Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Damn you Sam Wan Part Deux

Note: This post will be posted on Sept 20 2006 and is time-machined back to 2005 because it's so damn long I wanted it linkable. This is the cheat sheet that I lovingly made to help you complete the Sam Wan Super Quiz. No one will beat my score.

1) What is your gender? (Please note that if you are not male, you are not eligible to participate in this study.)

Male (Dude you totally gave away the answer to that one)

2) With which Asian American group do you most identify?

East Asian American

3) According to your answer above, please specify the ethnic group or groups with which you most identify (e.g., Filipino American, Chinese American, Vietnamese American).


4) What is your age?


5) What is your generational status?

1st generation (you immigrated to the U.S. at any age)

6) Which of the following sexual orientations best describe you?


7) What is your relationship status?

Gay mostly unless we fight, then I'm sad

8) What is the highest level you completed in school?

Graduate DegreeS (Hellloooo I'm Asian)

9) What is your annual combined household income ($)?

210K milliongajillion+ (see number 8)

10) How did you hear about this study?

Rice Daddies, Bitch

11) You hear about a racially motivated murder of an Asian American man.

What the FUCK?! Someone grab my tabi socks, I'm gonna get feudal on somone's ass.

12) You hear that Asian Americans are not significantly represented in management positions.

Management?! Asian companies always have only one employee and that's the owner. Slave family resources are always off the books.

13) You are told that Asians have assertiveness problems.

Fuck You

14) You notice that Asian characters in American TV shows either speak bad or heavily accented English.

Every time I see Scooby-Doo I break a TV

15) You notice that in American movies, male Asian leading characters never engage in physical contact (kissing, etc.) with leading female characters even when the plot would seem to call for it.

Romeo must Die Must Die, but with like X-ray vision shots of bones breaking. That was hella cool.

16) Someone tells you that the kitchens of Asian families smell and are dirty.

Kimchee should be liberated. Don't hide your Kimchee, let it breathe damnit!

17) You notice that U.S. history books offer no information of the contributions of Asian Americans.

Cerritos has produced the world's greatest Poker Players.

18) You see a TV commercial in which an Asian character speaks bad English and acts subservient to non-Asian characters.

Ancient Chinese F-You

19) You hear about an Asian American government scientist held in solitary confinement for mishandling government documents when his non-Asian coworkers were not punished for the same offence.

That dude needs to be more assertive.

20) You learn that Asian Americans historically were targets of racist actions

Wait a sec, you mean Camp could possibly have been racially motivated? Holy Shit.

21) You learn that most non-Asian Americans are ignorant of the oppression and racial prejudice Asian Americans have endured in the U.S.

See number 20

22) At a restaurant you notice that a White couple who came in after you is served before you.

Yeah, but they get the English menu. Hahaha and don't even think of stepping foot into a Korean restaurant without at least 1 Korean or seriously you are TOTALLY screwed. Am I wrong?

23) You learn that, while immigration quotas on Asian peoples were severely restricted until the latter half of the 1900s, quotas for European immigrants were not.

Gold Mountain was Full

24) Someone tells you that it's the Blacks that are the problem, not the Asians.

Go on...

25) A student you do not know asks you for help in math.

$100 Bitch (see number 9)

26) Someone tells you that they heard that there is a gene that makes Asians smart.

It's called beatthelivingshitoutofyouifyougetaB at locus 34.

27) Someone asks you if you know his or her Asian friend/coworker/classmate.

Is his name Yourmom?

28) Someone assumes that they serve dog meat in Asian restaurants.

Not during the Olympics.

29) Someone tells you that your Asian American female friend looks just like Connie Chung.

What you mean like a bad singer?

30) Someone you do not know speaks slow and loud at you.

Lo siento, no entiendo bitch

31) Someone asks you if all your friends are Asian Americans.

No, they're just straight Asian.

32) Someone asks you if you can teach him/her karate.

Step 1: Must Close Your Eyes...
Step 2: HiYa Sucker!

33) Someone tells you that all you people are all the same.


34) Someone tells you that all Asian people look alike.

