Saturday, September 20, 2008


I just watched The Business of Being Born, a movie that I would recommend to all women intending to have children. Even if natural childbirth is "not for you", I think being informed is important, and unfortunately, a lot of the women that I know are not informed. Some of them would like a "natural" childbirth, but have never seen one and have no idea how to go about it. Others are making decisions about their body and their baby without getting all of the facts. Epidurals relieve pain, but they also slow labor. Getting one intervention often leads to more interventions. I, personally, think that hospitals are for sick people, and birthing is not an illness. OB-GYNs are trained surgeons, and most of them are excellent at what they are trained to do and I am glad they are there for when we need C-sections. I just think we have way too many unnecessary interventions, and too many of us say "yes" when our consent isn't actually informed. I watched the nurses hang IV bags without talking to me, assume that I had an epidural and blood pressure medication, and act as if first baby automatically equalled an unbearably and unacceptably long labor, among other things. I think we should be able to take advantage of the advances in technology and medicine without disregarding centuries of birthing knowledge and experience.

Obama the Anti-Christ?

I try not to talk about politics, it is an easy way to make quick enemies.

However, in the past few days I have had a few conversations about politics. It seems that some of our neighbors think that everyone shares their political views. It is strange to me, because most of my friends, regardless of their political views, recognize that everyone does not agree with them, and so engage in political conversations with a degree of caution or a desire to discuss. Our neighbors here, however, assume that everyone is a white, Christian, conservative, Republican, and I guess we "fit in" so much they forget, for the moment, that even if they think we are the last three, we are definitely not the first. So, in conversation they have expressed their glee that "the vice president is a woman" [note the tense used], "we don't need a president that would side with the muslims" [and not with "Americans" as if the two are always mutually exclusive] and "I can't believe how Obama is talking about Sarah Palin's daughter like he wasn't raised by a white trash mother, 'cause she slept with a black man and that made her white trash back then". [And judging by her tone, it still does.] I am concerned that they are assuming the election is in the bag, although I am in FL, so they might be on to something. It bothers me that people still think that American Muslim is an oxymoron, or that Sadam Hussein was behind the Sept. 11th attacks (that was also mentioned). I am amazed that reporters = Obama and confused about how Obama's "white trash" upbringing is related to Palin's daughter's pregnancy and why either is a central issue of the election. 

But all of that was completely erased from my mind with the next statement.  
"Barak Obama is the Anti-Christ." 

I was floored. I guess I've been in a China/baby bubble, but I had not heard that one. I have so many problems with that statement, I don't even know where to begin. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008


This is the longest amount of time that I've been the US in about two years, and some things have changed. The change that is bothering me the most right now is the power, influence and importance of a persons credit report. Need car insurance? Your rate is determined not by past accidents or tickets, but your credit score. Great for all of the reckless drivers with excellent credit. Trying to get a new job? Your perspective employer would like to run your credit. You know that three digit number will tell them exactly what kind of an employee you will be. And of course, in order for all of these people to run your credit, you have to hand out your social security number like M&M's. In days identity theft driven world, you have to write down your Social Security number on your job application for CVS. CVS. Nuff said.

Then the other day I read this in November 2007 issue of Parents Magazine. 
"The only institution that you are legally obligated to give your Social Security number to are your employer, your bank and the IRS. Your utility company, cell-phone provider, or credit card company may request it, but there's no law that says you have to give it. . . Remember, even if you think the company is reputable, once you give your SSN it can be seen by every customer service representative or receptionist who has access to your file. [p.134]

News flash. If I don't give the cell phone company my SSN I don't get a cell phone. Refuse to give it on job applications, no job. Credit card company, c'mon. I might not be legally obligated, but my life will be very difficult. And it is a horrible system. Not only because of identity theft, but because the overall system seems designed to keep the rich rich and the poor poor. Let me give you an example.

I went to university. An excellent university. One of the best. Which means it is expensive. My family is not rich so I took out loans. As a result, I left university with a lot of education debt. Then, although the US government wouldn't admit it, the market was already beginning to downturn, and I had a hard time finding a job. So, when I finally found work, I was making less than I paid in tuition, and it was a struggle to pay my bills. But, I went to work, sometimes working two and three jobs to try and pay my loans, and rent, and still eat, and maybe even save a little. Then I get a used car. They run my credit. Remember those loans? Well, my credit score is not great, not awful, but not great. So, my insurance rate goes up. Now the market is bad, and the company I work for goes belly-up. I try and find a new job, and everyone runs my credit. All of those enquires bring down my credit score. Then I get a letter from my credit card company. Not a card I use, my emergency card that I always pay on time, have never been late on, and have only used 3 times, in emergencies. The letter says that they did a review, and have decided to close my account. Not because of issues with their card, but because I owe someone else too much money. Oh, those student loans again. Great. Now one of the positive things on my credit report is a negative because they closed that account. The number is dropping. And because I'm having a hard time getting a job, the bills are going to start to pile up. Do you see the pattern emerging?

Now, if I had a trust fund, I would not have had to take out loans for college. Not getting a job right away wouldn't have been problematic, because I would have been able to pay rent and any other bills anyway. Laid off? No problem, there is enough in savings, or investments, or daddy's bank account. Get the picture?

Monday, September 15, 2008

News Flash

It is amazing to me how the time flies. It seems like just yesterday I was sitting at work in Shanghai, imagining what the summer would be like. And now the summer is almost over.

So, here is a quick rundown of summer tidbits.

Before his birth, my little one visited 6 countries (yes, I travelled that much while pregnant). After his birth, we introduced him to the Eastern part of the United States. He has been to Disney World (thanks to my friend and Disney cast member, KG), and we visited family in Washington D.C., New York City, Virginia, and Maryland. Oh, and he has driven through Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He has endured two plane rides (without crying!) and even a five hour journey in the car...even though he HATES the car seat. I think his travel training is off to a good start. Is wanderlust inherited or learned?
All of my friends that had the opportunity to be at the Olympics in Beijing this summer had a wonderful time. So far no stories of racism or other shameful behavior, just a wonderful, warm, inviting, and invigorating atmosphere. A great time was had by all.
A sleeping schedule has finally emerged. That means more blogging for me...and more enjoyment for you. Carmen Sandiego is in the US of A right now, preparing for more around the world fun...and my future adventures will involve my husband and baby. This is going to be fun!