the situation and think, you’re an alcoholic, you won’t go through treatment, you’ve done this to yourself…why should I pay for your mistakes?

But if there’s anything I’ve learned through providing end-of-life care, it’s this: we humans make way more shit than any of us can ever clean up on our own. Even if you have been a self-made island this far, I promise you that you will not die that way. You will absolutely end this life indebted to someone. You don’t get to be awesome and do it all on your own; nature prevents that.

The only choice you have is will you die indebted financially or spiritually. I probably won’t ever be able to prove this, but I believe that we rest easier in death when our debt is a spiritual one; the people I’ve cared for are just a little bit immortal, and I know that sounds silly but it’s real. I talk about them, mimic them, reference their stories, share their memories.

I remember their favorite colors.

I grieve their passings, even when we don’t particularly like each other or get along well, because we share a real human connection that can’t be defined or set down on paper.

When was the last time you experienced that kind of connection in our current medical system? Has your insurance agent ever remembered your birthday, or your favorite dessert?

Have they ever named their child after you, to keep your memory alive after you’re gone?

Our society needs change. Our president is fired up to tackle the healthcare system, I say let’s ride that wave and see where it takes us. It can not be made any worse than it is now. Don’t wait to find that out first-hand.

Written by GRSeim

March 27, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Little Boy

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I try everything with you.

I instruct. I demonstrate. I remind. I reprimand. I cajole. I scold. 

I take you for daily romps outdoors, cut gluten out of your diet, take you to therapists, argue with your pediatrician, you preschool teacher, your father.

I advocate for you, explain for you, apologize for you. 

And finally, when I’m at the end of my rope…

I shame you. 

I feel sick when I think about the look you gave me, your hot, angry little face flushed with emotion, your eyes shining with tears you refuse to shed because god knows you won’t let anyone see you cry in a moment of vulnerability. 

You are so much like your dad, so silent, so difficult to draw into conversation, so difficult to read. He feels for you, identifies with you on a visceral, primitive level, and defends you fiercely when I tell him how our day really went in whispers, after everyone else is fast asleep. 

Right now, our days aren’t going very well. I am angry. I am tired. I am frustrated. And you are endlessly stubborn. 

But you know what, kid? I’m going to win this. You could save us both a lot of trouble by caving now, complying with my one single demand: do not harm others. It’s not a hard rule to remember, and you will see that someday because you are going to learn this lesson, you are going to learn it from me and you are going to learn it as a child, not at the hands of a teacher or policeman in your teen years. I can say that with complete confidence, even after days like this one when I know I’ve screwed up and hurt you and made my job as your mother even harder. 

Do you know how I know that I’m going to win this battle, little son?

Because every shred of that stubbornness you throw at me is just returning to its source. You can exasperate me, annoy me, frustrate me, scare me, shock me, injure me, worry me, crush me, but you will never be able to out-stubborn me. 

Just ask your granddad about this sometime, kid. This is our family legacy, generation after obnoxious generation of ridiculously difficult people getting their rear-ends handed to them by their equally ridiculous parents. 

Mark my words, son: you will be a cherished member of our loving family…whether you like it or not.   

Written by GRSeim

March 27, 2012 at 5:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Burn, baby

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Jon and I visited his extended family in Poetry, Texas once, back when we were newlyweds and still cared enough about manners to spend our scarce money and even scarcer free time on a bunch of relatives we don’t know or particularly like (clearly, I have been cured of this affliction).

As I understand it, Poetry is known mainly for its drive-thru beer barn, which isn’t actually in Poetry itself because Poetry is just too rural for fancy shit like this. There’s plenty of space where a business could be constructed in Poetry, of course, it’s just that that space is all being used for the indefinite parking of rusted-out cars right now.

Of course, the South being the South and all, we were treated to a potluck dinner during our visit. The food was undeniably delicious and I was lucky enough to be able to track down some of the recipes (which was no easy task).

After our meal was complete, however, our host noticed a guest browsing through the kitchen cupboards in search of a garbage can.

“Is that just a styrofoam plate?” she inquired. “You can just add it to the pile on top of the drier in the laundry room.”

“You sort your garbage?” the guest asked, surprised.

“Well, we sort out the things to add to the burn pile,” our host smiled.

“Oh!” the guest laughed, relieved. “For a minute there I thought you were one of them, uh, en-viro….um, en-viron-men’al-ists!”

And that, my friends, is undoubtedly the story of how my husband and I, along with the entire city of Poetry, Texas, contracted cancer and died. The end.

Written by GRSeim

March 26, 2012 at 5:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Glamping

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We spent the weekend with the wonderful guys up at Paca Pride. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by. You’ll never meet nicer folks (or alpacas).

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Written by GRSeim

March 26, 2012 at 4:09 am