black/white. either/or. one/the other. your side/mine.

The last thing the internet needs right now is another think piece about abortion. This isn’t one. This is just my little 1,400-word opinion, but I feel compelled to share it. I honestly sat down to scribble a few thoughts for myself, but then this all just happened. Some things I’m itching to say, I guess. Enough to drag me out of a long blog hibernation. There’s so much shouting going on right now. It’d be nice to talk.

Separately, this will be its own long story: I’ve spent the weekend cleaning my house (“tidying”) using the KonMari method from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. One remnant of the past, hidden in a desk drawer, was a stack of index cards from my senior research paper in high school. About stem cell research. (Very 2002.)

I tossed them in the recycle bin, but not before quickly flipping through. Couple of thoughts: 1) I was such a smarty pants and so thorough. Meticulously transcribing MLA sources by hand, and noting I’d met the limit of “2 internet sources,” funny. 2) It’s interesting to see my current beliefs at their very earliest stages. While the paper was mostly about stem cell research and its promising potential in medical research (pushes up 18-year-old glasses), there were some connections to abortion. Because embryos. And science.

So here we are, today. Another awful news story about another terrible situation to remind us that the world is ultimately cold and cruel. (Think of the lions and poor zebras, even. It’s rough out there.) It is sad. Another sad gun story in America. (BUT THAT’S ANOTHER STORY!) On to my story:

The now-infamous Planned Parenthood Videos, which most likely inspired the Colorado Springs gunman to some degree, also inspired a local protest in August by our dear City Councilman Justin Burnett at the Springfield Planned Parenthood. (Which, of course, doesn’t provide abortion services. Nor does any other anyplace in the state of Missouri, save the one (1) in St. Louis.) When I heard there was a Stand with Planned Parenthood event to counter, I decided to put my hashtag activism to action and actually show up.

So I went. Early on a Saturday morning. Joined others in pink t-shirts and we held our “Stand with Planned Parenthood” and “Healthcare Happens Here” signs. We stood in the clinic parking lot, while the protest group set up across Battlefield (appropriate street name, if there ever was one), and some right near us on our side of the street, also holding signs. Most were silent, many probably praying, and surely well-meaning people, albeit misinformed.

But a few were outspoken. Sarcastic. Arrogant. Holding hand-painted poster boards with such winning slogans as, “Hearts lungs and livers? P.P. Delivers.”

I’ll admit some of the PP chants were obnoxious in their own right. Like flippant little Baby-Killer Cheers, if one chose to look at it that way.
– They say No Choice. We say Pro Choice!
– 5, 6, 7, 8 — Separate the church and state!

Oy. As a professional writer of ad copy, I’d caution that using rhyme in headlines is a dangerous game. I came up with a few alternatives, to entertain myself:
– These are complicated issues. Why you focusing on tissues?
– We have heads and we have hearts! We do not sell baby parts!
– Abstinence-only education / only leads to procreation.

(Man. Those are good.)

One of the Pro-Lifer women (who was there with her husband and children. A few whole families were there—good luck with those therapy bills in 20 years, kids!) was shouting things at no one in particular, at all of us, the whole time. Nothing too provocative, but still totally shitty. Verbally subtweeting. Her entire demeanor screamed for a good face-punch. (There’s a reason they make us sign a form promising not to interact with protestors…)

A few times, different people in our group outside the clinic took the (portable, shoulder-carried) microphone to motivate the crowd and speak-to-but-not-speak-to the people on the other side.

Partly because I just felt compelled to, but also because that lady’s shit-house attitude was pushing my buttons, I decided to step up to the mic as well. I tried to be a little peace-maker, build a tiny bridge between their side and mine. I said something along the lines of, “When I was a kid, I joined with my church at Pro Life rallies like this. And now that I’m standing here, I know it’s easy to vilify the other side. But we both want quality lives for all and we want healthcare for all.”

(Something like that. Like Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail: I was eloquent! Shit!) I’m sure I didn’t change any minds. But it helped me feel better, to reaffirm to myself out loud how I feel. And why I was there.

