Archive for July, 2007

What is it with Americans and boobs?

I just finished posting a blog on the Adoption News page that included a bit from ABC on how some people view breast feeding in public.

Holy Victoriana, Boobman!

Four … count ’em FOUR … US states have laws on their books that make it illegal for a mother to openly provide comfort and nourishment to her child anywhere other than in her own home … and better she’s behind closed doors even there … or in a toilet cubicle should her baby need feeding while she’s out and about in the world.

Yes, to 57% of the American public putting breasts to their intended use is considered as unacceptable a spectacle as taking a dump. Seventy-two percent object to even having to witness the act on television, although I’ll assume they’ll make allowances for National Geographic documentaries on Namibian Bushman Tribes.

Here in Seychelles, boobs are everywhere. Not just the swaddled, strapped, perched, hefted and covered versions, but the bouncy, fleshy, stick-right-out-there … or hang-right-down-there, as the case may be … meet the twins, real things.

Bosoms are bared to feed babies on busses, at bus stops, in shops, along the road, in church, at funerals, while waiting in line at the bank, buying stamps at the post office and paying electric bills … basically anywhere babies get hungry.

It goes pretty much like this: baby fusses, mom opens her blouse, baby nurses, no one pays one bit of attention, except maybe to notice how cute the baby might be.

Tourists can’t wait to step out of their bras, too, as tanned tits are a prized souvenir of a Seychelles holiday. Beaches and hotel swimming pool decks are littered with matching sets of blistering boobs, and although application of sunscreen can get attention from any Americans in the neighborhood, no one else takes much from the process other than a prompt to renew their own film of protection.

Getting all het up over a couple of blobs of flesh-covered fat seems darned silly to most people in the world, especially when there happens to be a baby between the boob and what should be the casual observer.

It’s time to take the “tit” out of titillation, folks. In other words. GROW UP.

Here’s a link to information on breast feeding an adopted child. It includes another link to a bit about breast feeding fathers that some may find interesting.

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If you’ve clicked here from the post on the Apoption News Blog looking for a support group for adult C-section-birthed persons or C-section-delivered mothers, I have to ask:

Did you honestly think such groups exist? That’s really scary, you know.

What is next? Groups of pissed off adult water-birthed persons? Angry women who wanted a saddle block but delivered before they had the chance? Webgroups for mothers-who-had-to-work or adult children of mothers-who-had-to-work?

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Bill Gates is moving into my neighborhood.

Yep, the quiet, sleepy confines of the part of this island I call home is undergoing some huge, noisy and ugly changes, and there are billionaires’ fingerprints all over it.

Hardly a day passes without me being jolted out of contemplative blog-writing revelry by a blast of dynamite shattering granite boulders behind my house to smithereens … the dogs and kids are really fond of these terrifying booms, as I’m sure you’ll understand … and like the cannons in the William Tell Overture, the explosions merely add emphasis to the buzz of chain saws, the roar of dump trucks, the shouts of 850 imported Indian workers, and the pounding thrum of dozens of machines designed to move mountains and turn forests into roads and hillsides into villas.

It’s a Four Seasons Hotel project that’s going in … a hotel, plus a slew of multi-million dollar holiday homes … a company Mr. Gates recently moved into major shareholder-ship in.

Not featured yet on the web site, we will nonetheless be surrounded by extremely rich people within a relatively short period of mega-construction time.

How these people are to integrate with the local population, or how they’ll avoid doing just that, are topics of most conversations around here, as you can well imagine. Somehow, folks don’t see these newbies shopping at the local SMB franchise and being philosophical about a temporary dearth of onions or butter or toilet paper or milk or yogurt or salt or sugar or … well, you get the idea: we often live without stuff some could get used to always having on hand.

Then there’s the issue of beaches.

MY beach … meaning the one at the end of the road where I’ve been splashing around at least once a week for the past eleven years, and Mark has enjoyed since childhood … is soon to be surrounded by $6 million private homes. Any guesses as to how the owners of said homes will react to Gay and I tromping through their gardens with our snorkel gear and the kids’ pails and shovels? Of course, to do that we will have had to scale walls and avoid snazzy security equipment, I’m sure.

