Saturday, October 25, 2008

This Time, One More Time, With Feeling... (Repost)

(I wrote this after the last presidential election, and I decide to revisit it before this one... here's hoping!)

November 3, 2004

Election Day dawned chilly and grey. I walked to my polling place with my umbrella, heart in my throat, as it always is when I go to cast my ballot. It’s exciting and daunting, every time, due to its grave importance and the great responsibility that freedom brings. I nervously ticked off the yard signs and bumper stickers, thinking about Election Day 2002, the loss of Paul Wellstone, and Election Day 2000, the loss of faith. The lines at my polling place were long, even at 7:30 in the morning, but the spirits were high, and people seemed excited to be there. This is America, and it is exhilarating: standing in line to cast my vote with my neighbors, in the gymnasium of a community center.

The following morning, I was forced to ask myself why bad votes happen to good people.

Has it come to this? Is the cloud of rhetoric so thick that it cannot be dispersed? Have voters become so convinced that “moral values” are more important than their own economic self interest, that the trend cannot be reversed? Are moderate Republicans so bound to The Party that they cannot see the damage being created by intrusive, big government policies and fiscal irresponsibility? Do we, as Americans, truly believe that the legislation of morality should be the domain of the government? Should all of this occur at the expense of our public schools, our public health, our civil liberties, our clean air and water, our wild lands, our national security?

What are we supposed to do now? Do we throw our hands up and become part of the new exodus? Do we grace foreign lands with our intelligence and creativity, our activism and our love of social responsibility, thus abandoning America to its seemingly chosen fate of becoming a post-modern Gilead?

I for one thought that there would never be a time when I would consider leaving this country due to frustration or disgust, or a simple mistrust of both the government and the governed. Today, I am not so sure. It is hard to wade through the morass of contempt and acid resentment that I have been feeling these four years and see that the United States still has the chance to fulfill its promise as a democracy. It is hard to retain a relentless and naïve positivism in the face of an overwhelming radical-conservative agenda that threatens the idea of American democracy at every level, reviling the very idea of public life and public service at the same time that it seeks to control them.

Certainly some amount of indignation will need to be expressed as we continue, as more aspects of the public sector arrive on the chopping block, which they inevitably will. We need to be more aware, more involved, and more critical. We need to be demanding of facts and honesty; we need to be in touch with our local, state, and federal officials. We need to craft and hone our arguments so that we are prepared when confronted by those who believe this represents a sea change. We need to have a working and whole understanding of the motives and modus operandi of the Neo-conservative machine so that we can explain it to people without sounding hysterical. The facts are on our side; we simply have to know, understand, and articulate them. We have to appeal to people’s hearts when it comes to moral issues on which we sense that there is ground to give, and refocus the moral arguments that are divisive—refocus that energy onto the real problems: the reality of people’s lives; the reality of the situation. Move their minds, if at all possible, just the slightest degree away from the issues of abortion, or gay marriage, or god, or guns. How does the Left win back the hearts and minds of the very people that used to form its base? Not all that long ago in our history, it was possible to be an evangelical Christian and carry on a crusade for social justice.

We all know the facts: tax breaks to the top one percent of Americans, crippling and alienating foreign policy, massive corporate welfare, deficit spending, a bloody and needless war that could continue for years, and an enormous and intrusive federal bureaucracy. We all know that true national security depends upon a strong infrastructure; state, local, and federal governments with integrity; and citizens with job security, health care, civic pride, a healthy environment, and an adequate safety net in case life should throw them a curve. Distrust of government does not foster a strong nation. And a government that plays cruel politics and uses showy euphemism and down-home talk to cover up disastrous policies will only, in the end, foster distrust.

We cannot continue to posit ourselves as leaders of the free world even as we erode our democracy in America and chip away at the foundations laid in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. How can we "export freedom" even as we diminish it here at home? If he is concerned about the security of this nation, The President should strengthen our domestic job base, extend assistance and hope to those who have been laid off or who are struggling to meet their daily needs, support and fund our public schools, release federal monies for support of state and local law enforcement, develop an energy policy based upon long-term needs, and pursue a foreign policy of cooperation and consistency. A nation with such might and so many resources has overwhelming possibility as a force for good both within its own borders and in the larger international community, instead of conducting itself like the biggest bully on the playground. Our national security lies with our citizens and our strong history of democracy and fairness.

Are we ready to throw that last shovelful of dirt on the grave of the American Democratic Experiment; sing an elegy for our beloved separation of church and state; speak a eulogy for the cherished separation of powers? Because that is what leaving would mean. I want to be a voice for optimism, if only to convince myself that something can be done for the better. We have been manipulated by fear into our present situation; that self-same fear cannot lead to defeatism. Yes, we are exhausted. This campaign was long, arduous, and spiteful. And somewhere in the back of our heads, we know that another one is around the corner. But we are the people who need to take a deep breath and then use it in defense of America; in defense of our liberty, our freedom, our history, and our future.

Senator Paul Wellstone

Monday, October 20, 2008

Keep Your Gays Off My Marriage (repost)

(note: I posted this on another blog of mine on in April of 2006, in response to now-Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's views. With all the talk of Prop 8. in CA, I decide to revisit it. Also, I usually only have one hand to type with due to the baby, so this is easier than something new.)

Someone has to help me out here:
How does having more people in love weaken the power of love?
How would creating more marriage make marriage less meaningful?

I am sorry to be behaving with the innocence of a child and the logic of a sane adult, but I just don't get it.

If I was tired of the "Marriage Debate" during the 2004 election, I am becoming weary to the point of blithering anger at this point.

There is a battle going on here in Minnesota in which a few radicals (Let's call a spade a spade: these people are radical, not conservative) want to put in place a constitutional ban on "gay marriage" that would also include banning "any legal recognition of domestic partnerships and civil unions or any 'legal equivalent' of marriage." Which means that the few benefits that do exist here for same-sex partnerships would go away right along with the hope of anything more.

That's sweet.

I bet Jesus is smiling right now.

Of course, it's a republican chick from an affluent bedroom community who has been trying to walk this pampered little pooch for a couple of years now. She wants to "protect traditional marriage." Don't these people have anything else to worry about? Apparently if Rick and Tom get married, or Susie and Michelle, this lady's marriage to her man will somehow be less meaningful, begging the question, how meaningful can it possibly be now?

Before I pitch an apoplectic fit that starts with "WHO CARES...?" and ends with a dull thunk as I pass out from emotional confusion on my heterosexual living room floor within the context of my heterosexual-about-to-be-legally-recognized-by-the-state-relationship, I'd like to know what makes me so special? Show me a constitutional reason why my relationship gets to be different from anyone else's? I mean, I think it's a pretty good relationship--really good, not to toot my own horn or Pete's (that's against the law, too), but because he has a penis, and I don't, that means we can legally be married? That's not really much of an achievement (sorry, Pete. No offense).