In retrospect, I kinda wish I would’ve finished with direct eye contact, a slow finger point and, “You don’t know my story, biiiiitch.” Mic drop.

Missed opportunity.

I was thinking today about misconceptions about Pro Choice people. And I’m sure that goes both ways. See, too many extreme believers in anything see things as black/white, either/or. One/the other. Your side/mine. Pro Life/Pro Choice. (Implying, or sometimes outright saying, that we are “pro murder” or “pro death.”)

Of course we’re not.

We look at a very complicated issue and see it differently. Pro Life folks think every fertilized zygote has a soul and God’s special twinkle in their developing tissue. (*Zygotes don’t have eyes.) Pro Choice folks (and the majority of scientists, physicians—people much better informed than I am) don’t ascribe to that notion.

I’m so sick of hearing about “baby parts” being “sold” by the big, bad evil scientists of Planned Parenthood. Besides all the ways that’s totally untrue, it’s so not even the point.

I’m reluctant to post much about PP on social media. Couple reasons: 1) I don’t like Facebook conflict. 2) My parents. But today, a tweet by Andy Richter resonated enough to get an RT:

To call fetal tissue “baby parts” shows a childish ignorance about medical research. Imagine a Dr. calling muscle tissue “people meat”…

(Stay out of the @replies if you, too, have internet-conflict-induced PTSD.)

Maybe the very complicated issue is that simple: You see it that way. We don’t. Maybe there is no middle ground, and there’s no coming to a compromise. Maybe it’s Dr. Seuss’ Bitter Butter Battle. Maybe we’ll all blow each other to Sala-ma-goo before we ease up a little and try to find a better way.

After the shooting, I saw another tweet (why do I go down these rabbit holes? why?) from some dude (always the foremost authorities on any subject: Some Dudes) about Planned Parenthood, saying something like:

“1 person shot in Colorado. 6,000 babies murdered a day.”

That makes my head hurt for numerous reasons…but first, it’s not even accurate. CDC’s reporting from 2011 was literally 1/3 of that total number. (and some will still say that’s too many…and I wouldn’t disagree. So many potential tangents here: access to healthcare and birth control…Abstinence-Only sex education…complicated.)

But still. His point. And mine.

Goes without saying (I hope.): Abortion isn’t a convenient “oops, whatever” plan B birth control option. (I have to imagine very few women see it that way, btw.) What it is, is a personal and complicated and I have to believe difficult…can I say personal one more time? And not political? But personal?…decision.

But beyond the personal results or repercussions: I also wonder about the systemic side effects. And the quality of life for an unwanted child. That’s what I want to ask @ClosedMindedAsshole69 (not his handle. but like, same same?). Who’s going to take care of those babies? Are you, @ClosedMindedAsshole69? Do you have 5,999 friends ready to take in unwanted babies? Or I guess foster care? Welfare? A family situation with a high likelihood of child abuse and/or poverty? (Startlingly high incidence in Springfield, Mo, in particular.)

Is that the better way?

(Of course there are miracle stories in which it does work out that way. But “6,000 times” a day?)

Back to the PP rally. There was one chant I could get behind, 100%:

Every Child A Wanted Child.
Every Child A Wanted Child.
Every Child A Wanted Child.

I think that speaks most closely to my heart. Babies deserve to be wanted, loved, cared for (and eventually ruined in some way or another by their well-meaning parents, followed by years of therapy…You know, family!).

It’s just not as simple as some people are making it out to be. I shouldn’t assume Pro Life people are all closed-minded assholes. No more than they should assume that Pro Choice people are all slutty baby killers. (Though that’d make an excellent ironic punk band name.)

I don’t know how to end this. Thanks for reading, if you did. Back to cleaning my house. It feels good to let some things go.

stand-with-pp

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X marks the spot. Y? It’s Z end!!

Readers!! Look over there…do you see that? It’s December! Who put that there?
Doesn’t it seem like only yesterday we were talking about October being…only yesterday?

See how profound I am? I have discovered that time passes.
Somebody tell those MacArthur people.

