Monday, February 28, 2011

I Have a Uterus and I Vote

This week, the GOP started a huge push to take away federal funding for a lot of (in my opinion) essential government programs. I'm not going to get into all of them, because my boyfriend Paul Krugman did it better here but one cut that frankly isn't getting talked about nearly enough is the move to entirely defund Planned Parenthood.

First of all, crazies, there's no federal money paying for abortions, that's illegal. Considering that abortion is still a legal and often lifesaving medical procedure, that's bullshit, but moving on. The federal money that Planned Parenthood gets is for things like pap smears, breast exams, HPV shots and other important routine women's health care and checkups. You know why women have to go to Planned Parenthood for their mammograms? Oh right, because the GOP fucked women on the healthcare thing too. Sick.

Now, the anti-abortion thing I can understand. I don't agree with it, but it's a viewpoint I can at least wrap my brain around. What I can't understand is why anyone thinks it's a good idea to take away access to condoms, birth control, checkups, vaccines, and other health care options. Because you know how you prevent abortions? By reducing the number of women who get pregnant. You know how you do that? Access to birth control. You know what's expensive? Breast cancer. You know what's cheap? Mammograms. You know what sucks? Terrible complications from STDs. You know what's cheap? Condoms, or if it's too late for that, penicillin. THIS IS NOT THAT COMPLICATED.

I'm going to stop yelling at the Republicans, because obviously John Boehner doesn't read this blog. But ladies. Ladies. Wake up. Our generation was born fifteen years after Roe v. Wade, and considerably after the advent of safe and effective hormonal birth control. And if you want to go back further than that... two hundred years ago, if you had sex you probably got knocked up, and if you got knocked up you had to a.) give birth, which would probably kill you, or b.) have a horror show back alley abortion, which would also kill you. If your husband got the clap at the whorehouse, you got some too. If you had your period you stuck some rags in your underwear and went back to your back-breaking life. You would pop out kids until your body gave out, and then there was a pretty good chance you would die. Women only got so far behind in the historical sense because they were concentrating on making sure that their uteruses didn't kill them.

And now, we have all the technology to make sure that we only have babies when we want them, and to treat STDs, and to catch deadly cancers early on, and our own government is about to take away a lot of women's access to all of that. We've gone our whole lives thinking that our reproductive health is a given, but it's not. We still have to fight for this. Which again, is bullshit, but that's the world we live in. There is zero doubt in my mind that this is sexism. If you want to keep a woman down, you take away her autonomy over her body, plain and simple. (If we can keep young and/or poor women down, so much the better!) Fact is there are still people running this country who would like nothing more than to see us all barefoot and pregnant. We have to realize that if we don't sit up and pay attention, these people are going to slowly but surely take away the rights that generations of women before us fought and sometimes even died for. Women's rights are human rights, for the billionth fucking time.

So whether you're a woman or just someone who happens to think that women are also people, please sign this petition and send an email or make a phone call to your representative. Encourage your friends and family to do the same. And if you have some disposable income, send a few bucks PP's way. We've come way too far to let this happen, and we need to tell Congress we're not putting up with this bullshit.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

At Home in Granada

If you've been keeping up with my trip on this blog (which makes you a member of a demographic of approximately three people) you know I've done a little whining about Spain lately, but I really have to say: I love this city. Here's why:

1. This weekend we went to a club that is in an actual cave. And I stayed out until 5 am and actually enjoyed it. I'm getting the hang of Spanish nightlife, although ending the night with some 6 am churros y chocolate like a lot of young people do still sounds like a terrible idea. We're starting to have the scene figured out a little better, and we all know our way around the city pretty well by now. In a lot of ways, it's starting to feel like home--not like my home, maybe, but home the way UNH is home.

2. This morning, I went to Mass in Granada's immense baroque cathedral, and was actually able to understand a lot of what was going on in the readings and the homily. It always feels like a victory every time I piece together something on my own--a newspaper headline or an ad or a scripture reading. That said, sometimes I was totally lost, and I had a new appreciation for the cathedral--even if you have no idea what's going on, at least there's a lot to look at. Which is exactly why it's so beautiful--back in the days when the Mass was in Latin the hoi poloi needed something to do while the priests were droning along. Obviously it's a good thing that the Mass isn't in Latin today and ordinary people can understand what's going on, but this kind of explains why my home church looks like a conference center.

