Sunday, November 29, 2015

My Body Is Not My Body

My body is not my body. It has not belonged to me for quite some time.

It used to belong to me. In the days before I became known as "Mom." My body used to be wild and free-- free to have that second, third, fourth shot of whiskey; free to dance in dark bars and kiss in dark stairwells; free to stay out all night if I wanted, to see shows and to meet new people. My body wasn't chained to anyone or anything.

My body is not my body. It is now home to a nursling toddler and a developing embryo. My breasts are no longer mine to give to a would-be lover. They belong to a one-year-old boy who is up far past his bedtime. My back is not my back. It no longer bends and flexes in asanas. It now aches under the pressure of this creature growing inside of me. My arms are not my arms. Instead, they belong to this house, which has a constant need to be cleaned or repaired. My mouth is not my mouth. It is no longer available for conversation that extends past toddler level. My brain is not even my brain. It is no longer free to think of politics, religion, the environment, or even which outfit I should wear today. It only thinks of how to respond to tantrums and whether or not I'm endangering my child by feeding him this instead of that because my exhaustion level is at its peak, and I can't possibly bear to be at that stove for an hour when we are hungry now, and WHY have I not prepared meals ahead of time so all I need to do is heat them up for moments like this?

My body is not my body. It is more difficult than I expected to go from being free to being tethered. My love for my children is like nothing I've ever felt before, and yet the desire for my body to be my own again is overwhelming. I don't have the desire to return to stairwells or empty bottles. Now I dream of long showers and hot meals. I dream of sitting cross-legged and barefoot, reading books by the lake. Taking naps in hammocks. Seeing live music. Spending hours in deep conversation in a circle of friends. I'm made to feel selfish for desiring a life outside of my current one. A life of mental and spiritual growth. Like being a mom is the only choice for my body, and I'm no longer allowed to be anyone other than that.

My body is not my body, although I hope someday for it to belong to me again.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Crunchy Baby

     I know I've neglected my blog for a while. I've been caught up being a mommy to an active 5-month-old. He is currently sleeping, so I'm taking this rare moment to write about my experiences so far. One day, I will share my entire birth experience, but for now, I'd like to just write about some of the choices I've made for our family so far.
There is the term "crunchy" floating around. I'm uncertain of where it started or what exactly it means, but I do feel we fit loosely into that category. We cloth diaper, co-sleep, breastfeed, and babywear. A lot of crunchy moms choose not to vaccinate. I DO NOT fit into that group, but that is another blog post for another time.
     I knew I always wanted to cloth diaper. I had many reasons: the environment, cost-effectiveness, those cute little fluffy bums. But I never realized how much I would love it. Now that I finally have a good wash routine, and we have figured out the fit (or rather, my little preemie is finally big enough to fit into our stash), I've become obsessed with all the different prints and styles. Restraining myself from buying everything can be tough. Luckily, there are websites like where you can get good diapers for really cheap. Getting John on board was not as hard as I expected. Although, at first, he wanted to use disposables, and I left those with him when I went to work until we ran out of the ones gifted to us, at which point, John started using cloth exclusively. I got behind on laundry one day about a month ago, and he used disposables that day and had TWO blowouts. I think that totally convinced him not to go back.
     Bed-sharing was NOT one of those things that I had always wanted to do. I knew I wanted him close, so my sister bought us a Babybay cosleeper that attaches to our bed. It is amazing, and we love it......for everything that we may need in the middle of the night because Jackson will NOT sleep soundly in it. From the first night in the hospital, he has slept next to me, and I feel more comfortable with that than I expected to. He sleeps so well at night and always has, and I attribute it to the comfort of contact.
      Of course, I planned to breastfeed. I think I may have been more scared of that than giving birth. Now that I'm doing it, I understand why because I think it may be harder than giving birth. It definitely takes persistence and patience, especially if you pump for work like I do. I know it is easy for some moms, and they do it with great joy. I, however, do it out of a sense of obligation. Know better, do better-- like with my vegetarianism. I know the benefits and risks, so I choose to, but it was definitely difficult in the beginning. We had latch issues for months, and I never knew my nipples could hurt so bad. But we pressed on, and things are a lot easier now.  I plan on breastfeeding as long as possible. My first goal is one year. I'd love to exclusively feed for that long without introducing solids, but I'm not sure if that is reasonable. So I might shoot for 9 or 10 months before I introduce solids, but continue to breastfeed.
       Babywearing is just fun for me. I love having my hands free to do things. It makes grocery shopping SO much easier. And having him right next to me is nice. It's like snuggling while you pick out tomatoes. He is starting to get too heavy for the Moby, though, so I am about to have to invest in a woven carrier or an Ergo or Tula. All are fairly expensive but worth it, I think.
       So that is our crunchy experience so far.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It Gets Better…. Then it Gets Bad Again

If there is one thing I know with certainty, it is that life gets REALLY hard to do sometimes. Even if you have had a relatively easy life with two loving parents, a dog, and a life in the suburbs, things can get hard, and sometimes you don’t feel like you have the energy to make it.

