Wednesday, March 31, 2010

OCD and Pens

Sitting in a room of 300 desks, math class in college - "Math for the Liberal Arts" for those of us who haven't used a quadratic equation since high school. I'm a Freshman at 21 and taking a full load of courses. I'm trying to keep everything perfectly organized. For English Composition class I have a green folder, green notebook, and use a green pen. For Leadership Skills it's purple; for Literature it's black. In Math it's blue.

We've gotten through voting methods and now we're on Euclidean circuits. I'm struggling to keep up with the TA's writing on the chalk board. Dammit! My pen is out of ink. I scrounge through my purse, through my backpack, through my coat pockets. Shit shit shoot! I'm pulling pens out of everywhere, but none of them are the right pen. I've got a No 2 pencil for test days, black pens, red pens, green pens, purple pens - no blue pens. My heart is beating faster and it's getting hard to breathe. The TA is filling up the third board and soon he's going to be erasing the notes I was trying to get down.

A girl beside me asks, "What's wrong?" I whisper back, "I can't find my pen!" She looks at me oddly, and as her eyes take in the office supply cache on my desk they widen. "Oh." I keep ripping through my purse, over and over, even though I've been through it already. I dump the contents on my desk. Cigarettes, hairbrush, caffeine pills - Dammit where's my PEN?? I start to cry. It's soft at first, fat tears rolling down my cheeks and landing on my notes, smearing them and making them illegible. The TA erases the first board and the second, and begins writing out a problem two or three ahead of me. I start to hyperventilate, knowing I can't catch up now.

Full of concern, the girl beside me raises her hand, "Uh sir? I think Angie needs to go to the counseling center." He sees me, falling apart, head in my hands, my racking sobs becoming audible now, and motions her to remove me from the room. She grabs fistfuls of pens and shoves them back into my purse, takes my notebook and text book and puts them in my backpack. She packs up her own things. "Come on," she tells me, "It's time to go." Blindly following her through the film of my tears, I let her lead me out of the room.

She walks with me out of the Mathematics building and over to Student Services. We take the elevator to the second floor and go through the double doors reading "Counseling Center." The woman behind the low wrap around desk in the lobby hands me a clipboard with a five-page checklist of common problems. I mark off more than I leave blank.

The girl who's name I don't know leaves me there, and I read and re-read the checklist, over and over again, making sure I haven't missed anything. My breathing is more normal now and my heart beat is beginning to slow down. Finally, after about half an hour, a counselor comes to see me.

We talk for about an hour, and I cry and choke and struggle to explain why exactly I had such a spectacular breakdown in the middle of class. "I didn't have the right pen," I keep saying, knowing by now how stupid it sounds. She roots around in her filing cabinet, and pulls out another checklist.

"I'm going to come back in a few minutes, but I want you to fill this out while I'm gone," she tells me. Again, I mark off more than I leave blank. She returns to the room, looks over my list and says to me, "You have obsessive compulsive disorder."

All my life I'd avoided getting a medical diagnosis - avoided hearing any "words of death" spoken over me that would give power to the demons, yet once she has said them I don't feel terrified; I feel relieved. There's a NAME for this? Other people know what it is? Counting "1-2-3-4-5-6-1-2-3-4-5-6-1-2-3-4-5-6" isn't normal, but neither is it so crazy they don't know what it is?

She sends me off with a pamphlet and a note excusing me from the classes I've missed. I walk around campus, reading and thinking. "I'm not alone!"

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Red Light

I haven't yet figured out how to coherently write about my party days and nights, but here's an old poem I wrote at the time "Red Light"

Hotel party and late night wanderings
Has it already been a year?
Driving slightly under your influence
No, I didn't forget you dear
The beach with the light where you asked me
The phone conversation where I answered
We walked down the street soaked with laughter
And there's a girl we know who has my name
Dime bags and muscle relaxers
A ten-hour drive to never leave town
Too many people and not enough friends
but the happy yellow money makes me smile
Double your dosage, double your fun
My jaw is killing me. You got any gum?
Well I'll do that for you,
but what's in it for me?
Thrift store clothes and a water bra
Too many cops out at night
All the bad parts of town for all the good reasons
Baby, I don't care what you call me.
Let's stagger down the road of life
arm in arm, with a bottle in each free hand.
Red light.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Hot Cis Mess

A couple months ago, I stumbled across the blog Questioning Transphobia*. I stepped right in, when I made a comment on the very first post I read, which apparently revealed my cis privilege. I was (rightly) smacked down by quite a few commenters, and quickly quit trying to defend my actions. Instead of storming off in an offended huff (which I'll admit, was my first instinct) I subscribed to email updates of the blog, and I read them and never, ever, ever comment. I'm trying to learn, and I'm trying to check my cis privilege at the door, and the best way I can do that is to shut up and listen.

