Monday, December 31, 2012

Told my parents! (Originally posted December 14, 2012)

So this morning I finally got up the courage to call my parents to tell them I was pregnant. It went pretty well. I called my dad's cell phone and he was like "congrats I know you've really wanted this" and then asked me all sorts of questions, and then he went and found my mom and she kinda paused and was like "that's very good to hear" and then BAM gave me like 30 minutes of pregnancy advice and asked me all these questions and was actually really cool about it.  So that was nice.  She kept giving me really simple advice like "are you on prenatal vitamins?  You know you should be drinking a lot of fluids right? You should be eating a lot of fruits and vegetables you know" lol.   I told her how I've been falling asleep at like 7pm every night and she told me about how when she was pregnant, Princess Diana was pregnant with Prince William (weird, and now I'm pregnant same time as not-really-Princess Kate!), and how the media started catching on to the fact that she was pregnant cause she kept falling asleep at like state functions. And not a single mention of religion or circumcision was made (better than I can say for my in laws who brought it up like the first conversation!)

So that went better than I expected I guess. :) I'm glad I've gotten it over with. I'm going to email them pictures from the ultrasound and they are going to email me pictures of the renovations they are doing on their condo in Florida that they are planning to retire to in a few years (which used to be my grandparents before they died). 

There was one sour note when my mom told me how she's having a party on Sunday and my entire extended family is coming.  Why? Cause I wasn't invited.  Why would she tell me that shit when she doesn't invite me? 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Pregnancy Dreams/ Ultrasound (originally posted December 12th, 2012)

I had a dream earlier this morning that I went to a nightclub/show with my dad, and he went off and started partying, and he was supposed to be my ride home after the show, but I couldn't find him. I tried calling him a million times but he wouldn't answer the phone and then my cell phone started breaking apart, and I called my parents house and someone there said my mom had disappeared too. And I went back to where his car was parked and it was gone.  So instead I walked over to a park a couple of miles away where there was a music festival  going on and crashed in a tent with my (hippie/festival) friends J, C, and L the clown (yes I have a friend who is a clown in real life). And in the end my parents went missing for 2 days because they were off partying, and I had to find my own way home in B's car.

My dreams are just obvious now...fear of being let down and abandoned by my parents and turning to my friends/B for help instead.  I still haven't told my parents. Maybe I'll call my dad in a few hours. Or over the weekend or something. Or maybe I'll just keep putting it off.

I told my other brother though (the religious one), and told him not to tell them- and he said he won't because he doesn't want to get in the middle of drama.  He mentioned something about how at least when I fight with my parents I can hang up on the phone, while he has to hear them bickering about my marriage all the time (since he moved back home while attending grad school). So I asked him what was up with that..what are they bickering about now, 3 and a half years after we got married? And he said something vague about how they are happy I'm married but unhappy about who I'm married to.

In pregnancy news, yesterday I had my first ultrasound. According to the thing I was 7 weeks 5 days pregnant yesterday, which gives me an estimated due date of July 25th, 2013, which is one day off from the day I thought it was. I went back and looked at my fertilityfriend chart (a website where you can track your temperatures for ovulation purposes), and I even checked off that I had ovulation pains that day! (November 1st).

The heart beat was 157, and we could see the heart flickering on the screen.  Actually, I missed like the first 30 seconds cause I didn't realize there was a screen overhead and thought she was going to turn the screen she was looking at next to me, which I couldn't see, ha. The whole thing went soo quickly, like only a few minutes, I hardly had time to adjust to what I was seeing. She also looked at my ovaries and measured them, and somehow determined that this egg came from my right ovary because of a special kind of cyst that forms there afterwards.

Then when we got home I scanned the pics they gave us and stared at this picture and I can swear I can see a little face towards the top of the picture, but maybe it's just my imagination or some trick of the light. Meanwhile, baby!  I think i can make out an arm in there and maybe some "footplates".  The lump in the middle of the three lumps is where the heartbeat was at. The round thing floating on top of the baby is the "yolk sac" which feeds the baby until it develops it's own digestion system develops more fully in a few weeks.

I thought when I saw the ultrasound I would feel more pregnant, and this would all feel more real, but I'm still not showing and apart from throwing up every morning, falling asleep every day at like 7pm and being insanely hungry in between (and gaining a few pounds so my pants are a little more snug- but possibly because I started eating carbs again), I don't look pregnant at all, so it's still a little hard to believe that thing up there is inside of me. Maybe when I can start feeling it move around/start showing it'll seem more real.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Talked to dad...but not about being pregnant

(Written December 9th, 2012)

My dad just called to wish me a happy chanukah. I told him how I've been reappointed after my third year review (meaning I have a guaranteed job until a year after I go up for tenure, and with the 1 year delay on my tenure clock I get due to having a baby, that means I have a job until 2018 at least), but I didn't tell him I was pregnant. In fact he flat out asked out the pregnancy thing was going and I super awkwardly was like "ehhh it's the same, whatever" basically flat out lying and saying I wasn't pregnant, and he was really insistent and asked a second time and I lied again!  What the hell, who flat out asks someone if they are pregnant, isn't that like not socially acceptable to ask people?I wonder if my brother said something to him or something...(he said he didn't)

I don't know what's wrong with me. My first ultrasound is on Tuesday. I don't want to tell him until after the first ultrasound, and I don't even know when I will feel ok telling him. I don't want to deal with it. At least not yet. I'm only 7 weeks, and I still have a high risk of miscarriage, and I don't want to have to start dealing with my dad sending me emails about how religion is important to a kid's life, or pressuring me to get my kid circumcised, or whatever crazy/annoying thing he is bound to do at some point.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mommy issues (originally posted November 20th, 2012)

So last night me and B got to talking/arguing about my family and what we're going to do for thanksgiving after we have the baby. I said we should go to my parents house for thanksgiving if they invite us because we go to his parents for christmas, and he said he wants to spend both holidays with his parents and we can go to my parents some non-holiday time, cause why should they get to spend the holidays with our kids after the way they've treated us all these years.

At some point in the argument I started weeping hysterically, because I realized that this whole conversation was academic, because my parents have never invited my husband to their house ever, let alone invited us both over for thanksgiving. O, pregnancy. I don't even remember the last time I cried, I think it was before I even moved to the south. O wait, I think it was actually that time I couldn't have hush puppies a few months ago.  B got all concerned and nice but I felt bad and was like "I'm not trying to win this argument by crying I swear, I can't help it!" But then that turned into a long crying rant about my parents and how much they suck and how my dad is totally going to be offering to pay for circumcisions if we have a boy even though I don't want to circumcise our kids.

I've been thinking about my parents a lot lately, and how they are going to react when we tell them. Especially my mom. My dad I'm actually not worried about at all- every time we talk he keeps asking how TTC is going, he's suggested I pray to try to get pregnant (which I never responded to that email- but in retrospect, yeah, that probably means he's not anti-me getting pregnant) and I know he will be super excited about being a grandpa. Heck, my entire teenagehood/20somethingyears he was shoving babies into my arms and taking pictures while I held it awkwardly, while I guess he was imagining himself as a grandpa. In fact we had huge arguments in my early 20s cause at the time I wasn't sure I ever wanted to have kids (wasn't really sure about that until I met B / was in my late 20s) and he would argue about how what's the point of life, etc.

