Sunday, December 30, 2007

Gyros, Hiros, Heroes

Hello peeps. It's Sunday and I'm-a-blogging my brain and I think you'll like this one...
The topic is hidden in the title, "heroes". I'm talking about all things in the genre; Superfriends-in-tights, personal heroes in your life, tasty Greek sandwiches.

Much more to the point, after watching the DVD TV series "Heroes" while taking care of my brand new Piper Grace Campbell, I realized something. There's a character, Nathan Petrelli, that is labelled by another character Hiro Nakamura as a "villain". That got me thinking. Okay, I was already in the throes of thinking, but it got me thinking about one idea in particular: we should get rid of our villains and become our own heroes.

You already know that I'm no fan of our current president (or his father) George Bush. I think he might not be evil per se, but he seems to be acting in many intentionally and unintentionally "bad" ways. Bad meaning greedy, bad meaning ignorant, bad meaning hypocritical, bad meaning harmful. Again, could be that he's a "good person inside", but he's acting like a bad one. A villain. While watching Nathan-Hiro interaction on "Heroes" I discovered a huge problem with TV/DVD/Movies:

The stuff we see in movies and on TV is almost immediately dismissed as fantastical. The ideas generated are way too kooky to be possible in the "real world". Reality TV aside, the great ideas that the "Heroes" series comes up with are bittersweet to me. Sure, people are not going to be injecting themselves with serums in order to fly or read minds (at the moment...), but they certainly can do HUGE things with their current real-world gifts in their own lifetimes.

When we see characters like Hiro reciting the code of the Bushido, we are excited, but in the end we are often stopped from the very act of actually discovering what the Bushido code might mean if we applied it to our real lives. We often see things on the screens we watch and immediately tag it, bag it and forget it as "unreal". Even things we know damn well to be real.

People really do amazing, nay, heroic, things all the time. We are currently splitting atoms down to their basic components, looking deep into the history of the Universe, building medical nanorobots that get their power from the pressure of the flow of blood in our veins, jumping off mountains and floating gently to the ground. Sure, they do some of these things with the aid of technology, but so did a great number of SuperHeroes. That's the lesson of comic books: that in reality you can actually do many awesome feats all by yourself (or with some help) if you'd just believe in your abilities. Even better, once your find and believe in your abilities, you practice them day and night and apply them to your life and the lives of others.

Specifically regarding present-day events, the "villain" in the show was the President, and he's been sub-ethical in most of his dealings. The crew in Heroes might or might not be plotting to depose the fellow (only on the first season right now), but it's clear that the planet in the show would be better of with a different POTUS. Who's going to save the planet from this bad president? It's up to the Heroes, not the general population, not the voters (they've been disenfranchised by a villain's plot), not an activist or dedicated citizen.

This is my point: it's essential that we watchers of stuff on screens realize that we can do astonishing things if we have faith in ourselves. No joke. We've got huge untapped skills and networks and power that we don't use yet. We've all got it, and we rarely tap it. It's not just a metaphor to read about in comic books and watch as fantasy films. Obviously, we don't have real dragons around to slay, but we do have a Vice President who's a real life villain and we should impeach him as well as the President. We should get together and reduce our global environmental footprint far beyond (currently unsigned by the USA) the Kyoto Protocol.

I challenge anyone who reads this to think about the fantastical superheroes in their lives, and to put together a plan to do some of your own heroics. Do it! Seriously, DO IT NOW.

Now playing: Chris Whitley - Big Sky Country
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Piper Grace Campbell, Plush Pippen

I got the call while on my Junto retreat...

Elise had some kind of fluid leaking early in the morning, and was feeling a bit woozy. I was immediately sure we were having a baby, so I installed the baby seat (!), packed my bag (repacked...) and we drove off at 1:30.

We went to Group Health on Cap Hill, and they told us it was a false alarm. (??) they didn't think it was amniotic fluid, and sent us home with a "see you in a couple weeks!".

