I stand with Planned Parenthood

I need to say something about Planned Parenthood. I’ve seen many friends in my Facebook feed re-posting both meme-d opinions and non-factual information against Planned Parenthood. I know that I can’t change their thoughts on the clinic but I do feel that maybe I can help them understand what Planned Parenthood is and what it means to people.

I think these friends, they probably never needed services from this particular healthcare provider. I’m not talking about abortion services, I mean any of the services.

There are many websites that give Planned Parenthood’s statistics. You can look them up. This post isn’t a fact-giving essay and I’m not here to argue politics or numbers. This is an anecdote. It’s my story, my reason for supporting this place that helped me get to where I am today.

My mom used to tell me that I was the reason she didn’t have a college degree. On her bad days, she let me know that I had kept her from fulfilling her dreams simply by being born. Yes, as an adult, I can understand why she said things like that when she did. She’s just a human, she was a frustrated woman who had children she maybe shouldn’t have had, children who had been thrust upon her and I mean that literally. None of us were by choice and three of us were by coercion at the very least.  I don’t imagine it’s easy dealing with a passel of offspring you never wanted.

She told me she would have aborted me had it been an option. I think she said something similar to all of us. She would have aborted Chris and Noelle only her husband wouldn’t have let her. She had to go to the doctor to find out if she needed to abort Bedot because having Noelle had nearly killed her and she needed to know if she was facing the possibility of leaving three kids with a less-than-nice father should she not survive the pregnancy. The doctor said they’d get her through it so she didn’t have to choose between one child and three others. Yay. Still, abortion had played a role in each of her pregnancies, if only as a background thought.

Maybe I’m airing dirty laundry; this isn’t exactly my part of the story to tell. However, I think it’s important because that knowledge is what informed my own later decisions.

For instance, I didn’t have sex until I was married, at least not the type of sex that leads to pregnancy or STDs. I was incredibly responsible with my body because I had a plan: I wanted to go to college and get a job and support myself. That was my goal. I would be the first woman in my family to do that and it was important to me. As I understood it, given my mother’s story, I wouldn’t be able to do that if I got knocked up and the easiest way to prevent babies is to not have sex at all.

I was in college when I married the first time. I didn’t have health insurance. I was working two jobs and going to school and planning a wedding. I didn’t have any spare cash and certainly nothing in my savings account. I was poor. However, my soon-to-be husband had been sexually active prior to our relationship and, being the responsible young lady I was, there was no way I was going to let his bodily fluids into my bodily cavity without him getting checked first. More important, though, was birth control.

I know there are those who feel women should not have access to birth control. But let me tell you, abstinence isn’t much of an option on one’s wedding night. For many couples, it’s not an option inside the marriage at all. I didn’t want a child and I didn’t want abstinence so birth control was my choice.

My fiance’s choice was the same. He wasn’t ready to be a father. That was a responsibility that neither of us wanted while we were young and full of plans for buying a house and getting ahead in the game.

I need to back up for a moment.

When i was 15, I started having migraines, the kind that make you black out and throw up, the kind that send shock waves of pain through your whole head and your neck and your shoulders just because you took a breath. The kind that make you need to kill yourself to get rid of the pain.

Mom took me to the doctor and the doctor decided the only way to manage this head torture was to put me on the pill. I didn’t want to go on the pill because 1) I wasn’t sexually active ; 2) my period was just beginning to normalize and I didn’t want to mess with it ; 3) I understood that my hormones were completely out of control but that they needed to do what they were doing and that trying to force them to do something else at that point was probably stupid, maybe dangerous.

But it wasn’t my decision.

So I had my first PAP smear at 15 and my doctor, a woman, was violent about it, bordering on cruel. I already had hangups about sex so having someone wield their sharpened fencing sword inside my vagina and uterus was both painful and horrifying.

You might be able to empathize with the terror I felt knowing that I would go in willingly and let someone hurt me again simply so that I could get birth control pills so that I would not have a baby so that I could go on and earn my degree so that I could get a job and become a contributing member of society.

But maybe you can’t. Maybe none of that makes sense.

Regardless, I scheduled a PAP smear for me and I scheduled testing for my fiance so that we could both enter our marriage feeling safe and secure in our sexual congress.