It just seems like such a waste of righteous anger. You're a dude, and you don't want to marry a dude? DON'T. This is America. You don't have to. You're a kristian, and you think being gay is wrong? Fine! Don't be! See: Declaration of Independence/Inalienable rights/"life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Last time I checked, we are not living in a theocracy, and we are actually fighting wars overseas so that other people don't get to, either. We don't have a state religion or even a state language, for that matter. We have an official bird, that we almost poisoned into extinction, but our government does not tell people how to worship (ok, ok, I know this is all only "in theory" lately). All that "In God We Trust" and "under God" malarky was added in the 1950's (even then, it does not say which God.). These kristians can yak all they want about "My Bible this..." and "My Bible that..." Whatever. My favorite book is Wuthering Heights, but that does not mean that I get to make other people dig up and hug their dead lovers or force children to marry each other and live in seclusion on the wasted moors of northern England. Just because some people believe that the Bible is a divine text does not make it so. Just because some people believe that their translation of that "divine text" says that marriage is between one man and one woman, does not create a basis for a Law in the United States of America.

Many of our ancestors came here to get away from that sort of oppression.

The thing is, it's important to try to stop these people before we slide completely into a theocratic corporate oligarchy, but this is really a smokescreen issue, as far as I can see. Like abortion. The Konservatives are using a scattershot technique on socially liberal thinkers to keep us from being able to devote our focused attention on any one issue. You want to stop drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? We'll ban abortion in South Dakota! War in Iraq? No! Were banning gay marriage! They toss out these social issues to get people all rankled while they gather power and money to themselves. In the end, in this country, those are the things that really matter. I don't believe that the Bush Administration cares one whit about gay marriage and abortion. They care about corporate welfare, power grabs, tax breaks, influence, and cronyism. They let the state senators and lesser minions do the dirty social politics work.

I am not gay. I am not going to turn gay if I watch Ellen or spend too much time with drag queens or see Brokeback Mountain. I don't think I am going to want to marry a woman any time soon (planning one wedding is quite enough, thank you.) On a very base and selfish level, this issue does not affect me. But I don't live that way. Any attempt to diminish my fellow Americans diminishes me and diminishes this country. Denying basic rights to other Americans makes me less of an American. And less of a human. What happens to others matters to me. I live in a country that used to encourage self-reliance as a tool for being able to help others, but it seems that self-reliance has turned to selfishness.

It does not matter to these people what actually happens to their fellow citizens as long as those citizens are living by a specific, enforced, neo-fundamentalist religious code. Living in squalor with an abusive boyfriend and a new baby when you are 17? At least you did not have an abortion! We saved you from hell! Are you in the hospital, dying of a terminal illness and want to leave your estate to your same-sex partner? Too bad! You don't deserve to because your choices are evil and you are going to hell!

After all, Jesus is only happy when people are hurting because they brought it on themselves.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"Left Behind" Sanity

This is old news. Of course it is. I would have to quit my job in order to write about everything I want to write about. Because never in my memory has there been so much appalling behavior on which to comment, and never in my memory has the American citizenry appeared so ovine. One of the most questionable bellwethers in the herd is the “Left Behind” franchise: 16 “novels,” 5 graphic novels, a music CD, 3 movies (and a fourth on the way), 40 kids’ books, a video game, and there’s more. The official website is as commerce-driven as any dot-com, and the founders of the franchise are rolling in Christian capital. The faithful have pocketbooks, and they are going to use them.

I know that, for me, the books have just been noise in the background. They are wildly popular and have sold millions of copies (65 million, by’s count) and are eagerly devoured by a certain segment of the population, but I really had no idea of their nefarious nature. I have never read one, and no, I never will. There are too many good books out there that I have yet to read, and I am not about to toss Harry Potter aside in favor of a book that starts out like this:

“Rayford Steele had to admit that the first time he saw a bear and then a leopard moving about in public, something niggled at him to keep his distance, to not show fear, to make no sudden movements. But when he saw the bear and the cat cooperate to climb a tree and make a meal of leaves and branches, he was emboldened to trust God for the whole promise. It wasn't just he who had become a vegetarian. It was true of all former carnivores.”


The series, in case you have not guessed, comes out of the Book of Revelation and the concept of the “end times.” This is also old news. There has always been a sector of every population throughout human history that believed it was living in the end times. At some point, one of them may be right, I suppose, though I myself think it will be the end of humanity, not the end of the world itself, and it will be more of a whimper than a bang. There has also always been a sector of the population actually hoping for the end times and the second coming; even trying to bring them about. This behavior seems to fly in the face of prophecies that are destined—fixed by future events, but it’s easy enough to explain away inconsistencies when you are basing all your ideas upon improvable beliefs and will, in any case, always fall back upon the Bible as the revealed word of god and the ultimate “so there.”

It would be easy for me to wander off on a tangent. The whole hot mess is ripe with things to bemoan, criticize, debunk, and mock. The fact that many of our policymakers believe in this stuff or are listening to people who believe in this stuff (the people who wrote it, in fact) is downright terrifying, especially when you start to pick it apart and translate it into actual policy decisions. But what started me out here was the Left Behind videogame. That’s right: “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” is available for you to purchase for only $19.99. In it, you can lead the Tribulation Force against the Global Community Peacekeepers. In case you are wondering, the “Tribulation Force” is the good guys and the “Global Community Peacekeepers” are the bad guys—the anti-christ’s army, as a matter of fact. See, this is after the rapture, and the anti-christ has reorganized the United Nations into the Global Community. The Global Community is a one-world government that seeks “peace for all mankind.”


Apparently, in this game, resorting to violence that is not in self-defense lowers your “Spirit Level.” You raise your spirit level by converting civilians (who are actually not called converts but “Friends”), who you then train to spread the truth. Your spirit level will also be lowered if you are exposed to any of the Global Community’s rock music or secularist propaganda. If your unit’s spirit level gets low enough, it will switch sides unless you pray. It’s a scary world; after all, you are up against rock stars, activists, cult leaders, gang bosses, and soldiers who are being trained in “College.”

Clearly, I would not succeed at this game because I already went to college, my husband is a rock star, I am an activist, and, oh yeah, I don’t believe in god, so praying is pretty much out.

If you want more information, there were a couple of FAQ’s on the website: one for the mainstream media and one for the Christian media. Although now, there is just the “Mainstream Media FAQ.” This question was on the Christian Media FAQ, but now it is listed with the others on the “Mainstream Media FAQ:”

“Are guns used by Christians against non-Christians? Why or why not?
The storyline in the game begins just after the Rapture has occurred – when all adult Christians, all infants, and many children were instantly swept home to Heaven and off the Earth by God. The remaining population – those who were left behind – are then poised to make a decision at some point. They cannot remain neutral. Their choice is to either join the AntiChrist – which is an imposturous one world government seeking peace for all of mankind, or they may join the Tribulation Force – which seeks to expose the truth and defend themselves against the forces of the AntiChrist.”

So… yes? I think that perhaps what they meant to write was “Yes, guns are used by Christians against Nonchristians because the Christians are right and the Nonchristians are wrong.” One of the forces of the antichrist is the unit type called the “Secularist,” which is a unit that specializes in deception.

