Posted on 2006.11.08 at 19:10
So, proposal 2, an amendment to the state constitution of Michigan which bans affirmative action in government agencies, public schools, universities, and many other organizations and businesses connected with the State of Michigan, passed yesterday.
I cannot tell you how sad I am about this.
Just about as sad as I am about the fact that all of the anti-gay marriage initiatives passed in other states yesterday, but I digress.
I know that a well-spoken, articulate conservative could beat the pants off of me in a debate about affirmative action. My reasons for supporting it are born from general ideas I hold about the evils of racism and sexism and classism. I cannot justify, for example, why it is that a working class white guy should not stand on equal ground when applying for school with an upper-middle class African-American woman, But I do feel like there are inequities in our society that just aren't fair and I don't believe that the circumstances of one's birth, whether situational or genetic, should put one on a track that is hard to break out of.
Echoing the cliche about the personal being political, here is my affirmative action story:
Tired of working for minimum wage at the phone company and relying on my near-autistic, drug-addicted father (whom I love, but the 80s were not his best moment) to bring in the rest of the family's income, my mother went to night school and studied accounting. It had been her father's trade -- he had owned a failing butcher shop before my mother was born and had gone to night school as well with a crop of GIs who had come home from WWII and also gone to school in their late 20s and 30s.
At her first job out of school she was hardly more than a secretary and was paid accordingly. She worked for a CPA firm and was being sexually harassed -- aware of her boss' affair with another coworker and threatened with termination if she didn't cover it up. Around the same time, she was in a horrible car accident, was disfigured, crippled, in the hospital for 6 weeks and in part-time PT for a long-time afterwards. Soon after the accident she was fired.
Our family was pretty devastated by this final blow after the trauma of the accident, but she started looking around and got a head's up about a job at the University of Michigan from one of her former professors. UofM had a pretty well-developed affirmative action program at the time. Despite the fact that accounting was a very male-dominated profession, she was hired for a position that paid twice what her former one had, with real responsibility, and was quickly promoted to another position as a financial manager. I believe that without affirmative action, she would have never been hired. She had good grades, but had limited experience and graduated from a commuter school after years of working low-wage, low-skill jobs. Without affirmative action she probably would have continued on a secretarial-type track. Certainly, a woman on crutches with a disfigured face (thanks to a lot of surgeries no one would know it now) would also face tough competition from, well, just about anybody else if there were not a policy in place to specifically recruit and accomodate the disabled (and women as well). She proved herself worthy of the position, rising to a point where she was one of the top people in her department. When she retires next June, she will probably be replaced by two people because no one person has the skill set that she does.
I feel like the earlier part of my childhood, with its poverty and violence and instability was a great contributor to my toughness and determination and overall scrappiness. But I am also very grateful that I spent the second half of my childhood in an environment of relative stability and plenty. That gave me gifts too, in the way of opportunities and experiences and role models. My father, hindered by his issues, was not going to get us there, but my mother did. I think that affirmative action was a big part of how she achieved what she did, at least helping her get started.
Posted on 2006.04.17 at 17:52
Current Mood: optimistic
Right after my waiting for a shoe to fall post, a whole bunch of stuff started happening.
I had what I thought was going to be a big fight with Phil about his job, which has been getting really stagnant and not good for him. It morphed into a good talk and we decided that he was going to try and find something else -- with a preferance for something in Ann Arbor, but an openness to work somewhere else. I told him to hurry up, though, before I get a bunch of commitments eight months out. I had been relying on him staying stable because my work was all over the place, but I realized that we have gotten through a lot worse before, money-wise and that we can just sell everything that is not bolted down (hmm, I wonder what price a spirited middle-aged Corgi might bring?) and be ok.
On the money front, I met this amazing Nicaraguan midwife at a party on Saturday night. She told a story about how she saw her town midwife literally working magic as a child and how that inspired her to become a midwife herself. Right before I left, she saw me scratching my palm and told me that I had to immediately stick my hand down my shirt (she would have said purse or pocket, but I didn't have any) because the palm-scratching was a sign that money was coming to me. On Sunday, my parents gave me a check for several thousand dollars, saying that it was a remnant of an inheritance from my grandmother and they thought it was time to give it to me. Alrighty then! It should help us get through a few lean months in the summer and help reduce the scary credit card debt.