But here's something I feel I have to speak about, to my own readers. The Tribeca Film Festival is slated to show the movie "Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives". The film's cis gay male producer/director/writer Israel Luna says "I don't consider myself an advocate. I'm not really a protester or anything like that." No, he's certainly not. He's just trying to get a couple cheap laughs at the expense of the trans community by making a pejoratively titled "campy" comedy horror film about transwomen being raped and killed. Because, you know, rape and murder are just full of the lulz!

"[My film's] like Grand Theft Auto. If you have a bad day at work, you can shoot some people, kill some hookers, trash your car and feel better. It's the same with my movie," he continues, in a quote that makes me want to vomit all over my keyboard. I had no idea killing hookers could make me feel better! Maybe that's how I should deal with the depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder I have as a repeated abuse victim! Rarely do I type when this angry. I'll let the community speak for itself, and recommend you check out a few of the articles I've read today that have me so fired up and pissed off.

goodbuy t'jane has a good write-up and includes the trailer for the movie on her page. It starts by detailing (in text) the graphic and brutal murders of two transsexual persons. I couldn't finish watching it, personally. It was triggering, to say the least and I am not a transsexual myself! I'm a ciswoman and a survivor of violent rape. I can only imagine how much more horrifying, brutal, and hurtful this would be if I had to constantly face discrimination and violence as a transwoman, minority within a minority.

Describing her own reaction to the trailer, she wrote
I felt sick. I have seen the lives and even the deaths of trans people appropriated by cis LGB culture before, but I didn't think anyone would be so crass as to describe in lurid details the deaths of two trans people (ironic in how quickly many cis gays were to distance Jorge Mercado from any sort of trans identity before) to promote a COMEDY. A drag queen comedy directed by a cissexual gay man.
Gina writes on Skip the Makeup (in some of the best sarcasm and snark I've seen in ages)
The line at the top of the poster reads, "it takes balls to get revenge." In case you don't understand, that's a direct reference to "trannies" (evidently an affectionate term all trans women use to refer to one another) having testicles and a scrotum. I'm just upset LaLuna Entertainment, makers of this statement of community pride were unable to somehow integrate the words "penis" or "cock" onto the poster but, after all, it IS going to be shown at a prestigious film festival where it will get national and international coverage.
I will never have to experience transphobia or transphobic violence. I will never have to encounter what people of color deal with every day, in discriminations and prejudices large and small. I will never have to constantly prove myself to be able-bodied and "valuable" because of a permanent disability.** While I identify as bisexual, the only real headache from that comes in explaining to men (or sometimes couples) that no, I am not interested in having a threesome, foursome or moresome. It's easy at times to feel like a second class citizen as a woman or as an atheist, but it's also easy to forget the privilege I do have as a white woman, a ciswoman, an able-bodied woman, a woman who almost exclusively dates men, and would face no challenges to marrying a man if I wanted to (which I don't.)

Please join the Facebook group against this film and sign the petition to the Tribeca Film Festival asking them not to give this transphobic snuff film a platform. GLAAD blog has the direct contact information for organizers of Tribeca, as well as a suggested-text email web form.

I'm gonna go stick my head in the freezer and try to cool off.

* On a side note, my spell check does recognize the word homophobia, but thinks transphobia should either be separated, hyphenated, or that I must really mean "transportable". I've added it to my ever-growing dictionary.

** Regular readers will know that I had to walk with a cane for three years, and I would definitely say I gained some insights from that experience, but it is nothing compared with the challenges (physical, social, economic, romantic, and employment based) that people who have permanent disabilities face.

(In case it wasn't clear enough, "tranny" is a pejorative term, on par with "n*gger" or "f*ggot" and we all know words matter.)

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Angie on TV & Radio

I've done several podcast appearances lately, and haven't provided any of the links (oops!) so let me amend that now.

I was on the ThinkAtheist radio show hosted by my good Twitter buddy @Synthaetica (or Synth for short) a couple of times. The February 28th episode on "The Week in Review" is here. I was also on the March 7th episode.

I was invited on Third Wave Radio and Infidel Guy, but neither show has put up the audio yet. (Sad face goes here.)

Issues for Your Tissues, hosted by Katie Vitale, did two episodes on the #livetweetingabortion issue. For the first episode, Mary Ann Sorrentino (whose slut-shaming "abortion is irresponsible but I'm a pro-choice warrior, really!" piece appeared on came on to explain her viewpoint and reveal her ignorance of how Twitter works. Yesterday, I was able to respond and Katie has already uploaded that audio. (Thanks Katie!)

As for mainstream media, here are my TV spots for ABC News and CNN (stupid embedding disabled by request!)

