Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kids and Fairness

piggybacking on my last post. I'm a young, married college graduate in my early 20s who is currently looking for work; I have an interview in a few days. My husband is in his early 30s and is concurrently working on his second graduate degree and looking for work.

We've been talking about kids recently and even though we are not trying to conceive, we already thinking about what schools we should send them to. In particular, STEM schools which will teach them to have strong math and science skills. I used to think STEM focused institutions only started in high school but through a little research I found out that at least one starts in the third grade! I wouldn't be surprised to learn that STEM Pre-Ks exist.

Anyway, I say all of this to bring up the fact of inherit unfairness that exists in the world. And I'm not even going to go into how unequal we are genetically. My husband and I are already planning the lives of children who do not exist. To be honest, children who may never exist. (I've read enough infertility/adoption blogs to know that not everyone gets the family they imagined they would always have.) I know planning for children is the 'right' thing to do but when I do it I can't help but think of all the children in the world who don't have parents who do this. What about them?

I don't know how people can live comfortably in such an unfair jacked up world where some parents will only allow their children to eat organic foods and others treat their children as if they have done some immortal sin.


I just ran across the following blog post: http://www.firstmotherforum.com/2013/01/foreign-adoption-may-save-one-child-but.html

The comments are a battleground between adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees. All are slinging mud at each other trying to make the other "the bad guy." From my position as a complete outsider I can't help but wonder how none can see what the real problem is: we live in a fundamentally f*cked up world. All any one can see is how this fundamentally f*cked up world is negatively affecting them.

Don't people see a problem with the fundamental arguments? Adoption in a completely foreign culture vs. growing up in an inadequate orphanage?

Here are 2 comments which compare domestic foster care to international orphanages:
on orphanages:

  • "Jane, I ask you…Have you ever been to an orphanage? Have you ever spent time there, talking to the children in their native languages? Have you ever had a meal with them? Have you ever had those children beg, promise you everything, offer you their favorite doll or stuffed animal, just so you'd take them with you? Have you ever held a starving child in your arms, watching it labor for breath? Have you ever walked into an orphanage for special needs children and have the stench of rotting flesh greet you? Until you have experienced those things, I respectfully submit that you probably don't know what you're talking about. And I understand that this will probably won't ever get published, but at least you will question yourself. Because, Jane, in your heart of hearts you can't possibly be so cruel as to suggest leaving children in the hellholes we call "orphanages"."
  • "Here's the problem with closing or discontinuing international adoptions: many of the children age-out of the system and become indentured servants ( and are treated badly) or sex trade workers. To me, I would rather see a child be loved and flourish in an adoptive home than living amongst "its people/culture" and be given a minimal education ( if you want to call it that) and becoming a sex trade worker or lowly servant."
on domestic foster care:
  • "Vidyana, For every child taken out of an orphanage, hundreds of thousands are left in orphanages. Meanwhile thousands of American children languish in foster homes. It's a zero sum game.
    Read the articles linked to in my post. You'll see that most of the people who adopt foreign children take healthy infants, many of whom were taken illegally from their families. Older children, disabled children are left behind.
    As for children aging out of the system and entering the sex trade, that happens to American children as well. Prisons and drug treatment programs are filled with former foster children. 
    Bringing children to the US doesn't assure that they will not be forced into the sex trade. Masha, a young girl was adopted from Russia by a pedophile. He not only abused her but used her for pornographic movies. 
    And yes, children are abused by their natural parents but being an adopted child places one more hurdle before the child. 
    I encourage our readers to read Peter Dodds' memoir, "Outer Search/Inner Journey." He was adopted by an American family from a German orphanage when he was three. He is one of the biggest critics of foreign adoption."
Here's a perspective from someone who suffered cultural loss at the hands of his birth parents:
  • "I am full blooded Native American. When I was 2, my "natural" parents left our tribe lands and moved to a small town in suburbia. In order to fit in, they changed my names and their names, forbade me from knowing what tribe we were from, and never allowed me the full rights of being a tribe member. It wasn't until they died that I actually found out my tribe. I suffered horribly at their hands. My mother was distant and cold, my father was abusive. I suffer from PTSD and a myriad of other "typical" adoptee problems. Lay off anonymous, just because your an adoptee doesn't mean that you're the only one who knows about pain and suffering."
And  finally the perspective of a woman who 'did the right thing' and adopted a U.S. foster child only to regret it horribly:

  • "'Meanwhile thousands of American children languish in foster homes. It's a zero sum game."Adopting from foster care is never a good idea. In fact, it's a horrible idea. The system is beyond broken. The social workers lie to you, there is no support, and the children are beyond damaged. How do I know? I adopted from foster care. Worst mistake of my life. My husband and I really wanted to adopt from the foster care system. We took classes, read books, joined the local support group, and spent hours volunteering at the foster care office. We developed connections and had a great relationship with everyone. Finally, after close to two years of waiting, we were matched with our daughter. She was 7 when we met her. After a year transistion, countless "consultations" with various "specialists" (referred by our social worker), she moved in with us full time. Shortly after that, we formally adopted her. It wasn't 6 months before how much we were lied to came to life. Our daughter was a violent sexual predator and had been severely sexually abused by her biological parents and her two former foster fathers (different homes). She was scary to be around. The social workers stopped taking our phone calls, our "support" team refused to meet with us, and even the specialists denied us appointments or canceled at the last minute. That was 4 years ago. We have spent close to 200k getting her help and she now lives in a special home. Her doctors are in awe of how duplicitous and mean she is, almost feral at times. We tried to sue the social workers and the state, but no lawyer would touch the case.We tried to do the right thing, and instead we got punched in the face. Both my husband and I are educated people (both have our master's in scientific fields), but we were conned into taking this little girl. Eighteen months ago, we finalized our adoption of our son from Russia. He was 6 when we met him, and now 8. He's a handful, but nothing compared to the very damaged child that our own state/county dropped on us. If I were you, I wouldn't tout the glories of adoption from foster care, it's not something so easy and wonderful as you make it sound."

I just don't understand how people can't see that there is not perfect answer to any of this and that by blaming others somehow all of the problems will be fixed. 

Here's my personal favorite comment (and by personal favorite I mean the one that makes me the saddest:
  • "Wow. Just Wow. How could anyone, ANYONE oppose adoption? And does it REALLY matter WHERE a child comes from? There are orphans on every continent. And you know what? It is our God given right to be able to freely decide how to build a family. I get to chose how I build my family, whether domestic adoption, international adoption, or having a biological child. And as a proud mama of a Russian born son, I can tell you RIGHT NOW that he was NOT illegally adopted out to me. He was extremely emaciated and hospitalized from the neglect of his birth mother. No other Russian family would adopt him because he was so tiny and developmentally delayed. NOT that it is any of your BUSINESS, but seriously lady, think about how self centered and egotisitcal you sound. I'm with Vidyana-GO to this orphanges, see it first hand, before spouting off rude comments. I adopted because I was led by God to my child. I have NO idea why I chose Russia, I just did because I felt a stong urge that my son was there. Period. End of Story. Mamas know where there babies are. And regardless, if I adopted from Russia, Africa, China, the US, wherever, I still have the right to choose. And you know what? I saved a child... and that child saved me. I literally don't usually comment on these things, but you have just made me furious with your close minded remarks. I am just appaled at your cynicism regarding the lives of these children languishing in orphanges. And don't tell me that I don't know that the orphanages are bad. Excuse me, but I have been in one, and seen first hand the LASTING effects it had on my sweet boy. I will say, that I am praying for you Jane and whatever hurt you have pent up in you that you would pick these battles over something as miraculous as adoption."
So this person has a "god-given right" to have a family and yet children starve and they don't have a "god-given right" to food? It must be nice to live in such a self-absorbed world.

Friday, January 25, 2013

I don't want to be happy

I want the world and life to be different than what they are.

That's what I've realized my last few days in this depressive/existentialist state. In order to be happy, I need to either not see the world for what it is or be okay with it or even champion the world as it is. And I'm supposed to do all of this while working hard to ensure my survival in the global economy.

And I really can't help but think: what's the point? All this struggle so I can survive on this cold, cruel world filled with mostly cold, cruel people. Oh wait, I forgot, it's all worth it because of "the beauty of a sunrise or butterfly." *sigh*

I'm obviously an evolutionary aberration. I shouldn't think about this stuff this much. I'm obviously much more empathetic than the average person and as I sit here typing this I realize that after 2-3 years of trying to escape my basic empathetic nature I have failed, miserably. And yet, with my basic empathetic nature, I'm supposed to live in this world and make myself happy.

