I had a nightmare last night.
I was back at my estranged ex-stepfather’s house on Bayou Tejar, which was flooding. A young woman (a student, maybe) asked me to read and comment on her script–it was a trick–it was actually a thinly veiled attempt to convince me to be pro-life. All the while, the bayou water rose–it was all the way up to the second floor, where we were, but the young woman didn’t notice.
Luckily, my PhD in lit trained me well for moments like this: the symbolism isn’t hard to decode. Most pro-life people don’t pay attention to the problems that threaten life–even unborn life. They’re too busy sticking to their script.
(The stepfather’s house thing is separate symbolism–most of my bad dreams are set there. However, I was living in that house when my town became a centerpiece in the abortion debate–when a pro-life terrorist shot an abortion provider in the back, when my friend’s father got death threats for publicly saying one can’t murder in the name of life, when my mother refused to let me wear a pro-choice shirt because she was afraid I would be attacked.)
Yesterday, the VP spoke at a pro-life rally. The pro-lifers will be marching against Planned Parenthood on 2/11. (I organized and will be performing at a benefit for Planned Parenthood that night.)
All this bullshit always reminds me of a conversation I had in 2000. I was in car full of medical students on the way to a water park (in Florida). One guy was new–an extern. Someone asked whom he was voting for.
Extern: I don’t know yet. My parents’ church gives us a list of people to vote for, based on who’s pro-life. I just use that list.
There was silence. Everyone else in the car was pro-choice.
I thought: they have to work with him. I don’t.
I asked him what he hoped to accomplish by voting that way.
Extern: We want to ban abortion, obviously.
Me: You’ve taken a medical history class by now. What happens, historically, when abortion is banned, to the abortion rate?
Extern [sheepishly]: It goes up.
Me: Everyone else here is pro-choice. Would it surprise you to know everyone here wants the abortion rate to go down?
Remaining calm, I explained that we all wished it never had to happen. But that we all knew it always would–at some rate–but that we wanted it to be very rare. And that we were doing a lot to make sure the rate went down–by advocating for comprehensive sex education, by advocating for access to birth control, by advocating for girls’ access to education.
All those things actually lower the abortion rate.
What that young extern wanted to do–what yesterday’s protesters want to do–drives the numbers up. And increases STD rates. And increases maternal mortality rates. Look at what’s happened in Texas recently, after they shut down so many women’s health providers.
The extern didn’t know about me, didn’t know I’d had my son at 17. So I told him.
And then I explained one way to look at my choice to him.
Since I chose to have my son, I altered my whole future.
The extern’s “side” of the debate had nothing to offer me. His side wouldn’t advocate for child care so I could work or go to school. His side wouldn’t advocate for me to have health care or enough to eat (although if one cares about children, one should realize that their parents being alive is kind of important). His side would, in fact, forever judge me for getting pregnant in the first place. For having a child that young.
And if I ever asked for anything, even basic dignity, I would be told that I shouldn’t have had sex (by a bunch of people who’ve also had sex at that age), and thus that I was undeserving.
“You know, I could have had an abortion. And I might have had to walk past some of you screaming at me, but when it was done, I could have avoided your scorn for the rest of my life. Have you given any thought to actually making the choice to carry an unplanned child the more desirable one?”
“We’re on the same side,” I said. “I just don’t think your strategy will work. It will just make things worse.”
The extern agreed.
(I didn’t realize then that I was using Rogerian argument strategy, but I now use this conversation as an example when I teach it.)
It’s many years later. I know more.
I know more about what happens when people push abstinence, when they try to block birth control, when they attack Planned Parenthood, when they push gag rules.
Pro-lifers, it’s not that we pro-choicers are pro-abortion.
But your script (“Ban abortion” “Defund Planned Parenthood”) WILL RESULT IN MORE.
This entire conversation was awful, but see if you can spot the line that most made me go, “eww . . . what?! . . . eww!”
Him: Did you cry when Trump won?
Me: Yes. Many times. What about you?
Him: It didn’t really matter to me which pig got voted into the farm house.
[I decide not to answer. Two days later.]
Him: Feel like wine and a movie tonight?
Me: No, thanks.