A review by addresses the guns a bit more clearly, stating: “Many groups have made inaccurate statements about this game that need to be corrected. For one thing, it is not particularly violent. While there are violent aspects of the game, the game makes it clear that shooting is the last resort. Second, it is not hateful to other religions. It does have an agenda, and I think you need to know that going in, but there's no bashing of other faiths.”

This review says that it is not hateful to other religions, but what it clearly means is what it says in the second sentence: there is no overt bashing of other faiths. Dividing the world into Christian/Nonchristian and Christ/Antichrist is the same black and white “us vs. them” that is inherently hateful. It turns people into opposites and pits them against each other. Characters in the video game don’t need to be running around screaming that “Muslims are evil” in order to create an atmosphere of hate.

In the end, I doubt that I will be running out to purchase this video game, as I have no game console and think that video games in and of themselves are rather pestilential regardless of whether or not they are spewing such simple and morally destructive messages. I’d rather pick up a book.

And it won’t be “Left Behind: Kingdom Come.”

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

as far as national conversations go, this one is a bust

What gets me is that a woman, a mother, and a politician can run for president, on her own merits, garner over seventeen million votes*, come close to earning the nomination of her party, all the while withstanding naturalized sexism and repeated barbs about her appearance, attire, and physical attributes, and only now are we having a "national conversation" about motherhood, sexism, feminism, and politics.

How insulting.
How shallow.

What gets me is that a party which, in recent memory, has done little or nothing to promote or support the cause of women's rights or cast light on women's issues in a meaningful manner, and that historically spent much time vilifying that very same woman, mother, and politician, is now crying "sexism" and acting like champions for the cause of the True American Woman.

How tactless.
How dishonest.

What gets me is that they are getting away with it.

Feminism is not the idea that any woman will do, and feminism is not about a free pass for individuals based on gender**. Feminism is a thoughtful and critical philosophy stating that women are entitled to the same rights and considerations that men receive. Feminism respects women’s choices, but feminism demands that there actually be choices. A feminist will stand up for a woman who has been the object of discrimination, harassment, or violence because of her gender, but it does not mean that women are not to be criticized.

Oh, and feminism does not mean that conservative women are not to be be criticized.

Just as Barack Obama being a black man is not to be considered in a reasoned discussion regarding race in America, Hillary Clinton being a white woman was not to be considered in a reasoned discussion of gender in America. To do so would be "playing the race card" in Senator Obama's case and "whining" in Senator Clinton's case.

Why, then, is Governor Palin not whining when the McCain campaign and its myriad of female spokespeople cry "sexism?" Why is it different now, now that it's not about Hillary Clinton? Why has the clearly political choice of a token woman prompted this "national conversation?"

The right wants it both ways: criticizing Governor Palin is "sexist," criticizing Senator Clinton was "playing hardball." Being a liberal, working mother will bring about the downfall of moral America; being a conservative, working mother is a strong choice. The GOP wants Governor Palin's family off the table, while they trot them out at every opportunity. They tout "family values" including abstinence*** and then praise their candidate for being brave when her family contradicts those values. What if the tables were turned? The right bashes Michelle Obama for being too smart and calls her a "baby mama," so what if Senator Obama's daughters were older, and one of them turned up as an unwed pregnant teen? Imagine that "national conversation." Think the right would not use race and gender as two cards in their game?

Governor Palin is neither a feminist nor a champion for women's rights. Governor Palin is a female politician of the kind that men can handle: she's a guy's gal. She has not earned a position on the national political stage, she was given one because of her gender (and religion), and she would not have been given that place were it not for Hillary Clinton and her high profile and vote-getting campaign for president.

Their praise of Governor Palin is implicit criticism of Senator Clinton. They are still talking about clothes and make up. How is this progress? To them, Senator Clinton was not a true woman, and this becomes clear if you think about the long thread of Hillary Hatred coming from the right. It's truly bizarre at the same time that it is stunningly boring. Conservatives disliking a strong, powerful woman? How fresh! How new and engaging! How not sexist!

The sexism here is that the media and the right were allowed to batter Hillary Clinton remorselesly then turn around and choose an unqualified woman for their second spot. The sexism is that the right thinks that almost any woman will do. The sexism is that many women are falling for it, and many men are feeling self-important for supporting *gasp* a woman in the vice presidential spot. The sexism is that Walter Mondale chose a woman in that same spot in 1984, but Governor Palin is being hailed for breaking the glass ceiling.

Whoever heard of anything being broken by something so passive and flacid? It's like taking a Q-Tip to a mirror and expecting to make a scratch. The Old Boy's Club in the GOP opened the window, pulled her into their smoky back room, and closed it right back up. Nothing breaking there.

Choosing Govenor Palin was cynical and sexist, and it's an insult to the women's movement. The whole conversation is sexist, with the underlying theme that Governor Palin is the anti-Hillary. Even though both women are working mothers who are attractive and wear lipstick, the right wants their women to reflect the proper ideal of feminity, which apparently must include subservience on the one hand and ruthless narcisism on the other. This conversation is setting the women's movement back because, once again, it seems that it is being defined by "traditionalists" and, heaven forbid I use the term, the patriarchy. It is being defined by men who have had little experience with women's issues and the women who love them.

The difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom is that pitbulls are routinely destroyed in animal shelters because they are pitbulls, and hockey moms are a breed the establishment can handle.

And what gets me is that America is falling for it.

*It was difficult for me to quickly find an accurate number. Any search I put in with the term "Hillary Clinton" came up with a lot of right-wing criticism, including Rush Limbaugh. See? The right loves women, simply adores them. Look how much they talk about Senator Clinton!

**The term "gender" is used here in a strictly biological sense. Modern feminism includes many critical discussions of gender as a social construct, and modern feminism must also address trans-gender issues.

***Abstinence as a family value is, of course, ridiculous.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Poor Dear

President George W. Bush, quoted in Politico:

"I didn't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."

Hear that, America? Our Commander in Chief has given up golf for the past five years to show how he's really in this with our troops and their families.

And all this time, I have been thinking that he's a bit out of touch with reality and perhaps a little selfish.

He sure proved me wrong.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Just a thought...

The gas tax holiday is a stupid idea.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I am officially not sorry that I voted for Senator Clinton in Minnesota's primary this past March. Senator Obama has proven himself to be more interested in getting elected than he is in telling the truth. I will still vote for whoever is the Democratic nominee in November, but I have much less respect for Mr. Obama.

I don't know if he saw the same speech that I did on Monday or the same program on Friday, but I did not feel that Rev. Wright's comments were divisive, fiery, or controversial unless you are Fox News trying to fan a flame or two. Senator Obama could have handled the situation in the same way that Rev. Wright did: "I am a policitian, he is a pastor."

Instead, he has thrown over his spiritual leader of the past twenty years; the man who married him and baptized his children. One has to wonder if his story of his coming to Christianity in Rev. Wright's church was just so much oratory.

oh well.

