Boxes

April 7, 2014

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Computers are boxes that hold information. They are solid, finite. Computers rely on an algorithm of complete ideas. Computers categorize our lives, our files, our ideas.

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Humans are not boxes. We are fluid forms, soft, curvy. Our ideas are amorphous and infinite. I worry that the coming generations are going to be trapped in these boxes, these categories.

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I am a woman. I am in my forties. I am married. I am a mother. I am college educated.

These are categories in which I fit but this is not all of me.

I think of the challenges of checking off answers. The other day I called the United States Post Office. I needed to find out where a package was that my oldest daughter accidentally had shipped to our home address instead of her dorm. I needed to know if I could pick up her package even though it was not in my name.

There was a recording asking me various questions including the tracking number. This number was illegible as I imagine author of said numbers was in the habit of checking off boxes and not actually used to writing. The tracking number option was not an option. In fact, none of the boxes the recorded voice wanted me to choose was of any help to my situation so I said “Operator.”

She responded in confusion. So I said “customer service.”

She still wanted me to choose: send a package or repeat previous options.

I then said “Human.”

Her reply: I am sorry, I do not understand, do you want me . . .”

“FUCKING HUMAN!!” I screamed in to my phone. She didn’t flinch. I hung up.

Another recent situation with computer options was a package ordered form Target. My eight-year-old son has a new position: General of the Spy Club in his third grade class. For this position he needs to wear a jacket and tie. My husband ordered a crisp white shirt and sharp navy jacket. It was supposed to be delivered on Wednesday the 26th. On Thursday the 27th I tracked the package from an email with all of the ordering details. I tracked the package through UPS. They handed it off the USPS. On Friday March 28 I called and checked and tracked. According to USPS it was on time for delivery on Wednesday the 26th – remember I am calling on Friday the 28th. I placed several calls. The only human I talked with was from Target and every word uttered was from a script which I imagine had little check marks for each situation.

“I am sorry you feel this way. Your package is scheduled for delivery on Wednesday the 26th.”

“Do you know what today is? It is the 28th.”

There was not a way for anyone to help me because computers do not have arms, eyes or hearts. They cannot call and speak to UPS or the USPS and ask where my son’s General suit is.

My worst box checking experience was when I was sitting in the pre-op for a D & C at St. Vincent’s Hospital. I had been 17 weeks pregnant and a Doppler could not pick up my baby’s heartbeat so I went for a sonogram. The baby inside me had died. My body still felt pregnant and I did not physically miscarry. We decided on a D & C.

The Physicians Assistant asked me a series of questions before the procedure. Then this one:

“Are you pregnant?”

“Do you know why I am here?”

“I just need to know if you are pregnant.”

“I don’t know,” my eyes filled with tears for the thirtieth time that day. I didn’t think I could produce another drop.

“I need to check off a box.”

“How about: yes, I am pregnant, with a dead baby? Do you have a box for that?”

When people are trained to check off boxes they should get sensitivity training. There should always be an “other” box with a line for explanation. And that line should be endless.

I worry about so many new mothers these days. It must be so hard to be instinctive. They are encouraged to follow a set of rules that they can track. They have apps for everything: feeding, diapers, pee and poo.

When I had my babies and I was nursing them in the early days I was trying to keep my breasts balanced. When it was time to nurse I would gently squeeze my breasts to see which felt fuller so I could start with that breast. Ask many moms today and she may say, “hold on, let me look, I have it on an app.”

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Technology has a its place but not at the price of humanity. We are culturing the instincts out of ourselves. New mothers are following all these concepts:

Are you any of the following?

  • Attachment Parenting
  • Co-sleeping
  • Ferber
  • Sleep training
  • Home birth
  • Planned Caesarean
  • Home school
  • Public school
  • Private school
  • Breastfeed
  • Bottle feed
  • Homemade food
  • Prepackaged food
  • Baby led weaning
  • Blonde
  • Brunette
  • Bald
  • Young
  • Old
  • Friendly
  • Shy
  • Silly
  • Frustrated

It is my hope that we can learn to live in harmony with computers, that we not let them do our thinking.

Step outside of the box. Look into someone’s eyes. Think for yourself.