That's all for now folks!
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jesus Hates Me, This I Know

Everything that worked in my favor was God pulling strings for me, and everything that worked against me was a result of my own sin. If life was good, God did it; if life was bad, I did it. That's what Christian theology taught me. God is good, right? "Every good and perfect gift comes from above" James 1:17 or Romans 8:28 which says "for those who love God, all things work together for good." So anything good was God helping me out. Anything bad was my fault, but God was *going* to use it for my good - eventually. "This too shall pass" and all that.

And you know what? It wasn't helpful. I'm dealing with a spot of depression right now, which was triggered by writing about my ex-husband yesterday morning, and really kicked in about 12 hours ago. It's easier for me to break out of black and white thinking now, and immensely easier to tell the guilt-tripping voices in my head to shut the hell up. It is hard sometimes, when thinking about my history of abuse, not to go back to that Christian space of thinking I somehow deserved it. I will never understand how people can say that religion helps people, or makes them feel good. I can't identify with that particular experience. Sure there were individual moments were faith in god, or thinking he loved me helped for a time. But more often than not, I would look at my struggles and think, "God doesn't love me."

My sister was never beaten, never raped, and never told to be more like me. I just thought God loved her more than he loved me. (Now I know that was just my family that loved her more.) Now it's something wrong with them, not something wrong with me. The reason I couldn't hear from god wasn't because I was broken or evil or wretched, but because he was never real.

I have a habit of hearing encouragement as silencing, because so often those platittudes, those "this too shall passs" statements are in some way an attempt to say "Stop whining." At least they were when my family said them. But now that I don't believe in an all-powerful all-loving god who is letting me suffer for some reason, I don't have to believe it's because I've done something horrible to deserve whatever pain I am bearing. It's just that life isn't fair. Somehow that's an easier pill to swallow.

I'm getting a referral through a government program through the kid's school social worker, so hopefully they can work things out to sign a 6 month or 12 month contract with a local mental health corporation. If they do that, my therapy and meds for a while will be covered. I told the guy yesterday, "I'd rather do nothing than go back on meds just to have the funding yanked away from me again. I've done that 5 times." Fingers crossed in superstition or prayers lifted to heaven? No. I can't exactly say I have hope this will work, but I am not doing so badly I am convinced this won't get better. I don't think it will pass on its own, but I'm hoping someone will be able to help me actually deal with this stuff, so maybe I really can put it all behind me. It's damn hard to write this memoir, and stir up all these painful memories, without the help I need to process it safely.

Suicidal thoughts are scary, no matter how fleeting, because when things hurt so much, it's hard to believe they'll get better. It's hard to believe I don't deserve it. It's frustrating to feel like I've done almost nothing of value and i'm a screw up this far into things. I feel like I'm so far behind where I wanted to be and sometimes it's hard to believe I'll ever catch up. I feel like I am failing at being a grown up. But honesty is worth everything to me, so here's the naked truth once again. I am trying to believe that if people really know me, that won't make them stop loving me. Maybe the way they see me will help me learn to love myself.

More than Jesus ever did, that's for damn sure.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Last Straw

This is part 2 of the excerpt "The Last Week" detailing the end of my marriage. Part 1 is available here.

I sat in the bend the huge blue sectional, with mountains of laundry piled up on either side and the baby in bouncer in front of me, and cried. It seemed like I was crying all the time. Ronnie and I fought constantly. He hadn't quit drinking when I had moved in, like he had promised, or when we got married, or after the honeymoon. Now our son was born and I was struggling to find a way to keep our rent and electric bills paid, but there was perpetually a 12-pack of Budweiser in the fridge. When we'd first met, he was drinking Miller High Life and other cheaper beers, but since we got married, he was enjoying the fruits of my better paying job.

I was in pain, with my right ankle propped up in front of me. I had spent the day taking care of Little Man and doing laundry - five loads of the Little Man's cloth diapers, my spit-up and milk stained shirts, and Ronnie's dirty work clothes and aprons - by crawling from the couch to the stacked washer/dryer in our front closet. I'd never wanted a cast so badly in my life.


I looked at the clock on the bedside table - 2 am. I was alone in the bed. Little Man was sleeping in a plastic laundry basket lined with blankets beside me and Ronnie was gone. (I'd planned on co=sleeping and we hadn't bought a crib, but then I'd been worried about dropping my son off the bed, or else of Ronnie drunkenly smothering him if I placed him between us.) I sat up in the bed and used the manual breast pump to collect a 6 ounce bottle, then crawled along towards the kitchen to put the bottle in the fridge.

I came out of the room and saw the kitchen light on and heard voices. What the hell was RJ doing over here at 2 in the bleeding morning? I hastily buttoned my pajama top and, using the wall beside me, rose up to standing and started to hobble their way. It wasn't RJ - it was some man I'd never met before. He and Ronnie didn't notice me at first.

