31 January 2007


This has been on my mind for a while.

I am a confident woman. I wasn't a confident girl. Something happened to me, somewhere between 7 and 13, that stole away my confidence, and I was a very shy teen. I wanted to not be shy, so I ran away to Europe, and lived for a year in Sweden.

When I got to Sweden, I decided that I was done, DONE, with being the nice shy girl in the corner, and I acted out in various ways, drinking, being a brat, until I started to slowly get more confident. I found that I liked being the center of attention, and some of the things I did to get that spotlight were downright dumb, but fun. I don't recommend the path that I took, but it worked for me.

I don't know what it was that stole my thunder. I can't point to one specific traumatic incident, one thing that worked against me. It was many; and I'd have a rather difficult time articulating them. (You understand, of course, that I fully intend to try to articulate them, right?)

One was definitely that I never felt pretty. I learned that people who started conversations with me by telling me how beautiful I was often wanted something, or wanted me to do something that I didn't want to do. So I mis-trusted anyone (with the exception of my parents, who I always thought were kind of obligated to tell me that I was pretty) that told me I was pretty. Awkward, ungainly, clumsy, dull, and mousy are all words I would have used to describe myself, had you asked me to, from the time I was probably 10 until I was around 20 or so.

I am a beautiful woman, inside and out, but I didn't believe that at all until about 9 or 10 years ago. In the final analysis, that's all that matters, what I thought, not what anyone else thought. The very idea of being a confident woman was pretty frightening to me. Hell, if you're an assertive woman, you're pretty likely to be tagged as a bitch at some point in your life. So if you think you're pretty, what name are they going to call you? Sure, there are worse words than bitch out there, but do you want to be called them on a regular basis? So the idea that I'm nothing and nobody means that I'm less likely to be harassed. Great line of reasoning, yes?

Another thing that made me less confident would be the secondary school I attended. There were a lot of really rich kids, and we weren't rich, so I felt diminished, somehow, by the signs of wealth and power around me. Not that I wasn't a happy kid, I was. I just hated high school, didn't everyone? I felt left out back then, and powerless, and that was a confidence sapper.

And then there was the bullying. Let's call a spade a spade and be done with it. There were a couple of bullies that I went to school with, but one in particular sticks out in my memory. You know how your mom always told you that the boy who teased you secretly liked you? Yeah, that's a lie. Sorry, but it just isn't true. There was a guy that just made my school life hell from about 5th grade until I left the school system in 10th grade. I don't know what happened to him after high school, but whatever circle of hell he inhabits these days, I hope it is a particularly nasty one. Forgive and forget? Me? Well, maybe not so much.

The last reason is really difficult to put into words, but I think it is something that many women struggle with. If you've ever heard the toast at a wedding about "Enough", 'May you have enough hope to keep you happy', et cetera, et cetera, then you will understand when I say that I never felt that I was enough. Good enough, smart enough, funny enough, pretty enough... so I embarked on a journey to change lots of things, trying to be enough. Maybe the problem was that I wasn't blonde...so I dyed my hair. Maybe it was that I wasn't smart; no, I always knew I was really intelligent and was never ashamed of it, so I tried not showing that I was smart, trying to dumb myself down a bit. None of that worked.

If I could go back and talk to my 15-year old self, I would tell her a few things. One, you're never going to use calculus, so don't worry so much about your grade in that class. No one cares what your high school GPA was ten years after high school, hell, five years after high school no one cares. Next, be confident. Be forceful. Worry less about other people's opinions. A lot less. Don't listen to anyone who tells you that 'you can't do that' because you can. I promise. This is going to be controversial, but I'd also tell her to get over herself and sleep with more people. I wouldn't encourage her to be a slut, or hyper-promiscuous, but I would encourage her to be a bit more....free-spirited. And I'd also tell her that life gets better. So much better. I promise.

Listening to: iPod random shuffle...Michelle Branch, U2, Powderfinger, Nickel Creek, Tori Amos

29 January 2007


DH and I and another couple went t'up North last weekend. We went to Niagara-on-the-Lake, there was an Ice Wine Festival going on. If you've never had Ice Wine, well, you're missing out. Here's a definition for more information than you ever really needed about Ice Wine.

