Monthly Archives: September 2012

BABY SHOWERS ~ Where Women Become Babies

Friends and family have been waiting for years to see me act like an adult, so why as I’m about to have a baby and embark on the most grown up thing I’ll ever do, am I suddenly expected to celebrate like a little girl? Because it’s baby shower time ladies and gentlemen–the rite of passage that follows drunken bachelorette parties and sober marriages.

If you think women have come a long way, try suggesting to your friends options for baby showers other than the norm. I don’t like baby showers and nobody I know likes baby showers, except for the women who put them on and get a sick thrill from seeing their pregnant friends suffer. So my plan for my baby party was one last round of adult time set for a Saturday night with drinks, dancing, friends of both sexes, no games and no gift opening hour. But it turns out my instincts were wrong. A few months before my due date I learned that to have a baby a woman must become one.

According to American tradition, pregnant women are supposed to turn eight, play games, eat cupcakes topped with plastic toys and open gifts before the sun goes down as a way to prepare themselves for what lies ahead. To fully immerse yourself back into childhood, your baby shower must involve your closest girlfriends and zero boys. This is because women are innately built to act like children as opposed to men. In contrast to my own experiences in an all girls high school and living with seven other women for three years, it turns out that when women gather in a group they instinctually desire bright pastel party decor and game-packed itineraries to get to know one another. And at baby showers they can’t help but talk the way kids think adults talk by bringing up generic topics of conversation that cover all things baby. This focus in discussion may seem narrow and boring to the unfeminine eye, but with recent training I’ve discovered it has loads of possibilities. When talking about babies, you can talk about other people’s babies, what you’re hoping your baby will be like and the things that are cute about babies like their wittle hands and wittle feet. The topic of pregnancy is a crowd pleaser too; everyone wants to know if you had morning sickness and if you can feel the baby kicking. I just educated myself on breastfeeding, so now I can talk breast pumps, hands free bras for pumping and ask other moms how to do it. Then of course cute baby clothes…please I’m a woman, that’s all I’m supposed to be talking about anyway right? Clothes and fashion–now just a miniature version. Being a kid is great!

For years I had felt guilty for not being more mature, but this looming baby shower showed me that my real problem was that I just wasn’t being immature enough. Going out to clubs, drinking, playing video games now and then and not being more serious about everything around me is just basic teenager to early twenties kind of never-growin’-up stuff. That’s for babies! What our culture really wants is for women to go for the gold and stunt ourselves all the way back to elementary school days to act like sweet naive little pumpkins who prefer punch and cupcakes to whiskey and cupcakes whether they like it or not. And who better to propagate this belief than women themselves? Women make sure other women don’t make the mistake of throwing a party they really want. Girlfriends are always the first to gasp when you suggest you may host your own shower, or fake distress at the thought of no games. Baby showers are the time for women to stop thinking of themselves and  forget what brought them to a pregnant state in the first place–raunchy adult sex. From here on out, puritanical views of womanhood and life are key to what will lead to successful parenting, and it’s thanks to our fellow ladies that we can continue this tradition of making women who have already suffered months of body changes and nausea, suffer a little more for the sake of tradition. Face it, if baby showers weren’t worth doing in the first place, then why is it that men never made it a tradition of their own.

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I Am “Pregnant Lady” See Me Bulge

Every day when I go to work, the security guy at my office says in a high-pitched voice with a piercing Guatemalan accent, “You’re getteeng beeeeegger, Rene.” A week later… “Getteeng beeeeger.” Seriously every day… “Hey Rene… Getteeng beeeeger.” Until finally last week he said, “Oh! You can RRRRREALLY tell now!” Since then I have become “The Pregnant Lady.” I was sure I would have resented this but in fact it’s been somewhat of a relief. For the first time in my life, people know what I am.

Before this nine-month baby marathon, I have always been hard to figure out.  No one can tell my ethnicity or marital status, my career is as unfocused as my skill set, my husband and I look nothing alike, I get nervous if my friends ever start to make up a decipherable demographic, I never see bands in corresponding attire, my birth name means the sea and the sun, astrologically I’m on the cusp of Cancer and Leo, and I am a middle child first generation American who grew up with two cultures and two languages. No wonder I have a hard time getting cast in shows or films–no one knows what I am or what I represent. But now, I am “The Pregnant Lady” the “Preggo” “Preggers” any way you say it, I am pregnant. My ever-expanding stomach has made me a definite someone in the eyes of others. I no longer need to explain myself because everyone thinks they know pregnant womenPregnant women are delicate flowers. Pregnant women are coy. Pregnant women have to be careful to not over exert themselves. Pregnant women are inherently motherly. Pregnant women are all alike. Because of these stereotypes that see us as helpless warm angels, simple demands are met without question like needing a bathroom break, water, or snacks, a place to sit and some me time so I can get emotional if I feel like it. “Yes pregnant lady,” everyone seems to say to me, “Anything your heart desires.” Oh really?! Well then I don’t want to wait in line, I’m going to flake out on our date at the last-minute because suddenly I don’t feel like going out, and I don’t care if everyone wants to eat vegan food tonight, I need some meat!

