May You Live In Interesting Times


This is a repeat of my trunk or treating rant from last year.

If you aren’t aware, trunk-or-treating is an event, often organized by churches, where adults station themselves next to their cars in a big parking lot, and the kids walk up to your open trunk to say “trick or treat” for their candy.  The kids love it because, as one said in a recent newspaper article, “you can go around a gazillion times and get lots more candy!”  The churches organized it to make Halloween more of a “family event” – it wasn’t, before? – and in some cases, to discourage costumes that were too devil-ish or reflective of other bad influences.  In some cases I have heard of Biblical character costumes being enforced or encouraged.

Sigh.  I’m as saved as any other Christian but come on.  Running around a parking lot in broad daylight, yelling “trick or treat” which doesn’t even make sense anymore, dressed like the Apostle Paul?  What could be more lame?

Aside from suppressing the important creativity and make-believe aspect of Halloween, the saddest things about this, to me, are the other reasons adults cite for the trunk-or-treat trend.  The little dears don’t have to 1) walk as far as they would, going house-to-house; and 2) they don’t have to “go to a stranger’s home.”

Maybe I’ll feel differently when my own perfect, adorable, exquisitely vulnerable child is in this position.  But right now I’m really sad about it.  And kind of annoyed.  First of all, the evangelical churches who love the trunk-or-treating thing are the same churches where you will be urged to spread the gospel, and in order to do so, one must mingle with “the lost.”  We hear encouraging stories about people who organized neighborhood potlucks and soup nights and block parties.  Love your neighbor.  Who is your neighbor (no thanks to Mr. Rogers).  Well, along comes Halloween, perfect opportunity to meet the neighbors, but no.  We must trunk-or-treat instead, and mingle with Our Own Kind.

Second, do the kids really need MORE candy?  Do we really want them to walk a much shorter distance for it?  Or is it more convenient for us, less walking for US.

When I was a kid, our Halloween was an all-day event, loosely organized by our neighborhood grownups, that included a costume parade and prizes in categories like “prettiest” (I never won this one) or “most original” costume (much more my style).  The creativity part was important, long before the candy part kicked in.  But it wasn’t so much about candy, it was about adventure, and it was all about the neighborhood.

I remember trick or treating as a kid, the accompanying parent retreating ever farther into the yard as we got older. We always went after dark, or what was the point?  The really little kids went in the daylight and we pitied them.  I remember the thrill of fear as we approached the doors of our neighbors who we barely knew.  I remember peeking curiously into their houses, smelling their unfamiliar cooking smells, and how fun it was when these stern grownups actually talked to us about how scary we were! how cute we were! and how they couldn’t even tell who we were and maybe we really were two witches and a dog and a robot.

Our parents were on guard.  Someone we knew was given an apple with a razor blade in it, at least that’s what we were told, and our parents had to go through all our candy when the night was over.  As it turns out, documented Halloween poisonings are rare or possibly nonexistent. But we were careful.  We knew full well you didn’t go into anybody’s house, and we had to make sure we could walk in our costumes and see out of our masks.

I know that era is over.  It was half over when I was a kid.  We never “tricked” anybody.  We heard about soaping windows or egging houses but it was always the stuff of legend and we never did it. Ditto bobbing for apples.  I know that we roamed a suburban neighborhood with a freedom that today’s kids rarely have, and that even a sealed bag of M&Ms can be tampered with.  But still, I am sad.  As usual, this reworking of Halloween threatens to get rid of the important stuff – the visiting of neighbors, the important fantasy and creativity elements of dress-up, the flirtation with scariness and fear within safe boundaries – and keeps the least important part: candy.

I’m sure in a few years the practicality of trunk-or-treat will wear down my resistance and I’ll be right there with my own munchkin(s), enjoying the convenience, hobnobbing with all the friends I will have made by then.  But I also hope that evil, dangerous, secular trick-or-treating hangs in there as well.

Advertisements

I spend waaaay too much time commenting on Facebook re: the Health Care Thing.  There is so SO much misinformation out there I could throw up.  One piece of the misinformation is how terrible and awful the health care is in places like the U.K., where you have (gasp) “government-run health care.”  Certain factions here in the U.S. are telling us how terrible it is, how miserable y’all are, how you regularly die while waiting to see your substandard physicians in your grimy and depressing public health offices.  It’s SUCH United States rah-rah American arrogance and so insulting to you, our international friends.  Aside from being, well, inaccurate.

So I have asked anyone who lives outside the U.S., who feels like it, to blog about your own health care experiences.  Please tell the Americans (or at least the ones I know) how it has been for you.  Help the Americans who believe ours is “the best health care system on earth” to know how it is for you.

If you plan to blog on the subject, please leave your info in the comments and we’ll know to come, read and link to your blogs.

Thanks.

Article in the NY Times "Deciding the Fate of Frozen Embryos.