I sometimes wonder if I should go back to my original plan for my life: to not worry about money and just go around the world helping people. I used to be super-Christian and liberal and SUCH an idealist. And now that I'm not any of those I don't have much left to live for. And my attempts at trying other philosophies to live for have also failed. I don't much see the value in 'hard work' or even 'family.' I pretty much don't see the value in anything. One of the things that discouraged from my original life plan was seeing how little most people care about social injustices and suffering. I was SO naive! I used to think that people just didn't know about all the suffering and craziness in the world and once they knew they would want to do something about it. I eventually figured out that most people know to varying degrees but they either don't care at all or they only care enough to say "that's so horrible! someone somewhere should/shouldn't do that!" and then they go about their daily lives. The number of people who actually care enough to do something substantial towards creating a more equitable world are  minuscule. This is before we even bring the fact that this minuscule amount of people can't even agree on what is a more equitable world or how to bring it about.

I just imagined myself sacrificing so much to bring about a more equitable world while everyone else continued to live their own lives. Lives that would actively counteract the good I was trying to help bring about. Eventually I just came to a conclusion of 'what's the point'? I don't think I've ever really left that conclusion.

I've spent all morning watching elifist/antinatalist videos. I know those aren't 'good' for my psyche in my current condition but I feel like those are some of the only people that GET the human condition and, this is important, truly SYMPATHIZE with it. Some people 'get it' but their only advice is that you should throw yourself even more strongly into this meaningless game called life. You should 'achieve', become religious, focus on the little moments, etc. By the way, doesn't that tell you that something is fundamentally wrong with life if what we must focus on is, by our own admission, little?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Not meant for this world

I truly don't think I was meant for this world. There is so much craziness and the more I learn about it the more none of it makes sense. I have an in-person interview in  a few weeks and after beginning to prepare starting yesterday, I have no energy to do so today.

I'm just hit by the meaningless and horror of it all. And I think reading the 'how to be happy' books are not helping. They just show me how selectively delusional I would have to become in order to be happy. I don't think I am built for that.

I've been reading two books on happiness: "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin and "Authentic Happiness" by Martin Seligman.

Both books talk about the hows and whys of happiness. Both also take the time to discuss how making the attempt to be happy is not a 'selfish' endeavor (this after going on and on about how happier people are healthier, live longer, etc). One example they use is how happy people are more 'altruistic' and think more about others. I'm curious as  to what they mean by 'altruism.' Is it donating money to a charity? Helping an old lady cross the street? Letting someone cut in front of you in line? What is it?? Because I can't help but look around at all of the craziness and suffering in the world and wonder what all of the 'altruism' of all of these happy people is actually accomplishing? There are so many problems in the world that could easily be solved by a bit of money or attention and yet they are not. But allegedly there are bunch of happy, altruistic people floating around doing....something.

I don't know. I just don't know.

I'll repeat what I said at the beginning: I truly was not meant for this world and it's a cruel joke that someone with my level of empathy is supposed to survive and thrive in such a cruel, cold world. Or maybe I'm not...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Happiness, Work, and Ambition

"Perhaps I also [am happy], since I seem to have a sunny disposition despite my nihilism and crushing awareness of the evil of mankind. But neither of us is going to mention it. Anyone who proclaims his or her happiness is most unlikely to be so, because the happy don't use words. Words are used exclusively by those locked into the concept of achievement. This concept is evidence of our hyper-evolution: we want to be what we are not, and we will destroy the whole planet in the attempt to turn our fantasy into grim reality."


What an interesting concept. Here I am buying all of these self-help books from people who claim to be happy or try to give happiness tips and maybe they're not really happy either! It almost feels like a "duh!" proclamation but sometimes we need those to get through our heads.

another gem from the same site:

"If money produced happiness, everyone would be giving it away and it would have no value.

Scientists" have just discovered that the receptor-spots for pleasure/happiness, and for desire are in different places in the brain. So desire has nothing to do with happiness - nor has the fulfilment of desire, which is why the successful are no happier than everyone else. This seriously undermines the thinking behind capitalism!