I’ve definitely had my fair share of trouble. On top of a long history of tying to hide my depression, I have been physically and emotionally abused by people who swear their love and devotion. Years of harbored feelings of regret, worthlessness, and misery still rush back at the drop of a word, and I am sent spiraling down into another chasm of despair that I rarely have the energy to climb out of. Frequently these feelings invade my current relationships, making them difficult to maintain, further exaggerating my loneliness. When this happens, sometimes apologies just aren’t enough to fix things. So I’m left wondering what to do to make my life suck less.

I wish I could give you a go-to answer, but if there is something I have learned through all of this, there isn’t just one solution. Sometimes, just getting out of bed feels like the biggest accomplishment of your life, and maybe it doesn’t seem like much to everyone else, but when you have been stuck there for a week drowning in sorrow, let me tell you, you have done well by getting up, and I am celebrating with you. Getting out of bed is proof that IT GETS BETTER. And you know what? It will get bad again. But that’s ok. Because the trick to getting through life is not looking for some cure-all or a Prince Charming to give you a happily ever after ending. It’s finding a way to cope in the midst of all of it. It’s finding a way to get out of bed even when you would rather lay there and die.

One thing that has always stuck in my head is an old friend’s word of reminder: “This too shall pass.” Everyday you have another chance at making your life suck less. Start with getting up, and the rest will come a little easier than you’d expect it would, until one day you realize that you made it through it, and you are that much stronger for the next time a shitstorm blows through. Remember: If you made it through this one, you can make it through the next one. Just hold on. It will pass. That, I can promise.

Be strong.

My ears are always open if a friend is what you need.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Housekeeper's Guide on How to Conduct Yourself at a Hotel

  1. First, and most importantly, treat your stay less like you are at your own home and more like you are a guest in someone else’s. Because you are a guest. Treat us like we are a privilege, not an obligation. We will treat you well, but at the end of the day, keep in mind that when you leave, we have to clean up your room in 30 minutes for minimum wage with no benefits.
  2. Please don’t leave any bodily fluids on the furniture or in the shower. That includes urine. You might pee in your shower at home, but I don’t know you or your medical history. When it comes down to it, it is unsanitary, and the toilet is only 2 feet away.
  3. Pour out all liquids before your cups go into the garbage. When they spill out, it makes our garbage leak all over the carpet.
  4. Make sure to leave the air in your room on a decent temperature when you  leave. We move around constantly and quickly so if we go into your room and the temperature is on 80 degrees, there is a likely chance that we could pass out. The preferable temperature is 67 degrees.
  5. If you do not want service or want to sleep in without disruption, put the Do Not Disturb hanger on the outside of your door. If you do not have this hanger on your door, we will knock. Keep in mind that we are simply doing our job. If you choose not to put the hanger on your door and we knock, please answer the door. Don’t ignore the knock because we will walk in on you. And don’t just yell. It is often hard to hear a response through those thick doors. And when you do answer, please be polite. Don’t slam doors in our faces. It is too tempting to lose our job over it.
  6. Instead of telling us to come back later and clean your room, just get towels and other amenities from us then if you need them. Coming back to your room could be a strain on our strict schedule.
  7. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, do NOT ask for a late checkout. Go to a park or something if you need some extra time. We can not work past 2:00 on a weekday, 3:00 on a weekend. So if there are five 1:00 checkouts, that puts us in a bind.
  8. When you checkout, please remove your Do Not Disturb hanger from your door, and drop off your keys at the front desk. This alerts the hotel that you have left so the housekeeper can clean your room so that another guest can enter it.
  9. It is always a nice surprise to walk into a stayover and find a tip (even if it is only a couple of dollars), so if you can afford to be generous, please do. You will make someone’s terrible day slightly better.
  10. Each room comes furnished with a makeup remover on the amenity tray in the bathroom. Please use this to remove your makeup instead of a wash cloth, as it irreparably stains the cloth. Meaning, we have to take it out of use. If you need more than one makeup remover, ask the front desk or a housekeeper. We will be glad to provide you with more.
  11. There will always be accidents involving blood and excrement. If there are, make sure to bag it up, and throw it away. Or at least make the stain visible (i.e. don’t wad up a towel or throw a blanket over the sheets) so that it wont be touched by other people. Or better yet, inform someone so that we can be warned and make necessary provisions. And if you do leave it for us to clean, please leave a tip. On average, we get about $4 per checkout, $2 per stayover BEFORE taxes. That is nowhere close to enough money to clean up your blood or poop.
  12. Do not leave snot or loogies in the sink. When they dry, it is close to impossible to remove, and even when it does come off, it is slimy and turns stomachs. Nobody wants to take a break from cleaning to vomit just because you were disgusting.*
  13. If you chew smokeless tobacco, please dispose of your spit cup properly. This means, empty the cup into the toilet before you leave and flush, or, if possible, use a bottle, and place it, with the cap on, in the garbage (see #12 note* above).
  14. If you are staying in a hotel for an extended period of time, make sure your room gets cleaned at least every 3 days. The hotel recommends once a week, but a week of not cleaning the bathtub can be a tedious task when it does get cleaned.
  15. And remember, the less you use, the less we have to replace for the next guest. The amenities are there for your convenience, but if you don’t use them, you don’t have to take them.
So be sanitary, be polite to your neighbors and hotel workers, and we will ensure that you enjoy your stay with us.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Occupy Wall Street is not a hippy movement. It is not a Democrat vs. Republican movement. This is a collection of people from all walks of life who are fed up with being taken advantage of by the government who is supposed to be protecting us. This beautiful movement is both military and civilian, old and young, rich and poor. Have YOU ever felt the cruel hand of injustice in your life? Then this movement is yours.
The time is right, and the people are ready to stand up for each other and for what is right. And it is due time. We have let the top 1% control and abuse us for entirely too long. We are the 99%. We are the majority. We are the people who must take progression into our own hands. Without advancement, we will all perish. The 1%-controlled mass media refuses to cover this movement, so we must take the initiative and take to the streets to get the word out to everyone. We must become our own media (-JH). This movement WILL survive, but only if we band together. So, grab your friends, your family, your neighbors, your co-workers, random people on the street, and tell them that their happiness is worth fighting for, their freedom is worth fighting for. Make them aware of the revolution that is happening, and encourage them to get involved.
Be strong, you amazing creatures. Don't lose your drive. Results will be slow in coming, but don't get discouraged. We will prevail! Just wait, and you will see.

