maarmie's musings

Saturday, May 31, 2008

In print once again

The Courier printed my letter yesterday. The original letter can be found in the previous post. As you can see, the editor chopped to a third its original length. What? They couldn't give me a half a page? Cretins!

It feels good to be in print again, I must admit. I miss being a journalist sometimes, but it's such hard, thankless work I don't think I'd ever actually attempt it again.

Being a reporter sapped all my strength every day and took quite an emotional toll after a while. Given that I view newspapers as vehicles to keep those who would harm others on the straight and narrow and that I view reporters as watchdogs against bad people who take advantage of those less fortunate/powerful, etc., I got really wrapped up in "exposing the bad guy" and hoping that the exposure would in some way bring justice. It never did, though, and I ended up feeling like I was writing all those articles and creating all those enemies for no reason at all.

Sucks to be on the sidelines all the time, writing about lives that other people were actually living as well. I hope, now, that I will get on and do lots of things that are newsworthy. Maybe someone will end up wanting to write about my life, instead.

By the way, I have only gotten one e-mail so far from someone who hates littering as much as I do. Hopefully that one can turn into several or many.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Littering is for losers

The subject of littering has been hotly debated in the Inverness Courier lately. There's tons of litter on the ground here, and, where others are just whining, I decided I wanted to be the one to do something about it. So I sent this letter to the Courier in the hopes of getting it printed and reacted to. Here's hoping.



Letter writer Stephen Connah (Battle against litter is everyone's responsibility, published 25 April 2008) is on the money regarding litter in the beautiful city of Inverness.

An American expatriate, I moved to Inverness in October 2007. Since then, I have become increasingly alarmed at the sheer volume of litter in the streets and on the sidewalks in and around the city centre and in other parts of the city. It's mostly children and teens who do the dropping, too - candy and crisp wrappers and fast food bags, cups and containers - and they do it without a second thought. More than once, I have wanted to shout at a youngster to pick up his or her garbage. But it's not just Invernesian youth I want to shout at: it's parents, too. Are parents teaching their children to put their rubbish where it belongs? I'd wager that, in too many instances, the answer is no. At Whin Park the other week, for example, a young boy and girl were eating crisps and playing near some slides. Both children dropped the empty crisp bags behind a slide when they were done. Their parents, of course, looked the other way.

My daughter is only three months old but will be taught from the time she can understand my words that littering just isn't okay. In many parts of the United States, too, littering is such a thing of the past. Where is this garbage dump attitude coming from? Is it a continuation of the "give everything to me now and I'll throw it all away in two minutes but I'm not worried because there will be more tomorrow" attitude that many people, not just youngsters, have these days? As global warming is showing us, Mother Nature isn't always so forgiving.

Keeping Inverness clean is everyone's responsibility. It's up to individuals to not litter, of course, but parents and teachers can increase littering awareness among youngsters. Fines for littering and strict enforcement of littering laws can be a deterrent to litterers, too, as can good old-fashioned peer pressure. If youngsters and adults alike would spread the message to their littering friends that littering is for losers - and if fellow citizens would stand up against littering when they catch someone in the act - the city might just get a little greener.

I'm willing to put these words into action by organizing litter clean-up days for volunteers, but I need the help of others. If you want to lend a hand - or if you're a parent or teacher who wants to educate your children or students about the importance of a clean environment by asking them to roll up their sleeves as well - write me at It's the least we can do for a city that continually gives us so much natural beauty.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Best present ever

C* received the best present ever yesterday, a present so dandy that, if said present had been in my possession, I would never have parted with it. Ever. What is this present, you ask? And who was so selfless to just give it away?

The "who" is quite complicated. The mother of C*'s son has an older daughter with another man. Through the mother, C* is friends with this other man who gives C* gifts every year for his birthday, usually a bottle of quality single malt whiskey he pinches from his job. This year, though, C* got the stolen whiskey AND a toy, a doll, to be more precise, wrapped in a bag upon which this message is written:

It says:
(I found this and thought of you. I added the badge myself)
(This bag does not contain a big box of reds. It contains a police officer who will act as your conscience) Destroy power, not people! Fuck the fucking Olympics! Free Tibet and Darfur NOW!

Chop up, bury or burn
Here's a photo of Elliot holding the bobby doll, likely a one-of-a-kind doll hand crocheted by some granny long ago for an adoring grandchild. In a 1984ish kinda way, there's a pin attached to the doll that says "Do not question authority."

Appropriately, Elliot is cuddling the doll while giving the camera the finger. She flips a bird so often that I bet she's doing it intentionally. That's one less thing I need to teach her!

Yesterday, the doll was C*'s. Today, I gave it to Elliot, who has already marked it all over with her saliva. I saw in her eyes that she thinks it's the best doll ever, too. Great minds think alike.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Feb. 10, 2 pm

The following post was cobbled together from memory, from fragments previously written and saved and from e-mails sent to friends. Please excuse the clumsy writing. It's been a while, and I'm out of practice.

