Last week I posted that every morning I wake up, look down, and see my that belly grew. Well, this week I wake up, look down, and see that my belly grew. Not only that, but every evening I look at my belly and notice that it got larger. I guess by the time I’ll get to the third trimester, my belly will grow by hour.
I don’t necessarily look pregnant right now; I just look bigger. But I’d rather look pregnant then big. I’m ready for the third trimester.
Now that the winter holidays are almost over, time has come to discuss solstice and people who celebrate it. My pre-motherhood bitchy self hates them. You know, the people who are oh-so-enlightened, they inform you that Christmas and Hanukkah are all about solstice, and because they are well informed and understand that and are all around wonderful individuals who are so much smarter and better then you, they celebrate solstice.
Guess what Geekorama, we all know that the holidays listed above happen when days are short and nights are long. For us it’s not about the amount of sunshine, it’s about culture, heritage, history, religion – all these things that make life worth living. Maccabees are cool and classic Christmas songs may fill your heart with joy.
But people who celebrate solstice (sorry, Solstice) are reduced to living in a deconstructed universe without lasting tradition or meaningful communal bonds. They are not smart, they are shallow and undereducated, just the kind of people our higher education is, sadly, designed to produce.
So two weeks ago I was at week 19, got my second ultrasound and started feeling the baby. It was all very exciting. Until I figured out that what I thought was the baby kicking is actually an artery pulsating at the uterus area.
I guess I’m insensitive.
Every day I wake up and look down at my belly, and every day it gets bigger. It’s a trip!
My new brother-in-law laughed and said, just wait till you are nine months pregnant; your belly will be half way to your knees.
My new sister-in-law said not to worry, once I start breastfeeding the weight will fall off. Every day I will wake up, look at myself and watch myself getting smaller.
Who’s worried? I know it’s not bloat and fat in my belly, it’s a baby.
My breasts are much larger now, by the way. I glanced at the mirror the other morning, I look like a lingerie model now — or at least several weeks ago I did; especially with my hair down and a little wavy. Speaking of which, for the past couple of months my hair refuses to fall off! It’s longer and thinker — thank you progesterone!
And about the weight gain — I stopped worrying about it when I read what it consists of. Most of it is the baby or baby-related. Nobody is supposed to gain more then ten pounds of fat, and apparently some esteemed medical professionals worry about young mothers loosing their pregnancy weight too fast thus not producing enough milk. Unfortunately though, not every mom loses weight while breastfeeding…
Before I got pregnant I thought that ultrasounds are most useful for determining the sex of the baby. When I had my first ultrasound at what now appears to be 10 weeks I was too queasy to ask the doctor, and she didn’t volunteer the sex information. She probably couldn’t tell. Nevertheless, witness the picture here:
The baby looked like a little ghost with little stabs for arms and legs; it was gray against black background, with little white heart beating fast. It was rolling around the womb back and forth, wanting to play, no doubt. I went out I bout some rattles. Actually I might have braved the morning sickness and bought some toys before this appointment.
So my second ultrasound was this Friday. This time I brought my husband along. We liked the receptionist. She was a big black woman in hip glasses. She approved of the Biblical names are considering for the baby, and said that the Modern Hebrew names are too Bay Area. Her own kids had Biblical names. She recommended requesting epidural as soon as I get to the hospital because it will take the medical staff some time to request a specialist. She said that the personnel is really kind, and that Kaiser recently added a new wing with birthing facilities, and that it’s super nice.
She had a boy and a girl, and was expecting boys twice. First came a boy and second – a surprise. Second time around her baby was sitting crossleged during the ultrasound, with the umbilical cord going between them, so the doctors had no clue. She was prepared for a boy, and had a name picked out for him – Zachariah. Then came a girl, and two days later came receptionist’s mother and aunt and named the girl Mariah.
Although the receptionist was fun, I am convinced that she jinxed us because the ultrasound guy was unable to determine the sex. Baby’s legs were too close to each other and it was turned a bit weird. Ultrasound guy asked me to lean to my right and sit up, and tried to go in that way, but it didn’t work. He said that because he didn’t see the testicles, it might be a girl, but he can’t tell for sure because there is no clear view. “I have a feeling it’s a girl”, he said “But what’s more important is whether the baby is healthy.” He couldn’t tell us if it’s healthy because of the legal ramifications, of course. He sent the pictures off to the doctor, and said that the doctor will call me soon. If she doesn’t call me Monday, it’s a good sign. If she calls me Monday, it simply might mean that she wants me to go back to get more shots – that’s it.
He did measure the baby and moved up my due day to May 9, which happened to coinside with the Russian Victory Day.