*Sniff!* Ronnie straightened up and caught my eye, a rolled up dollar stuck in his nose, making him look utterly stupid and pathetic. It wasn't the worst thing he'd done, by far, it was simply the last. He'd promised to quit drinking, and had lied. He'd spent money we didn't have on things we didn't need. He'd yelled at me and humiliated me and stolen my post-partum Percocet. He'd cashed in Little Man's change jar just the week before for weed money. I didn't have the word for it yet, but he'd raped me too. Doing lines of blow with some guy I didn't know off my kitchen counter at 2 o'clock in the morning wasn't the worst thing Ronnie did in our three-month marriage, but it was the last.

I don't remember if I scolded or screamed or just gave him a look of disgust and crawled back to bed. The next day, with the help of my sister's husband, I moved back home to my mother's.
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Monday, March 22, 2010

The Christian God

Angie the Anti-Theist talking about how Christians all seem to worship different gods. Is the "true Christian" god the one Fred Phelps talks about, who hates fags and loves IEDs or Rick Warren's god who won't let a woman leave if she's being abused in her marriage? Or is it the god of my old priest or my old pastor or of my crazy cult leading grandma? Maybe none of them are "real".

It's World Water Day!

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Where do you want me, God?

Obviously I haven't been writing much lately. I blame insomnia, and adjusting to living with someone, and - in a Palinesque maneuver - the media. Last night I went through my old journals to try to get in touch with how I felt and what I was going through in my past, and I stumbled across a journal I don't think I've even seen since I wrote it 7 years ago. Here's an entry written July 27th, 2003. A little background information: I was considering joining the National Guard to fund college, debating moving to St. Augustine, FL or around the globe to Africa to be a missionary, reeling from the loss of my favorite pastor and despising his new replacement Tim, struggling with drugs, working for a guy named Frank who used to pay me in 100 dollar bills and eight balls, and (looking back) I was suicidally depressed. So I turned to God for guidance.

Where do you want me? Do you want me in the military? Do you want me working for Frank? Should I go to St. Augustine or Africa? Should I go to USF or New College or Bible school? Will I work in ministry and if so, which one? Should I be with Josh or should I be alone? I need direction. I don't know if you want me to live without a lot of money and without a car or a motorcycle. I wanna do what you want me to do, but it's so hard.

I'm still waiting for your anointing. I want more of you and I'm not sure how to get it. I know I can't do coke or boys and I really don't even want to, but when there's nothing else better here for me - I just reach out for something to feel. I'm so hollow. I can't stand all this crying.

So God, I'll give you two weeks. I won't drink. I won't kiss. If Frank's partying, I'll leave. I'll read your Word everyday. I'll ask Tim for counseling. I'll try to smoke less or just quit altogether. I'll clear all my junk out of the way. But in two weeks, I need to know where you want me. I don't want to waste my life like I was my money - on little things that disappear. I don't want my life to be like my diet - beer and pizza and fast food. I need something real and I need you now. I'm so alone I can't stand it. And nothing I could ever do will change that, so I need you to just change me.

I don't think words can adequately express how much better life is now that I'm not waiting on some god to fix me.

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4 new atheists so far

I just got an email from a girl who deconverted. She's been struggling with why god hates her so much for loving another woman, and wanting to let go of god for awhile. Then she saw my video on Sunday School and what I said about children being taught they are flawed, evil, sinful and wrong was exactly what she needed to hear.
"That was why I couldn't get away from god. Because deep down I was still that child in Sunday School being told again and again that I was sinful. And just like that, sitting here in my room and listening to your video, all my fear about hell and god went away. What's left is a woman free to live her life without fear."
Epic just isn't a powerful enough word. Stellar maybe? A YouTube video did the trick for me; it's why I do videos myself. Still, there's a world of difference between believing you're doing some good and knowing it.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

"I Resent You"

It was Mother's Day and I had saved up to buy my mom a 1/16th sheet cake with frosting roses on top. I didn't know at the time my mom didn't like cake. Walking up the concrete exterior steps to our apartment, I tripped while coming through the fire door. Splat! The cake was ruined, squashed and malformed, and I started crying and groveling at my mom's feet, freaked out.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," I cried to my mother with wild eyes full of fear. She looked down at me with disgust in her own eyes.

"Get up," she said. "Don't DO that!" I guess "that" must have meant my sobbing. I've always had a great deal of distress when confronted with broken or ruined things, and holidays have always been occasions of huge social pressure and disappointment. My behavior obviously disturbed her. She opened the apartment door and went inside, closing it behind her. I scraped up the blobs of icing from the concrete landing with my hands, and shoved it back into the smashed box.