I have to confess: I’m very sensitive about the election. I know too many people who are a lot more vulnerable right now. Thus, the pig reference just didn’t sit well with me.
I hope you find someone more carefree and that you have a great evening!
Him: You don’t see Animal Farm going on before your eyes?
Me: I think a lot of absurd things happen in politics, but I don’t at all think Clinton as President vs. Trump as President is any kind of equal threat to me, to the environment, to my students, etc.
Him: Keep thinking that. But in the meantime, there’s this warm man over here who would like to pur his arms around you if you change your mind.
Me: I’m not going to change my mind. I cried with the trans student I mentor after the election. I’m working with my department to take action to protect our muslim students and our dreamers. I’m fighting for my students to have access to birth control and abortions. I’m fighting for free speech and scientific literacy. A few years ago, I moved my disabled aunt to California so she could get access to care because she was literally dying in a Republican state that rejected the part of Obamacare that would cover her. I could go on, but I’ve got way too many papers to grade today.
Look, I’m sure you’re a decent person, but you’re not the person for me. And I’m not at all desperate, so I don’t have to settle for just a warm body. 🙂
I hope you find someone beautifully suited to you and wish you all the best.
Him: Ok, good luck to you too
[Eight days later]
Him: Surprised you haven’t left the country yet
Me: It’s not going to get fixed that way.
Him: Ok, so you’re going to fix it?
Me: Are you meaning to be hostile right now? Since I don’t know you, I’m not sure how to read this conversation.
Him: Nope…remember, I’m an INTJ [he’d mentioned that in his profile, and was counting on me to have assigned meaning to it]
[I decide not to answer. Several hours go by. This next one gets sent in the middle of the night:]
Him: I want you to connect and bond with me.
Me: I’m not interested in that.
Him: That’s really unfortunatw
Okay, reader. You saw the whole thing. Which part icked you out most?
A 37 year old guy from Illinois (Rock Island, where a couple of my friends live) tried to strike up something with me. This is the full conversation.
Him: Sorry to say are you really 41?
Me: Yup. Why would I lie about that?
Him: You dont look it a bit?
Could u date someone younger?
Me: You’re only a couple of years younger than I am–that’s not why we can’t date. We can’t date because you’re in Rock Island and we aren’t compatible in what we want and what’s important to us.
can u make it more clear
Me: Have you looked at our compatibility and our questions? Your questions say you’re looking for someone to have children with–I’m not having another child. You think jealousy is healthy in a relationship–I don’t date jealous people (especially jealous people with guns). Your profile says your Christianity is important to you–it doesn’t make any sense to partner with an atheist.
Him: Hmmm okay
So I pulled up outside my office building, got my bag out of my trunk, and then checked to make sure my car was locked.
There was a van parked beside me, with a guy unloading it.
“Hey,” I said.
“Checking that you locked your door, huh? Well, you have a nice day.”
I walked into my building, confused.
Why was he making fun of me–does something about me just scream that I always double check my car, that I always double check my house door, that I always make sure the oven is off before I leave for work (sometimes even if I haven’t used the oven)?
How did he know? And why was he teasing me about it?
And then it hit me–he thought I was checking the car because of him.
I was already inside.
And there’s just no way to put that right.
If I’d gone running outside to try to explain, it would have made it worse.
“Hi, umm, I think you think I’m racist. Or maybe classist, or something. I am just a little neurotic. We could call my son right now–he will tell you that I’m unable to leave the car or house without saying, “did I lock it?” Please don’t think I’m a bad person.”
I just hope I’ve been more time being neurotic about this conversation than he has.
The Spock of my childhood embraced his human side in small ways over the course of many years. Some episodes would end with Dr. McCoy commenting on how Spock’s green blood might have a little red in it, only for Spock to raise an eyebrow, unconvinced–and insulted.
We were told, of course, that Vulcans had deep emotions in their past and that contemporary Vulcans learned to keep the vestiges in check (except when time traveling and when in heat, of course).
Our modern Spock in the movie reboots can certainly raise an eyebrow. And we’re told his emotions are buried deeply, but what we see is a Spock barely able to control his emotions, getting in fistfights the second someone mentions his mom or is mean to his friend. In fact, this Spock’s brand of emotional control seems only to apply to difficulties in communicating with this girlfriend (women are from Earth, men are from Vulcan).