We took home a bunch of pictures. My baby is promising to be an intellectual. Witness the evidence:
That the Sixties, or the late Sixties which came to typify the decade in popular imagination, were about innocence, and that the hippies were about innocence, and that Woodstock was about innocence and that the innocence was lost in cataclysmic Stones concert at the Altamont Speedway one day in 1970 is one of the greatest frauds in recent American history. If we are to believe Michael Sragow, Greil Marcus and John Burks of Rolling Stone magazine concocted this image of the Altamont concert as apocalyptic end of the summer of love. Sure. And who in the world was invested in the whole idea of Summer of Love anyways?
I have to give a disclaimer here: I am so pro-knowledge, you can call me anti-innocence. And what is innocence anyways? Look at some dictionary definitions:
Throw out some legal connotations, and we get:
- Freedom from sin or moral wrong, particularly through lack of knowledge of evil;
- Simplicity; absence of guile or cunning; naiveté.
Freedom from sin or moral wrong doesn’t imply lack of capacity for moral wrong. Newborn babies are innocent, for instance. They innocently wake up their parents every other hour before their parents teach them. 60s innocence is of that kind; it’s simple and naïve and it doesn’t know right from wrong. Hippies are “flower” “children,” not adults (G-d forbid you trust anybody over 30) but children, uncorrupted and pure, blissfully unaware of any behavioral regulations prescribed by mature society. They do get preachy when it comes to an exercise of American power, but lets not get into that.
Not unlike other preachy individuals, hippies are often noted for hypocrisy. There is no question that evil of the violent kind existed in hippy circles. For instance, Charles Manson started out in Berkeley and then quickly moved his cult to Haight and Ashbury. Manson is a particularly egregious example, true, but ever wonder why he attached himself to the hippy movement? Vincent Buglioci suggests that Manson’s brainwashing technique was to strip young women of the deeply ingrained bourgeois inhibitions surrounding sexual behavior. While stripping these inhibitions he undid their moral foundations enabling these women to commit ultimate transgressions – murder.
On a lighter note, what does one expect from a culture pathologically infused with hard drags if not violent dealers and behavioral disturbances? Consider the following Hunter S. Thompson quote:”The language was Love,” writes Hunter S. Thompson, “but the style was paranoia.”
Innocence is capable of evil. In Gimme Shelter faux innocence is also gross. Consider the case of a couple lying on the ground, making out in front of everyone, while the guy is holding his large dog on the leash. Hmmm… if he is aware enough to not let your dog run away, he should also know enough to get a room.
When a twenty-year-old kid feigns innocence a large amount of intoxicant is a mast. Why? Because a twenty-year-old knows right from wrong. Very telling is the footage of a guy first rolling on the ground laughing like a madman and then peered his vacant eyes at strangers and at the camera. Then there is the case of an intoxicated naked girl thrown from side to side by the dancing crowd. Their exercises in free spirit are contingent on drugs. Did these individuals realize their little stunts in front of the camera are going to be the most memorable trace they left on this Earth? Are they now ashamed? Or did they age as hippies, becoming uglier and creepier with each passing day?
There is a place for giant egos, to be sure. A young man walked up to the stage reporting that his first child was born right there, a short while ago, expecting that this fact to be announced to the whole crowd. Apart from the fact that chaotic, unsanitary event safely removed from a hospital is just the place to have a baby, what is this young father doing running away from his girlfriend and his newborn and demanding his 15 minutes?
Another casualty of the Altamount is the notion that Jagger is a god. To be sure, he was head of his time with his little gay dance and his rhythmic catchy tunes. When built up by the media, Jagger looks fine, but in Gimmi Shelter he comes off as a pathetic elf exerting no control over the crowd. As the Angels were beating up and stabbing people, he was reduced to pleas to “be cool”. And what could he do, really? If he were to stop the show, audience would riot. Who is in control? No one, really. Supposed security guards, the Angels couldn’t keep the crowd from creeping in to the stage or climbing their bikes. Nobody had an ability to stop the violence. It’s anarchy pure and simple.
A viewer learns to appreciate the kind of effort and forethought that goes into production of a safe large-scale rock concert.
So, yes, one great myth of the 60s is innocence. Another – that the Altamont Speedway was the end of the Sixties. The image of Grace Slick pleading the Angels to stop banging her friend, a band mate Marty Balin on his head comes to mind. Marty, by the way, might be the only known hero of the Altamont fiasco. When the Angels started beating up people with pool cues, he rushed to stop them. Grace’s attempt to ration is chillingly relativist: We are all guilty one way or another; so lets just stop. The rhetoric of the so-called Summer of Love is still with us.
Recommended reviews and miscellaneous articles:
I have a co-worker who’s Italian maternal grandparents came to the United States during the Great Migration. Her dad’s family is Irish, and her Anglo-Saxon last name has a nice laconic ring to it. She is blond. Her boyfriend is half-Philippino/half-Swedish.