C* and I had this birthing thing all planned out. I had read the books, gone to the classes. I knew what to expect, what to pack, what to wear, what to bring.

Comfy jammies. Check. Two CD cases filled with music. Check. A deck of cards. Check. Snacks. Yep. All in a bag in the corner of the birthing room along with a TENS machine, a newborn diaper and baby's first onesie and socks. This birth thing was going to be a piece of cake, I thought. C* and I were going to play games and pig and rock out during the 12 or so hours I was expecting to be in labor.

Wrong. Wrong. Double wrong.

After nearly a week of contractions that led nowhere, the midwives did their blood pressure and baby heart rate checks and I was taken to the labor suite at 2 pm on Sunday, February 10, a mere 10 hours before Elliot's original due date. My cervix was only 2 cm dilated, but the doctor was determined to break my water, determined that I would give birth within 24 hours.

I had previously been told that I had excess locum (amniotic fluid) because of the gestational diabetes, so much so that the baby's head had failed to engage in my pelvis because she was literally floating in my uterus.

Doctor: OK. Here I go.

maarmie inhales and exhales deeply about a million times to get the full effect of the gas and air, the main pain management method she had chosen for the delivery. What a joke.

Doctor reaches through maarmie's cervix and uses a sterile plastic hook to tear through the amniotic sac.

maarmie: Puff puff puff puff puff puff puff puff


More liquid poured out of me than I ever thought imaginable. The midwife had to change my bed several times and mop the floor more times than that in an attempt manage the flow of the gallons of fluid that poured out of me. I was disgusted and confused. I had no idea it would all be this........wet.

During the initial gush, when the effects of the gas and air were at their peak, I had a vision. I remember thinking that I all of a sudden realized what was REALLY going on. I remember thinking that I had figured out that this was some kind of plot cooked up by C*, the midwife and the doctor, that, in reality, I was on my deathbed, that I was dying and that my soul was going to be exiting the world to make way for the baby's soul to enter it, that the liquid draining from my body was my life force and that I was being sacrificed so the baby could be born. I remember being horrified that I had been tricked so easily, that C* had tricked me so easily, but I wasn't upset about giving my life up for my daughter's.

I asked C* about it when the doctor and midwife left the room, though, and made him promise several times that what I was envisioning wasn't really happening.

After my uterus had drained a while, I was told to get upright and walk around for a bit in the hopes that the baby's head would push down on my cervix and get the dilation ball rolling. After more than an hour, it was obvious my body was going to need additional help, so the midwife hooked me up to an IV filled with oxytocin. Nine hours later, the contractions were coming and I was puffing on the gas and air like crazy, but, again, the contractions hadn't been strong enough to get me past 3 cm. Just when we were thinking I'd need an emergency C section, my cervix popped open all the way, and we were in business once again.

About labor: If women knew what labor was REALLY like before they went into it, I'm firmly convinced they'd never get pregnant in the first place. Perhaps mine was worse because of the several failed inductions, five days of internal exams, on and off contractions and general psychological mind-fuck, but labor, as I remember it, was a nightmare at the time.

Just like they tell you, contractions are like a wave. You know it's coming, because it builds and builds and you can feel it's getting ready to plateau and then it's excrutiating and then a bit more excrutiating and you don't think you'll survive it and you're yelling and then it tapers off and disappears. Then you have about a minute break until you can feel the next one building. Just when you think it's never going to end, on and on and on with no headway, you get the worst contractions of all, ones that make every cell in your body pray for death. During these contractions, you have no choice but to push. That's all your body wants to do and you find yourself having these horribly painful contractions WHILE your body is also pushing this huge object out your vagina. Contractions and burning, that is all you feel. All the while you've got people standing over you telling you what to do, to push your chin into your chest, grab under your thighs with your legs bent in the air and push, push, push. One push is bad enough, but each contraction makes you push at least three times. After the second time, you just want to die.

I never cursed during the third stage of labor, just yelled "I can't! I can't!" over and over - for about an hour. Of course C* was standing to my left side cheering me on telling me how good I was doing and I was just looking at him like "Whatever! I'm not doing good! Leave me alone!" I never said that to him of course (even though I wanted to) and he told me later that he knew what I was thinking because it was written all over my face. But once the head was out, the body quickly and easily followed as did the placenta, the largest the midwife said she had ever seen. Enter Elliot at 2:34 am on Feb. 11 after exactly 40 weeks of pregnancy and a little more than 12 hours of labor.

All the waiting, all the fear, all the pain. It was all worth it, in the end, for my wonderful Elliot. Everything in my past - the guys I thought I loved, the jobs and careers I thought I wanted, the possessions I thought I needed - are nothing, mean nothing, compared to my lovely baby girl, my precious Boppy, my beautiful Bopbop. Until I married C* and became a mommy, I wondered why my life felt so empty. Now I know. Thank you, C*. Thank you, Elliot. You have both made my life so full.