Unique New York

Just like a regular woman, only crankier.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Musical Blue Balls

For those reading this, who are probably my friends, you know how vital music is to me. A day without music is like a day without Goldfish crackers. We're talking important. Music is the one artform that really offers me that sense of transcendence that alcoholics and heroin addicts search for. Music lifts moods, lifts spirits, and when someone writes a good song, I am jealous as hell. A good song is like some entity that has been waiting to be written. A good artist knows how to go into a trance and pluck that song's spirit out of the collective unconscious of songs and translate it for the rest of us. Anyone from any background can be successful at music. You don't have to have exposure or training, it's just one of those gifts.

In any case, last night, my roommate took me to a concert played by this guy named Ari Hest. I'm sure it's probably extra trendy to despair over the kinds of artists that are in one's own time, and I think it's common that we look back to a certain era and say, "That's when good
music was being written. What is this crap we have now?" And to a large degree, I think that's the case. It's not that music that is popular now is especially bad, it's just kind of boring. I don't have the attention span to listen to some guy I don't know talk about his sad suburban love affair. I really can't stand pretend punk bands whose music is inspired by the brownies that they ate before snowboarding-these guys have all this slick gear and they bitch. Bitching is not punk. Unadulterated anger at any target is punk. Your mom buying you a Mustang but without the power windows is not interesting, it's just whiny. Music business people know that these messages are digestible, non-threatening, and nicely packaged.

Moving on, I will freely admit when I don't get a genre, and I will also offer up my body and soul when I am in love with some piece of music. The guy we saw last night was sort of something in between. He was a good musician, but nothing I could relate to. The music wasn't abrasive or whiny, but it had no virility. I thought it was pretty predictable. Also, on a cynical note, I don't know what kind of guild male singers are in, but someone needs to let them know that it's okay to not sound like John Mayer.

But I digress. I love live music. There is something really thrilling about a person being accessible to you, five feet away, sweating and vomiting out all that is good about being a musician. I can't do that kind of job, and I have a lot of respect for people who do. I love that electric feeling in a room when everyone kind of "gets" the vibe, and is grooving on the same page. I can groove all by myself in a car, but it is not the same thing as being in person sharing musical communion with your friends. I love the way a crowd looks when everyone forgets that their in a bar, they forget what they're wearing, or who they're trying to sleep with. It's this momentary return to innocence. It's being enmeshed with this very primal artform.

At the show last night, no one moved. The music was giving us good beats, and movement would have been appropriate. There must have been three hundred people at a decent sized venue, and everyone was just standing around like they were looking at a car wreck or something. A couple of college kids in a dance program were kind of moving, but mostly talking to each other. They weren't really paying attention. I thought that this motionless phenomenon was an anomaly, because it happened at a smaller show I went to about a month ago. At the time, I thought it was the kind of crowd at the venue. But now, I think that the problem is larger. People in New York are scared of dancing at a concert. It was like going to a mixer at Baylor.

Also, since I have moved here, (and this is my own fault), I have not really seen any musicians that I really wanted to see. I have gone to see performers who were friends of my friends or whatever, but none of the music really inspired me. I got spoiled in Denver, since all of my friends were musicians, and they were all into different kinds of genres.

Anyway, I was at a live venue, and the music was the best I've seen so far since I've been here (excluding this country guy who played covers in the village. He was so goony and cool). I really wanted to get into it, and lose myself for an hour, but it was a lot like having bad sex. I was literally thinking of other musicians and trying to get aroused. (Picture me picturing Ari Hest morphing into Stevie Wonder. Then the whole band morphed into the Skatalites.)

So, I must get off my ass and go see someone good. I just can't live like this. It was music, but it didn't mean anything. Also, I couldn't bitch about it like I normally would since it was my rommate's treat, and she never goes out on a school night.

Monday, November 22, 2004

On Reproductive Rights...

If vaginas freak you out, don't read this post.