Of course, I remember that day well. The woman at the intake desk was young and brusque and unpleasant. My fiance was in and out in no time and he left to go do whatever he was going to do that day, probably work. I sat in the waiting room alone and waited. I tried to do homework but I was terribly nervous. The woman at the desk was glaring at me. I was scared, intimidated. Would the doctor be mean? Would it hurt as badly this time as it had last time?

No. The answer to those questions were no. There was a nurse and a doctor in attendance, both female. They were kind. They were supportive. They understood that I was there now so that I would not have to go in later to make use of their other services because, yes, I do believe that I would have strongly considered abortion had I gotten pregnant at 20 during my junior year of college. I suspect my then-husband would have driven me to the appointment. That is how badly we did not want children. These women understood my fear. They understood the judgement I had put myself through just to enter their clinic. They were lighthearted about the whole procedure, they made me laugh and assured me I was doing what was best for my body and my future. It was just a PAP smear and some pills but to me, it was my first step to taking control of my life.

This is why the clinic is called Planned Parenthood. It’s so you can plan to be a parent when the time is right for you. It allows people – people who don’t have access to nice OBGyn offices, people who are ashamed and worried that their family and friends may see them at their own doctor’s offices getting birth control to keep from reproducing, people who don’t want to find a doctor for wellness exams or STD tests, people who are young and who are scared, people like me – to PLAN their futures, their family’s futures.

Why is that bad?

I used Planned Parenthood throughout that first marriage. It’s where I got my birth control. It’s where I got my annual check-ups. They were the only doctors I saw for over five years. Planned Parenthood kept me healthy, and not just sexually. If I had laryngitis when I went in, they prescribed something to help me get better. If I seemed stressed over school, over my new marriage, over the death of my grandmother, they told me I had to take care of myself. They told me to drink more water, to take vitamins, to try to let everything go even if only for five minutes a day, to make room for helping myself heal. These people took care of me, better care of me than I would have at that time. Better care of me than my husband or my family or his family did.

After I divorced and I started dating, every time I became serious about a new relationship, I went to Planned Parenthood. He could get a check-up and so could I. Peace of mind, health of body, and all at an affordable price.

I got my college degree. I got jobs. I have a career and another degree. I’ve traveled the world. I am remarried. I bought my own car. I have friends, family, cats and a dog and some fish. I have a house. I’ve succeeded. I met my goals and I’ve had to make new ones.

I have healthcare now. I have access to a lot of services I probably couldn’t have received at Planned Parenthood, such as my Essure implants and my Novasure procedure. I have an OBGyn whom I adore; she’s incredible.

I don’t have children because I chose not to and I 100% fully realize I was able to make and follow that choice because of Planned Parenthood. 

I’m not going to get into an argument over Planned Parenthood selling fetuses and baby heads on the sly or whatever other awful thing media has accused them of doing because there’s an election year coming up. I don’t believe they’ve done anything illegal but you might. You have your sources and I’ve got mine. I haven’t fact-checked mine and I doubt you’ve fact-checked yours, either. Face it. We’re lazy and we want to be fed that which will rile us up or make us cry or make us laugh and we want it in short bursts over the internet. We’re not going to do any deep digging into this and that’s on us. I’m not willing to bolster my defenses so I can’t take you on since I have nothing backing me. I suspect you’re in the same position.

However, I can stand here and tell you that Planned Parenthood is not the evil corporation you may think it is. I’ve had plenty of experience with them and I can unequivocally state that the doctors I encountered there helped me, took care of me, were compassionate and kind. They are there for people who can’t afford or may not have access to healthcare, otherwise, and it seems that would be an important component of society, no matter your personal beliefs.

All I ask is that you please think of your friends and maybe your family who have benefited from their services before you vilify Planned Parenthood on your social media sites. You might be condemning something that has helped people you love.


Filed under My Opinions on STUFF

I want to marry Peggy Carter AND be her, too.

Marvel has done something – yes, I’m going to say it – Marvelous.

Agent Carter.

