Career Day – I wanted to be an eagle

I think the tinman and lion in the wizard of oz is a great career choice

I think the Tinman and lion in the wizard of oz is a great career choice

My kids had career day at school yesterday. You remember career day – the kids are supposed to dress up in the outfits of their chosen profession. Over the years, I have seen many doctors, veterinarians, artists, rock stars, baseball players, comic book artists, school-teachers and fashion designers. Today, I was thinking how this is such a relic of a bygone era – when people graduated from college and actually got gainfully employed and stayed in their chosen “careers,” because careers has a real long term connotation. But today, most work is precarious and temporary. And you can hardly call work in the fastest growing sectors – retail or food service – “career” worthy.

The other thing that gives me pause about career day is that it is supposed to be the answer to the age old question, “what will you be when you grow up.” I feel like this simple question has haunted me almost my entire life. What will I BE? As if there is one answer to that question.  When I as 5, I used to think an eagle was a viable option or a monkey, but soon the prejudices of the world made me focus on “real” options and money making ventures.

The pressure of that question makes most of us chase ourselves around in circles. We struggle with BEING, with BECOMING, with striving to some place, where we can define ourselves. And worst yet, we define ourselves with our wage labor. As if there is no other labor out there except what someone decides to pay us for.

Just the other night, I literally was lying in bed and thinking again, what do I want to be? Do I want to be an attorney? Do I want to be a union educator, do I want to be….. I was chasing my tail, my monkey brain was in full swing, my inner committee was is full, riotous form, when suddenly, I heard a another voice say, “Wait, I don’t need to BE or BECOME, I ALREADY AM”. I AM, I just am, no need to be anything.

Whew, I thought, I can just relax then.

So for the kids “career day” we encouraged them to be nothing. After all, they already are something, no need to aspire for anything more.

It goes beyond teaching our sons not to rape…..

It’s more thateachmennottorapen teaching men/boys not to rape. We need to teach our boys not to hate women and all things feminine. I have noticed, as a mom of twins – a boy and a girl – that boys are taught at a very young age to disdain girls, to disdain anything remotely feminine. I have heard boys as young as 4 declare – “I hate girl things, girls can’t do that, I only want to play with boys.” When my son says that – I remind him that I am a woman too and he loves and needs me, I remind him that his very smart teacher is a woman, and his cool cousin is young woman, and so he absolutely must show respect for femaleness.

What do other parents who are raising young boys say/do?

I have noticed that other mothers seem to accept their son’s disdain of all things feminine. As a mom, once said to me, my son hates all “girly” things, with no sense of being disturbed. Maybe it is because that mom things that her son just hates pink and princess things and maybe she is unconsciously, relieved because her son is fitting into a gender norm by his declaration. But I think that when a boy declares a hatred of “girly things” he is also aligning himself against women, against the feminine. And just to be clear – by feminine, I don’t mean just what commercial America says is feminine – pink and princesses, because young children aren’t so nuanced to see that girls and the feminine are more than pink – they learn to hate all things associated with girls.

 Boys do this because it is the “cool” thing to do; they get lots of signals from our culture that the feminine is frivolous, silly and something to distance themselves from. They form their identities as boys in opposition to girls and women. All of us in our childrens’ lives have a responsibility to actively find ways to discuss misogyny in our culture so that we don’t perpetuate and recreate the rape culture that we were brought up in. If we don’t talk about socially constructed gender roles, then they never acquire the vocabulary of why they feel the need to surround themselves with a force field of false “maleness.” We miss a real chance to help our boys become better/kinder humans for the world and for themselves. They just learn the need to prove that they are “real boys” and they do it through hating of women. They learn girls and women, are objects to be acted on, rather than as allies in our joined humanity.

So it goes beyond teaching our boys not to rape. As this awesome blog says (http://bellejarblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/i-am-not-your-wife-sister-or-daughter/) It’s about teaching them that women are people. And NO person should be raped. We need to give our sons the responsibility and the challenge to join us in our share humanity to struggle against misogyny. Their own world, their vision will also be transformed so that they can define themselves not in narrow terms of some “macho” sense of maleness but a vastly expanded vision where all of our aspects of our humanity can thrive and flourish.

Post Surgery Blogging & rogue cells

downtonI am so behind in blogging, I don’t even know where to start! But I have decided to just take a leap and begin again. That being said, my hiatus was because I recently had surgery and so the only thing on my mind was surgery and I didn’t know how much I wanted to share about it, but I literally couldn’t write about anything else. So this is going to be a heavy post, but so many women don’t know about the medical condition I have, but may have it, that I feel like I have to post about it.

 So here I am, post-surgery and in recovery. I still have some pain and discomfort, especially around my incisions, but otherwise I seem to be getting back some energy and coming out of my Percocet induced fog.

So why surgery? I have rogue cells that have decided to leave my uterine lining where they belong and travel throughout my pelvic area and attach themselves wherever they like.

It’s called endometriosis, in the community of endo sufferers; we use “endo” as a kind of re-branding, to sound cooler (yeah, right).  Most people don’t know what endo is. Endo is a chronic condition where the endometrium lining that normally forms in a woman’s uterus, grows outside the uterus. When this tissue grows where it is not supposed to (rogue tissue, if you will) it become abnormal tissue and causes a cascading of devastating effects on the body. The tissue responds to hormones and causes increased hormone production. Every month it tries to “shed” like endometrium lining in the uterus, but of course, there is no way for the blood to leave, so it scars instead or forms stagnant, blood filled cysts. It can grow along the pelvic floor, the bladder, the uterus, the fallopian tubes, the ovaries.

In my case, my ovary was attached to my uterus by endo, scar tissue. All of this creates a permanent, inflammatory, pain filled state. It can also cause infertility or sub-infertility.

What causes endo? There is no clear cut answer – but there is a clear link between exposure to the industrial pollutant dioxin. In a study with rhesus monkey’s who were exposed to high levels of dioxins, they all developed endometriosis afterwards. (poor monkeys) It’s estimated that 10% of women have endo. I        would bet there is more, because we are taught to just live with chronic pelvic pain, no doctor even mentioned endo to me until I couldn’t get pregnant! Now there are surgeons who make their living doing surgery to remove endo growth, but very little research on what causes it, even though we know that it is linked to environmental degradation! In my case, I have to wonder if the fact that my mother grew up on the banks of the most polluted river in Asia – the Pasig river, has anything to do with my endo.

After years of trying to avoid another surgery, I decided to have surgery to have my endo removed because there were times that the pain had become scary – when it hit suddenly and I had to just lay down on the floor or the shower or wherever I stood until it passed. The surgeon found so much endo all over my pelvic region that he said I found endo everywhere I looked! I discovered we women have several areas in our pelvic areas that I never knew about – like “cul-deimages-sacs”, and the “Douglas pouch”, and the Vesicouterine pouch, and the Cubby Hole (actually we don’t have that – that’s a cool lesbian bar). (Here is a helpful diagram!) Anyway, all these places had endo (and more) so I am glad to get it OUT! Now I am looking forward to some pain free months ahead, I hope! Fingers crossed!

There is so much more to be said about living with chronic pain, environmental degradation, and the medical industrial system, but this post already seems too heavy for me. So let’s just say that I am recovering and I couldn’t have done it without my amazing network and support system and so I feel so lucky for that. In particular, thanks to dear friends who helped me navigate a less than empathetic surgeon, a wonderful acupuncturist who has been a true healer to me for years, and wonderful members of my barangay who cooked meals for me, kept the house from dissolving into true chaos and parented our children while I watched Downton Abbey.