Sunday, September 27, 2009


Nobody knows what we're really here for
Let's take it out hard till they show us the door
It's us against them tonight
- Bruce Hornsby, The Changes

This is one song that has been bouncing around in my head lately. Bruce Hornsby has been comforting music for me since I was young. Dad listened to his music, and after Dad died, his music really spoke to me, as did Bruce Hornsby. It's not many a celebrity that will correspond with high school girls in hand written form, and even fewer that will carry on full conversations with them, over multiple letters. Yes, this was before the prominence of the internet and email, and part of me longs for those days. There was more dialogue, and less one side discussion. I understand the irony of that statement on a blog, which next to commenting on news articles and the like may be one of the most common one-sided discussion formats currently available.

Autumn is here, and it's a season of changes. I feel those changes creeping in. The days are colder, the nights are longer, life in general is winding down and battening hatched for the winter ahead. I have my seasonal need to stock up and prepare; I think it's the prominence of the Black Squirrel in our town that highlights this need for me. Change is in the air.

At the same time, life aims at homeostasis. Homeostasis is the ability to maintain an internal equilibrium. Our bodies hold a consistent temperature, as adults we tend to maintain a certain amount of mass, our fluid levels try to stay near one point. All of this maintenance does not rule out change, in fact it requires change, it's a dynamic equilibrium. There is constant change that helps maintain homeostasis in the face of a changing environment. While it is equilibrium that is the driving force, it is the dynamic that keep us alive. And I feel that acutely right now.

The end result may be what keeps us trying, but it's the journey that really helps us to move ahead. An end is really just the carrot in front of our nose, right out of reach, that makes our run continue. When we meet one endpoint, we find a new one. When one goal is met, we move on to a bigger or different goal.

As a society, we try to maintain equilibrium as well, sometimes too much. If an equilibrium is too static, stagnation and disorder occur, because we're ignoring our changing environment or not adjusting to the new conditions. Whether it's a systemic infection because our body doesn't recognize an invader, or archaic laws and traditions that lead to internal strife and revolution, stagnation is detrimental. So there are those of us that fight for the changes that need to be made, even if inertia is against us. It's the fight that keeps us going, and when this fight is done, we'll find the next one. That fight might change drastically from the first, or be the next step, but it's a fight for equality none the less. Repeat the refrain.

Autumn isn't so much a season of endings, as a change in gears. A refocusing on the internal instead of the external. And so I now look forward to focusing inward, in preparation for some rest while the world continues outside, to emerge in the spring renewed and more able to focus outward. Can we as a society do the same?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Welcome September ICLW!

Holy crap, how is it September 21st already?! I can't wait to read some of the great blogs on ICLW again this month, and hopefully find some new ones as well. I'm not going to do an extensive intro (like the ABC's) this month, just the short version.

My name is Lisa, Mama of Ken, Wife to Dwight, owner of Baby by Nature, and lots of other labels. I am a post-candidacy doctoral student in Ecology at Kent State University (yep, *that* Kent State if you remember May 4th 1970), working on my prospectus. My dissertation is looking at two invasive plant species and their effects on two native amphibians. If you want more detail, I can bore you later. I entered the world of IF through the back door- I was a surrogate in 2008, and egg donor earlier this year. Been hooked ever since, and have met some wonderful people thanks to that experience.

My passions include my research, the environment, human rights, sustainability, families, and sunshine of all sorts. I also enjoy art- making and enjoying; music- especially folk but really just about anything; words- spoken/sang/heard/written/read; religion- all kinds although personally I'm pagan; food- from growing to eating; science fiction and the outdoors. Yeah, I like variety. I have to get back to work now, my students probably want their grades back tomorrow, so I'll write more later. Enjoy a couple photos until then.

Ambition defined.

My kind of baby.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It Rains on the Just and the Unjust Alike

I had to take this quote, even though I don't know from where it originally comes. Maybe the Bible? I don't know. But I love the sentiment. That and "There but for fortune, go you or go I." That's a Joan Baez song. I know that one. Very similar lines of thought, and a string that I really appreciate. One very much at odds with the Protestant work ethic that the founders of the US valued so highly, and so it's often at odds with our current societal norms.

In the US, we like to believe in the American Dream. One works hard, gets an education, does what one is supposed to do- then one will be rewarded with a good job, nice house, retirement, et cetera. This is a noble belief, and to some extent it can be true. Unfortunately, this belief leads to the idea that those who have not achieved the American Dream are "wrong" in some respect- uneducated, lazy, something along those lines. We make adjustments to some degree for those with physical and occasionally mental disabilities, those who have noticeable restraints on what they can achieve through no fault of their own. But for the emotionally disabled, or the psychologically scarred, or the economically crippled- problems that may not be as obvious or may be more easily dismissed as quirky or quixotic- we often make no adjustment. We blame them for their misfortune, just as we credit ourselves for our fortune.

We ignore the physical origin of many mental and psychological health problems, even to the point of denying the importance of mental health parity in our health care and insurance industries. We discount past circumstances, and the inordinately non-level playing field between the lower, middle and upper economic classes. We cite a few extraordinary examples of rags-to-riches stories and act as though they are the norm. While physical and mental disabilities are treated as protected class, the psychologically disabled are stigmatized and ridiculed at the best, and tossed aside, beaten and imprisoned, possibly to the death, at the worst.