Shut up Jeff

35) Someone tells you that Asian Americans are not targets of racism.

Shut up Hollywood

36) Someone you do not know asks you to help him/her fix his/her computer.

See number 25

37) You are told that "you speak English so well."

You speak Klan purdy good too

38) Someone asks you what your real name is.

Yourmom Kim

39) You are asked where you are really from.

Dingle Bitch

40) In general, I believe that Anglo-Americans (Whites) are superior to other racial groups.

At sunburning yes.

41) I feel more comfortable being around Anglo American (Whites) than I do being around people of my own race.

When I'm in a hotdog eating contest, yes.

42) In general, people of my race have not contributed very much to American society.

What?! Can you say Hyundai? No you said it wrong. Really you did.

43) Sometimes, I am embarrassed to be the race I am.

Only when I see Kim Jong-Il's K-fro.

44) I would have accomplished more in life if I had been born an Anglo-American (White).

Hahahhaha see number 9

45) Anglo-Americans (Whites) are more attractive than people of my race.

No you didn't just ask that.

46) People of my race should learn to think and act like Anglo-Americans (Whites).

Greek System Ruuuulz!

47) I limit myself to "White" activities.

ummm? Beer Pong?

48) I think racial minorities blame Anglo-Americans (Whites) too much for their problems.

I blame Jack Daniels for all kinds of shit.

49) I feel unable to involve myself in Anglo-Americans' (Whites') experiences, and am increasing my involvement in experiences involving people of my race.

See number 10

50) When I think about how Anglo-Americans (Whites) have treated people of my race, I feel an overwhelming anger.

I will wait until Survivor:Klans is over before answering this question.

51) I want to know more about my culture.

This is a trick question and you know it.

52) I limit myself to activities involving people of my own race.

See number 10

53) Most Anglo-Americans (Whites) are untrustworthy.

See number 50

54) American society would be better off if it were based on the cultural values of
my people.

What? Fighting, Drinking, Poetry and Good grades? Oh and Pathos, unbearable pathos.

55) I am determined to find my cultural identity.

See number 51

56) Most Anglo-Americans (Whites) are insensitive.

See number 50

57) I reject all Anglo-American (White) values.

Wait a second, is Bourbon a value? I think it is...my answer to this question is NO.

58) My most important goal in life is to fight the oppression of my people.

You're getting a bit pushy here. How long is this damn quiz. I'm so gonna get an A.

59) I believe that being from my cultural background has caused me to have many

Drinking, Fighting, Peotry, Pathos, check check check check

60) I am comfortable wherever I am.

I'm easy.

61) People, regardless of their race, have strengths and limitations.

Boy do they.

62) I think people of my culture and the White culture differ from each other in some ways, but neither group is superior.

Wait there is that sunburning thing I mentioned earlier. I would definitely lose in a sunburning contest.

63) My cultural background is a source of pride to me.

Trick question.

64) People of my culture and White culture have much to learn from each other.

All of the above

65) Anglo-Americans (Whites) have some customs that I enjoy.

Making fun of other races! Good clean hilarious fun!

66) I enjoy being around people regardless of their race.

As long as they're Korean

67) Every racial group has some good people and some bad people.

Good Koreans: Me

Bad Koreans: Me + Whisky

68) Minorities should not blame Anglo-Americans (Whites) for all of their social problems.

Give me a C! Give me an A! Give me an M! Give me a P! What's that spell? Oh shit.

69) I do not understand why Anglo-Americans (Whites) treat minorities as they do.

Dear Jeff...

70) I am embarrassed about some of the things I feel about my people.

Damn this quiz is long.

71) I'm not sure where I really belong.

I belong in a bar. Like right now cuz this test is fricking LONG.

72) I have begun to question my beliefs.

...in starting this quiz. Damnit End already!

73) Maybe I can learn something from people of my race.

Are you still reading this???

74) Anglo-American (White) people can teach me more about surviving in this world than people of my own race can, but people of my race can teach me more about being human.

See number 50

75) I don't know whether being the race I am is an asset or a deficit.