Agent Carter

Comic book stories are big again, which is both wonderful and miserable. Comic books are fun, imaginative, and let us be bigger than we are for a little while. However, they’re also trite, rife with racism, sexism, genderism, and many other social ills, and they make for some sucky movies.

Of course, there is the manga/anime craze and indie graphic novels are becoming TV shows  and films, but the biggest two providers of comic book entertainment are DC and Marvel.

From where I’m sitting, I see Marvel pulling ahead and creating an exciting, dynamic, and often family-friendly multiverse. This latter part is important because it allows grown up comic book geeks to share something they love with their children. DC? They’re making poor decisions, which is a shame because their characters are generally better known, or, at least, always have been. That’s probably about to change.

I’ve got a passing familiarity with the comic worlds and I would have considered myself a DC girl but only because I’ve had their Big 3 in my sights since I was a tot. I mean, I grew up watching Superfriends. I had a Wonder Woman doll and coveted my cousin’s Batman doll. The Flash was my imaginary friend for a long time. It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I learned about Marvel via Spider-Man and then, later, X-Men. DC has always been on my radar whereas Marvel was just out there, wandering around, sometimes in my line of sight and mostly not.

Now Marvel belongs to Disney and Disney owns ABC and they’re putting everything together to create one big story using the same actors and storylines across the board, from TV to movies to the comic books. That’s seriously cool, especially for A-Types like me who love continuity and consistency.

Disney has employed its legendary magic on Marvel, that’s for sure. They’ve got all these giant movies with big names that bring in lotsa bucks every summer. While I’m neither a Hulk nor Thor fan (yes, of course I love Loki. How can you not love Loki? That smirky face, his flippy hair, the irresistably cute evilness), I do enjoy Iron Man and Captain America and I loved the Avengers. I’ve seen most of the movies and we’ve started watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well.

But Agent Carter is something special. The show is a bridge. Marvel has given us, the not comic geeks, a gift that will bring us into the fold (or at least, make us hate the fold less), handing over someone to love from the ground up. Peggy Carter is merely a blip in the comic world, not fully introduced until the first Captain America movie. According to Gabe, who is a comic book geek, The Cap has been known to date one Sharon Carter (the blonde “neighbor” in Winter Soldier is named Sharon, as Gabe likes to point out all the freaking time) but there has never been a real Peggy Carter…until now.

Marvel made her for us. And us = women who aren’t steeped in the Marvel universe lore.

Agent Carter 2

There is so much to love about this woman.

First, she’s classy and wears fantastic shoes.

Peggy Carter 2

Second, and more important, she’s a normal woman. She’s not all wispy and willowy or Jillian Michaels buff. She’s not even blonde (not that blonde is abnormal) She’s a standard woman and who is really good at her job and happens to be pretty. She’s relatable. She could be someone we know, she could be our co-worker, neighbor, or friend. She could be me. (No, not really. I’m making a point, not being delusional)

In addition, she kicks ass. Seriously, she’s a scrapper when beating up or outsmarting the bad (and good!) guys and she does it in such a zingy way, I feel safer walking to my car at night. To see a normal woman beat the crap out of a man’s face with a stapler, it kind of makes me feel like, yeah, I really could fight for myself if I had to. She makes me feel stronger by showing me what a smart, confident, capable woman looks like.

Peggy Carter 3

But she’s not a robot, she’s not the cold, calculating agent. She has feelings. She cries when her friend is shot. She faces hard choices and agonizes over the possible outcomes. She is frustrated by the narrow-mindedness she faces at work and the sexism she sees directed toward her female friends. She has a heart, she’s compassionate, and she wants to do all the right things to make the world a good place. She’s not just Steve Roger’s widowed girlfriend, she is Captain America, herself, with good shoes and a dash of soft snark.

But the best thing about Peggy Carter? She’s mine. She didn’t belong to someone else, first. She doesn’t have an origin story that the comic book readers know and I don’t; she was merely a bit character in the background of a few issues. Gabe and I are on ground level with her, we both have to learn her together and I don’t have to hear all his Marvel knowlege regarding this character and that device and the other thing, too. Yes, there are those little Easter eggs, some of them tying into the comics and some to the movies, but they’re minor. The story, Peggy and her team, they are beginners and we’re all starting down this road together.