Anyway, I am really not at all worried about my dad, but I am super worried about how my mom is going to react, and it's been really pissing me off the past few days that I AM worried about this, that instead of plotting how I *get* to tell my parents they are going to be grandparents the first time, I'm worried about how to *break the news* that they are going to have a grandchild whose father will be a man they have met twice and disapprove of. Why do my parents/mom have to be such fucking jerks and threaten that my "kids will be totally estranged from the rest of my relatives" when I was getting married, and so now put a shadow over a time when I should just be happy and thrilled and not have to worry about this bullshit. I just keep flashing back to when I called my mom to tell her I was engaged, and she was silent for like an entire minute and then when I was finally like "So...are you going to say anything?" she was like "You know how I feel!" and hung up on me and then we didn't talk for like 4 years. Until last thanksgiving in fact.

I want my kid(s) to have a relationship with their grandparents on my side (although not one where my parents are trying to convert them). I want my mom to make a baby quilt for my kid the way she made baby quilts for all my cousins when they had their first kids. I want me and my husband and kids to go visit my parents down in their Florida condo (that they inherited from my grandparents and are planning to retire to) the way I used to visit my grandparents living in that same condo, and hide awkwardly in the second bedroom with my kids the way my parents and us used to hide from my grandparents in that same room.

I'm want to wait a bit longer to tell them, although I am probably going to talk to them on Thanksgiving and who knows, I am terrible at keeping secrets so I might just blurt it out. But what I also really don't want is to have a miscarriage (well in general I don't want that), for me to have to tell my parents, and for my mom to be secretly thinking that I am being punished for not being religious.

On the other hand, the longer I wait to tell them, the longer I have to worry about how they will react, which has now led to at least one weeping episode. So maybe I should tell them sooner, just to get it over with.

I was talking to another former-orthodox jewish friend of mine who also has a really bad relationship with her mother, and she told me that she is always making friends with older ladies her mom's age as substitute mothers...and it struck me that I totally do the same thing. My adviser/coauthor from college is in her early 60s, and has been like a substitute mom for me- she's come to visit me down here more than my mom has (twice now), she actually came to my wedding unlike my own mom, and even gave a little speech during the ceremony (which my MIL also did). Here in the south, my closest friends in my department are women my mom's age- my chair (late 50s/ early 60s) my department secretary (early 60s) and a deadhead prof I go to shows with (exactly 60 years old). At my 30th birthday party this year there were more 60somethings than 30somethings. There are lots of people/women in the department much closer to my age, and yet I became much better friends with all the ones who are the same age as my mom. Woah.

Meanwhile, when I told my brother he sent me a bunch of text messages asking how B and I feel about it, how I'm feeling in general, etc. It was really nice, I didn't expect him to be all protect-y like that. :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pregnant! (originally posted November 13th, 2012)

This morning my temps were still super high (usually when I'm about to get my period they drop), and when I checked what was going on period-wise overnight it was only very very faint light pink spotting. Like the kind that sometimes pregnant women get when a fetus implants in them (when it implants it diverts your blood vessels to the baby and many women bleed a bit during this time).

So I took a pregnancy test.

And it was positive.

hooooooolllllly shit. I am still in denial about it I think, and it wasn't the darkest line ever, but it was a definite fucking positive.

Going to wait till I have to pee again and then take one of my expensive pregnancy tests. And then I the gynocologist? I have no idea what to do at this point, if I am pregnant (I guess I shouldn't say if) I'm only about 3 weeks pregnant right now. My due date would be sometime between July 24th and July 26th 2013.

Meanwhile this may explain my incredibly bizzare sleep patterns the last few days...i've been falling asleep between 6 and 8pm and not waking up until 8 or 9 in the morning. Last night I tried to stay away to watch how I met your mother (at 8pm) and fell asleep on the couch halfway through the episode.

And in conclusion, HOLY SHIT.

ETA: Took a second test (The expensive kind). Also positive.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Damn you body! (Originally posted November 12th, 2012)

Just started spotting pinkish blood, which is right about on schedule since I'm due to get my period tomorrow if I'm not pregnant. FUCK. Now I have to go in for "more tests" whatever the fuck that means (I fear transvaginal ultrasounds) so I can find out what additional things are wrong with my body. Plus B gets to go jerk off in a cup or whatever. Plus I'm out of clomid prescriptions, so who knows how long it'll be until I ovulate again since I'm guessing I won't be able to get an appointment I the next two days before I would need to start taking it this cycle.

I'll wait until I'm 100% sure I got my period to call them (tomorrow) but damn...I was so hopeful, my temps were very high this morning (and usually they drop before I get my period) so I was hoping that meant I wasn't about to get my period and instead might have been pregnant...dammit. .

Monday, December 17, 2012

Intermission: So I AM invited home?

So this is a non previously written post. I still have around 2-3 weeks of scheduled posts until we catch up with the present day re: trying to conceive (which will post every Monday Wednesday and Friday- one just posted a few minutes ago) but here's a post about some stuff going on in real time.

On Friday I happened to talk to my parents and they mentioned they were having a big family get together on Sunday. Which I of course was not invited to, despite the fact that we've supposedly 'reconciled' over a year ago and I could have TOTALLY gone since my semester ended a week ago and I've mostly been sitting around all week since then (today I'm going back to work though sadly, need to start getting some research done as I have to revise a journal article that got a "Revise and resubmit" that is due February, and write another paper to submit to a conference in January).

Anyway last night my dad sent me like 100 pictures of the family gathering which made me realize just how long it's been since Ive been home...I haven't been home since 2009. My family is getting old.  My grandparents have aged rapidly. My cousins all have kids and those kids are no longer babies. My baby cousin is an adult teenager.  I haven't seen any of them in years.  My dad said in the email "Everyone was here for our chanukah party today"

So I wrote back: "Everyone minus a few.  Must have missed our invite."

And this was my dad's response: "Obviously, it was intended for local folks who could drive here. I had no idea you wanted to be invited to these things, being 9 hours away.  The next scheduled family lunch is for Purim at Aunt E's house."

So now I'm just confused.  Really?  He had no idea I wanted to be invited home when my entire extended family was invited over?  I mean I live 9 hours away now, but for the first 2 years of not being invited home I lived only 2 hours away. And I regularly drive 9-10 hours to visit my inlaws every Thanksgiving and Christmas, which he knows about.  And plus, we both know the reason I haven't been invited home all these years is cause of B.  So what the hell is this email? Is he just trying to pretend like the last 5 years never happened?  And now I'm invited to my (Chaeredi/ultra orthodox) Aunt E's place for Purim next year? (which I can't go to, that's right in the middle of the semester).  I don't know, I don't know what to write back to this, but I feel like he's trying to act all coy and innocent like it's somehow been my fault for not coming there to visit more often, when I've specifically been excluded from being invited home for several years. 

Tentative draft of a response: "Yes of course I want to be invited to family get togethers, why wouldn't I? You know we visit B's parents 2-3 times a year and they live 10 hours away, we wouldn't be able to come up to visit you? We probably wouldn't come up for every get together, and we would need some advanced notice so we could arrange a dogsitter, but we could probably make it up there once a year or so...the only thing stopping us is that we have never been invited." 

Ovulation? (Originally posted November 1st 2012)

So yesterday I peed an almost-positive ovulation test, and today I peed a definitely positive ovulation test, so yay, a chance to get pregnant again! I've also been getting ovary-area cramps for the past hour or so which I take to be a good sign. Today is only day 26 of my cycle- still much longer than it should take me to ovulate considering I'm on clomid, have lost 30 pounds in the last 3 months by eating less than 50 grams of carbs a day, and have been drinking vitex tea (vitex is shown to regulate hormones related to the reproductive system and I'm pretty sure it's helped me ovulate in the past- and my temps have been much steadier since I started drinking this tea every day), but much less than the 53 days it took me to ovulate last cycle!