It got me into Rice Daddies didn't it?

76) Sometimes I think Anglo-Americans (Whites) are superior and sometimes I think they're inferior to people of my race.

What a whimpy question. This must have been written by an unassertive asian.

77) Sometimes I am proud of the racial group to which I belong and sometimes I am ashamed of it.

See number 76

78) Thinking about my values and beliefs takes up a lot of my time.

This goddamned quiz takes up a lot of my damn time!

79) I'm not sure how I feel about myself.

...for taking this damn quiz.

80) White people are difficult to understand.


81) I find myself replacing old friends with new ones who are from my culture.


82) I feel anxious about some of the things I feel about people of my race.


83) When someone of my race does something embarrassing in public, I feel


84) When both White people and people of my race are present in a social situation, I prefer to be with my own racial group.


85) My values and beliefs match those of Anglos (Whites) more than they do people of my race.


86) The way Anglos (Whites) treat people of my race makes me angry.


87) I only follow the traditions and customs of people of my racial group.


88) When people of my race act like Anglos (Whites) I feel angry.


89) I am comfortable being the race I am.

Not anymore you bastard

90) One should recognize and adhere to social expectations, norms and practices.

Like not sharing answers to this quiz

91) The welfare of the group should be put before that of the individual.

If you say so.

92) It is better to show emotions than to suffer quietly.

I'll show you this shuriken.

93) One should go as far as one can academically and professionally on behalf of one's family.

On behalf of not getting hit with the B+ stick.

94) One should be able to boast about one's achievement.

see number 9

95) One's personal needs should be second to the needs of the group.

I personally need to get in a time machine and go back to when I didn't start this long ass quiz and realize that I am about to make a horrible decision.

96) One should not express strong emotions.


97) One's academic and occupational reputation reflects the family's reputation.

Is that why my own mother calls me Dr. Kim?

98) One should be able to draw attention to one's accomplishments.

see number 9

99) The needs of the community should supercede those of the individual.

shaddup I need a drink.

100) One should adhere to the values, beliefs and behaviors that one's society considers normal and acceptable.

If I were answering this test with a pencil I would be out of lead.

101) Succeeding occupationally is an important way of making one's family proud.

Is that really how you spell occupationally? It looks so funny.

102) Academic achievement should be highly valued among family members.

See number 97

103) The group should be less important than the individual.

Wait this is just the opposite of some other question I just answered. Man you are one sneaky-ass Asian Doctoral candidate!

104) One's emotional needs are less important than fulfilling one's responsibilities.

OK, sheeze make me feel guilty. I will finish the damn quiz OK?!

105) Receiving awards for excellence need not reflect well on one's family.

JackFest Contest 7th place 1993!

106) One should achieve academically since it reflects on one's family.

Oh shit am I almost done?

107) One's educational success is a sign of personal and familial character.

I asked you a question damnit!

108) One should not sing one's own praises.

I am the best motherfucking test taker in the whole damn world!!!!!!

109) One should not act based on emotions.

I said I'd finish damnit! Stop pushing me!!!

110) One should work hard so that one won't be a disappointment to one's family

Im going to finish this damn test to make your family happy they have a doctorate son in the family. I better win that damn Amazon Card, I'm going to need to buy a new keyboard because I think I broke this one taking this LONG ASS QUIZ!

111) Making achievements is an important way to show one's appreciation for one's family.

aaaaararrgg. I will achieve finishing this damn test. I will get an A! I will get an Amazon Card!

112) One's efforts should be directed toward maintaining the well-being of the group first and the individual second.

Easy for you to say after you tricked me into finishing this damn test.

113) It is better to hold one's emotions inside than to burden others by expressing them.

Fuck that

114) One need not blend in with society.

One need not drink blended Scotch in society.

115) Being boastful should not be a sign of one's weakness and insecurity.

See number 9

116) Conforming to norms provides order in the community.

Conform this: F this long ass test

117) Conforming to norms provides one with identity.

Norm This: F this long ass test

118) It is more important to behave appropriately than to act on what one is feeling.