These recent years have also given us a new Sherlock, one that contemporary understandings of science might allow us to see as not only “a high functioning sociopath” but a high functioning person on the autism spectrum.
I’ll be intentionally vague to avoid spoilers, but the last episode seemed to indicate that this diagnosis might be wrong or incomplete–that PTSD from childhood might have made Sherlock what he is.
In any case, he shares with our new Spock barely hidden emotional currents, including a deep and abiding bromance, especially since he too has violent emotional outbursts.
Spock and Sherlock (Khan) fighting
Even though I find these men often behaving out of character (in my childhood definitions of them), what interests me more now is why so many women–myself included–are interested in them (and in men like them–like our Doctor Whos).
So many geeky girls have wet Wonder Woman panties for guys who are largely incapable of human emotion.
I think our secret fantasy is that these men can only be un(sher)locked by us–that their deep passions could only be spurred by us–the passions both intellectual and romantic–we would be their John/Kirk and Irene/Uhura combined. They would find us “fascinating” and throw their powerful punches when we’re in danger.
That’s not usually how it works.
Many years ago, I was in a relationship with someone I loved very much–it was our third time trying to make it work. My hopes were bolstered one evening–we went to see Star Trek–the reboot. When Spock’s father tells Spock that he married for love, I felt my partner shift in his seat. And I knew that he would finally tell me–after a decade and a half being mostly off and occasionally on–that he loved me.
Later that night he did.
Spock’s dad had given him permission.
Not surprisingly, it was empathy, that thing Spock and Sherlock lack, that finally drove us apart.
He said he had too much–that it upset him for me to be upset. Thus, I was not allowed to be upset–not even about losing my job in the 2009 recession. I suggested that perhaps he should control his being upset rather than telling me I wasn’t allowed to be–but that was dismissed as illogical.
(Other men I’ve been with think it’s hilarious that this man thought I was overly emotional, especially the few on the far other end of the emotional spectrum who’ve found me cold.)
The irony is that what I needed most was empathy–the trait he believed so strongly he had.
I needed him to understand that my life had been very different from his–that there’s a reason I’m a worrier, for example–it’s a logical consequence of growing up with alcoholics–children who feel unsafe often try to control things–to organize, to worry, to plan for the worst.
One of our very worst moments came when he (a fiscal conservative) told me he didn’t understand how I hadn’t caught up with him financially, especially since I worked so hard. (This was 2010–four years out from my degree.)
He grew up in a stable upper middle class home. His parents put him through college, and his dad paid off his student loans for his Masters in business. He had never been married, never had children, and worked in the private sector. He’s healthy.
I grew up very differently, was a single mother starting at 17, and put myself all the way through a PhD, taking out student loans along the way. My stupid body had its first back surgery when I was 25; out of pocket co-pays and therapies were a third of the 18,000 I made that year–and I’ve been working hard to get ahead ever since. I have a job that I love, but it’s in academia, and because of my job title, I can’t even get the raises I deserve. I am proud to have pulled myself up from where I started. I am proud that I can pay my bills, but I’ll never be in the financial place where he is.
But I work really hard.
I agree with him on that, but I needed him to be able to understand, both in terms of economic realities and in terms of empathy, why I hadn’t “caught up.”
I’m probably just too emotional, too human.
And that’s why we’ll always try and fail with those ever so attractive men.
Two guys have been trying to set up dates with me. Both have been annoying because they keep insisting on me going to Sacramento for a first date, leading me to think they’re not really that interested.
Today’s thrilling updates:
I’ve been turning down Guy 1 for a while. I explained to him that I couldn’t see him this weekend because my car is acting up and I don’t want to cross the causeway until I can get it to the shop.
I thought he might propose coming here.
Guy 1: Hi, any car update how about tonight?
Me: I’m not going to be able to make it in to the mechanic until Wednesday.
I’m sensing a great reluctance to come to Davis. 😉
Do you not have a car?
Guy 1: Yea no car these days ..:9
Me: Ah. Wish you’d just told me that in the beginning–I was confused by you asking me out a lot but not seeming willing to cross the causeway for a date.
Now, I’ve gone out on dates with Sacramento guys who didn’t have cars. However, they were upfront about it, rather than skirting the issue until pressed.