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Why I Hate Cigarettes

March 29, 2014

I could start out and say I hate cigarettes because they killed my mother but that might seem melodramatic and it is not the original source of my loathing those nasty sticks.

Mama and Daddy both smoked, Mama smoked Winston’s and Daddy smoked Salem’s. I always thought that was cool because about two and half hours northwest of home was the town Winston-Salem. They smoked all the time and everywhere. I used to complain to Mama that her cigarette smoke was bothering me. The ghostly trail seemed to find me.

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“Yuck,” I would say as I waved my hand and broke up the fine white lines.

“Smoke follows beauty,” was always her reply.

I have images of her steering the wheel of her Cadillac with a cigarette balanced between her long index and middle fingers. I could smell the smoke mixed with her thermos of coffee and a waft of Adorn hairspray. Mama never went anywhere without her hair just right. And there was the faint scent of Chanel No. 5. None of it was as powerful as her Winston’s.

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She would occasionally send me to Little Giant, the convenience store on Hope Mills Road to buy her a pack. She would call up ahead and let the cashier know it was fine to sell her ten-year-old daughter the cellophane wrapped box. They were about fifty cents a pack. This was North Carolina in the 1970’s.

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My high school had a smoking area. I hung out on the periphery. All of my friends smoked but I hated it. (Full disclosure: I puffed a few times because I wanted to blow smoke rings – I actually did! Once!)

Freshman year of college my favorite class was Acting. I loved it! It was the class I lived for. No partying the night before. One particular night, all of the theatre students gathered in a spacious apartment in one of the Victorian houses off Tate Street. Everyone was smoking and drinking. Smoking weed, smoking Camels. I inhaled and got that nicotine high and I felt good. My hair, my clothes reeked of ashtray but I fit in with the actors.

In the morning as we sat on the wooden floor in a circle wearing tights, leg warmers and sweat pants, stretching and vocalizing my chest ached deep inside. I felt black in my lungs. My breath was shallow. I was sad. That was my last cigarette.

Jump ahead three years later. I was a senior. I had a job at the Fifth Season – a nightclub at the Greensboro Four Seasons Hotel. I called myself a bouncer. My actual title was hostess. Basically I checked id’s of the people going in to make sure they were at least twenty-one and that they adhered to the dress code – no sneakers, no shabby clothes. This was North Carolina in the 80’s.  There was a mix of disco, pop, country and lots of cigarettes!

I worked there three nights a week. I never went into the club but as Mama said: “Smoke follows beauty.” I developed a cough that year. I worked at the Fifth Season for nine months. I moved to New York a couple of weeks after graduating.

My cough lasted another two years and I never lived with or worked with smoke.

If I went out dancing in a club I coughed for two days after. I cannot tolerate smoke.

Mama had a love/hate relationship with those Winston’s.

Daddy used a hypnotist to quit – it took two sessions but he is still smoke-free!

Daddy used to yell at me because he said my friends were smoking in Mama’s car. They always denied it. Turns out it was Mama! Those cigarettes had a hold on her.

She would stop and start and stop and start. She loved the taste and she loved the way they made her feel.

Then she got lung cancer.

Was it the Winston’s?

There is a tea I like to sip – no coffee for me. It is vanilla rooibos. It is an herbal tea with a full body.

Before I brew it I love to smell it. It smells like tobacco – before it is rolled and smoked.

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mamamilkandme:

This is what goes through my head on a daily basis, thank you Dr Stuebe.

Originally posted on Breastfeeding Medicine:

One afternoon in my lactation clinic, I saw two mothers who came to see me because they couldn’t make milk. One was pregnant with her second child, and the other was considering a third pregnancy. Each described how they had looked forward to breastfeeding, taken classes, put their babies skin-to-skin and birth, offered the breast on demand, and then waited, for days, and then weeks, for milk that never came in. As the second mother came to the end of her story, she said, “No one ever told me this could happen. Have you ever heard of a woman not being able to make milk?”

“Yes,” I said. “There’s one in the very next room.”

