31 March 2007

Love Your Mother (Earth, that is.)

The last vestiges of snow have finally disappeared into the March sunlight, and although Earth Day is nearly a month away, I want to talk today about some environmental issues. Now that the snow is no longer covering the earth like a downy white blanket, I see her begin to awaken and renew herself.

In places.

Because in other places, those huge snowbanks were covering mounds and mounds of TRASH. Fast food bags and wrappers, plastic water bottles, plastic grocery and big box retailer bags, stuff that probably could be recycled and was just instead carelessly tossed out of the window of a speeding SUV.

We have just the one planet, folks. That's it. The dreams of sci-fi writers everywhere have yet to come to fruition, and we're not actively occupying space nor seeking new planets to explore. We just don't have the capability, and I'd argue that until we get this planet back into some decent shape, we've got no business screwing up another one.

I'm going to quote song lyrics again, in fact lyrics that I've quoted before, because they say so eloquently what I'd like to express. This is from Dave Matthews Band's One Sweet World, and is the opening verse.

Nine planets around the sun
Only one does the sun embrace
Upon this watered world
So much we take for granted

Clean air. Clean water. So many other resources, natural gas, coal, oil, even things like phosphorus. There's not an endless supply. And we use them every day, never thinking about the impact that our own personal usage might have on the planet. It worries me a great deal.

The prevalence of the aforementioned SUVs makes me crazy. Because really? You NEED a V-8 engine with towing capability, Mr & Mrs Six Pack? What for? Yes, there are people that do need larger vehicles, I won't dispute that. But the rise in recent years of more and more people purchasing, oh, let's say HUMMERS for example? Is just a case of a deep seeded need to show off wealth, not because the behemoth is really a necessity.

My little piece of American suburban hell does not encourage recycling. By that I mean that the community does not force consumers to recycle, and does not actively insist on consumers participating in the process. Which also bothers me a great deal. Yes, the local trash haulers offer a recycling service, but to truly reduce your impact on the amount of trash dumped into local landfills, you must do some real, actual work yourself, and I don't just mean separating your trash. There are plenty of things that the recycler/waste hauler won't take, so you must transport this stuff yourself, which entails first finding out where it goes, who takes what, and how they prefer it packaged.

I must confess, that even tree-hugger me does not do nearly enough as she should, something my sisters both harass me about when they're 'home' in Ohio. I wish that I had a compost pile, but I do not, and in fact I think my neighbors in my planned community with its accompanying home owner's association might have something to say about it if I started a compost pile in my shared backyard. Then again, they might be all for it, but I doubt it.

I worry as well about the lack of funding for research into alternative fuels, the dearth of spending on wind or solar energy. I realize, however, that if I'm not willing to give up things like the electricity that runs this computer (power plants in Ohio are primarily coal-burning), then I'm doing even less than I think to help the earth.

Since we're about to turn over a new month, and I've always thought of spring as a time of renewal more than the turning over of the calendar in January every year, I'm going to make an April resolution, rather than a New Year's resolution. I resolve to work extra hard this month to reduce the amount of garbage that I produce, taking the time to rinse out the aluminum cans, plastic bottles, glass containers and really recycling this stuff rather than tossing it.

What else could you be doing to care for the earth?

30 March 2007

You Know...

that you're a hopeless addict of NPR when you continue to listen during the fund drives.
My local NPR affiliate is doing their spring fund raiser and oy. They interrupt the news, y'all! How dare they? Makes me nuts. But I continue to listen, even with all the filler they throw in during fund drives because I can't. turn. it. off.

that your sanity is slipping when you're seriously thinking about getting a tattoo.
My mother? Would kill me. My DH? Would probably not be impressed. I'm feeling like this is a further sign of my hold on sanity slipping because the last time I wanted a tat? I was 17. I told someone the other day, "I've always been precocious. Perhaps I'm doing a mid-life crisis a few years early?"

that you're getting OLD when you need your glasses on when you're on the computer; if you don't have them, you can't see the screen, so 'good idea'? Try necessary.
I need the glasses on the computer now. Sigh. I remember when my dad started to need glasses...he was 40. And it was for the newspaper, not the computer. He wears them all the time now, so I know that's coming for me. Can I just be 24 forever? Please?

that spring might actually be coming when you drive home from the gym at 8 pm and it is twilight, rather than full dark.
Initially, I was opposed to the moving of the time change. Because it just seemed stupid to me. But I forgot how much I like it when it doesn't get dark until nine or so.

that you spend way, way, way too much time on the forums when you realize that you've been posting messages for three hours without moving, but can't bring yourself to log off.
Seems like I think I'll 'miss' something if I sign off....

