Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day three of house arrest

Today is my third day staying home with my sick daughter and I'm feeling a little stir-crazy. She is feeling better and doesn't have a fever anymore but she has a nasty cough and said she doesn't have the energy for school so I figured she's in first grade and there's no reason to push her.  My parents would have shoved her out the door if this were thirty years ago, so my first instinct is that I should do that, then I remember how I've spent my whole adult life re-learning how to take care of myself so I went with the the saner route and told her she could stay home and rest.  It seems only fair since I told her she can't go to her BFF's slumber party tomorrow night because she's been too sick and needs to rest.  It's a testament to how stir-crazy I must be because I was a little disappointed I couldn't go into work.  My boss is also having a party tonight that I wanted to go to but there will be more of those.  My daughter and I can at least commiserate on missed parties.

Yesterday some workers from the City of Woodinville came out to cut down the weeds in the empty space behind our house.  I thought that was nice of the city since the property actually belongs to our HOA, but it can't be built on because of the storm water run-off and the storm pond. Thus why it's a great place for the community garden.  I went back there to make sure they didn't mess with the raised beds we've already put in and explained to them what I'd worked out with the city for how much space we could use for our raised beds.  Then I asked just off-hand, could they maybe take away the styrofoam "speed bumps" that were falling apart and were in a row along the space (they said they had been a precaution for flooding but obviously were so degraded they wouldn't do any good anymore). Surprisingly they said they would and showed up this morning to haul them away - yay!  I also said that we were going to try to make a walking path and were going to get more gravel but because they wouldn't need to do anymore maintenance back there once the gardens were complete - could we trade off their labor time for some new gravel for the walking path and surprisingly they said that was a good idea and would go back and ask the public works manager.  Cool!  I've also had a really easy time with the land management manager at the city getting permission to create the garden back there.

I've been hesitant to learn much about the local politics here and I have not joined the PTA yet at school because I'm hesitant to learn that here too the city and the PTA is full of fuck-ups.   When my daughter was in a preschool I had a great experience being on the board of directors and being involved, but then when I made the mistake of agreeing to be on the PTA board at her elementary school, I learned way too quickly how messed up some of the parents were.  Once again the question comes up: Why are people so weird?

Probably, the answer is that I am the weird one.  But the theme of 2011 in my head seems to be that people in general often search out dogma to hang onto.  I wonder what my dogma is? I am actually disappointed that the whole "granola/crunchy" beliefs that I have had for most of my life are now starting to have their own dogma too.  I was talking to my mom about how I'd gone to a really good naturopath fifteen years ago when I was having trouble with re-occuring mono.  He'd given me really good advice and I took supplements and herbs that really helped.  But in the last few years I've met some people in school to be naturopaths, and my sister-in-law sees a naturopath who sound like they know less about medicine than I do!  It's like they tow-the-party-line of everyone needs to stop eating wheat and dairy and everyone in the Pacific Northwest needs to take high doses of Vitamin D and there are no adverse side effects to herbs.  I worry about my sister-in-law because when I asked if they took a blood test to check and see what her Vitamin D levels are so they could know how much she needed (that's what my rheumatologist does for Vitamin D and calcium and iron) she said no, everyone here needs this super high does and that's just known.  Well, actually no, too much Vitamin D is toxic.  They also gave her tryptophane for sleep and she started to develop joint pain and severe fatigue during the day.  Her naturopath said it was from something else but luckily SIL's instincts told her it was the tryptophane.  A little quick research into tryptophane shows that it can cause a syndrome in some people that causes fatigue and joint inflammation/pain.  And this supposed "doctor" didn't even know that?  I feel really disillusioned by the amount of bad naturopaths I've seen.

And what the heck happened to homeopathy? When I was a teenager I learned about how homeopathy was used in the old days dating all the way back thousands of years.  My mom first told me about it because when she was young it was still common to use a touch of belladonna for stomach aches.  What I learned is that originally it was the smallest amount of poison used to get the immune system activated.  That makes sense.  And homeopathic doctors were trained extremely well in this field so they didn't accidentally kill someone.  That's what allergy shots are basically and that is what vaccines are - they are a type of homeopathy.  But now days all "homeopathic doctors" need to do is carry around a kit with water in it and the water has "the memory" of the poison in it (read: it's just water) and it is this weird hokey-placebo thing that doesn't actually do anything.  It isn't homeopathy at all - they're just using that word.  Just like George W.'s version of the word "freedom" doesn't actually mean what the word used to mean.  Whenever George W. used the word "freedom" in a speech I always thought of the clip from the Princess Bride of Indigo Montoya saying, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

And horrifying as it may be to most, I've been reading and thinking a lot about feminism in the U.S.  I started thinking about it back when I got married and took my husband's name as my own.  I like that tradition because to me it is a symbol that the two of us have decided that we are committed to being a  family.  A few of my friends who were already married were shocked and asked didn't I feel like I was not being true to myself and I was lowering myself as a woman and becoming his property? I said that wasn't my motivation and anyway, if I was that freaked out about it we both would've changed our last names to a totally different name that we could both agree on (my husband doesn't like his last name because it's so hard to pronounce but we decided it was easier just to keep it - and my last name was so boring).  What surprised me was the friends who asked me wasn't I betraying myself by taking his name, ended up (after some years of marriage) changing their last names to their husband's last names.  It was like they had wanted to all along but needed permission that they could do that and still be strong women.