It's always fun to stand by and watch the Democratic party smolder into ruins until it is blown away in a wind of irrelevance simply because it does not know how to use its assets to its own benefit. Even when we have the support, the facts, and the issues on our side, we still manage to screw it all up.

Senator Edwards, I miss you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Now we have to go to Indiana?

Will this madness never end?

The party seems to have completely forgotten that the person we are really running against is John McCain.

I am sick of both of them; I am sick of democrats infighting; I am sick of the media.
I'd like to get started on a real campaign now, please.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Reprise: The More Things Change

(I posted this on another blog, two years ago. Now that the anniversary of Galileo's trial has come 'round again, I thought to revisit this entry, and see what's different... if anything...)

In 1543, Nicolai Copernicus formally proposed the idea that the earth revolved around the sun, thus giving the scientific finger to Aristotle and Ptolemy, who previously had a two-thousand year monopoly with their earth-centered universe theory. Nevertheless, almost 100 years after Copernicus’ controversial proposition, on April 12, 1633, The Inquisition (which nobody expected) put Galileo Galilei on trial and placed him under unlimited house arrest, which is actually very limiting, for supporting the theory of a heliocentric system. He died nine years later.

350 years after that, the Roman Catholic Church acquiesced, saying that Galileo had been right all along.

How nice and helpful of them. Now he can finally stretch his legs, go for a nice walk, meet a girl, get a job.

Presently, a mere 14 years after the Church’s shocking admission, and 373 years after the conviction of Galileo, the United States of America is sinking into an Inquisition-esque blending of government and religion that has just as many anti-scientific and inhumane possibilities. One does not have to travel to the formerly populist and once progressive midland state of Kansas to see examples of this—it seems to be popping up everywhere. The lens of fundamentalist Christianity is skewing so many aspects of daily American life that it’s hard to know where to begin.

Our current morphing of a medieval form of religion and a feudal concept of government is more cynical and subtle than such grandiose escapades as The Inquisition, though. At least, one wants to feel, those people back then truly (madly) believed in their cause, however hideous and brutal their actions. History will decide whether this rather forlorn leg of America’s journey will deserve Capital Letters. Far from being filled with a true evangelical zeal, which would be bad enough, the Bush Administration uses the Christian Lens to blur all other aspects of its activity. George W. Bush gets messages from God, he says. Aside from the obvious cries of “Bullshit” and “So?”, this sort of thing is considered DSM-IV code-able by many medical practitioners.

They use accompanying “social issues” to distract and obfuscate their true aims and deflect any organized attempt from the left to challenge them. They have our once socialist, rural, independent, and religious rabble-rousers of the Midwest abandoning their own economic and personal interests in order to rally around such “issues” as gay marriage, abortion, and evolution-in-the-schools, the latter making some of us wonder what decade we are living in. These are, of course, only issues if they are made into issues; only if they are given credence and attention. Since they cannot be ignored, it’s really quite brilliant strategy on the part of the neo-cons. South Dakota bans abortion even though a majority of South Dakotans do not favor the ban, and resources from civil libertarians, women’s advocacy groups, and progressive organizations simply must be diverted or raised.

The left and people who do not want the government involved in telling us what we can’t do, let alone what we can, really does not have a similar diversion to launch. We can’t respond with making something with an equally misguided religious fervor behind it EVEN MORE LEGAL in, say, California. Every once in a while, in Oregon or Massachusetts, they allow physician-assisted suicide or make gay marriage legal, but we can’t really seem to draw them away from their beloved Causes. Or not enough of them, at least. This is of course due not only to the zeal with which they pursue their causes, but also to the backing that they have from powerful and wealthy people who want them to continue to distract and cajole. This is due also to the fact that we don’t just have to worry about Jesus—we on the left have to worry about the deficit, the war in Iraq, the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, energy policy, the decay of our urban centers, prescription drug plans, social security, the breakdown of biodiversity, our public schools, and where Dick Cheney is out hunting at the time. We can’t just cry “Fetus Down!”, blow our horns, and circle the wagons. Someone has to defend the homestead.

And the thing is, I don’t think Jesus cared whether or not the earth revolved around the sun, or the other way around; and I don’t think he cared whether or not Simon married Peter; and I don’t think he cared whether or not children thought that the earth really was created in seven days by one guy in the sky; or foresaw an age where these issues would be the purchase of a government. It seems to me that what really mattered to him was that people were good and kind to each other and especially to those less fortunate; and that a loving god, and a love for god, make people better and make them strive to be the sort of people who would be worthy of that love, and that people did not use that god for nefarious purposes. I understand that many of the abortion opponents have a deeply, truly felt need and desire to protect what they believe to be an individual human life. I get that these people have Christian/Biblical interpretations that lead them to believe that they are doing the “godly thing” by opposing gay marriage and disbelieving evolutionary theory. It’s where they cross the line laid down in America between their own personal moral, ethical, or religious convictions and the role of the government and the ensuing conflict with the rights of others. They get to have their beliefs. They get to raise their own children how they see fit. They get to do those things as long as it does not conflict with my right to do those things as well. They are not allowed to put me under unlimited house arrest so that their religio-political agenda can flourish.

Especially when one considers that it is part of an ingeniously concocted strategy on the part of the neo-conservatives to transform populist rhetoric and use it to promote conservative causes—when the very people that they have convinced on religious terms are the very people who benefit the least from their economic and political agenda. Were Roe v. Wade to be overturned, there would be much rejoicing in many parts of America. Were there to be a constitutional ban on gay marriage in every state in the Union, there would be celebrations of victory. Were creationism to become the rule in all public schools, they would have won. But what would really change for them? Their taxes? Their living expenses? The quality of their children’s lives? Their health care? Their access to government? No. None of these things would be improved for them. And once their focus was off of their emotional religious issues, would they finally notice?

But the lives of many Americans would be diminished. Their hopes and possibilities; their opportunities would be lessened.

To all of the other people who still continue to vote for this administration, support it and its cronies—the people who don’t have the same social agenda; or are opposed to the governmental and fiscal policies; those who are voting republican because they always have; those people who are neither harmed nor helped by the economic policies or the ever-further-reaching arm of government because they can afford not to be—the party has changed. And you should know better. I am not telling you to “switch sides”; I am asking you to hold that party accountable for the clash between its rhetoric and its actions. I am asking you to question your own actions and rhetoric and contrast them with your votes. To look at your morals and your beliefs, yes, even your religion—not perceived social issues, but actual humanity, and compare this with what is happening in this country and in the world as a result of current American policy. This is not the party of Lincoln. It is not the party of T. Roosevelt. It has become what Eisenhower warned us against. It is not a godly, Christian administration, promoting the causes of the downtrodden, the meek, and the disconsolate who have no other voice; it has become, in practical terms, quite the opposite.

And that is the sort of thing that would make the baby Jesus cry.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday, Snorkel Sunday

I get it.
Believe me.
I can't drink.

And I don't care, really. At least, not when I am at home or otherwise in control of my surroundings. It's the fact that Pete CAN drink that really sticks in my craw. I am, after all, doing this for the both of us.