29 March 2007

Rosie and the Bush

I'm not sure why Fox News was talking about this yesterday, but while I was out to dinner with my fam, I saw snippets of this on the TV screens around the restaurant. I know, since it was Fox News, that they were glorifying the divine right of President Moron to do whatever the hell he wants, not about how awesome Rosie is, but I never heard the reportage.

Watch the vid for Rosie, who kicks ass!, talking about impeaching President Idiot.

Rosie: You ROCK! Thank you so much for saying exactly what I feel. "Enough, sir!"

I never watch the doofus, wait, strike that, leader of the free world who happens to be a moron on television if I can help it, since it reminds me too much of how a village in Texas is missing its idiot, so I missed the speech he gave that they're talking about on live television, which I assume was the State of the Union address. He was also on live TV yesterday, and I did watch that on YouTube. (You can too, in three parts or so, here is the first part.)

Who elected this buffoon? Can he really believe his own hype? Are three thousand lives not enough to 'win' a war that we shouldn't be involved in to begin with? And am I the only one who thinks the guy looks constipated when he speaks in public? Sorry. I know you wanted that mental image. I just call it like I see it.

The real question, though, is why aren't the American people calling for his impeachment? What ARE we waiting for? He's a LYING LIAR WHO LIES, and his lies have caused the deaths of THOUSANDS. Clinton, also a LYING LIAR WHO LIED, was simply a philandering spouse in comparison. Not that I condone cheating on your spouse, far from it, but the fact that he cheated on his wife was a private matter, not a matter of national security.

President Idiot, on the other side of the coin, has the blood of not only the young soldiers on his hands, but uncounted numbers of blameless, civilian Iraqis. No one even keeps stats on the Iraqi dead, and don't even get me started about the unfairness of that. Because even if you support the insanity that is our current presidential administration, you can't disagree with the fact that thousands of civilians in Iraq have died needlessly.

Is it any wonder, then, that our standings as a worldwide leader have diminished? That people the world over think less of America and Americans? Regular readers here know that my citizenship isn't something I've been proud of over the years, and this just makes being a card-carrying citizen of this country even more cringe-worthy. I empathize, deeply, with those in Arabic nations who brand Bush a war criminal. I wonder how he sleeps at night, with the blood of all those people, civilians, children on his hands.

Indeed, Rosie. "Enough, sir!" Preach it, sista!

28 March 2007

Random stupid thoughts with large amounts of bitching and gnashing of teeth

Things to bitch about
Have I mentioned that the CW television network is killing me by having another Supernatural hiatus until April 19th? Really, CW, you're killing me. The withdrawal may, indeed, be the death of me.

I feel fat.

My job sucks.

I miss my sisters.

I'm out of inspiration and things to post about, too lazy today to even check the news wires for ideas.

When did MTV stop playing MUSIC VIDEOS and instead start playing only really lame reality shows?

Things that are making me laugh

The entire Television Without Pity website. Reviews of TV shows that I don't even watch (and the one that I do) make me laugh out loud when remembered at inappropriate moments. And not that I need another forum to be addicted to, but the forum on that site rocks too.

The tulips I planted last fall are sprouting. I have not the slightest green thumb, killing any plant under my care quickly and easily. But bulbs? Bulbs are the easiest thing going. Put them in the ground, and if the goddam deer don't eat the bulbs, in the spring you have pretty, pretty flowers.

A commercial for a vibrating razor. WTF, dude? Why would you want your razor to be a vibrator or your vibrator to be a razor? I'm confused.

27 March 2007

Not having had a religious experience, ever.