I feel exhausted. Thats what I feel damnit.

119) One should not openly talk about one's accomplishments.

I accomplished this test and I'm gonna blog about it bitch.

120) Failing academically brings shame to one's family.

Failing academically brings shame to your butt in the form of an ass-whipping in one's Korean family

121) One should be expressive with one's feelings.

You think? F off Tosser.

122) Children's achievements need not bring honor to their parents.

WTF?! This is the dumbest question of the whole test and I'm not even done yet.

123) One need not sacrifice oneself for the benefit of the group.

Oh great now you tell me. Now that I'm done with your test.

124) Openly expressing one's emotions is a sign of strength.

Fuckin A

125) One's achievement and status reflect on the whole family.

I said this earlier. We could have stopped then but noooooooo have to ask one hundred fifty-three questions..

126) One need not always consider the needs of the group first.

see number 123

127) It is one's duty to bring praise through achievement to one's family.

Now you're not even trying anymore with these questions. Let's talk about ninjas.

128) One should not do something that is outside of the norm.

Ummm define "outside the norm"

129) Getting into a good school reflects well on one's family.

University for California's Lazy Asians #1

130) One should be able to brag about one's achievements.

I swear I answered this one already

131) Conforming to norms is the safest path to travel.

You must be a psychologist to ask such a crafty question

132) My work is the most important part of my life

Obviously it is to you...writing this long ass quiz

133) I make sure people do as I say

Yup, I'm your bitch. pwnage

134) In general, I do not like risky situations

risque situations? Whisky situations?

135) It would be awful if someone thought I was gay

Where the fuck did this come from?

136) I love it when men are in charge of women

No now you're just getting evil.

137) I like to talk about my feelings

I don't talk much really.

138) I would feel good if I had many sexual partners

I mean temporally yes. This question should not have passed phrasing check.

139) It is important to me that people think I am heterosexual

WTF? Where are you going with these questions?

140) I believe that violence is never justified

Unless provoked by long long test

141) I tend to share my feelings

I'll share this Ninja sandwich.

142) I should be in charge

Obviously not

143) I would hate to be important

Is this a trick question?

144) Sometimes violent action is necessary

Is water wet?

145) I don't like giving all my attention to work

Ummm yeah drilling stuff out of eyeballs sometimes required a bit of attention.

146) More often than not, losing does not bother me

Fucking WRONG

147) If I could, I would frequently change sexual partners

Did my wife hire you? You are the most crafty private detective I have ever met. But I'm on to you now.

148) I never do things to be an important person


149) I never ask for help


150) I enjoy taking risks

I risked taking this test. I risked wrong.

151) Men and women should respect each other as equals

Of course.

152) Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing

Fucking RIGHT

153) It bothers me when I have to ask for help

I have to ask for help finishing this damn test!!!! Oh wait...am I done?

YES! 14 minutes!
Beat that!

I know I scored like 99%

Friday, March 18, 2005

Mammary Madness*

*Originally published at MetroDad

Remember how I warned all ya'll that so much of the advice we're given for parenthood runs counter to CFS (aka Common Fucking Sense)? Nowhere is this more apparent than in the furor around breastfeeding.

This is far, far, far from a new topic - in fact, Metrodad already touched on this in a previous entry but it seemed as if he and BossLady had a far easier time adjusting to the reality of breastfeeding than what Sam and I have gone through (ok, really Sam since technically, my breasts don't lactate). More to the point, the pressures that exist for newborn mothers around breastfeeding are a classic example of how good intentions destroys CFS and creates neurotic wrecks in the process.

Call 'em the La Leche Legion, the Boobie Brigade, Titty Tyrants or just plain Breast Feeding Fascists (BFF - yes, I like acronyms) but the pro-breastfeeding lobby in America is not to be fucked with. In all the books we got prior to L's birth, breastfeeding is talked up with such passion that new moms who dare to consider bottle-feeding formula come off seeming like their feeding their kids broken glass.