And what about the pickup-loads of Sunday picnic people; those festive folks who descend on mass ladened with boom boxes and barbecues for a fun-filled day of drinking and dancing and volleyball? Will they be welcomed with open arms by the super-rich Saudis and Russians who are already putting deposits down on these properties?

Um. I don’t think that’s likely.

Of course, maybe I’m jumping ahead to a scenario that won’t play out. Perhaps everyone will chip in with necessities when the shops run out of stuff and be happy as happy clams to share the beaches as we have always done… and maybe Bill and Melinda will invite Mark and the kids and me over for sundowners on his veranda.

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For parents of Cambodian-born kids, or anyone interested in what’s up in Cam, this week’s wrap of the news from Cambodia has been posted on the International Adoption Blog.

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If you don’t already know this, I’ll share that one of the pro blogs I write is on the topic of adopting as an older parent.

Since I’m about to turn fifty-six and have a 4.75-year-old and a 2-year-old, I’m qualified to write about being a geezer mom. I try very hard not to make that blog all about ‘Oy, my achin’ this and that‘ to keep an encouraging tone for others considering heading their walkers down that path (That’s a “Zimmer frame” to British readers … which I apparently have now.), and in hopes of giving my kids something to look back on and be fooled into thinking I was hip and groovy well into my dotage.

In my daily perusal of newsal … trawling for blog fodder … I found a story that grabbed my attention, then held it long enough for me to spend some time wondering about someone else’s life and choices.

You see, I’m not just an older mom, I’m an older woman with a younger husband … not exactly a cradle robber, since Mark was 26 when we met at my 42nd birthday party — more like a bike thief in a ‘You-can-forget-about-ever-buying-a-motorcycle-now-Mister’ sort of way.

But back to the morning’s news …

Bopping around my usual haunts, I found this story coming out of the UK about a 51-year-old grandmother and her new husband, a mere slip of a lad of 27.

Ack! You might say. That certainly does warrant a news headline or two. After all, there’s almost a quarter of a century of long, hard years between that woman and her Toy Boy. Aside from the sex, what could they possibly have in common?

And well you might ask. Since her husband isn’t allowed into Britain, sex isn’t much of an issue, and they most certainly come from different backgrounds.

She’s a five-times married granny and respected parish councillor who lives in the village of Moulton in Oxfordshire.

He? Well, he was raised in Afghanistan and now runs a scrap metal business in the Saudi city of Jedda.

Although they are legally married after the blossoming of the holiday romance in Egypt, she continues to go by her previous married name Mrs. Jane Felix-Brown. Perhaps some day she’ll change it to match her husband’s, and officially become Mrs. Omar bin Laden.

Osama’s her father-in-law.

And to think some people are all het up about the age difference!

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As regular readers know, my adored husband is a half-Brit, which is not the same as a half-wit, but not totally unrelated.

Yes, that’s extremely unkind and so veddy-veddy not PC, but Hey!, some things just must be said.

Mark was born in England and passed some of his childhood there, but most of his growing was done on this small, tropical island instead of that large chilly one … a factor that factors in greatly in the fact that he and I ended up together.

I lived in England for a couple of years, and as Mark so Britishly puts it, life there “didn’t suit me.” It may have been an easier adjustment if we’d lived in London … truly one of my favorite cities, and as much a city as a city must be to be interestingly livable … but we were in Bournemouth, which isn’t.

One good thing, however, about having lived in the UK for a spell is that it prepared me for life on a tiny rock in the middle of nowhere better than anything could have. I learned what education and medical care look like in developing nations, how poor service is no matter to anyone, how to cope with small mindedness as the order of the day, and what the world looks like from a vantage point that relies on shoulder chips and wannabes.

