This is for all you writers out there.

Or, "Something you probably already know."

Dear Writer Friends (and maybe Photographers),
Do you have spare time and knowledge that pertains to various and sundry subjects?  Do you want/need to make money?  Did you waste your time at your internship because it was required to graduate and not end up with a contract to write for some awesome news blog or other thing?

My answers to those questions are Maybe, Always, and Did I ever (respectively).  But I have connections that you can now benefit from.  My mother-in-law is someone who watches the evening news and reports on it regularly to me (this is my connection).  One of the most recent things she told me about was http://www.seed.com/, which is a website where writers can submit short articles on various topics for varying amounts of money.  Photographers are welcome, too, I guess.

Well, that's pretty much all I had to say.  Since I imagine you're not quite as lazy as me, I assume you'll all be rolling in the dough in a few days.



Let's Say Something Controversial about Abortion

Now that I'm 9 months and 4 days pregnant (according to a due date calculator I found on the internet), I thought I'd try to tackle a more serious subject. I know Andriana gave everyone a chance to publish their opinions of abortion on her blog a while back, but as usual I lost track of time (I'm so busy these days) and the topic closed before I got around to answering. It doesn't seem likely that I'll have anything new to say about abortion, but I have a deep-seated belief that people want to hear what I think about everything. This is what makes me a writer.

Before I begin, I'd like to say that I don't consider myself to have been prejudiced about abortion because of my pregnancy. Everything I plan to say is based on beliefs I've figured out for myself and held for a very long time. I don't doubt at all that I'm prejudiced by my religion, although my religion, too, is based on things I've been figuring out for myself since my sister showed me that the church we grew up in is made up of other humans and in no way infallible. If you're one of the 2-3 people who read this blog and you think I'm wrong, or stupid, or misinformed, please feel free to post a hateful comment. Now let's get on with the show.

Abortion is something I can't condone for any reason--whether a girl thinks it's the wrong time for her to have a baby, she's been raped, or even if there's a chance that having this baby would cause her medical problems or death. I loved Obama and held out great hope for him through most of the campaign, but couldn't force myself to vote for him after hearing him say that abortion was in many cases "the responsible choice." There is no situation where abortion is the responsible choice.

I imagine you're already probably pretty ticked, but don't give up yet. I'm about to state my reasons for what I just said.

At the absolute center of all my beliefs I'm a compassionist. That's a word I made up today to describe what I think every religion should strive to be. Compassion (I think) is a consciousness of other people's situations, coupled with the desire to understand, and ultimately, help them. Doesn't sound like I'm making a good case, yet, huh? My very base belief is that compassion is love and that every living thing is deserving of this love. So, if you have compassion for another living being, you will do everything in your power to keep from harming them--even to the point of letting yourself be harmed instead. To have true compassion for another being you have to do one of the most unnatural things in human nature: stop thinking about what's best for you. Because, let's face it, how can you focus on anyone else when you're worried about yourself?

A question Joshua likes to debate with people is: If you had a gun and someone attacked you with a knife, would you shoot them?

According to any scientist all organisms, even single-cells, are living things. Babies, then, are living things from conception (before developing any sensory or major organs). Like certain tribes of American Indians (the Lakota specifically), I believe that all living things are connected and that harming one harms them all. Ending any life scars not only that life, but also the person who made the decision, the person who carried out the act, the people who assisted in carrying out the act, and all the people who were affected or would have been affected by that life. Everyone considered, that's a fairly large scar on humanity.

I haven't yet mentioned Christianity, which on official forms I mark as my principal religion. I believe that to be Christian means to strive to be like Christ, who throughout his life taught his followers selflessness so that they might have compassion or love for the rest of the world. (Speaking of dying so others can live...) I couldn't consider myself a Christian if I condoned harming another living being.

Lots of people will say, "But Christians believe in violence! Think of all the wars they've started in the name of God!" It's true, I do believe in war (or violence), but never as a means for personal gain as is so often the case. The only time I condone violence (interchangeable in my opinion with "war"), and the only time I believe God condones violence (or war), is the taking of the aforementioned scar upon yourself for the sake and salvation of another living being.

