Wednesday, July 27, 2011

more about the baby

This post is ranty.  This is your disclaimer.  This will allow me to segue into my first point...

I guess I didn't realize how much pent up energy or anger or frustration or whatever i had lurking in my heart of darkness after serving in the peace corps.  Spending two years living without things at different times:  pride, privacy, dignity, choice, attractiveness, peers, friends, intellectual stimulation, communication, transportation, comfort, etc., really took it's toll.  Combine that with some physical pain and restriction from my injury, separation from my fiancee, moving back in with my parents-sister-and-nephew, and the growing of a fetus, you've got yourself one big tornado of stress whirling your way.  I've never been so volitile and stupid (pregnancy fog), and both of those things are increasingly frustrating.

Because of my injury and abrupt termination of peace corps service, i did not have the benefit of attending any workshops the organzation provides volunteers about transitioning into "normal life" again.  I see now that would have been really helpful.  My sister tells me I talk to everyone like they're old and stupid.  (Well, they're probably one or the other right?! Heh heh, sorry...)  She says I hurt her feelings all the time because I say things too bluntly.  I find myself being increasingly less compassionate and tolerant.  How much of this is post peace corps and how much is the pregnancy and stress?  I don't know, but I think I need to create a cave.  I used to have one, it was called my own house.  And when I had roommates, I used my art studio for this retreat.  Perhaps I ought to get busy finding something similar before i alienate myself from everyone I know, eh?

Another odd discovery about pregnancy is that I'm beginning to see little parts poking from my belly.  Possibly elbows and knees, or maybe little fists?  Thanks, little one, for punching and kicking.  That means you're still alive! Who needs a machine that goes, "ping!"?  It's weird for me to feel around to try and tell which position it's in because it kind of freaks me out.  Some people just cannot accept my clinical fascination over an emotional response, but I'm not really surprised.  These same people rely on their emotions far too much for my fancy in other situations, so it only makes sense.  No matter though, because it is my pregnancy and I'll enjoy it or be freaked out by it if I want.

I've ALREADY been battling my mom and sister about baby stuff.  I am just not a stuff person, and I never will be.  And neither is my child, at least, not yet. No matter how many times you ask me, or bring stuff home, or try to convince me, I do not need stuff.  And neither do you.  You have been convinced by clever marketing to think you need stuff.  If you need a reminder of your disgusting dependence on physical items to fulfill your needs, I recommend viewing the film, "Fight Club." Reading the book is alternately recommended.  I actually find it comical that they cannot comprehend how a baby can survive without a jumping gymnasium, playmat with junk hanging down from it, whirling singing toys, and the like.  Perhaps in the same way they have done so for millions of years before the arrival of Fisher Price?  Just fine, or in fact, maybe even more successfully, because this means another human will have to be involved in the baby's exercise and playtime as opposed to the baby being left to exercise in some equipment while no one else is around.  It's not that I don't understand how a lot of these things can make life easier for a person, or how much joy they receive from their things.  I just happen to favor old fashioned people over things and would rather have less than more. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Not quite used to modern conveniences, and hand-washing of dishes

I've said this several times since returning to the USA from RSA, but I'll say it again:   I still get tripped out about the washing machine, electric clothes dryer, and the dishwasher.  So much of my time in rural South Africa was spent cleaning.  I do not have an OCD, nor would I classify myself as a "clean freak," but I do like to keep my living quarters tidy and sanitary. When I say, so much of my time was spent cleaning, I don't mean because I wanted my house spotless, but because of the water issue.

Water is scarce in many parts of the world, particularly in the Kalahari desert, where I lived from September 2009-November 2010, and from January 2011-May 2011.  Just procuring and treating drinking water consumed a large quantity of time.  Factor in water for bathing, cleaning and washing, and you have a lot of your day consumed by the generic term, "cleaning."  For one person, each time I washed clothes, I probably used 40 litres of water.  For cleaning my dishes each day, I probably used 2-3.  Bathing can be estimated at 5 litres per bath.  Laundry day started early in the summer months, because hauling water is quite the chore and you wanted to get that out of the way before it became too hot.  Then you also wanted to wash before the heat of the day set in, because it's definitely a workout to hand wash clothes in buckets and pails.  Then drying was easy, because you just used your pegs (clothes pins) and hung them out on the line, and in the dry Kalahari, would be dry in a matter of 2 hours or less in summertime. During winter, you wait until the sun comes out so you don't freeze your ass and fingers off before plunging them into the water, and sometimes you heat the water first.  This also takes time.

Lest I belabor the point and render it completely useless, doing laundry in the USA consists of piling your dirties into a box, pouring soap on top, turning a dial and pushing a button.  Then you walk away.  Well, possibly loading coins or tokens at a laundromat.  ??????  No traipsing down to the village tap, lugging litres of water back to your house, swishing said water with super strong washing powder, and getting your daily arm workout?  I'm still finding the whole process to be very convenient, indulgent and wasteful, all at the same time.

I haven't had the same issue with dishwashing, however, because I never used a dishwasher in the USA.  I spent most of my adult life living in places that did not have a dishwashing machine.  I was happy being the dishwasher. I would (and still do) fill a large bowl or basin with hot water, add some liquid dish soap, get my dirty dishes, and start scrubbing.  Once they are sufficiently cleaned, I turn on the tap and rinse.  Pretty simple task, I believe children often perform this same task around the world, and perform well.  You wouldn't know it though, according to some people, who always ask me, "why don't you just use the dishwasher?"  I'll tell you why.  I find it preposterous that, in order to load dishes into a machine which is supposed to clean and rinse dishes, that they must be washed first in the sink.  I refuse to use such an inefficient machine. Machines, especially ones which use valuable energy, ought to make it worth their energy consumption by performing a task that is so difficult for me to do, or so disgusting, that I choose not to do it myself.  But, when I can outperform the machine, why waste the time and money?  I just don't get it.

As wasteful as it might be, I am very thankful for the automated washing machine at this point in my life, because in a few months, I will be using it all the time.  Babies make a lot of waste, it's easy to catch the waste in cloth, then you must wash it and dry it before it can be used all over again.  So let's hope all my years of conserving everything, including water, can make up for my future of mechanized cleaning.