A lot of people think there are piles of frozen embryos just waiting to be donated to infertile folks like you and me.  It almost falls into the "why don't you JUST adopt an embryo?" category, as if it would be easy.  Unfortunately, it isn't.  There are frozen embryos out there but their parents aren't willing to donate them.

This surprises me.  Having known the pain of infertility and contemplated a childless life, adopting an embryo was an option that sounded good to me.  We have obstacles to adoption, so adopting an already-born child probably wasn't going to happen, but adopting an embryo might have been a fit for us, had our IVFs not eventually worked.  But I found out pretty quickly that there are very few embryos that parents are actually willing to donate.

Giving away some of our leftovers, if we have any, is something I've always wanted to do.  Here's the part I just don't get. 53 percent of couples surveyed said they weren't comfortable donating their embryos:

Her teenage daughter favors letting another couple adopt the embryos,
but, Ms. Best said, she would worry too much about “what kind of
parents they were with, what kind of life they had.”

So:

About 66 percent said they would be likely to donate the embryos for
research, but that option was available at only four of the nine
clinics in the survey. Twenty percent said they were likely to keep the
embryos frozen forever.

So… let me get this straight.  They don't want to donate the embryos because they might end up being raised in situations or by people that they don't agree with. We can't imagine our kids, which is what these embryos would become, having any kind of life but with us, and so we want to protect them from that substandard life.

So instead we… kill them?  Really?  King Solomon decided an argument between two women who claimed the same baby by threatening to cut the baby in half.  The baby's real mother then gave up her claim.  She wanted the baby to live, if even with the wrong parent, rather than be harmed.  Can I see myself deciding that I'd rather destroy my embryos than allow them to become the children of a lesbian couple, or people who don't believe as I do, or don't make the same amount of money that we do?

I just don't get that.  I'm also not that confident that my mothering, our family, our choices, are so very superior to any others out there.  I think biological parents are great and best for the kid, but when the bio parents aren't available, is death the only other option?  Thankfully not for so many grateful adoptive parents and their kids.

Wasn't that always the infertile counter to "maybe it's not meant to be" or "Maybe God doesn't want you to be a mother."  (O! knife in the heart, that one.)  It's pretty clear some of us will just get pregnant and end up with kids, and that some of us are willing to go to hell and back for them.  The people who end up adopting, be it embryos or children, are often making up in motivation what they lack in genetic connection, and are fantastic parents.  Just as those of us who cycled and tried and lost and mortgaged our houses and our souls before our babies came – we can also be fantastic parents.

Another option claimed by 20% of surveyed parents was to leave them frozen forever, which, I'm sorry: I think that's pathetic.  Giving them to research at least kills them for a good purpose.  Leaving them while trying to come to a decision is one thing, but just deciding to purposely leave them forever, so that someone else has to make the decision?  I think that is cowardly.

I know I'm coming across like a hard-core pro-life Palinite right now, and that is not my angle.  I'm glad that parents have the choice, and if they want to discard their embryos or bury them in the back yard, I'm glad that there isn't some law restricting their choice.  But infertility has taught my heart to care about the clump of cells that becomes the embryo that could become my baby and I can't go back to thinking of it as a "lab specimen," as one of the parents in the article said, no matter how "done" I am with having children.

Unfortunately, the hard-core Palinites who want to pass laws giving embryos legal rights can point to these couples as a prime example of how evil we callous, selfish infertiles are.  We're the people who carelessly create life and then carelessly destroy it; loving the clump of cells that we choose to gestate, and de-humanizing the rest.

I hear the agony of the parents in the article and I don't meant to suggest that any of them hasn't been thoughtful in their deciding.  I'm glad that we all have had the opportunities we've had without too much legal interference, and I hope it stays that way.  I just don't agree with some of the choices.

Vomitting-pumpkin I don't have a pumpkin yet actually.  But I need to get and carve one asap.  Due to living in the city, continuing infertility grief and my own other problems, I fell out of many holiday rituals.  In our old home I never welcomed trick-or-treaters because I didn't want to keep Halloween candy in the house, and sometimes I couldn't bear to look at their little faces.  It was a hassle anyway.  We lived in a townhouse behind a locked wall with a locked gate behind another gate and only the most determined trick-or-treaters found us.  Often the determined ones were from the "affordable housing" units on the next street over, they were easy to pick out on our street which was posh, and I was happy to load kids like that up with candy.  But I skipped Halloween altogether.

Now I live in a house on a suburban street and counting my car key, I carry four keys total.  Anybody can walk up to my front door.  Also, I have a bag full of candy in my cupboard.  This is a freaky thing due to my pregnancy nausea and sugar indifference.  Once in a while, maybe once every ten days, I feel like having a little chocolate bar or a Hershey kiss and one or two is all I want and that's it.  Before pregnancy I would have hoovered the bag in a day but it's been hanging around for weeks.  So I'm ready for trick-or-treaters but I don't think any are coming.