So it seems all this weight loss work has helped for something at least. Also, the insulin spots are still on my thigh but barely there (very much faded) and my knuckles and elbows are no longer black, although my elbows are still a bit darker than they probably should be. But much lighter than they've been for as long as I can remember!

I found a ribbon to wrap around my wedding ring on the bottom half so it won't fall off my finger which it was in danger of doing (and did once already, but I saw/heard it and picked it up). It might look weird when I gesticulate in class though, but oh well, I'd rather look stupid than lose my wedding ring.

So now will continue doing it for a few more days until ovulation is confirmed with a temp spike (you get a positive test a day or two before ovulation and a temperature spike after ovulation) and then wait a few weeks...ahh!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Level Accomplished (originally posted October 16th, 2012)

As of this morning I have lost 28.6 pounds since my high weight in January and 22.2 pounds since I started low carbing and walking (almost) every day nearly 3 moths ago. That is more than 10% of my body weight in the last 3 months.

Today I met my first major goal- 191.2, or officially out of the "Obese" BMI category, and now in the "overweight" category. My BMI is now 29.9.

Now the trick is for this to actually work re: Me ovulating in a reasonable amount of time. I took the second round of clomid last week. My health insurance wouldn't cover it cause they are bastards and they don't cover infertility (not sure how they covered the first round, maybe it was an accident), but thankfully it was only $20 out of pocket. I'm taking ovulation pee tests (they are kinda like pregnancy tests but tell you if you are about to ovulate) and if it works the way it's supposed to I should ovulate sometime this weekend. Of course I'm not counting on that.

Today I'm traveling to a conference. I'll be there until Thursday but that's day 12 so I shouldn't have ovulated by then. Hopefully the stress of traveling won't fuck up my cycle again but I'm already afraid it will. Last time I traveled the first day I got a positive ovulation test and then didn't end up ovulating for another month. Hoping this time since I am traveling before ovulation it won't fuck me too badly, but with my fertility luck it probably will sigh.

If i don't get pregnant this cycle I have to go back to the doctor for "more tests" (that my insurance will not cover) and B will have to come in for tests too, so really hoping it works this time around.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Annnd (Originally posted October 7th, 2012)

I got my period. Out for this cycle. "Bright" side: At least it's only been 65 days since i last got my period, so this cycle only lasted a little over 2 months. The one before that went up to 117 days and then I only got my period by inducing it with drugs.

Sometime today or tomorrow I have to go to CVS to get my second (and last before I go back to the doctor and/or find a Reproductive endocrinologist which I'm probably going to do instead) round of clomid. Last time if it worked it worked crappily if at all (hey at least I ovulated and got my period eventually!), but I'm optimistic this month will go better. For one, I've now lost about 25 pounds in total, vs. around 10 the first time I took clomid 65 days ago, and have been low carbing for almost 3 months vs. 2 weeks. For two, right around when I thought I was going to ovulate last cycle (CD17 when I had a dark but not completely positive ovulation test) I flew to my trip, and think that messed with my cycle cause whenever I fly around when I'm supposed to ovulate I seem to ....not. In fact the previous ridicuously long cycle- I think part of that is that I naturally ovulate maybe every 2 months (normal cycle is around 55-75 day) but 2 months into THAT cycle I flew to NYC.

Of course now that I say that, I'm flying a week from Tuesday for another conference. But I'm hoping since that'll be less than 10 days into my cycle it won't mess with ovulation this time.

I also started taking vitex cactus about 45days through this last cycle- it's a herb that improves pituitary gland function, normalizes your hormones, and increases lutenizing hormone, which is the hormone that makes you ovulate. A little more than a week after I started taking it I ovulated. I then stopped taking it since you aren't supposed to take it if you might be pregnant, but I got some vitex tea (which is mixed with a couple of other things like green tea and raspberry leaf which is supposed to help, and is ridiculously called "Fertilitea" and makes me feel like I'm buying some charlatan bullshit) and I'm going to drink it twice a day this cycle in hopes that I might ovulate in a reasonable amount of time and may have a chance of actually getting pregnant.

Meanwhile I'm sick as shit with my traditional "got a cold right before getting my period" cold which seems extra harsh this month. Yesterday spent the day blowing my nose and today it seems to have moved into my lungs whilst still staying in my nose. Hoping today will be the worst of it (and hey, now that I know I'm not pregnant I can take cold meds!).

Monday, December 10, 2012

In a funk (Originally posted October 2nd, 2012)

Despite supposedly reconciling with my family and meeting up in June, since then I've talked to my mom once in early August and not since then. In that phone convo she said she would respond to a recent email I had sent her about my PCOS diagnosis, but she never did respond. I've talked to my dad one additional time last month when he called to basically remind me about a religious holiday and got off the phone after 5 minutes. Then he sent me an email trying to convince me to pray, which I still haven't written back to. After years of telling him we shouldn't talk about religion, he still doesn't get it. And I don't think despite the fact that we are "talking" I'm going to be invited home anytime soon. unless I somehow manage to actually get pregnant, in which case for the rest of my life Ill be afraid my parents are trying to missionize my kids.

I'm pretty sure I ovulated 8 days ago, which would be day 53 since I last got my period. So there is like a 5% chance I'm pregnant. But since it took SO long until I actually ovulated, meaning the clomid didn't work (yay, no easy fixes!), chances are it's not a viable egg anyways.  Anyway if my temps stay high I guess that'll mean I can take a pregnancy test this weekend or early next week or something, but I do not have very high hopes at this point.

I did lose almost 26 pounds since my high weight in May, but I'm still "obese" and have been stuck bouncing up and down from 194ish to 198ish for about a month. Also it's been raining a lot the last week so I've been totally slacking on my walking every day which does not make me feel good about myself. Meh.   At least I will be starting my second round of clomid with more than 2 months of low carbing under my belt, that can only help. The first round I had only been low carbing for a week or two.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ahhh dad (Originally posted September 21st, 2012)

So this is really a topic for my ex-Jew blog, but I haven't been writing about my PCOS/infertility stuff there so far, so it's going to have to go here instead for now. As an aside, I also haven't written a single blog entry on my jew blog since getting diagnosed, and I think it's because if I can't talk about this, I have nothing to say, but I'm not ready to be public with this stuff. But maybe I really should be. I just don't want judgmental douches being like "god is punishing you for being an atheist."

Anyway I told my parents about this stuff a month or two ago and earlier this week when I talked to my dad (for the annual rosh hashana phone call I get) he asked how stuff was going and I told him that the clomid isn't working (which so far it hasn't - now been 49 days since I last got my period and I haven't ovulated yet) but I lost 20 pounds, etc. Anyway today I get this pile of bullshit from him:

"Hi Abandoning Eden,,

How are you doing?

I was thinking of you at Rosh Hashanah. They gave me an aliyah to the Torah at shul and I had them make a "Mishebayrach" prayer for you.

The assistant rabbi pointed out that the Torah and Haftorah focused on women who had trouble conceiving. The Torah portion related the story of Sarah while the Haftorah from the first chapter in Samuel discussed the story of Hannah and how she had her fertility problems as well. The rabbi pointed out that the lesson we were supposed to glean is that prayer was able to change the outcome for these two women, (they were able to conceive/give birth to famous, healthy children) and that we should take prayer more seriously.

Since these are the days when we Jews take prayer more seriously I thought it wouldn't hurt to pray. It could only help. Maybe you can still find a prayer group on or near campus that has services for Yom Kippur and sneak in there for a few minutes of prayer and reflection. You never know...