I think long and hard about these Tuesday Brain Dump posts, often writing them several days in advance of when they're posted, going back and revising, re-thinking, OK, really, obsessing over it. And I was initially going to write about obsession today, (not specifically my Jensen Ackles - Dean Winchester obsession) obsessions in general, with music, with an idea, with a movie that I'll watch over and over, a particular issue, you get the idea. The genesis of that comes from my sister giving me a stern talking-to whilst I was in New York about being insanely hooked on a fictional character. I needed that talk! And I think it was helpful. But then our conversation meandered from my insanity into religion, and that's a much better topic, having the potential for far more controversy.

Thesister identifies herself as an atheist. I identify as an agnostic. Not to split hairs, but there is a difference. Atheists do not believe in any god, any higher power, any spiritual being. At least, that's how thesister defines it. Agnostics, under my own personal definition, would like to believe that there IS some higher power. Cause it would be nice, wouldn't it? I see miracles in small things, a perfect blossom, a sunrise, a tree covered in snow after a heavy snowfall, and I'd like to believe that there's some higher power, some grand design, some thing beyond my ken that is a Creator. I'd like to believe. But I lost what little faith I had when my cousin died in 2005.

Before we get to that, let's talk about the way I was raised, and how that has an impact on who I am and what I believe today. The 'rents raised both sisters and I Catholic. I had no idea how controversial that was with my mother's family until very recently, when Mum informed me that my maternal grandparents had not come to my baptism. What?!? Why not?!? How on earth could you not come to a baby's baptism as a protest? Turns out that my maternal grandparents (who are both gone now, or believe me, I'd have a conversation with them about this, because I'd like to understand) were plenty pissed that mum decided to baptize me Catholic. When mum and I talked about this, I was stunned, because I remember them coming to both thesister and babysis's baptisms. "Guess they got over it by then," Mum told me. Huh.

We went to church sporadically while I was growing up, but I went to CCD every Wednesday (while school was in session) from first grade all the way through eighth grade. CCD stands for Confraternity of Catholic Doctrine, and was a roughly hour-long weekly religion class for Catholic kids who weren't (heaven forbid) going to Catholic school. Thank whatever powers that be that the 'rents DIDN'T send us to Catholic school...CCD was bad enough. I was taught in CCD classes that Catholicism is the only true Christian faith. (Really. No, really. I promise.) CCD was taught by lay people, not the nuns, and each one of my CCD teachers had their own 'issues'. I'm not sure what the screening process the Church went through to find these people, but whatever it was, it wasn't enough. Cause some of them, as I recall, were downright nuts.

It was their difficult job, in one hour a week, to prepare all the good little boys and girls to participate in each of the seven holy sacraments that make up part of the Catholic faith that needed to be accomplished by all 'good' Catholics. In no real order, the Sacraments are Baptism, First Communion, Confession, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Last Rites. Baptism is usually done when someone is an infant, so that wasn't part of CCD. First Communion takes place around the second grade, so that is the first thing they force you to study and understand. Confession and Confirmation vary from Church to Church, but at my hometown parish, Confession was 4th grade and Confirmation was your junior year of high school. Holy Orders are only if you plan to become a priest or a nun, and I think Marriage and Last Rites are pretty self explanatory.

I drank the kool-aide, believing everything that they taught us, and was a good little Catholic girl until about high school. At that time, I joined a Christian youth group and stopped participating in any Catholic anything. The youth group was a non-denominational born-again, very conservative, brainwashing society. And I drank the kool-aide there too. I began listening to Christian Rock, jettisoning anything in my music collection (only for a brief while) that glorified sex and drinking. To this day, I have no idea why my parents allowed me to do this, join this youth group that wasn't Catholic, because I didn't join any church to substitute for the Catholic church. I did spend time only with other youth group members and spouted off biblical quotes to anyone who would listen. And I spent a lot of time reading the bible, going to Christian rock concerts, hanging with other members of the group. Maybe they had no idea how deep I was into the group, or thought it was better than me hanging with the local stoners, I don't know.

At any rate, after two years of this youth group, I left the US, my school, and my brainwashed society behind and went to Sweden to be an exchange student for a year. The only book in English I took with me? The NIV Bible. Once separated from the youth group, however, I began to question the ideals instilled in me by the group, and by the Church. My host family is also Catholic, but were sporadic churchgoers like my own family back home, and I found plenty of other things to take up my time in Sweden.

