Saturday, October 24, 2020

Blogaround

1. The American man who became a porter on Everest (posted October 12) Well this is really fascinating to me because it reminds me of myself moving to China, and my beliefs about "objectivity" back then (which I wrote about in this post: Culture, Objectivity, God, and the Real Reason I Moved to China). Makes me imagine a thought process like "there is an extremely strong correlation between people's culture / place of origin, and where they end up living as an adult- for example, all the people working the dangerous and low-paying job of being a porter on Everest are from that local area- but why is that? Something is *wrong* about this correlation; it shouldn't be like that, we should be objective. Why *shouldn't* a white American man work as an Everest porter making $15/day? Wouldn't it be racist to think there's something *weird* about that?"

Obvious disclaimer, I have no idea if that's what Menninger believes. I wish I had time to watch his documentary. 

2. Ira Einhorn and the politics of Jesus (posted October 16) "Maybe this thieving, human-trafficker/theologian had a preternatural ability to compartmentalize his life, and so his evil deeds had no influence on his piety and theology just as his piety and theology had no apparent influence on his evil deeds."

3. "Here Without You" - Well as I said in the last post, I'm homesick, so now I'm singing this song.

I remember 10 years ago, back in the US after my first trip to China, singing this song. I wanted to leave behind everything that was easy and familiar, and move to China. And then I did just that, and now here I am in 2020. I want to go back to everything that is easy and familiar. But I can't, not yet.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Homesick

The iconic Shanghai skyline. Image source.

The short version is, I established my life in China under the assumption that international travel is something I can pretty easily do. Okay, not "easy"- it's a thousand or so dollars and I have to sit on a plane for 14 hours and then deal with jet lag for days afterward- but at least if I was willing to go through that, I could do it. I moved to China because I lived in a world where it's no big deal for me to fly back to the US twice a year.

That world currently does not exist. Because of COVID.

I'm stuck here. I've been stuck here all year. And yeah, this year everyone is stuck in a country, so I'm lucky the one I got was the one I would have wanted. I have friends who weren't so lucky. We built our lives on the assumption that we can easily travel in and out of lots of countries, and when that suddenly wasn't true anymore, some people ended up stranded for months. Flights cancelled, borders closed, and they're trying to continue paying rent on their apartment in Shanghai as it sits empty. 

I'm lucky- if I have to be stuck in 1 country for the entire year, China is the one I would pick. But... obviously I wish we weren't all stuck.

---------------

Last year I published my "6 Years Later" blog series, and I hinted that I'm ready to be done living in China. Our long-term plan is to move back to the US.

I wrote about privilege, and I said:

And my life in the US is still there, still available, I can go back any time. Sometimes literally- I know I can go stay at my parents' house and not pay for food or housing, any time I want. I'm so privileged... I'm writing this blog series to say "well it's been 6 years and here are the things I learned about the world, culture, and being an immigrant, well that was a fun experience but I'm ready to be done, gonna go back home now" and then I can just go back, simple as that. A lot of immigrants can't do that. A lot of immigrants don't have a choice.

How ironic, that suddenly this has changed. Suddenly, I can't "just go back."

Or, well, I could. Technically I could. There are flights- though way fewer than before. But the issue is, the US I left at the end of my visit in 2019 doesn't exist any more. Now there is a global pandemic, and the US is doing way worse than China.

From what I hear, you are all wearing masks and social distancing. I'm gonna let you in on a secret: I've never social-distanced. I basically stayed at home for a few weeks in February, only going out for groceries and to take my baby for his vaccines. Then I went back to work, and over the next few weeks, more and more people started to go back to work, til the subways were back to their normal capacity. I think it was May when I went to a restaurant for the first time. And ever since then, I've gradually settled in to being "back to normal"- I go places and do things and take my baby out to do fun stuff, and don't worry about COVID.

Yes, masks are required everywhere. That rule is enforced in the subways, but nowhere else at this point. Sometimes I forget to wear a mask when I go to the mall.

Oh, and I don't travel. So: masks, and not traveling. Other than that, I am "back to normal." 