3. I think Sunday mornings in Granada are just the nicest thing ever. Everyone's out for a walk or on their way to church, or sitting around enjoying some coffee and breakfast with their families. There's some kind of outdoor market right near our apartment that's going on for the rest of the month, and this morning the street was full of musicians and guys selling balloons. Everyone is dressed up beautifully, including the kids. That little girl in a camel coat, red tights and Mary Janes and the two-year-old twin boys in duffle coats and loafers really make me wish somebody in my family had a little kid so I could buy tiny adorable clothes for him or her. I just love how everyone is truly relaxing. At home, weekends are for catching up with stuff you've otherwise been putting off all week--chores, errands, whatever. Here, everything's closed on Sunday. No grocery shopping, no Home Depot runs, no nothing. The only thing to do is sit in the sunshine and drink coffee. Bummer.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

When Your Euro Trip Starts to Feel Like a Bad Trip

So let me say first of all that I love Spain. It's an unbelievably beautiful country, the people are all so nice, and I'm having a fantastic time learning Spanish and exploring the city that's still my home for the next three-plus months. But this was a fucking rough week.

We traveled to Madrid for four nights last week, from Wednesday to Sunday, making side trips to Segovia and Toledo. I loved the trip--it sounds silly but you can't help but be bowled over by how old everything is here. The aqueduct in Segovia has been there since Roman times and was only decommissioned a few decades ago. My dad laughed when I called Madrid a "new" city--only because most of the architecture is from the seventeenth century onwards. After a little time here it's easy to forget that they were building palaces in Madrid while the Pilgrims were practically living in mud huts. I visited the Prado, which was something I've been wanting to do for years, and it definitely was not a disappointment.

So throughout all of this I have kind of a low-level sinus ache/head cold. Which, whatever. I was perfectly able to get out and do whatever I wanted. Wasn't about to go run a marathon, but I was fine. But our last morning in Madrid, two girls from the group came down with a stomach virus, and long story short we spent five hours on a bus together and practically everyone in the group came down with either the cold that had been circulating or the stomach bug. Or you know, both, if you're me.

There is absolutely nothing like being sick to make you homesick. At a certain point you just want to puke in your own toilet and crawl miserably back into your own bed. My hostess Ana made a special trip to the store for melusa, a white fish that is delicious but definitely not what you want to eat on a queasy stomach. I didn't want anything to eat at all, but I had an aggressive Spanish matriarch trying to get me to eat fish in cream sauce absolutely insisting that it would fix me right up. I wanted my mom. I wanted to go home.

I didn't actually cry at the table, but it was a close one.

Another thing you don't realize--until you really need something, anyway--is that they don't have the same names for medicines here. I would have killed for Pepto Bismol but I had no idea if there was a Spanish equivalent or what it was called. Our profa Sarah recommended something called Primperan, which was supposed to help with nausea. Well, my roommate went out and got me some. Here are some of the possible side effects:

-Disminuacion del nivel de consciencia, confusion, alucinacion (Decreased state of consciousness, confusion, hallucination)
-Espasmos de los musculos de la cara, del cuello y la lengua (Spasms of the face, neck and tongue muscles)
-Problemas de coordinacion de los movimentos voluntarios (potencialmente irreversible) (Problems with coordination of voluntary movements, potentially irreversible.

This is something you can just walk into a pharmacy and buy, although to me it sounds like you could just inhale some lead paint dust and call it a day. I decided to take my chances with the puking.

Anyway. It was just a bug and I'm fine, but it was not a good time. On Tuesday I felt okay, so I went out because I wanted some fresh air and needed stamps and some girl stuff. Well. Let me just say that siesta sounds like a great idea to you but it sucks when you're puking in a Spanish Burger King because you've been forced to wander around for an hour waiting for the stores to open up again because they're all closed for siesta and all you want is some goddamn tampax. So yeah. That was my week, how was yours?