Things to Read: 

Things to Watch: 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Classic Case of Rich Stealing from the Poor

It is nothing new. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. More importantly, the rich get greedier, and the poor suffer as a result. Most recently, there has been an increase among prosperous countries, such as Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and China, buying land in impoverished countries, mostly third-world, in which only the invading country benefits.
Although profitable, the wealthier countries are lacking in self-sufficiency. There is either a deficit or a potential deficit of food production at home, so these countries are purchasing land from countries who are in desperate need of that extra income. Unfortunately, the repercussions of this are tremendously hazardous to the welfare of humanity.

According to a study at the Oakland Institute, over the past 3 years, almost 50 million acres of farmland have been either purchased or are in the process of being purchased, with a substantial increase in just the last six months.

So, what does this all mean?

It means that buying this land will severely prevent the poorer countries from feeding their own citizens, leading to an increase in starvation- and dehydration-related deaths. What is happening is the land purchased is used to grow crops, which are then sent to the country who owns the land, not to the country that holds the land. However, only around 30% of the grain produced goes toward feeding the masses. In 37% of these cases, the crops are used for growing grains that will then be used for the production of biofuels, further fueling the debate that our addiction to oil is killing us. Furthermore, the countries in which land is being purchased are mainly in areas that are subject to severe drought. So, the land acquisitions include water, which in turn, deprives the hosting country of its own resources.

The question now is, what can we do about it? There is a growing suspicion that citizens in the poor countries will begin to ambush the trucks carrying the grain before it reaches its destination, furthering the social and political unrest. I, for one, fully support the locals in their attempts to rectify this ghastly situation. 

Fi Amanillah.

Things to read: 
Things to hear:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Blood Money and Protests

On January 27, 2011, Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor for the United States, shot and killed two Pakistani men in Lahore. Davis claimed he shot the men in self-defense, which is contradictory to the police report from the scene of the crime in which police described the shooting as "cold-blooded murder." Nonetheless, the US held that Davis had diplomatic immunity. On Wednesday, March 16, 2011, Davis was acquitted of murder, when the family of both of the victims pardoned him. Under Islamic law, the family of the victim can simply forgive the accused in exchange for a monetary settlement. In this case, the settlement was reportedly around $2 million.

My feelings toward the ruling are divided. On the one hand, the concept of forgiveness to the murderer is one I wholeheartedly accept and promote. When I heard about this, I was stunned by how beautiful it was. In fact, it brought a tear to my eye to see how it is possible for people to forgive others despite the offense. On the other hand, my Western mindset is screaming, "YOU JUST LET A MURDERER GO FREE!" And, unless Davis has a change of heart from that experience, he will continue to kill under the protective cloak of the United States.

But many Pakistani citizens are not happy with the ruling, and protests are being initiated. They do not accept that an American can come into their country and kill their citizens and be acquitted, while a Pakistani can do the same in America and be sentenced to 86 years in prison, as was the case with Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist who pulled a gun on a US military guard in February of 2010. Furthermore, family friends and neighbors are standing firm that the Pakistani government forced the families to sign documents of forgiveness in secret at the behest of the United States, while the US denies that they made any form of payment to the families of the victims, leaving everyone wondering who, if anyone, compensated the families. After the ruling, the families disappeared, so the events surrounding the entire case is still a mystery.

To make matters worse, US forces carried out an airstrike in the village of Datta Khel that killed 40 people only one day after the ruling that freed Davis. Pakistani army chief said that the attack against civilians who had gathered to discuss local land issues was "carelessly and callously targeted with complete disregard for human life."

The longer I live and the more I discover about the barbarous actions of the United States, the more ashamed I am to be called American. When will the citizens of this country rise up in protest like so many of these oppressed Middle Eastern countries? Or have we become so lazy and indifferent that, as a whole, we no longer care?