Department of It’s About…This
The above shirt was worn by Stella McCartney, upon the occasion of her father Paul’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s also the sentiment of Some Of Us Who Are Embarrassed For Our Country Being This Late To The Game. ®
No matter whom you supported in the presidential primaries or will support in this upcoming election, let us pause for a moment to think of history being made. We congratulate ourselves for, for the first time, nominating a woman as a major party candidate for president.
After we’re done patting ourselves on our collective backs, let us also consider the fact that we who often refer to ourselves as leaders of the free world are trailing behind Australia, Bolivia, China, Great Britain, Haiti, Iceland, Malta, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Norway, Germany, India, Ireland, The Philippines, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Burundi, Liberia, Guyana, Ecuador, Finland, Chile, Israel, Austria, Lithuania, Costa Rica, Kyrgyzstan, Brazil, Serbia, Malawi, Croatia, Central Africa Republic, Nepal, and a dozen other countries who currently have or had have elected or appointed female heads of state.
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A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Discombobulate
Which is why I am re-reading Elie Wiesel’s Night, and tempering that with Philip Norman’s new biography of Paul McCartney, and also You’ll Grow Out of It, a collection of essays by Jessi Klein, the standup comic and writer for Inside Amy Schumer.
I chose the latter book mainly for the chapter titled Get the Epidural, upon which a hilarious sketch (It’s Better For the Baby) from Schumer’s show  was based. That chapter was indeed delightful, but it was near the end of the book. I had to skip from the chapter about watching The Bachelor,  which I could not stomach; thus, I had to punish the author  by not reading the intervening eleven chapters between The Bachelor and Get The Epidural. And then, I just didn’t want to read the rest of the book. The author’s style and humor…I got it. Didn’t need to get anymore.
One of the Truly Great Things About Being An Adult ® is that it doesn’t matter whether I paid $12.99 for the Kindle book or $500 for a season theatre subscription – if I decide I am no longer interested in the book or the play, then I stop reading/leave at intermission. That money and time is gone and cannot be retrieved; I understand the Sunken Costs Fallacy and I get to decide at what point it just isn’t worth it to me anymore.
Once again, I digress.
Get The Epidural, as you may surmise by the title, is about the expectation and pressure pregnant women experience re choosing their birth “experiences.”
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, in my job as a health educator in a family-oriented OB/GYN practice, I tried to steer away women from using the term “natural” re childbirth sans drugs.
“The more accurate term,” my spiel went, “is medicated or un-medicated childbirth. It is natural to seek relief from agonizing pain. No one asks your husband if he’s going to have his broken leg set ‘naturally,’ right? If the pregnancy is housed in your uterus and exits via your vagina, regardless of how much or how little pharmaceutical intervention took place in between, that’s a natural birth.”
Thus, I did my “Preach it, sistuh Jessi!” dance when I read Klein’s rumination on this irony: that women are pressured to do this one thing “naturally,” yet during the rest of their lives they are told that everything which is in fact natural about their bodies (e.g. the existence of leg, underarm and pubic hair; their womanly body shape, their normal hair color and texture and skin tone and complexion) is either annoying and/or gross and/or deficient and must be eliminated or altered.
It’s interesting that no one cares very much about women doing anything “naturally” until it involves them being in excruciating pain.
No one ever asks a man if he’s having a “natural root canal.” No one ever asks if a man is having a “natural vasectomy.”
(Jessi Klein, You’ll Get Over It)
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Department Of What’s In A Name?
From birthing to naming – how did I get on the baby thing? Coincident with my reading the afore-mention essay I also read an anecdote about baby naming, which reminded me of my e-versation with friend KW in which he teased me for insisting on spelling my name “…in some bizarro way.” In return, I felt obliged to relay the story of my naming:
Actually, ‘twere my parents who insisted on spelling my name Robyn (for my father, whose middle name is Bryan). Here is what they told me about how I got my name. 
I was born in Santa Ana Hospital. The day after my birth the Nurse Who Was In Charge Of Such Things ® brought the birth certificate form and other discharge documents into my mother’s hospital room. She asked my parents, “What name do you want on the birth certificate?”
“Robyn Gwen Parnell,” my parents replied, and relayed the spelling of each name.
“That’s not how you spell Robin,” the nurse huffed. “It’s spelled with an i.”
