Thursday, October 25, 2007

Middle School Birth Control

King Middle School in Maine has recently decided to give their students (11-15 year olds) access to contraceptives, including the hormonal birth control pill, through a medical clinic attached to the school ( ).

Parents must sign a permission slip in order for their children to be treated at the clinic, but it is presented as permission to treat in the case of accident or illness. Children requesting birth control from the clinic will be issued their contraceptives without parental consent or notification of this. Maine law also, somehow, provides doctor patient confidentiality for 11 year olds which keeps parents from having access to their child's medical information with regard to the clinic.

While many people applaud the school for giving these children access and believe it will help prevent pregnancy and provide them with appropriate medical care, I think there are some serious problems with this.

1. Contraceptive medications are not without risks. They can cause blood clots to occur, among other things, and even death. If the parents are not aware of their child being on this medication they will not be able to protect against potentially dangerous medical interactions with other medications etc... While Birth control is one of the most widely used medications out there; it is still a drug and it still has the potential to be dangerous when used incorrectly or under certain circumstances.

2. These children quite likely will not reliably take their medication. I think it is pretty unrealistic to expect that 11-15 year old kids will remember to take their pill every day and at the correct time. Likely they will forget doses and still believe that they are protected from pregnancy (no matter how many times they are warned that they are not). They are also unlikely to remember or pay attention to drug interactions that will cause BC to be unreliable. Antibiotics are pretty commonly prescribed medications, they often render hormonal birth control ineffective.

3. Lets keep in mind that the teens who are most likely to engage in sex at 11-15 are those who are less responsible and already at risk due to other factors in their home/school life. These factors also probably will make them less likely to properly and reliably use birth control.

4. Contraceptives other than condoms do not protect against STI's but often do give people a false sense of security. With teens, especially, you have the problem of "It can't happen to me" thinking when it comes to STI's.

5. How do we know that it is safe to give adolescents hormonal birth control? With their hormones coming to maturity and all over the place, naturally, it seems like it probably isn't the best thing to do.

As a parent I can say that I would be terribly upset if my daughter was given any medication without my consent. In the case of contraceptives I would be unlikely to accept any excuse. Whether or not my daughter would choose to engage in sex at such a young age (and I hope not), is a matter for us to discuss. But the main issue I have with it is that I feel like it would put her at risk, and that by not informing me of that risk and the danger signs to look for the risk is exponentially increased.

If, for whatever reason, I decided my daughter needed to be on birth control at a young age I think that it would be a choice I would want to fully research and decide upon based on what is the safest route for my child (and this decision made in conjunction with her doctor, not her school).

I do realize that there are some children who have parents who do not parent them etc.. and that these are the children that this policy is aiming to help, but I think in the end this policy endangers more kids than it helps... given the above questions.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Communications Class

Since I'm due mid-semester I have elected to take all of my classes this semester online. One of my classes is "Intercultural Communication."

Now, this is not the first time I've taken a communications class, nor the first time I've been disappointed by the book or content. I so want to like these classes, they should be interesting and fun, but I always end up reading textbooks that are not well written or researched and seem rather ridiculous and illogical to a large degree.

Why must communications make itself so laughable?

I hate to sound like and academic snob (especially since I'm a creative writing and photography major) but... well, communications is kinda like the dumbass degree field from what I can tell.

How else do you end up with a textbook that is full of logical errors and unsupported claims? That cites quotes by so and so but never even kinda explain why we should care what John Smith said about blah blah blah...

And then the professors.... This one seems ok, I think. It's an online class so I've never met her but I'm going to assume she's nice and smart. I've had a couple of doozies though in Com classes.

One semester I had... small group communication at a local community college. I ended up having to contest my grade because the teacher regularly used words she did not know the meaning of and then tested based on her vocabulary (SCARY!)... Like once she said something like "People get perspirational and excrementory when communication breaks down between group members..." I'm not sure that these were her exact words, just that niether were actually words at all and that both would have been very wrong (and were related to bodily functions) if they were words. Luckily I was able to show my dean a copy of a test I got a c on (because of her strange vocab) and it ended up ok.

The next was a public speaking teacher who was my worst nightmare. She was inconsistent in her policies, took any request for clarification as a challenge to her authority, and liked to pit students against each other (and stir up animosity) seemingly for fun. Well, and she was pretty dumb and clueless about even her field (even though she was working on her PhD!). On the day of our final speech she gave us class evaluations to fill out, stayed in the class while we filled them out, and insinuated that our grade could be influenced by how we evaluated her class... ick, ick, ick!

Anyway, I have to say that I've not found a lot of reasons to respect the communications field, and this class isn't helping. It's not that the teacher isn't smart, it's just that the field seems too... Fluffy. Like the standards are excessively low and more about political correctness than actual academic rigor. Sure, not offending people is an important part of harmonious communications, but at the same time... when you cease to be able to communicate because your message gets lost in the trying not to offend.... that's a big problem.

Alright... that's my rant on communications. I'm sure as I read further chapters I will com across other parts of the book that piss me off. If I can I'll even quote them for you next time.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Review of La Vie en Rose

This afternoon I went to see La Vie en Rose with my (ex)step dad and his fiance. I wasn't to psyched about it, though it seemed like it could be interesting. La Vie en Rose is the story of the French singer, Edith Piaf. This film bored me to tears (didn't help that the chairs made my back hurt either!). I was unable to muster any (good) feelings for Piaf in this film. She seemed selfish, mean, petty, and OMG so terribly awkward that I was uncomfortable watching. Having never observed the actual Edith Piaf, I cannot be sure of if she was actually like this in real life, but in the film she was constantly in terrible posture, walked very clumsily, held her mouth in a repulsive way and generally... well was so completely without grace that I was pretty annoyed at watching her. The actress was not really unattractive, but the posture, the mannerisms! Ick. I've known a lot of awkward people, but all of them have at least moments of grace and movements that are not awkward... not this portrayal :) I could have gotten past this horror, likely, if she had gained my sympathy in any way... the fact is, though, that the only time I had sympathy for her was in the parts that showed her childhood... and apparently she was not ungraceful as a child in this film (strange how one would grow into that...).

So yeah, I'm going on and on about this lack of grace etc... probably seems a shallow evaluation, but I also tried pretty hard to sympathize with her. Piaf was a great singer who survived great tragedies and died young (47, I think). But while I felt sorry for her childhood (and it was rough) I just couldn't bring myself to excuse her growing into (if this portrayal was accurate) such an inconsiderate and selfish bitch as an adult. A lot of people have terrible childhoods and grow up to be very nice. Also, it seemed like she and all of the people around her justified her meanness by her being such a great Artiste... and I also find this to be no justification. I'm and "artiste" as well, and I happened to have a crappy childhood, but it gives me no right to make other people unhappy (and also gave her none).

So in all I can say I did not like the story of the film. The music was good, but I really left not wanting to hear her voice... I don't know if they were trying to vilify this woman, but I can say she is definitely an "Artiste" I'm glad to not have known or supported in any way (if this film was accurate). And I would not recommend this film to my friends because it was just too slow, too long and way too uncomfortable to watch.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Homework I do for Work

It just occurred to me that never, not in a million years, would I have imagined that I would be doing the sort of professional research I find myself doing for my photography. I'm thinking about branching out into more pin-up and possibly artistic nudes and so I've spend maybe 20 hours in the past week surfing nude and pin up sites on the web :)

Life is strange huh?

