Mom & Frankie watch the birdies



My heart's just not in it

You know, I thought we'd sunk to the bottom of the muck when Alberto Gonzales, the architect of the Bush administration's liberal torture policy, was confirmed for Attorney General. Of course, I was wrong. Now, Bush has nominated John Negroponte to serve as the nation's first National Intelligence Director. You probably know Mr. Negroponte from his recent stint as the head U.S. administrator in Iraq, or perhaps from his days as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. But for those of us who cut our political teeth during the long nightmare that was Ronald Reagan's foreign policy in Central America during the 1980's, John Dimitri Negroponte is infamously remembered as the point-man in the covert war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, turning Honduras into a murderous dictatorship in the process. I don't really have the stomach to go into detail, but here's a brief glimpse of the horrors he orchestrated.

I give up. Our nation's top cop advocates the use of torture, and the head of our new centralized intelligence agency ran a covert war that transformed Central America into the western hemisphere's version of the killing fields. Fucking fantastic. There was a time when the folks with these kinds of resumes were too tainted for visible political office. Now they occupy the top spots in the Bush administration. This is grotesque. Absurd and grotesque. And it's leading me to seriously reconsider the utility of venting. It's not making me feel any better, and it's clearly not making a difference. I think my time is better spent hammering out the remains of my dissertation, blogging about the baby, or working on fiction.



New Blog!!

For those of you following along at home, all future baby-related posts can be found at my new blog, Meet the Breeders (http://meetthebreeders.blogspot.com). Follow the trials and tribulations of the reluctantly procreative, and offer your unsolicited-but-much-appreciated wisdom and opinions on parental matters great and small.

sacrifice to fertility god pays off

It's been a while since I've posted anything, primarily because the past month has been a blur, but also because I didn't think anyone was reading. As it turns out, Anna and Kim aren't the only folks who've taken an interest, so it looks like I'll be resuming transmissions. As for the blur, let me quickly recap the past month:

Shortly after my last blog entry, I decided not to scrap the dissertation, and have instead put the novel I'm working on aside until I'm finished with this damn PhD (special thanks go to Joel and my dad for knocking some sense into me). In between debate tournaments, and during a lull in the diss writing, we painted and remodeled the bathroom, and I added light fixture installation to my growing repertoire of home improvement skills. Feeling ever so domestic, and unwilling to wait another year before our tentatively scheduled wedding qualified me for health insurance through Anna's company (COBRA "benefits" are officially the rake), we decided to secretly wed on Valentine's Day. When we discovered it was too late to get a reservation at a decent restaurant on VDay, we decided to move the secret wedding up a couple of days. Fortunately, secret weddings are much more flexible than the real thing. Besides, what's the use of getting married if you can't celebrate with Crispy Oysters on Yucca Root Chips with Habenero Honey Aioli, Veal Osso Buco, and Rack of Lamb? So, we made our reservations at Jeffrey's, booked an appointment with the Justice of the Peace, and picked up the marriage license when I got back from Chicago on Tuesday. Then things got really interesting.

If you've been following Anna's blog, you know she's been feeling sickly for the past couple of weeks. In addition to lingering flu-like symptoms, she had begun to menstruate for the first time since going off the Pill in late August. After a couple of weeks, the bleeding wasn't letting up, so she decided to see an Ob-Gyn, just to make sure nothing was wrong. We both pretty much figured that years on the Pill had probably wreaked hormonal havoc on her uterus, and that the bleeding was just her body trying to reclaim the now-hostile environment of her would-be womb. Still, I was nervous. I couldn't help thinking about the other, more dire possibilities. I wondered whether I'd ever read anything linking birth control pills to cervical cancer, or if I even knew what the symptoms were. I forced myself to think of less traumatic possibilities - ruptured cysts, benign Fallopian tumors, fibroids or polyps, Menorrhagia - but even these often necessitated extreme treatments, including hysterectomy. Anna and I were still pondering the possibility of having children, and although neither of us felt any biological imperative to reproduce, I was saddened to think it might not even be an option. So, I waited and worried. I think I was working on the dissertation when she came home from the doctor.

"I thought you were going straight back to work? How'd it go?" The fact that she was home made me nervous, but when I walked into the kitchen Anna was smiling, which I immediately took to be a good sign.

"Well, I found out why I've been feeling sick." She handed me a fuzzy black and white photo. The image didn't immediately register. "I'm pregnant." I looked closer, and it suddenly began to make sense: the white teddy bear floating in the center of the dark circle was our child. "Ten weeks." Those four nubs are arms and legs, and the black spot in the center of its torso is a microscopic, beating heart. "I heard its heartbeat."

I don't remember much after that. Anna went back to work, and I sat, staring at the pictures of my unborn child. When my head stopped spinning, I called her. "I just want you to know, I've never been happier."


"a wonderful opportunity"

"I do agree that the tsunami was a wonderful opportunity to show not just the US government, but the heart of the American people, and I think it has paid great dividends for us."
- Condoleezza Rice

Wow. Just...wow. Who would've thought it possible to descend beyond the depths achieved during the Senate confirmation hearings on Alberto Gonzales' nomination for attorney general? This cabinet is shaping up to be even more criminally appalling than the last. How hard is it to get Canadian citizenship?


Happy Sanctity of Human Life Day!

