Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Baby Shower: A Little Cutie Is On the Way!

I feel so lucky to have gotten two baby showers (one virtual for folks back home and one in person here in South Korea) before our little one arrives in just a few short weeks! I was impressed with the organizers (my sister for the first one and a team of four friends N, L, S, and T for the second) for their creativity, willingness to work with my pandemic precautions, and resourcefulness at finding gender-neutral invitations, games, etc! (The baby industry is so gendered that even putting together a gender-neutral registry was tough.)

My first shower was held on Zoom, and I had so much fun I completely forgot to grab a screenshot. It was a great mix of friends from different parts of my life as well as family, and we played a baby trivia Jeopardy game where let's just say there was a huge range in both questions and the familiarity of the attendees with the answers.

My second shower kept getting postponed due to waves of COVID-19 in Korea, but my friend N eventually pointed out that any further delay probably meant I wouldn't have one before the baby arrived. So we whipped out our hand sanitizer and masks and my wonderful friends organized an outdoor, socially distanced baby shower so I wouldn't miss out on that experience. It had an adorable "cutie" orange/tangerine theme, and from the moment I walked into the setup I felt so special. (Yes, I even reused my maternity photo shoot flower crown. When else am I going to wear it?)

We chatted, enjoyed delicious food and drinks, played baby shower games, decorated onesies, and opened presents. There was even a decorative #Sbitiny sign L made that matched the theme that people could sign like a guest book. Given the long shipping time between when someone orders off of our U.S.-based registry and when the products arrive in Korea, I thought I wouldn't be able to do presents at all but M got pictures of the items that were still on the way and sent them to N so she could print them out and put them in wrapped boxes. It was so thoughtful.

Even though it was a women-only baby shower, several of the male significant others of the party planners came to help set up and clean up, as well. It felt like a team effort to celebrate me, the baby, and the excitement of our growing family. We are so fortunate to have family and friends who love us enough to do something like this for us. Especially when you're preparing to give birth and navigate becoming a parent far from home, it makes all the difference.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Happy International Women's Day!

Happy International Women's Day (IWD)! Occuring on March 8 every year, IWD "is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality. IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific."

I got the best IWD gift ever in the mail today with the arrival of my contributor's copy of Exponent II, one of the publications I mentioned in a previous post! It's so amazing to see my historical fiction short story in print in a Mormon feminist publication I respect so much. If you like stories about polygamy and free will and overcoming adversity, you'll love my piece (called "Elect Lady"), featured as the first story in the magazine.

If you're interested in reading my story, you'll have to buy a copy of the print magazine (which you can do from the Exponent II website) or a digital subscription. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to enjoying all of the essays, stories, poetry, and art in my own copy. It'll hold a special place in my heart as my first-ever paid fiction publication in print.

If you need suggestions for how to commemorate IWD, I highly recommend listening to the Our Dirty Laundry podcast to learn about some of the pitfalls of white feminism in U.S. history to get a fuller picture, purchasing a book by a woman (one I loved and just read is Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto, which had me laughing harder than any book in recent memory), or watching a show or movie that highlights the experience of women (I'm currently on a nostalgic binge of Sister, Sister on Netflix). Or just recognize the amazing contributions of the women in your life - we all have women without whom we wouldn't be where we are today. How are you celebrating today?

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

United with Ukraine: A Few Thoughts

The world, and especially the Western world, has turned all eyes on Ukraine. The United States stands united with Ukraine against Russia's aggression. If you're just catching up to the historical context, you can see a timeline put together by the Department of State's Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. For updates on the developing situation and information on what the U.S. government is doing, the Department of State has also set up a United with Ukraine webpage. In addition, the U.S. Agency for International Devlopment (USAID) Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) has compiled a list of reputable, vetted, well-established relief organizations that are accepting donations to assist on the ground.

Another thing all of us can do is try to stop the spread of disinformation and misinformation about this (and any) conflict. Sharing propaganda can advance an agenda you don't agree with, and it incentivizes unreliable information sources to keep churning out content and getting clicks. CBC News has a great article with expert tips on how to avoid spreading misinformation about Ukraine. If you accidentally share something you later find out is untrue, it's always worth correcting the record. But even better is to prevent false information's spread in the first place. (If you're interested in this topic, see my previous blog post about spotting fake news.)

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the discriminatory tone of multiple instances of Western media coverage and analysis of Ukraine. I can't count the number of news outlets, politicians, and even personal friends who have subconsciously made racist and Islamophobic comments. The Washington Post documented this phenomenon in reporting and commentary. In my view, we should applaud efforts to accept refugees from Ukraine but demand better for all refugees worldwide - not just the ones who are "similar to" or "look like" those with the most means to help.

I've heard from so many people I love that they can't stop doomscrolling and that they feel helpless. I don't know what the right balance is for anyone else, but I for one appreciate the chance an increasingly globalized world gives us to know (and therefore take action) regarding others' suffering even when they're far away. It has been heartening to see the Americans, Koreans, and other free people around us stand united with Ukraine and seek opportunities to help others they will probably never meet or know. If you have financial means, donate. If you have time, write to your representatives and advocate for the policies you believe in, including foreign policies. If you have an audience or a community, encourage them to care, contribute how they can, and not give in to despair. Especially in the midst of tragedy and trauma and war and violence, there is always work to be done. Let's do our part.