My Swedish friends viewed my religion as something kind of odd, a curiosity much like being double-jointed. I spent so much time in the first few months in Sweden trying to learn the language, and my religious fervor slipped away bit by bit until it was gone. And when I realized it was gone, not only did I not miss it, but I felt as if a burden had been lifted from my shoulders. When I thought about faith and religion through the rest of that year, which wasn't often, I began to form my own set of beliefs about what was right and what was wrong, my own code to live by.

In college, I took some Women's Studies classes, and began to understand that the Church was man's creation, and that while not perhaps evil, churches weren't perfect. And that maybe, just maybe, the men who were in charge didn't have the best interests of women at heart.

Time passes, as it always does, and when DH asked me to marry him, I decided that I wanted the whole princess wedding, big church, big dress, big party. For better or worse, Catholicism was still my faith, and as silly as this sounds, I've always felt that other Christian weddings aren't long enough. Because the Catholics? Can't do anything in less than an hour. So I got married in the Catholic church in a ceremony that was both beautiful and long, lasting an hour and 20 minutes. Years of indoctrination by the Church meant that I had no problem reciting all the prayers and responses in the appropriate places.

I still believed in God, although by then, I was having more and more problems believing everything that the Church taught, as the clergy sex scandals were beginning to come to light by that time. And I've NEVER gone along with the Church's stance on women since I was old enough to understand it. We can be nuns? But not preach? No birth control, of any kind? We have no say in how the Church is governed, run, operated? Are you fucking kidding me?

As the clergy sex scandals unfolded, I lost all respect that I'd ever had for the Catholic church, and began to think that maybe all organized religions were as fucked up as Catholicism is. Investigations into several other Christian faiths made me decide that organized religion was bunk, and I wanted nothing to do with it.

And then J died. Several of my high school classmates had passed away before my cousin did, so this wasn't my first experience with the death of a young person, but it was the first experience that I'd had that made me question absolutely everything I believed in.

If there is a higher power, what purpose did it serve for J to be taken from her kids? From the rest of her family, aunts, uncles, cousins, the rest of her community, neighbors, students, co-workers? A benevolent and omniscient being couldn't possibly think that it would be a good thing for her daughters to grow up without their mother. Can you imagine the pain that those children will feel every day for the rest of their lives? Unless you've lost a parent at a very young age, I don't think that you can. And J's husband, his pain in losing not just his partner, but also the mother of his children. A higher power wants us to feel this pain? I reject that.

As I've read more and more feminist philosophy, I now think that all organized religions are a way for the menfolk to control the women, to control what we think, what we do, who and how we are. My personal code, established first when I was 17, still serves me much better than any set of tenets laid down for me by the male Judea-Christian god.

As any code, law, or set of rules goes, it undergoes revisions from time to time. But it starts here: YOU ain't the boss of ME, baby!

Last full NY Day

Which was actually Sunday. We got up around 11, having been out far, far, far past my usual bedtime. Had brunch at a nice place named...wal, don't remember the name. I had a bloody mary for breakfast, if that tells you anything.

We walked through a huge portion of Brooklyn to return to thesister's place, having a wonderful chat along the way. Once 'home', I posted the entry that went live on Sunday, and then read for a while. Thesister and I baked some banana nut bread, cleaned her apartment, did laundry, went to the grocery store...all in all, the things working people end up doing on their days off.

We spent the whole time gabbing, gabbing, gabbing, catching up. Thesister is the only person on the planet who has read my book besides me, so we talked a bit about that as well. I am relieved to know that she thinks it is not rubbish. And that she wants to know what happens next. So I am encouraged enough to keep writing.

We watched "Thank You For Smoking" and started to watch "Hurly Burly", but I fell asleep before we were even a half hour into Hurly Burly.

Yesterday was the stress of trying to get to the airport without a car and with my miserable sense of direction, trying to figure out the trains and freaking out over making the plane or not making the plane. Which was delayed. I fell asleep on the flight, something I haven't been able to do for about 10 years, sleep on a plane.