And let me make this clear: The reason people aren't serious about masks and stuff here in Shanghai is that SHANGHAI NEVER HAD ANY LOCAL TRANSMISSIONS. Every single case we've had in Shanghai was someone who had just traveled from a known high-risk area (or their close contacts), or an international traveler- and all international travelers are required to get tested for COVID and also quarantine for 14 days. And this quarantine is very serious, it's a "you CANNOT OPEN THE DOOR" kind of quarantine.

The Chinese government did the right thing, and now stuff is under control in China. Every now and then there's a new "outbreak" that has everyone concerned- 12 new cases in Qingdao this week, everyone is talking about it- and so that city gets locked down and they are in the process of testing all 9 million residents. That's what you do if you actually want to stop a pandemic.

From what I hear, in the US the situation is much worse. Apparently, you are doing outdoor dining and trying to have church with everyone sitting a carefully-measured 6 feet apart. Apparently, everyone who can is working from home until next year. Apparently, it's awful for everyone's mental health.

I can't go back.

---------------

My mother-in-law (Nainai) is living with us, to help take care of the baby. And umm, how do I put this, it's awful. She's good at cooking and housework and childcare, but she doesn't like me, and she's really passive-aggressive and childish about it.

And about once a month I can't stand it, and I think "all right let's pack up and go, let's apply for that US green card, I don't even care that there's a pandemic, we're leaving."

Weighing our current bad situation against the hypothetical bad possibilities in the US.

---------------

And of course I'm concerned about the election. Vote. Vote vote vote. To be specific: Vote for Biden, because we need to get Trump out.

When we move to the US, my husband will be an immigrant. My son is US citizen born in China. And the president is stirring up anti-immigrant and anti-China hatred. He thinks only certain people count as real Americans who have rights. He encourages people to gather in groups with no masks- he only cares about himself; he doesn't even pretend to care about the 200,000 Americans who have died.

What if Trump wins, and US gets more and more fascist? I'm on the outside looking in ... at what point do I decide "ehhhhhh I can't go there"?

I keep telling myself, I'm privileged enough that the worst of it won't affect me and my family. That's probably true. I hope it's true. But also, is it bad to think that way? Why should I be able to "go to the US for a better life" when so many other people can't? 

Yeah it's true that the world is unjust and effed-up, but it doesn't help anyone for me to stay in China just because I ... feel bad for having privilege, or something? No, that doesn't help anyone. I vote and I give money to organizations that help marginalized groups. Those are things that actually help. Me staying in China because "it's not fair that I have access to opportunities that other people don't" doesn't actually do any good for anyone.

Anyway, vote for Biden.

---------------

I grew up in the suburbs in the US, and now I live in Shanghai, the 3rd-largest city in the world (or thereabouts, depends how you measure).

Ugh, everything would be so much easier if I had a car (and also roads with little traffic, and plenty of parking- having a car in a big city would be way more trouble than it's worth). Everything would be so much easier if I had a dishwasher. And a real oven. And a dryer for clothes. And a grocery store with western food.

I guess it was fine living in a big city like this, before the baby was born. But now everything is harder, and all these little annoyances are suddenly a big huge deal. Like taking the subway- that used to be a little bit annoying because I had to walk for 10 minutes to get to the subway station. But now... navigating around narrow bumpy sidewalks with a stroller, trying to find an elevator at the subway station, avoiding rush hour because there will be no space for the stroller if the subway car is completely packed full of people. Taking a taxi used to be a bit annoying, but now with a baby, I have to fuss about with the seatbelts and car seat for a minute or 2, I have to fold up the stroller and put it in the trunk, I have to entertain the baby so he doesn't cry (the taxi driver will be like "just take him out of his seat and hold him" ugh, no). And then once I get where I'm going, I have to drag the car seat around. Fortunately we have a car seat that clips into the stroller, but it's still annoying.

And I want a second baby. But how would that even work, in a big city? Can you imagine bumping along on all these narrow sidewalks with a double-wide stroller? Dragging around 2 car seats? Ugh, I wish I had a car, everything would be easier... but obviously when I say "I wish I had a car" I also mean "and I wish I lived in a place that having a car would be nice and convenient, ie NOT SHANGHAI."