Guy 2 has been coming off as strange in a couple of ways–there seems to be an arrogance/control thing, though I could be wrong–there haven’t been all that many messages. He might just seem that way because he only wants to do the minimum to get a date.
At any rate, he kept pushing for Sac, which isn’t always easy for me (and sometimes annoying because if I have a doc appt in Sac during the day, I really don’t want to head back there for a first date, esp for someone who isn’t exactly smooth in his courting).
Guy 2 [a while ago]: When can u come to sac
I thought I should signal my displeasure:
Me: I’m not sure. I’ll be in Sac later this week, but I’ll have my son with me–we’re going to a show.
Neither of us seems too eager/able to make a special trip across the causeway to see the other person.
[Many days pass. Cut to today.]
Guy 2: Hey u. Would u like to meet
Me: I’d meet if you wanted to come to Davis, especially since my car is acting up and I would want to take it to the mechanic before I took it across the causeway. But my impression is that you aren’t keen on heading this way.
And then I postulate to myself that two guys are having the same underlying issue, so I send another message.
Me: Or is it that you don’t have a car?
Guy 2: Lol no i do have a car
I have a bad headache today, but is there some pattern I’m missing?
Perhaps understanding human behavior is futile.
Also, on this headache day, I would like to say I didn’t send a message meant for car Guy 1 to car Guy 2.
I guess we can’t always live our dreams.
Recently, a guy struck up a conversation with me on OKC. He then mentioned he was going to try Zoosk.
I pointed him to my column on how much that site sucks.
A few days later, I got this:
I had a few strange responses on Zoosk, so I read your blog, which may be the first blog I’ve actually completed. I had no idea you speak Spanish ( que bueno). Yeah guys suck at chatting, and we are from mars. I have said or chatted “how was your day”, simply because I’m lazy, and most likely will never receive a reply.
Well back to my situation, I had two responses that were almost identical.
“I’m really busy now packing”. I’m thinking “So”, packing isn’t a 24/7 job.
Maybe something is fishy with Zoosk.
30 bucks down but not the end of the world.
[his name here]
For a guy to even write more than 2 words is an honest attempt at communication.
I wrote a long answer about how he and other men were causing their own problem–we don’t answer, because they’re lazy. They justify being lazy cause we don’t answer.
(I didn’t bother with the Mars bullshit. I don’t think men are incapable of writing a profile of a message or that all women are master communicators, but it didn’t seem worthwhile to enter into that particular debate here.)
I’d say for the most part, picture is all I look at, and attraction dictates effort. Second thing I look at is body type. Then determine how old the pictures could be. If the profile is too long, I just skip it. I have no desire to be a therapist.
I’ve never seen a long profile and thought a guy wanted free therapy, but then again, I have read more than one blog post in its entirety.
This only strengthens my prejudice against those lazy messages. And now this guy’s conversation with me is over. Sigh.
Back in the saddle.
So I disabled my profile for Fall quarter, due to a combination of being crazy busy, continually leaving the country, and thinking I might have found someone (I did–someone great, just not someone who could work out long term).
My profile is back up, and the adventure continues.
A guy: How’s your week going? Did you recover from the holidays?
Those eyes and smile are stunning
Me: Your profile says you’re seeing someone, your picture has a wedding ring in it, and you aren’t showing your face.
So you’re not single, right?
A guy: I am not single but not marrie[d]
Me: I’m looking for a long-term partner, not to be someone’s secret.
A guy: Ok. Hope you have a good day
And that’s been about the best of it . . . Sigh.
Dear Alabama Representatives,
I was so excited when I saw that you’re putting forth a bill requiring bathroom attendants in bathrooms open to transgender people and that other states are putting forth similar legislation!
I’m sure you designed this bill to protect god-fearing citizens while avoiding the unpleasantness (lost tourist dollars, an ousted governor) the bathroom bill in North Carolina caused. After all, this lets anyone pee, so we certainly can’t be accused of prejudice!