BTW: My research used to consist of buying and studying fashion mags every month, perusing agency portfolio pages, and reading nice literature. Thankfully, I can still return to these efforts once and a while :)

and if you're interested in some of the more interesting sites I've stumbled across in my current research, check out my latest posting in another of my blogs... Nude and pinup reveiw

On Mediocrity

"The average person thinks he isn’t."
- Father Larry Lorenzoni

Today I was thinking about mediocrity... well I was inspired to consider mediocrity by a very strange site I ran across while researching pin-up art (warning this is explicit stuff) the site is called Midbrow art.

Anyway, I was looking at this photographer's work and thinking... you know, there might be some sort of interesting premise here, but it's really not done very well. I felt that the images were really washed out and not very appealing.

Then I was thinking about how, having named his site midbrow art, the artist may have actually been aiming for mediocrity.

The thing is, for me, that mediocrity is one of the things I fear most. I would be happy to be loved or hated; I would hate to be uninspiring. And maybe, in his way, this photographer did inspire me... He did get me wondering how I would have done it better :) but I would not be happy being that kind of inspiration either. I've always wanted to do the best in whatever I undertook. I know I probably can't be "the best" fashion photographer or writer... there's not really one best person. I want to be among the best though, if I'm going to do it at all :)

So I've never claimed to be without vanity ;)

One of my worst memories of any class I've ever taken was in a photography class. It was photo 2, and I didn't much like the teacher (he was one of those guys who gave As only to tall skinny girls), and furthermore found his work boring (though I never told him that). In photo 1, my teacher loved my work. She told me I was one of the best natural photographers she'd ever seen, and really encouraged me. So I was kinda unprepared to encounter a teacher who really disliked my style. He was a very technically oriented photographer (which I am not) and we simply did not appreciate each others' work. Well, one day, in the darkroom, he was looking at my work and told me "I don't know why you're so excited about doing this photography, you're a mediocre photographer at best."

I'd never cried in a class, and I did not cry in front of him, but I left the room and cried. If he would have said I was a terrible photographer I would have been ok (I think), if he said he hated my work it would have been ok... but mediocre? to me that is the worst possible insult he could have given me.

Well, I am going to have to accept that there are going to be people who feel that I am a mediocre photographer/writer/artist. That's just the way it goes. Hopefully they won't tell me that to my face, and if they do... hopefully I won't cry about it :)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Right and Left

Once, when I was a teenager, I went to a family Christmas party with one of my friends. As I sat on a sofa in a living room, surrounded by strangers, I was raptly fascinated by the scenes unfolding around me. There were, perhaps, 20 people, all related except for me, in conversational pairs. They spoke and spoke to each other, quickly becoming more and more frustrated until they turned to another person and began the whole process over again.

What made this scene so fascinating to me was that each pair of conversationalists were having completely unrelated conversations with each other. One example: "I'm so glad we can all get together for Christmas this year." from a lady, to which the other lady responds "Yes, I liked the blue one the best too." and then each of them would look at each other, baffled, and instead of clarifying the conversational subject matter they would each continue upon their own streams of thought, never even approaching each other in their communication.

I have to admit that I have never seen anything quite so strange in all of the years I've lived since then, and I have occasionally revisited the experience to ponder the family dynamics which yielded such amazing lack of interpersonal communication ability, but have lately been reminded of that odd situation whenever I hear political "righties" and "lefties" talk about each other.

I don't consider myself to be on either side of that continuum. I would, in fact, generally call myself a-political about politics. Since I am not invested in either side I find myself listening to both and often wondering what any of them are talking about.

It seems to me that both the right and left are constantly constructing straw man arguments against the other side, neither really listen to each other, both make faulty assumptions at every turn, and generally show neither good communication or reasoning abilities when confronted with the "evil specter" of the other side.

Generally I would find such a situation more intriguing and amusing than anything else, but the thing is that feelings have escalated to a point that I find truly disturbing. It is not uncommon to find people on either side of that line spitting venomous epithets at people who disagree with them, asserting that "x's should be sterilized" or silenced, and even sometimes that they should be done away with. It is this irrational hate that disturbs, and even frightens, me. How, in a land where we all profess to desire and value freedom, can any of us justify calls to silence anyone's opinion?

Admittedly, the vast majority of people on both sides of any given issue are not spouting such ideas. Most of us are reasonably rational and fair people; it's just that the unreasonable fanatics are often the loudest of any of us.

My personal observations about the right and left: Both sides are composed of individuals who want to live their lives in peace, be free to raise their families as they want, want to find happiness in what they do, are generally friendly to individual people even when they "hate" some groups of people (and this applies equally to both sides of the fence), in fact I'd say that mostly they share the same core values; kindness, respect, honesty, generosity, responsibility, hope and gentleness... they just take different routes to get there sometimes.

What really amuses me sometimes is that people can be so divided from each other and set on disagreeing with "the other side" that they can't recognize when they are both arguing for the same thing... and wonder why they aren't getting anywhere :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Relativity and Deviance

I'm currently reading two books about deviance. The first, which I have actually started, is "The Relativity of Deviance" and as the title implies it is largely about how deviance is a relative thing and it proposes that there really is no such thing as actual deviance because all things can be acceptable or unacceptable depending upon the culture in which the action is performed.

The second is "the Politics of Deviance" which is reported to be more along the lines of how deviance has become acceptable within our culture, what that means and so on.

My opinion, while deviance is different from culture to culture, in large part, there are certain things which are generally deviant within mainstream cultures and that this is not only a true thing, but that it is a good thing for cultures to have ideals of behavior... I'm not a relativist (well, not completely).

Random murder, for instance, is pretty much deviant (and criminal) behavior throughout the world, within cultures. While some cultures may be ok with murdering people outside of their group, I don't know of any that believe that killing someone, for no reason, within the group is acceptable... with the exception of infanticide (and in cultures where infanticide is acceptable, infants are generally considered to be non-persons or non-members of the group) or special rights given to certain persons for whatever reason.

Another example of pretty universal abhorrence is having sexual relations with a child who is deemed to be beneath the age of acceptable sexual initiation. The age may vary considerably among groups and between genders (and this prohibition may not apply to children engaging in sexual play amongst themselves) but all groups seem to have a minimum age which is acceptable for adults to engage in sexual activities with a younger person.

But, some people say, there are groups of people who engage in random killing or have sex with infants and so it must be true that these behaviors are only deviant because of social conditioning... well, I think not. I'd say that groups who engage in these behaviors are not part of the mainstream culture of their society, and that while they may have personal ideals or rationalizations for their acts, their acts are still deviant within the larger culture they live in.

And there is a reason for the idea of deviance, and that some things are wrong. In order for people to live in societies, rules of conduct must be agreed upon and generally followed which will protect us from each other (in whatever ways we collectively decide are necessary). If we decide that there are really no deviant acts or wrong behaviors then we give people license to act in ways which are harmful to others and thus increase the insecurity of the group as a whole.

Some people believe that social condemnation of acts actually increases their incidence, but if we observe the actuality of events we can see that most people will obey the rules of their particular society (or subculture) when societal proscriptions are in place and punishments for failure to obey norms and ideals are harsh... When unwed motherhood was a permanent black mark and would ruin a girl's reputation and chances in life, forever, the vast majority of women did not engage in premarital sex or have children when unmarried (and no, I don't hope to return to this state of affairs).

You can look at virtually any behavior and see that social consequences to actions are much more effective in curbing and encouraging behaviors than any legal ramification could be. In communities where "snitching" is seen as a horrible crime against the community, people will not report crimes (no matter how awful) because they fear the social consequences more than their legal problems for not doing so, or even the dangers to their life if they fail to report. In communities where illicit drug use is seen as acceptable or "normal" the rate of usage among people is much higher than within communities where drug use is considered unacceptable and "deviant", even when the legal ramifications are the same... social strictures are much more effective.