I'm sorry I didn't get you a card or anything, but I hope you'll join us for our annual Sanctity of Human Life Day festivities. We'll be cutting the Sanctity of Human Life brisket around noon, then we're marching to the Planned Parenthood clinic to lob Molotov cocktails at the abortion technicians. As usual, Reverend Jim will be leading the Reconciliation of Incompatible Beliefs, focusing this year on the Great Conversion in Iraq and the obvious distinction between "human beings" and Muslims and other terrorists. And you definitely don't want to miss tonight's candlelight vigil as we observe the Lamentation of Murdered Fetuses. There will be much wailing and carrying on, then we're going back to the house for pie.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you're probably one of those atheistic Liberals. May God have mercy on your soul, you degenerate, heathen bastard. For the rest of us, today is a day to celebrate the sanctity of life and, in the words of President Bush, to "rededicate ourselves to compassionate service on behalf of the weak and defenseless, and reaffirm our commitment to respect the life and dignity of every human being." Created by Presidential proclamation, Sanctity of Human Life Day was first celebrated on January 20, 2002, just days before the ignominious anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized in utero baby murder. Thankfully, under the moral leadership of President Bush, America is set to usher in a new era, taking another great leap forward in our collective effort to build "a culture of life." And by God, our thirst for justice will not be sated until control of reproductive decision making is wrested from the hands of irresponsible women, and they are driven back into the shadows of the alleys from which they slunk more than three decades ago.


Prince of Fools

Anna and I are watching the BBC World News over breakfast. The show airs nightly on PBS, and we record it to watch in the morning. We're constantly a day behind, but we don't have cable, and day-old news from the Brits is still better than any of the fresh stuff cooked up by our home networks.

One of the top stories this morning concerns mounting anxiety over the scandalous photo of Prince Harry dressed as a Nazi soldier (a member of General Erwin Rommel's German Afrika Korps, to be precise). When I first read about this a couple of days ago, the reports indicated that Harry was photographed at a "fancy dress party," which is British slang for "costume party." The theme of the party: Colonials and Natives. Apparently, these "bad taste" parties are quite popular among the British elite, so much so that a London costume rental shop manager remarked, "the Nazi uniform is a frequently-requested costume." Of course, there is no mention of this in last night's BBC News report. With the third in line to the British throne squarely in its sights, the BBC joins a host of international critics expressing univocal disapprobation and condemnation of the young prince. Et tu, BBC?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not defending Harry's costume choice on any abstract grounds. My complaint isn't that BBC News failed to consider the question of Harry's right to free expression, or even more daringly, his right to privacy. Harry's life has been a media spectacle since conception, and I presume he long ago came to grips with the fact that the luxurious trappings of royalty are paid for at the expense of perpetual publicity. That awareness alone makes his choice of costumes injudicious, to say the least. Even the shit this kid does that's in relatively good taste gets scrutinized and criticized by the media. Anything that approaches bad taste is like a bucketful of chum thrown into shark-infested waters. Dressing up as a Nazi demonstrates really poor taste. But then again, isn't that the whole point of a "bad taste" costume party? It just seems to me that young Harry pretty much knocked the ball out of the fucking park as far as bad taste is concerned. The hailstorm of criticism just confirms it was a brilliant choice for the occasion. I'm not saying that I expect BBC News to applaud the choice or pat the kid on the back for his brash, impetuous wit. I just think it's a shame that they're content to take their turn in the feeding frenzy over Harry's indiscretion, chomping on the remains of the prince's bloodied carcass. That's just too easy. A post from the London News Review points out what is glaringly absent from the BBC News report, arguing that Harry shouldn't shoulder the entire burden of this public outrage:

"The theme of the fancy dress party, thrown by famous horseman and friend of Prince Charles, Richarde Meade, was – believe it or not – ‘Colonials and Natives’. Oh lordy. Colonials and Natives? What the **** are these people on? What century are they living in? Colonials and Natives? It beggars belief. Why not ‘Imperialists and Nig Nogs’? Or would that have been bad taste? So anyway, a fair share of the blame for Harry’s outfit must surely go to the imbecilic Richarde Meade and his appalling choice of party theme."

I mean, we have parties with similarly distasteful and racially insensitive themes on this side of the pond, but we try to keep them contained to the frat houses of our southernmost universities, and a few of the Ivies. According to the folks who run costume shops in and around London, these parties are fairly widespread over there. I think this might be the bigger story BBC News is somehow missing. If only the media sharks would swim away from Harry's meatless torso for a moment, they'd find plumper game bobbing in the waters around them.

Of course, missing the big picture is only the most glaring and significant of the problems with the media coverage/construction of the Harry-as-Nazi fiasco. So many interesting and important aspects of this story have simply been left unexplored. Harry's big brother William came dressed in a skin-tight leopard costume, complete with tail and claws. I don't believe for a second that somebody didn't get a picture of that. As a general rule, if a guy shows up to a party dressed in a full-body leotard, you get pictures. That's seriously effective blackmail material, even if you're not a friggin' prince. Where are these pictures? More importantly, how exactly is a leopard costume appropriate in the context of the Colonials and Natives theme? If this is some kind of half-hearted protest, the symbolism escapes me. If not, the elder prince has some strange ideas about the colonial/native relationship. This seems like at least as significant a costuming concern as Harry's gaffe, given that this guy is second in line for the goddamn British crown. I'm just saying, if I'm BBC News, I'm asking a different set of questions.


so here's some crazy shit

Anna volunteered for the Board of Directors of the National Abortion Rights Action League of Texas, and at her first meeting tonight, she found out that one of her fellow board members is Mike H________, the guy who interviewed and hired me for the Huston-Tillotson job. Well, supposedly hired me. I've taught two classes, but still haven't heard anything from the college about my appointment. This is really strange.