---------------

The short version is, I'm ready to be done living in China, right when the US is ... how shall I put this ... not livable.

Maybe my timing is the worst. Taking care of a baby, living with my mother-in-law ... at the same time as a pandemic.

Or maybe the fact that I can't go back makes me want it even more.

We are gonna go back. We are. We're gonna get there. Hopefully next year?

---------------

Related:

On Immigration and Double Standards

Culture, Objectivity, God, and the Real Reason I Moved to China

Saturday, October 10, 2020

An Update on Whether or Not "Marriage is Hard" Now That We Have a Child

A mommy, daddy, and baby, wearing shirts that say "Mommy", "Daddy", and "Baby", respectively. Image source.
Note: I actually wrote this a while ago, before COVID was a thing

--------------------

When I was growing up, I always heard Christians say "marriage is hard." So much talk about how "marriage is hard", how you have to work so much and sacrifice so much and put up with crap from your spouse, but oh it's SO WORTH IT.

Then in 2013 I started dating Hendrix, and we got married in 2017. In 2018 I blogged about the whole "Marriage Is Hard" idea, pointing out that it's harmful to teach kids that they should expect to be unhappy when they're married, because then how will they recognize when they're in a truly bad/abusive situation and need to get out? And I said this about my own marriage:
Well. I have been married 1 year, and my marriage is not "hard." It's good and fun and I often think about how happy I am that I decided to marry him, and how lucky we are. This isn't what I expected. I thought once our status changed from "engaged" to "married", it would stop being fun and start being hard.

Yes, we fight sometimes, and sometimes I'm angry with him and don't want to look at him or talk to him, but it only lasts 1 day at the most. And then one of us will apologize- usually if we're mad at each other, it's because one of us accidentally did something hurtful because we weren't thinking about how it would affect the other. We haven't really fought about anything where the problem went deeper than that- maybe once or twice? And I feel lucky, like wow we're so much more compatible than I expected. Lucky like we must be in the top 1% of happy marriages or something, because surely it isn't normal to feel so good about our marriage. It was supposed to be hard. Right? 
...
But I'm still in love with him. I wasn't expecting that- not when they literally used metaphors about death to describe married life. Am I the one who's not "normal" because I still feel so happy I married my husband? Or was it the "die to self" idea that's suspect?
Anyway, now that we have a baby, I would like to give a little update on whether or not "marriage is hard."

Basically, the first 3 months after Square Root was born was the hardest time our relationship has ever gone through. But even though we had problems during that time, I would not label those problems as "marriage is hard", but as "having a newborn baby is hard and is putting a lot of stress on our marriage." And now our relationship is back to being good.

Let me elaborate on the things that were hard:
  • The transition from pregnancy to having a newborn: 
    • During pregnancy, Hendrix did so much work to take care of me and make sure all my needs were met. Then when Square Root was born, Hendrix's focus moved to taking care of him. During the pregnancy, it was all about me, but once the baby was born, I felt like my husband didn't have time for me any more, because he was taking care of the baby.
    • During pregnancy, I was 100% in charge of the baby. But after he was born, other people could take care of him without me. Other people (like my mother-in-law) were changing his clothes, giving him a bath, etc, without my input. I felt like he was being taken away from me and raised by other people. It was a big adjustment, figuring out what my role would be and what other people's role would be in taking care of him.
    • And a lot of wild feelings caused by hormones.
  • Taking care of a newborn baby is just hard. Getting used to having him sucking on my nipples all the time. Pain in my back and shoulders from having to sit up very straight and hold him in exactly the right place while breastfeeding (on that note, I very much recommend getting a breastfeeding pillow). He wants someone to hold him all the time, and he cries if we lay him down. Waking up a bunch of times in the night. And then he won't sleep in his bed- he just wants someone to hold him.
  • My mother-in-law (Nainai) is living with us to help take care of the baby. There were a lot of things where she wanted to do it a certain way, and I wanted to do it a different way, and I felt like I couldn't tell her what I wanted because then she'd be unhappy and then Hendrix would be unhappy and act like I did something wrong.
Me, Hendrix, and Nainai were constantly doing a ton of work to take care of Square Root. Those first few weeks, Hendrix and I basically never had time to actually talk to each other about our relationship. We were so tired from taking care of the baby all the time, and Nainai was always there and we didn't have any time when it was just the two of us.