We visited seven, yes seven wineries in the 20 hours we were there. It was cold, but we were drinking lots, so it balances, yes? Best presentation of the ice wine had to be at Stratus Winery, where they gave us three things to taste with the wine, a slice of orange, blue cheese, and poached pears, with a honey glaze. It was really neat to see how the taste of the wine changed as you ate each thing. I'm not a fan of blue cheese, never have been, but the blue with the ice wine was wonderful. Best experience was at Konzelmann Winery, where we tasted probably 10 different wines, and the woman who waited on us was so much fun. Other favorites were Inniskillin, Reif, and Jackson-Triggs. We discovered a whole new set of favorites, DH particularly liked the Gamay Noir from Inniskillin. I found a Pinot Grigio and a Chard that I liked enough to bring home. We also bought 4 bottles of ice wine, good, good, good stuff.

We had no trouble at the border, which was nice. Homeland Security staffs the checkpoints now, but I would be astonished if they're not sub-contrators. The guy took our passports and looked at them, but no stamp. He walked around the car and peeked in the windows and waved us through.

Our drive home was eventful....we hit a major snowstorm outside of Buffalo, NY, and what should have taken us about 3 hours instead took six. For a while, really slow going, and you couldn't see the road. A little scary.

Finally, I've rediscovered a band that my sister introduced me to a few years back on iTunes, Red Wanting Blue. I've still got some issues with iTunes, haven't figured it all out just yet, but I'm so digging it. I want to change the order of some of the songs in a playlist that I created and I can't figure out how to do that, so that's annoying, but I also bought a season pass to a TV show that I like, and every time I log in, it checks to see if there are any new episodes. So if I miss one on TV, then I will have it automatically in iTunes. That's pretty darn cool. I have to watch the episodes on the computer b/c my iPod doesn't do video, but that's fine with me. I am rediscovering so many bands that I had not forgotten about, exactly, but stopped listening to. Folks like The Violent Femmes, the Beastie Boys, Squeeze....I find that I'm a happier person when surrounded by music that I love.

When I eventually feel like it, I'm going to get back to politicking, there was an anti-war protest in Washington DC this past weekend that I'd like to comment on, and a few other things going on that need addressed, but I'm really busy working on the book and trying to finish one baby blanket and start another, so it isn't politics as usual around here. Maybe later this week.

Listening to: Audition, Red Wanting Blue

23 January 2007

The idea of race

Bear with me, this will end up being a bit jumbled.

I was listening to the Beeb this morning, my local NPR affiliate broadcasts World Service at 5 am and 7pm weekdays. (OT for a second, I love the Beeb. Love, love, love. Give me a solid English accent to deliver any form of news, good or bad, any day.) Anyway, they did a story this morning about Turkey, and how it is illegal in Turkey to insult Turkishness, the symbols of the realm, or the Turkish race. Then, the very next story was about the public relations nightmare that the United States finds itself mired in, the diminished standings that the US has worldwide. They were talking to some PR fella, a Brit, about how he would go about correcting the image that 'Merica has courtesy of President Idiot. That struck me as funny, them asking the opinion of a PR firm in England rather than a PR firm in the US, but then I checked my humor when I realized that most 'Mericans couldn't or wouldn't be able to admit that there's a problem.

The two reports, back to back, with the PR guy talking about Americans and the report about it being a crime to insult Turkishness made me think long and hard about race, if only for a minute or two. Here in the US, we think of race pretty clearly as a black vs white issue most of the time, in fact, the words "race relations" used in any context usually is code for "there's a bit of a problem between a black person and a white person". What I got to wondering was if Americans could be considered a race. I don't think so....but it has me thinking again about what it means to be an American.

And here is the best answer I've been able to come up with. Wrapped in a neat little package, showing two sides of one American coin; today, the Motion Picture Academy announced the Oscar nominations in Los Angeles, California. And today, W gives the annual State of the Union address, as required by the Constitution. If those two things don't represent some of the basic schizophrenia that it takes to keep pace with current events in this country, I dunno what does.

