Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Issue about which I am ambivalent

Being childless.

No, I'm not ambivalent about being childless.  At this point in my life, if I become pregnant, it's off to Planned Parenthood ASAP.  And I'm not sure I'll ever be ready for kids.  Like my old sociology professor used to say, "My favorite kids are the ones I can hand back."

The issue I'm ambivalent about?  Other people's kids.  You know which kids I'm talking about.  The ones who live upstairs and throw temper tantrums.  The ones on the plane who scream.  The ones in restaurants whose parents keep having to talk loudly in baby talk to get them to eat.  The ones who run around the apartment complex, screaming and playing, no parents in sight.

The question is, where do we draw the line?

As someone who is pretty sure she wants to remain childless, I find other people's children downright annoying.  That is, I don't have kids because I don't want to deal with them, so what makes you think I want to deal with yours?  I mean, really, the world does not revolve around you and your child, so please stop assuming that we all want to hear your precious little child whining about how their spaghetti and meatballs at this fancy Italian restaurant DOESN'T TASTE RIGHT.*

But on the other hand, when you have a kid, you have a kid.  That means that you have to bring them places.  Sometimes, places like planes.  Children and people with children often need to travel, and using a plane is the fastest way.  Additionally, if parents could have total control over when their children threw tantrums, there would be no tantrums because seriously, no one wants to listen to that.  It's not remotely adorable, especially when it's because the dog ATE THE ICE CREAM QUICKLY.**  If you're a full-time parent, and you have to run an errand, but you can't leave your child at home, then that kid is going to be in the grocery store with you, running around, bumping into my shopping cart.  It's not something you can help.

I just read an article on (the most trusted name in fake news--The Daily Show switched places I think) about how parents need to control their children on flights or just not fly anymore.  I don't ever remember flying with a crying child, but I'm absolutely sure that I would want to kill one if I had the misfortune of being in that situation.  It struck a chord with me, though, because of the way that people complain about overweight people also flying on planes.  My uncle once complained throughout lunch, during the whole Kevin Smith Southwest fiasco, about how he was just so thoroughly disgusted that he had to sit next to some fat guy during his flight.  Never mind that the fat guy was probably more uncomfortable and embarrassed and was JUST trying to fucking fly somewhere, like my uncle.

So the question is, where is the line?  Sometimes it's easy on a case-by-case basis.  My neighbors upstairs whose child throws at least 1 tantrum a day, more during vacations?  Something's wrong (once that kid cried 5 times every day for a week, while I was trying to take time off work to relax over the holidays--relaxing was hard with all that adorable shrieking).  I think that's a parenting issue (these people also vacuumed at 11:30pm when I had swine flu, put nails in walls at 7:00am on a Saturday morning, and stomp around as if there's more gravity than usual).  A kid crying on a plane?  Look, if you think you're uncomfortable on a plane, the kid is almost definitely feeling worse.  It's DIFFICULT to be a parent trying to fly with young children; even if you do your research and come prepared, they still might cry, no matter what you do.  So long as you're not the parent with earplugs in and a magazine in front of your face while your child is bawling and kicking the seat in front of h/er, there's a chance you're overwhelmed, or you've tried/done everything you're supposed to.

Yes, it's annoying.  But I'm more annoyed with children in my apartment complex, and children who are around normally.  Ones who aren't trapped on the plane with their ears not popping.  Ones who ARE more easily disciplined.

I think there's a culture today of spoiling children.  I won't lie: I was a fucking privileged kid.  I threw tantrums like a pro; I'm not sure either of my parents was ready for me.  But there are children who will throw tantrums and misbehave, whatever the situation, including on planes.  Those kids are the problem.  Those kids make people like me hate kids.  And unfortunately, there's no way to tell them apart on a flight.

* made up example
** not a made up example; a girl was with her family getting ice cream at the local farm stand, and they bought their dog vanilla ice cream in a doggie dish.  The dog ate the ice cream in a quick gulp (not unusal, even for medium sized dogs), and the little girl who was pleased to be holding the dog got very upset that the dog had eaten the ice cream so quickly.  I thought it was HILARIOUS.