By comparison, Seychelles seemed progressive, lavish and open-minded … but there’s not all that we-used-to-be-an-Empire thing going on here.

Lest anyone think I went into English life prepared to rebel — until I moved there I was as Anglophilic as most Americans. All my impressions had come from encounters with the original Potter (Beatrix), Beatlemania, and London vacations that had me shopping at Harrods and hanging at Stringfellow’s.

I was convinced that life there was bound to be a combination of quaint and literary, with overtones of historic significance … and no little romance, of course, since I’d relocated to be with the love of my life.

Well, the romance was certainly no letdown, but the rest of it … ?

What I encountered was a rude population of cold fish with thought patterns I assumed had been left far behind in Western cultures. Racism, homophobia, religious intolerance, sexism, were all alive and well in Southern England in 1994.

One need only look at television programs like “Father Ted” to get an idea of how easily the British ‘take the mickey’ out of their Irish neighbors, and although the show cracked me up I was always aware of how offensive it must have been to Catholics.

If you’re wondering why I’m on this jag this morning, I’ll point you toward an article from the Telegraph that reminds me today of the backwardness of the UK that drove me up a wall while I was there. (This, in conjunction with summer day after summer day that saw the weather in Moscow 20 degrees warmer than the drizzly, damp and dreary days in Bournemouth.)

“How to … be a girl: 10 Things Every Girl Should Know” is the title of the piece that begs the question, “What year is this?”

Apparently a review for “The Great Big Glorious Book for Girls”, it’s all sugar and spice and everything vomit-inducing.

Some of the ten things?
1. How To Deal With Boys
2. How To Have A Best Friend
3. How To Cope When Your Best Friend Gets A New Best Friend
6. How To Keep A Secret
7. How To Tell If An Egg Is Fresh
8. How To Sulk

And some of the advice?

The main difference between boys and girls is that boys like doing things – driving cars, playing football, throwing stuff, eating, farting – and girls like feeling things, such as love, friendship, happiness and excitement.

Boys are very physical; girls are very emotional.

Boys are often spoilt by their mothers, so they have a tendency to think girls should do all the boring things in life, such as cleaning, cooking and ironing their T-shirts, while they do all the exciting things: jet-skiing, playing in rock bands, being spies.

The best approach is to put on a smiling public face. Be charming, be polite. Soon the horrible feelings of rejection will pass and you will be able to look back with gratitude that you behaved with dignity.

Excellent elements of sulking are the Black Look, the Deep Sigh and the No One Ever Understands a Single Thing I’m Going Through Shrug.

A sulk should be short and intense.

Thankfully, I’m raising my daughter on this island, not that one.

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The weekly update of news from Cambodia is posted here.

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If you’re wondering why the previous post, the creative writing challenge, exists … well, you have good reason to wonder right along with me. I certainly do have enough work on, and just the thought of adding to my ‘to do’ list sets my fingers into spasm.

This, however, popped out like giggle.

The rules were that it had to be less than 750 words and correctly use all of the following words:

  • ubiquitous
  • yo-yo
  • brown recluse spider
  • quixotic
  • abrogate
  • perfunctory
  • quid pro quo
  • Belize
  • for all intents and purposes
  • melissophobia
  • The thing was written almost before I finished reading the submission instructions. Apparently, my brain needed a sugar fix.

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    Hiking across an island with Norman is always more of an adventure than it should be. Completely and understandably dedicated to a case of melissophobia arising from an encounter on a lump of land in the Indian Ocean with about 13,000 African bees that should well have killed him, what should for all intents and purposes be little more than a perfunctory scurry from Point A to Point B ends up with us popping off and on the trail like a yo-yo in the hand of a hypoglycemic manic-depressive riding a blood sugar spike.

    Like background noise on every tropical island in the world, buzzing is ubiquitous; every single thing, living or inanimate, gives off some thrum that could be confused for a flying fellow of the apiary assortment. Sheesh … evaporating raindrops off coconut leaves buzz, forcryinoutloud!