This is partly due to the "trunk-or-treating" trend which I am not happy about.  If you have talked to me in the past two weeks you have heard my trunk-or-treating rant and here it comes again.  If you aren't aware, trunk-or-treating is an event, often organized by churches, where adults station themselves next to their cars in a big parking lot, and the kids walk up to your open trunk to say "trick or treat" for their candy.  The kids love it because, as one said in a recent newspaper article, "you can go around a gazillion times and get lots more candy!"  The churches organized it to make Halloween more of a "family event" – it wasn't, before? – and in some cases, to discourage costumes that were too devil-ish or reflective of other bad influences.  In some cases I have heard of Biblical character costumes being enforced or encouraged.

Sigh.  I'm as saved as any other Christian but come on.  Running around a parking lot in broad daylight, yelling "trick or treat" which doesn't even make sense anymore, dressed like the Apostle Paul?  What could be more lame? 

Aside from suppressing the important creativity and make-believe aspect of Halloween, the saddest thing about this, to me, is the other reasons adults cite for the trunk-or-treat trend.  The little dears don't have to 1) walk as far as they would, going house-to-house; and 2) they don't have to "go to a stranger's home." 

Maybe I'll feel differently when my own perfect, adorable, exquisitely vulnerable child is in this position.  But right now I'm really sad about it because I'm the stranger!  I'm the new lady in the neighborhood and I would love to meet my neighbors.  I've got candy!  I'm not grieving!  I am close to being the silly grownup who has on a costume and has that scary Halloween recording playing when she opens the door.  And I'm a year away (God willing) from forcing my infant into a Halloween costume he doesn't like, can't possibly understand, but looks really cute in, and strollering him around every chance I get, this last week of October.  (Pumpkins and bees seem to be good for the 8-month old, yes?  Something round, something organic, from an Ann Geddes photograph, though I think those are kind of creepy, by the way.)

After sitting out Halloween for so long, I can now embrace it and I want to ride all the rides. 

When I was a kid, our Halloween was an all-day event, loosely organized by our neighborhood grownups, that included a costume parade and prizes in categories like "prettiest" (I never won this one) or "most original" costume (much more my style).  The creativity part was important, long before the candy part kicked in.  But it wasn't so much about candy, it was about adventure, and it was all about the neighborhood.

I remember trick or treating as a kid, the accompanying parent retreating ever farther into the yard as we got older. We always went after dark, or what was the point?  The really little kids went in the daylight and we pitied them.  I remember the thrill of fear as we approached the doors of our neighbors who we barely knew.  I remember peeking curiously into their houses, smelling their unfamiliar cooking smells, and how fun it was when these stern grownups actually talked to us about how scary we were! how cute we were! and how they couldn't even tell who we were and maybe we really were two witches and a dog and a robot.

Our parents were on guard.  Someone we knew was given an apple with a razor blade in it, at least that's what we were told, and our parents had to go through all our candy when the night was over.  We knew full well you didn't go into anybody's house, and we had to make sure we could walk in our costumes and see out of our masks.

I know that era is over.  It was half over when I was a kid.  We never "tricked" anybody.  We heard about soaping windows or egging houses but it was always the stuff of legend and we never did it. Ditto bobbing for apples.  I know that we roamed a suburban neighborhood with a freedom that today's kids rarely have, and that even a sealed bag of M&Ms can be tampered with.  But still, I am sad.  As usual, this reworking of Halloween threatens to get rid of the important stuff – the visiting of neighbors, the important fantasy and creativity elements of dress-up, the flirtation with scariness and fear within safe boundaries – and keeps the least important part: candy. 

I'm sure in a few years the practicality of trunk-or-treat will wear down my resistance and I'll be right there with my own munchkin(s), enjoying the convenience, hobnobbing with all the friends I will have made by then.  But I also hope that evil, dangerous, secular trick-or-treating hangs in there as well. 

And this my first year, I really I hope I get a few stragglers on Friday.  I'll have my pumpkin carved, a little more decorously than the one above, and we'll see.

Edited to add: a friend sent a link to her pastor's blog with more eloquent arguments than mine on the whole trunk-or-treating thing.

Pumpkin photo from www.celebrating-halloween.com – yeah, I wish I'd thought of it too.

We drove partway to Tennessee on Thursday and crashed in a Comfort Inn in Shelbyville, Indiana where I was awakened at 5:30 a.m. by my very first earthquake.  The bed shaking was scary, as was the millions of little rattles above my head.  It sounded like the time my friends accidentally spilled a pound bag of M&Ms onto the bare, sloping floor in an empty theatre during a dress rehearsal when they were supposed to be running lights.  Except this wasn’t funny.  It turned out to be not a big deal, no pictures fell off the walls or anything.  I don’t know how in the world one would get up and out of the house in a big dangerous earthquake – we were on the third floor and it was over before I groggily considered whether or not we were in danger.

My husband, of course, went back to sleep.

Love this.

If you have 20 minutes and want to feel convicted, scared, angry, and a little bit inspired, watch this:

http://www.storyofstuff.com/

It’s about stuff, waste, consumerism, rape of the planet, and other cheery topics.  Might be good for older kids too.

Next Page »