Wishing you guys all the best...

Love, Abba"

ERRMAHGERD! Like, I know he is just trying to be helpful, but dear lord does my father NOT KNOW ME AT ALL. This advice is laughable. I'm not sure if this is him trying to sneakily get me to pray on yom kippur instead of the plans I already have- to teach 5 hours of classes and go to 3 hours of meetings. Or what.  I'm not even writing back, cause there's nothing I can say that won't be snarky, and I know he is just trying to help in his completely backwards non-helpful way.  That or he is taking advantage of my issues to try to kiruv me. Yeah, I think not responding would be best.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

After 117 days (Originally posted August 3rd, 2012)

After 117 days of nothing, I now officially am getting my period! I've never been this happy to be bleeding out my vag in my life!

It started late last night around 10pm, so according to my PCOS consultants (on an awesome message board that my friend recommended) today is cycle day 1 and I start taking clomid on Sunday. That unfortunately means that if I do ovulate on time (in 15 days) it'll be the first day of my trip. But chances are I won't ovulate on time anyway which means it may be during my trip. Ack!

I'm temping now [taking my temperature every morning- your temperature rises after ovulation] in order to make sure I actually ovulate, and also have a bunch of  ovulation pee kits that I'm going to use until they run out but mostly just going to have a bunch of sex this month. :)

Also yesterday maybe it was the PMS mood swings but I just felt compelled to tell my parents about PCOS. I hadn't had any contact with them since my diagnosis, and I was a bit apprehensive about telling them, but yesterday my dad sent me a video from Disney World of him and my mom in "It's a small world" and was like "we're thinking of you!" Which made me remember something I hadn't thought about in decades- when I was a little kid I used to make my parents go on that ride with me over and over again whenever we went to disney world (my grandparents lived two hours away and we would go down to visit at least once a year, so had many trips there as a kid). I loved all the little outfits the different dolls had representing all the different cultures in the world (or at least what those cultures looked like in the past). Sociologist at a young age!

Anyway I was writing back to him and telling him about a job thing and somehow I ended up writing a long rant about PCOS and how I have it and also telling my parents that me and B are TTC (trying to conceive) and that's why I know I have it, and CCed my mom on the email. I hadn't even planned to tell them we were TTC until I was pregnant, but I was just impulsive and sent it to them yesterday. So about an hour later my dad actually ended up calling me from florida (and my mom talked to me too) and we talked for like half an hour all about how my dad is now on diabetes medication too. And we talked a bit about low carb diets cause turns out my dad is on one too, and he's like "Of course, eggs and fat arn't bad for you, it's the high carbs that are bad!" and I was like "Ok you know that now, but don't pretend like you knew this 5 years ago or something!" lol.

They didn't really bring up the fact that I'm trying to conceive but they didn't shy away from it or say anything mean which was what I'm afraid of, and my mom was actually encouraging when I brought it up and was like "well now at least you have a plan and know what you need to do." which I really appreciated. I almost want to blog about this in my other (ex-jew) blog, but I don't know that I want to tell hundreds of followers (and a couple of crazy stalker douchebags) that I have PCOS...

But I would like to write about it there just because now that I have it I'm finding out about SO MANY jewish people who have it - so much so, that I wonder if this is one of those many diseases that Ashkenazi jews are especially susceptible too (there are dozens of those) so would like to spread some awareness of it.

In other news this morning I am down to 205.4 (from 214) so I lost more than 8 pounds in 2 weeks! Woohoo! And that's with all this bloating from my period...kinda have the feeling that I will drop a couple more pounds in the next few days too.

Monday, December 3, 2012

PCOS, quit explaining everything weird about my life

(Originally posted July 29th, 2012)

I spent the entire week basically depressed and researching PCOS, and also carb-crashing and being all shakey and having major brain fog. But I walked 30-40 minutes every day except Wednesday, when I lifted cans for a half hour instead, and today in addition to walking I also did a 12 minute yoga video. We figured out a good walking route that is mostly in the shade (essential at this point in the summer in the south - by 8am it's blazing hot when you're in the sun) and takes us around 30-40 minutes to walk, and B has been walking with me most days.

B has been kinda awesome about this in general, he keeps making me all these crazy low carb recipes, he's been cooking 3 meals a day for me since I've been sitting home in a funk, and he walks with me with only minimal grumbling (and I grumble too). I love him. :)

Meanwhile, it's just getting bizzare and creepy at this point! Pretty much anything that has ever been weird about my body can be at least partially attributable for PCOS. Every day my mind is blown to another degree as yet another unexplained mysterious thing about my body turns out to be related.

Another thing attributable; I've always had really dark elbows and knuckles on my hands, like dark to the point where they look dirty (and my hands have knuckles like 5 shades darker than the rest of my fingers). This is why I don't wear rings other than my wedding ring and didn't mind not having an engagement ring- don't want to call too much attention to my hands cause they are weird colored looking, it always looks like I don't wash my hands enough or something.

For a year before my wedding I moisturized my elbows every day in an attempt to get them looking less dark (since I was going to wear a sleeveless dress), and at one point I read something about not having the right bacteria on your elbows to eat away the dead skin, so I made B rub elbows with me a bunch of times to try to transfer his elbow bacteria. I kid you not. Neither of these things helped of course.

Guess what explains it? Insulin resistance and a build up of insulin that pools in the folds of your skin, and causes excess skin buildup. Knuckles and elbows are specifically mentioned as a place this can happen (as are knees and ankles, but I don't have problems there except for the boney part that sticks out from my inner ankles being a bit darker) The same thing that caused the spots on my thigh (Which seem a bit lighter but that might just be wishful thinking) and the one on my hand that already disappeared.

Ok so the list of things weird about me, that are definitely or may be attributable to PCOS:

*Irregular period when not on birth control (this started at puberty, I never had a regular period, it always came every 5 to 8ish weeks before going on BC)
*elevated blood sugar
*high cholesterol
*"Manly" demeanor/personality, not being "girly" whatever that means according to other people (excess androgens).
*a few extra hairs on my chin/chest/belly and somewhat thinning hair (thankfully not yet to the point where it's embarrassing).  My haircut people are always giving me layered haircuts to disguise how thin my hair is
*the fact that I have always had a hard time losing and keeping off weight and am in the "Obese" category even though I have had a reasonable diet/regular exercise for years.
*disrupted sleep/being a light sleeper
*spots on my thigh and hand
*dark elbows and knuckles
*always having some acne on my chin/forehead and having a ton of bacne whenever I'm not on birth control pills, despite being 30 and firmly over my teenage years
*my anxiety issues are probably partially related too - at least as there is a correlation found in the literature although causality has not yet been established - and now that I think about it, the 3 people in my immediate family who have some similar symptoms to me anxiety-wise - me, my one brother, and my dad, are the same people who are pre-diabetic or have insulin issues (me and my dad) or diabetic (my brother)

That is also a list of pretty much everything that has ever been weird about my body. At least it doesn't seem like I have multiple problems other than PCOS, just a bunch of PCOS related symptoms.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hush puppy meltdown (Originally posted July 22nd, 2012)

This new super low carb diet is killing me...went out to eat at my favorite bbq place (which we always do when we go to run the errand we ran today) and instead of a bbq sandwich with sweet tea I got a bbq platter (no bread) with water. Only the platter came with a bunch of hush puppies on top! I loooooove those hush puppies but they are 100% carbs and that Dr. saying "Every time you have something bready you're lowering your chance of ever getting pregnant" kept ringing in my ears. I managed to resist eating any of them but having to give up my absolute favorite food in the world (and having it right in front of my face and having to throw it away) was too much...I had to leave as soon as I was done eating and started getting all weepy in the car on the way home. And then started flipping out and yelling at B about how he wouldn't take an alcoholic to a bar 2 days after they quit drinking so wtf is wrong with him suggesting we go to this place (Even though we just went there like we always do when we run this errand, as a matter of routine). And yes I know bbq sauce has some carbs.