    I’ll admit there was a time when these strolls with Norm held some quixotic appeal, but ever since an early attempted tryst on a semi-deserted caye in Belize went pear-shaped — the engine of a distant fishing boat convinced him that a bee’s butt was headed for his hind end — I’ve been less than swept off my feet. Seeing as how I broke three toes when he tossed me into what he thought was the path of a speeding stinger, I think my present state of unimpressed is about right.

    This is not to say that I don’t have my own freakish moments of the small and creepish kind. Far be it from me to abrogate a healthy aversion. Quid pro quo, I say, and a bug is a bug is a bug.

    Arachnophobic to the nth degree … and not one bit ashamed since it makes nothing but sense to react with revulsion to something with far too many legs and all those eyes … I can trace my very reasonable and not irrational fear to a childhood liaison with a brown recluse spider who wasn’t nearly reclusive enough, but most certainly brown and had more than enough spider to her.

    Lest anyone think it was some mutual repulsion from the small and furry that brought the two of us together and set us on a course to walk the world’s atolls and isolated smatters of land mass side-by-side, I should probably explain that the whole island-walking relationship thing was actually based on a typo I mistook for a mystical omen.

    Just out of college, I had a hankering to see my footprints on the small and sandy shores dotted around the globe. As a single woman, it seemed a good idea to find a compatible male counterpart to share expenses and lend a semblance of couple-commitment to ward off unwanted advances.

    With a sense of fulfilling a mystical mission designed by pure karma, I set to perusing the classifieds in my local paper for a traveling companion of the masculine variety that would share my calling.

    It was within the first minutes of searching that I triumphantly discovered what I now know to be a misprint that dropped a couple of sentences and made one ad out of two:

    “1972 Chevy Vega, good condition, call Norman,” and “Why not own a piece of paradise? Happiness is an island.”

    Imagine my wonder … my blissful inner-assurance that a match made on a greater plane than I usually managed to tread was about to become my reality … as I read:

    Norman is an island.

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    Just Ducky

    I’ve just written a three-part rant over on the International Adoption Blog and need to download a bit of tension before I get down to the serious business of a Sunday … that would be napping, then off to the beach for a while with Mark and the kids … so thought I’d take the opportunity to write about rubber duckies.

    Yeah … why not?

    If you’ve not seen this story may I suggest a click? The whole thing is a hoot, but I’ll give the short version here for anyone thinking my take might have merit.

    It’s the tale of one Curtis Ebbesmeyer, a Seattle-based … what? … really bored guy would fit, I suppose … oh, and oceanographer, if that’s not a redundancy … who for the last 15 years has been tracking somewhere around 30,000 plastic duck bath toys.

    The ducks began life in a Chinese factory and were being shipped to the US from Hong Kong when three 40ft containers fell into the Pacific during a storm on January 29, 1992. Two thirds of them floated south through the tropics, landing months later on the shores of Indonesia, Australia and South America. But 10,000 headed north and by the end of the year were off Alaska and heading back westwards. It took three years for the ducks to circle east to Japan, past the original drop site and then back to Alaska on a current known as the North Pacific Gyre before continuing north towards the Arctic.

    At the moment, they’re heading for England, Ireland and Scotland, and finding one can net you a cool $100, as they’ll be considered a scientific discovery. (Imagine Ernie as Jacques Cousteau. Er ees my asseestant, Bert … I mean Falco …)

    The Yellow Duckies are no longer yellow, as the sun and sea have bleached them white, but they are still afloat, and perhaps still grinning … which says a lot about sun and sea and plastic.

    I have a wonderful mental image of this flotilla — hundreds abreast, a slowly bobbing forward press of now-silent squeaky toys advancing toward land after years of adventures on the open sea, bills held high … and so on.

    Ah … I feel so much better now. A little story of the sea, even one this silly … or maybe especially one this silly … has completely washed the taste of anti-adoption bile from my mouth and left me with a hankering to do some bobbin’ about myself.

    Off to the beach now …

    Thanks, Ducks.

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