By the time I got back to suburban hell, I was so exhausted that I couldn't think beyond putting my dirty clothes into the washer and lying down. Today is back to work...and my usual routine. I'd be lying if I said I was overjoyed about that. But it was nice to sleep in my own bed last night. Thanks to a combination of a nerve pill and my sleeping pill, I slept from about 5 pm to 9pm, then from about ten pm until 5 am, so I feel ready to face the day. Bring it on!

I'll write and post The Tuesday Brain Dump later today.

25 March 2007

Ow. Or, why I am only a social drinker.

Still in NYC with thesister and having a wonderful time. I just can't hang, and while I'd like to qualify that by saying that I can't hang like I used to, I never could.

We started last night by heading to an Indian food restaurant in Little India, and YIPEE for yummy curries. Thesister and her roomie shared a bottle of wine with dinner, but I stuck to water, knowing it was going to be a long night and not wanting to give in to the embarrassing tendency to just passing out when I've had too much to drink...I will just fall asleep on you.

We left the Indian food place to head to a poetry reading at KGB, which was awesome. The author/poet we went to see has written a book called "The Amputee's Guide to Sex". Awesome, no? It rocked. One rum and coke for Lucy there.

Moving on, we went to another place called Piano or Pianos, I'm not sure which. Another rum & coke there, but that place sucked. Too crowded, too many hipsters. I'm just not that cool, y'all. No place to sit down, but on the upside, I love the fact that you can't smoke ANYWHERE inside in New York. We left when a DJ began setting up his two turntables and microphone right where we were standing and he bitched at the roomie and I to not touch 'his equipment' which made us giggle for about a half hour afterwards.

We went next to a place called Boss Tweed. We were, I think, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I mean, I know we were in Manhattan, but my sense of direction is terrible and I just follow thesiter around when I'm here because she has a fantastic sense of direction. Anyway, Boss Tweed was much calmer, quieter, there was someplace to sit and a back patio that we could sit on, and thesister and the roomie could smoke out there. I had two (at least) drinks there. I'm pretty sure it was only two.

We took a car back over the bridge into Brooklyn, and headed to thesister's local, a place called the Duck. At The Duck, that's where things get much more hazy, confused, and not tipsy, but drunk. I have no idea how many drinks I had at The Duck. Three? Four? So for those keeping track, that would be somewhere between six and eight rum and cokes.

A trick that I learned a long time ago is to have a glass of water after every alcoholic drink, which helps keep you hydrated, and hangovers are partially (IMO) due to dehydration, so since I did that, I am not hungover today, but I am hurtin'. Thesister and I talked after coming home from the bar until almost 4am, and then I was done sleeping at 10.40 this morning. So, yes, OW.

Before all of this insanity last night, yesterday we tramped all over parts of the city, visiting a branch of The Strand, a fantastic bookstore, and a toy/comic book/sci-fi geek store next door, called Forbidden Planet. Thanks to some friends on the fan forums, I had some suggestions for new books to look for, and I picked up a bunch of great new books. Which I now have to cart back to Ohio, silly me. They're heavy. But fantastic, I feel like I'm standing on the threshold of new worlds about to be opened to me when I have new novels to read.

24 March 2007

Clever Medicine

I'm visiting my sister in New York City and thinking about thing that make me happy, things that cheer me up a little bit, since I've been so blue lately.

First off, and silly enough, is my new shampoo. You know how you catch sight of something out of the corner of your eye? I keep catching the scent of my new shampoo out of the corner of my nose, as my short blonde shag haircut blows across my face on windy days. What does it smell like? In a word, summer. Summers of my early childhood, before we worried about sunscreen and instead slathered Hawaiian Tropic #4 on our skin. Coconut, sunlight, the lake I talked about a couple of days ago, happier times.

Next is the latest Incubus album, Light Grenades. I'm currently really into the song "Dig", which is where the title for today's post comes from, a lyric. I don't even know what the heck the lead singer's name is, but MAN can that guy capture emotion. Raw, pure, punk and emo at the same time. Oh, the interweb is a wonderful thing. His name is Brandon Boyd, and I should have known that. Babysis has been into them forever. I'm also liking "Anna Molly" off that LP.