Monday, May 17, 2010

More on Craig's List ads

I don't pretend to be an expert on Craig's List, or how to get what you want when you post your ad.  But after months of searching for a place to live, and reading hundreds of Craig's List ads for rooms, there are some "do"s and "don't"s that stick out.  There's information you should include, and there's stuff that's entirely unimportant.  And even more than that, there are some unreasonable expectations that some people have when they're trying to find roommates.  This post just contains some of my thoughts about how people write their ads.

Information to include:
 * How much the person should expect to pay--
- Rent
- Which utilities are included in the rent
- Which utilities are not included in the rent
- The approximate cost of non-included utilities per person per month
* The room the person would be living in--
- Square footage of the room
- Number of windows
- Closet space
- Exactly what furniture the current occupant has in h/er room (if applicable) (by "exactly," I mean that I've seen a room that can fit a "bed," but what they meant was "twin sized mattress on the floor")
- Floor--carpeted or hard-wood
- If the apartment is multiple floors, which floor the room is on
- Whether or not the room is furnished
* The number of bathrooms in the apartment--
- How many people will share the same bathroom as the potential new roommate
* The kitchen--
- Appliances (fridge, garbage disposal, dishwasher, microwave)
- Whether or not the kitchen is eat-in or if there's a separate dining area
* Common areas--
- Whether or not there's a living room (in splits, there isn't one)
- If there will be any furniture needed or room for more
- Whether or not there is a shared common TV
- Carpeting or hardwood floors
* General apartment information
- Parking availability (specific)
- Location (city, cross-streets)
- Floor that apartment is on, and how many floors in the apartment
- Laundry situation
- Lease terms
* Roommates--
- Number of roommates
- Sex of roommates
- Jobs of roommates--intended to give potential roommates an idea of when you will be home and when you will not be
- Any essential information about roommates ("Must be LGBT friendly," "Jonathan is allergic to cats," important dietary information)
- Existing pets
* Landlord--
- Landlord or management company
- Landlord's availability to make repairs
- Smoking and pet policies
- Background check, credit check, proof of income
* Desired roommate--
- Desired sex (if applicable)
- Desired occupation status (grad student, professional, etc.)
- Desired age range
* Pictures of the apartment--
- At least ONE representative picture of the bedroom, if not two
- A representative picture of the kitchen
- A representative picture of the bathroom
- CL only allows 4 pictures; if you have a website or you cheat and fit more pictures in, add more pictures of common areas

None of this has to be in any order; it's just information that I know I would find very helpful!

What do I hate?  When the only picture up is a picture of roommates, or it's a dim photo of a messy bedroom.  When people have a laundry list of characteristics that their new roommate must have (watch TV with us, group dinners often, environmentally conscious, no significant others can stay over, no Republicans/Yankees fans, have to love to go out to bars with us).  When someone says, "No pets because I'm allergic to them."

Admittedly, I've been struggling to find a place because of two major factors: my car and my bird.  So I really resent when people don't list pet policies, or the preference is vague (such as saying you have "pet" allergies--does that mean you're allergic to birds?).

Friday, May 7, 2010

Rude things people do

So, I've been emailing a lot of listings on Craig's List, since I need to move.  I've been looking specifically for a room, not an empty apartment.  And I do have Loki, which I mention in my emails.

Some people DO get back to me and say, "Sorry, no pets!"  Some people just never get back to me.  Some people get back to me and I look at the apartment, and then they NEVER email me ever again.  And I know that these people haven't found a person to fill their room yet because ...

... they repost their ad!

Look, if you didn't like me, just email me and say, "Thanks for your interest, but we don't think you would be a good fit."  Don't just repost the ad.  After all, I may not have already found a place, and therefore, I will SEE your ad.  And I will hate you a little bit.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Period vs. No Period

Warning: I talk about menstruation.  If you're all, "EWWWW, GROSSSSSS" about periods, then I recommend you not read this blog post.  I also recommend that you grow up a little.

On today, there's an article about whether or not it's okay for women to skip their periods.  Like most content on CNN these days, it's not a good article.  But it's an interesting issue.

