Since my happy ultrasound, I've been stuck at home with 24-no-48-going-on-72-hour gastroenteritis. I can only keep down instant "chicken" noodle soup and the sofa here at our sublet is killing my back. I'm a little cranky. Today I'm awake, at least, but I've just been getting crankier as I surf.
ITEM: the cruelty of certain Catholics. Cecily pointed out the tremendously sad situation of a pregnant and staunchly pro-life blogger. I clicked, and clicked, and curled up in horror at some of the posts to her site from people who clearly believed they were helping.
Going through the hoops we had to go through to get pregnant, even, meant I had to learn a lot more about human reproductive biology and all the things can go wrong. This has set my pro-choice beliefs in stone. Why, in a world where so few fertilizations lead to babies, shouldn't humans use medical technology to have some control, too? Both positively and negatively?
I hadn't realized, though, until now, that those on the other side had thought through some worst-case scenarios as stringently as they have. Abstractly I have to respect the consistency of their positions. Concretely, I can only be thankful that the faith never stuck, despite my grandmother's efforts.
My grandmother knows we did IVF. She doesn't know that we had to create 14 embryos to get to a singleton pregnancy. She almost certainly doesn't know how wrong the Church would think that is. She's happy that I'm pregnant. She doesn't talk about how much she wants to die, or about how my mother should never have died before her, when I call now. (Of course, it's her Catholicism that's kept her from suicide.)
ITEM: Larry Summers, damnit. I can't take it anymore. Especially after a friend in the national media wrote to ask what I thought, but the resulting opinion piece fell in the "you harpies want to restrict free intellectual inquiry!" camp. See Crooked Timber and good ol' Stanley Fish for thoughts close to mine, except better expressed.
ITEM: Support. Do we really have to be nice to each other, and to everyone else on the planet, all the time? Has Grrl inadvertently opened up a can of worms, some of which crawled right over to Julie's? Look, I read infertility blogs for the snark. Well, that's not entirely fair. For the lack of sentimentality, too. For the curse words. For the often-but-not-always righteous anger. (And sometimes I find snark where it wasn't intended.)
Remember the IF-vs.-PGIF storm a few weeks ago? I only ran into a few ripples until I went looking, 'cause it was mostly on blogs I don't read regularly. We're a big, diverse group now. Given the variety of situations, options, incomes, locations, and religions represented, we mostly do an incredible job of getting along. I used to worry that I didn't fit in because our experience of infertility was so different: we knew it was coming, we were used to an overmedicalized lifestyle already. Plus, from the start I was planning to worry about things other than gonads on this blog. It still makes me grind my teeth when people say infertility's the worst thing that's ever happened to them, because, you know what? I'm so jealous of that, really I am.
In any case, it seems like there has been an expectation, in some recent posts, that the blogosphere follow the same kind of etiquette some bulletin boards strive for: don't say anything, if you can't say anything nice. Don't say anything that might make make someone else jealous. (Do I smell baby dust in the distance? Ick!) Look, there have been times when I've had to stop reading other blogs. But that doesn't mean the people writing them, should stop writing them any which way they need to. Mine's all about me, and yours is all about you. And that's okay.
ITEM: On the other hand, what the hell Guy Trebay In the damn New York Times?
Even so, there was a time when one could take for granted that models would be lovely, pardon the lapse of political correctness. Lovely is a lyrical, poetic and necessary notion, more of which the planet sorely needs. Fashion has long been counted on to provide the escapist pleasures of loveliness in a world well supplied with the horrific and the bleak. Lately, however, the catwalks have come to look like dog runs. Why is that? Who knows?
ITEM: A heads-up to any academic readers who have made it this far: if your tenure case, or that of someone you care about, will involve scholarship that is in any way outside of the mainstream of your field's modalities—or even if you're just employed by a department in a slightly different discipline than that for which you trained—START PREPARING NOW. It will be up to you to make that case. Stuff your portfolio fat. Use your personal statement to actually explain what you do and why. Don't wait for anyone else to tell you what to put in, 'cause they might not ever, and, even if they do, they might be wrong.
ITEM: Judith Warner. Obsessed mothers and those who love to hate them. I don't have anything deep to say. But I want to note a particular flavor of obsessed parenting that happens in our little academic burg: homeschooling, but carried out by overeducated, underemployed faculty spouses. I don't doubt that their children are having a terrific time and learning lots. But it's a big enough movement now to have had a palpable effect on the population of, and atmosphere in, the local schools.
It's also an interesting change from the past. 25 or 30 years ago, men with doctorates from good schools married schoolteachers. Several of my colleages on the verge of retirement have wives who work in the local schools—also on the verge of retirement, of course. I think Granolaton got better teachers back then than it could otherwise have recruited. But now that women have more opportunities, the smart ones are far less likely to head to ed school while searching for a professional husband... good for us, of course, but much less good for the local schools.
Meanwhile, today's displaced wives focus all their effort on their own broods, and female faculty send their children to rot in day care and the ever-declining public schools. I hope, hope, hope, that I will be able to stay cordial to all after joining that fray. It may be very difficult.