over a rainbow

Have you ever had a project that consumes you in the most positive way? It's not too overwhelming but it's not easy. When you think about it at all, it just makes you feel more alive inside? But you don't feel pressure let it consume other parts of your life, it just takes up the time you have for it and nothing more?

This is where I am right now with the book I am writing. I just feel destined to complete this novel; to tell this story. I enjoy thinking about it even when I'm not writing it out, but it isn't all I'm thinking about. I am so excited to watch as the story slowly takes its form. The characters are becoming real people to me. I am forming them out of bits of myself and bits of my perceptions of other people. Sometimes I am exaggerating things, other times I'm really taking an exact experience in my life and expressing its essence. I'm taking moments of my life and the lives that have touched mine and replaying them with only words, reorganizing them in ways that they could have occurred but didn't. Every moment that I write this novel, every moment that I think about writing it, I feel more myself than I have ever felt before...ever.

I think it helps that my life is full of things that I generally love to do. Yes, sometimes I am challenged by being a mother, or learning to speak Danish. I feel like I need Marc's assistance to complete any house project if only because the work can feel lonely. Sometimes I can't figure out how to finish my sewing project or make a website design do what I want. But, I still love what I am doing. I think the love comes out of how much I am always actively learning. My brain is never bored these days.
Writing my book or a blog post that has been brewing in my head, it's exponentially greater than all of those things. I'm learning and loving what I do like everything else, but attached is a higher feeling of purpose. I was made to write words, I was made to inspire other people with those words. I have known for a time that this is what I'm supposed to be doing, but writing the novel has reinforced this within me even more so. Such that, at this point, I am feeling a deeper connection with God every time I am in a writing session. Like the time I send writing words was time that He planned out for me before anything ever existed. I know it sounds so prideful, so full of hubris, but I am honestly more humbled than anything else because I have the privilege of experiencing this feeling.

Sometimes I wrestle with the idea that I won't succeed. Right now I'm telling people that I am writing a book, and then I will say I have written a book, and then I might say I am selling a book. And somehow, eventually, the words I am making; the ones that tell me "writing is my purpose" are going to have to tell other people that as well. I don't want to need approval outside myself or outside my family, but what is the point of writing something if I don't try to share it with strangers. And in this world, sharing means making an exchange. To show people that I value what I'm writing and they should value it too, I have to ask them for something in return. This is tragic to me, really. 

If everyone was able to live how I am living right now... If we valued our time that we are alive as much as we value the numbers on our bank statements, people would know my words were worth something before they read them or exchanged anything for them. Imagine a world where every time a person is doing something, that something is the best and most important use of the time they are using to do it. It doesn't logically work in the world we live in now, unfortunately. In this world you have to spend so much time and energy convincing yourself and others that the things you are doing are important, you end up with less energy and time to spend actually doing those things. But sometimes you get to live in a special, limited-time-offer bubble where the things you are doing are the best things to be spending your moments on. It's truly like traveling somewhere over the rainbow but the worst thing that could happen is you have to click your heels and go back home.


what makes human life?

This is a picture of an embryo my husband and I made back in 2009. It is just over eight weeks old and has a visible heart beat. It spontaneously aborted itself three weeks after this ultrasound.

The biological definition of life is incredibly broad because biology is the study of all living things- from simple bacteria to complex humans. Biology defines life from a stand point reversed. "I know it is alive now, so let me step back and figure out the parts it needed and the processes it went through to achieve this state: life that I can prove." Those parts and processes become the bullet points for what gives something life. This is the only way we can apply the scientific method biologically. The problem is that humans can't know everything about the parts and everything about the processes, so we end up with bullet points that create a broader definition of what biologically is a life then is actually true. This applies to defining life in general, but has major implications when we're talking about defining human life.

This broad definition of biologically alive would apply to the embryo in that ultrasound. But the problem is this: even before our embryo was biologically considered life, it was determined unable to become a human life. Miscarriage, or spontaneous abortion -the medical profession's irking name for it, is generally caused by a chromosomal abnormality that results in the embryo or fetus eliminating itself. This basically means that the sperm or the egg, or the initial, single-celled, combination of the two (called a zygote), is damaged. And, eventually, that damage will limit the development of these parts, such that they will never be able to complete the processes involved in becoming a human life. The damage is probably done even before conception, with the problem being in the egg or the sperm. But, we have to include the zygote because all we can scientifically determine is that the combination of the two has a problem and it has been there from the absolute beginning. Even though there is conception, there was no potential for human life. 

The embryo in my uterus was biologically alive, but it was never going to be a human life. It just did not have the parts required to perform the processes. Therefore, it could never actually be considered a human life, not even from a biological standpoint. This is a paradox because we don't know the biological determination in reference to the "human life" definition until after it has come to be. What happened in my conception, where egg met sperm and made nothing, is what happens in anywhere from 10% to 75% of human conceptions, depending on who you ask.

So, I am having a really hard time with what I have been hearing from the pro-life side of the abortion debate since the US election. In the past week or so, I have heard too many times "life begins at conception is scientific fact."  Yeah maybe general life, like trees and mushrooms and viruses have, but in terms of human life, this is just not true. I am shocked because the response seems to be silence. Silence is usually understood to be agreement! Well I formally DISAGREE!

[I actually decided to write this post after I saw Mike Huckabee on The Daily Show. In the interview portion only posted online he said that a pro-life view is scientific because "biologically, life begins at conception." All Jon Stewart could say in response was that it was a loaded statement. Well you know what you needed to say Jon: the biological definition of life is way to broad to indiscriminately use it to define, without exception, a human life.]