The irony here is that part of why BFFs are so insistent on breastfeeding is precisely because the pro-formula lobby, up until the last 10-15 years or so, had ruled the day in what seems to me to be a classic example of a loss of CFS as well.After all, why in the world would anyone encourage moms NOT to breastfeed and use formula instead if the human female body has a whole goddamn biological sub-system specifically built for the task?

What, you think evolution created mammary glands just to give straight men something to stare at? Like breasts are optional equipment on your body that you can choose to disregard just because science thinks it's improved on the product? If your body went through all the trouble to create breasts that actually lactate (a rather remarkable thing, in and of itself), you'd think this was Nature's way of telling you to use what you got rather than cracking open another Similac can.

I want to be careful here not to diss formula since, as MD points out, most people in our generation of now 30-year olds were probably formula-fed and we didn't turn out bad because of it (well, except for that weird rash I still have...oh, never mind). However, I can appreciate that BFFs are trying to counter the last few generations of pro-formula attitudes and get baby's back on the breast because it's better for them. I'm not mad at that.

The problem is that as a necessary condition of being breast-friendly, there's a subtle demonization for formula and bottle-feeding that goes with it. It's not in-your-face, but it's easy enough to read between the lines in all the new parenting books that are out there, as well as the attitude of lactation consultants who will come visit you the first few days post-partum. No one will say, "don't give your baby a bottle of formula" but for PIPs (remember: paranoid, inexperienced parents), we excel at building mountains from molehills so we blow everything out of proportion.

For Sam and I, we had a terrible experience with this. She was able to breastfeed right after L was born and for the first day or so, everything seemed fine. Sam was producing colostrum, that early breastmilk that's apparently the best-thing-ever for newborns and L seemed happy enough with it. But by day 3, L seemed to be getting really fussy and nothing we could do - feeding her, swaddling her, rocking her - seemed to do much good for more than a few minutes. It was really wearing Sam and I down, especially as new parents who hadn't been sleeping at all the previous three days. Most of all, we just couldn't figure out what the fuck was going on. Babies, in theory, are supposed to sleep 90% of the time when they're first born but L was fussing what felt like half the day.

At the time, my mom was visiting and she basically spent 5 minutes with L and declared, "she's hungry" like it's the most obvious thing in the world. Now - I have some serious Mom issues and therefore, I have gotten into the habit of disbelieving any advice that comes out of her mouth so in this case, I just tuned her out.

But the truth was - L was hungry because Sam's milk hadn't come in yet. This isn't unusual at all - it's not like all women give birth and then start churning out more milk than a dairy farm. It can take days for production to match demand, let alone for mom/baby to master the art of latching. However, Sam was so insistent that we only breastfeed that everytime anyone (including myself) quietly suggested that we might want to consider using some of the formula we brought home with us, she became quickly defensive and despondant, as if those little Similac bottles were mocking her deficiencies as a mom.Clearly, this was partially Sam's neuroses as a PIP at work but it was also heavily influenced by the success that BFFs have wrought on new moms everywhere. The bottle is treated with a quiet disdain and it absolutely influenced Sam and my behavior the first month of parenthood.

What we ended up doing that entire day was starving L unnecessarily. She was nursing at the breast but wasn't actually getting anything out of it and it's no wonder she was so fussy that whole day. By the time we met with a lactation consultant the next day, she assured us that it was fine to formula-feed L as a supplement and for us to not stress about it. Upon which, fully fed, L actually, you know, SLEPT and Sam and I felt a great weight lifted from upon our shoulders. I cannot adequately describe this but I had never felt so relieved in my life.

It also could have been worse. When I started mentioning this episode to other friends, I realized how incredibly common it was. Clearly, Sam and I weren't the only stupid morons out there, caught up in BFF. One friend told me that his cousin had done the same thing, only that their baby had to be taken to the hospital for dehydration. Whoa! Luckily, L was spared a trip to the ER but for days after, Sam and I were convinced we had indelibly scarred her for life by starving her for the day. No doubt, this will emerge as a subconscious trauma for L when she starts going to therapy in 2027.

