Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Dubya says something smart

From today's NYTimes: "In the interview with Matt Lauer of the NBC News program 'Today,' conducted on Saturday but shown on the opening day of the Republican National Convention, Mr. Bush was asked if the United States could win the war against terrorism, which he has made the focus of his administration and the central thrust of his re-election campaign.

'I don't think you can win it,' Mr. Bush replied. 'But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world.'"

Oh my friends. I just wrote a very long post about this quotation. And lost it to the ether. Hate that. But, I am seriously, on a rant -- sorry. So here's the gist of what I had to say, again:

It might surprise you to know that unlike the "liberal media" (whatever -- I consider such a thing one of the great myths of our times), I am not giddy about this apparent "flip-flop" or "failure of resolve," blah, blah, blah. Actually, I consider it one of the smarter things I've heard him say about the war. Maybe because I've been saying it for the last three years.

Terrorism, as strange as it may seem, is an act of conscience. Not a conscience I understand or sympathize with by any stretch. But terrorists act with utter conviction that they are "right" and their aims are "true." To believe they are cynical or simply mean, very dangerous "pranksters" is to underestimate the fight ahead. They're deadly serious about what they believe in. That's what makes them dangerous. They believe, have utter faith, that God is on their side. If you've ever met anyone like that, trying telling them they are evil. See if that brings them around to your point of view.

As long as our aims in the world are to promote freedom, we have to be aware that free people have, and act on, different beliefs, goals and aims. The only way to "beat" terrorism in a free world, which we all say we want, is to make terrorism feel unnecessary --- for people to have confidence that their views will be measured in the decisions of the powerful without having to resort to violence. That their concerns and needs matter and are treated as though they are as important as anyone else's -- without their feeling the need, or having support among their friends and families, to make threats of death and destruction against those who have what they want.

My dispute with George Bush is that I don't think his policies reflect intentions to create that kind of a world. Despite the "War in Iraq" being ostensibly, and hopefully truly, to free the Iraqi people from a despot, I think his policies more consistently reflect an intention to protect American economic interests first and foremost, with very little appreciation for the fact that our "interests" (narrowly defined as immediate and economic) are not always compatible with creating a world in which the vast majority of people have enough to eat, suitable protection from the elements, reason to have faith that the laws will be applied equally to all people, reason to have confidence that their children will have good and healthy lives, and confidence that barring "Acts of God" or unpreventable diseases, they are mostly free from danger.

We are hurtling through a vast and infinite (as far as we know) inhospitable universe on a very small but miraculously life-supporting rock. "America's interests" are not different than anyone else's interests. Or shouldn't be. We cannot afford to behave like a rich mogul safely locked inside a lavish castle, heavily guarded by a mighty army which violently suppresses all threats to the status quo, while just outside the gates the rest of the world teems in pain and suffering. This rock is too small for that to be sustainable for anyone. I want a President who understands that.

Monday, August 30, 2004


Well, I'm back. Great vacation -- lots of beach reading, great wine, and good food. I feel good.

It surprises me how happy I am to be back even at work... but then, look at what I'm doing! I missed you guys.

I feel like I should be brimming over with things to write about, but -- I'm not. I wasn't while I was gone either. Normally, I write epic journal entries daily on vacation, but this time... not so much. One. About the possibility of impending motherhood (its too soon to have anything to report for those who are curious). But mostly I read.

I did write letters to voters in the "swing states" about why I think they should vote for Kerry (I got a list of names and addresses from our local Democratic Party committee -- how they got address lists of registered voters in other states, I do not know). It took me four drafts to get one that I felt like I could stand behind. I hate political propaganda, and to create it feels uncomfortable. But to do nothing in this election would feel like a greater failing to me. So, as imperfect the means, ultimately they're harmless -- and I like to think I'd rather get a handwritten letter from an earnest stranger better than a piece of glossy glibness. But I'm enough uneasy about it that I have yet to send them. Is it too creepy to get a letter from a stranger? Does it cross some unverbalized but societally understood privacy boundary? I can't decide. Curious for your thoughts...

My fingers feel rusty. Back with more soon. Thanks so much for visiting while I was gone.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Mid-August -- Before Vacation and Baby Making

A curious thing has come to pass... I have been working so diligently for the last couple of weeks that I have worked myself right into nothing to do on my last day in the office before vacation. I would go home, except that I need to wait until noon for a phone call. Until then I am shiftless, rootless, and otherwise adrift.

This, clearly, indicates the need for blogging.

The trick is that I'm feeling so out of practice, that I don't know how to start. There are at least three topics I'm considering: 1) the travails and dilemmas of baby-making (not in the euphemistic sense, but in the "I started Clomid today and am both excited and disappointed by the prospect of being able to/having to prompt my ovaries to produce" sense); 2) what accounts for those long-lost friends with whom you manage to reconnect somehow who then re-enter your life's narrative as a new or revisited character versus those with whom the encounter proves to be something more like a piece of candy --- a mutually enjoyable nostalgic novelty --- with no more to it than a quick "catch-up" and an extended stroll down memory lane; and 3) my delayed and -- I'm really quite chagrined to admit this -- thus, dwindlingly charged thoughts and feelings about the Democratic National Convention and like matters. Or, actually, what I really wish is that I had more steam for poetry or fiction right now, actually. But, apparently, I don't. Maybe when I get back from vacation.

So, hmmm. What to blog about today....

Well, after trying to feel around for what has the most juice in it, I'll take door number 1.