So I believe that by creating a society where we believe that morality is relative, that there is no right or wrong, and failing to socially address behaviors which are detrimental to individuals and communities, we are failing to be socialized at all. We are allowing our culture to devolve from a thing which rewards kindness, civility and helpfulness into a thing which promotes empty self-gratification of all kinds and tells people to "look out for number 1" instead of helping each other and promoting what used to be our values of cooperation and generosity. In effect, we are replacing the evils of ethnocentricity (which I would say has a place in society) that we used to develop with age and community membership, with the childish ideal of Egocentricity that has historically (in every society) been the main characteristic of immaturity (which socialization's goal was to overcome).

In short, I believe that by adopting a relativistic view of morality we are devolving into a group of individuals who never reach intellectual and social maturity... we become eternal children.

And I like children, a lot, but I believe that perhaps the biggest goal of childhood is to mature into a well socialized adult. People need each other, but in order for societies to function well people must learn to behave in ways which promote the well-being of others within the group... whether we like it or not, this means that we must come to a consensus, within our communities, about what constitutes acceptable behavior (thus, what is right or wrong) and use societal controls to enforce our collective beliefs.

And really, even as we are pushing an ideal of relativity we are defeating our own cause... for an ideology of relativity is intolerant of that which is viewed as being non-relativistic thinking, and that in itself denies the relativity of non-relativity... or is an impossible endeavor.

I don't propose that one culture or way of thinking is correct, but rather that in order for any given society to function well they must have their own code of conduct and self-regulate behaviors within their groups. There must be controls upon human behavior (and in actuality there always are, even if unspoken), for the good of everyone, and sometimes that means that some people will not be able to do whatever they want... no, that always means some people will not be allowed to do whatever they want. And that's a good thing when your neighbor thinks your infant is sexy or decides they want to live in your house or wear your skin over their own.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


Today I was thinking about how lucky I have been this year. It's been a strange year, full of unexpected events and unplanned for things, but looking back I have to admit that I have been fortunate in that the things I've had to face could have been much worse, much harder, and the truth is that the way things have come together has been well the best they could be given the particular circumstances.

Yeah, I know it's only halfway through the year and I have yet to experience the big stress of becoming a parent and stuff.. I was mostly thinking about Eric.

For I know I am lucky to have met these trying circumstances with a man who has stayed by my side. Probably many men would have left, in this same situation, and really, I'm not sure what I would have done. I'm not sure I could have handled this alone.

Beyond that, though, it really continues to amaze me how well we seem to fit each other. At least, how well he fits me. He really evens me out, helps me stay calm, and makes me happy. I've always liked balance in life and I really feel as though he balances me.

And that makes me feel very fortunate. I see so many couples in relationships that destroy them, who treat each other badly, who make each other unhappy, who have no trust, respect or communication. I'm very glad to not have any of that in my own. It has been hard, especially this past month, with him so far away. I worry, sometimes, that the physical distance between us will make us strangers to each other upon his return. At the same time, though, I feel like we are dealing well with it so far. We miss each other but stay in contact; I guess that's the only thing to be done :)

Anyway, today I was just thinking about my good fortune :) I've not been very lucky in life before now. This is a nice change.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Stereotyping White Men

It started out with an incorrectly typed street name; I tell her it says she's going to Othella and she laughs and says she she doesn't live on a bad Shakespearian play street. I tell her I've never read Othello and she proceeds to give me this description: "I don't like the story. It's about this black guy who marries this white chick and his friend tells him she was cheating on him so he kills her... surprisingly, it doesn't seem to be about racism as much as jealousy..."

And I tell her I'm not so surprised it's not really so much about racism since in Shakespeare's day there wasn't a lot of opportunity for racism, the vast majority of Europeans would live their entire lives without meeting someone of another race.

And she says "No, it's not that, as long as there's white men there has always been, and will always be, racism and other ism's because as long as they exist they'll try to make hierarchies".

And I want to know what the hell makes this woman think it's ok to get into my car and insult my grandfather, brothers, the father of my child, any sons I might one day have, me (being descended from these evil white men), and all of my descendants who will also be spawned through these same evil genes.

The fact is that white men hold no monopoly on bad deeds. Throughout the history of humankind there have been endless examples of how we always tend to scapegoat and oppress other humans. This is not limited to any one race, gender, location or culture... we are all descended from good and evil, and all of us will in the future be connected through blood to evildoers... such is the way of life.

It is only in modern day that slavery is largely extinct, throughout the history of human kind, and even within some species of animals, slavery has existed and flourished. The fact is that for most of our history the vast majority of humans would not have had contact with other races, and thus no racism, but we have always found some other reason to discriminate and oppress... be it due to religion, culture, gender or whatever perceived difference we could imagine.

This doesn't make it right, it does not excuse white men, asian men, black men, indians or any other for their deeds... it does mean that none of us has the right to blame the evils of mankind upon any one particular group.

And just because it may be popular to blame white men for all that is wrong, or thought to be wrong, with the world doesn't mean it's ok to stereotype white guys any more than it is to stereotype any other group of people for any reason... and really, how could you think it's ok to stereotype them to one of their own? It's in insult, any way you look at it.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Conservative or Liberal?

Today I was thinking about where I stand, politically. In general I must admit that I don't take a political stance. I don't vote (for people, anyway) and often avoid discussions of a political nature because I think they too often become frightening. However, at the risk of alienating some of my readers, I think I'd like to investigate some of my political philosophies.

First, I have to admit that I began this task by looking up the Wikis for Conservative and Liberal. I have often been told, and suspected, that I lean a bit toward the conservative edge of things. Looking over the Wiki page for conservative, though, I'd say that doesn't so much fit me at all. SO then I moved to liberal... there we have it. I am much more like what they call a classical liberal. Yay, I have a defining label :) but what does that mean to me?

I guess you could say that my basic ideal for government is that it should intrude upon my life as little as possible, be as fair as possible, and be practical. Sounds good, right? but what does that mean?

It means, first of all, that as an adult I should be assumed, by government, to be responsible enough, and smart enough to make my own decisions. I don't think the government should have the ability to tell me what I can or cannot do until or unless my actions infringe upon the rights of others. So things like stealing, assault, harassment and even speeding should be illegal since each of them hurts, or endangers, other people. But the government has no reason, or right, in my view, to tell me I can't buy beer after 1:30am (even though I don't drink) or that I can't smoke pot (even though I don't smoke pot) or how I should raise my children.

In regard to fairness, I think government should attempt to be as fair as possible to the most people it can. That everyone should have a vote and that each individual voice should carry the same weight... basically that while minorities should be protected and free, as everyone is, that their rights should not supersede the rights of the majority. I guess this is the utilitarian in me: the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

And then we have practicality: One of my biggest problems with govt. today is that it is absolutely impractical and wasteful. We spend more money on Bureaucracy to run things than we spend on the things themselves... that's just silly IMO. Take the IRS, for example, there are thousands upon thousands of rules and so much silliness that it is unwieldy and ends up wasting a great deal of the taxpayers money. I can't see why we don't adopt a simple flat tax for everyone. It would be infinitely more fair and save a great deal of money and frustration for citizens. What? Tax cuts for the rich? Actually, for the richest people it would likely be a tax increase. And anyway, I can't understand the graduated income tax. Why are we penalizing people for their success? Under a flat tax system they would still pay more tax, even a higher percentage of their income in tax, but in a way that is fair and easy.

how? Well, every flat tax system I've seen starts with an amount of income that is exempt from tax and then taxes all income over that number at a fixed rate. Let's say the base number is 10,000$ for a single person (though it's always higher than that). So if Rene makes 10,000$ of income in 1 year she will pay no tax... her tax rate then being 0%. If she makes 15,000$ the next year she will pay $750 in taxes (if the flat tax rate is 15%) which would make her actual rate of taxation 5%. If she makes 150,000$ then she will pay 21,000$ in taxes and her actual rate of taxation would be 14%. So, in effect, because of the base untaxable income, the tax system is graduated to a small degree (since you will pay a higher percentage of taxes the more you make until you reach the maximum of 15%). I'm not so worried about the actual baseline or the percentage of taxation, just that it is equally applied to everyone. I've never understood why we should punish success... especially since our complicated system wastes so much money and has so many loopholes for people who can afford to buy the right accountants and lawyers (oh yeah, no loopholes in a simple flat tax system). Warren Buffet, just recently, said that he was appalled to find out that he paid a lower tax rate than his maid... that certainly illustrates the unfairness of our system. And for a doctor, who has spent 12+ years educating himself for his profession, I can't see the justice in charging him upwards of 50% of his income in taxes.