The dogma is that inability to breastfeed is rare – “like unicorns,” one blogger wrote – but I was seeing an awful lot of unicorns in my clinic. I couldn’t help but wonder – how…

View original 1,049 more words

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I am a group person. Let me just put that out there right up front. You may find it hard to believe but I was a very shy child. Not until fourth grade when I cracked a joke and most of the class laughed did I feel any level of confidence. Until that moment I was a loner, hiding behind Mama’s legs then using my baby sister as a shield.

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 In sixth grade Mama took us to Ala-teen, a support group for teenagers with alcoholic loved ones. I joined the theatre. When I moved to New York I joined a Buddhist cult – for only a day and half but I still joined! When I became a mom I joined La Leche League. When I wanted to lose weight I joined Weight Watchers.  I lead various breastfeeding support groups. I belong to the B & N 5 – a writing group.  

Last spring I was talking to my friend Amy, she and her husband own a fantastic café in the East Village , ciao for now. Amy and I often talk about parenting – we both have three children. I whined a bit about Phoebe graduating high school and starting her freshman year of college. We both welled up with tears lamenting the passing of time. I mentioned my changing body, peri-menopause, aging, all the changes we women experience. “We need a support group for that!” we nearly sang in unison. Amy immediately offered up her café  as a spot for our group. I let the idea simmer for a couple of days. I had also mentioned to the B & N 5 that I wanted to teach a writing class. An idea gelled. Writing Through Transitions! I search the web and found a woman on the west coast had written an e-book and was doing workshops by that name, so much for original ideas.

I bought and read her book. It was good but she is a therapist and her approach was different.

My background is more in peer-to-peer support.  My new group would be for women, we would talk and write about all of these changes, these transitions. I have creative strategies for managing the group and divining memories from the past while being able to express oneself and to be heard.  A few of us gathered last fall to workshop the idea at ciao for now. I saw what worked and what I needed to change. So now, beginning March 20 we launch the official Women Words & Transitions workshop at Lila Wellness.

If you are a woman of any age in or around New York City I hope you will consider joining me in this creative, self-exploration journey. You need not be a writer just a woman.  I can help you explore the many changes in your body, mind, relationships and more.

I plan to offer weekend long workshops for those who cannot commit to weekly meetings. Let me know if you are interested!

 

mamamilkandme:

Inspired by the moms I saw today, this is for all of you!

Originally posted on mamamilkandme:

When I go to the home of a new mom I am often shocked to see all of the stuff in the home. I shouldn’t be. I once had a new baby and had more items than I needed. And these days there is more. Aren’t we supposed to be paring down? Saving the environment? Living simpler? Remember, I am seeing families in New York City. These are not big homes. Most are less than one thousand square feet.

In winter 2002-2003 I  had been a mom for seven years. I had two children at the time. I had been in the mom trenches for some time. I was in Chelsea a neighborhood with a new baby superstore. I wanted to lay my eyes on the new store I had heard so much about. Well, as I walked into the city block sized behemoth my eyes filled with tears. I…

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Babies Belong

March 5, 2014

Originally posted on mamamilkandme:

Babies belong in this world. I don’t mean we need to procreate – I mean in our daily lives. I believe one of the strongest challenges to breastfeeding is our culture. Babies are so precious that they cannot be seen or taken out.

We make a separate room, we separate the laundry, we keep babies away from people. My goodness, what are babies but people? And most babies are quite social.

Let’s take the wedding for example. How many women have said “I have to go to a wedding when my baby is three weeks old – will I be able to pump?”  Guess what? A baby is not going to steel a brides’ thunder. But maybe the big wet stains on the front of your dress from your leaking breasts just might.

I recall several years ago my friend Deb was planning her wedding. Two of her closest friends…

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Originally posted on mamamilkandme:

There are many things that can make or break the transition into breastfeeding. Breastfeeding in the beginning is time consuming and that is good. It is good because it creates the opportunity for mom to rest and heal from birth. It is also a time to study your baby.  It is time to get to know each other.

With this in mind there are a few things you can plan.

Create nursing stations in your home.

While still pregnant, notice where you like to spend time in your home. Many new parents build a beautiful nursery but you do not have to stay there for every feeding.

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Your baby does not care what the room looks like. Your baby expects to be close to mom and to have her milk available.

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Your nursing station can include:

~water for you to drink

~snacks for you

~a cloth diaper for spit ups

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