On Sunday, we decided to take the morning for snorkeling. We had thought that we would not have time because it would take up an entire day. Usually, you book with a trip on a boat, they take you out to a location, dump you in the water, you snorkel until they sound the horn, then you get back on the boat. But a couple of wedding guests who live on Maui suggested a location south of us on a marine sanctuary where we could splash into the water on our own. We rented gear from Snorkel Bob's for eight bucks a piece in the morning and went off in search of the spot.

Ahihi Bay's landscape is compliments of the most recent lava flow from Haleakala volcano in 1790. If you drive just past the parking lot, the road takes you across the main part of the flow. It looks like an enormous backhoe came through and ripped up the land, but the large brownish black chunks are lava, which Pete could almost not believe. We drove across it a bit before turning around and getting our stuff together for snorkeling.

It's about a five minute walk across the lava flow to the beach. The rocky shoreline means that there is not a lot of sand being kicked up at the shore, so the visibility is quite good. There were a few people there, but the space is relatively small, so it looked more crowded than it was. I let Pete take care of spitting in my mask as that is grodey, and I can't do it. He says it keeps it from fogging, and it seems to work.

We don't have any pictures from this part of the day because you can't leave stuff in your car or on the beach unattended because it will be stolen; a nice bonus and a comment on the interesting sociology of resort areas. We bought a waterproof camera, but we have to take that in for developing like they did in the old days.

Suffice to say that the snorkeling in this bay is amazing. You see fish right away and almost as quickly are over beautiful coral beds sparkling with blues, reds, and yellows. I don't know how many different species of fish we saw because we did not have a waterproof guidebook to go along with our waterproof camera. They were not very skittish, either, with a few species coming rather close. Pete could dive down a number of feet, and he could hear the whales singing. I tried to dive as well but could not get my ears to clear and probably would not have been "allowed" to go down deep enough to hear them anyway. We swam about until we got cold and then got out to warm up. My teeth were actually chattering as I sat on the shore.

We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chips and watched a mighty whale show in which a cow and a calf took turns breaching. I want to think it was a lesson, given to teach the value of fun to the young.

We went back in for a little while because we had to leave at around 2:30 so we could return to the condo and get ready for the buffet dinner at the Abroe's at 4:30.
It was quite the spread, but I think that Matt may have tired of having his picture taken.


Rebecca and Matt are Mauied!
It's official--the whole band is hooked up. One third of the band is in the parental way (the bass player and his wife welcomed a new daughter recently). The other third is knocked up (that would be the guitar player and his wife).

It was a gorgeous day. Basically, the weather on Maui cooperated the entire time. It gets a bit windy, but that can help to keep the heat down (and the hair flying).

Pete had breakfast with the groom in the morning, and then came back to the condo to clean up, then off again to Matt's folks' house to groom with the groomsmen.

I think he cleans up rather well.
He's certainly MY best man...
OK, enough of that.

Pete took a few snapshots of the men getting ready. I'll spare you Matt in the towel with the shades on. For now. I will substitute this equally sexy shot:
Weddings are a very solemn occasion, and I am glad to see that these young men were handling it as such.

While they were horsing around, I was back at the condo. This was my first time being the significant other of a participant in a wedding, and I have to say: not that much fun. This is also my first time being the pregnant significant other of a participant of a wedding, and I have to say: extra-depressing not that much fun.

I don't have much (or any) control over my emotional state right now, and I seem to be easily plunged into a blue-grey space of moody contemplation. It's not that there is anything really wrong, I am just sensitive. While Pete went through his "Wow, my whole life is going to be different" phase four months ago, I am going through it now, but it's "Wow, my whole life already is different, and this is just the beginning." It's not a phase.

Being out and about among the people brought it all into sharp focus. All my restrictions are right there, in my face, whereas at home, I can keep them away and at bay; my choices are limited to the stuff I can do and have. The other stuff is not around.

I got ready and headed up to the resort. The one thing I can say about being by myself is that I was on time, meaning half an hour early. I had the camera bag and Pete's guitar, Lily, with me, and I needed to find a place to stow her for the ceremony, which meant finding my husband. It was all so weird; I am used to being with him in unfamiliar places. Heck, I am just used to being with him--we arrive at events together. It's one of the many nice things about being married. At least, it's one of the many nice things about being married to someone you like.

Luckily, I found Pete right away in the expansive white marble lobby, and he walked with me down to the ceremony site. He was already a couple of Mai Tais into his day, and that put me a couple of Mai Tais into my already glum gloominess.

The ceremony was short and sweet. Rebecca's grandfather conducted part of it, and a Hawaiian minister took the rest. Matt got all teary when he saw his gorgeous bride coming down the hill, and it's always nice to see two people in love like that.

She did look great, and her mom made the dress.
At the reception, I ordered the Filet, medium rare, against all restrictions, but I was feeling like I wanted to cry, and I could not bear to add a well-done piece of meat onto that (the other two choices were fish). I was feeling so alienated from the situation and from the self I was used to being. Of course, I could not eat the whole thing, delicious as it was, because I felt guilty.

It's weird to realize that you are, in one way, not the person you were. As I have said before, I am not changed in essentials; my character remains the same, but this is a concrete marker. It's not necessarily bad, but it's not entirely good--it's something that I have to get used to. Marrying Pete did not change anything other than being able to call him my husband and having the psychological confirmation of a commitment and a future. This is a whole other animal.


And it's squirming around in my belly.

The festivities wrapped up at around 11 o'clock, and there were no mishaps aside from the groom spilling red wine all over his rented (white) vest and shirt. Earlier in the day, the wedding rings went missing for a short period of time, but they had been in the possession of the flower girl and were easily recovered. Pete did not get a chance to play the guitar, as it was not that kind of reception, but our wedding playlists on our iPod came in handy once again.

All in all, I do believe that the bride and groom were happy with the day, and that's what matters after all. They are certainly happy together.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


We usually have something to do and somewhere to be, and a lot of this vacation is on a time schedule, but it has not felt overly restrictive or painful, which is both amazing and good. I am going to ascribe that to the laid back attitude of the islands and my desire to emulate it.

Sometimes, it even works.
After we had coffee and breakfast, we trekked south to meet the wedding party at the Fairmont, which is a big, posh, rather obnoxious resort in Wailea. While it was open and lovely in the lobby area, with marble floors, wooden accents, and statuary, I felt a bit like I was in Vegas without the gambling. It does not help that I am genuinely uncomfortable outside of my social class, regardless of the myth of a classless America.
The wedding party is small, and the guest list is around 40, so it's a rather intimate group. There were a few extra people at the rehearsal, partners like me and a couple of relatives, and it went pretty quickly, even though the wedding planner has trouble getting details out in a lucid, succinct, and helpful manner. I'm glad that I did not have to hear any of it, though I also kind of wish that I would have because it probably would make for good material.
On the way down to the wedding site by the sea with Matt, Sandi (wedding planner), and an uncle, she reminded Matt that, as the groom, his only job was to show up and be quiet. That kind of crap makes me crazy as it's hand-in-hand with the "all about the bride" nonsense, which I absolutely despise and would not allow to be applied to my wedding, but this is not my wedding, so I held my tongue. Wisely. I mean, is there a bride without a groom? I don't think so...