Yeah, I’m a fan.

Marvel’s been doing a great job with women, much better than DC. I like the current iteration of Black Widow. She’s awesome.

Black Widow

I really love Melinda May. She is phenomenal and I wish I were that tough and that I had her quintessential superhero stance.

Melinda May

Sidenote: My favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. baddie is also a woman. And if she’s not all villainous anymore, don’t tell me. I haven’t made it to Season 2, yet.


But my most-favorite Marvel hero? It’s Agent Margaret “Peggy” Carter. I love her so much, I might just start reading comics again.

Peggy Carter 1

Marvel? I need merchandise. I have money for all your Agent Carter gear. Get on that, ok?


Filed under My Opinions on STUFF

Happy Halloween!

For Gabe

From our family to yours: Happy Halloween.

(you’ll find out more about the dog later)


Filed under My Dearly Beloveds

My First Nightmare

It’s late. I’m sitting by an open window, listening to the wind rattle leaves down the road and bump the ghost against the side of the house. It makes a pleasant “dut…dut…dut” sound when it hits the cedar planks. From time to time, everything grows still, silent, and we wait. We wait for the next gust of wind, we wait for the temperature to drop futher, we wait for winter to come and hibernation to begin. Then the breeze tickles the branches and a dog barks in the distance, bringing us all back to the present, us being me, the leaves, the thumping ghost, maybe the moon, though it’s only a little fingernail clipping in the sky.

I’m out of ghost stories. I thought I had more but I don’t. This doesn’t bode well. Next October, I think I’m just going to post a picture of me in a different festive outfit every day. Not costumes, I’m not that ambitious, but Halloween-themed clothing. I mean, what else do I have now that I’m emptied of paranormal tales? Worse, what am I going to tell you tonight, what will I have for you to read tomorrow morning?

I’m going to tell you about my first nightmare, the first one I remember. I must have been around four-years-old at the time and I think it was the first instance of me realizing just how badly my own mind could betray me, would throw me into dangerous territory, could make me doubt everything I thought I understood about my world.

I woke up in my dream and it was morning. I was wearing my favorite nightgown, a full-length affair with a ruffle at the neck and the ankle as well as around my wrists. It had stripes of blue and orange flowers and a ribbon tied across my chest and another that went above the ruffle at the hem. I got out of bed and walked to the kitchen where breakfast was waiting. It was a fancy breakfast which was exciting as that was definitely out of the ordinary. Mom was at the sink, washing dishes. The basin was full of hot, sudsy water, the foamy bubbles coming all the way to the tops of Mom’s yellow rubber gloves. I was talking to her and she was listening, probably even replying, but I was more interested in the yellow rubber gloves. There were lines all the way down her arm – the line of her short shirt sleeve then the line of her skin then the line of the glove and, finally, the line of the bubbles and the sink. The world turned on its side, then. My mother’s skin started turning green. It crept from inside the glove up her arm, up under her sleeve. Soon, I saw the green creeping up her neck, then her jaw and chin, then her face. Her features transformed, became grotesque and monstrous, witch-like. Her eyes, now red, bulged and she turned them on me. She started shrieking and I started screaming in response. I was terrified. This was my mommy, my caretaker, my protector and she’d just turned green and hideous. (I blame “The Wizard of Oz” and it’s no surprise I have always hated that movie)

I started crying. I wanted to fix the whole thing but when I stepped forward, she grabbed a knife and said she was going to kill me. I took off running. I ran and she chased, caterwauling like a banshee, coming after me, gaining, intent on ending my life. I ran out the front door to find my dad chopping wood. He was in full woodsman regalia and looked nothing like my actual dad (I know exactly where I got that image; it was from my Little Red Riding Hood book with the dark-haired, handsome wood-chopping man in his red and black flannel, suspenders, knit hat, rolled pants, and tough boots) I stumbled to him and he immediately saw the situation. He knew what had to be done. Placing me away from the danger, he took up his axe and calmly went toward my mother, ready to chop her to bits.