What's particularly crazy about all this is that all we really needed to hear was for a book or person to just tell us, "breastfeeding is hard and you'll be confronted with challenges with it. Don't feel bad using formula to help get you by." I wonder if BFFs are so worried that parents might abandon breastfeeding altogether if they're not militant about it, but very few of them are ever real with you about the reality that, for some women, milk production can be a challenge and there's nothing you can do about it, despite better intentions.

Ironically, when I suggested Sam attend a breastfeeding support group at our delivery hospital, this ended up making things worse since Sam felt like she was in a room filled with mothers lactating like friggin' cattle - pumping out six ounces as if were no big deal - while she was having trouble even eeking out a third of that.

What's telling in all this is that the one authority figure around you who's fine with formula is usually your pediatrician. The baby's health and well-being, after all, is their first priority and I think it's telling that doctors don't seem, at all, bothered with the idea that a baby might be both breast and formula-fed so long as the operative word here is "fed." Makes you wonder how the BFFs ever became as powerful as they are.

By the way, if you really want to see people get downright nasty with one another about this whole debate, try reading the Craigslist forums on parenting. People who say the Bay Area is filled with congenial, laid back folk are clearly not appreciating that we have assholes here too.

As a postscript, now that we're about six weeks into parenthood, breastfeeding has become much easier than it initially was. Sam's still not producing enough breastmilk for us to start making brie from the excess or anything but she is making enough to keep L satiated plus a few ounces every day to store in the fridge for the late-night feedings I usually take care of.

Just remember though - if your baby is hungry and you're not producing enough milk, use CFS: give 'em the bottle to help fill in the gaps. It's absolutely nothing to feel guilty about, especially once your baby decides to stop screaming on you for starving him/her.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Sex and Salad*

*Originally published at MetroDad

I can't really speak for Sam (but I will anyways) about what pregnancy must be like, but based on what I observed, there seemed to be some distinct phases to her experience.

  • Initial Discovery aka "Holy shit, we're pregnant."

    Typical comments: "How the hell did this happen?" "Oh wait, maybe this has to do with me going off the pill last month." "Did I forget to tell you that?" "Oops."

  • First Trimester aka "I still can't believe we're pregnant."

    Typical comments: "This is so crazy." "Are we really ready to do this?" "What do you mean I can't eat soft cheese/sushi/raw shellfish or drink wine?"

  • Second Trimester (early) aka Starting to Show

    Typical comments: "Wow, I have a baby inside of me." "I hope people don't think I'm getting fat." "By the way, your mom called, she wants to know when we're getting married."

  • Second Trimester (late) aka Golden Days

    Typical comments: "This is really amazing." "She's kicking so hard - she's doing her little fan dance today." "By the way, your dad called, he wants to know when we're getting married."

  • Third Trimester aka Ok, Show's Over

    Typical Comments: "I hate wearing jeans with an elastic band - I'm not ready to wear 'mom' jeans!" "This was fun while it lasted but it better be over soon."

    ...and then comes the dreaded...

  • Post-mester aka Past Delivery Date

    Typical Comments: "How come she won't come out?" "Am I going to be pregnant forever?" "I'm giving her one more day than I'm yanking her out myself."

  • Sam was actually quite well-mannered through most of the pregnancy - until the 36th week. Then, she started to be convinced that L was no longer merely kicking, but had apparently smuggled a small shank into the womb and was now stabbing Sam in the cervix with it.

    We went to our midwife but he seemed convinced that L would be out any day now and that there was no reason to induce contractions through artificial means. Then he gave us the advice I knew was likely to come: "have you two tried sex?"

    For those who didn't know (or who never watched the penultimate season of Friends(1), there's some kind of hormone inside semen that can help initiate contractions. However, like getting pregnant itself, it helps to be able to...um...deliver as much of the hormone as possible, which, in our case, meant trying to have sex three times a day.

    Don't get me wrong. I love sex with Sam (that's what got us into this situation to begin with). Moreover, I found Sam to be incredibly beautiful throughout the pregnancy, even when she had body issues with her transforming figure. However, sex during the last trimester introduced certain - shall we say - challenges that conflicted with my normal enjoyment of lovemaking.