Theo's babysitter is pregnant, which means that she will probably be on maternity leave for November and December. So, in a way, having a light work schedule will be good on that front. I have great friends who can help out, but I hate having to get to plan G when I am trying to get out the door to a birth. I like plan A to work most of the time.
Hoping to be laying a new patio this week. Phil was supposed to have the whole week off to help me, but will probably only have a couple of days. I am going to plow ahead, though, because I have important Margarita drinking to do on my new patio when I am off call in two weeks.
Posted on 2006.04.14 at 10:08
Do you ever feel like you are waiting for the other foot to fall? I have this sinking feeling that something huge is just around the corner for me, workwise, lifewise, etc.
Things are just kind of cruising along in the parenting/family life world. Theo is becoming a child instead of a baby and being mostly charming. This also means that he is settling into a series of habits and schedules that reign in my mostly chaotic way of doing things. We must be home at 1 for nap. Period. Otherwise BAD THINGS HAPPEN. I am trying to figure out just what it is that Neil needs to be a happy kid -- mostly endless access to the outside, a constant stream of friends, and lots of one on one time with both of his parents (this he rarely gets, sadly). He has these days where he just falls apart completely at random and I scratch my head and wonder why. Other days he is just amazingly flexible and laid back and generous of spirit. What is it that 6 year old boys want, anyway? When I think about parenting, I think about the needs of babies and toddlers and the needs of teenagers. I just am not all that aware of what to do with a kid who is in between those ages.
So, back to work -- I haven't had a call in months for midwifery. I decided a while ago to take off August and the first part of September for family vacation time, but I expected to have at least a little business for October, November, December, etc. Nothing. Nada. It would be easy enough to understand getting calls and then losing work to other midwives -- there are probably ten midwives covering this area. But the phone has been totally silent. I need to do more marketing.
The thing is, I have this feeling, mentioned above, that there is some big fate-related reason for having no work. Either something terrible is about to happen (getting arrested, huge family change that leaves me unable to work) and the universe is making it so that I don't have to break my commitments to people, or some great opportunity is going to come my way and I need to have the space to take it. Something similar happened about a year ago when I had a big decision about which way I wanted to go with my work -- out on my own or back into another practice and literally the day after I made my decision it was like the floodgates opened and I had 8 messages on my answering machine. I am just trying to be very calm and open and listening right now.
To change the subject -- my garden is absolutely going to KICK ASS this spring and summer. I have 3 babies due next week but Phil is taking off the week from work (my little workaholic has 7 weeks of vacation accrued because he has been afraid to take it due to shaky work climate) and we are going to FINALLY put in the brick patio I tore out before Theo was born. I am also going crazy with planting new veggie and flower beds and should be able to eat out of the garden all summer. The roses I ordered last spring will be in good shape this year and global warming means that I have almost no winter kill on a lot of my other stuff. It is a little scary. A climber that is usually about 4 ft. tall is 12 ft. tall this year. I can't wait until it starts blooming. I will post pictures if I can figure out how to do so.
I need some good music to listen to. Somebody tell me about their favorite songs/albums . . .
Posted on 2006.04.01 at 18:44
So, something weird happened last night. I am more laid back about it now, but I was really, really upset when it happened.
I crashed just before midnight and fell into a deep, deep sleep.
The phone rang -- I answered it, expecting one of my April moms to be in labor or have an emergency.
The woman on the other end said something like, oh, you answered the phone -- I need a midwife.
Someone had actually called me like this at about the same time a few weeks ago -- someone who seemed to have expected to get an answering machine in an office, not a real human, so I wasn't too taken aback this time. She said, "I have a few questions for you," and I said, "I would be happy to talk to you, but could you call back in the morning?"