Taxation is just one issue of govt. where we seem to be crazily bogged down and wasteful. You can see this same phenomenon in nearly every branch of government.

I just want to see a common sense approach to governance; accountability of both our citizenry and our elected officials; fairness to not only the richest and poorest of this nation, but to all of us who fall in the middle; and a system that rewards honesty and protects liberty. I'm afraid I ask too much.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I may have to do it; institute a policy I'd rather avoid. I've been told by many drivers that, after dark, I should require payment up front from black passengers and if I pick them up from less than nice neighborhoods I should always require up front money.

I really don't want to do this, it seems so rude and honestly it seems wrong to have one policy for one group of people and another for others. It seems wrong but... I have been stiffed less than 10 times since I've been driving a cab, and every one of those people who didn't pay was black. I guess it could be a coincidence; it's a pretty small group of people, but the fact is that of all of the cab drivers I've talked to... it is pretty much never anyone but the black customers who are going to stiff you.

And the fact is that most black customers pay their fare. I've been driving for a year and a half and I've been stiffed fewer than 10 times... I guess you could say with those odds I shouldn't worry about it and just deal with losing a few bucks every so often. Well you could say that but 1) I hate the idea of accepting that its going to happen, and 2) With gas at nearly $3 a gallon, I can't afford to lose that money... I'm barely making anything as it is.

grrr... I hate this. What can I do? I could demand up front payment from everyone, just to be fair, but there is a biiiig problem with that. People are offended by that demand, and I don't blame them, and they usually will not tip if you ask for payment up front. and... this is so politically incorrect to say... since 95% of black passengers do not tip anyway, we don't lose money by asking for up front payment.

So many stereotypes in this post. I know it's bad to generalize and etc... but the thing is that I am only reporting my honest experience with you. Yeah, it's a stereotype that black people are more likely to not pay than other races... but (in St. Louis, at least) it is also the truth. Yeah, it's a stereotype to say that 95% of black customers do not tip... but the fact is that I am probably being generous by saying 5% do tip (In contrast to 95% of white customers who do tip)... though I can say that, for some reason, Indian passengers are unlikely to tip (particularly South Indian) too.

so... I'll end up doing this, imposing this rule, and hating having to do it. The truth is, though, that I can't afford not to and I'm really tired of being stolen from.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


in the past two days I have had two customers who I really remember.

The first was a guy I picked up in a pretty bad neighborhood (since the summer slowdown I have to work in places I normally wouldn't think of going... Eagerly awaiting August). He was pretty nice but he spent the whole trip talking about all the horrible things going on today. What I remember most is how convinced he was about the hopelessness of the world (and how much this depressed me).

Last night there was a terrible shooting on the same block I picked him up on. Some people pulled into a vacant lot across the street from a home and shot (automatic guns) into the porch. They say it is gang related... sadly, there were small children on the porch. Also, there have (in the last week) been five murders in a small township neighboring my own. This is an extremely strange thing, I live in a very safe part of St. Louis County, and many people are nervous about it... well the guy lives in a bad neighborhood, grew up in bad neighborhoods, and was telling me about this stuff and more. It is so depressing. This is why I don't watch news :)

The last one was by far the worst; a female customer (couldn't have been more than 20) and her three children call for a ride at 1 in the morning. It was ok at first, but then she started talking about how bad it was to raise kids and then her 4 year old daughter randomly started talking about kissing her doll's "booty" and other private parts and making very clear and unmistakable noises to accompany the monologue. I've known people who think "kids will be kids" about stuff like this... two things I have to say about it: 1) her mother did not in any way respond to this and seemed unconcerned (and as if this were normal conversation for a 4 year old) and 2) how does a four year old come to know about such things? One of the major signals of sexual abuse in young children is early sexualization and sex play with toys and other kids... I'd say 4 is pretty darn early. I can hope that the actual situation is that this child has just seen this (though I can't say that sits well with me either)... I think that's the belief I'll adopt on this one.

The thing is that no matter what I choose to believe (though in actuality I will likely just forget this) that little girl is probably living in a situation that is depriving her of a lot of opportunities in life. It is so easy to worry about stuff like that. To see careless parenting (which this woman appeared, for several reasons, to be) and all of the horror in the world and wonder why we even hope that things will work out, that there is any chance to live a good life, that it's possible to raise healthy and well-adjusted children in such a world... It would be easy to go down that road and, to be honest, it becomes something I must be ever-vigilant about. I do see a lot more ugliness than I would in most any other profession... the lucky thing is that I am generally quite adept at ignoring ugliness and daydreaming away harsh realities that I cannot change :)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Occasional Scary Customers

I've been driving a cab for maybe a year and a half, altogether, now. In that year I've met a lot of people and seen quite a few interesting things; I've only gotten nervous three times that I remember. Tonight was the fourth.

In St. Louis there is a suburb called Kirkwood. Most of Kirkwood is very nice, high property values, and there is no crime to really speak of. But, strangely enough, there is a small area in the middle of this suburb, Meecham Park, that is sometimes said to be as dangerous as the worst parts of the inner city. I'm not sure that's true, it seems unlikely, but tonight makes the second time I've been sent to pick up passengers from that area and ended up more than a little scared.

I guess it was a little after 2AM when I arrived at his location. The neighborhood was dark and I couldn't see him very well. He was a clean looking young black guy with long dreads, he had a baby face and nothing about his appearance (that I noticed in the dark) was scary, so I didn't think anything of letting him in my cab.

He told me he was going to Berkeley, a pretty nasty suburban ghetto area, but I figured it was ok. It's a long trip from Kirkwood to Berkeley so I asked him to show me that he had the money... and that was bad sign number one.

This young guy, he looked like a teenager, pulled out a roll of cash bigger than my fist; most of it was large bills. Hmm... that's never a good sign. But at that point I feel like I have no easy out; he's already in my cab and I can hardly refuse him with an "I'm sorry but you have too much money for me to drive you sir" (Actually I could refuse him for that or any reason, but I felt it might piss him off).

So we're driving and he asks me if I'm scared to be picking someone up in Meecham Park so late at night. I ask him why and he says, "well, you know... that cop got shot here last year, and somebody stabbed that pizza woman to death... they never found the guy, either.." so, asking that question and listing reasons to be scared is potentially a bad sign, but being a female cabbie I get that question every day... it only seems bad when combined with his next question.

"Have you been busy tonight?" he asks me. THAT is a really bad sign... especially after reminding me that the pizza girl stabber was never caught. I tell him I just started for the morning and start trying to hold a more friendly and relaxed conversation with him (he was fairly silent and stiff; also a bad sign since it might indicate nervousness and bad intentions).