I would lay awake at night, breastfeeding Square Root, and worry that my husband didn't support me any more. Or I would lay awake at night because my boobs were huge and painful because Nainai insisted that the baby would sleep in her room and she would give him a bottle in the night, even though that's not what I wanted, and I would feel like I wasn't "allowed" to make decisions about how to raise him, and I would worry about the future.

All 3 of us- me, Hendrix, and Nainai- want to do what's best for the baby. We put him first. But Hendrix and I had different things we put second. For me, it was my right to be Square Root's mom and make decisions about taking care of him, and how to have boundaries with Nainai. For Hendrix, it was about trying to make sure both me and Nainai were happy.

And those two priorities often contradicted each other. When I was feeling bad about my "boundaries with Nainai" issue, Hendrix didn't support me emotionally because he didn't like how me asserting my boundaries was upsetting his mom. When Hendrix was feeling bad about his mom being unhappy, I didn't support him emotionally because I was focused on defending my own rights as the baby's mom.

We were never like this before. We always talked about our emotions, and cared about each other, and helped each other with our emotional needs. But after baby was born, we were both having a hard time adjusting to being parents and the fact that Hendrix's mom lives with us. And we didn't have any time to even talk to each other about it.

Here's what helped me:

  • I remembered that Hendrix and I have been together for years, and our relationship has a good foundation of caring about each other, communicating, being honest about our feelings and needs, taking each other's emotional needs seriously and helping get those needs met, etc. Even though we weren't really doing those things right after Square Root was born, I reassured myself that it was just a temporary thing, and the true nature of our relationship is all that good stuff about love and healthy communication.
  • I worked hard to find a few minutes here and there where we could talk to each other about serious things. And he did too. When we went to take the trash out. When we were in the taxi on the way to Square Root's doctor's appointments. We know how to say to each other "I need to talk to you about something," because our relationship does have that good foundation of communication.
  • I went to a therapist and talked about my feelings about being a mom, and about how to have boundaries with Nainai and how to communicate with my husband. I worked on standing up for myself more, while also letting Nainai know I appreciate how much work she is doing for the baby.
  • I took Square Root to the United States for a whole month, by myself. This wasn't because of conflicts with Hendrix or anything like that; it was because I had 4 months of maternity leave so we all figured it was a really good opportunity for me to spend more time with my family in the US. Turned out it was also a really good opportunity for me to be in charge of the baby the way I want to be, as his mom, and establish habits and routines, making it easier to have firm boundaries about that stuff when I got back to China.
  • And Square Root became much easier to take care of. Around 4 months old, he started only waking up 1 time in the night, and after I fed him he would go right back to sleep. Also, he learned to use his hands to play with toys, which means he can sometimes lay on the floor and amuse himself; he doesn't need to have someone holding him constantly.

Now I feel that our relationship is good again, just like it used to be. We often tell each other "I love you" and "I appreciate how much work you are doing for baby." I often ask Hendrix how he's feeling. And he notices when I look sad and asks me what's wrong- he knows me well enough that he can tell when I look sad without me even saying anything. And all those cute little affectionate things we do, the inside jokes, the way we cuddle each other, all those things are back.

So... no, our marriage is not "hard." Having a newborn child (and my mother-in-law living with us) brought a lot of stress and conflict into our relationship for about 3 months, but that's a completely different thing than saying "marriage is hard."

Living with him, planning our lives together, raising our child together, seeing him every day, laughing and joking and sharing funny pokemon videos we found online- that's what marriage is for us, and it's wonderful and just so FUN. My husband is sweet and loving and cares about me in ways I never expected that men were capable of. I didn't know it would be like this. I expected marriage to be "hard."