Well…I’m totally cheating to finish on time. Is anyone surprised?
I am surprised, pleasantly, that I’m not cramming half the alphabet into November 30’s post. Three feels manageable.

So here’s how this is going down:

Nothing starts with “X.” Don’t talk to me, Xylophone. You are already featured on a flashcard set in every preschool classroom in America. (And don’t give me grief about X-Box or Xerox or any of the many dozens of words that do, okay fine, begin with X. I’ll have none of it.) I’m X-ing out “X.”

Exhibit X

(But, seriously, thanx for marking the spot.)

I can handle Y & Z.

See, I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t find a way to wrap up with a music video. And since it turns out that both “Y” and “Z” are in Boyz II Men, I feel totally comfortable with this selection.

I mean it, too. We belong together, readers.

It’s been a fun little experiment. (Damn you, X! there you are again!)
Thanks for playing, and you can alpha-bet we’ll try another group challenge sometime soon. (Oh, I made that joke.)

*Bonus Feature*

(aren’t you glad you stuck around until the end?!)

For December, I’m giving myself a twitter challenge to post a favorite Decemberists lyric every day. #DecemberistsDecember takes me down 21 characters…but that’s the idea for now anyway. Tune in.

I’m eXcited.

Don’t Get Me Wrong

Today I received a blog assignment via text message. What a treat! Feel free to do likewise, readers. Turns out I respond well to assignments, and I guess I always have…at least as a student. In “The Office” terms, school-me was part Angela, part Jim…a little up-tight, a lot cat-loving, but a smirky, in-on-the-joke likable guy underneath it all. (Girl. You know what I mean.)

Idea for a blog post from you and your wonderfully English and grammar-minded brain: overuse of the phrase “don’t get me wrong” why is its use so prevalent? Does it come from lack of confidence in one’s writing abilities?? etc… I expect you to use your clever wit while exploring this, if you so choose to explore it. :)

Well, tell a girl she’s got clever wit and she’ll choose to explore anything you want.*

Off the topsies, this phrase makes me think of ^ that 80s Pretenders song ^ featured as background music in Bridget Jones’ Diary — when Bridge is being all office-sexy with vile Daniel Cleaver, “suggest management sick, not skirt.” Ugh! So good.

But I have a feeling my friend finds no qualms with pop culture references and instead has problems with the everyday conversational usage of “Don’t Get Me Wrong.”

I have to admit, I don’t think this phrase is so overused in my social circle, or if it is, I just don’t notice it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard it before. (JK! LOL!)

He speculates it has something to do with lack of confidence…and I think he’s onto something. I wonder if this phrase is used more often by men or women…
If it has something to do with a motivation to avoid conflict or foster community, my guess would be women. Because in general we ladies use conversation to connect, and we also tend to have less confidence re: our opinions. In general.
(In general.)

Hold on, though, for a tangent that will hopefully make itself relevant:

During my drive home from Chicago, I listened to Conan O’Brien on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast, which stands for what you think it stands for, and gives cool insight into the lives & minds of working comedians. (Celebrities! They’re just like us!!)
Conan talked a bit — as he did on his final NBC show — about the popular tendency toward cynicism, especially on social media. There’s a whole lot of self-protection against sincerity, it seems, in my generation. We protect ourselves from the risk of caring about something by either LOVING or HATING it. Not truly loving, even, “obsessing” maybe? Everything is the BEST or the WORST, but rarely a little of both, or a little “maybe I’m not sure about that yet.”

I’ve seen some pleas for ambiguity or nuance on Facebook in the wake of Sunday night’s news…it’s like 140-character conversations force us into black-and-white, when we all know the world is much more colorful than that.

So, to get back to the original question, I guess “DGMW” doesn’t bother me all that much, because I don’t mind the humility it implies. A little “no, after you.” A little “I may not be entirely sure how I feel about this, and I don’t want you to feel excluded when I say it.”

Now, say it too much and, don’t get me wrong, I’ll slap a bitch. People who use phrases too much are the WORST and I HATE them.**

*some restrictions apply.
**(JK! LOL!)