The other thing that made me question "feminism" is when I had my daughter and I "flipped out" and couldn't stand the idea of going back to work when she was a baby.  Even now that she is in school it is more important to me to be home when she gets out of school most days than having a job. If that means (which it does) that we can't afford to go on a cool vacation every year and it means we can't have nice cars and it means we have to buy cheap clothes on sale at Old Navy - that's fine. It's more important to me that while she's living at home I can stay home with her when she's sick and I can be here when she gets out of school.  "What about your career?" I've been asked by friends.  Well, my career right now is raising my child, thank you very much.  What is wrong with that? It's what I want and what feels right.

Another thing I've been thinking about is the notion that women needed to be liberated in the 1970's.  A movie came out a couple years ago called Revolution Road and I saw the previews and read the synopsis and all I could think of was how annoying and messed up the main characters were. I had no sympathy for them.  I guess the point was to show how awful regular life is and how it's a trap that people are caged into.  But all I saw were two malcontents who had no sense of self and couldn't see what was right in front of them.  They had two children which is a miracle in itself and they weren't living on the street.  They seemed to have no interest in pursuing their own dreams despite having to have responsibility for being grown-ups.  They seemed like the plight of the rich, bored housewife - the plight of the type of Americans who have been handed everything their whole lives and seem to think they are entitled to always be taken care of, always be entertained, they never have to be responsible and when asked to be it is a huge burden on them.  Maybe if the wife was so bored and unfulfilled she could've gone back to school.  Or she could've volunteered at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter - anything to get out of her own head of obsessing on how hard it is to be upper-middle class with everything you need in a life of comfort.

That's what a lot of the feminist stuff I've read sounds like to me now.  There is a sentence by Suzanne Ventzner (and I'm paraphrasing) that really got me thinking "Women act like the civil rights movement for them is the same for African Americans - as though they needed to be freed from slavery too."  That really got me thinking.  Black folks were literally slaves to the white man.  But women were not. I think of my grandmother who had her own career when she married my grandfather and still worked even after having kids (she wasn't the maternal sort). I think of "Ma" in Little House on the Prairie and how she and "Pa" are portrayed as a team working together.  I think of the stories of my great aunts and uncles and my great grandparents and there really aren't stories of the women being treated as slaves.  I come from a long line of hard-working women who were not oppressed.  So, if women were treated like slaves before feminism, wouldn't that have happened to all my relatives too?  Sure, women couldn't vote before the Suffragettes, but the Suffragettes weren't complaining because they got to stay home and raise their children while their husbands worked - they just wanted to vote.  What about the husbands who were expected to support and entire family and work hard and give all their money to them? Then if a war came up the men were expected to go off and get killed in war - no questions asked if there was a draft.   Forced to leave their children behind and suffer on the front lines.  It's not always easy being a responsible adult no matter what gender you are.

There are places where women are treated like slaves and are oppressed.  Women living under Taliban rule come to mind.  But even my Arab relatives in Saudi enjoy a good life of not being oppressed.  As my cousin, Anna Marie said, "If wearing scarf over your head and having someone else drive you everywhere makes you feel oppressed, you'd hate Saudi."  But women there are well respected by men, are encouraged to be well educated and there are many women business owners.  And it makes Anna Marie so angry when my friends here say they pity her and don't understand why she chooses to live there - or does she choose? Is she being held captive? Have we tried to help her escape? Good lord.  My cousins, Omar and Nabeel's wives don't even like coming to the U.S. and would never dream of living here where we are supposedly so "free".  I once posted something on Facebook with a picture of a women in Saudi wearing a beautiful scarf over her head and a happy smile and an airbrushed photo of an ematiated fashion model here in the U.S. with the question "Who is oppressed?"  And I got a ton of comments about how OF COURSE that poor woman in Saudi who has to wear the veil is so much more oppressed and Arab society is so misogynist ... blah blah blah.  It's not the Taliban, people. Saudi is a totally different culture than the U.S. Some things are better and some things are worse - but it equals out and is just totally different.  Sometimes I think if Palin got elected president (or someone like her) we should move to Saudi to live in the same town as my cousins.  At least there things are becoming *more* progressive.

So, I've been seeing a lot of dogma everywhere I look.  Not just with the Harold Campings and the world is going to end on such and such date crowd.  Which of course makes me wonder what MY dogma is?  Or if maybe I'm just a weirdo all around.  I'm going to end up one of those off-gird wilderness folks who everyone thinks is crazy at the rate I'm going.

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