--------------------

Related:
He Just Loves Me (a post about Sex, Pregnancy, and My "Wifely Duty") 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Blogaround

1. Religion is not spell-casting (posted September 25) "This is the kind of goofy nonsense you find yourself defending when you start imagining it’s your job, your right, or your prerogative to decide for somebody else whether or not they are or can be baptized." And I'm glad this post isn't just about 'look how ridiculous Catholics are'- it goes on to talk about how evangelicals do THE EXACT SAME THING, with salvation anxiety and praying the sinner's prayer over and over just in case they did it wrong.

2. I Grew Up Evangelical. Converting to Catholicism Got Me Disowned. (posted September 28) "We learn that Catholics are idolaters who worship saints, and who think their works can get them to heaven. People who think their works will get them to heaven go to hell automatically. Or so evangelicals believe, at least." YES THANK YOU for this post. I 100% was taught that the majority of Catholics weren't real Christians, that they thought it was all about following rules and praying to saints and not eating meat on Fridays, and they didn't have a "personal relationship with God."

3. ALL ABOUT THAT BASE (Star Wars Parody - Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass) (posted 2014) "Yeah, it's pretty clear, this ain't no small moon, but it can shatter, shatter, and bring your planet doom."

4. FROZEN 2 - Show Yourself (FULL Movie Scene) HD 1080p (posted March 2) So, you know how I have a baby and therefore no time to watch movies? Well I finally got around to watching "Frozen 2" and I LOVED IT. Especially this song, "Show Yourself", oh I get all kinds of religious vibes from this, maybe because the only context I've heard the phrase "show yourself" was in talking to God. And also just the style of the song feels very megachurch-with-fog-machines. But (spoiler?) the song is not about God, it's about discovering your own self. Love that.

Oh, and on top of that, Elsa's in yoga pants, which the Christian modesty police hate.


Saturday, October 3, 2020

That Time I Voted For Obama ... Plus a Bunch of Republicans

Obama giving a campaign speech, years ago. Image source.

I want to tell you a little story, about a presidential election a while back. I grew up evangelical and conservative, but at the time of our story, I had begun to identify as a feminist. I thought to myself, it's not good to automatically vote for someone just because of their political party; we need to do our research into the nuances of both candidates' positions. (And no, I no longer agree with this "I'm superior because I take a balanced view somewhere in the middle" philosophy. But that's a whole separate topic.) I followed the campaigns, watched the debates, and I felt that I agreed more with Obama's platform.

So there I am one day, filling out my absentee ballot, getting ready to mail it in. This was when I was in college, in a different state than where I grew up, so that's why I was voting by absentee. For the "president" column, I picked Obama, but then there were a bunch of other columns. Local elections. A few of the names I recognized, just because they were the incumbent politicians I'd always heard about in the news growing up, but I really knew nothing about what actual policies they supported. No idea which local candidates had views closest to mine. What to do, what to do.

I thought to myself, well, in general, I am conservative. I don't really know who these candidates are or what they stand for, but they're Republican so they should be okay. So I went ahead and voted straight-ticket Republican, with the exception of Obama for president.

A long time later, I realized, actually I'm not conservative. Whoops.

See, my perspective had changed so much. I had started reading some feminist blogs, and it gave me a whole new language to talk about the structure of society, the power dynamics between different demographic groups. I learned about systemic injustice for the first time. Learned so many new things about the reality of being poor or a minority in America, and of course that influenced my political views. And I found I was closer to Obama than his Republican challenger- but I chalked it up to "it's not good to have blind loyalty to one party- we have to look at each candidate as a nuanced individual" whereas the reality was "I'm not Republican any more."

