Reproductive freedom? Or corporate control?

'I’m sure everyone and their dog has heard of the Facebook/Apple egg-freezing debacle at this point.  But regardless, in case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s whats been going on:

Since last January, Facebook has included egg-freezing among its benefits for female employees.  They’re willing to cover $20,000, enough for two rounds of egg retrieval.  (One round typically costs between $10,000-15,000 and its usually recommended that women do more than one).  The company may also cover the cost of cold storage, which usually amounts to $500 or so a year.  Apple is set to offer a similar package to its employees starting January 2015.

It should be noted however that the American Society for Reproductive Medicine lifted the “experimental” label off the procedure a mere two years ago.  And even now, it still comes with a disclaimer, “we cannot at this time endorse its widespread elective use to delay childbearing.”

As for me, I’m all for reproductive rights and liberty, after all its a fundamental human need to procreate.  And in certain cases (cancer, for instance) egg-freezing is a great option that many women should have.  But is that really what we’re talking about here?  Or should we read between the lines?

Are Facebook and Apple (and countless other companies soon I’m sure) forcing women to choose between motherhood and their careers?  I’m sorry to say but there’s a reason women become pregnant in their 20s and 30s.  One simply doesn’t have the patience, health or energy for children later on.  (Apparently some people find this opinion rather ageist, so please excuse my traditional family values.) 

And maybe I’m just a bit paranoid but in this day and age, where we’re constantly glued to our (often Apple) devices and ruled by social media, have these companies taken things too far?  Is this an extreme case of corporate control?  I’m curious to hear what you guys think.


I Want To Be Sick

I’m sure this post will disturb (or offend) some of you.  To be honest I’ve never written this or said it out loud because it disturbs me but:

I find something very attractive about being sick.

Maybe it’s because my grandmother had Munchausen and I take after her?  Or maybe I’ve had very good experiences when I was ill?  As a kid it usually meant being babied, waited on, tv, etc.

When I got older, it became an escape.  I quickly realized (by the 7th grade if not earlier) that being sick put an end to all my stress.  It was an excuse no one could argue with.  If I was sick I couldn’t possibly do the hours of homework I’d been assigned right?

But its more than that.  At my most depressed, I would long to be in a hospital, to have an excuse to sleep.  I’ve wished I could be diagnosed with some horrible illness.  It would be easier for people to understand at least.

Maybe it’s because being sick is incredibly “in” at the moment?  Try naming a romance where the heroine doesn’t have cancer.  Or a teen soap where we shouldn’t sympathize with the sick kid.  Not to mention all the charities, inspirational videos and other miscellaneous crap that litters our news feeds.

I can’t be the only one feeling this way?

Honesty Hour

Today I was in the car with my mother, drinking coffee, when she turned to me and asked:

“What did you get in your summer classes in Italy?”

Now I’m sure this is a normal question for most parents to ask their children.  But since my second year at college my mother made it a point to stop asking.  She also forbade my father from doing so.

I responded honestly.

“I got an A in one course and Incomplete in the other which I’m now taking care of.”

She was very happy and was planning on telling my father as soon as she got home.  But she then took a small inhale and was silent.  That usually means she has more to say.

“What is it?”

“Have you gotten a lot of D’s, Jane? I’m worried, I have to ask.”

I turned to face her and realized I had to tell the truth.

“I’ll be honest with you, Mom.  I haven’t gotten any D’s…but I have been racking up the Incompletes.”

She seemed relieved.  And I began to feel guilty immediately.  I’d allowed her to worry without reassuring her, knowing full well everything she else she has to deal with.

“How long do you have to complete them?”

I tried to sound confident when the truth is I have no idea.

“Well, you know, they can change a grade at any point while you’re at school”.

I try not to focus too much on this point but the fact is that I don’t know my deadlines. And I’m too scared to ask.  Maybe its just a matter of when a professor loses patience with me?  I don’t know.  I’m planning on finishing at least one course during winter break and the rest during summer.  But as always, we’ll see.


Is this genetic? (an informal poll)

Yesterday I found myself explaining my mental health issues to yet another professor.  And for whatever reason Italians (I’m not sure if it’s a cultural thing) always ask “why”.  I was taken aback at first and then replied “Thats just how I am”.

That got me thinking.  I’ve already explained the environmental issues I’ve had on here, but I haven’t discussed the hereditary factors.  While my mother and father are both incredibly strong, resilient people, I take after my maternal grandmother (whom I was always very close to).  But unfortunately I didn’t inherit her red hair or green eyes, but her anxiety and depression.

Back in her native country (which I’ll reveal in another post)  she was essentially diagnosed with “hysteria”.  She was terrified of the dark her whole life, a result of living in the country.  And often suffered from unexplainable pains and vomiting.  As a young girl she had migraines (like my mother and myself) and experienced “Alice in Wonderland syndrome” which left her cowering in fear as the furniture seemed to morph and loom large above her.

I also believe she may have suffered from Munchausen; she came from a family of 14 and the only way to get attention was to be ill.  She went on to have several miscarriages when she was trying to conceive.  I never realized how bad things were until my mother recently confessed that at 16 she went to visit (the equivalent of) a Voodoo practitioner.  My grandmother had been in bed for a month vomiting constantly and my mother went out of desperation when a relative suggested it.

It terrifies me how much we are alike.  She lived her whole life alternating between extreme worry and depression.  I’m wondering if any of you have a history of mental illness in your families?  I’m very curious.