I've found, and been told, that often the best defense is to be friendly. The fact of the matter is that if you seem confident and treat a person with respect and friendliness, they are not going to want to hurt you. Sure, if they're desperate, they might still rob you, but probably they will leave you unharmed. So I ask him if he's still in school, if he had to work late, blah blah blah. He tells me he's only had a few hours sleep in the last few days and I tell him I couldn't do it, I'm pregnant and I have to sleep at least 9 or 10 hours a day. He says his baby's Mamma was like that too.

So I ask him about his child, how old, her age and stuff like that and tell him I'm having a girl, too, and that I'm really excited etc... and he's starting to be more friendly with me... something which makes me much more relaxed.

Anyway, we finally get close to his destination when two guys come running across the street in front of us, one jumps in a car and the other one pulls out a gun and is yelling at the other and banging on the door. This is like 15 feet in front of us (and apparently Berkeley is even worse than I've been told... I never went there at night before). He tells me to go on past, not to worry, and then he pays me and gets out of my cab a block up the street.

As he's getting out I see him in the light for the first time. He's wearing gang (Bloods) colors, a rag hanging from his pocket, and has a gun under his shirt (outlined through the T as he's getting out).

I have a policy; if I get nervous I go home. Yeah, I was nervous after that. If it would have been light where I picked him up, and I would have seen his gang clothing, I would have driven right past him. Maybe he was harmless, maybe he's just a guy who wanted a ride home, but the fact is that driving gang members, who are likely drug dealers (considering that huge wad of cash), is the most dangerous thing you can do at any time of the day. If they live a criminal lifestyle already, they are much more likely to commit a crime against you... it's as simple as that.

So I was thinking, as I drove home and considered what might have happened and how I might avoid such a thing in the future, that I'm glad I won't be driving a cab for too much longer. I just have to do this for the rest of the summer, just until school starts back up, and then I'll probably never be in such a scary situation again.

Luckily, I am not a nervous person. Tomorrow I will be back to my normal self but I think there will be one difference. I think, from now on, I'll avoid the Ghetto of Kirkwood at 2AM and especially if the passenger is going to another ghetto. If nothing else, I need to keep Lily out of that sort of danger.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

First Pregnant Cabbie in St. Louis?

We had our company cookout last Thursday for the taxi company I lease from. It was a nice day for a picnic and the company provided decent food (grilled Brats and burgers among other things) and the live entertainment of watching the president of the company (along with several supervisors) sit in a dunking booth and get dunked at the hands of some pretty competitive cabbies.

I took the opportunity to not wear my uniform (yeah, cabbies in STL are supposed to wear uniforms) and attended in maternity clothes that make it obvious that I'm not just getting fat. As I walked in the president of the company came up to me to chat for a few minutes.

He's a really nice guy who seems to have a knack for remembering the names of all of his 200 or so drivers (though I guess, being one of 5 females, mine is easy). He inquired about how I was feeling and then proceeded to tell me that I am the first pregnant driver he's ever had, and perhaps the first in St. Louis. He then wondered how long I planned on driving and if I thought there would be any safety issues to consider.

I assured him that I would not work if my belly made it hard to drive :) and that safety is one of my major concerns; that I have already accepted that I'm not going to be able to accept out of town trips after a month or so (though I've never yet had one really) and blah, blah, blah. Also that I didn't plan to work past late August at any rate.

He seemed relieved that I didn't plan to work up until going into labor (something cab driving would make pretty easy to do) and walked away happy with my plans.

It's kind of strange to be a pregnant cabbie. Well, I do tend to make better tips now :) and it's interesting to get parenting advice and stories from my fares. Just tonight a passenger was telling me about how he cried when he first held his 1 year-old daughter, but many people seem to be a bit disapproving of my occupation. Many people believe that cab driving is a really dangerous thing to do (and in some cities it is really dangerous), but I've been cabbing for over a year and have only gotten nervous a couple of times.

I'm actually much more worried about car accidents than passengers... I'm much more likely to get injured that way... and I think that driving a cab is a lot safer than working at a gas station (where you routinely see pregnant women) or delivering pizzas. In fact, I often wonder why more women don't take up cabbing for a living. It's a pretty high-paying job that doesn't require a college degree. It requires long hours and doesn't give benefits, but it won't break down your body, give you carpal tunnel, or make your feet hurt. Plus you don't have to take anyones BS (though they will try to give it to you) and kissing booty isn't part of the job description.

You're self-employed, free to make your own schedule, and left pretty much alone by the company you lease from, as long as you pay for your cab. In all, it's a pretty nice job (and many people in STL make 50,000$+ cabbing) and, if nothing else, you accumulate a lot of interesting stories to laugh about with your friends.

I was thinking, again, today that it seems strange to me to be the first pregnant driver in STL (if, indeed, I am). Actually, it's a bit strange whenever you find yourself the "first" at anything. It reminded me that I have led a pretty unconventional life and done a lot of things that many people never do... maybe I'll have to get around to writing my memoirs one day after all.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Nightmares in Pregnancy

I've been having nightmares, often several each week, for a month or two now. It seems this is a pretty common thing during pregnancy... that more vivid dreams are more prevalent in pregnancy as well (though I remember my dreams other than nightmares less now than pre-pregnancy).

Just another of the silly inconveniences I guess. What really bothers me about them is that while they are not recurrent... they are always different in scene and content... they all seem to involve abandonment by E. or losing him in some other way.

Perhaps it seems strange to read too much into these dreams, and I hope I'm not. It's just that it seems like having these nightmares might be some indication of something I have not heretofore been bothered by. I've always been a little surprised by my apparent lack of abandonment and trust issues... maybe I just never cared enough about anyone for them to surface.

It is something I think I should carefully consider. I really dislike it when I come up against things which linger from my childhood... I thought I had exorcised most of those demons, hopefully I have, but I guess a few might remain for me to contend with.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Good, Clean, Mean-spirited Fun?

I happened to watch a commercial for the T.V. show "the Starter Wife" and the end line of the commercial was that it was good, clean, mean-spirited fun... what does that even mean?

What is it with supposed comedies today? Either they are super-silly (and usually stupid) slap-stick that take the easiest route to gross humor, or it is a mean-spirited block of jokes about targets whom are currently acceptable to serve as the butt of jokes. Whatever happened to intelligent humor? Why must we stoop to the obvious and often gross humor that most of us should have largely outgrown with high school or junior high?

I can see the value of some slapstick... take the film "American Pie"... it had a lot of silly humor in it, but I think it also had some pretty intelligent humor in it as well, and that is why I think it very well may become a classic.

Anyway, I have a much bigger problem with the mean humor. Why must we ridicule others? Why must we hurt people's feelings for our own amusement? Surely we can do better than that.

No, I've never watched the starter wife... their tagline has just insured that I never will.

Poor Little Paris

I almost feel sorry for her. Not because she is going to have to serve her jail time, exactly, but because of the emotional roller coaster this must be. It kinda seems unfair for her to be released and then put back in, I hate to see people given hope only to have it snatched away like that, and what really bothers me about the current ruling of the judge is that now instead of the 23 days her sentence had been reduced to.. he's saying she will now have to serve her entire 45 day sentence.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not opposed to a 45 day sentence for Paris Hilton (or any other DUI offender who keeps driving under the influence), it's just that it seems to me that Paris is being punished for something that she's not entirely responsible for... the sheriff's decision to release her early for home confinement. Even if she and her family were working to pull strings and procure early release... I can't really blame them. I think anyone would try to reduce their sentence if at all possible.

I will say, though, that if she was working to get her release it is a bit hypocritical... she was quoted as saying that she wanted to take responsibility for her actions... and in my opinion that would mean serving her sentence quietly and without a fight.