I've been weepy on and off since Friday actually. I bet the hormones I have to take now to start up my period aren't helping with any of this either. Still no sign of that, but it's only been 3 days and the lady said I might not get my period until a few days until after I finish taking 10 days of these pills. Then I switch over to clomid day 3-7. And have sex days 12, 14 and 16. I really hope this doesn't end up coinciding with the trip I have to take next month, but with my shitty fertility luck, it will. I'll only be gone 4 days, and I can have sex in the morning before I leave and the afternoon I get back, so I'd only actually be missing 2 days. But if it takes 4 or 5 days to get my period after I finish these pills, I could be ovulating the second to last day of my trip which would be the worst- eggs are only good for 24 hours if unfertilized.
Another symptom of PCOS discovered today- disrupted sleep is reported by 85% of people who have had it. I'm a very light sleeper and when I get woken up it takes me like at least an hour to fall back asleep. Another mystery solved! Also, the major cause of PCOS is insulin resistance and I have many signs that indicate I have that (like discolorations on my skin). My brother has diabetes so that's really scary...I do NOT want to have to give myself shots every day. Hopefully extreme low carbing will help with that.

Another thing- the spots I have on my thigh which are a marker of insulin resistance didn't appear until I moved to the south. The only major dietary change I had when I moved here is I switched from getting an egg white and cheese sandwich on a whole wheat roll for breakfast (my breakfast almost every day in grad school) to Mcdonalds breakfast with an egg and cheese bagel + a medium iced coffee. Not only did i have a big non whole wheat bagel for breakfast almost every work day, but I also had a huge coffee chock full of high fructose corn syrup. I haven't had these for a few weeks since I've been working from home, and this morning I checked out those spots on my thighs and it seems they have gotten less dark than they were a couple of months ago. Mcdonalds is really the devil. I miss those iced coffees already though...maybe I can get some sort of latte from my local coffee place - with all the milk I don't mind the lack of sugar as much.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Oh hello 5 am (Originally posted July 21 2012)

Did you ever break up with someone, and then the next morning, wake up at like 5am thinking everything is ok at first, but then it hits you that you broke up with that person? And once that hits you, you are done with sleep for the day and just lie there being depressed for a few hours not able to fall back asleep?

Yeah this morning was like that, only instead of breaking up with someone, I might be infertile, and even if I'm not, will very likely have a hard time getting and staying pregnant.

Last night I talked to a friend with PCOS and 3 kids who told me all sorts of fun things that clomid could do. Like the way the first time she took it, when she ovulated it was so painful she ended up going to the ER. Lovely.

Also made the mistake of looking up information about PCOS, which I shouldn't, cause there just isn't anything I can do about it. But did you know people with PCOS have a 45% chance of miscarriage? Even better!

If in the end it comes down to things like surgery and having to inject myself with daily things and multiple miscarriages, I don't know if I could do that. If it comes down to that I might just not have kids, or adopt.

Also in reading I discovered that one of the symptoms is unusual discolorations around the groin/armpit area, which I totally have, so that's another weird thing explained (I have a few weird discolored spots on my thigh, and I was like "Wtf are these? am I getting skin cancer or liver spots or something?").

It would also explain why I have always had so much trouble losing weight and am always overweight even though I eat very healthily for the most part (like chicken and brown or wild rice for dinner/ egg whites and turkey sausage on whole wheat for breakfast is my standard fare- I don't live on chips and ice cream). I don't eat too much, and I'm fairly active (I don't jog every day or anything, but I walk my dogs once or twice a week, garden and pull weeds every day, gem mining once a month, etc,) but I'm still 213 pounds and 5 foot 7 which makes me "obese". Kinda makes me super pissed at my mom for all the times she harped on me about my weight, and all the borderline eating disorders and super low self esteem about my body that I had for years as a result- cause now the fact that I could never lose weight actually has an explanation, other than my mom's (and apparently my doctor's) explanation of me stuffing my face, which I just don't do.

I'm also pissed at my mom in general because we've partially reconciled but not enough that I feel comfortable talking to her about having PCOS, because then I would have to tell her we are trying to have kids, and I don't want to have to deal with any potential drama or even just her not being happy about me having kids. And I highly suspect she might not be as happy as I would want her to be, since that would tie me to B forever and will lead to more drama when things like "I'm not circumcising any sons I have" comes up. Which is just a shitty situation in general. I feel closer to my blog friends than to my mother, and this is making me feel momless again like I did when I didn't talk to her at all for 4 years.

This is probably just anger displacement though. I can't be angry at my body but I can still be angry at my mom!

Also, from a gender perspective, this whole thing is a giant mindfuck for me right now. I spent the past decade studying gender, and arguing with people who say there are biological gender differences by gender, saying they are minimal at best, and one of my arguments was "I don't [insert stereotypical female behavior], and ain't I a woman?" I also went through a period in college where I questioned whether I was transgendered to some degree, because throughout my life I've been called "Manly" told I "wear the pants in my relationships" etc. Even as a teenager, I always got along better with men than with women (I was frequently the only woman in a room full of dudes), and most of my best friends are men. Only to find that I probably have a disorder that leads to an unusually high amount of androgyns or "male hormones". That doesn't mean that the majority of gender roles aren't social rather than biological, but it's still..i don't know how to process that. I guess me as a woman having an unusually high amount of androgyns shows there is biological diversity in women too...I should go discuss this with my old feminist theory prof/mentor who I recall was working on a paper trying to prove hormones didn't matter, but couldn't, because they did. But yeah. I'm glad I switched over to more family/sex research instead of just research on gender (Which I started out doing), cause this whole thing makes me question a lot of things I thought were true about gender.

I don't think "half an hour of intense exercise" every day is going to happen, but half an hour of walking with my dog to the point it makes me sweat is very doable. So yesterday me and B walked around 45 minutes to the park, and this morning I walked to the park again with just Max and figured out that if I'm with Max (as opposed to Max + Barkley, who is slow as hell and likes to stop and smell every bush that we pass) I can do a park loop in half an hour that's really pretty pleasant. So I did that this morning too. And then I took Barkley out on a walk around the small loop in my neighborhood (we have a big one and a small one), which was another 15 minute walk, just cause when I got home with Max he looked so sad that he didn't get to go on a walk with us. Plus walking is fun.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


This weekend I went to visit my inlaws for thanksgiving, and my father in law mentioned that he knows I must be pretty busy because when I'm really busy at work I hardly ever update my blog. Well that's true, but there's another reason I haven't been updating much lately, and that is because the thing that has been preoccupying most of my thoughts (and a lot of my time) was not something I was sure I wanted to share here.  So instead I've been blogging about it at my other private blog.  But now I've decided I am ready to talk about that stuff here.  So what I've decided I'm going to do is take my other blog posts that I've been writing for the past few months in my other blog and re-post them here, and slowly release them over the next few weeks until we catch up with the present day.

The thing I haven't wanted to talk about is that B and I have been trying to get pregnant, and that in July I was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and had to make an enormous amount of lifestyle changes in order to improve my chances of getting pregnant.