After the rehearsal, Paul and Linda (bro-in-law and sister of the bride) met us at Maui Tacos for lunch, and then we went south to Big Beach and some time by the ocean. It was warm and partly cloudy, and the beach was peopled but not overly crowded. Pete had some fun in the surf, and we read and relaxed on the sand. I went in for a little while just as we were leaving; I was on the beach most of the time with the stuff because you can't leave things unattended.

We headed back to the condo and got ready for the rehearsal dinner. It was the first time that I had dolled myself up in months. I had my dress from the experience at "Hot Mama," and my new silver sandals. Pete thought I looked really good. I was feeling rather large.
The rehearsal dinner was at another hotel south of us, in a restaurant with a great location and decor by the sea. They were walking around with trays of Mai Tais, which looked really, really good. My restrictions were beginning to pop up. Indeed, they were being paraded about wherever I looked. When we ordered, I had to get stuff that I did not want because I could not have the prawns, I could not have the fish, I could not have the steak because I only eat it rare... I could not have the wine or the champagne. Pete could.

It's not going to get any less frustrating.

The salad was good, though.

We sat at the Kids' Table with the bride and groom, and it was a lively bunch, but by 9:00, I was starting to get tired. We made our goodbyes and our way home.

Tomorrow is wedding time.

I'm glad we are already married.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Signs, Fences, and Unstoppable Ignorance

It's 7:30, the birds are singing, and I am having coffee, Maui strawberries, and chocolate... I am also in Hawaii with my husband, who is also up.

Starting the day early like this makes for a nice long day of activity and helps to slow the vacation down, which is just what I want. Although, 4:00 a.m. yesterday was a little much. It put me to sleep at 8:45.

There are many scheduled activities associated with the wedding and many more impromptu group activities. Yesterday, we had a whale watch at 1:00, and I think about 30 people from the 42 person guest list showed up. It was a chance to meet and re-meet friends and family of Matt and Rebecca, which is a good way to ease me in. Plus, it was a big boat, and I was with Pete.

We had the morning to do whatever we liked. After breakfast and blogging, shower and sunscreen, there was not quite enough time to go to the beach, so we decided to drive up to the Iao State Monument and poke around in the mountains a little bit. By the time we got going and stopped at the natural food store, "a little bit" of time was about all we had, but it was a nice drive and a nice day and, again, see above, we are in Hawaii.

The Iao Needle, as it is known, is an "erosional remnant," which is the geologist's way of saying a "really pretty and rather spectacular natural oddity." The topography of Hawaii allows for so many different experiences, and the mountains with their sharply delineated valleys and cliffs covered with green foliage are beautiful and unlike anything I have ever seen.

I am bad in crowds, in general. People in groups tend to be stupid; I wind up feeling that we don't deserve to be ruling this planet and we are due for a well-deserved smackdown. I have decided that I need a uniform I can wear to state and federal sites which will imbue me with assumed authority. Then I can tell off idiots like the dumb f@#! wearing the Guinness shirt, stumbling around on the stones, outside the barrier in the botanical garden, wrecking a giant spiderweb, harassing a green gecko, and taking pictures with his little disposable camera. He did not deserve to be wearing a Guinness shirt. Pete said that I could even have a fake ticket book, and I could write people up, at which point I told him to stop it because he was turning me on. Had I such a uniform, it would be good for the general public, good for me, and good for Pete, later at home.

That's a different blog.

I would definitely need one of those ranger hats.

The hat can really make the outfit, sometimes.

I was watching that moron, stumbling around on the rocks when we were on the way back down from the needle. I was already in a foul mood from the dumbassity of humans, so I was wishing he would break his ankle, or that the spiders that were on him we poisonous, or that he would somehow meet with karmic peril that would not necessarily teach him a lesson but would warm the cockles of my black little heart, but no such thing happened. Up at the shelter near the needle, hundreds of people have left their lame little modern petroglyphs on the wood, scratching their I was betting that there was rarely a time to be alone in such a place when a couple of kids came up, and the boy started scratching something into one of the pillars. I say kids when they could well have been of voting age, which makes me think there should be a social responsibility test in order to vote. That flies in the face of democracy, I KNOW, but it would not necessarily fly in the face of better government.

The girl said "No, don't do that."

I breathed a sigh of relief.

"Don't use your nail. Use a coin or something."

Relief over, anger welling.

It's a small, simple thing, but why do people do this? I doubt they even spent a minute looking around at the scenery, opting instead for vandalizing a public space.

What set me off in the first place was that when we arrived at the shelter, a family consisting of three kids and a mom and dad were coming down a slope just behind the barrier and a signpost stating "don't go up here" and why. Who ARE these people? Is this a Dominion thing? Are they fundies who have bought so deeply into the whole "thou shalt have dominion over the earth" crap in The Bible that they really believe that such rules are unimportant in God's eyes, and they do not apply to them?

Again, I don't get it. And I know that if I said something, it would not be respected, and I would only be madder in the end.

We headed back to the docks at Maakena where we were to meet the whale watching group, and I braced myself for socializing. I picked up a few postcards--really cool vintagey ones that are printed on recycled paper with soy inks! This helped to appease some of the frustration of earlier. Pete had an espresso, and we saw a bird we have never seen before. I still have not managed to get a bird book, but I'll get one, even if it's on the way out, at the airport. It was a Brazilian red-capped cardinal, and it was really cool. I did not take this picture, but here it is:
We have also seen (and heard) Myna birds, zebra doves (there's one with a hurt foot who visits our porch in the mornings), cattle egrets, numerous as-yet unidentified water birds, little brown birds, and frickin' ubiquitous house sparrows.

No one did anything retarded on the boat, which was good because with two thirds of the passengers being wedding guests, there would have been a good chance that the perpetrator was someone I might have to talk to later.

The whale watch was run by the Pacific Whale Foundation, a nonprofit research group invested in conservation, which was a cool, refreshing tonic. The Abroes sported everyone on this excursion, which was generous beyond the call, and quite a treat. I have never been on a whale watch, and I went through a whale and dolphin phase as a young girl, so this was a treat. The captain of the boat, Captain Doug, talked like a morning radio d.j./game show host circa 1978, and I would have paid him to shut up, but he did not talk the whole time. Sandi the naturalist did most of the talking. We saw numerous cows and calves as well as a few males and observed logging, tail slapping, and breaching, and heard them singing. It was a two hour cruise, and it was quite relaxing.
Afterwards, we shopped a bit in the store, and everyone was trying to organize the rest of the day. I was done and felt that it was unnecessary, but I understand the gesture. The plan was to go back to the Abroe's house and then meet for dinner at 7:00. I might be able to do one of those, but there was no way I could do both. Also, it was around 4:00, we had been here since noon, and the time to eat was now. Right now.