In the end it is not in my power to decide if this ruling is fair, and really is not a matter of great concern to me. I just feel a little sorry for a spoiled little girl (no, I don't think she's yet a woman) who's been juggled all over the place and had her emotions played with.

photo via

Friday, June 8, 2007

Cute, Cute, Cute!

I kinda like cute stuff.. Baby animals, baby people, animals, comics... you know, the usual. I have to tell you tat when I am in need of a cute fix I will head on over to Cute Overload ( for my dose.

Today I was surfing Google video and found a very cute video of a baby Panda bear sneezing (and startling the bejesus out of mommy panda). Find it here:

I'd love to hear about cute stuff you come across as well :)

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Separation Anxiety

I helped my boyfriend drive to California last week. He's doing an internship at a very cool company in the Silicon Valley over the summer and may not be back at all until the end of August.

The trip was amazing. We took the long way, visited my brother's family and his parents (who I was nervous and excited to meet) and then drove the northern route across the country. I don't guess I've seen so much natural beauty, all in the span of a few days, in my whole life. I would recommend this trip to everyone... especially stopping in Yellowstone.

I would be lying, though, if I did not admit that I feel some anxiety about our extended separation at this point in our relationship.

We have only been together since January and it has not been the easiest partnership in some ways. It's not that we don't get along, we get along amazingly well, in fact, it's just that things have happened too quickly in some very important ways and I don't feel altogether secure.

I became pregnant very quickly, like within a month of our being together, and that of course has not been the easiest thing for either of us. I guess we are both "used" to the idea of being parents by now... or as used to it as we could possibly be at this point... and I know that he cares for me deeply, but I am in love with him and that feeling is not yet returned.

It has not been long. I think it is normal that he is not as deeply involved, emotionally, with me yet, but it does not help ease my fears about things between us. And I wonder how such a long period of being apart will affect how we feel about each other when he returns. We will almost have to get to know each other all over again (him being away half as long as we've been together). I guess I am afraid that when he comes back he will not want to be with me any more... I'd guess my fears are natural as well.

And it's not that I would have wanted him to forgo this opportunity. I am very excited for him to be doing this internship. I believe it is a great chance for him to get a better idea of what he wants to do with his life and I honestly believe that, having seen where he is living, the Silicon Valley suits him quite well.

I don't, in fact, believe I would wish things any different than they are. I only wish I was more secure in our relationship... because even if it is selfish for me to feel this way, I really don't want to lose what we have.

He assures me that no matter what happens he will always be my friend, and that he will always be there for me. The thing is that I don't want to just be his friend, even as much as I really hope and want for him to be happy.

In the end it doesn't so much matter what I want, though. Things happen; life changes, and we all have to live with whatever we are presented with and make our way the best we can.

But, to illustrate my anxiety I had an awful nightmare last night/this morning. I have been having them sporadically and they have all revolved around him betraying me, or abandoning me, in some way. Last night it was that he left me for another woman, his ex (who he did love), and in the most callous of ways. The thing is that I trust him to not cheat on me or do anything like that... I guess I may not trust men as much as I thought I did (which was much more, I believed, than I was "supposed" to trust given my past).

Beyond that, though, while I trust him to be honest with me and to not betray me willingly, I know that sometimes things happen and people develop feelings for other people whether or not they want to. And given the situation which we are in I guess I worry that he might feel as though I am a hardship on him, things must have been simpler before me and the pregnancy, and that someone else might be much more attractive in being less complicated and requiring less of him than I, and Lily, undoubtedly do and will. And maybe also that being pregnant has sapped much of my energy and probably made me a lot less fun and exciting than I otherwise might be.

But he is not a fickle man. I don't think my anxieties are grounded in reality, really, but they are there none-the-less. I guess my job over the next couple of months will be to stay calm and try not to worry about it. Because the truth is that even if he comes back and tells me he no longer wants to be with me, I will be OK and so will our daughter, even if it would take some time to figure out that we will be so.

So strange to worry about such things. I'm not a natural worrier. I guess I should get used to it though... I hear parenting makes worriers of the most relaxed people in the world :)

Monday, May 21, 2007

On my Vacation from Writing

I am not one of those writers who can sort things out by writing-- well, not personal things anyway. I can develop my ideas, opinions on whatever, and whimsies with the keyboard or a pen and paper, but when it comes to personal issues and events... my writing invariably suffers while I sort things out.

In any case that is my justification for neglecting my blog for so long :) I guess it's just that I am completely consumed by this pregnancy and all of the things that come along with it, and I don't feel as if I am capable, at this point, of seriously thinking about much else. I also don't want to turn this into a baby blog (I hope to keep it more intellectual etc..) but today I will write a bit about my feelings on how my life will change this October.

One of the most surprising things, to me, is how much I am changing as a result of this event. For all of my life I have felt more a child than an adult, and have reveled in the freedom I demanded. Now, I will have to be more adult than I ever really contemplated... but then again I hope to avoid actually really growing up.

Mostly I see how I consider everything in terms of this child. What kind of music I listen to, the choices I am making and will make, the kind of people I want to expose him/her to, my ideals as a parent. Yes, I'm sure this is normal and that everyone goes through it when they are about to become parents. I guess it's still just coming as a surprise to me how very seriously I am taking this... I'm not particularly known for seriousness.

and there are so many things to consider. I know a few things about the kind of parent I hope to be. I know I want to be balanced; to find the right place between protecting the child and facilitating independence of mind and spirit. I hope to teach him/her to live healthily, to have respect for him/herself and others, to have a good moral foundation etc.. I think I have some ideas of how to accomplish this. I'm not so sure if I know how to achieve the practicalities of this mission though. For instance, I am pretty much opposed to daycare, preschool etc. and hope to be a stay at home mother, at least mostly. I really even want to homeschool-- mostly because I really distrust the ability of schools to provide appropriate (good) education for any child and think I can do much better. But how will I accomplish this as a mostly single mother? How frugal can I be? Can I manage to do this at all?

I think it will be somewhat easier to manage as long as I am still in school... I think. And I generally do find a way to do things... I just worry about doing this right. I won't have another chance to be the best mother I can be to this child.

And also, I am worried about this being a mostly single parent. It really makes me more adamant about being home. If he is only going to be a part time parent, how can I at all justify being any less than a full time one? It seems so unfair, so wrong, to raise a child with two part time parents-- like in the end you aren't raising your child at all, but rather giving that responsibility to strangers. That is something I cannot even stand to consider.

So there are a million concerns and things to think about and I'm sure I will write some more, sometimes, about certain issues regarding parenting here. I will try to stay more to the literary, cultural, art etc issues. But right now they just aren't the things I'm mostly thinking about :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Snitching and Cassandra

Two years ago, June 5th, my friend Cassandra was murdered.

One night a "friend" of hers beat her to death with his bare hands. She lived in a neighborhood of apartments; buildings which were closely spaced. There must have been dozens of witnesses to her screams and no one called the police.

I've sometimes wondered how that could happen. How long does it take to beat someone to death? Her mother said she was completely unrecognizable, she only knew her by a mole on her neck.

How could people in the homes around her listen to her screams, her cries for help, and do nothing? The police did not know about her death until the perpetrator led them to her body.

So it's been on the news the last few days that 60 mins. did a report in which a rapper, Cameron, was interviewed about the anti-snitching culture. I didn't connect the two, foolishly, until I was almost asleep tonight. That's why Cassandra got no help that night. No one wanted to snitch, and my friend died for it.

You know what, it makes me really mad. And I hate to say this but it is something I absolutely cannot respect about any culture that subscribes to this. Thinking about it... before this realization I would not have really cared too much about the racial composition of a neighborhood I lived in. There are good and bad neighborhoods of every color, but now... now I don't think I could move into a black neighborhood. I would just be too scared that if someone were murdering me no one would help. I know that in every white neighborhood I've ever lived in, a woman's screams bring the police quite quickly.