In other news; lab results came back today for the blood work I had done last week. No Type 2 Diabetes, no thyroid problems, NO PCOS, no apparent reason why my weight loss is moving slow. Also in the good news column, my cholesterol is way, way, way down, everything else is within normal limits.

Listening to: DMB, Stand Up, Stolen Away at 55th & 3rd

19 January 2007


So yes, I went to see the doctor today. After listening to me list my various complaints (which are well documented here) about my lack of weight loss, he asked me, "Have you ever been tested for PCOS?" Now, I know that PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and I know that it is related to infertility, but beyond that, I don't know anything about it. We talked family history for a while, and he asked if anyone in the family has PCOS. Not that I'm aware of. One of the things that I like about this particular doctor, (besides the fact that he's easy on the eyes and I genuinely like the guy) is that when you are in one of his exam rooms, you have his complete attention, for however long it takes to solve the problem that you've come to see him for. I never feel that he's in a hurry to get to his next patient. He answers as many questions as I want to ask, he is polite, but is also blunt when that's needed. I told him that I think perhaps the problem with the lack of weight loss is the diabetes that runs in my family might be rearing its ugly head, or that I might have a thyroid problem. He thinks that I might have PCOS. He agreed to run blood work to test for diabetes and thyroid trouble, and run cholesterol levels as I asked, but he's also going to check hormone levels in an attempt to check for PCOS.

This evening, as I sat down to work on the book, I googled PCOS, just out of idle curiosity. There's a government website that lists symptoms, and there's Web MD. When I read through the symptoms, I have a lot of them. I'm certainly not going to list the ones I have here, that is way, waaayy, waaaaaayyyy TMI. Suffice to say that looking at the symptoms has frightened me.

There is no cure for PCOS, and very little treatment. Control your weight (hello, I'm trying), eat healthy, exercise. Meds include The Pill (which I am off of right now), diabetes medication, fertility drugs. Untreated, it can cause infertility, diabetes, and heart trouble.

Am I being a drama queen? Most likely. Without the family history, and the typical facial features of most women with PCOS, I probably don't have it, but I'm still frightened. I won't have the blood work results back until probably Tuesday next week, so obsessing over it isn't going to do me a damn bit of good.

Course that won't stop me.

16 January 2007

Hate to admit it...

but Dad was right. Remember a few weeks ago when I said that I love telling people 'I told you so'? I do, but I hate to admit when someone else is right. When I was a kid, and not feeling so hot, and trying to stay home from school, he would tell me that if I would get up and get moving, I would feel better. I never believed him, ever. I usually got my way, staying home, not paying much attention to him.

However, this morning, I got up and was feeling totally shitty, I think last night's dinner just didn't sit well. I got out of bed and went to the gym, thinking the whole way there that I might toss my cookies. I did my 40 minutes of the interval program on the elliptical, 5 minutes of cool-down, my usual stretching routine, and left the gym feeling....better. Not great, you understand, but better.

I'm down ten pounds since I started working out six days a week, at least 30 minutes a day. While I am thrilled that I managed to not gain any weight over the holidays, that 10 pounds has not made a bit of difference in the way my clothes fit, nor am I sleeping better. My asthma is much improved, progress, but I feel like I should be down about 15 pounds or more. So I've scheduled an appointment with Dr. Hottie to have blood work done, to see if I am diabetic or I have thyroid problems, because I don't know any other reason why the weight isn't coming off. So frustrating!

15 January 2007

Literary (blonde) Ambitions

I've decided to write a book. God, it took me almost ten minutes to type that sentence. Why? Well, saying it out loud seems so.....so....real.

Writing for Well Fed last year made me realize that yes, I can write, write decently, clearly, and I enjoy it a whole lot. I thought, when I started writing for Well Fed, that writing non-fiction would be all the further I'd ever take it, but all of a sudden it seems important to me to write down some of the stories that I make up all the time. I've an overactive imagination, always have, and I have I think a knack for telling a story. Often, when I'm people watching, I'll make up stories about the people I see, because it is fun. And I think imagination is like muscle tissue; use it or lose it.