Pete and I came back to the condo. Pete had a dip in the ocean, and then we walked across the street to an Indian restaurant by the sea. We had our standard veggie samosas, naan, daal makhni, chicken tikka masala, and saag paneer, and it was really, really, tremendously good. The experience was aided by the long, pleasant day in the sun and the cool breeze of the ocean under the lowering sun.

Does anyone else find anything about this funny?
Pete met everyone for dinner at 7:00. He did not get there until 7:30, he was the first, no one was hungry, the restaurant was packed, and I am glad I stayed home. Everyone seemed to understand that the pregnant lady was not up to it; they don't need to know the subtleties of my neuroses beyond that. I can blame the fetus.


I am in Hawaii, so I have only glancing contact with the news, but are they still talking about Obama's pastor?


Are there not more important things going on?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Baby Steps

First things first: find Hawaii public radio.

I drove down South Kihei Road to the classical strains of 90.7, picking up postcard stamps along the way. I drove through Kihei, through Wailea and Makena to Makena State Park and Big Beach.

Big Beach was refreshing, even though there were many people there. It's undeveloped, and there are no buildings in sight.

This part of Maui is not unlike South Florida in appearance, as far as the human habitation is concerned. The vegetation and topography differ in that, as far as I know, Florida does not have volcanoes. I also have yet to see a theme park here in Maui. I don't feel a sense of disappointment; I guess that I did not have many expectations about this trip, and how I feel is more important than how it looks. We'll get out of the more developed areas once we have the time.

Today, I had mainly to myself. I took off my shoes and walked on the soft sand on the edge of the surf, enjoying the sun and sounds. Just a few days ago, it was 14 degrees in Minnesota, and now, here I am: no coat, no socks. The water was blue and green, and the sand was a rich light brown that would be aptly described as "sandy" were it the name of a paint color or a flooring material (I may have remodeling in the back of my mind). I lingered there perhaps half an hour before making my way back through the parking lot. People were beginning to pour in. Mental note: best to get to the beach around 10:00.

I wound my way back up the coast through Wailea, which is the rich man's Kihei. Basically upgraded shops, hotels, and resorts, and the type of manicured green spaces that are abundant when wealth is present. There are acres on the island side of the road devoted to upscale golf courses, sprinklers a-blazing. I found the whole thing to be a bit cringe-worthy.

In Kihei, I stopped at the little natural foods store. I feel very at home in such places, and it soothes me. Bookstores do the same thing. I found local, organic vegetables and fruits, some locally baked bread, and a few other items to stock the condo, all the while realizing that I had not eaten yet aside from tea and seventeen macadamia nuts, and it was almost noon.

I decided to take my haul back to the condo and make some lunch. I relaxed to a show on the History Channel about the War of 1812, and I worked on my uncle Steve's drawing for his CD cover. At around 1:30, I left to head north and west to Lahaina to meet the boys, and I stopped at a farmers' market along the way. It was small, but I found worthy items including strawberries grown on the island, Maui limes and lemons, and some local orange-infused wild honey.

It's only about 17 miles to Lahaina, and the speed limits are relatively low here. Through Kihei, it's 20, sometimes 30 miles per hour, and most of the way to Lahaina, it was 45, though there was one small stretch of 55. I prefer the slower speeds. It's much more relaxing. Plus, it's easier to look around and easier to avoid hitting pedestrians. Maui is infested with wild mustangs, and by that, I mean the car. It seems to be the thing to do: come to Maui, rent a Mustang. They are everywhere, though once I decided to count the frequency of Mustangs in a mile of cars, I only saw one in 85. Once I stopped they were again swarming. I don't know how they knew...

The road hugs the coast, and the waters off to the south and west are practically lousy with humpback whales. I saw a big flipper and what looked like a calf breaching as I drove along. I decided to stop along the way home if there was time.

Lahaina is Provincetown, Massachusetts and Jackson, Wyoming in a tropical setting. There is not much to choose between them on the surface. The difference is in what kind of crap you can buy in the shops and what kind of history you can find crammed in amongst the souvenir stores and Wet Seal. I have found that I am not quite ready for society. The traffic was slow and voluminous, and the people were swarming. I found the needlework store, but it was sparse and unnecessary. If I have a needle emergency, I can go there. Otherwise, meh. By the time Pete called, I had practically had it with Lahaina and was ready to go back home. It was strange to be meeting Pete on our vacation, and it made me realize that we were indeed on vacation, but it was Matt's wedding, and Pete's first responsibility was to that. I was also becoming more acutely aware of how unused to socializing I am, and how uncomfortable I was feeling.

When I finally found a parking space and arrived at the pizza joint to meet the boys, I just wanted to leave. They had been diving, and now they were drinking beer: two things I am not allowed to do. It was coming into sharper relief for me: Pete can do whatever he wants, he has no restrictions. I cannot because I am pregnant. I am still carrying the community property and because of that, I can't do my own things. In that way, I am much better off by myself because I am not as readily reminded of the things I can't do. I eventually settled down, and I had my first NA beer in 13 years. It was not so bad, and it made me feel a bit more like a normal person, but they do have .5 % alcohol in them, so I won't make it a habit. I know that sounds a bit hysterical, but I am not planning on drinking even the odd beer here and there during this pregnancy. There are just too many arguments on both sides of that fence, and the risk is not worth it.

Pete and Matt had to go and get their tuxes nearby, and I decided to head back to Kihei.

I am not sure what that actually means, but it looks like it lights up, which is always nice.

I stopped at an overlook and watched the humpback whales spouting and surfacing for about twenty minutes. It was relaxing, and I started looking forward to the wedding whale watch that would be taking place the next day. I was feeling better, but it was because I was again by myself and removed from all the people and all the overload. I was in control of my time. I got back to the condo just before Pete, and we talked a bit about my social conundrum. He's very supportive and will do what he can to make me comfortable, which helps and means a lot, all by itself.

We just missed the sunrise last night, but we have a few more chances to catch one. By the time we had some food, Pete was feeling pretty wiped out. I putzed around a bit and watched some cable TV, finally falling asleep to John Stewart at about 10:15. Like a kid, I was trying to keep myself awake for the whole thing because we don't have John Stewart in our house, but I was unsuccessful.

Maybe some other time.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pregnant Pause

I am eating honey roasted macadamia nuts, steeping some passionfruit tea, and having my prenatal vitamins (tropical flavored); it's 6:50 a.m., unfamiliar birds are making raucous noises in the morning mist, and it looks like it's going to be a lovely day in Kihei, Maui.

I just sent Pete off with Matt, the groom, for their bachelor SCUBA, and I have the morning and afternoon to myself. Just me, the silver Chevy Cobalt, the southeast coast, and McFetus.

We arrived last night for a week of mostly wedding-related events, celebrating the union of Matt and Rebecca, and I am glad that the travel day is over. I am not much for planes and the general hassle of traveling, and my prenatal mood of the past few days has not been stellar; I was not the choicest companion, but Pete was very kind and patient with me.