My emotions have always scared my mom. She simply could not handle me crying, or having PMS, or being anxious. I felt like it was my job to not have any feelings, and from around the age of 12, when I smashed that cake till after she kicked me and my two year old out of her home for the crime of me having PTSD and telling her I had an eating disorder at 25, I failed at it miserably.

When I was 24, my mom finally began to go to counseling, something she had undoubtedly needed since she was a small girl. One day after about six months of this she came home with a new breakthrough.

"I resent you," she told me, sounding surprised by this information. I was flabbergasted. I said something clever along the lines of "D'uh." How had she not known this all along? It had been obvious to me for years.

Contempt is a hard thing to keep under wraps, and she hadn't done nearly as good a job of hiding this from me as she apparently did hiding it from herself.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Belief != Knowledge

Angie the Anti-Theist responding to the ScottishProfessor's video "The Search for Objective Truth: What I Know to Be"

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Bad Ideas

Angie the Anti-Theist talking about skepticism and some really bad ideas I used to believe, like Christianity, natural "cures", and 12 Steps. And some people say atheists are arrogant! :p

Find out about AA's cult history & practices at


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Word of Faith

Angie the Anti-Theist gives a bit more background information about growing up in her grandmother Carol Balizet's cult Home in Zion Ministries, under the Word of Faith teachings.


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How I Woke Up

Angie the Anti-Theist talking about a

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God of the Ga-s

Angie the Anti-Theist reading a passage from my cult leading grandma's book Born in Zion & telling a bit about how that story played out in the real world. To read more about this episode, please visit my blog (

1 out of 8 humans does not have access to clean drinking water. Let's change that.

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Self Exorcism

Angie the Anti-Theist reading the prologue to my memoir on life in a faith healing cult. This is my response to the "no true Scotsman" fallacy i hear a lot of - "Oh you were never really saved" or "You never believed" garbage. I believed all right - here's how much.

Read more about my story & keep up to date with the release date of my book, interviews, and other media events on my blog at

Stalk me on Twitter if you like music, comedy, ethics & atheism @antitheistangie

Together we've raised $1,000 so far of our $5,000 goal or charity:water Please contribute or raise funds if you can at

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Faith Healing

Angie the Anti-Theist talking about my faith healing childhood & why I think fundamentalism makes more sense than moderate religious faith.

Please visit

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Demons and Deliverance

Angie the Anti-Theist reading an excerpt from my memoir "Birth & Death: Life of a Newborn Cult"

You can read more stories about growing up in a cult on my blog at

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Personal Stuff

Let's just say I've got some things going on. If we're close, you can call me or email me and I'll tell you more. Money is a major factor and right now I'm getting kind of freaked out about the stability of my current situation, so I'm going to be pulling back from the blog and maybe videos for a bit, while I frantically try to finish this book and get an agent, and continue the uphill battle to get disability benefits.

And no, this has nothing do with abortion.

Love you all. Be back when I can.

angieantitheist [at] gmail [dot] com
Skype: angieantitheist
Twitter: antitheistangie

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Saturday, March 6, 2010


A picture of my wifeImage via Wikipedia

As a child, I knew I'd give birth at home. I knew home birth was safer than hospital birth - why go to a hospital, full of germs and disease and people, when I could have my baby at home, delivered by my own grandmother who delivered me and my siblings and cousins? I felt quite a lot of pride at having been born at home myself, although it always bothered me a bit that no one knew exactly when I was born (especially once I hit teen years and became interested in astrology. How on earth was I going to make a star chart when all my mother knew was that I'd been born "sometime in the afternoon, between 2 and 6 probably"?)

When I found at I was pregnant at 22, I had a lot of hard decisions to make. Would I get back together with my exboyfriend I'd broken up with the day before, father of my fetus? Would we just date or would we get married? Where would I get money? How on earth was I going to tell my mother? The extra question I had was, where would my baby be born?

I knew I wasn't healthy. I'd been doing drugs with my boyfriend (which was why I left him) and I'd been suffering a particularly bad bout of anorexia. I also knew there was a good chance I was fairly far along in my pregnancy. While my periods had changed, and for the last two months even stopped, I'd assumed it was amorrhea caused by my low weight. I decided to go see a doctor, to at least see how far along I was and whether or not the fetus was healthy.

I tried applying for Medicaid for Pregnancy, but there was a funny hitch in the process: You had to have "proof of pregnancy" and apparently the stick test I'd peed on didn't count. I had to have something signed by an MD saying I was pregnant in order to get the insurance help and food stamps. Fortunately, a wonderful man by the name of Dr. Arkin was running the Peace of Mind Clinic within the local Catholic Charities office at the time. The sole purpose of that clinic was to help girls and women get their proof of pregnancy and to assist them with the Medicaid application process.

