Thursday, March 29, 2012

Birth control = a human right

For the bulk of my adult life – from ages 23 to 45 – I took birth control pills. It was the right thing to do for me. At first, it was to delay childbirth until an undefined “later.” When “later” came along and I realized that I valued peace and quiet far more than the inevitable chaos that children bring, I took pills to hold onto my peaceful, quiet lifestyle. I only stopped because my doctor said that pills were not good for women of a certain age.

At this point, I could try from now until menopause to get pregnant and fail. What I would do in case of an unplanned pregnancy is something I don’t worry about anymore. Not much, anyways.

I do worry about what other women are able to do about their unplanned pregnancies.

I have felt this way since I was old enough to be aware of the issue: Women’s power is curtailed unless they have full control over when they get pregnant. Men can say what they want, but it is the woman alone who takes on the physical risks of pregnancy, which can lead all the way up to death. Contraception is nothing less than a human right – and when contraception fails, it is necessary that abortion be an option.

Too many American states are walking backward on this issue. Why? Is it because as women (and non-whites, and the non-religious) become stronger, the forces of traditionalism become more shrill and strident, fighting for their lives before it’s too late?

In my heart, I know the traditionalists will lose in the long run. But we must never take anything for granted.

Life is meant to be lived facing forward, not back. I had the freedom to choose my own reproductive destiny. I will stand up so every other woman, now and in the future, can have that same freedom. After all, one of our codified American freedoms is “the pursuit of happiness.” For some of us, that means two children, or one – or none.

Think about it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

When a meandering mouse unplugs, is there anyone around to hear it?

Last weekend, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, I participated in the National Day of Unplugging, an initiative of the Sabbath Manifesto. The Manifesto goes like this:

1. Avoid technology.
2. Connect with loved ones.
3. Nurture your health.
4. Get outside.
5. Avoid commerce.
6. Light candles.
7. Drink wine.
8. Eat bread.
9. Find silence.
10. Give back.

I was able to do seven out of the ten. I interpreted “avoid technology” as avoiding all unnecessary electronic devices such as the computer, Internet, television, and radio – not room lights and automobiles. The hardest part for me was remembering not to turn on the radio as I drove down to The Queen’s Bakery for coffee and something sweet. I ended up having a cappuccino and a homemade “Ding Dong” with a chocolate petit-four covered in lavender icing.

Now, this is not what anyone would call a nutritionally correct lunch, but it was definitely good for my soul. I was more than ready to try a new bakery with colorful style and spring freshness. (Especially since rain was correctly predicted for the next day.) For the rest of the day, I read words of ink on paper instead of onscreen. (It’s good to find justification to read books!)

I did wish I had more people around me who were into unplugging. Turning off is unfathomable for many Americans. The first thing we do in the morning is turn on something, whether it be the alarm clock or the television. We have forgotten to listen to silence. What are we afraid of, really – that we can’t help but find out what is wrong with our life system? Yet, when we find out what is wrong, it’s the first step to figuring out how to make it right.

I wonder if I should do this every weekend? Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, twenty-four hours without unneeded technology. I will miss certain radio shows that come on Saturday morning – but I can hear them later via podcast. What do I have to lose?

Nearly anyone can unplug – and if it seems impossible, it’s an occasion to take a critical look at your time management. Why not visit the Sabbath Manifesto website and find out what unplugging can do for you?

(And now, a pause to consider the irony of going to a website that promotes unplugging.)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wait a minute…

Not too long ago while I was in Target, I found these unusual-looking Cheerios boxes:

The type is not quite as slick. The bowl is old-timey, like it came down from Grandma’s cupboard. There is no proclamation that Cheerios is good for your heart.

It turns out that this is a cross-promotion of General Mills with Atari to celebrate the video game company’s 40th anniversary. Boxes of Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch will revert to their early 1980s look for a short period of time. (You can only find these boxes at Target.)

I thought that was kind of cute…but then I realized something.

In the early 1980s, I was going to high school.

Today, a cereal box I would have seen while I was in high school is marketed as nostalgia.

What does that make me? (I hope it’s not a word that starts with O and ends with D. Unless that word is organized.)