The imagination has gotten me into trouble a time or two....most recently, I got the first season of Supernatural for Christmas, and watched it in about 3 days. Some of the TV show is scary, but mostly who doesn't want to watch those two hot boys? Mmmmmmmmmmmm. But I digress. One of the episodes about a soul-sucking witch has me wanting to leave the lights on at night, actually each episode has a moment or two that scares me. I don't usually watch horror movies because they scare me too much, nor do I read many things like Stephen King or Robin Cook because they scare the bejeeebus out of me. Dean Koontz's "House of Thunder" scared me so badly that I slept with the lights on for six months, and while it wasn't the last thing I've read of his, I did think it was the most terrifying.

What I'm writing may not ever be published; hell, who knows at this point if I'll even be able to finish it. At the moment I'm calling it chick lit, but it may evolve into something with a paranormal bent because I like that kind of thing. But the writing is a great release, and I can't tell you how much fun I've been having with it. Is it even publishable? Who knows. Maybe it is another dumb blonde idea of mine; and perhaps this is just something for me to do, but I've written about 30 pages so far and have been having a blast doing it. You never know!

10 January 2007


That pretty well describes how I felt this morning, listening to NPR's Morning Edition on my way back home from the gym and I heard this story. Seems that I have yet another reason to shout from the rooftops, standing on my soapbox.

The report is about a new trend for companies in America to hire corporate chaplains. I can't tell you how upset this makes me, both because of the apparent trend to have workplaces be more religious, and because of the way the story was reported. The reporter's tone bothered me, but the chaplain(s) that she interviewed bothered me even more. The way they talked about the work that they do, the smug surety in their voices....ugh. The longer I listened, the more I was disgusted.

When John Ashcroft was US Attorney General, there were reports about him starting each day with a "prayer meeting" in his office. I remember thinking at the time that if you were on his staff and didn't participate, you just might be left out of the leadership fast track, because you weren't in the club. Having chaplains on the factory floor in more and more US factories seems to me that it gives your co-workers a chance to scope out your religious beliefs or lack thereof, which is really bothersome to me. Smacks of a police state. I don't ever want to work somewhere that my religion or faith comes into question.

I was raised Catholic, and I was taught that all problems that we face, from depression to marital troubles, can be helped by your local parish priest. Obviously, if you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I've managed to overcome that upbringing. I do not believe that ANY cleric, be they Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, Jewish, whatever, have the training to conduct therapy in any form. Just no.

I'm also horrified by the President's hogging most of the TV channels this evening. Where on earth does he think that we're going to get the money for more troops, and an escalation, which has worked SOOOOOO well to date? What an idiot.

06 January 2007


As usual, I'm late to the party, but I can't resist commenting about this and following the instructions of Zoe, who has a very fun and award-winning blog called My Boyfriend is a Twat. What's not to like there? Anyway, the Girl With a One-Track Mind was "outed" by Sunday Times news editor Nicholas Hellen. Read the details of why the guy is a complete bastard here. His e-mail address is nicholas.hellen@sunday-times.co.uk. Do send him a nice message and let him know what you think about him vindictively threatening Girl; his e-mail to her was of the "do what we want you to or we'll print your mother's name, your name and address and other information about you in our big newspaper" variety. Blackmail, pure and simple. Bastard.

This whole episode frightens me lots and lots and lots, as I too am an anonymous blogger. Lucy Arin isn't my real name, and I'm always purposefully vague about where exactly I live. Sure, several people in my life know that I blog and where I blog, including most of the people that I write about; my hubby knows about my blog, as do my sisters and parents. None of them read it with any regularity, but it isn't them that I worry about. Here's what worries me: my employer is unaware, as are the civic organizations that I belong to, of my abortion-rights stance, my lack of religious faith (a cardinal sin here in the red states), and my extreme dislike of the current administration in Washington. I firmly believe that I am exercising my right to freedom of speech here on my blog, plus it is a fine place to dump all the things that are running around in my head. I chose a pen name because I like the freedom that affords me, as well as the fact that my real last name is pretty distinctive, and it would be very easy for some psychopath stalker to track me down with just that small bit of information, my real name. This Nicholas Hellen fella is a right twat. Privacy isn't among the basic human rights that people talk about in the hushed tones reserved for the freedoms of speech, religion, and assembly that most democratic nations afford their citizens, but it is my considered opinion that it ought to be.