I sat in a terrible waiting room - full of posters reminding me that "When a pregnant woman drinks, she never drinks alone" and copies of What to Expect When You're Expecting. I waited in the ripped leather chair while two girls before me went into the ultrasound room. When it was my turn, Dr. Arkin's wife cum ultrasound technician cheerfully told me, "It's been a twin day today. The last two girls were having twins!* Let's see if you are, too!" This was already a dread and fear. My boyfriend's father had been born a twin (although his twin had died sometime in childhood, and he was now an only child.)

I walked into the exam room, full of trepidation. She bustled around and chatted amiably, as I stripped and put on that horrid paper gown. Her husband came in and asked me to scoot down to the edge of the of the exam table. Feet in stirrups, completely alone, and with this bubbly woman going on about the miracle of twins, I bit my bottom lip and waited.

"Oh, look," Dr. Arkin told me, "You're having a boy." I turned my head and wept for joy, relieved to only be carrying one, and already in love with the tiny life in my womb. Wow. I stared, mesmerized by the ultrasound image. There he was - head and body, limbs and even sex organs. There was nothing obviously wrong with him, and somehow he'd survived the first 4 and a half months of my ignorance and negligence. He was *beautiful*. Dr. Arkin let me know that I was 21 weeks pregnant, and that my boy would be due on August 30th, just five days after his father's birthday.

I put my pants back on and collected the ultrasound pictures, including the one where Mrs. Arkin had rather gleefully circled the image of his penis, with a label "It's a boy!" She told me, "The daddies are always proud of these" which threw me a bit. (Are mothers "proud" of the size of their daughters' labia?) We sat down in a conference room down the hall, and Dr. Arkin helped me fill out my Medicaid and Food Stamp application.

"You need to gain weight," he told me, looking at my 5'3" 104 lbs frame. "You need to gain 50 pounds, and you need to do it yesterday." That was my battle for the next four months, trying to put on and keep on enough weight to make sure the fetus' brain developed properly.

I quit smoking pot, and mostly quit smoking cigarettes. (Yeah, I snuck a few here and there, most memorably on my wedding day, early in my third trimester.) I laid off the diet sodas, energy drinks, and diet pills I'd relied on to get me through school, and dropped out of college. I changed everything about my body, from what I put into my body, to how long I kept it there (no bulimia for me, as the electrolyte imbalance that would cause could be extremely damaging to the fetus), to what size I tried to be. I dropped bad habits, bad friends, but regretfully, picked up again the bad relationship I had with my ex-boyfriend. We fought constantly, and he did all he could to punish me. Secretly, I think he was thrilled. What better way to get me back, to trap me for good, than a baby?

I tried to put off the wedding. "Let's wait till he's born and old enough to be our ring-bearer! Then it will be our whole family," I said, knowing in the hidden honest parts of myself that Ronnie was in no way prepared to be a father, and not sure how much I wanted him for a husband. But he pushed. His mother pushed. My family (except my mother) pushed. I caved.

We were married during my 7th month of pregnancy, and I felt like a walrus, waddling down the aisle in my sister's borrowed and altered wedding dress, in one inch heels that were absolutely killing my feet.** We said the vows, tied the knot (literally, the priest's sash), and I threw the bouquet. We took pictures with both our wedding ring hands resting on my domed belly, featuring our future child as an unbodied member of the wedding party.

People have this week how I could feel so differently about these two pregnancies, but really they had nothing in common. If anything, my life conditions were exponentially worse for bringing a child into the world back then than they are today. I was poor, unemployed, single, unhappy, and underweight. Yet I knew I wanted him. Also, frankly, I was so far along by the time I learned I was pregnant, optional abortion wasn't really on the table anymore.

I found out I was pregnant back then because for some reason, my weight loss platued and my goal of getting below 100 pounds suddenly seemed impossible. But the real moment of truth came, not when I took the home pregnancy test, but a day before then, when I felt something odd and firm beneath my skin (that'd be my uterus). Within 48 hours of taking the test, I felt the first kicks. Even still, I knew he wasn't a baby *yet* and that there was a good chance he might never become one.

I struggled to stay healthy, while planning a wedding (on an extremely lean budget), fighting with my fiancee, fighting with my mother, and moving three times. I didn't always win that fight, and I spent days and days in the maternity ward emergency room, on IV drips and supplements. My iron levels were low, but the prenatal vitamins with iron in them made me throw up. I was living off pizza, ice cream, and Subway sandwiches, but I couldn't keep weight on to save my life (or my fetus'). A week after my honeymoon, I went into the ER with a fever and a stomach flu, and over the course of that week I lost 10 pounds through vomit and diarrhea. I wondered if either one of us would make it out alive.