My parents said Nurse Jackboots seemed pretty disgusted with them, but they insisted that, no, they were spelling it Robyn with a y. Nurse Nazi-nose actually continued to argue with them about it. My parents held firm. Nurse Poopypants rolled her eyes, completed her paperwork, and told them they’d receive a copy of the birth certificate in the mail, eventually. When my parents received the copy of my birth certificate they put it on a pile of papers on my father’s desk, and it wasn’t until a few months later, when they got to organizing things, that they actually looked at the certificate and discovered that Nurse Ratchet had taken it upon herself to give a bureaucratic fuck you to my parents  and had spelled my name with an i !
Chet and Marion  Parnell were furious, but Chet consulted a lawyer friend who told him not to worry, you can spell the name however you like, it’s no problem. A few years after my college graduation, when I asked for a copy of my birth certificate, my father found a judge who put some kind of amendment to the document, to note the initial clerical “mistake.” Santa Ana Hospital burned to the ground not long after that. Karma, I sez.
Friend KW said he found it somewhat scary, that a nurse would decide to override the parents’ choice for a baby’s name. He did also advocate for judicious selection in naming – “proofreading and gentle questioning might not be inadvisable in certain cases.” He cited the story of a young pregnant woman who came into the hospital where KW’s SIL worked at a nurse and who insisted on naming her new baby boy Gonorrhea. (“She just liked the way it rolled off the tongue [ew!] No amount of gentle persuasion dissuaded her.”)
Anyone who would give their baby such a name (“And let me introduce you to her older sister, Chlamydia, and her twin brothers, Herpes and Simplex.”) – that’s grounds for instant, mandatory sterilization, IMHO. It almost makes the heretofore odd (to me) fact that certain countries (like Iceland) have “naming laws” seem reasonable.
And then, when it comes to names, there is the issue of unsolicited feedback.
I’ve shared the Ultimate Baby Naming Advice ®  to many a prospective parent – advice which I mistakenly forgot when I was expecting my firstborn.
My mother was the first person to ask what names MH and were considering. This was early in my second trimester of pregnancy, when I’d telephoned my parents to talk about planning a visit to see them. We didn’t yet have the amniocentesis results, and so all (gendered) names were in the running. I told my mother that we’d barely started to consider names, but for a girl, I was thinking about “Aurora” – as in Aurura Borealis, a groovy Natural Phenomenon ® , and also as in the name of the 19th century French author whose pen name was George Sand. We’d call her Rory.
“Oh. That’s…interesting,” my mother mumbled.
Most people like things to be interesting, because interesting is, you know, interesting. When my mother uses that word, she means the opposite. I hung up the phone, knowing there would be fallout feedback.
The next day my mother telephoned me and said that I might want to consider a different name, seeing as how “R’s are the most difficult of the consonants for people, especially children, to pronounce.”
This, from the woman who gave three of her four children R-names.
Yep, I replied, I’m fully aware of that, having grown up being called “Wobyn” by my younger sister and her friends – and now my nieces and nephews – until they could pronounce the R sound. It didn’t bother me then and it doesn’t bother me now. I even find it rather endearing.
But really, you should see it when little children, even older people, struggle to pronounce a name with more than one difficult sound….
Still doesn’t bother me, Mom.
She wouldn’t drop it. “Now, I want you to go stand in front of a mirror and look what happens to your face when you say, ‘Aurora.’ “
Her point was…?  My response was, “I want you to go stand in front of a mirror and look at your face when you say, Buttinsky.”
She changed the subject.
Six months later I had my son, K.
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Department Of Because This Is A Classy Space, That’s Why
Aka, The Joys of Owning Cats, Chapter CDMXVII
Banana slug, or hairball? You be the judge.
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And One More Thing ©
Banana Slug or Hairball? was the title of the game show pitch I submitted to the leading game show production company in America. I got no callback, imagine that.
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May you have an entertaining naming story;
May you in turn provide an entertaining naming story for others;
May you be as natural or medicated as the situation merits;
May you celebrate whatever when it’s about fucking time;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 You must see that sketch, if you’ve ever been pregnant, or have ever known or seen a pregnant woman talking about her “birth plan.”
 Yeah I know it’s supposed to cheeky fun showing how confident you are in your own intellect to admit to being happy you are to watch a brain sucking show…still, ICK. It creeped me out to even read about someone else watching it, and I couldn’t make it through the essay.
 I’m sure she’d lose several nights of sleep/gain a few stress pounds if she knew about my opinion.
 So, perhaps my name should be Rabyn?
 Not my parents’ phrasing.
 Not spelled Maryon, for some reason.
 “Do not tell your family the name you have chosen for your child until you’ve given birth and the name is on the birth certificate, for if someone thinks they have a chance of changing your mind, they will try to do so.”
 I’m still not sure. I only know that she must have done that herself, and thought saying the name made her…look funny?