For some brief history: When B and I first got married in 2009 I went off birth control right away with the intent of starting to try getting pregnant, so that we could try to aim to have the child while I was finishing up my dissertation.  I stopped using birth control in May and had a period then. Then I didn't have another one until July. Then I didn't have another one until October. At around October I took a pregnancy test and felt very relieved when it showed up negative, since it was getting to the point where I would be graduating in June, giving birth in July and starting a new job in August the next year.  After that we had to stop trying for a while, becasue I would be starting a new job and you don't get maternity leave your first year on a new job. I figured the irregular periods were due to withdrawel from birth control, and besides my periods had never been very regular as a teenager- I used to get them every 5-7 weeks, and I took many a pregnancy test in college (before I was on birth control) as a result. Then I went on birth control when I was around 20 and have been on it with the exception of a few months here or there ever since.  

So we stopped trying in October 2009, and I moved to my new job in July 2010. At my job I go up for review and reappointment in my third year (this year) and then I get a guaranteed paid research leave for one semester in my fourth year (next year).  That seemed like a perfect time to plan a pregnancy around- I will have a paid semester off where I can work from home and have no teaching or service responsibilities and then could theoretically go on "Maternity leave" the next semester which in my school means I would teach 1 class instead of 3 and not do service (we get 3 months paid leave vs. the 4 month semester). And I would use the research leave as actual maternity leave and the maternity leave to make up for that research time. And I can take the research leave either Fall 2013 or Spring 2014 so that gave/gives us a nice long window of time.

So in December of last year I went off birth control again to give my body a nice long time to get rid of all those hormones and figure itself out before we started trying over the summer. And I got a period in December, and then in February, and then in April, and then not again...and then it was July and I still hadn't gotten my period and I wasn't pregnant. And that's where these blog posts pick up.  So here are a couple from the day before and the day I found out I had PCOS. Stay tuned for more.

Originally posted July 19th 2012:

I also haven't gotten my period in 103 days, wtf! And I'm not pregnant! Clearly something is fucked. Anyway I made an appointment with the lady parts doctor for tomorrow, but I'm trying not to freak out too bad- my coworker had the same thing happen to her like 20 years ago and they gave her some pills to regulate her hormones and she got pregnant like 2 months later, so I'm not too worried. I wanted to wait until I got my period again to make an appointment (So I wouldn't be getting my period at the appointment) but this is fucking ridiculous, so I just went and made the appointment.

Originally posted July 20th 2012:

Welp, the doctor is pretty sure I have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which is what I thought I might have. She also is testing a bunch of other things like my thyroid which I'll get the result of next week. In the meanwhile she gave me some pills to start up my period again, and Clomid for once it starts to keep it running. Kinda scared about the clomid part cause it can double your chance of getting twins but I guess I'd rather have twins than no babies! Then if I don't get pregnant after 2 months on clomid I'm going to go back for another appointment. At that point B would probably have to get tested too.

Also gave me a long lecture on being fat that made me feel like a loser. :( She was basically like "the pills arn't guaranteed to work and the best way to increase your chance of getting pregnant is losing weight" and then told me I have to exercise for half an hour of intense exercise every day, and can't eat any carbohydrates anymore and made all these snarky comments about putting the bread down. What am I going to eat? I'm already lactose intolerant and have high cholesterol, I seriously can't win. :( I'm guessing lots of chicken and salads.

All in all a bummer of a day. At least I have some pills to try to help now, but I was afraid I had PCOS and hearing that it probably is what I have really really sucked.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The pros and cons of an OTDer dating / marrying a non jewish person

Wow it's been a while since I updated here.  A few things have happened since then...for one I found out I'm insulin resistant / pre-diabetic, and some skin "spots" I had on my hand/leg turned out to be related to a build up of insulin, scary stuff.  So I had to go on a low carb diet to try to avoid full on type 2 diabetes and lost 22 pounds in 3 months, which is pretty cool- I've never had a diet be so successful, probably cause of the whole insulin resistance thing.  My dad very helpfully suggested I find a local place to daven (pray) on yom kippur to help my health problems. Instead I taught for 5 hours and went to about 4 hours of meetings that day which was probably not all that much better than sitting through yom kippur services, sucking-wise.  I went on two trips to conferences since my last post, including one to Denver which I decided I do not like- that place sucked all the moisture out of my eyeballs and I felt too dry and dizzy the entire time I was there.

I'm also collecting my own survey data for the first time this semester, and this semester have 5-6 other research projects I'm actively working on writing/trying to get out for publication, along with a book proposal, so that's been sucking up all my time, and I've been working most weekends to try to squeeze in some extra research time.  Not because I have to even...I already have enough published and under review to get tenure if everything gets accepted for publication, which means I'm years ahead of schedule. But I love doing research, and I'm excited to get these results out there..I just have way more research projects and ideas than I have time to do them in. In a few weeks I submit a huge binder of paperwork for my third year / pre-tenure review which is to renew my job contract for 3 more years, at which point I will go up for tenure.

This week I went to a conference in the North, and while I was there I met up with some other OTD people who lived in the area, including the blogger Fence Sitter.  Over dinner one fairly new OTDer asked me what I thought the pro's and cons of marrying / dating a non Jewish person was.  This later turned into a facebook conservation, and I thought I'd compile some of the pro's and cons I came up with.

-You stop getting invited to shabbas/ yontiff at your family's house
-Your spouse doesn't know what it's like to grow up jewish so may not relate
-Your family will try their hardest to talk you out of marrying them and may go so far as to stop talking to you or disown you or even sit shiva for you
-A lot of your old friends and family might stop talking to you
-Random people who are jewish will think they have a right to criticize your marriage partner, you'll get called a nazi, told that you are finishing hitler's job, etc.  
-They may not be interested in or fully understand your background (although personally my husband loves talking about religion and finds my background fascinating and is always asking me questions when he comes across new things he doesn't understand re: judaism)
-Your spouse might not love it if you do anything jewish, and might sometimes get jealous/weird about you doing jewish things, cause it makes them threatened and worried you will become religious again and leave them

-You stop getting invited to shabbas / yontiff at your family's house, so no more making excuses or suffering through them
-Your spouse doesn't know what it's like to grow up jewish, so has a whole other set of not-jewish cultural norms to draw upon when you raise your own kids
-when you're married you have a spouse to hang out with, so you don't depend on a jewish community for social contact the way you might when single. 
 -You find out who your true hardcore friends who will always be there for you are, and you find out which of your family members you can't trust to act like family
-You have a lot of stuff to talk about when it comes to comparing your backgrounds, and talking about your life.
-You sometimes get to learn a lot about different cultures/religions  
-You can have the egalitarian wedding you want instead of a sham religious wedding which many OTDers married to OTDers get 
-It keeps you from falling back into the jewish community out of force of habit, which is what I totally did when I first moved to grad school
-After you get married and your family/old jewish community gives up on you, they give up a lot of general kiruv too cause they assume you've gone too far to come back 
-In-laws who celebrate christmas and the whole family christmas experience!  A non-jewish family to go to for non-jewish holidays
-Non jewish guys are probably on average less socially conservative/traditional than frum and ex frum guys, at least in my experience (major pro for me, and major issue for me when dating jews)
-Your kids are probably less likely to have weird genetic diseases
-If you don't want to circumcise your sons, your spouse is more likely to be ok with it
-You have a much wider pool of people to draw from so statistically are more likely to meet a compatible match

What are some other pros and cons y'all can think of?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My 10 heritages

When my parents talk about the importance of judaism, they talk about it as my heritage, the traditions that have been passed down across the generations. They talk of an unbroken chain of family traditions going back thousands of years (Even if the origins may be a little bit fuzzy).  They talk about me "breaking the chain" of my heritage if I don't follow these same traditions, and pass them on to my children the way they were passed on to me.