There's a balance between personal responsibility and social responsibility that we do not have in our sights, let alone have achieved. Even the President holds up the trait of hard work and self reliance as the major driver behind individual's fortunes, to the detriment of the large majority for whom this has not been the case, and without much qualm from society at large. We need to remember the lines that I began with more often. The next time you see a transient or pan handler, please try to withhold the reflexive "get a job" mentality, and remember- there but for fortune, go you or go I, and say a little prayer to who/whatever you want that when the rain comes, you can weather the storm.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Doctoral Disturbances

This is a very pregnant post, I'm afraid, with lots of meaning to these two little words. First, I got the go ahead to start showing my prospectus outside of my committee. If you suffer insomnia, let me know, I can help. With 35 pages of schlock. Thereabouts.

Second, I am pursuing my doctoral degree. I will be addressed as Dr. Regula Meyer at the end of this. Or at least it'll read that on my gravestone, if only in recognition of the pursuit that killed me. Physicians are those in the medical field who oversee the care of patients, diagnose, and prescribe medication. Doctor is Latin for "I teach" not "I cure" so the next person that calls an individual with their PhD uppity for asking to be addressed as Doctor, is asking for a stoving. The primary job of a doctor is as teacher, not medicine man. Get over it. We had the title first.

Thirdly, after reading the introduction notes from my class, I have to ask- why aspire to medical school if you have no interest in biology? Is there something I'm missing? How do you expect to save lives if you don't value the study of life? Yes, chemistry is critical to life, but is that not secondary to the big picture of biology when talking about the treatment and cure of individuals? Or is the plan just to prescribe lots of drugs? At least I have a functional list of doctors not to consult. Physicians. Gah! Even I'm doing it.

Finally, the title of doctor is significantly lower than that of God. Stop acting like you're best buds. Ask Graduate Coordinator at Kent State University, and he will give you a wonderful discussion of positions and authorities of various members of the department. Even department chair (yes, you, idiot) is not the same as God. Or Goddess, as your religion prefers. So freaking pay for benefits that are due to graduate students, as is required of you, and find other places to save in the budget. I, for one, use the REC and will fight this issue. You just pissed off the wrong chica, buddy.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


So the Duggars announced they're having child number nineteen. I am less than thrilled with this, although the general consensus appears to be elation among those who watch the family's show. Disclaimer- I don't watch their show, what I know of them comes from their website and other outside sources, but not their show. We don't have cable, I refuse to pay for TV.

This news and the reaction to it has really gotten me thinking. As an ecologist, nineteen children is anathema to my understanding. That's not ecologically responsible. We are close to or are already past the number of humans that can sustainably live on this planet. Don't believe me? Read How Many People Can the Earth Support? by Joel Cohen. Check out the Population Reference Bureau. Plenty of other sources, let me know if you're interested and I can provide you some starting material.

But the Duggars make their own soap, grow vegetables, buy used when possible, so the popular thought is that the live a more eco-concious life than most people, and thus have a smaller ecological footprint, right? I heartily disagree, personally. Plus the argument is that having children is a right, and no one should stand in the way of that right.

Contrast this thinking with Nadya Suleman, of octuplet fame earlier this year. She gave birth to eight children in one stay in labor and delivery, and is hated by many of the same people that love the Duggars. What are the differences? Well, for one, Nadya is single. And poor. And used IVF to have her children. I've heard plenty of times that Nadya had no right to have those children, which added to her six already made a total of fourteen kids.

So are children a right or aren't they? Rights are not earned by one's wealth, so the critical difference shouldn't be economic status- rights are rights. The right to parent also shouldn't depend on marital status. Few people say unwed teens have no right to be parents, and the LGBT groups are gaining the right to parent in lots of states. So that's not the critical difference. Both the Duggars and Nadya claim that all of their children are wanted and loved, and both are making money off of their children through marketing books, interviews and television, so those things are the same. Nadya has been criticised as being an unfit parent, but the Duggars pair children up to have the older ones raise the younger, and I don't see that proving to be "parentally fit", besides "fitness" as a parent is very much a subjective term, so that shouldn't decide who gets to have children and who doesn't. Nadya's children are all via IVF, and I have heard more than enough comments about "if you can't reproduce, you shouldn't" to last a lifetime. A large number of US citizens need help to conceive, so I would hope we were past this idea of ability equaling right. It could be a combination of all of these things, but I don't like any of them. Either procreation is a right or it isn't- you don't get to assign qualifiers to rights.

Which brings me to something else that has been wandering around in my head. Baby College is a program in Harlem for low income children. The program aims to give these children the best start that it can, and includes parenting classes, preschool, kindergarten, and charter schools to the children who's parent's stick with it. It's to level the playing field between low income children and middle/upper income children academically, so they have a chance to compete in the college and career world. One key point- the program is designed to get the *children* out of poverty, not the parents. It asks that the parents accept that they have to put their children first, ahead of their own wants. Save for college instead of buying a big TV. Pay for a tutor, not a bigger car. Really things that all parents should be expected to do, because isn't that our job as parents? To put our children first? Doesn't that include leaving an environmental legacy of conscientious resource use, and not abuse? Doesn't that include trying to ensure that our children have a sound environment to enjoy, and to provide them with clean air, water, and food? Why is the message of putting your children first OK for the poor, but not the rich? Children have a right to a sustainable future, and rights do not come with qualifiers.