Another reason why the successful are often unhappy (or at least eaten up with desire and ambition) is that they are successful only in climbing greasy poles and doing down their peers and anyone they see as 'competition', and to maintain this success they not only have to (literally) 'sell their souls' but have to work like hell to stay up the greasy pole. Is George W. Bush a happy man ? Is George Rumfeld or Condoleeza Rice ? Is any million- or billion-aire you have ever heard of ? Come to that, is there anyone whose biography you know even just a little, who could be described as 'happy' ? I cannot think of any famous or famously good person whom I could describe as 'happy'. Mother Teresa ? Definitely not: her life was given over to publicitous self-sacrifice. Mark Rothko, creator of some of the most wonderfully 'spiritual' art ever created, was profoundly miserable. Diogenes of Sinope - perhaps the wisest and most authentic human being in recorded history - was not a happy bunny, either. Chögyam Trungpa (the very wise and perceptive Tibetan mentioned above, who founded a prestigious college and publishing housein Colorado) was a predatory womaniser and a drunkard. Osho, the Maharishi, all those who went to Esalen, and the entire tomfoolery of Christian, Muslim and Buddhist saints are not famous for their happiness, but for what they said or wrote, suffered or endured. Certainly the wisest man known to me, who refuses to be a teacher since he rightly teaches that all teachers are bogus by definition, who refuses to have acolytes, followers, groupies, PhD students, publishers or others who can find their own wisdom if they would just adjust their vision and apply themselves, is not a happy man. Who can be merely happy, knowing that this planet of pain is screaming deafeningly - and all but a few of us are deaf."

The bolded part above really speaks to me because the more I read about people who have overcome great odds to "make it" the more tired I feel. I don't envy them I just feel sad thinking about how they will never be able to get back all the time they spent working towards "making it." And, even worse, they'll never get to stop! Once you start get comfortable after a period of success, there are many people willing to work twice as hard to take your place and no one will have any sympathy for you if/once that happens. I really can't help but ask: what's the point of it all? This one of the reasons that corporations behave in such unethical ways, because if they don't, there's another company waiting to take their place who will. 

And what's even scarier is that as the population increases, this competition will only get worse! Here's a gallup article that says as much. The gist is that the most important thing that determines an individuals well-being in the modern world is the possession of a good job. And according to the article, there are only 1.2 billion full-time formal jobs and there are 3 billion adults who want them. 


Saturday, January 12, 2013

the challenge and gratitude: days 2 and 3

Day 2:
Not a success. As you can see, I didn't even get to write about how I didn't complete the challenge!

Also, I received a screening call from a company I applied to and told them that I would not be able to speak then (I was out and didn't have access to any of my job hunting stuff). They said I could call back and schedule an interview. According to my sweetheart, this was the absolutely wrong thing to do. I should have taken that call then no matter what the situation. It also didn't help that recruiter called when I had already gone over all of my daytime minutes for the month. 

So all in all it wasn't that good of a day. And I even got rather stressed and started having thoughts of "I'm a failure" and "I can never do anything right" towards the end of it.

Day 3:

Much better. At work today I used some of my down time to do some reading about business analysis.

I rested a bit once I got home and then applied for a few jobs; I never keep account.

I'm glad today was a success because I needed that boost to counteract yesterday. I also need it because nursing school resumes in less than 48 hours and I am still without a job. But I'm not giving up hope.

via icanread
update: just realized I forgot to write a note of gratitude for yesterday and today! But I'm going to do the one for today right now!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Recognizing thought patterns

I was talking to a friend today and was reminded how differently I think than other people. She was sharing with me that she recently held her new baby cousin and felt "her uterus contract" (meaning that she now has a case of baby rabies).

We kept talking and I asked her if she ever worried about having kids considering current and future economic, environmental, and political conditions. She told me that she doesn't think things will get really bad during the lifetime of her kids. When I dug a little deeper she admitted that she really doesn't think about things like this at all and that all she thinks about is being financially able to provide for her kids a life that will save them from a lot of hardships.

I couldn't help but think about why our thought processes are so different. It is also my goal to make sure that I am able to provide for any of my future children in a way that will make their lives easier but I can't separate that from the general state of the world.

Or can I?

Some background: my friend comes from a developing nation but is very, very privileged by any standard. We met at a top-tier university. Her parents paid all of  the extremely expensive tuition for her and her sister. The only reason I was able to afford to go was due to the school's very generous financial aid policy for economically disadvantaged students. So I know that we come from very different worlds. Yet I don't think that's what explains the different way we see risks involving children. Most people seem to see the world the way she does. From the poorest to the most prosperous. No matter what their current circumstances, people continue to procreate and the grim forecasts for the future seem to have even less impact on people's decisions concerning procreation.

Why am I different? Why do I think this way? I'm scared to ask but what's wrong with me?

After talking to my friend today I am even more motivated to change my patterns of thought. I'm not trying to become super positive but I don't want to always think of the negative first and foremost.

