Thursday, November 13, 2008

Embarrassment Sans Riches

Embarrassment Sans Riches

We have breakfast after bootcamp on Saturdays and even if we passed the workweek sipping mimosas instead of quaffing the working mom cocktail of stress and drudgery, it would still probably be the high point of the week. Overcome with warm fuzziness, at the end of our meal, Trish made us hold hands and we did a sort of prayer circle affirmation thing right there at the restaurant. The conspicuousness of this was embarrassing to me. Kaz, do you remember Mr. Baker's Coffee Shop in Redlands? There were often folks ostentatiously saying grace there and I likely felt smug and contemptuous. Mimi, noted my obvious embarrassment at our little ceremony but she divined that I really am a complete sucker for that kind of effusiveness. But it still embarrasses me.

More confessions follow. Himself and myself have both read Andrew Sullivan's piece about blogging. Sullivan on blogging: "Its truths are provisional and its ethos collective and messy." Because these pieces here are churned out in immediate response to whatever I am sponging up and because I am over reliant on left-leaning media and what Rocky at bootcamp tells us from The View, I have, also to my embarrassment, gotten some things very wrong.

I messed one thing up and I cannot accurately remember the source of my misinformation. I have searched the Internet and not found a reference but I suspect it may have been an essay in the New Yorker. This is the perfect example of why I blog. I can say something I read, or someone I talked to, or a piece of music I heard gave me an idea. I may be proven wrong or change my mind tomorrow, but here, preserved for weird posterity is what came just now of some fleeting notion. I don't feel obligated by any code to search extensively for the source. Through something I read, I got the impression that Obama volunteers were strongly encouraged not to answer questions about specific issues and were instructed to refer all posers to the website. The same Trish who subjected me to hands clasped, sucking the air of out the big open patio thingie, reports back though that Camp Obama was an environment that welcomed and encouraged every voice. Although they were advised never to speak to the press, volunteers were encouraged to discuss anything they felt qualified to with the public. The training experience was designed to sow seeds of leadership and lay the groundwork for a network of energized citizens which would juggernaut beyond the election and political divides to change the face of government forever.

I have been corresponding with Carrie, an American ex-pat in Ireland, and I glean from her that feminism is much more tied into class here in America than it is across the pond. I had assumed and it seemed substantiated by what I had read, that as a conservative Christian, Sarah Palin is opposed to sex education that focuses on anything other than abstinence. By googling "Sarah Palin Birth Control Sex Education" the first hit is "John McCain's choice for Vice President is a radical social conservative who opposes birth control and sex education" and this quote appears repeatedly.

Carrie contradicted that Palin was indeed in favor of birth control and some searching yielded this:
“I’m pro-contraception, and I think kids who may not hear about it at home should hear about it in other avenues,” she said during a debate in Juneau.
From the L.A. Times, "Palin’s statements date to her 2006 gubernatorial run. In July of that year, she completed a candidate questionnaire that asked, would she support funding for abstinence-until-marriage programs instead of “explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?”
Palin wrote, “Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support.”
This was the quote that lead many of us to believe that Palin only favored abstinence programs. The Times however went on, "But in August of that year, Palin was asked during a KTOO radio debate if “explicit” programs include those that discuss condoms. Palin said no and called discussions of condoms “relatively benign.”
“Explicit means explicit,” she said. “No, I’m pro-contraception, and I think kids who may not hear about it at home should hear about it in other avenues. So I am not anti-contraception. But, yeah, abstinence is another alternative that should be discussed with kids. I don’t have a problem with that. That doesn’t scare me, so it’s something I would support also.”

Through notes back and forth with Carrie, I realized that for me to characterize a sixteen-year-old mother as "doomed" betrays my elitest attitude about motherhood. Because it taxes ME so much, motherhood should be reserved for educated, financially well-off, stably married women who have established their careers and sown oats. I referred to the inevitability of a sixteen-year-old mother becoming "chattel" out of the hubris that only my ilk possess the resources and maturity to be up to the task. I am very close to a woman who had a child at age 17 and she is a wonderful mother. I wonder, though, how many teenage mothers, wonderful and not so wonderful, suffer, with their children, in poverty? I would like to know what most teenage moms would answer if asked years down the pike, "Would you have waited until you were older to have children?" I know that this cannot really be answered in such black and white terms, but I wonder if the balance might tip a bit towards wishing they'd waited.