    I won't get into all the details but part of it was that sex was now more physically awkward for obvious reasons. Certain positions just didn't work at all and more to the point, Sam was more sensitive (in a bad way) and the fear of potential pain doesn't do much to spice up the mood.

    There's also the issue of the baby and the fact that I'm hyper-aware of the fact that L is basically, you know, RIGHT DOWN THERE. It didn't help that prior to suggesting we rut like rabbit, our midwife also told us, "your baby has already dropped into the pelvic region. In fact, if you stick a finger inside, you can feel her head." What I translated that to mean was: "When making love to Sam, I'll practically be poking our daughter in her head with my penis."

    It just seemed so...disrespectful. However, Sam couldn't have been happier since she had been craving sex for weeks. The fact that sex could now be tasked with getting labor going only made it even more desirable. She was practically demanding "injections" as much as possible.

    Now...like most men, I've had my bouts of performance anxiety in the sack but suddenly, sex on demand, three times a day, with a 9-month old pregnant woman, was like psychological anti-Viagra for me. I was anxious, frustrated, and resentful, none of which are particularly helpful in encouraging climax. It got to the point where it was easier for me to "self-negotiate" and only insert to "complete." Believe me, this did not rank among my fonder masturbatory moments but much to my surprise, Sam was very appreciative of my willingness to make the effort, regardless of what it took.

    The problem was - all this effort was seemingly for naught. Labor still seemed like a far away fantasy despite our best efforts otherwise. That's when the salad came in.

    Sam's sister had heard of this "labor-inducing salad" sold at Caioti Pizza Cafe in Los Angeles. It's not so much the salad that is purported to work the magic but rather, the salad dressing, a basil vinaigrette. As urban lore goes, women who eat a salad with this dressing will go into labor within a couple of days. Sam's sis sent us a bottle of this stuff. Did it work?

    Let's put this way: on the sixth day after our original delivery date, we saw our midwife again. This time, he decided to help the process along by detaching a slight patch of the birth sac from the uterus. That tear also encourages the production of prostaglandin, the same hormone found in sperm to help induce contractions.

    Then we went home and I provided my own prostaglandin donation (taking one for the team) and then Sam ate the labor salad. Within six hours, she went into early labor and by the next day, L was here.

    Was it the sex? The salad? The midwife? Just L's time to arrive? Ah, the unanswerable mysteries of life.

    (1) I never liked Friends much but I would watch it on occasion, including the episode where Rachel, pregnant with Ross' love child, is tired of carrying the baby around and tries to seduce Ross into sleeping with her as a way to induce labor. I cannot express the shock I felt when the OB gave us similar advice since it now meant I actually had something in my actual life that related to an episode of Friends. Oh, the horror. The horror.

    --Poppa Large

    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    The Lessons*

    *This and the next few postings originally were published through MetroDad, when I was asked to guest-blog in mid-March '05. I never intended to daddy-blog fulltime myself but with enough encouragement and the realization that it might help with my adjustment to becoming a Stay At Home Dad (SAHD), I decided to jump in and see how the water felt. Thanks again to MetroDad for helping me get my start.

    My vitals: 30-something, Chinese American. My partner "Samantha" is also Asian, though not Chinese, thereby making our newborn daughter "L" a mixed-intra-Asian baby (now six weeks old), and therefore, of the cutest genetic stock possible. At least we think so.

    My perspective: Unlike MetroDad's bright and smiling perspective on fatherhood, Poppa Large is more of the "parenthood is kicking our goddamn ass" variety.

    I'll be upfront - I'm bitter at all my friends with kids who didn't adequately warn me or Sam about how hard parenthood would be. We always got the, "oh yeah, it's hard but you'll love it" line, which is usually said with the air of casualness one might apply to say, French cooking. We soon learned however - raising a newborn was not quite like making coq a vin, though in both cases, copious amounts of wine can help make the process go better.