I had never really been taught, in an unbiased way, what the general ideologies of the Democrat and Republican parties were. It was always this subtle, indirect message (from my parents, mostly) "Republicans are good, Democrats are bad". To expand on that, if I had been forced to try to put it into words back then, it was like, Republican policies are a reasonable and intelligent way to run a society, while Democrats are short-sighted and irresponsible, always wanting to throw money at people just because they whine about "it's not fair!" Like, geez look how unreasonable Democrats are, wanting to raise the minimum wage just because people are like "oh woe is me, I can't raise a family on my minimum wage income" and Democrats are all like "oh so sad, we need to help them! we need to give them money" but COME ON, you can't run a society that way. Adding more and more government programs just because some people are irresponsible and didn't go to college and get a decent job before they started having babies, LIKE YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO. How can we run a society that way, constantly giving free handouts to people who aren't living their lives the right way? You're encouraging bad behavior, and also taking money away from the people who actually work hard and made responsible choices. Yeah sure, we feel bad for that single mom working at McDonald's, but you have to make laws that make sense and benefit society overall. 

(Remember when that video leaked, of Romney saying that 47% of Americans are takers who just want the government to give them free stuff, and people were OUTRAGED? I was a little confused, because that's literally what I was taught. We didn't necessarily say it out loud, but yes, that's what I was taught.)

Then I learned about systemic injustice. I learned about how society depends on minimum-wage workers, and in reality a lot of those jobs are done by actual adults with families to support- it's not high school kids just getting some extra money to play around with, like my parents told me it's "supposed to" be. I learned that for people less privileged than me, it's very difficult for them to go to college. I learned that there have been some examples of cities that have raised the minimum wage and nothing bad happened; turned out it wasn't disastrous for the economy at all.

I learned all those things, and I changed my political views accordingly, and I still thought I was a Republican. Because, well, Republicans are the party of being reasonable and making policies that treat everyone fairly and benefit society overall, right? Whereas Democrats are the party of being short-sighted and irresponsible.

I remember back then I heard someone describe me as "super-liberal feminist" and I was very surprised. I really thought I was conservative. I really thought "liberal" was bad- that's how I'd always heard it used, as if it was a synonym for "evil."

Basically, I changed because I realized my past views were based on incorrect beliefs about reality. I truly wanted to treat everyone fairly, and when I was conservative, I truly thought conservative policies were the best way to do that. But then I learned more, and discovered that these other policies made more sense. Didn't realize they weren't conservative policies. Didn't realize they were the exact opposite. I still trusted that conservatives were reasonable, and once they learned the things I had learned, they would surely support those policies too. To keep going with my minimum-wage example: They would surely agree that we need to raise the minimum wage. Right?

And now I'm at the point where... I don't know what to think about full-grown adults that vote Republican. Do they just not know about systemic inequality? Do they just not know about privilege? Do they just not know about racism? Or do they know, but they vote for the policies that benefit themselves while unjustly keeping others in poverty? 

Is it ignorance, or is it something much more evil?

People told me that black people mostly vote Democrat because Democrats promise to give them all kinds of free benefits. And wow isn't that just wrong, how they're enticed by things that will just benefit themselves, rather than looking at the big picture of how a functional society should work. Well, I can't believe it's taken me this long, but I've realized that upperclass white people vote Republican just because of the benefits to themselves- not looking at the big picture of what makes a fair and just society for everyone.

I'm proud to say I voted for Obama back then. And unfortunately I also voted for some Republicans because I innocently believed the Republican party truly wanted to create a functional society that is fair to everyone.

-------------------------

Related:

The Parable of the Living Wage

Friday, October 2, 2020

Bathsheba's Son

 

A woman holding a baby. She is dressed like a woman from the bible. Image source.

[content note: child death]

------------------------------

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” 

Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”

- 2 Samuel 12:13-14

------------------------------

The child died. As a punishment for David.

The child that Bathsheba grew and birthed and breastfed. For 9 months she carried him in her body. From those first days, the fear and shame when she realized she was pregnant, and not by her husband. The morning sickness, the food cravings, the exhaustion. She gained weight, she got stretch marks. 

Around the 4th month of pregnancy, she started to feel the baby move. He grew more and more active, and sometimes the kicks hurt her. 

Did he grow inside David's uterus? Did he kick David? Did David risk death giving birth to him- because in those days, it was common for women to die in childbirth. Did David push an entire human out of his vagina? Did David bleed for this child?

Was David awake all night breastfeeding?

Bathsheba spent 9 months nurturing and loving the child that grew inside her body. David spent 9 months covering up a rape and a murder.