The woman then launches into this story about how she was having contractions, how they were 5 minutes apart, and how she had an ultrasound and was due in "April or May" I was just waking up at this point and getting my bearings and said, "Well, if you think you are in labor, you should go to the hospital." I was beginning to feel like this was someone who was screwing around with me and not someone in labor. She was really insistant, saying, "I wanna hire you -- won't you help me?" There was some more back and forth and at one point I said pretty firmly, "I am not going to attend the labor of a total stranger -- get the help that you need from someone else. I am hanging up now. Bye." I then hung up the phone.
I have heard of this phenomena from other midwives -- people who want attention and pretend to be in labor and then call midwives on the phone or IM them or write to fast-moving online forums. If I was sure that this was what this was, I would have just written it off and gone back to bed.
I was haunted by one of two things, though, and spent a lot of time not sleeping last night and upset -- the first being that this actually was a real pregnant person (I think it unlikely and anyway, if she were my client and having a 34 weeker I would have sent her to the hospital anyway) and the second being that it was one of my former clients playing a prank on me (it was, after all, 15 minutes into April Fool's Day).
The voice sounded just like Mari, my former client. When I said, "Is this Mari?" the woman responded, "Oh no, this is Amber. We've never met." Mari was a really troubled young woman who was really unstable and also physically pretty unhealthy. I transferred her out of my care in her early pregnancy because the combination of her physical conditions, social and emotional challenges, and a weird kind of dishonesty that consisted of telling me only about half of what I needed to know at any given time were making me feel like I was totally over my head.
I had spoken to Mari about 6 weeks ago when she had a 20 week ultrasound and found out that she was having a boy. I offered to send her some baby clothes and we talked about the possibility of having me there for her birth as a doula. The thing is, though, that I feel like my relationship with her was already pretty toxic for me and if she was playing this kind of childish prank on me, I don't want to expend any more of my emotional energy on her. There is just no possible way to find out for sure whether it was her or not, though, unless she calls me in the next few days with a confession. I have been plotting face-saving breakup letters to send with a token box of clothes all day.
I don't think that the average person knows what it is like to wake up in the middle of the night and have to be present enough not to screw up and tell somebody something that might kill them or their baby. I have to keep reminding myself that whoever was on the other end of the phone last night didn't know how wound up I was going to get about that stupid call.
I was up for about three hours churning. Sweet Philip stayed up with me and let me run my mouth and gave me massages and talked to me about random other things to help me get my mind off of the call. We are both pretty pooped today. The idea, though, that somebody would want to play a stupid prank on me is bringing up all of this weird Junior High insecurity and making me feel stupid, though. I hate this shit. Part of me wants to say a big "fuck you" to anyone who would play these games, part of me feels like a big nerd for not having a sense of humor or flexiblity. I am feeling a little brittle today.
Then of course, it could have all been true. Amber, if you're out there, I hope you had a great birth and that you and your little preemie are doing just fine . . .
Posted on 2006.02.27 at 23:25
I am sitting here all alone listening to Fairport Convention's Unhalfbricking, which I associate with an old friend. There's a cover of a Bob Dylan tune on there -- "If you gotta go, go now." And it is such a melancholy, sweet, passive-aggressive song, which is sung surreally in French on this album, with a rhythm section made up of stacks of metal folding chairs and crap dropped on the floor and all kinds of other chaotic stuff, and I have to say that I think that it is the best thing to listen to when you are having a quiet house, Friday-night kind of wistful longing.
Posted on 2006.02.14 at 21:31
Current Mood: cynical
Current Music: I Don't Want to Get Over You by the Magnetic Fields
I hate Valentine's Day. It reminds me of when I was in highschool and I would go back to school on Monday and people would quiz each other on what they did over the weekend -- if you spent Saturday night in or played shuffleboard with your parents or somesuch horror, you were made to feel like some kind of social deficient. I hate Valentine's Day for myself and I hate it for all of my friends who find themselves also not having a glorious Valentine's Day. My crabby self says -- there is no Valentine's Day which lives up to the archetypal Valentine's Day. The only good thing about it is that there is more chocolate in the house.