We drove back North and decided we'd catch a matinee of Darjeeling Express. Great Movie, very touching and funny and very Wes Anderson. Outside Metro Theatre, E mentioned that she was feeling MUCH more damp.... We went back home and called the doula and our midwife.

We dashed back to GHC and sorta checked in (it turned out we didn't really check in at all, the nurse had to take E's temp just before we left 3 days later to officially check us in!). In the triage room, cell phones were going off (contrary to policy!) and there were way too many people. En route to GHC the second time, E had 4 contractions, so we were already progressing by the time we left triage.

We haggled for a room of our own and succeeded in wrangling a spare post-partum room. For an hour, we had increasingly painful and closer together contractions, pretty convinced now that we're having a real baby, real soon. She labored mostly while sitting down on the bed, with me standing between her legs. She hugged me hard while contractions occurred, snuggling against my trunk.

We tried a few different labor methods, but we both liked the sitting/standing thing we discovered (having missed our birthing classes as E was on bed rest). It turned out that nearly all our natural instincts on birth were spot on. Alissa the doula showed up after an hour and was very helpful and gentle as contractions got, um, contractier. She would touch E's back and gently speak little ideas to help E like "melt around the baby", "make your body soft", "take a deep breath and really take a break between contractions".

Alissa was pretty sure things were moving along, so we decided to make a run for the official birthing room. E was contracting every 3 minutes, so we had a few contractions in the hallway. Very weird. People in the hallway could see us laboring, kinda odd for all. As an aside, clearly people who are pregnant look kind of "sick", but not in an illness way. It's like passing a kidney stone, it's a condition rather than an illness, but it comes with a lot of the illness trappings like hospitals and sympathy...That's how it felt for me, at least.

Once in the birthing room (super plush, with a soaking tub, TV/DVD/CD, dim lights, hardwood floors, sleeping chair for me, rocking chair, our own bathroom), we were on our inevitable path to parenthood. Contractions getting closer together and stronger. We noticed only after the birth that the classic "dilation of 7 centimeters!" chatter that you hear in movies was totally missing. That's because in 5 hours we'd be giving birth.

She pushed on all fours and finally squatting while holding a bar after the transition between contraction and labor pushing began. The transition was in the tub, and was the only time during all of her pregnancy when she really felt like throwing up. The nurses were all nodding knowingly to each other and saying "it's glove time!" to each other on speakerphone.

All through the birth, E had come up with various noises and chantings to get through each contraction, which totally made me and the doula laugh out loud. It was a combination of tribal African chants, Tuvan throat singing, and "Mom mom mom mom". Super funny, you had to be there. Literally.

Piper was really easy in coming, 7 real pushes and she was out. No drugs, no needles, no birthing balls, no relatives. Very calm and loving process. GHC was totally incredible, the parade of knowledgeable midwives and nurses was a godsend. I watched and participated in everything, touching Piper's head as E rocked/pushed her out. E was an absolute Amazon woman in there. Strong like bull. Piper came out textbook-style, I caught her and placed her on E's chest, sobbing. (Me, I was sobbing) A minute later I was cutting the cord (like a pearlescent old school spiral phone cord).

That night as we recovered (E had some stitches required, freaking ouchy! as bad as the birth pain itself!) That night I had a dream that Piper got up out of the basinette and walked across the room. It felt so real I started awake and had to pinch myself. For the next two days we'd be crying and sleeping and learning and eating. Piper was born with a FULL head of hair, and a full set of lungs to go along with it. Man, where'd she learn to chatter and yell so much? So precious, though. For real, it's just like they say about newborns. They are all banana monsters and plush pippens. At least Piper is.

At the moment, she's pretty small and needs some non-germ-time while she grows stronger. We'll set up some viewings in the near future... She's very much a monkey baby, and I am the happiest monkey dad on the monkey planet.

--Aaron the Father of Piper