Tag Archives: Serious shit

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

On Racism, the subject of which I am completely unqualified to address yet will do so anyhow

I am a horrible person.
I’ve known this about myself for quite awhile. I lack compassion for my fellow human being, I’m mean both intentionally and unintentionally, I annoy the crap out of people in real life and over the internet, I’m opinionated and not always with a reason, and, as it turns out, I’m racist. As I said, I’m a horrible person.

I was driving home one night, listening to NPR’s “Fresh Air” and they were interviewing a Nigerian woman named Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on being black in America but not being  an American Black, which happens to be a subject in her 2013  novel, Americanah. The interview was interesting and I was riveted (honestly, part of my fascination was with her voice; it is gorgeous)  I checked-out the book in question, thinking I would be able to connect to the story, having lived in another country, myself, but more important, hoping that reading about someone who was discovering white vs black racism in America would show me what it is I’m just not grasping, thus enabling me to learn to be a better person. While the story, itself, isn’t as inspiring as I’d hoped, it still made me think, made me ponder how I could rewire my own thinking.
See, I’m one of those white women who is freakishly oblivious. Up until my 20’s, I think I’d only ever known one black person (in elementary school) and I wanted to be friends with her because we had the same sweater. Well, and maybe also a little because she had the hair ties that had two bright marbles that you had to twist around each other in some intricate, sophisticated, non-understandable fashion.

Hair ties

These doohickies. They were far beyond my hairstyling capacity.

Mostly, though, I wanted us to wear our matching sweaters on the same day – Twinsies – but we never got to because we couldn’t be friends. She hung out with and was one of Those Girls, the ones who had impressive collections of Lip Lickers tins. I had one, cherry-flavored I think, that I got in my Christmas stocking until a friend took pity on me and gave me her used bubblegum one because she’d received a duplicate for her birthday. Those Girls, though, they had the double tins and some of them even had all the quadruple tins because their parents could afford such things; it was extravagant. I mean, who needs that much lip gloss?


OMG, remember these? I wanted ALL OF THEM!
To see more, visit http://clickamericana.com/topics/beauty-fashion/lip-lickers-flavored-lip-glosses

I had my one legitimate tin and my second-hand tin and I wasn’t invited to play with those girls so no Twinsies for me. I was jealous of the one black girl even though I had my own set of friends, girls who had fantastic imaginations and weren’t afraid to play in the dirt with the little white trash kid. And now I’m going to say something bad, almost as stupid as “I’m color blind”: It wasn’t that she was black that made me angry at her, it was because she had things I didn’t and I wanted them, namely tins of Lip Lickers and posh little friends.

Not so long ago, I was in grad school and I said horribly offensive things to a classmate because I have that white guilt thing going on and when someone gets defensive about their race, I get defensive about mine. WHY? Because I’m a moron and can’t seem to get out of my weird little brain, to understand the greater problems in society. I say seriously assholey things because, to me, hearing “White Privilege” translates into “You should feel bad about being white” and then I do feel bad but then I get angry that I have to feel bad about my being born with skin when that’s the whole point of the conversation in the first place, to stop making people feel bad about their skin color. But do you see how I turned that all into something about me instead of being sympathetic to everyone who is treated differently because they are not white? It’s almost as if I will acknowledge it happens only if I can be part of it, too. I know what it’s like to be excluded because I’m poor, because I’m a female, because I’m small, because I’m not atheletic, because I’m not religious, but it appears I also want to be excluded for having skin. Again: Moron. That’s what makes me racist, though, my own unwillingness to not get defensive and not come up with reasons, excuses, explanations on why America has not yet progressed beyond racism. That’s my whole problem. It’s not that I’m running around hating on everyone whose skin is darker than olive, no, it’s that I can’t seem to accept that people with skin darker than olive still feel disenfranchised in this country solely because of their skin color. I want to argue with the feelings of an entire group, nevermind the reality of racism actually still existing. That makes me racist and it makes me wrong.
But the worst part is that I think of myself as being fairly open-minded and inclusive and all that crap. In addition, I think I’m pretty special and amazing because I’m the first person in my family to get a college degree and the first in my extended family to get a Masters (though there were several right on my tail) and I bought my own car without having someone else sign for it and I bought a house and I made decisions that kept me out of poverty, away from drugs, and out of jail as well as gainfully employed even though the odds were against me. I know exactly what it’s like to have to fight for what I should be able to just have/do/get – yes, I realize I didn’t have to fight as hard as others because I only had gender and socio-economic status to contend with but that doesn’t mean it was easy, either – and yet I can’t seem to find within me an empathy for the rest of the human race. What is wrong with me?

I don’t know the answer but I may have found a way to stop being so awful. It came about while I was bitching about how I don’t like feminism (see? Bad person!) because of its exclusive nature. What good is it to raise women up to the level of the idea of The Great White Male – I say “idea” because while that guy still exists in abundance, it’s not correct to assume all white men are that guy or that The GWM is always white – when it’s really only going to be decently-educated straight-looking white females above the poverty line who are able-bodied/able-minded and literate who benefit? Yes, that would be me, I would benefit from being promoted to the same status as The GWM but I’m not the one who needs those benefits. I’m doing fine climbing this cliff. I’m making opportunities for myself as I can because I can and I get that. I don’t exactly need a shoulder up yet. It’s when everyone is at the level I’m at that we will all need the last shoulder up, when my husband doesn’t have to worry about being fired because of his bipolar disorder, when my sister doesn’t have to feel losery because she doesn’t have a college degree, when my neighbor feels confident in applying for a job that doesn’t involve cleaning hotel rooms, when my professor doesn’t have to worry about standing in front of a classroom full of people who may be assuming she’s a terrorist because of what she’s wearing, when that guy going through the trash can in front of the gas station looking for something to eat doesn’t have to look for food in gas station trash cans. Shouldn’t we work on getting all of us to the same level, not just women? Not just black Americans? Not just war veterans? Not just children who are addicted to drugs from the time they’re born? Not just people who can’t walk or can’t read or can’t see? It all sounds so Pollyanna, I know, and it will never be possible for everyone to be equal. It cannot happen because the world is populated by humans and humans have this need to stratify, to be better than other humans, to be Sneetches.


Remember these guys?

I am sure it’s some sort of biological imperative and it helps keep the strongest of the race alive so that people can keep living on the planet and that’s fine, but it would be nice if stratification were based on a whole bunch of other things, more controllable things, things that don’t allow for such mean groupings. I don’t know what those things are and it would probably end up looking like some dystopian novel anyhow, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still try to get us all to the same place. Right?
There’s a name for this kind of thinking, apparently. It’s called Intersectionality and a patient woman gave me the gift of this term in a comment on someone else’s blog. I’m learning what I can about it and I like what I’m learning. Maybe, if I keep up with it, I will magically become less of a jerk and more of an understanding person, someone who doesn’t take other people’s hardships and try to assimilate them so that I am just as hardshipped. Maybe I will be able to grasp the bigger picture, to know that there is wrongness going on and there will always be wrongness going on but that I can help reduce some of it. And maybe I can find other jerks like me and we can all learn this together?
Here’s hoping.

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Stalkers: A serious post

Warning: This is not a fun story. In fact, it could be considered scary and may trigger unpleasant feelings, memories, or emotions. If you feel stalking is a sensitive subject, please skip reading the rest of this and go do something light-hearted that will bring you joy, like watching kittens eat ice cream.
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Filed under Adventures, In my backyard, My journey to writerhood, My Opinions on STUFF, Out & about or abroad