Visiting my middle sister in New York makes me pretty cheery too. And even though I've never lived here, as the train flashes by each stop, Nostrand Avenue, Franklin, reminding me of previous visits, I'm re-acclimated to this strange and wonderful environment where ten million people live, work, eat, breathe, die, every single day. Some of them never even leave this city that they know, love, hate.

I'm struck by the number of I love New York t-shirts I see---they can't all be tourists---and also the vulgar and hilarious "Fuck you, you fucking fuck" t-shirts, which make me laugh out loud every time I see one. And I've never seen them outside of NYC.

Too much has been written by better far better writers that I about this city, so I'll cease ruminating about something that I barely understand. But I am so glad to be here.

Once upon a time, I tried, mostly in vain, to explain to a college friend how I felt about working in a small city about 60 miles away from my hometown suburban hell. It isn't as large a city as the magnificent one I'm currently visiting, rather a small place of some 50,000 souls.

"I stand in the central plaza outside my office," I told him, "and I can close my eyes and feel the heartbeat of the city surrounding me."

He laughed, reminding me that I'm prone to ridiculous flights of fancy, and that my overactive imagination was clocking some overtime yet again. "The heartbeat of the city? What are you, a Chevy commercial?"

But I still feel that way about big cities. The experience is so different from my everyday white bread suburban life; the tide of humanity that I see on the streets so diverse, so interesting. I could people-watch all day here.

Coming out of the subway to meet my sister, I saw a woman so beautiful that I stopped, jaw dropped, to stare at her. She was a Muslim, headscarf wrapped around her hair, her eyes and cheekbones all the more prominent for that hiding of the hair. Her huge, dark eyes, lined underneath with a black eyeliner, her facial structure so stunning that I'm astonished she was real, not some magazine airbrushed creation. I realized I was staring and averted my eyes, but everywhere I look there is something to gawk at.

And if you listen closely, that heartbeat is there too. Beat. A car horn. Beat. Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, a polyglot of languages spoken all around you, swirling, invisible, but audible. Beat. Traffic. Beat. An airplane. Beat. Trains. Beat. My suitcase, dragged behind me, thundering over cracks in the sidewalk. Beat. The rain. Can you hear it?

23 March 2007

What does feminism/feminity mean to you?

Twisty and MotherMe both posted some things recently that have me thinking about my stance as a feminist.

Feminism means so many things, in the end what matters is what it means to YOU. The usual reaction I get when I identify myself to someone as a feminist is a big lip curl, which irritates the shit out of me right from the get-go. I've been doing a lot of reading of radical philosophy lately, and pop culture viewed through the prism of feminism is really ugly. A few examples?

Waiting to see my physical therapist the other day, I pawed through the stack of magazines on an endtable...Women's Day, Men's Health, ESPN, Metropolitan Home. To be sure, Metropolitan Home is way out of place in the midst of my suburban hell, but I digress. As I leafed though one of the women's mags, I found an article that pissed my feminist self right off...it was about keeping beauty secrets from your man, the things women do, and hide from the menfolk, to stay young and beautiful. One quote which sticks out in my mind in particular was from a woman who wears some kind of maybe eyeliner? Not sure...anyway, she said that the claim on the packaging is that it 'lasts 16 hours' and her brag was that her husband had 'never seen me without it. I don't think he knows HOW UGLY I am without it.' (Emphasis is mine, of course.) There was another woman who slathers herself in olive oil after a bath and wraps herself in a cotton sheet, then goes to bed. (That's actually probably great for your skin.) But the reaction of her friends was honestly, "Can you imagine a man putting up with that? No wonder you're single." Good and merciful Goddess, those are the antithesis of feminism to me.

I turned away from that article about hiding beauty secrets from the menfolk lest I throw it at my (male) PT's head when he came to get me, and the whole mag was full of horrible, horrible awful stuff that only went downhill from there.

It is easy to resort to bumper sticker wisdom and quote the cute, "Feminism is the radical idea that women are people" but that isn't all of it, nor is it enough. Much like when the Supreme Court tried to define pornography decades ago, however, about all anyone can really say is that they know it when they see it.