    It's my theory that newborns give off a slow-acting phermone that corrodes the part of the brain that normally stores traumatic memories such as labor and/or new parenthood. As a result, people quickly forget the difficulty of it all and are pre-programmed to tell other prospective parents that, "oh yeah, it's hard but you'll love it." It's designed to ensure the future of the species because frankly, if the truth came out, the rate of human reproduction could plummet to extinction-level event status.

    In dwelling with my innumerable thoughts about parenthood, especially for first timers like Sam and I, it quickly dawned on me that there are at least three important lessons all prospective and new parents should learn. They are:

    LESSON ONE: Every parent thinks they're an expert on parenting.

    It doesn't matter if they have a two day old newborn or enough progeny to field a baseball team - parents think they know everyting about parenting simply because they've gone through it.

    On one hand, I can appreciate where this logic originates from. Having a kid is a pretty big friggin' deal and like living through war, a serious illness or a visit from the in-laws, once you've survived the experience, it's impossible not to feel like you've gained some Important Insight. However, just beacuse you know how to change the oil in your car and replace a flat tire doesn't make you a mechanic. Flying on a plane doesn't make you a capable pilot.

    Yet, ask any parent about "the best [fill in baby-related item]" and suddenly, people turn into Consumer Reports. Ask them their philosophy on parenting and they speak with the authority of Dr. Sears/Spock/Dre, et. al. In other words, parenthood turns formerly humble and unassuming people and instantly transforms them into mildly pretentious know-it-alls. (Like me).

    LESSON TWO: Avoid all advice other parents give you. Including mine.*

    *most of it anyways

    LESSON THREE: If you're desparate enough to take any of the advice thrown at you (and believe me, you'll be desparate enough), whatever you do, DO NOT disregard CFS.

    CFS = Common Fucking Sense.

    Most of us in America didn't grow up in social environments where child-rearing was a communal project. If you're lucky, maybe you had much younger siblings that you remembered helping to take care of, but for many others, parenthood is terra incognito. This is why the baby advice industry is a multi-billion dollar industry: it's all designed to play on the anxieties of Paranoid, Inexperienced Parents (PIPs) who are convinced that unless they buy the right videos, books, toys, clothes, and sippy cups, their children are doomed to end up as teenage hustlers with a heroin habit or even worse: Republican.

    Most new parents really only need a modicrum of basic parenting lessons, i.e. changing a soiled diaper = good. Asbestos teddy bears = bad.) The rest you can figure out with a healthy dose of CFS. However, most new PIPs are so anxious about doing something wrong, they turn off their CFS and instead, try to follow through on well-intentioned advice that leads them down the short road to hell.

    Case in point: when Samantha and I gave birth to L, one of the nurses we saw in the first two days told us, "oh, make sure you burp her for at least 15-20 minutes to get all the gas out."

    Think about that: do burping a baby for TWENTY MINUTES after each feeding make CFS?

    No. Hell. No.

    Burping is designed to get any gas bubbles out of the baby's system right after feeding and especially for newborns, burping helps them go to sleep since they're more comfortable once they've cleared an offending belch/fart out of their system. However, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't feel very drowsy if I had someone 20x my size whacking me on the back for TWENTY MINUTES.

    But sure enough, as a pair of PIPs, we trotted home with L and after every feeding, we'd start playing Whack-a-Mole on her back as if we had a roll of quarters to burn. Sam would actually get angry with me if I only burped L for, say, five minutes. She'd say, "you need to do it for at least another ten minutes!" with a tone of such disapproval, you'd think I had been teaching L how to freebase cocaine.

    Thank god another health professional told us, a few days later, that the initial advice we were given was ridiculous. Now, we burp for, at most, a few minutes and L seems none the worse for it.

    Believe me, the opportunities to throw CFS out the window are vast and numerous, especially when you've read the umpteenth book on parenting (that, of course, your friends and family all bought you) or spoken to yet another nurse or doctor giving you contradictory advice. It's a wonder that PIPs aren't all on Paxil during the first month.

    Just remember: parenthood - like pimpin' - ain't easy. If you're a PIP try to keep your wits about you as much as possible and never lose sight of CFS. And stop taking advice from other parents.

    Including me.

    --Poppa Large