By being clumped with an identifiable group, pregnancy has somehow given me a more effective voice. People want to know what I want and what I need. It’s given me renewed confidence to state my desires without hesitance because when people know what you are, they pay more attention to you because of their expectations. They want to see their hopes and fears in what you represent come alive and can’t wait for you to fulfill them. Thing is, as I’m encouraged to express myself more, people around me are finding that I am far from anything they had in mind for a pregnant lady.

To the shock of gym members I work out 5 days a week not swimming or just doing yoga, but Boot Camp and basic weight training; I still accompany my husband and friends to bars and clubs and have a glass of wine from time to time; my clothing is still as revealing, although much more comfortable; if the ground is level enough and my feet don’t hurt, I wear platform high heel shoes; and a few weeks ago I performed at The Echo with some comedians I met at SF Sketchfest earlier this year. I showed up as the ex tambourine girl of a really bad metal band named Sad Vicious. And  although pregnant she still believes she must show off her midriff to hype up the crowd. And hype them up I did.

At first no one believed the pregnancy jokes I was playing up, like bathroom breaks and snacking onstage, because no one expected to see a pregnant woman actually perform at a rock club. And then my stomach came out. Scary for a moment yes, but going onstage and flaunting a far from flat stomach was thrilling, freeing and dare I say it like an old-school feminist? Empowering. I could see the stunned faces in the crowd. Still holding their beers, no one seemed sure if it was safe to have another sip just yet. And then, only a few seconds later, cheers went up. They loved it. I loved it too. After performing, one man in the audience who got onstage on all fours to act as a chair for me before I lifted my shirt, apologized, “I didn’t know you were really pregnant!” As if being pregnant would have kept me from sitting on his back long enough to put on my stiletto heels. And women in the crowd kept approaching me afterwards to say how excited they were to see me do what I did. One after another these 20-something year old girls gushed about how they couldn’t wait to be pregnant and asked me if it was as wonderful as they dreamed it might be. “I have no idea,” I told them, “But it sure is fun.”

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Looking back at one of my blog posts from last year about the Republican Party’s presidential candidates, I was surprised to find that a woman’s instincts can be scarily right on.

Parker Platform

One thing I miss about being single is getting to overanalyze men. It’s fun dreaming up all the different ways a man is secretly in love with you: he hasn’t called since your last date because he’s scared he’s in love with you, he walks down the same street to get to his apartment next to yours because he’s in love with you, he broke up with you because his love for you made him want to work out his issues with another woman that doesn’t mean as much to him as you do.

Some books are trying to convince us to stop using overanalysis because according to them it’s easy to decipher a man’s actions. Oh really? Well then why did the OJ trial last nine months? I say to the single ladies, “He is that into you,” but you’ll only know it if you practice overanalysis…

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Politicians Are After Just One Thing

Ladies and minorities–sit back and enjoy the love. We’re on week two of that special election time when both parties go out of their way to attract us by flaunting representatives that best mirror us (at least in theory). This year’s conventions have paraded women galore in sharp smart suits, a mix of minorities at the podium–Asians, Blacks, Indians, and the RNC even threw up a Cuban who doesn’t look Cuban just like me!  All of this “Me Too’ing” is really exciting and makes it hard for a girl not to feel special. So special that I’m suddenly wanting to stick around, imagine a future together, and for now even…oh wait…is this a one night stand? Dammit! Ladies and minorities, we’re f**ked.

The signs were so clear, why didn’t I see them before: a sudden interest in us delivered with extreme focused passion followed by an unrealistic slew of promises and dreams too early to bring up at this stage in courting. Yep, looks like the Republicans and Democrats just want us for one thing–our votes. Once they get it, they’ll forget about us once again. Maybe they’ll throw a little, “Hi, how ya doin,” through a coffee with your congressman invite so it’s not too awkward; or ring us up late at night when a state proposition they support needs passing; and some may just pass us over to a friend thinking that we’ll be willing to give up our vote again so easily to whoever they pass along. Face it, we’re not the types they want to take home to Washington. They prefer someone who already looks like the people they came from and with the same upbringing. It’s hard to compete with corporations who flaunt their lobbies, or old money big whigs with so much power that Republicans and Democrats can’t help but stick to them for the sake of their own futures.

Then what’s a girl to do when a real smooth talker is only available for right now? Some have suggested that we vote for neither party since both are clearly just pandering to get in our voter pants. But then again, sometimes you never know.  A friend of a friend of mine ended up marrying a guy who started out as a one night stand and they’ve been in love ever since. Then again sometimes a one-off is all a girl wants and it’s great to be swept up in the excitement of the moment. Why not give up a vote with some enthusiasm even if everything you want to believe in is just for right now?!

So before goin’ for it and jumpin’ in the sack with either candidate, just take a moment to consider the consequences. Whoever you choose you’ll have to wake up to on November 7. Who’s the better morning after? I’ve happily made my choice and expect little in return.

NOTE: This week I wrote for scallywagmagazine.com (link is below) and next week I’ll be taking off from writing a new blog piece, but will post from the archives until I come back the week after. Thanks for tuning in!

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