I want to become more like my friend and only think about what's best for myself, family, and other people who I care about. There's a huge part of me that feels that that's selfish but I can't see any good that my current "unselfish" state has done for myself or anyone else. Especially recently since I am no longer involved in any activist activities.

the challenge and gratitude: day 1

Today was a success! I almost didn't make it to the 3 hour mark but then I did! I also wrote in my gratitude journal and started my day with some kundalini yoga.

It wasn't a bad day.

How I spent my 3 hours:
I applied to 5+ jobs. I received an email from company I applied to before requesting a phone interview on Tuesday. I did some research on the company and their products to prepare. I did some general reading on business analysis. 

I also received a rejection email from another company but it's cool.

I'm quite ready for day 2!

via icanread

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

the challenge and gratitude

I'm going to use this blog for accountability. For the next month (until Saturday, February 9, 2013; wow! Still can't believe we're already in 2013! Even more motivation to really start getting things done in my life.) I will spend a set amount of time every day working on my  main goal: to get a good-paying job and then quit nursing school (it's just not for me).

the rules:

School days (starting from next week, Monday-Thursday): 1 hr/day applying for jobs and/or studying subjects that will make me more marketable career-wise.

  • I think this is a fair amount of time for school days. Nursing school takes up so much time that I don't want to set an unattainable goal for myself and since I've been applying and getting some responses back I hope to have a job before this the end of this month.
Non-school days (Friday, weekends, any school holidays): 3 hrs/day applying for jobs and/or studying subjects that will make me more marketable career-wise.

I must blog about what I do or don't get done every day until I either reach my goal of gainful employment or until Saturday, February 9, 2013. 

This won't be easy but I know I can do it. I feel like I'm soooo close to reaching my employment goal but there's just this little 'hump' that I need to get over. To be honest, I've come pretty far and mostly due to the encouragement of my beloved. I didn't even think I would be able to get a job at all and just by putting my resume out there and writing a few cover letters I am already receiving call backs. I would like to have a received a job offer by now but that's truly okay. I know that good jobs don't come easy and great jobs even less so.

I'm looking forward to this and will see y'all tomorrow. I think I'll even add "writing in my gratitude journal daily" to this challenge.

I don't know why, but I'm always surprised by how good I feel about a fresh start. Especially when I put it in writing.

I wonder

is it possible to become a more positive person without losing your sense of compassion for others? And I mean true compassion where you really try to understand the negative places that a person and their feelings are coming from without immediately trying to change their views or force them to be positive.

This is one of the things that keeps me from jumping with both feet into the whole "law of attraction" and "you get what your mind focuses on" philosophy.

I just don't see that. Most people are where they are due to the socioeconomic conditions of their family members for generations. People can change those conditions but the amount of work and, even more importantly, the mindset change that it takes to overcome those conditions are absolutely extraordinary and they can't be whittle down to "you become what you think about." This doesn't even include the people of all socioeconomic conditions who are hit with random, horrible and negative events.

I just feel there's already so little compassion in this world for people who are hurting for a variety of reasons that they didn't ask for.

Yet I want to be positive. I want to see meaning in this world for myself. I want to see parenthood in a positive life.

I look at certain people who just seem to have so much motivation to get things done and I wonder where it comes from. I just don't have it. I can think of things I would be interested in doing but they all seem to take so much effort to get somewhere meaningful. Which I think is okay if you enjoy "effort" part but I don't. Soooo I'm not sure what to do. And I can't remain still because I'm not in the position to do that and survive in this world.

I wonder where I can get this motivation since I wasn't born with it. (I honestly believe there are people who were born very motivated and more intelligent than average and those are the people who escape levels of ridiculous poverty to become ridiculously wealthy. It goes so much farther than  hard work.)

Maybe I'll even make this blog an accountability partner in terms of motivation.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

When the door is so wide open...

This photo is so relevant to me right now. I still don't have the motivation level that I would like to have but I am making definite steps moving myself out of my current unhappy life situation into a much happier one. I am so grateful for my sweetheart who has been supporting and encouraging me in all of this. I won't even say that I wish I had done all of this earlier because I am so happy that I am doing it now.

I still don't have an overly positive view of life but I am becoming more content with life and my position it. Especially as I move towards creating the life I want. After months of mental self-flagellation I have forgiven myself for a huge mistake I made earlier last year. I made a mistake but I am not that mistake and that mistake has given me a much more compassionate and less judgmental view on human shortcomings.

The next time I write here I plan to be in a new job, have quit nursing school, and be living with my love.

light and love