Femininity, however, is something else entirely. When I hear the word femininity, I think power. I think triumph. I think dresses, yes, and soft edges. But I also think about melting someone into a puddle of goo with a look, a touch, raw sexuality, sensuality. And if that isn't power! I think that as women, we hold so many of the cards. We forget that in the rush to be acceptable to the largest number of people, as we are taught from the cradle about 'nice girls' and how they get along with everybody, all the time. It is difficult to push those voices of our mothers, grandmothers, and yes, even teachers out of our heads, all those who told us, "Nice girls don't push. Nice girls don't throw things. Nice girls don't flirt. Nice girls don't dress like that."

If that's all the case, who the hell wants to be a nice girl? Screw that, not me!

22 March 2007

On Rude Behavior

I was on the treadmill at the gym, trying hard to keep distracted, when I came across an article in Details magazine about being a gentleman. Now, most of the 'Lad Mag' genre is icky, and articles about how to jazz up your pickup game don't do much for me, but this one got me to thinking about rude behavior that I encounter on a daily basis, and some that I participate in, embarrassingly enough.

The article in question can be found here, but be warned the site froze my laptop for no apparent reason.

The author talks about the lost art of being a gentleman, about knowing how to order a bottle of wine, how to turn off your cel phone, keep your pants on, and tellingly, "let the ladies go first". I'm all for most of that behavior...as the author rightly points out, dudeus americanus is an idiot who needs to clean up his act.

As I read this, the woman on the treadmill next to me got a telephone call. Her screechy conversation was about her daughter's troubles with attendance at school and how she was apparently in danger of being booted off of danceline as a result. It was annoying.

Normally, I am at the gym every morning when the doors open at 05.30. Yes, 5:30 AM. Until very recently, I thought the gym was pretty busy at that hour. This week, with the return to my sleeping pill prescription, I've had a more difficult time getting out of bed, and so have been dragging myself to the gym after work. I hate missing that early morning workout, because the gym is not only NOT crowded at all at that hour, contrary to my impression, but the people there at 05.30 are much more civilized.

Earlier this week, the man on the treadmill next to me was sweating so profusely that I was getting rained on. I can't even tell you how grossed out I was by that. I couldn't move to another treadmill because there wasn't one to spare. There were people waiting, like swarming sharks, for a treadmill to open up, so I stayed with Mr. Raindrop.

Another day, and this is petty and really obnoxious of me, the guy next to me kept coughing, and it irritated me so much that I kept turning up my iPod to block it out. And then I got a phone call of my own.

About 99.99% of the time, I don't even have the phone with me at the gym, nor do I take my work-mandated pager into the gym. If they can't be without me for an hour a day, well, the whole world is then totally fucked and I can't do anything to fix it. So the pager, phone, PDA and other gadgetry are usually in the car, or at home while I'm running. But I had called a friend on the way to the gym and requested a call back as soon as she got the message, so I took the phone into the gym.

I don't know if I've blogged before about my hearing loss, so bear with me while I explain that I am very hard of hearing, having destroyed it in my teens by clubbing, concert-going, and listening to my Walkman much too loudly back in the days before iPods. I have about a 40% hearing loss in my left ear, and about a 15% in my right ear. If you're not facing me, I can't hear you. If you whisper, I can't hear you unless you're whispering directly into my right ear. Yeah, I know how smart this makes me when I continue to listen to the iPod and turn it up too. Anyway, I told you all that so that you understand why the ring tone on my mobile phone is set to the "deafening" setting. 'Cause I can't hear it otherwise.

Back to the gym, where I'm running along on the treadmill, and the annoying older fella next to me is hacking, hacking, hacking and I'm turning the iPod up, and up, and up to tune him out. So loudly that I don't hear my phone ring, rather I see it vibrating and the lights flashing. I answer it, and have about a 20 minute loud conversation with my friend about cute gay boys that she's met, the actor that I think is cute, the fan forums, the hot guy who walked into the gym in front of me, my hormone levels, her lover, so, in short, sex.

When I hung up the phone, I resumed running (I had slowed to a brisk walk to be able to talk) turned the iPod back up, and stopped myself from belting out the chorus to Saliva's "Click...Click...BOOM". I try really hard to not sing out loud when I have the iPod on, but is is tough. (Great song to run to, BTW.)