So what do they consider themselves? Latin. My co-worker was a member of Mexican groups on campus; she often wears Mexican peasant blouses and Day of the Dead purses. She visited Mexico numerous times, marches in illegal immigrant demonstrations and even claims to speak English with Spanish accent. I didn’t catch her alleged accent, but, she says, she grew up around Mexicans, so that’s where she picked it up. She grew up in San Francisco, which, she says, only shows that everyone has an accent.*
This little anecdote should give a pose those of us who still believe that becoming an American is something that naturally happens to those coming into this country because our culture naturally draws immigrants in. Really, why wouldn’t everyone want to be an American?
May be because we are too busy explaining immigrants and citizens alike that other cultures are so much more interesting, that there is no such thing as American culture, and that American culture is so vanilla anyway.
High intermarriage rates of Mexicans in this country are often believed to be the proof of assimilationist tendencies in the community. But such rates only signal assimilation if, as was the case with Italians or Poles in the early 20th century, the offsprings produced in such unions consider themselves Americans especially un-hyphenated Americans.
What this all tells me is that our country needs a program for an American identity before it’s too late.
*If everyone has an accent, what is a meaning of having an accent?
I am now gaining weight, and, considering that this is my 2nd trimester, a disproportionately large part of it went straight into my boobs. Thanksgiving weekend I already caught myself bending over forward, from waist up. I had to readjust myself. A couple of days ago I had to do it again.
Earlier this week I was exiting the underground BART station. My bladder felt a bit full, so I was hurried. I was claiming the stairs, leaning forward. When I finished claiming I gathered enough momentum to pull me forward. I tried to balance; I waived my arms in the air; I did it again and again. Then I realized that no matter what I do, I am going to fall, and that it’s only the matter of how I’m going to fall. I chose to land on my hands and knees. I was quite a spectacle, I suppose, because I gathered a crowd of about a half a dozen people around me.
They were all asking if I’m OK. I said that yes, I am OK, but, given that I’m pregnant, I don’t know what is going to happen now. Really, is my uterus going to turn into a bloody mess? Is my baby going to go into shock? Is he going to be born prematurely? Is he going to be deformed? A very nice old matron reassured me: “You won’t believe how tough they are”. She said she fell off entire hill when she was pregnant, and her baby was just fine.
Then I thought about my mother who fell on her stomach when she was nine months pregnant with me. Some of you, dear readers, may argue that this detail may explain certain things…
…My mother fell while being pregnant in Ukraine. There is a law in Ukraine that all sidewalks must be slippery at all times. The law has nothing to do with Communism and everything to do with Ukraine. My mother went back early this year. Apparently some people in my native city of Kharkov have some money to throw around, and some of this money went into maintenance and beautification of the city. They now put marble on the floors of the stores and marble on the sidewalks, which made walking twice as dangerous as it was in the Soviet days. My mother almost fell, but Ukrainian ladies age 14 through 65 walk in their stiletto boots on slippery sidewalks and appear to be OK. These Ukrainian ladies in their fancy boots are quite a site because all the streets in the city are not only slippery, but untidy as well. There is another law in Ukraine that mandates that snow is not to be removed from the streets at any times. Because Ukrainian winters are mild, the snow inevitably thaws about an hour after it falls. Ukrainian shopkeepers and restaurateurs are not into cleaning their property too often. So the ladies walk around ankle high in dirt.
Anyhow, my mother didn’t fall because she was unable to balance; I did. The fact that I’m only at week 17 was a bit too freakish to handle. Matrons at work reassured me that when I will continue putting on weight, the weight will go in my midsection, restoring the balance. Nevertheless I felt compelled to act. I unearthed flat boots, and I went to a yoga class the next day. It helped. I have a wider base now and I can straighten my spine better and balance easier.
Unfortunately this is not a victory story. I got bruises on my hands, and the skin on my right knee came off. My wounds are healing superslow, no doubt due to some sort of pregnancy-related shift in healing powers.
Found, via LGF, is one Evil Zionist Death Queen. I maintain, however, that I can do an Evil Zionist Queen of Death better. And, having been called Zionist bitch before, I believe, I’m qualified. I was the Evil Queen in Snow White in a Junior High production. Perhaps I can settle for Zionist Queen Bitch.
Occasionally US Citizenship and Immigration Services, or INS as it was known for decades, comes up with good ideas. Earlier this week I was very pleasantly surprised with the new pilot citizenship test. On March 13, 2003 Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, as it was then known, announced that in is developing a new test to be revealed in 2004. And – voila – late 2006 the pilot program arrives!
My job has something to do with immigration, and for years I heard rumors that the new test will be multiple choice. I thought to myself, I admit, that Immigration is just the kind of service that would dumb down an already lightweight exam.