And when the baby got sick, who held him and comforted him? Not David. David went off alone to pray and fast.

When he heard the news that his baby had died, David stopped his praying and fasting and got up to eat. He started to move on with his life. Meanwhile, Bathsheba's breasts continued to produce milk. Her breasts swelled up, hard and painful, waiting for the baby who would never come back and drink.

Soon after, he got her pregnant again. She had another baby- who survived, fortunately. Maybe it was all the same to David. He wasn't that involved in the pregnancy. But for Bathsheba, going through all of that again... the morning sickness, the exhaustion, the labor. Growing to love her child even before his birth. Going through it all again. It wasn't "all the same." Nothing could ever replace her first child.

Bathsheba's son died, and God thought it was a punishment for David.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Blogaround

1. U.S. Judge Temporarily Halts Trump’s WeChat Ban (posted September 20) I wasn't going to post this, because I thought, it's not necessary, everybody already knows about this. But LOL no, then I realized this is a huge massive deal for me, but for people who don't regularly communicate with people living in China, they probably don't know anything about this at all. 

So here's what happened: The orange antichrist made an executive order banning the Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat from use in the US. Here in China, WeChat is huge. Everyone has WeChat. It is THE social media app. We use it for texting, group chats, buying things, etc etc etc. My family in the US also has WeChat, and that's how I'm able to communicate with them. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that basically all Chinese immigrants in the US who are young and tech-savvy use WeChat to communicate with family members back in China. (The Republican party claims to be about "family values", what a joke.)

When we heard that WeChat was going to be banned in the US, there was widespread speculation on what exactly that would mean. Does it mean the app is literally going to stop working? Does it mean that it won't allow financial transactions or advertising, but the rest of it will work fine? Does it mean you can't download it, but if you already have it installed, it will still work? My family researched other apps to figure out what we could use in case WeChat suddenly stopped working last Sunday. A lot of families did.

Anyway, then Sunday rolls around and WeChat still works on their US phones. And then we get the news that this ban has been stopped by a judge in California. Phew, what a relief.

2. Coronavirus: China eases visa restrictions for foreigners (posted September 23) YES! YES! GREAT NEWS! This is a big huge deal for the international community in China. I have friends who have been stuck in other countries for months, trying to get back into China. The ban went into effect on March 28, and ever since then it has been gradually loosening, and now it's been announced that, starting September 28, foreigners with valid residence permits in the "employment", "personal matters", or "family reunion" categories will be allowed to enter China. (And if you had a valid residence permit but it has expired some time in the past few months, you can apply for a new visa easier.) 

Please note, this doesn't mean *everyone* is allowed to enter China. It's only people who have residence permits in one of these 3 categories. (For example, my residence permit is for employment.) So it doesn't include students, and it doesn't include tourists. And when you enter China, you will have to do a 14-day quarantine.

People are very happy about this. There are families who have been separated for months because they've been stuck in different countries. Finally they can come back to China. This is great news.

3. Some people rate movies or restaurants. He rates benches (posted sometime in September) "It’s a below average bench that comes with a lovely view. This is picnic territory that’s hindered by an overgrown thistle, I had to sit on my jumper to prevent stab wounds. 3/10."

4. Evangelicals Don’t Do Opposite-Gender Friendships (Here’s Why) (posted September 23) "In the church—at least, in the evangelical church I grew up in—people are never supposed to have healthy friendships with the opposite sex. Not even with their spouse."

Monday, September 21, 2020

I Voted!

Sticker that says "I Voted From China." Image source.

Well I am very proud to tell you all that today I mailed my absentee ballot. I voted for Biden and Harris. And some down-ballot Democrats too. ^_^

If you are an American living overseas, GET ON THIS NOW! Now is the time to be mailing in the ballots! Yes, the deadline isn't til election day, but this year there are concerns about delays in the postal system. GET ON IT NOW.

For more information, go to VoteFromAbroad.org.

VOTE VOTE VOTE!

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Do "Pro-Lifers" Know C-Sections Are Preferred Over Vaginal Breech Births?