So I feel bad for saying it, maybe it makes me racist, but it is the truth. I am having a child now and I could not, in good conscience, put that child or myself in a position to be completely devoid of help if we needed it. What is a community, what is a neighborhood, if you cannot even count on your neighbors for a simple thing like picking up a phone if you scream for help in the night?

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

AMA Halts Executions

This morning I was listening to the news on NPR and they mentioned a little something about the AMA issuing guidelines which would punish physicians who participate or oversee executions of convicted criminals on death row.

Now I'm pretty mixed on my opinions of capital punishment. While I don't particularly care for murder, even when state sanctioned, I also feel that there are some people who are just too dangerous to risk subjecting society to, and I feel that the burden of their life long imprisonment is perhaps hard to justify... so I'll just say I don't know how I stand on the issue.

But, having said that I will say I am wholly opposed to what the AMA is doing. In my opinion they are in effect using their power to license physicians to overrule the power and laws of the state, and I feel that this is a very dangerous precedent to set.

For no matter what your stance is on capital punishment, I think it is dangerous to allow the moral position of any group to dictate what doctors can do. What if the AMA became headed up by prolifers and withdrew the liscenses of doctors who provided abortion, or by strict catholics and punished drs. for prescribing birth control... or radical muslims and withdrew liscenses of male doctors who had female patients?

We may think that these things could not happen, and to be honest the only one that seems to be any real danger now is the abortion issue, since one could argue that since doctors are to preserve life that abortions are unethical (if fetuses are alive) but it is impossible to know what the future holds and how society will change in the years to come.

I think the population is about evenly split on the capital punishment thing, so this is not an overwhelming majority issue... niether is the prolife/prochoice debate.

The potential dangers of allowing any agency who is not accountable to the public (voters) for their actions to determine (effectively) what is done by the state is a danger to all of us.

I don't know what will happen with this, and haven't even been able to find anything about it on the web, but it is something that gave me pause and frightened me a little bit today.

Oh, and sorry I've not written in so long :)

Saturday, February 17, 2007


It is a terrible thing to see the end of something beautiful. To watch a beginning end, a potential being destroyed. Perhaps the destruction is not immediate. Perhaps it will not happen today, tomorrow or even next week but one of the tomorrows yet to come will bring agony, and sooner than I would have expected that pain to be borne.

There is no reason to go into specifics. No reason to linger upon the cause, it is there, it is unavoidable and perhaps it is my own fault for being who I am; feeling as I feel. I wish there was some way for me to be someone else for a while, to do the thing that seems easy and avoid a particular pain I see tumbling toward me. That easy, though, comes with its own pain, and perhaps, likely, a greater pain in the end. An unjustifiable pain that I realize to be so, an avoidable pain if I am strong enough to be true to myself and not give in to my desire to be someone else, the one he wishes I could be.

And upon thinking of this impending disaster, one that may only be averted through luck (of which I have none good), I wonder if it is better to lose someone who you love slowly or to have them wrenched quickly away. I don't want to lose this person; I have never loved as I love them. I will, though, it seems no matter what choice I make. For if even I were to be this other person I would not remain her forever, and if I did how can I think she would be someone they would care to know, that I would care to know either? For she would be a false being, an imitation of the real; all of us deserve better than an imitation.

and then again... even if mercy intervened... I now have knowledge I did not possess before. A little less innocence, a little less luster in my soul. And maybe there are many reasons for this but among them are the knowledge that I have trusted blindly, and beyond what I should have, that happiness is elusive and perhaps unattainable to one such as myself, that I am maybe not enough (not enough what I don't know) to have or keep the love of someone I love, that hope is perhaps a thing I should relinquish and instead grasp a reality, no matter how it breaks me apart.

Yes, this is a pity party, I hate having them. They are unproductive and useless in the end, but maybe I feel sorry enough for myself to indulge in this for a little while. In a series of disasters, spanning three decades and more, I have mostly denied myself this right... I have mostly seen myself as strong enough to not need such uselessness and resented the pity of anyone else. Now, though, I do not know how strong I am. I don't know if I can face this loss, this pain, this tragedy, with the tenacity I've always been known for. I don't know if I can pull up my bootstraps and get to work, or if there will be a silver lining somewhere in the distance.

I always have held on to the hope that one day things would work out for the best. That I would find happiness, a secure happiness, and live a life I could love. Right now I doubt that this is true. Right now I think that maybe I was just meant to be unhappy, to lose everything I ever care about, to be alone, to be unloved, to only have consolation from the art my sadness inspires.
People may not like to hear such things, but this is not an uncommon lot among artists. Many of us are consigned to hell for a life, creating joy for others out of a suffering and cruelty we cannot escape or overcome. And what scares me here is that this pity party is not depression induced, these are not the empty feelings of grayness and despair, but the hopeless meanderings of reality that will not allow me to ignore.

I thought, for a while, that luck had finally found me. Luck has deserted me once again, and I am even more miserable having finally tasted her. For I know what I am losing, what I will lose, and I know it is irreplaceable and a tragedy beyond recovery. I could never find something like this again, I think, for he is so perfectly made for me that no one else can compare to his fit in mind, in body and even in soul.

And maybe he does not want to leave, he says so, but that will not make a difference in the end. In the end I will be alone once more, more alone than I was ever before because he will take my heart when he walks away.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Education of Children

A hundred years ago children, who were being educated, read real books. They were often taught to read using the bible and according to one reading list, Fingerposts from 1916, at the age of five were capable of reading Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. By six they should be reading Kipling's Jungle Book and Francillion's Gods and Heros. By the ripe old age of nine it was time to introduce Homer's Odyssey.

Today we have somehow reached the conclusion that children aren't capable of reading books that require any great deal of thought. When I was in 2nd grade, some 24 years ago, I remember getting into trouble for my unwillingness to check out Dick and Jane books from the second grade shelf at the school library because they were far too young for me, even though that was what the school believed I should be reading. By the second grade I was reading books written for adults. I would routinely pillage my mother's collection and we shared many a conversation about the books we had both read and what we thought about them.

One of the most unfortunate losses for society, in my opinion, has been the devaluation and end of interest in reading (both in adults and children) for it provides the mind an exercise and respite that cannot be reproduced by today's more common amusements, the television and Video games.

Is it that we believe our children are less intelligent than they were a century ago? Has there been some catastrophic event which has leached from them the ability to comprehend and respond to information more sophisticated than "See Spot run"? I drive many children to and from their schools through the St. Louis Desegregation program and am appalled by the lack of literacy I see in them. Last year, when I worked for different company and had a regular student I took each day, I would have my 10 year old passenger read to me on the way home from school sometimes. She was in the fourth grade, in a good school district, and was having a great deal of trouble reading Suess's Cat in the Hat... she told me she was much better with Green Eggs and Ham. All I could do was wonder how she managed to progress to 4th with a reading level I would assume to be at first grade.

And I guess this is why I have, for some time now, believed that I will not send my child to any public school, or likely even private, to be educated. I have no faith in their ability to engender and sustain any curiosity or love of learning. When education becomes a chore of rote memorization and the object is of stifling original or unusual thought then how can any child want to learn? Then there are schools who have gone too far in the other direction. Who, in their quest to free children from the terrible bonds of the above, try instead to give them total freedom and control over their own learning. This, too, is problematic since many children would rather play a game than learn, if given that choice.