I recently was discussing with an ex-chabad-bt (the blogger Fence Sitter) the difference between the approach she had to her religious beliefs when she was religious and the approach I had to mine. She couldn't believe I would not keep things that I knew to be "halacha" and think that was ok.  If you believed in God, how could you not follow all the halachot? It makes sense from a rational perspective of course. But that's not how I was taught to follow religion. What I was taught was that judaism was an unbroken mesorah (tradition) going back to mount sinai. I was taught that different rabbis had different ways of interpreting the torah, and that what you were supposed to follow are the specific traditions your family followed. That's how it was in the community I grew up in. People had a range of modern orthodox practices, everyone from people who didn't cover their hair, wore pants, ate non kosher vegetarian outside the house, to people like my mom who covered her hair (but not to a specific tradition, just with whatever hat or scarf she felt like), kept strict kosher inside and outside the house, never wore pants, etc.

What I was taught was that each family has their own traditions, and you're supposed to follow the traditions of our parents- that we were following traditions that OUR SPECIFIC FAMILY had followed for thousands of years.  Like the way some people wait an hour between meat and milk, some people wait 3, some people wait 6 hours, and my family waited "into the 6th hour" meaning 5 hours and 5 minutes. Even though other people come from different backgrounds and have different ways of doing things, and that's totally ok for them, we were supposed to follow what our family tradition was.  My dad was a BT but his parents were "traditional" jews and had a lot of family traditions- and their parents/childhood was orthodox so my dad saw it as returning to the practice his parents originally kept as children.

Anyway this got me thinking about my parent's emphasis on our family heritage of judaism and how important it is to do things like our family (although my parents did change their practice over time- for instance even though my grandmother always covered her hair since my mom was born, my mom didn't start covering her hair until I was around 12 years old - but she was changing to be more similar to her family). My family spend so much time emphasizing our jewish heritage that I think to some extent, I have ended up ignoring other "heritages" I have as well.  I know almost nothing about many of these other heritages I am a part of, although there are some that I know a lot about (like my feminist heritage).

So what other heritages am I part of?

1. The feminist / outspoken woman heritage. This heritage goes back to Eve eating of the forbidden fruit of knowledge even though she was told not to, if you believe such things. And back to Joan of Arc and Mary Wollstonecraft and Virginia Woolf and Sojourner Truth, and the midwives and outspoken women who were burned at the stake in the late middle ages, and those put on bedrest and given medications if they were unhappy with their lot in life in the Victorian era like Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The women who expressed dissatisfaction in life were told they had a "Wandering uterus" or "Hysteria" and that the cure was sex and in some cases pregnancy- which is how the vibrator was invented, as a 'medical device" (no joke). The Gloria Steinem's seeing something wrong in the world, and writing about it, and hopefully making a bit of difference in the world.

2. The more general heritage of rabble rousers trying to make a difference in the world, the people who marched for union rights and women's rights and civil rights and sexuality rights and stood up for their freedom, and didn't just stay home and hope someone else would do it.

3. The agricultural heritage of humans, passing on the knowledge and seeds from hand to hand and collected from plants to start the cycle again.  The Native Americans who developed the pepper, corn, potatoes and squash that I am growing this summer. Did you know that corn can't reproduce by itself- it was developed by humans, and without human intervention there would be no more corn within 1 or 2 years. So humans have been passing on and keeping corn alive for thousands of years. Humans have been passing on and keeping domesticated tasty animals alive and making sure those animals are having enough children to continue the species for thousands of generations.

4. The dog heritage of people who domesticated and trained wolves until they became the hound dogs I've trained now. The heritage of humans living closely alongside dogs, and once agriculture was created and people settled down - cats as well.

5. The heritage of sociologists who have been passing down knowledge from generation to generation. The heritage of the specific idiosyncratic type of training I got from my advisers in grad school and another one as an undergrad, passed down from the professors who taught it to them, and the people who taught it to their professors and so on going back generations. 

6. The heritage of academics more generally, and the tradition of education and higher education going back hundreds and thousands of years and including places like the library of alexandria, the teachings of socrates and plato and aristotle that I teach to my students, the tradition that created math and passed down that knowledge across generations.  The legacy of the scientific method, and the ability to use it correctly to analyze and present knoweldge, and teaching it to the students of the next generation seems to me like an "unbroken chain" that's pretty damn important.

7. My American heritage. More so than I'm a Jewish person, I'm an American. I may gripe about this country and the good for nothing tools in congress right now elected by a populas that couldn't tell the difference between a stateman and a cereal box, but I do love this country. There are few other countries in the world where I could be an open atheist, where civil rights are such an important part of our history, and many where I'd have to cover my hair and would have very few options in life, especially as a woman. Unlike any other country we also are the great salad bowl into which all cultures mix, and we have such a diversity of people and viewpoints and cultures all coming to meld together and make great things. That's pretty darn cool. I feel lucky to have been born here, despite our problems.

8.I also have other ethnic heritages. My grandparents are from Poland, and I know very little about how long they were there or anything about my polish ancestry until the holocaust time. My ancestors certainly intermarried with polish people- my grandparents on that side looked more polish than jewish. On the other side I'm Romanian, which is where I get my darkish coloring from. I also know ashkenazi jews (which i am) have a large number of Turkish people in their ancestry, so I'm likely part Turkish. Along with of course part middle eastern/original jewish.

9, Finally there is my skeptic's heritage, the jewish "Off the derech" heritage which is something unique in itself, going back to Spinoza and the great Hasklah movement of the 1800s (1700s?) which I knew nothing about before going OTD (and which I still barely know anything about), to Emile Durkheim, the father of sociology, whose own father and grandfather and great grandfather were orthodox jewish Rabbis in France.  Durkheim was completely secular and wrote a great book on why people feel compelled to make up religions.

I have way more heritage than just my #10: jewish heritage. After learning about that one for decades, I'd like to start learning about some of the other ones.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

An atheist gathering in the South, and thoughts on confronting racists

Last night we went to dinner at my colleague's new (to him) 20 acre farm that's about 20 minutes out of town (that's how close I live to bumblefuck!).  Growing up less than 15 miles from the George Washington Bridge to NYC (and then moving from there to Philly), it was the kind of place I had only ever seen in pictures until I started driving out to the midwest to visit B's parents 5 years ago. The homestead is an expansion of a building that was originally built in the 1790s, so in the middle of his house is a big log cabin that has doors leading to various extensions that were built around it over the centuries. He has a family tree of the family that lived there from the 1790s-1912.  The glass in the windows are all wavy because they were hand made.

He has a few goats, lots of chickens, some turkeys, and a bunch of rabbits, aand a veggie garden that is now more of a small farm than a garden. Also 3 kitties, 1 full grown dog and a lab/shepard mix puppy named Piper that is just the most adorable puppy I ever got to hang out with for a few hours, and at 9 weeks she is already better trained than Barkley.  It was 100 degrees outside as it has been for a few weeks down here, but they had plenty of sweet tea and PLENTY of wine- I had 4 or 5 glasses by the time the night was over. 

His live in girlfriend (with whom he bought the house) is awesome and I consider her an honorary OTDer; she grew up in a charismatic christian hippie cult on a farm somewhere in the mountains of Virginia - the kind of place where she referred to her "Father" as the church leader vs. her "biodad" who was just another cult member.  After the cult and family broke up for various horrifying reasons (involving sexual abuse of course), she went through a religious transformation, and eventually became an atheist who now sports an awesome "FSM" sticker on her car.