A pregnant woman talking to a doctor. Image source.

Wrote this a while ago, when I was 30 weeks pregnant

-------------------------

So I'm 30 weeks pregnant, and just had an ultrasound to check how the baby is doing. Turns out my baby is breech, which means its butt is pointing down. Ideally we want the head to be pointing down, so the head can come out first when it is born.

The doctor said we don't need to be concerned about it, because the baby will probably turn on its own before 36 weeks. (A full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks.) But if it doesn't turn, I would have to have a c-section.

See, most obgyn doctors believe that, if the baby is in a breech position, it is more risky to try a vaginal birth than a c-section. If you search online for more information about this, you'll find there are some doctors and midwives who think vaginal breech births don't have to be risky; we don't need to always choose a c-section if the baby is breech. So from what I can tell, this question might not be settled, and maybe in the future there will be different standards about when to choose a c-section and when to try for a vaginal birth.

But anyway, the situation right now is that most doctors say you have to have a c-section if your baby is breech. Why? Because it's less risky. If you have a vaginal birth where the head isn't the first part to come out, there's more of a chance the baby might get stuck and can't breathe, or the umbilical cord will get pinched and cut off the blood supply for the baby- and these things can lead to injury or death for the baby. So even though the majority of the time, a vaginal breech birth would turn out fine, it's better to just not risk it. Let's do a c-section instead.

So I'm learning about all this, about the risks and the reasons that c-sections are preferred, and I'm thinking about "pro-life" propaganda that talks about doctors as if they are looking for any excuse at all to kill a fetus. The way "pro-life" advocates talk about so-called "partial-birth abortion" (which is not a real thing) and "late-term abortion" (also not a real thing). About "ripping babies out of their mother's womb." The way "pro-life" advocates talk, you'd think there are tons of obgyn doctors running around, trying to find ways to sabotage a 9-month fetus's health, completely heartless about if it lives or dies.

But here I am, in the actual reality of the real world, where my doctor says if the baby stays in the breech position and doesn't turn its head down, then I would have to have a c-section because that's the least risky for the baby. (His actual words were "you don't have a choice" which I found kind of interesting, but I don't think it's useful to analyze the exact words because that bit was just kind of an offhand remark in the context of a conversation about "is there anything I should be doing now so I can avoid having a c-section?")

Yes, here in the REAL WORLD, doctors are very careful about protecting a fetus's life. If you go to get an x-ray, the doctor or nurse will ask beforehand if you could be pregnant, just in case. When I had an unrelated health problem about a month ago and went to see a different doctor for that, I made sure to tell him I'm pregnant (even though it's obvious) and I asked if the treatment would affect the pregnancy, and he ended up giving me something different than the normal antibiotics, because we didn't want to affect the baby.

So I hear this "pro-life" rhetoric which says there's a huge widespread problem where doctors are looking for reasons to kill a perfectly healthy 8-month fetus, and wow, nothing could be further from the truth. If you actually read about pregnancy and birth and c-sections and everything, you see that it's not like that at all. It's about weighing the risks and choosing the option that has the LEAST risk for the baby and the pregnant person.

-------------------------

Update: Yes, after this, the baby did turn and I had a normal vaginal delivery :)

-------------------------

Related:

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Blogaround

 1. I am a Christian. Here is what I believe about abortion. (posted September 2) "I trust those women. I trust them more than any indirectly responsible actor who would trample on their subsidiary obligations by trying to usurp the responsibilities entrusted to those women by nature and nature’s God."

2. Former Avalon Singer Michael Passons Says He Was Kicked Out of Christian Band for Being Gay (posted September 11) For as long as I shall live, I will testify to love.

3. How white supremacy works in American culture and media (posted September 2) "This of course is rarely articulated openly, but I guarantee you that if a black female presidential candidate was going to lose the actual vote by millions of voters, but still had an excellent chance of winning the election, this would be considered an absolute travesty — indeed definitive proof that the system was broken and had to be changed."

4. Batman vs. Germ Theory (LSP #156) (posted September 7) This is a really interesting point, about Christianity. 

AddThis

ShareThis