My theme for the day is access to reproductive health care. I am switching my method of birth control (with any luck) in order to more closely monitor my health needs regarding my blood pressure. The method I would like to switch to has a controversial past. Before the newer versions of this birth control came out, the IUD caused infertility in women. The risk of that happening now is much lower, but so many lawsuits were filed that physicians are a little gun shy about prescribing this device. In any case, hormonal forms of birth control give me high blood pressure, and condoms give me UTI's.

I started looking into getting an IUD in about the past two months. I called a couple of places in my neighborhood that were in my network, and I got the same response: What's an IUD? I live in a conservative area of town, and the gynecologists help women have more babies, not stop them. In desperation, I contacted Planned Parenthood to set up an appointment, since I thought that they would understand my need for this particular form of birth control. Many doctors will not prescribe an IUD unless you have one child already, because they are concerned about lawsuits stemming from possible infertility. I asked about this ahead of time, so that I wouldn't waste a subway ride to Brooklyn Heights. I was told there would be no problem.

After arriving at my appointment, and waiting for two hours to see someone, my chart was reviewed, and I was immediately told that there would be no way for me to get an IUD. That's all fine and well, except that not only did I ask before I came out if not having children would be a problem, but this appointment was not to get an IUD, but to get a pelvic exam. My money was refunded and I never got an exam. The person I spoke with agreed that I was a good candidate for an IUD as a nulliparous female. Then she suggested that I try Depo Provera.

At which point I nearly laughed in her face.

Depo, the shot, causes weight gain. A lot of weight gain. More than 70% of Depo patients report weight gain of more than 10 pounds. Along with the weight gain is an exacerbation of depressive symptoms, exacerbation of asthma symptoms, and it's contraindicated for those with high blood pressure (me) because of fluid retention. So why the fuck did she think Depo was a good idea for me?

I thought of all places, New York must have a more liberal set of physicians willing to treat me. I was not a little disenchanted with this adventure to the Brooklyn Planned Parenthood. I was really bummed when I got on the subway. Not only do I not know if my uterus is healthy, but I also don't have a good form of birth control. It's very upsetting. It's going to be hard to convince a doctor of my need for this method. As far as I can tell, my need to have low blood pressure and my need to be UTI free outweigh the risk of infertility. (As a footnote, almost every form of birth control can make you infertile. It's just one of the risks).

So here's when I got really upset.

I heard today that G.W. appointed Dr. David Hager to the committee head of reproductive medications in the FDA. This guy, swear to God, thinks that scripture and prayer can alleviate women's health symptoms associated with PMS. Let me tell that man something: Try to lay the bible on me when I am premenstrual, and you better start looking for passages that help absolve you of your sins, because your time on this earth is fixin' to be very limited.

I was freaked out because it's going to be harded for me to get an IUD, and it's going to be harder for every woman in the US to get birth control and abortions. I think I speak for a good percentage of women and men when I say this: BACK OFF. The decision to have or not have children should be a choice that both parties in the dyad make together, but do not go legislating our options. My argument is not that "Oh, David and GW don't have uteruses, so they shouldn't be able to make decisions." My argument is that David and GW are not poor, so it's no big deal to them if they have more kids. It's a really big deal when you don't have the money to fund a human life. Wanna talk about the feminization of poverty? It's directly related to divorce and children.

My second argument is this: You shouldn't limit a couple's options to birth control, and then take away the community services that support families in need. The faith based initiatives that this administration talks about are disenfranchising for those of us who do not want to go to Evangelical Bob's House of Literal Bible Interpretations because they're the ones with a soup kitchen.

It's infuriating when I think about the kinds of things we need to make the children we already have on this planet successful human beings. Many children in the US are brought up with the message that people outside of their families do not care about them, and they may not even have families that care. Many have limited resources, limited educations, and so forth. So this administration wants to compound those effects for them by taking away birth control options, and taking away community programs that help them deal with unwanted pregnancies after they have been born. Oh, and after these sweeping reform changes have been made, this administration gets to retire after four years.

I am so pissed I could go read bible passages.