This doesn't, however, excuse the people who would harm an abortion-performing doctor or say sickening things to a girl who's decided to have an abortion. A Christian who would do something like that has strayed pretty far from the path. First off, they're forgetting to love everyone as Christ loved them, and second, they're forgetting that no one person is worse in God's sight than any other.

Well, I feel like I've come to the conclusion of an essay. The only thing that's left is actually concluding. How to do that? I guess I just state that I disagree with abortion as a concept, decision, or action, and that I disagree with anyone who would try to physically or emotionally harm anyone involved with abortion. As Big Kenny would say, "Love Everybody."

That's a pretty lame ending, but it's over nonetheless. Feel free to post hateful or angry comments now.


What's Got Fatty So Worried?

Or, "Things That Make Me Paranoid About Pregnancy"
(Presented in no particular order.)
  1. Enis getting switched at birth with someone else's baby or kicked out of the nest by a parasite baby like those one birds have. I've already begged Josh to keep a marker in his pocket so he can write something on Enis the second the doctor hands him over. Failing that, I've also made Josh promise that he'll follow the staff everywhere if they have to take Enis out of my room for any reason. I'm not raising someone else's baby.
  2. Not knowing when labor starts. I've heard this fear is fairly common, but I feel like it's more likely to happen to me.
  3. Calling my doctor when labor starts. Because one, how can I call if I don't know? Two, how can I call if I don't have her number and it's the middle of the night? Three, I don't want to ask for her number.
  4. Forgetting to zip my fly when I don't have to wear maternity pants anymore. For 9 months I've been pulling them down and pulling them up, mission accomplished. This is how habits are formed, people!


Dear Brittney,

A few weeks ago I saw your maternity photos on facebook. They're gorgeous. So now (of course) I want some. I hope you don't mind that I'm stealing your idea. If it makes you feel any better, people say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (but try to tell that to real crab meat). Please still be my friend.




v. intr.
  1. to nest
  2. to prepare for, as in one's young
  3. something I haven't done yet


What's in a Name?

Everything. I'd never start writing a story unless I knew the characters' names. What a name tells you about a character is limitless--and I'm not talking about what a naming dictionary says it means. I'm talking about the sound of a name, the syllables, long and short vowels, aspirated or unaspirated consonants. The shape of the sound can tell you about the character's personality, their world, even give you a basic idea of their appearance.

Young writers often shy away from naming their characters, instead using "he" and "she" or tags like "the woman" and "the man." My theory is that they do this for one of two reasons.

1. They don't know enough about their characters. Pretty self-explanatory.

2. They're afraid to learn more about their characters. This is an easy one to get caught up in, because writers want their readers to be interested in the story. The young writer can get hung up on the idea that if a reader can't relate to a character the reader won't care to find out what happens. For example, an audience of elderly professors from Yale reading about a teenage boy working on a catfish farm in Mississippi. Or an audience of Napa wine connoisseurs reading about a cellist living in South Brooklyn. Because how can anyone stay interested in something they can't see themselves doing in a place they've never been?

The young writer may think that by keeping things vague he can reach the widest possible audience. (Which is probably why in these stories the setting is just as nondescript as the character--the kitchen, the city, near the beach. Heck, everybody's seen one of those.) "If I don't say the character's name, the reader can't infer where he's from, what he looks like, or what he does. Then the reader can project the things he wants to see onto the character and he'll care more about what happens in the story." If this were true, every best-seller in the world would be about the woman and the man in the city. Flat, empty, boring. Specific details like names, settings, etc., give the reader something to hang onto, something to build a world from--basically, something to stay interested in.

But I've been thinking and rambling on about all of this with the intention of eventually coming to a point. Joshua and I know what we're going to name Enis. We've had names picked out from the beginning, prepared for a boy and a girl. We were even prepared for twins of either sex. Barring a major disparity in how our son looks, his name is ready and waiting. And when they hear it, people are going to think we're insane. Especially if we explain how we came up with the name. But that's the fun part about being me and Josh: anytime we explain our decision making process, people think we're insane.