Our flight was not until 11:30 a.m., which was good, especially because I had been going through a packing conundrum. I don't like traveling with a lot of stuff, but because I was Event Packing, I had to bring Outfits and Shoes, which take up a lot of room. Add to that casual and hiking as well as beach apparel, and you are spilling out of a single suitcase. By the time I went to bed, after randomly puking up shepherd's pie and decaff Earl Grey earlier in the evening, I had decided upon two small-ish suitcases and a carry-on.

I was not pleased.

In the morning, I was even less pleased. I was getting mad and resentful that because Pete always has to bring a guitar wherever he goes, I wind up carrying community property like our camera bag and the laptop, which cuts into the purely personal things I can bring like knitting and drawing stuff. But instead of addressing the problem like an adult who understands that her husband is a caring and rational individual who only wants the best for her, I got quiet and sulky.

Always helpful. I repacked into one suitcase, taking out some knitting and a few articles of clothing, switched from my shoulder bag to my bigger backpack and was ready to go when Pete returned from the bank. Of course, when he found out what was upsetting me, he wanted to fix it, but I did not want to repack yet again (I mean, if there was a rational solution, then I could not pout, and where was the fun in that?), so we finally settled that he would carry the big backpack and his guitar, and I would have his backpack and the camera bag.

Pete's buddy and music partner, Chris, had offered to take us to the airport and spare us the $30 cab fee, which was nice, so getting to the airport was no hassle at all, and check-in and security was all fine. We had been concerned that we might have to go and get our own baggage in Vegas and recheck it because we were flying a different airline to Maui, but they checked it straight through, which was one worry gone.

The next thing was food, which is always yummy and nutritious at the airport. In our gate area, the choices were Subway, McDonald's, and Caribou. Subway's breakfasts are grotesque and Caribou mainly offers muffins and pastries, so we opted for McDonald's.

Did you know that at the Minneapolis airport, they stop serving breakfast at 10:00? Who takes their lunch break at 10:00? It was 10:20, and we were stuck with quarter pounders. Oh well, it's something we almost never do, so I am not going to worry about it, but next time, we are either making sure we eat at home or we are leaving enough time to head over to the French Meadow on the F Concourse for real food.

The last time we flew over an ocean, we stopped in Newark. This time, the midpoint was Las Vegas. Given the two, I think I would choose Newark. I find Las Vegas to be the opposite of glamorous, and at least Newark is not trying to pull any wool over my eyes as to its nature. The airport in Vegas is not as I remember it from almost ten years ago, but that's another sickening thing about that city: its unsustainable impermanence. When we arrived, we did not know where we had to be to catch our connecting flight on a different airline, and there were no directional signs or open information desks available to direct us. We were in the D terminal, and the departure listings told us that ATA was not a choice due to its complete absence on the board, so we headed toward signs marked "A, B, and C Teminals." I guess we had the naive assumption that we would be able to check in at an ATA gate and not redo the whole shoes-off security thing. When we arrived from the tram at its amorphous destination, we had no idea what we were supposed to do. Pete flagged down a TSA employee, and she took the time to find out where we needed to be and then did her best to direct us.

It turned out that we did have to go back out to main ticketing and then back through security. Looking back on it now, it was not so bad, but when I was in the middle of it, I was hating it. Airports make me nervous, and I can't relax or get excited about a vacation until all the details are worked out and we arrive at our final destination. Add to my normal weirdness the PMS-type hormones I have been experiencing lately, and you have one hot mess of a gal on your hands (sorry, Pete).

Have you ever flown ATA? It's like a Greyhound in the air. The state of the interior of the plane did not inspire confidence, but I do like that it's one-size-fits-all without the annoying first class cabin you have to walk through so you can be reminded that we do not live in a classless society and that some people are better than you. But the nice lady at the ticket counter had made sure we were seated next to each other, and I was by a window, which helps me quite a bit. We were also in the bulkhead row and by ourselves, so that made it even better.

For some reason, I was more nervous on the flight from Vegas than I was on the flight from Minneapolis. Probably because it was my second in one day. On the way to Vegas, I knitted and read, and I was just fine. On this flight, I could not knit, I could barely read, and all I seemed capable of was fidgeting, which is not an effective time-passer. Luckily, they showed "Ratatouille," and I had headphones, so I watched that and was able to sleep for awhile, which is very rare for me.

McFetus is starting to get in my way now, a nice little prelude for what is to come. It's easing me in. Sitting for nine hours was not its favorite thing, and I had trouble getting comfortable. Add to that the sciatica I have had for awhile in my left leg, and this probably accounts for my fidgeting.

When we arrived safely in Maui, I was quite relieved. Now, we just had to get our bags, the car, find the condo, and I was done for the day. I had envisioned a solitary evening and an early-to-bed. It was, after all, 11:30 p.m. our time, and I had been up since 5:00 a.m.

It was not to be.

Matt was there at the airport to meet us, bearing leis, which was so sweet, and he waited for our bags with us and then helped us carry crap around while we tried to figure out where to get our rental car. By the time we were on the shuttle, it was clear to me that we would not be spending the evening by ourselves. We agreed to meet Matt for dinner after we found the condo, which we did without trouble.

We took a drive south on South Kihei Road looking for somewhere to eat, and discovered that, just as my parents and the guidebook says, Kihei is basically a condo town with strip malls interspersed. We found a place called "Oceans," which was an open air sports bar, and got a table. As we were sitting down, the brother-in-law and father of the bride pulled up, entirely randomly, and my heart sank. It was not that they were bad people, they were just people, and I was tired and not feeling social. I had already been up for more hours and talked to more people than I had in four months in my sedentary and solitary pregnancy, and I was not being eased in to the social life.

Rebecca and Matt arrived soon after, and we had a group of six, five of whom had way more energy than I. Pete asked if I would be upset if he got a beer, and I said that he could, but that yeah, it was probably going to bother me. It's not that I really miss drinking all that much--pregnancy itself tends to put you off the things that are bad for you--but lately, I had been thinking that a nice, cold lager would be pleasant, and I was feeling a certain amount of resentment that because I am the holy vessel for Pete's Fetus, I have to sacrifice when it's his creature in there, too. There's nothing to be done about it, but being on vacation, in a tropical land, for a social event, is going to try my already thin-in-general patience and give me some good lessons in verbal control.

I know that Pete understands this and is trying to be sensitive, and while I need him to understand that this could be an issue, I also don't want to pee in his corn flakes. His buddy is getting married, after all, and we are in Maui.

And these are reasons why I must revel in today. Pete and Matt are off on their underwater adventure, and I am by myself for a few hours. I am going to finish my tea, get ready, and head out to the post office for post card stamps, the natural foods store for some supplies, maybe down to Big Beach to check it out, then back up to the Kihei Farmers' Market at 1:30, and up to Lahaina to meet the boys.

Oh, and in Lahaina, there's a...

Needlework shop.

Yeah. I will be stopping there first.

AND, I pooped twice today.
That's practically a miracle. Pregnancy does NOT make one regular, but that's another blog.