04 January 2007

Bought into the hype

I got an iPod nano for Christmas. I told DH for about 2 years that yes, I'd like to have one, but only if it didn't cost $300. I don't like to admit to my own materialism, so it pains me a bit to admit this, but I have hundreds of CDs. I spent several hours on New Year's Day loading music into iTunes (which I have yet to figure out...damn confusing, that program is) and there are over 500 songs stored on the nano, with another approx 1.5 gigs of space left for still more music, and perhaps another 50 or so CDs that I already own that I want to add, plus about 70 albums that I don't own that I'd like to add. Old stuff, new stuff, things I know I can borrow/steal from friends and other stuff I will have to break down and actually buy in the iTunes store, which I have not even begun to explore yet. I'm having enough trouble with iTunes and loading actual CDs that I purchased, without getting into things to download. I won't get into my confusion with iTunes here, but I do have one question for the interweb....what happens when you have no more space on your iPod but you continue to load music into iTunes? How does iTunes decide what does and does not get sync-d to the iPod?

The iPod makes me insanely happy. I put most of the Swedish music I own on it, plus a few embarrassing things from the late 80s/early 90s that I'm cringing over, but each song that plays when I set it to random shuffle makes me smile.

Worst cringe-worthy disc I loaded into iTunes? Gotta be Nelson, "After The Rain", which I freely admit is terrible, awful, horrible music, but makes me laugh every time I hear it and so can not be all bad. When I was 16, my friend Val met them, and we played their cassette over and over until it wore out. DH actually bought the music on CD, so I guess that means we've both got bad taste in music from time to time. Every time I hear the opening strains of "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection", I'm taken back to those days of blasting music on purpose to irritate our parents, uncontrollable giggling, obsessing over dumb boys, and the excessive amounts of heavy metal I listened to until I damaged my hearing. Thankfully, I no longer own the more deafness-inducing things like Metallica, Ratt, Megadeath, Anthrax, and shudder, shudder, Poison. Strangely, iTunes classifies Nelson as "Metal" along with Def Leppard and Nickelback. WTF is up with that?

Perhaps the next most embarrassing thing I loaded on the iPod is Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot-Dog Flavored Water" which is also abysmal, but I like to run to "Rollin" and "Livin It Up".

I am worried about doing further damage to my hearing with this wonderful new toy. I have caught myself turning it up while at the gym to block out super-annoying conversations taking place around me, and when I check the volume, I'm surprised at how high it is. I set the max volume setting yesterday but found myself disabling it in the gym this morning because I couldn't hear what was playing.

I have to admit to indulging my OCD as well...it seemed to me that loading music on to iTunes was a great opportunity to go through all of the CDs we own and find the cases that don't have discs, the discs that don't have cases, to put away the discs that had been stacked up when we removed them from the player and never returned to proper cases, and alphabetize the whole collection.

I discovered last night as I was alphabetizing that DH owns more than 35 Jimmy Buffett CDs. Did you know that Jimmy had released more than 30 CDs? I think to be precise that DH owns 39 or 40 Buffett discs, including imports and some awful stuff he did in Nashville in the 70s. I've chosen to only load very selected amounts of Buffet, things that I find very soothing.

I've written before about the strangeness of our shared music collection....Ani DiFranco next to Journey next to Rascal Flats next to Tori Amos and Dave Matthews band. During our dating years when we didn't live together, we would each buy a copy of a disc we liked and as a result we have two copies of several things....a Pittsburgh guitarist named Tony Janflone, a pop star who never really took off, Amanda Marshall, Harry Connick Jr.'s 25, and Buffett's Banana Wind. I'm sure there are a few that I've forgotten, but I'm not sure what to do with the duplicates. Leave them in the collection and when I want a CD in the car's CD changer then I still have one? Get rid of them for store credit at a local used music store or sell on eBay?