At 41 weeks, 2 days, at 6 o'clock in the morning on a Thursday, I started having contractions. We timed them at about eight minutes apart, and waited till the doctor's office was open to give her a call. Once my Medicaid was approved, I was able to start going to regular prenatal visits, and found a fantastic former-nurse OB/GYN and mother to deliver my baby. We'd picked her because she was near the hospital, and we'd picked that hospital (about half an hour away) because it had the best neonatal intensive care unit in the region. Her nurse told me they couldn't make recommendations on whether or not it was time to go to the hospital until they'd examined me, so I woke up my husband and had him ride with me to the doctor. (He had multiple DUIs from before meeting me, and didn't have a license at any point during our relationship, a secret he had me keep from my family.)

[Okay folks, sorry, but I've gotta go make dinner and do those other mommy things. My total labor took 98 hours, so I imagine writing it will take at least a few pages. I'll try to pick this up tomorrow or on Tuesday. Be sure to keep an eye out for my live appearance on CNN this Monday, 3/8/2010 at 10 am EST.]

*Clearly, HIPPA was not her primary concern that day.

** I routinely wear 4" heels without incident. Heck, I used to have a pair of 7" platforms I only wore when going out with a gay friend who was 6'9".

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Holy Blowjob, Popeman!`

Against rapeImage by Toban Black via Flickr

Ah, the Vatican is in the news again - how many children were raped or beaten this time?

The Vatican was today rocked by a sex scandal reaching into Pope Benedict's household after a chorister was sacked for allegedly procuring male prostitutes for a papal gentleman-in-waiting.
Jeezy Creezy, the Pope will fire someone for getting a male prostituted, but not for raping kids or hiding that rape, or exposing those rapists to more children, or abusing kids on almost every country on the planet? Okay, Mr. Benedict - you've got your priorities out of order.

Personally, I'm for the legalization and taxation of both prostitutes and marijuana (gotta admit, I feel differently about, say crack cocaine/powder cocaine than I do about weed, but that's a different conversation.) You know what I'm not for? The legalization of child rape. And no one would be, right?

Let's see... What's the age of consent in Vatican City, anyway? Big bunch of judgmental virgins, surely they must have a very high age, like thirty or something, right? Right? Wrong. It's 12 (making it the lowest on the globe.) Wow, so okay - sex with 12 year olds is fine by the Vatican's standards, but not with grown men engaging in sex work professionally. Where's the logic in this?

The Guardian story goes on to explain more of the details, including why a wiretap was in place to begin with. The sacked gentleman in question Angelo Belducci, an usher in the Papal household and senior Italian official, is under investigation for allegedly awarding public works contracts "toward favored bidders". It was during this investigation that the hiring of prostitutes was discovered (along with details about the kind of men he desired, how they should look, etc.) One of the men he contracted with was studying for the priesthood. And yet,
While Catholicism does not condemn homosexuality outright, its teaching is that homosexual acts "are intrinsically disordered". The Catechism of the Catholic church states unequivocally: "Under no circumstances can they be approved."
How on earth can the Vatican, Pope, and Catholic church have such rigid standards for homosexuality, yet none for the *RAPE* of children? I cannot undersatnd how anyone still views the Vatican as a source of morality, or how anyone continues to tithe to this horrid institution.
Go worship your god all day if you please; pray to a million saints. But please, stop letting these monsters pretend they have moral authority. Stop funding the legal defense of pedophiles. Stop giving them money which they will use to crush people, inhibit rights, and hire prostitues. (Bet you didn't think *that's* where your tithe money was going, huh?)

I cannot stomach this hypocrisy. Two adults engaging in sexual intercourse is "disordered" but grown men taking advantage of children and raping them - this is merely something which needs more prayer and faith? From
In a statement, the Vatican said the Pope had told the bishops the sexual abuse of children and young people was not only a heinous crime, but also a “grave sin that offends God and wounds the dignity of the human person created in his image”.

The Vatican created another storm by announcing that the Pope had also told bishops that the “weakening of faith” was a significant contributing factor in the phenomenon of the sexual abuse of minors.
What. the. catechism. I have no faith at all - my faith is as weak and atrophied as it can be less than two years out from true belief. *And I am not raping children and I never ever will.* Frankly, I doubt I'd ever hire a prostitute either, although the thought doesn't absolutely disgust and horrify me the way pedophilia does. I don't think "all sin is equal" and I don't think hiring an adult prostitute (whatever their sex, gender, or orientation) is on par with or worse than the rape of children. Clearly, the Vatican does. After all, both the pedophiles and the bishops who shuffled them from parish to parish are still employed, yet the man who hired (adult) male prostitutes has been fired.