I personally apologize to the Obama campaign for the muzzled volunteer accusation. Most everyone else who reads this is off the hook for that. But, let's all apologize to Sarah Palin (not that she should ever be the president) on behalf of our ilk and our left leaning media. Let's support mothers and fathers. Let's get over our shame at sex. Let's bless the faithful and the separation of church and state. Let's remember that the future of the planet probably hinges on population control and do what we can to get that message across all lines of gender, culture, class and religion.

Himself and I both had parents, who were, in the 1950s & 60s, a great deal older than those of most of our peers. We took my mother out for her 88th birthday. I think of how mortified she would have been to know that I had revealed her age but nothing mortifies her anymore. She knows me and her boyfriend Charlie but can refer to no one else by name. She is peaceful and safe in the land where time is only now. I see her every week but Richard and Himself hadn't for a while and were sad to see how much farther away she has drifted. Himself made the sad journey to OC to visit his nearly 92-year-old dad who was recently moved into assisted living where at least he is being kept safe. We are happy that our parents can end their days in comfort while we fret about our own dotage.

I am scared about the economy, and how we will fare when we're that frail. Mostly scared that I don't know how scared to be. As I write this an e-mailed NY Times newsflash arrives advising that the Dow has dropped 400 points. The huge mythology of the Depression, my parents' legacy to me, plays in my nightmares like a Dorothea Lange slideshow. I vaguely remember the Cuban missile crisis and a palpable sense that the adults around me were scared as they marched us through our duck and cover drills. I remember the Rodney King riots and driving home from South Gate Adult School dodging bricks that were hailing from many overpasses and panicking at the televised eruption at Florence and Normandie, inches away from where Himself was teaching that same night at Manual Arts. I remember two big earthquakes. These are my forays into collective terror but it was real scary and then it was completely over. I don't know how long we will be riding out this historic economic failure. I hope it is one of those "everyone got all whipped into a lather but everything worked out o.k." kind of panics. I obsess on how bad things may get but try not to sink into deep cynicism and to kind of feel a part of the collective "desperately waiting for Obama."

I said to Himself that maybe what all the smart people we know say about Obama is right and he said, "I hope Bob is right." This was the most optimistic thing he's said since the election. Not that I bring up the election very often. We were talking about being kids recently and Himself made an observation about my own childhood that was dead on and painful but also something character building to address. But there was also this exalted high that there is a soul in the universe who is so connected with me that he helps me put my pieces together. This is my optimism. I have struggled with this writing all week and for the first time I questioned whether I am cut out to blog and whether writing here is really just self aggrandizing exhibitionism. Mimi was right about me. I am embarrassed by my lust for effusion. I will try to cast off the intellectual hardness I cultivate, and which my brilliant loving generous mate nurtures in me, and say directly to my most beloved reader and all my other beloved readers too, that when I feel our hearts beating together there can be nothing but optimism and I pray to love you well enough for you to feel the same.


Layne said...

Effusiveness embarasses me too, but I appreciate knowing how your softness eases my own "intellectual hardness," and perhaps this blend of emollience and exoskeleton keeps us surviving as the fittest, together. Your most devoted reader, xxx me

Layne said...

Proof of writing struggle. Himself indicated some problems with this piece but I was so tired of it I just put it in edit mode and let him go at it instead of discussing it like we usually do. This is why his comment is in my name, and yes, we are so fittest together.

harry said...

Ah, I was kinda hoping your were telling yourself that you were your most devoted reader.

However this does confirm that your best writing is ghosted by your better half. Like Pound really wrote Wasteland.

Cari said...

Alas, I too am guilty of repeating "news items" that turn out to be absolute hoaxes. The problem is that we put too much stock in the media and then embarrass ourselves when the real fallout is revealed. It's okay, everyone makes mistakes, I've learnt to forgive myself. Give yourself a break and do the same. Your blogs are the highlight of my week, and I have gladly added myself to your "devoted reader" category.
Your loving niece,