The test currently in use is a bit quaint. It survived in its original form since the early 20th century. Citizenship applicants are given a list of 100 questions to study. During the exam they are given 10 questions of the list. Seven questions must be answered correctly in order to pass. The questions, all 2nd grade level, included such jams as “Who wrote the Star-Spangled Banner?” “What is the 4th of July?” and “What color are the stars on our flag?” Interested individuals can look up the whole test here.
Don’t waste your time, though, these questions are an embarrassment. They are embarrassment to the country that sets its membership bar so low, that the new participants in its democracy are not expected to understand the rationale for how its political system was constructed and came how it into being, let alone value its virtues. As if we ourselves don’t value our freedom. The test is also an embarrassment to intelligent and proud immigrants who would like to show off the knowledge and prove their worth to their new homeland.
I applied for my citizenship when I was a university student, in my early 20s. Actually, it’s more like my parents applied me. I was much more concerned with impressing professors and impressing boys, not necessarily in that order. In fact, I loved to turn my immigration status into a conversation piece. “Do you want to see my pink card?” (Green cards are pink nowadays). “I am an alien, do you want to see my registration card?” (They were called “Alien Registration Cards” at the time; now a more politically correct term “Permanent Resident Registration Card” prevailed). “I am not a citizen of any country!” (Soviet Union took away my citizenship when I left in late 1989).
My parents thought of me as a big disgrace. And so, one day I found myself taking of from college for a couple of days, boarding a Greyhound bus and going to Sacramento, CA where my parent live, and where I submitted my application. I read the questions on the bus, and had no problem memorizing the answers. When I shared the questions with my dorm buddies, they remarked that many Americans don’t know the answers to some of the questions. As it happens, many immigrants love to forget them right after passing the test.
The new pilot test, on the other hand, is more in line with what a high school student would learn in his or her Government class. It’s more comprehensive and requires the understanding of basic principles of American democracy, American values and American history. Some examples include:
1. Name one important idea found in the Declaration of Independence.
A: People are born with natural rights.
A: The power of government comes from the people.
A: The people can change their government if it hurts their natural rights.
A: All people are created equal.
30. Name one example of checks and balances.
A: The President vetoes a bill.
A: Congress can confirm or not confirm a President’s nomination.
A: Congress approves the President’s budget.
A: The Supreme Court strikes down a law.
54. What is one thing only a state government can do?
A: Provide schooling and education
A: Provide protection (police)
A: Provide safety (fire departments)
A: Give a driver’s license
A: Approve zoning and land use
72. Who governs the people in a self-governed country?
A: The people govern themselves.
A: The government elected by the people.
Whereas the current test leaves one with a vague impression that the Civil War was all about slavery, the new proposed exam doesn’t leave a historian rolling his eyes:
109. Name one problem that led to the Civil War.
A: Economic reasons
A: States’ rights
One of the questions actually explores the significance of the Oath of Allegiance:
80. Name one promise you make when you say the Oath of Allegiance.
A: To give up loyalty to other countries (I give up loyalty to my [old][first][other] country.)
A: To defend the Constitution and laws of the United States
A: To obey the laws of the United States
A: To serve in the United States military if needed (To fight for the United States [if needed].)
A: To serve the nation if needed (To do important work for the United States [if needed].)
A: To be loyal to the United States
Some immigrants, especially the ones who come from places ripe with corruption, places where promises are broken and words are meaningless think of the oath as decor. My only grudge is with the question about the freedom of religion.
11. What does freedom of religion mean?
A: You can practice any religion you want, or not practice at all.
Whether or not the freedom of religion includes a freedom from religion is a contagious issue for many Americans. Many argue that our Founding Fathers envisioned freedom of religion as freedom for religion, see here, for instance. It would serve the Immigration well to steer clear of controversy. Instead, they should write the test in a way acceptable to the American mainstream. Perhaps or not practice at all will not make it into the final version of the exam.
One segment of citizenship applicants that is likely to lose out if the new test is implemented is the elderly who already struggle to learn English language. A new test that requires mastery of new concepts might set them back further. Nevertheless, it seems like an applicant will have to give only one acceptable answer from the comprehensive list, which is still pretty easy. Moreover, some of the new questions are actually simpler then the original version. Consider the current question where the applicant is asked to define:
19. What is the Constitution?
The supreme law of the land
And the new where one merely matches the definition to the concept:
2. What is the supreme law of the land?
A: The Constitution
Even when though the test may present a new challenge to the senior immigrants, the benefits of the new examination are much weightier. New citizens will be more in touch with political culture of our society and place more value in their American citizenship. Hopefully our country will find itself on the way to a new confidence and pride in our culture and our achievement. And a new unity. A girl can dream, can’t she?