Another facet of my OCD is that I will get a song stuck in my head that I want stuck in my head (meaning I like the song) and I will listen to it over and over and over until some mysterious thing makes me move on to something else. Currently it is the Barenaked Ladies "Wind it Up" off the the Are Me CD, which was a birthday present. The song is much better than another pop song that's all over the radio (I'm sure you've heard it) with the same name. I've known about the Ladies for a while, but obsessively listening to "Wind it Up" on the iPod reminds me that they're really, really clever songwriters. Hearts on fire you'll learn/end up with heartburn...Yes I'm out of line/but you're out of your mind. Those are just two lines that I think are funny, but the whole album is full of little one liners that you might not hear the first or second time through but might make you burst out laughing at inappropriate times. Not that that has happened to me, no. "Wind it Up" is about a messy breakup, but besides being pretty darn clever is really a fantastic rock song.

I've never thought about what makes me listen to something obsessively and then stop listening or move on to something else, but it happens all the time. I'll even hear snippets of whatever my current obsession is when I wake up in the middle of the night. Most of the time that doesn't bug me much, when I'm able to go back to sleep. Seems, however, that the older I get, the crazier I get, and that is perhaps not such a good thing. :-) I think the fact that I am able to worry about being nuts is a good sign....if I was truly a nut, I wouldn't be worried about it, right? Right?!?

MADAME Speaker!!

The FIRST thing that I've got to say about this is ABOUT FUCKING TIME! England, India, even Pakistan have had female leaders, but this is the first time that the US has had such a visible female leader. I'm really excited to see what direction she will take the Congress in, and 2007 should prove to be an extremely exciting year politically.

Having a female Speaker of the House in America (yay, finally!) leads me to think about the concept of citizenship. I've never been able to stand up proudly and say, "I'm an American." The reasons for that are complicated, but primarily because the image I have in my head of myself is not at all reconcilable with the mental image I have of the 'ugly American' that I saw so much of when I lived in Europe. That person isn't me; therefore I don't feel like the label of American citzen "fits" me. So many things make me embarrassed about my citizenship; but the fact that the House of Representatives have appointed a woman as their leader makes me proud to call this country my home.

Listening to NPR on the way home I heard Robert Segall interview now Minority Leader John Boehner who said something incredibly stupid. They were talking about the change in leadership, and Boehner said that the Republicans "no longer have the burden of government." D'ya think his constiutents might disagree with him in the slightest? I think, and this is just conjecture here, but I think that they elected him to govern, not to sit in Washington with his thumb up his ass.

03 January 2007

tBHQ, gross!

I spent some time last year writing for a website called FitFare, part of the Well Fed Network. I stopped doing it because I just didn't have the time to work for a living, write on the side, keep up with the stuff I need to do at home, and keep in touch with friends and family. I loved the writing, but the deadlines just became too much. Anyway. I still read the site and the other day there was an article about a food additive called tBHQ and I am completely grossed out.

Check out the article on FitFare here, for more background info, but briefly, it is a food additive that manufacturers are using to replace the bad trans fats; but here's the gross....tBHQ is a petroleum derivative. Yuk! Many pre-packaged food items that have the "No Trans-Fat" screaming label have tBHQ in them. I don't use a lot of pre-packaged stuff (Hamburger Helper and the like), but I do admit to liking Zatarain's jambalaya rice as a quick-fix meal from time to time. So after I read the article the other night, I was hungry and I headed to the kitchen to make myself something to eat, and I spotted the box of jambalaya. I started to make it, and then read the label as I was waiting for the water to boil and my jambalaya mix has this petroleum additive in it! Apparently, this stuff is not only legal, but sold as an anti-oxidant and is sometimes not listed on the ingredients list but somewhere else on the label in such a manner that you might not notice, as in "tBHQ added as a preservative" in tiny print. That's how it was on my jambalaya mix, small, at the end of the ingredients list. Icky. So I won't be buying that anymore.