I believe that the proper education of a child should be directed and have expectations which are appropriate to that child. There is no one set which can adequately be applied to all and no norm that will work to meet the needs of all. I believe that children should be allowed to learn at their own pace, but that they should be expected to progress at the best of their ability. Understanding their ability allows one to set goals and assign content which is challenging but not impossible, and through the challenge they can learn responsibility, diligence, and a good work ethic.

And I also believe that there should be no subject of education left unattended to. Philosophy is now rarely taught at even a high school level, but may be one of the most important courses a child can master. A foundation of logic and general philosophic ideas can be one of the best safeguards of individuals. It can protect them from faulty thought patterns and arguments, give them the tools to know what to do in any given situation (or more importantly, to know how to decide what should be done). But we neglect this in our children, and it shows, all too clearly, in their inability to think for themselves, or think in a logical manner. It shows in the lack of reason within the adults we have produced since the modern age of education has dumbed us down to incompetence.

Not that all of us are dumbed down. Many intelligent and reasonable individuals do exist, but the problem is that real education, today, must take place outside of the formal educational environment (before college at least), and so many people are disillusioned and convinced of the monotony and senselessness of learning that they re unwilling, or ignorant of the means, to educate themselves in meaningful ways once their formal education is complete.

And what does this mean for society? It means that the gap between the educated and uneducated is widening ever more. That we are becoming a nation of sheep who are incapable of true independent thought because we are forced to learn what to think instead of how to think. It means that we don't believe in our own ideas, that we feel intimidated by the "experts" who are often no more logical or knowledgeable than ourselves, that we are deprived of the great pleasures of rumination and understanding and that we are vulnerable to a whole host of dangers, like loss of freedoms and are susceptible to being taken advantage of because we lack the intellectual tools of evaluation.

And how does this put us in danger of losing our freedom? Because if we do not have the tool of logic we cannot see that freedom is a vulnerable thing that can easily be taken away by nibbles. That by allowing one person's freedom of thought to be taken from them we are putting our own in danger. To illustrate; there was a man, in Florida I think, who was barred from joining the Barr Association because he held racist beliefs and was a member of the KKK. Many people felt that this was as it should be, that he should be prevented from joining, even though he met all requirements, because they disagree with his values and beliefs. I also disagree with him but It frightened me beyond words to read this story and I was both amused and gratified to see that a lawyer from the Anti-Defamation League was representing him and fighting for him to be allowed to practice law. Many were appalled, "How can you represent a man who hates you?" and his reply was perfect... I don't remember the exact quote, but to paraphrase, he said if we allow one man to be persecuted for his beliefs, no matter how heinous, we are all in danger of persecution and the loss of liberty.

This is the use of logic and good thought. To be able to anticipate the consequences of our actions and the actions we permit and support. This is what we have been deprived of in our education (if we have not learned it independently) and what our children are deprived of in schools today (well, that among other things).

And this, perhaps, scares me more than any other issue that is relevant to life today. For I value, above nearly anything else, the freedom of thought that we are afforded in this country. Many of us have no real idea of what that means, I didn't until I was friends with people from cultures without such freedom (next post will be on this subject), and don't really understand that there are many places in the world where even thought cannot be free.

Monday, February 12, 2007


I did feel, for some time, as if I were standing upon the edge of a high cliff, buffeted roughly by the winds, staring off into the distance of the larger world. I imagined myself there, sometimes, in a white robe with my hair fluttering against my forehead and into my eyes as I considered the fall I might step into.

Was I ready to fall? Would the descent be one of profound exhilaration or intense fear? Would my skin burn, my pulse race, would my life flash before me as if I were at the moment of my end? Or would I float, free and unencumbered by the harsher truths of being, into the cavern of which I could see no end and can only hope will indeed be infinite... or would I fly?

and the temptation to step back, retreat down the edge of that cliff, and back to the safety of the known, was nearly greater than the temptation to see where this fall might lead me. Nearly enough to remain safe, untouched, detached and invulnerable to the possibility of a more terrible loss than I've suffered before. Nearly, but not enough I suppose.

Upon the advice of my somewhat impetuous nature, I took that step. I felt the cold stone gravel of the cliff under my bare toes (reminding me of the reality I could grasp if I desired), the whispers of wind tasting between them as if in anticipation of their freedom to devour those eight tiny spaces once unencumbered by the solidity of ground (whispering of the delights and horrors they might show me). I think I may have held my breath first, I cannot now remember, but at last I stepped off into that full emptiness, no not emptiness, full haze of where I'd never had the courage to venture before. And now I believe I may be free.

Still I am at the beginning of the fall. I feel the airs, the deepening, of my descent around me but cannot quantify my speed or depth right now. This is an unpredictable experiment, experience, that does not frighten me as it perhaps should do. For I have now become a vulnerable woman; I could be hurt, and terribly, I could lose this gamble and find myself crashing nude and defenseless upon the jagged cliffs which slide in and out of possibility somewhere below me.

I know I will never escape that possibility... there will never be any guarantee... but this fall seems somehow safe, built upon the rock (though not of ages) and strong enough to support whatever may come in time.

Some may think I stepped into this too soon, that time and familiarity would lessen the branches and snags which may reach out to end this. That, maybe, there are proper time lines, sequences and formulas which the wise adhere to with diligence. I, though, have never learned to be quite diligent and time too often does not apply. I feel I stood on that cliff for a lifetime and have been falling ever since. I even feel, maybe, that I stood there before I knew it, knew him, waiting for this wonderful, amazing inspiration to give me strength and ease my fears... but that may be just another fantasy.

For now I can only enjoy the joy, wonder, fear and awe which accompanies this fall, this flight, and anticipate the new wonders, delights and tears which must inevitably accompany me on this journey.

Paris Hilton's New Video

I am soo upset! I just checked out Google's video thingie and out of curiousity clicked to see Paris Hilton's video "Stars are Blind" and, oh my goodness, this is a song I had heard on the radio and liked-- thought it was a new Gwen Stefani, actually-- and was going to download.

Here is a link to the video:
the video itself is rather uninspired but now I am completely conflicted :(

For I have mixed feelings about this. I try nopt to judge things based upon who produces them, but rather on their merit. This goes in every direction; just because I love an artist doesn't mean I will love everything they make, and vice versus... hmm.

The thing is that as much as I am a bit fascinated by the sheer irrationality and insanity of P.H. I really don't want to have any respect for anything she does in her attempts (no matter how successful) to remain front page news.. this because I don't have any respect for anyone who answers the phone during sex, of course :) well, and anyone who is just so clueless and completely inconsiderate. I do like the song though.

Well... I would imagine that she did not write the lyrics herself, or the music :) perhaps that helps a bit.

I shall have to think about this one :)

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

God-boxes and Aneurisms

So I thought I would start my blog by explaining the title :) God-box is a term I developed to explain my faith (or lack thereof). You see, I have trouble actually rationalizing a belief in god because, well because I simply do not actually believe, but I find it somewhat convenient to make myself believe so that I can just hand over unanswerable questions and things which are out of my control and not have to ever think about them. This is my God-box. The place I put all of my unanswerable questions (Including whether or not there is a god).

So here on Blogger I guess I will place not only questions but also thoughts, surely god-boxes like those as well, and thus my title.

And speaking of god-boxes... I have lately had some things to put in there and try to relax about. One of my first cousins, who used to be my roommate, had an aneurism on friday night. She is still unconscious and we will not have any clear idea of what sort of damage there might be, or its permanence, for some time yet. The good thing is that she is still alive.

I guess sometimes it takes a shocking tragedy to remind us of how vulnerable we are and how little control we really have over life. Most of all it has reminded me how important it is to not let unimportant disagreements cause rifts between loved ones and to cherish all of the time we are alotted to share with other people.