Something has to be done! I mean, we’ve not had any legislation about who can use what bathroom since the bathrooms were invented (by a good Christian, surely) until recently. Do you remember what it was like? I mean, I never had a problem in a bathroom, but I shudder now to think that the person in the stall next to me, who was passing toilet paper under the divider when I discovered I didn’t have any, could have had any type of genitalia at birth! If I’d thought about it then, I’m sure I would have wiped with my underwear and then left my stall commando, like the lady of good breeding that I am, rather than risk talking to a person of the opposite sex!
However, I’m sure you’re aware that this bill doesn’t go far enough. Bathrooms designed for single sexes won’t be attended at all! How are we going to know if people are going out of their way to find a bathroom with an attendant instead of just using the single sex bathrooms in their town?
Say we call up a citizen for jury duty. At this time, transgender people can still serve on juries and vote, and we would hate to discriminate as long as these people are still legally citizens (you’re going to fix this soon, I presume). Our courthouse will likely have single sex bathrooms–we value law and order. Perhaps there’s a trans person serving–a guy, let’s say. He would have to hold it all day. He, of course, couldn’t use the women’s room in the courthouse, but we don’t really want a guy who looks like a woman in the men’s room.
That’s distracting and dangerous.
There have already been cases of actual women being attacked in women’s bathrooms because they didn’t look feminine enough. I mean, that’s partly their own fault, of course. Why did God invent makeup if not to help us out?
I’m sure once you think about it, you’ll agree that every bathroom needs a monitor!
Please consider this letter my application.
I will be able to bring many desirable qualities to this job.
First, I understand that to do a good job, I cannot judge on superficial traits. Have you seen trans porn? I’m been watching it a lot lately to understand these sick and twisted individuals. There are LOTS of men who pass as women, until they take off their panties.
Each body going into a bathroom will have to be checked–thoroughly!
I’ll be good at this for several reasons.
A. I do not get tired of looking at genitalia, as evidenced by my capacity to watch trans porn for hours and hours at a time.
B. I know that some men “tuck” their penises, so I might need to handle people’s genitalia to make sure it’s in the correct position. I’m willing to make this sacrifice.
C. From my extensive porn viewing, I also know that some men have micropenises (I’m sure you’ve seen a few around the capital!) and that some women have giant clits. Even with handling, it might not be possible to tell the difference. I’m willing to make an educated guess, though it might require a bit more than handling. If I think I’m doing a check of a clit, but semen comes out, I’ll know it’s a man and let him pass into the correct bathroom, confident that he’ll be unmolested by perverts once inside his stall.
D. Speaking of micropenises, I’m very good at keeping a straight-face. This will perhaps be my most valuable bathroom monitoring skill.
E. I’m also happy to keep a picture book of venereal diseases with me when I work, so that if I see something strange, the bathroom goer and I can match up the symptoms. (A lot of people are really concerned by your blessed work to defund Planned Parenthood and to separate people from their access to health care–regular checkups by bathroom monitors every time someone needs to go to Walmart will surely make people more comfortable about losing access to those egghead doctors.)
Of course, my physical examination still won’t be enough, which is why I’ll need to check everyone’s birth certificate when they come in–the original copy.
And I won’t consider those “Certificates of Live Birth”s! I remember when Obama tried to pull one over on us by showing us one of those!
My parents say I was born in Arizona. After learning of Obama’s deception, I checked–my own form has “Certificate of Live Birth” on the top. My parents won’t admit that they’re hiding something, so I’ve stopped speaking to them.
Don’t worry, though–I’m a red-blooded American, which is why I know transgender bathroom problems are the most important issues America faces–and I know you lawmakers agree, since you spend almost as much time thinking about other people’s genitalia as I do!
I’m going to get naturalized, though, just in case I was actually born somewhere else, if I can get my immigration attorney to return my calls–he keeps calling me crazy.
He’s probably worried that if I were born in another country, and then got lied to by my parents my whole life, that I won’t be able to fully embrace America.
In all honesty, I sometimes worry about that when I’m taking a porn break. I tell you what, though, I really hope I wasn’t born in Finland. They’re communist, of course, with their healthcare and whatnot. They probably think they’re better than us just because their kids always test the best. Well, as Donald Trump says, “I love the uneducated!” I learned once too that those wily Finns only have one pronoun.
Can you imagine? My daughter, if she were a Finn, could come home from school and say, “My teacher tried to teach us science again. Hän needs to read the Bible more!” How could I possibly be expected to understand this statement without knowing what kind of genitalia the teacher has?!
