Monday, June 10, 2013


So, it seems that while I wasn't looking, our government went from mildly unnerving to downright terrifying. Or, well, I guess it was always pretty terrifying, the Patriot Act not being a new thing and we only just found out about it?

In any case, it appears that the government is now able to (and has been for a while) track who you're calling though, according to Newshour, not the actual contents of your calls. Still, “Holy slippery slope to a scary distopian future Batman!” (you have to say it really fast, otherwise it doesn't work).

The irreverent part of me wants to suggest that the “They're going to take all our guns,” conspiracy theories from the right are in and of themselves a conspiracy to distract us from this actual bid to compromise our liberty (and it's working). The regular parts of me are all just scared.

There's a cool article on NPR right now discussing the correlations between this (not so new) legislation and both Orwell's 1984 and the writings of Franz Kafka. I haven't read any of the source material but I have read plenty of articles comparing every damn thing to Orwell's 1984. I have to say that the correlations pointed out in the article are quite startling. There's much less scare mongering and many more actual lines of similarity. It makes me wonder where this country is headed and if that's a place any of us want to go.

In any case, this is one of those subjects that I (currently) lack the knowledge or experience to judge and I'm off to read Orwell's 1984 and Kafka's Great Wall of China (which must have an English translation somewhere I'd have to think). While I'm at it I'd probably better read the actual text of the Patriot Act pertaining to my questions and maybe even the whole of the president's speech. Good thing it's summer vacation.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Death of Retirement?

Skimming the PBS Newshour site, since I haven't been making their podcasts a priority like I ought, I encountered the introduction for their soon to begin series Will You Work Forever? and it piqued my curiosity.

The series promises to use personal profiles of Americans who reentered the workforce after retirement or never retired at all, coupled, I expect, with Newshour's trademark warm touch, to look into retirement in our changing economy and the effect of the broken housing bubble on people's best laid plans.

Personally, I'm terribly young to have and opinion on retirement and I don't know how relevant my opinion can really be but here's my take, I'm poor, I grew up poor and practically everyone I know is poor. I have little practical experience (outside of what I've gleaned from the media) with retirement. Not only that, I started college pretty late in life and, not to put too fine a point on it, have worked my ass off to get to a place where I can have a real, interesting, grown up career, whether it's in the medical field or not. I can't see myself working said career for only a decade or two before saying, “Ciao, I'm off to travel the country!” or whatever it is that retired people do. Besides, do people ever actually stop sciencing? Why would you do that? I'm going to continue with my impression that scientists stay in their labs until they expire from either old age or an experiment gone wrong.

Anyway, I personally never expected to retire, but it leads me to wonder for those who do or did look forward to retirement, is this a symptom of the death of the middle class. Is that even a thing or was it made up by the media? Has the divide widened to the point where a person is either set for life or must work until they die?

I suppose, historically, retirement for the middle class and the poor is a novel idea. Not so log ago (before the Great War? Correct me if I'm wrong please.) the poor expected to work long hours either at home, in the fields or, after the Industrial Revolution, in factories from the time they were old enough to walk until they were too old to get around. Was the time period where retirement was a thing only a brief honeymoon period in history that's now coming to an end or does its loss signal a deep systemic problem in our society and/or economy?

I also question whether this extended time in the workforce will be allowed by employers who may not want the burden of older, sicker workers (though time missed could be made up by an older employee's greater experience and efficiency) and more expensive health insurance premiums. Will his shift ultimately help our economy by providing more efficient, experienced workers or will it cripple it as those of retirement age hold jobs that would have otherwise passed on to the next generation?

I certainly look forward to the new series.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


...and possibly a change in plans.

I suppose that merits an explanation since I started this blog then abandoned it for three full years. I started college as planned and showed steady progress. I even took classes every summer and loved them. Everything was going really well until my husband and I decided to have our fifth and final baby.

I thought I could handle the pressure (along with the full time job I'd picked up that semester) without a drop in my grades. I was wrong. The fact is, I failed every class this last fall with the exception of Calculus and this past spring I did little better than average in all my classes. This puts med. school... off. Actually, it pretty much takes med. school off the table..