The point is that just because something is biologically alive, it does not mean it has potential for human life (even when it is made up of only human parts- like these beating heart muscles UCLA made, or the embryo my husband and I made). Humans are not skilled enough to determine the exact moment when human life actually begins, although we do have it down to a window. And, I would argue that point is probably different for every combination of sperm and egg, so expecting anything but a window from science is unrealistic. There actual answer to when human life begins will never be a nice sound bite statement like "life begins at conception." But, this isn't about pro-choice vs. pro-life for me. It's about abusing science to present beliefs as fact, and how the abuse of the science impacts women.

When people, outside of their own personal beliefs, proclaim that human life begins at conception, they stigmatize the large population of women who have had a miscarriage or will have a miscarriage. Saying "life beings at conception is a scientific fact" is a perverse statement that puts women who have had a miscarriage in a position of having to defend themselves. Sometimes what they are made to defend is extreme, like the woman in Ireland who recently died because she had a miscarriage but was denied the life saving medical procedure of an abortion to remove the rotting leftovers of the thing inside her that was never going to be a human life. 
Sometimes what they are made to defend is just their experience. The thing inside me was never a human life because it was mathematically and biologically predetermined to never be able to become a human life. That is a fact, not a belief. Another fact is that I am actually thankful that pregnancy was not a human life, because without my miscarriage, I would never have had E or moved to Denmark. I blessed to be able to grieve and move on. I want every woman to have the right to the same opportunity.


James Deen

When I was pregnant with E, my biggest fear about having a boy was the penis. I was worried because I only understood the penis in one way, a "sex" way. How would I clean it? or even touch it? How do I not stigmatize this part of him? even though in my own head it is totally stigmatized. My husband and I discussed my concerns frequently, especially after the third trimester when I was convinced that I would have a boy. We did not find out the sex beforehand and I only admitted my suspicions to Marc because I felt like I wouldn't know what to do with the boy parts. I realize now, that I will always be concerned about E's penis because he will always be concerned about it. Apparently that is part of living life with your genitals hanging off you. I still don't totally get it, I probably never will, not completely. But E's penis and what he does with it has to be on my list of things I care about, at least until he is married. Even then, grandchildren, so.

I'm not a big fan of pornography. I can't make that statement without admitting that, yes, I have watched porn. Before I really understood what sex was, I was sexual. And, I have watched porn. I'm sure the average teenage boy with internet access these days has seen a lot more than me. But, I have seen enough to say I don't like pornography. I don't like to watch it or read it because women are objectified. And sometimes, it is very hard to tell if the women are OK with being so objectified. And also, I have issues with women who are OK with being objectified. Watching porn for me is not hot, it's a human issues crisis.
But then a week ago, or so, while hanging out on the internet, I read about this porn star James Deen. It was just a woman on reddit saying she was with a bunch of work colleagues, and she saw him and couldn't tell them because it wasn't "professional." I didn't really care. The only thing that seemed remarkable to me was how much women seem to like this James Deen guy. I figured he must not be like a normal guy in porn, or something and did not give it much thought beyond that.
Then I start seeing his name all the time (thanks Baader-Meinhof). So, without really trying, I learn all these internet facts about him. All the things EVERYONE knows. He wanted to be a porn star since he was in kindergarten. He has pretty eyes. He has very awesome parents. He is in a normal movie with Lindsay Lohan. And, seriously, you can't find a woman in the porn industry or outside of it that has anything bad to say about this guy. So last night, I checked him out, like as in watched his porn on the internet. I did it because I was curious. And then today, there was a James Deen AMA on reddit. So I get it now. I get why all the ladies love this guy. And, I recommend checking him out, if anything just because he is a really interesting contradiction. At least he is for me. His whole life, it seems, revolves around sex, and yet it doesn't consume him. He is all about showing love, like genuine love for the people around him. (Just read his twitter feed).
Sex without commitment is not healthy. Sex is not a healthy thing to be focusing on all the time. Relationships that focus most on sex are lacking a healthy expression of love. I do believe in these statements as general rules for human life. I do believe that most people can not be a healthy human being, able to connect and show love to other human beings, while focusing most of their attention on the next time they are going to have sex with said human beings. Sometimes, sex comes out of love. But never does love come out of just sex. I think James Deen is an exception to these statements. And, if there is one exception there are more.

Why do I care? because I have two year old boy. And while I would love for him not to even be interested in having sex until he is 30, I know that he will be a sexual being long before I am ready to see him that way. I still want to help him to make good decisions, regardless of my limitations. One day my son is going to want to search the internet for pornography; to tell myself this is not inevitable would be deluded. So when that happens, I want him to only be watching James Deen.
Because even though James Deen is living a lifestyle that I can not understand, he is also clearly showing love and respect to the women living that lifestyle alongside him. In everything he is doing, he is first showing love for others... and not in a wink-wink sort of way. If you read anything he has to say about sex, like people asking him how to be as awesome as he is, he brings it back to communication. He says treat your partner like you would want to be treated, and he clearly lives this with the partners he has. I can honestly say I am impressed by this guy. I don't know if he, his personality and attitude, are an exception within the porn industry.  My guess is yes.
My husband and I can be a lot of things to our son, but there are limits for us in terms of "sex role-model". Limits that I experienced with my own parents as a young person. Limits that I see now led me to make decisions that were not smart. As parents we can not always be demonstrators and we can not be controllers. We have to accept that our role, when it comes to E's sexuality, stops at information and encouragement. Encouragement for him to respect other people. Encouragement for him to not care about sex more than anything else in his life. Information to understand what a truly healthy relationship is and the role sex plays in that. James Deen, the porn star, is going to help me provide that information to my son.

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