That said, I am stuffed to the gills with La Shish my sweetie bought me in a fit of "I didn't get you anything for Valentine's Day, guess I'll get you takeout," guilt-induced dinner provisioning. Even my most cynical self can enjoy baba ghanouj.
Posted on 2006.02.14 at 19:09
Current Mood: restless
Current Music: I Hope You're on the Rooftop Now by The Innocence Misison
I have six babies on the brain -- all the moms due in the next eight weeks or so.
Three of them could come this week. One mama is inching toward 42 weeks, one mama due today, one mama due Saturday.
None of them is really simple right now. Babies are big, babies are high, mamas have scary stories to tell that they don't want to repeat.
Every day I think about these babies, and the ones a little further out. I walk the dog and it becomes walking meditation on babies. I take a bath and I am swimming in babies. I lay down at night and pray about babies. I have mamababy mantras.
This is normal for me, and no cause for alarm ;) My current collection of complicated babies isn't something new to me, but I was just thinking -- how do midwives who care for 100 women a year not get just crushed by all of the stories swirling around in their brains? I can't imagine my six babies on the brain being 12 or 20. I'm proud of myself for being able to sleep well as it is.
Posted on 2006.02.08 at 21:52
Current Mood: mellow
Had a really great birth today -- mama was in early labor for 24 hours, making me bite my nails, but when active labor kicked in she was just the picture of powerful, instinctual laboring. We just all stepped back and tried not to get buried by the mama power.
Am having my typical post-birth munchies. Had pizza for dinner, followed by hershey bar, followed by more pizza and a couple of big glasses of milk. Perhaps if I didn't have an occupation that caused me to go into stress-induced snacking, I would be as lithe as a gazelle.
Husband and I have dueling laptops this evening. Sometimes we are such geeks it kills me.
Posted on 2006.02.06 at 10:40
midwifery legistlation just passed in Wisconsin, one of the first in the midwest. I am fascinated by the tactics used by the midwives there -- instead of arguing how vital it was to have homebirth midwives and protect them, they argued that midwives were going to attend births anyway and you might as well have a licensing board to sort out the bad from the good. I would normally be resistant to this line of thinking -- I believe that the best systems are voluntary licensure like they have in Oregon, but in the process of getting their law passed, Wisconsin midwives made practicing midwifery without a license a misdemeanor instead of a felony. So, underground midwives who choose not to be licensed are better off than they were before the bill. Sounds like a win/win situation to me.
Posted on 2006.01.31 at 10:51
I am avoiding doing the little list of tasks I have to do today, hence the multiple posts. Going to try and meet up with Kate and family today at some kind of homeschooler library day -- as usual being the non-homeschooling crashers. Will probably go eat buns at Eastern Accents beforehand. Am trying to bribe Neil into behaving at kindergarten with promises of buns. This is breaking two general rules of mine -- no bribery and no involving food in behavior issues. Oh well. I wanted to go and eat bibimbop and drink a fizzy soda anyway. If my kid can manage to keep it together and not tackle anyone or go on a long soliloquy about snowboarding in the middle of the writing lesson, then we will happily munch on the fatty snacks of Asia together. If not, we will find some alternative that is still mutually satisfying.
I am sure that the homeschoolers would tell me that it is too much to ask my bouncy near-6-year-old to suppress himself during school hours. And, you know, they're right -- the teacher should find a way to channel his energy instead of just asking him to bottle it up. The thing is, she's gotta have some kind of sanity in her class and I respect the fact that what he does makes it a little crazy. So, I'm taking the first step of trying to get him to do what she wants. I think I'm going to try and volunteer in the class for the next few weeks, one day a week or so, and maybe if I see how the whole thing is organized, I can come up with some kind of suggestion that works for both of them. She is an awesome teacher, but new, and I think she gets overwhelmed by some of the kids' behavior stuff.
I have two songs in my head today -- The White Stripes song with the line "I'm thinking about my doorbell, when you gonna ring it, when you gonna ring it?" and "Godfrey the Sickly Unemployed Amateur Children's Musician," Thanks a lot, Kate.