So... now what? It's time for some of that introspection. What do I want to be when I grow up? Over the past few years, I've often made the joke that if I can't get into med. school I'll just have to run off and become a geneticist or a chemist (insert fake sad face and exaggerated tone of woe). Neither of those things (or cell biologist, or physicist, etc) sounds bad. I'm sure I'd love any job I managed to get as long as it's in the sciences but the letdown is hard. I was so determined, so sure that I could do it. Despite all the disadvantages, poverty, a bunch of kids, the fact that I never finished high school I thought I could do it. I was just that damn smart. I was special. Turns out, I'm not that special. I've learned that if I can't attend the class, I can't ace the class. I can barely get a C. I'm not even really sure that textbooks were meant to be used the way I've been using them, as your only source of info as opposed to as a supplement for the lecture.

In any case, I'm stuck here for a while. I'm taking the summer off to spend some time with my kids and my beautiful new baby. I'm taking no classes and my goals are a refreshing change of pace. I plan to blog five days a week and write another novel (at an hour a day five days a week). I also plan to learn Statistics and Multivariate Calculus (both of which I wanted to take at the college but just don't have the credits for) using textbooks and Khan Academy.

Other than that, I need to take this time to just breathe a bit and reevaluate my goals. I've learned a lot about myself in college. I'll never, for example, be really happy as a stay at home mom, I love the sciences and I'm passionate about research. Now I just need to put all that information together and use it to build a brand new vision for the future. Easy peasy, right?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Kate's Birth Story

I walked into the hospital on a cool afternoon late in May. My bag was packed, my membranes had been ruptured for almost two hours, and my baby's head was firmly lodged in my ribs where it had stubbornly remained for the latter half of my pregnancy despite an attempted version and all the woo I could throw at the poor little baby.

On that blustery afternoon, I was by far the most pregnant I had ever been. I was also (understandably) apprehensive. This would be my fifth live birth and up to this point I had birthed babies every which way but medicated. I'd had two unmedicated vaginal births, one unmedicated VBAC and a miracle of an emergency c-section (at 29 weeks) that left me more mentally than physically scarred. I was afraid walking in. Afraid not of the surgery itself but that I would panic going into it and miss the beautiful moment that my baby was born.

We skipped triage. The nurse took one look at me and the hand towel I was wearing as a pad and declared me grossly ruptured before escorting me back to a labor/delivery/postpartum room. It was a Sunday and my ob was both not on call and out of town so while we waited for the on call doc. the nurse did my intake and my husband braided my hair to keep it from bothering me during surgery and the immediate recovery.

The anesthesiologist came in to check me out and between checking for airway accessibility and basic pre-surgery questions we bonded over the hell that is Vertebrate Anatomy, a class I had passed only two weeks before. 
Everything checked out and as soon as the attending ob arrived, I was wheeled the very short distance down the hall to the O.R.

I'm really surprised at myself writing this because I never thought that I would feel this way. My c-section, the one that I walked into with such trepidation, turned out to be the favorite of my five births. I hopped up on the table and the anesthesiologist, upon seeing my surely obvious nerves showed a stroke of brilliance and began walking me through the procedure step by step using all the big sciency words that I love so much. He ran me through the whole procedure and then when he ran out of (non-alarming) things to explain about a spinal began comparing it to an epidural. I'll admit that I was so fascinated I didn't even realize that the doctor had started cutting until my husband started breathlessly walking me through the baby's delivery by body part. I almost died when they told me that we'd had a girl. They took her, suctioned out her lungs and weighed her.

Katherine Jamethiel was born May, 20th 2013. She  weighed 6lbs, 8oz and was 20 inches long. She joined me for my recovery in the very same room we'd started out in after a brief 45 minute NICU stay for breathing difficulties typical of both breech and c-section babies. She was a breathtaking, perfect little girl.

None of this sounds all that special or momentous and, to be honest, it was a pretty average, everyday birth. I remember it though. Every little moment. I didn't with my other kids. When I gave birth this final time I felt safe and calm and well taken care of.

Natural birth is great, it's a rush, but it's also fast and dirty and painful and overwhelming and I'm so, so grateful that, just this once, I don't have to rely on someone else to tell me my baby's birth story.