Fuck the Pope.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Family Choices

Back in the 1960s, my Giggy fell pregnant for the fifth time. She had been married before to the father of her first four daughters, but when the last one died of a congenital heart defect as a baby, she left him because she couldn't bear the pain of being in that house or with him anymore. It all reminded her of her dead little baby.

Early during this fifth pregnancy, Giggy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her doctors recommended a pre-Roe v. Wade abortion, and her friends and family largely agreed. "Stay alive for the three daughters you already have - don't risk everything!" But she did. At 6 months pregnant, my grandmother had an emergency cesarean and hysterectomy, or as she likes to say, "I lost 20 pounds that day!"

My aunt Kelly spent the first few months of her life in an incubator, but grew up to be healthy and strong (and built like Barbie). She's a mother of three and grandmother of two now, and has been the worship leader at each church she's attended for years and years. Two years ago she started training for a triathlon and competed so well she won a super-expensive racing bike.

She is one of my favorite people, and has always been my favorite aunt. Her first child is my cousin Jason, who was practically my twin growing up. I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without them. My strong love for my aunt shaped my pro-life views as an asexual child. Even though I had seen horrible pregnancies and deliveries, I believed somehow that God would make sure each baby born would be healthy and happy and in a good home.

I also somehow thought that the person my aunt was had been determined before she was born; that she was somehow the "same person" she'd been as a zygote, embryo, and fetus. And of course, I thought maternal mortality only happened when people had C-sections or gave birth in hospitals. If people would just have their babies at home under God's supervision like they were *supposed* to, clearly nothing would go wrong.

I didn't have any sort of "life begins at conception" idea, because frankly I didn't know what conception was, or very much at all about how people *became* pregnant. I don't think I was even aware of women who were pregnant in early stages: almost every pregnant woman I saw was either in or about to be in labor, so it was unquestionable to me that pregnant women had babies in their tummies (somewhere).

All this is to say - I get it. I was a fiercely pro-life little girl. I wrote a letter to President Bush Sr. as a child, begging him to overturn abortion before the election. (That whole "Supreme Court" thing was still a mystery.) By the time I got a response form letter and signed photograph, Bush had lost and Clinton was in office. I remember sitting in the backyard tearing that picture into tiny, tiny pieces. It was obvious he had never read my letter, and I was being dismissed.

I just wanted babies to be okay, and to not be killed. Since I lived in a vagina cult*, it seemed perfectly normal to me that women would want lots of pregnancies and babies. And of course, by the time I was 8, I'd heard I could never bear children of my own. The idea of someone throwing away a life, when I couldn't make one, tore me up, and I must admit a lot of my original anti-choice stance was founded on either ignorance or jealousy. I've since come to realize it is not the obligation of fertile women to provide children for the infertile.

Nothing monumental here. I'm just saying that ignorance of biology, ignoring the women, and jealousy at their ability to bear children in the face of my (supposed) inability were my reasons. I know more about the early trimesters of pregnancy now, and how few of those early zygotes and embryos even make it to the fetus stage. As a Christian, when I first became pro-choice, I theorized that the soul didn't enter the child until birth or quickening or until the brain was developed (neurology was already changing my views on the soul). Of course, I don't believe in anything like a soul these days, but I also don't believe a zygote has a personality or a guaranteed personality. So much of who we are is influenced by our brains and our environments; even with a genetic predisposition, I might never have developed OCD if I'd lived in a less hellacious home.

So, to the pro-life advocates who really are concerned about the teeny tiny babies, I can sympathize - some. But I'm not so ignorant now about pregnancy and birth. I know a lot more about the toll it can take on even the healthiest woman, and I don't think my ideology gives me the right to tell another person what to do with her own body. Yes, you can go on and on about whether or not the embryo/fetus has its own body (debateable) or what rights we have to harm another, but the fact of the matter is, pregnancy occurs within a *woman's* body. And so I think no one but that woman can say what risks she "should" be willing to take.

I support my grandmother's right to risk everything and bring my aunt Kelly into the world. I support my right to risk little, and not bring another child into the world. That's pretty much what pro-choice means: I'm for the right of women to make their *own* choices.

* Kelly's a made-up name. What? Only cult leaders don't get a say in whether I talk about them on the blog with a real name or not.
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I love my sister

I called my prolife evangelical Christian sister yesterday, to tell her about the whole "public abortion" thing before she saw it on the news. Frankly, since we're Facebook friends I thought she might already know, but somehow the *entire* thing had escaped her attention. (To give credit where it's due, she has a thriving small business, loving husband, and adorable daughter to care for, so maybe Facebook isn't where she spends all her time.) Here's what she said to me.

"Well, you know I am prolife and I'll probably cry when I get off the phone, but I love you and I'll always support you."

Go show her some love and browse the sexy costumes, wedding gowns, corsets, and custom-fit bras she's known for!
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