Topic 1: Baby-making
There are several buses in town that are covered in some advertising agency's idea of clever and creative use of space, and indeed, there is something visually appealing about buses completely covered in colorful murals moving through the streets of a city --- like paintings on wheels making their way through traffic, offering one split-second of wonder and delight at their incongruity before the immunized adult mind returns to the irritation of being in a metal box surrounded by other metal boxes going nowhere. However, I'm not so keen on the murals as advertisements.

And one particularly common one around here shows a smiling pretty young mother holding a gorgeous smiling fat cheeked baby up to her own cheek, and the caption reads: "The right things happen when you do the right things."

It's for the fertility program at a local hospital.

It makes me want to spit.

I'm just not over the disappointment that D. and I are not going to have a baby spontaneously, unexpectedly, made just in the heat of passion and love. And that seems to me like doing the right thing: marrying a man who is as good or better to me than he is to himself, who will be good to his children, who makes me feel hopeful about the human race, who I love, love, love and who loves, loves, loves me back. We both waited to try until we knew we were ready (with the right person) and could provide for children. We're fit and healthy. I mean, come on. If the world were fair....

And I know it isn't. I really from the depths of my being understand that it isn't. I believe in karma --- that the actions one takes have effects. To me that seems an indisputable law of science and relationship. However, I also believe that as delicious as it is to believe that "karma" is some universal way to mete out "justice," (defined, of course, subjectively by whoever is seeking it), that's just human folly. I think "karma" is actually far beyond our rational minds to understand and certainly doesn't play by any black or white/tit-for-tat rules, if any rules we're capable of understanding at all. I strongly suspect the human mind is limited in some aspects of its capacity to percieve the natural order.

In any case, so, D. and I don't deserve a baby in a universal sense, I understand that too. But that moving billboard, following me around town, makes it very hard for me to give up the wish that it was that cut and dried. (It also makes it hard not to seethe with righteous anger at the gross manipulation of certain people's emotions -- namely, uh, mine.)

Instead, we have just today taken an inteventionary step. Rather than leaving it to my body to decide whether or not to have a baby, we're going to try telling it to. The Clomid I am starting as of today will cut off all my natural estrogen production for the next few days in order to "trick" my body into over-production, and thus, as a side effect: bing! ovum release. (Or ova, as the case may be.) Then we get D.'s swimmers (we've already established that they're strong and legion) together with my egg or eggs, and... well, we see what happens.

Okay, this may not be the most helpful way to think about it, I know. I'm conflicted, honestly, about the concept of intervening in this process, even with well known, well-established drugs, that have helped many of my friends have perfectly delightful children. It doesn't make all kinds of rational sense. I'm not sure it's even good to admit to --- I certainly have a few friends who would strongly criticize me for feeling conflicted. They'd say it might prevent me from getting pregnant, having my mind sending conflicting messages to my body/brain, or even if I do get pregnant, I might scar the fetus somehow into doubting whether I really wanted it. I am suspect to this kind of thinking because it prompts guilt, and it takes a lot of willpower for me to resist an opportunity to feel guilty. However, this is a little absurd even to me.

I'm conflicted for what I think are good reasons. I do very much long for children. But I have a great life. D. and I have a great life together. Kids will change that in ways we can't anticipate and I think it'd be just plain stupid not to feel trepdiatious about that. Also, there are so many children in the world who have been orphaned or abandoned. I'd love to have the experience of being pregnant, I really would. But if the idea is really to help raise a kid, and my body isn't the best baby-producer in the world, maybe it'd be good to give all this love and home to a kid who is already here and needing some help to turn a bad start around...

All that said, I really want to have a baby. That's really why I swallowed my first of five pills this morning. In my own fruity way I actually think my body had been trying, lately, to ovulate specifically in response to a whole-self desire to be a part of "the circle" in this fundamental way, and it needs a hand because all operations were shut down for so long (when I was married before). I don't really think of Clomid as forcing it to do something it is not willing/able to do on its own. I actually think of it as training wheels. But it's hard not to feel sub-female for needing them.


What I really need is a vacation. Which, oh, hey, is coming up right about NOW! Waaahooo!

See you in a couple of weeks! Hope they're good ones for all of you, and that especially pertains to anyone reading this sentence. :-)

Monday, August 02, 2004


I work for a small consultancy firm and I just turned in my July timesheet. Talking about facing the music. My billables for last month were painfully low during a crunch month. Another month like that and I will not just be facing my own music, but whatever tune my bosses "sing" in as well. A greater dilemma for me, however, is that by disguising how little work I actually have at a time when my colleagues (and friends) are putting in long real hours, I'm in effect stealing time from their families, friends and real lives by not helping to even the load throughout rather than using my hours at the office to write to you.

So, while the time posting here and visiting with you has been totally worth it for me, I just can't have another month like July in August. D. and I were already planning a two week vacation at the end of the month, during which I knew I was going to go dark... but I might be going dark (or at least much darker) until then as well. I'll still be checking in when I can, but if I appear to be absent, at least you'll know I didn't get hit by a bus (just in case, like me, you worry about such things).

It feels a little presumptuous to take the time to tell you all this. Why should I assume you would care? Who am I to you but some lit pixels on your computer monitor, really? However, since each of you, in your unique configurations of lit pixels, have also become like spider thread links to a wider world in which I take great hope and joy, friends and community of a sort that might not be able to bring over a baking dish of lasange when times get hard, but who nonetheless send words out into the world that land in my heart and change my perception of things --- I just thought I should at least tell you as much. I'll be missing you.

Cheers and Happy August. Phoebe