So we always have a lot to talk about regarding becoming an atheist, the various stages you go through on the way, etc.  Like last night we discovered that we had both gone through a pagan phase after first leaving our original religion- mine was when I was a teenager and hers was when she was in her mid 30s, but both happened right when we first went "OTD" and still believed in god but had lost faith in our religions.   We both did candle lighting of various colors and trying to say magic words to change our luck and stuff like that for a few years.  But now neither of us do that anymore.  We talked about how for years after we didn't logically believe in god most of the time, we still prayed in our heads every once in a while when things went wrong, but how neither of us do that anymore either.

I lent her Deborah Feldman's book "Unorthodox" a couple of months ago, so she gave it back last night and we got to talking about that for a while (my colleague was like "I'm just glad to have that horrifying book out of my house, I kept hearing all these horrible stories second hand from my gf"). And how no, my parents don't do everything in the book, but they do a LOT of the stuff in there, including hilchos niddah. And how I don't know if my mother uses bedikah clothes/sends them to her Rabbi, and I don't want to ask cause if she does it would be too horrible to know about (Do most right wing modern orthodox women do this? I suspect they do).

And as usual when you live in the south and have a gathering of 6 out of maybe 100 atheists in town, we got to talking about living as an atheist in the south surrounded by religious people.  And dating.  And how my colleague and his girlfriend went out with basically every atheist/agnostic of their age range/who uses internet dating in the region before they met each other. And her last BF lived 5 hours away. I am SO glad I didn't move here while I was single, I probably would have ended up joining the conservative or reform temple or something out of desperation (or even worse, dated religious christians!). Actually if I was single I probably would have taken a 2 year postdoc I was offered instead of moving here.

We also got to talking about this thing at my school last year, when the sociology club sponsored a guest speaker to talk about the death row (her daughter had been kidnapped and murdered and she argued for the guy to be taken off death row so that he would tell her where the body is) and she kept ranting on about "jesus christ" this and her "faith in christ" that, and it made me super uncomfortable because we're a PUBLIC school, and this was a school sponsored event, so wtf. But that I didn't know what to do so I didn't really say anything, but it felt super wrong. And later my other colleague said things like "Welcome to the south, that's just what everyone is like down here" when I talked to her about it.    Which got my colleague's girlfriend talking about how she told off this person for saying "I'll pray for you" in this really nasty way.  "I'll pray for you" basically means "Fuck you" in southern jesus speak. Just like "well bless his heart" means "he's an incompetent moron."  It took me like a year to catch on to that one. Since they can't curse you out (since that's not very christian/southern/polite like) they've come out with a new way down here to curse you out without actually using cuss words.

Which got us talking about confronting people in general, and she told me this even more awesome story about how when my colleague was at the farmer's market, some farmer guy made a racist comment about an interracial couple there, and my colleague was like "you know, I've been buying from you every week for years, but because you just said that I'm never going to buy food from you again." And THEN he started calling out to other people passing by  "This guy is a racist, I'm not buying food from him anymore cause he's a big racist, he doesn't like interracial couples!  Don't buy from him unless you like racists!" or something like that for a few minutes.  Awesome!

I'm relatively white looking- although I have black hair/eyes and olive skin and sometimes I've been mistaken for Latina by Latino people who have started talking to me in Spanish.  My grandfather's nickname in the army was "Chico" because he looked Latino- he's actually Romanian/Jewish.  But I'm white enough that white people see me and see another white person.

Like many jewish people, I don't necessarily fully identify as white, especially since white people killed my great grandparents and enslaved my grandparents for not being white enough. But I know that to other white people, I look white, and I know I get all the benefits of white privilege, and especially lately white starting-to-look-a-bit-older and dressed in middle class clothing lady privilege.  I feel like I have a cloak of invisibility when it comes to getting pulled over, getting treated roughly by the cops, ever getting searched by the cops. Because I'm a white lady, and no white ladies do crimes (apparently)! And rough handling a white lady the way cops rough handle a white man or a black or hispanic lady, let alone a black or latino man, is just pretty unlikely to happen. I also of course have a leg up in the middle class job market, although not necessarily for "male" typed jobs, in which black/latina women and men of all colors who are seen as tougher or more agressive might have an easier time finding a job.

The only way to make my cloak of invisibility disappear is to look more like a hippie, because hippies are treated worse than regular white people, as I found out when I had dreadlocks and was super hippieish for a year in grad school (2006ish). It was funny, all the black people in my neighborhood started talking to me that year, all the cops and security guards started watching me, and all the white men stopped talking to me. Which I kinda liked, cause they also stopped lecturing me about smoking cigarettes.  Oh yeah, try being a young white woman smoking a cigarette outdoors, and count how many condescending lectures you get from older white men. Although that's probably more of a problem in the North than the South (I wouldn't know because I quit smoking).

Getting back to my point, white people say things around other white people that they might not say around other types of people. So I've had white people say racist things to me or around me assuming I would agree with it, and I had no idea what to do. I've actually had this happen to me much more in the north than in the south (probably because I lived there longer and my family is chock full o' racists), but it also has happened to me down here a couple of times.

If I've known the person well enough or didn't care about what they thought, then I have argued with them- like when my real estate agent here went on a whole rant about muslim people coming to town I was like "You know, the more I travel around the more I find out that people are just people are just people, no matter what the leaders of those people are saying.  Most people are just trying to live their lives the best way they can."  I knew I was purchasing a rather large service from him, so he needed my business, and I therefore felt comfortable saying that, although it's not quite as confrontational as I wish it would be. I've also been much more confrontational with people in my family, although not nearly as much as I wish I was. But when it comes to family members I always respond to racist comments to some degree though (ranging from expressing my dissent in a polite way to full blown screaming fights), and have since I've been a teenager.

But I've also been in situations where I was with another friend at their friend's house, and then that friend of a friend said something racist, but I was their house. So what do you do? I said nothing, and I hate myself a little bit for it. Later all 3 of us who were there besides this racist guy talked about how uncomfortable it made us- but in a room of 3 non racists and 1 racist, the racist view triumphed because nobody had the ovaries to confront him.

I want to be more like my colleague. I feel the same way about racists that I imagine they feel about their chosen race of hate-  I fucking hate them, and every time I've come across someone who had a racist view, I've lost 100% of my respect for them. B had a guy in his social group (not close friend) in Philly who said something racist in front of me once, and every time after that that I saw him I avoided him, and did something else like go online to avoid joining in conversation with him. And he will forever be referred to as "Racist Joe" by me.

And yet I never once said anything to him about it.   I'm afraid of confrontation like that. But it needs to be done, and I need to be better prepared for future situations.

When I lived in NYC, I had my ass grabbed on the subway several times. And when you're a young lady without a wedding ring (and even once you have), guys hit on you on the street everywhere. The first few times my ass was grabbed I was in total shock and by the time I realized what was happening, it was over and I couldn't figure out who had done it (The subway can be super crowded during rush hour).  The third time, I grabbed that hand and started yelling at the guy and asking him what the fuck did he think he was doing, and he quickly got off at the next stop.  The first few times someone tried to hit on me on the street I just said nothing and walked faster and basically ran away from them.  Now if someone does that I'll yell back at them and tell them to fuck off, or ask if hitting on random women on the street ever really works with anyone...really?

I need to figure out some kind of equivalent response for when people say racist things, so I can be the one yelling at people in the farmer's market not to buy food from a racist, and so that years and years later I don't have to feel guilty about every racist remark I've heard that I've never confronted- because I'll have confronted them! That's the kind of person I want to be more like.