Speaking of genitalia again, did you know that 1 out of 1000 people is born with both kinds? The internet says they’re intersex–and that it’s actually a chromosome issue, instead of a choice.
I sometimes don’t know what to think about that. God doesn’t make mistakes, after all. Maybe those mothers took birth control or thought about taking birth control, and God punished them?
We’re going to have to figure out what to do with them. They probably have to pee sometimes too. This may require a whole new bill.
Also, while you’re thinking about bills, I would like you to consider another oversight in this one–as I mentioned before, we lived for ages without laws about who could be in what bathroom, but that means gay people have been in them with us this whole time!
If a girl pretending to be a guy can’t be allowed in the men’s room, why do gay men get to go in there? They might try to look at other men’s genitals, even though they aren’t self-trained bathroom monitors!!!
By now, you’ll have to admit it will take a very skilled worker to fill this position.
I am that worker, someone who understands that good Americans’ privacy in the bathroom is of the utmost importance! That’s why I am going to start checking genitalia right away. I trust you’ll be impressed by my initiative in this matter and will be contacting about my compensated employment soon!
The sooner the better–I really need to be able to write off my porn subscriptions as business expenses.
First, the tips:
1. If you’re doing anything with beans, get dried beans. Put them and a lot of water in the crock pot overnight–turned off. This will soften the beans and they’ll cook beautifully while you’re at work.
2. Instead of using a blender at the end of recipes that call for them, invest in an immersion blender. You will become evangelical about it.
3. If your soup or stew calls for rice, and you want it to come out great, buy minute rice. Put it in your crock pot stew 10-15 minutes before you want to serve.
Okay–on to the recipes! (I’m sorry, by the way, about the way most of the recipe sites I’m linking to are organized. You have to scroll a LONG way down to the actual recipe, and pop ads get in the way, but I don’t want to steal people’s recipes, either.)
Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup. This is a favorite of my son.
Black Bean Soup. Book group and campus people love this one. It’s vegan, but you can have toppings: cheese, ham/bacon, sour cream, etc. I recommend green onions on top in any case. With this and other bean recipes, have some wine vinegar on the table–just a sprinkle refreshes the flavors.
Curried Lentils with Chicken and Potatoes (from Melissa Bender). So good, and warming in cold weather.
Jambalaya. I do this in the crock pot, though the recipe is for the stove top. See the rice hint above. I also add okra, cause it’s friggin’ jambalaya. If you use shrimp, add them relatively late. The trick to Jambalaya, though, is to do it the old-fashioned way–throw in whatever meat you have. I always use ham and sausage, and I usually throw in a frozen or fresh chicken breast and a frozen fillet of white fish if I have one lying around the freezer.
Red Beans and Rice. Make the rice on the stove or in the rice cooker. Soak the beans first, as described above, and sprinkle with wine vinegar at the end.
Basically, I do almost all the soups/stews I could do on the stove in the crock pot: chili, split-pea soup, white bean soup, chicken soup, vegetable soup, daal, pork tomatillo soup, potato soup, broccoli soup, etc. If you’re doing a pot luck, you can make the soup on the stove, but then take it to the party, or, in my case, the all day grading session, and leave perfection on low.
In addition to the recipes listed above, here are more favorites that book groups and colleagues alike have wanted the recipes for:
Creamy Tomato Soup. You know, the kind kids like. I add basil.
Spiced Carrot Soup with Lime. The boy and I decided this needed a little bit of rice and some coconut milk. We serve it with naan.
Indian Spiced Corn Soup. This is now my favorite corn soup.
Chickpea Vegetable Stew. This can be made vegetarian, or, if you’re making it for my son, you can make it more kid friendly by leaving out the chickpeas.
Yes, I know my son is no longer a kid. And he’s not picky in all the traditional kid ways. He doesn’t like beans, but love broccoli. He eats Japanese, Thai, and Indian all the time, but won’t eat some of the more traditional “American things.”
Just the other day, he had falafel for dinner with his friends. Since he’d been SO picky as a child, he asked if I was surprised.
“No. I know it would take something really exotic like an omelette or an apple pie to throw you now.”