Spying on your neighbors is a learned behavior...

I'm sitting here watching the old man from next door ride his little John Deere lawn mower up and down the 200 feet of road in front of our two houses trying to blade the eight inches of snow we got yesterday. It's the cutest thing I've seen all week.


What Happened

Or, "Fatty Knows!"

On Tuesday Joshua and I went to another baby doctor appointment. I'd be lying if I said we were expecting anything other than the usual--a quick listen in on the baby's heart rate, a few hard pushes on my stomach to see how the baby is positioned, and a measurement of my uterus with that little white tape measure. If all went according to plan, my baby doctor should ask me if I have any questions for her, then disappear until our next appointment.

But while she was measuring my uterus and while she should have been asking me, "How are your bowel movements?" in the soft Russian accent that always makes me feel like that's a normal question between friends, Dr. S said something different. "The baby seems quite small for this stage. Of course, this is not a very accurate way to judge. I think we will do an ultrasound today to get more exact ideas."

Which didn't surprise me that much. I mean, for the first six and a half months of my pregnancy I couldn't keep down anything but the occasional cheese sandwich and even now I can't eat before three in the afternoon without throwing up. And let's not forget those times I forgot to take my prenatal vitamins. But before either me or Joshua could wonder whether this meant Enis was a sickly little thing, we were swept into another room and my stomach was covered in warm green jelly for the ultrasound.

As she ultrasounded (or whatever), Dr. S explained the measurements she was taking, then showed us little computer charts with lines on them like those exponential growth charts you study in junior high math. (Turns out Enis is small, but not what's considered too small by baby standards--about 4 lbs and growing right now.) Then she went back to the black and white screen that's supposed to show you the baby, but that always looks like a film negative of smoke.

"There is the heart," she pointed to a pulsing black spot, "and the ribs," some gray-white lines, "and that is the thigh bone," stopping for a quick measurement, "and the bladder," just another oblong shape. "Oh. And there is, of course..." She hesitated. Not from trying to translate from Russian to English, but from trying to cope with suddenly having a giant wang on the screen and absolutely no recognition on my face that could save her from having to say it out loud.

Next to me, Joshua was grinning like a man who just saw the funniest thing in the world happen, but who was told beforehand that if he laughed, he got shot.

I didn't see it. Dr. S struggled on.

"His...boy parts. Between his legs," she said.

"Oh," I said. Nodding. Trying to play it cool. Not under any circumstances looking at my husband who was on the verge of laughing at the most immature thing (some pun intended) ever.

"He's certainly not shy," she said.

I heard Joshua make a sound in his throat. I stared at the grainy package on the screen and dug my fingernails into my palms. Somehow I managed to ask a question about the baby's size without choking. She answered it in a businesslike tone, printed us off a picture--just one this time--then helped me wipe off the ultrasound gel and sit up.

"I will see you again in two weeks," she said, and disappeared like nothing hilarious had happened.

As soon as the door closed behind her, Joshua took the ultrasound photo and said, "That's my boy."

We couldn't leave the room for another several minutes because we were giggling like freshman boys who just translated "boner" from English to Spanish.

Now, for those of you keeping score at home, it's true, our plan wasn't to find out what Enis was until the day he popped out. That was part of the questionnaire we filled out when we first started going to the baby doctor, but I guess Dr. S didn't see any use in trying to pretend like it wasn't incredibly obvious to anyone who knew what a penis looked like.

Why couldn't I see it? Probably because I don't have training in reading ultrasounds or spend as much time thinking about penises as boys do. If it makes you feel any better, I can see it now that it's been pointed out to me and when I'm holding the ultrasound photo right side up.

So, we're having a boy. My intuition was right all along. And we're not upset that we found out (although now that I think about it, that's probably the kind of thing douches sue their doctors over). We're ecstatic. All because our baby thought it would be funny to flaunt his package like Babies Gone Wild on the only media outlet he knows so far.