I'm ambivalent about my period.  On the one hand, I find it extremely annoying.  Once every 4 weeks, I bleed for 4-5 days.  I don't like wearing pads (they're lumpy), I don't like wearing tampons (I'm prone to infections, and MAN, those things hurt when you pull them out and they're slightly dry!), and I don't want to buy cups.  I get cramps for the first day and a half, which is pretty uncomfortable.  Underwear and sheets are never safe, no matter how awesome and careful you are.  It's annoying!

On the other hand, it's not that big a deal.  I still can have sex (gross?  Eh, not really, just take a quick shower first).  I can still go to work and go about my daily life.  It doesn't last for THAT long, either.

So here we have the general sides of the debate.  I don't like having my period, but I'm not comfortable stigmatizing something that's been stigmatized for years just because waaaah, I have to wear a tampon.

The CNN article goes into the act of skipping placebos.  That is, women who use hormonal contraception can manupulate the hormones so that they don't get their periods.  For example, a woman on the pill can just skip the week of sugar pills and start a new pack (something I've done maybe once or twice a year since I started taking the pill 7 years ago), or a woman using NuvaRing can leave the ring in for 4 weeks instead of 3, and then go right to the next ring.  There are also birth control pills that are sold in such a way that there are three months of hormone pills and a week of placebos.

So it's possible to not have a period for months, instead of a few weeks.

Why don't I do this?  Actually, I don't do this because I like the birth control pill I'm on, and I don't want to switch to a different progestin.*  Additionally, getting my period is a great way to know I'm not pregnant.  Otherwise, eh, I'd probably switch and just not get my period.

But I hate both sides of the debate.

On the one side, there are the women who are just SO glad they never menstruate.  Look, menstruation?  Not the worst thing in the world!  It's like when the Boston area had a boil water order.  It's inconvenient and it's temporary.  Additionally, I can't help but think about the impact that patriarchy has on our attitudes about menstruation.  Menstruation is Othering--that is, if you menstruate, you're not normal.  You're not default.  So the world will not accomodate you.  That is, there will not be pad and tampon dispensers in every bathroom (or disposals).  And missing work because of severe menstrual cramps?  Take some Midol, or you're fired.  I can't pretend that menstruation as Other doesn't impact our attitudes about it, or about not having a period.

And opposing these period-hating women are the ones who cry out, "It's just not natural to not menstruate!"  First of all, if you're going to take this position, you should be arguing against the pill in general, not just the act of skipping a period.  That is, if you're all about nature, you shouldn't be okay with skipping ovulation.  So don't pick and choose.  Second, the only thing that happens is that your body doesn't shed the uterine lining after a month.  It sheds it after three months.  I hardly think the body is completely unaware of the continued presence of the lining.  Besides, considering the number of women with PCOS** who menstruate only a few times a year anyway (once I had my period only twice in a year), it's clearly not outside the realm of "nature" to not menstruate every month.  And it's insulting to imply otherwise.

So, where do I stand?  Look, I don't really CARE.  If you don't ever want to have your period again, then I suggest you skip it lots.  If you think it's important to get a period every month, then don't skip.  If you like to skip when your period would otherwise fall during an inconvenient time, then skip.

Just don't make it the law for every single menstruating woman to every walk the earth.***

* Birth control pills are made up of estradiol and a progestin.  Estradiol is produced naturally in the body, but it can also be produced synthetically; it's relatively equivalent to estrogen, and that's how the body perceives it.  Progestins are synthetic progesterones, another reproductive hormone.  There are tons of different progestins, synthesized in different ways from different initial hormones.  Many women prefer one progestine over another, and therefore prefer one pill over another.  I take Yasmin because of the progestine it uses (drospirenone).

** PCOS is polycystic ovarian syndrome.  It's a poorly defined syndrone that's mainly used to diagnose lack of femininity, as far as I'm concerned.  Symptoms and severity are highly variable, and doctors overly freak out their patients about it.  Many women who've been told they have PCOS have great difficulty conceiving, and many have wildly irregular (and heavy, long, painful) periods.

*** There are men who menstruate.  Many transmen certainly do.