I woke up after that. It was still dark. I was tangled in my tiny bedsheets. I wasn’t wearing my favorite nightgown but some undersized adult t-shirt, instead. I was paralyzed with fear, lying alone in my room, the moon shining in through the window. After some time, my heart stopped racing and a terrible sense of loss descended. I started to cry. There was something i needed to do and it was so scary, so terrible for a tiny tot whose world had just come to an end in her dream. I had to go see if my Mom was 1) a monster or 2) dead from being axed to bits.

I crept out of bed and down the hall to my parents’ room. I did that thing that kids do, sneaking up to the bed and lurking, hands on the edge of the mattress, peering at my sleeping mother’s face. Though it was too dark to see, the force of my horrified stare snapped her from her own slumber and she asked me what was wrong. When I answered in what I thought was a normal voice but she said was the saddest little mew she’d ever heard, I asked her, “Mommy…are you green?”

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Filed under Adventures, My Dearly Beloveds

Frying Pan Green Tomatoes

We, the sisters, the daughters, try to go to Mom’s every Saturday to help with chores around the house. Jim’s not doing well right now (he’s sick, too. He thinks it’s leftover shingles, we think it’s a likely alien infestation in is body cavity but he thinks we don’t know what we’re talking about. Like we don’t read books and watch movies, or something. Sheesh) so he’s not quite as energetic as he had been.

Most days, we go over, do the chores, Jim makes us lunch, then we sit around and visit for awhile before finishing up and heading home.

Unrelatedish thought: You know, this is the best way to lose someone. That might sound like crap but I cannot begin to express how thankful I am that we get to spend this time with our mom as a family. She said she knows that she is loved and she hopes we know that we are, too. We do. We wouldn’t have had this had she not gone through chemo; it would have been really ugly. The ugly will still come but now we’ll be better prepared because we’ve had this time to buffer, to say the things we want to say, but, most importantly, just to be together and be a dysfunctional, loving family. It’s the end of the party for her but we all get to stand at the door and chit chat for a little while before she leaves and…man, it’s been amazing.

Back to the story: We kept telling the grandkids that it was important for us all to make good memories right now. I don’t think any of us bought into that, I think we were just trying to make this all a little less horrifying for the children. But you know what? We actually have done just that, enjoyed some shining moments.

The first happened early on. Mom hadn’t started chemo yet but she’d had her hair buzzed in order to prep for the hair-falling-out part. Noelle – and let me just take a minute to say that Noelle has hair vanity like you wouldn’t believe – wanted to do something to support Mom so she suggested we all buzz our own heads. We agreed. On the day we had planned to go baldish, our uncle Charlie, Mom’s brother, and aunt Paula came out for a visit. Uncle Charlie did the hair-butchery for us. He has three boys and a girl and he was in charge of keeping those boys buzzed up all summer long for many, many years. In other words, he was old hat at this game. Speaking of hats (and heads), Charlie and Paula brought pink ballcaps for us all to wear afterward, you know, so we wouldn’t burn our fragile skulls since they’d be mostly naked, and all. Thoughtful!

It turned out to be a fun day. Mom hated it, at first. She didn’t want her daughters to look like Marines. Now, though, she references that day and loves the pictures we took.






Today was another memory-making day, though totally by accident.

Our chores included tearing the tomato plants out of the greenhouse and inspecting the bodies to find any tomatoes that hadn’t been hit by the cold snap. Most of them had been frostbitten, were holey and wormy, or were too underdeveloped to ripen on the windowsill. We put all those bad tomatoes in a bucket and decided to throw them over the fence for the fun of it. But then Noelle remembered how much she loved fried green tomatoes and how do you fry green tomatoes? IN A FRYING PAN! So Britt ran off to get the fying pan that lives in the sandbox and we started a game of Whack-a-mater. It’s like if you mix cricket (the game, not the bug) and tennis…only with tomatoes and a fying pan.


It was such a random thing but we all had the best time laughing, getting tomato splatter all over ourselves, and enjoying each other’s company in the late autumn sunshine.

Had Mom and Jim been able to do the tomato-clearance themselves, this never would have happened but because it was our job, we made a delightful memory, one we’ll talk about for years.

These are the beautiful moments that will carry us all through.



Filed under Adventures, In someone else's backyard, My Dearly Beloveds