Kids these days

Alexander2I know, I’m far too young to say something like “kids these days”, I need a porch and a rocking chair.  But something I constantly worry about is the world and culture my children are going to grow up in.  Again, kind of a weird concern for a 21 year-old, but hey, thats me.

Last week I had the pleasure of chaperoning my nephew’s kindergarden class on a field trip.  Needless to say it was pretty adorable.  They went to see a performance of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”.  If you’re unfamiliar with it, its a children’s book originally published in 1972 which has been adapted to film and theater.  The premise is simple, a little boy has a really bad day.

But I found myself wondering if its even applicable to children today.  What would it look like if published in 2014?

1972– Alexander has a working dad, stay-at-home mom, and two older brothers.

2014– Alexander would most likely be an only child of divorce.

1972– Alexander is upset he doesn’t get a prize in his cereal box and the sneakers he wants (red with blue stripes) don’t come in his size.

2014– Alexander would probably be upset his mother didn’t let him play with the Ipad during breakfast or buy a new video game.

1972– Alexander cringes at the lima beans for dinner and the kissing that was on TV that night.

2014– One of his parents throws some Chef Boyardee on the stove and calls it a day.  And I don’t even want to think about the stuff on television.

Before any busy working moms freak out, I’m not trying to generalize here.  These are just my thoughts.  But I’ll tell you, it makes me want to raise my kids on some remote farm without cable.


“The Perfect Storm” for anxiety

logo_children_or_autism_puzzle_pieces_1I’ve been hinting at this post for a while now.  But I think I’ve finally worked up the nerve to tell you all (whoever reads this) the reason I’m like this.  As my therapist put it today, my childhood was “the perfect storm” of anxiety.

My eldest brother, 14 years older than me, suffers from autism.  Usually when I tell people this, they imagine someone bound to a wheelchair, mute, pitiful.  But no, he is rather high-functioning and incredibly violent.

He left the house for good when I was about 6 years old after a particularly bad incident (I’ll fill you in some other time) but up until then he ruled the roost.

We couldn’t leave the house after dark.  I couldn’t watch the television shows I wanted to watch.  I couldn’t even play on the living room floor past a certain time.

The tiniest things could set him off and lead to a violent episode.  These were often things beyond our control.  The power or cable going out, anything.  I even remember crying hysterically when I was about 5 because a glass candy dish broke.  I didn’t break it, and my parents certainly didn’t care, but he would lose it.

It seems a bit heavy-handed to say this has affected my entire life (apart from my anxiety and depression) but its the truth:

– I was incredibly lonely growing up.  My other brother, Ethan, was 9 years older than me, not exactly a playmate.  And both my parents are only children, so that means no aunts, uncles, or cousins.  They also lost all of their friendships one way or another after my brother was diagnosed.

-Its possible that Ethan emerged even more damaged.  He has chosen to identify himself as a victim and feels the whole world owes him.  He’s incredibly intelligent but can’t seem to get his life or career going.

– This has completely altered my relationship with my parents, particularly my mother.  Most couples stop having children after one is diagnosed with autism, and they certainly wouldn’t have a baby with a violent 14 year-old in the house.  But my parents did.  I often feel like I was born to be my mother’s companion.  Another little person she could cart around with her and my brother.  She would often tell me I was her “sunshine” despite everything going on around us.  Thats sort of a lot to put on a four year-old.

-Worst of all, this isn’t something I can just put behind me.  It haunts me every single day.  If I’m home, I have to hear about the issues my mother is having with his group home, and know that one day its going to be me having to deal with this.  I will have to run myself ragged just like my mother has done.  And on top of it all, I constantly feel guilty over how much I resent him.

Note from a “Shiksa”

star-of-david-534x620Disclaimer:  I do not wish to offend anyone with this post.  If you’d like to discuss it or leave a comment please do so respectfully.  

Today I was grabbing a latte at a charming little coffee shop near campus.  While waiting for my drink I overheard a conversation between a young woman and a man who I assume was her rabbi, or some sort of advisor/mentor.  They were discussing intermarriage within Judaism.

Now I’m sure most people wouldn’t have thought twice about it.  After all it’s not part of my culture, nor is it any of my business.  But with the experiences I’ve had in the past, I simply had to write something about it, for my own sake.

First of all you should know that I’ve dated a few Jewish men, two of which were rather serious relationships.  And each and every time ended for the same reason.  I’m not Jewish.

Now this isn’t a problem per say, except for the fact that you probably shouldn’t be dating me in the first place.  I also know from attending a mostly Jewish university that many young Jewish men seek the excitement and novelty of a non-Jew before settling down.  This is wrong.  Call me old-fashioned but you shouldn’t get involved with someone whom you know there’s no possible future with.

And for the record gentlemen, “shiksa goddess” is not a compliment.

Which brings me to my second issue.  I’ve been called “shiksa”, and “goy” countless times, more than once in a negative context.  Not only is it clearly insulting but also unique in the sense that a culture would have one word for “other”. I would much rather be called, “that Irish girl, Mary” or “that Hindu guy, Bob” than “that goy, Lisa”.

I find that this is an issue which interferes with friendships as well.  I was once sitting with a few girlfriends when one mentioned that a boy we knew recently started dating someone new.  One of the girls then asked, “Is she Jewish?”.  When she learned she was, the response was , “ok, good”.  How was I supposed to feel?

The reason this angers me so much is because I find that my heart has been hardened.  I entered that school and met all of those people with a completely open mind.  I did not grow up in an antisemitic culture, and my church often had us pray for “the safety of our Jewish brothers and sisters” during Passover and Hanukkah.

I do not want to feel this way at all.