It was a day or so later that I read the Details article, and the screechy woman next to me regaled her friend with her screechy opinion about her daughter's spot on danceline. Again, I was turning the iPod up, but I couldn't block her out entirely, she was too loud. I was starting to get seriously pissed off when I realized that Mr. Cough next to me earlier in the week probably hadn't appreciated Lucy's Frank Talk About Sex and Homosexuality any more than I was appreciating her diatribe. Oops.

As I continued to read the advice of Details to twentysomething guys on how to behave themselves and have some class, I was suddenly reminded of my mother's English friend, B. B was someone my mum ran around with about 20 years ago, and the first time I met her, at about 11, I was transfixed by her accent, the first one I'd ever heard in real life. B was (and probably still is) one very classy dame. I watched her every move, trying to figure out just what, exactly, made her so graceful and refined. She was never standoffish, rude, or snobby. She had the incredible gift of making everyone around her feel very comfortable.

Class is something that you either have, or you don't, and no amount of schoolin' is going to make someone like Paris Hilton classy. But class is also about a set of societal norms that we're supposed to conform to, yet another thing that tries to squeeze women into a nice tidy little box, prepared to be a doormat for the world to politely wipe its feet on, on the way to bigger and better things.

There isn't anything wrong with polite behavior. I think the world could use lots more excuse me's, please's and thank-you's, not to mention the fact that we have to now be 'told' when to turn off our mobile phones, because we can't figure that one out on our own anymore. Dude, were you born in a barn? The lack of manners, backsliding into an ever-increasing laissez-fare attitude to public behavior isn't a good thing. But a return to 1950s style societal norms isn't a great idea either.

I'm really on the fence with this one, can you tell? Years ago, I read an article in *cringe* Reader's Digest about rudeness, and the writer rather eloquently told a story about being bullied in a department store and then seeing something similar happen to her three year old niece on the playground. She wanted to rush in, protect the girl from the bully, but instead, she stood back and waited to see what the child would do. Out of the mouths of babes, y'all, because the little girl put her hands on her hips and said to the bully, "You. Are. Rude." And the boor backed up, blinked, and said, "I'm sorry."

Huh. Too bad if we did that to other adults we might get shot. Because it sounds like a great idea to me. You. Are. Rude. Pointing out the behavior just might get someone to recognize their own boorishness and stop and think for a second. In my fantasy, everyone-is-as-nice-as-me world.

21 March 2007

You call THIS releasing information?

Before I start to rant about the press conference that wasn't, I must first get the obligatory fangirl squeeing out of the way. I haven't written anything specifically about Jensen Ackles for about a week, so it is time. Came across this picture on TWoP and oh. My. God. Wait. Let's look at that again. Freckles! How cute are freckles? And the eyes! ...um. Stopping now. My mother reads this blog sometimes, y'all.

So President Idiot took the stage to 'speak to the 'merican people' the other day, and as I was too busy wallowing in my own angst, I didn't take much notice of it. You can watch the Q&A session on YouTube. Or you can read the transcript here. We're talking about the firing of the US Attorneys, if you missed it. He suggests at one point that people read the e-mails that they released, voluminous pages and pages of stuff that contradicts almost everything the administration has said to date about the scandal. Pretty funny, coming from someone who is barely literate.

In another snippet, he asked for continued patience on the Most Meaningless War Ever (TM) and said that it would interfere with NATIONAL SECURITY if the troops were allowed to come home. Because, y'know, that's the reason for everything these days. Oil prices too high? Well, if they were lower, it would cause problems for our national security. Anything else that's bothering you? Blame it all on the need for hyper-awareness of national security.

The dems, and rightly so, lambasted these pronouncements as soon as they were issued. This administration releases information so grudgingly, so reluctantly, is it any wonder at all that the support for the president has gone right down the tubes? The Clinton Administration's habit of polling, polling, polling, and doing what the polls liked wasn't good either, but somewhere in between there must be a happy medium that allows the gubment to work the way the framers of the constitution intended, a government of, by, and for the people.

My frustration with the constant stonewalling that the Idiot Administration does is really an interesting thing. In this time of everything, all the time, instant access to any type of media that you choose, it is incredible to me that there hasn't been a huge backlash by the general population, and not just liberal nuts like me who think that the administration has the obligation to communicate with the general public on a more consistent basis.

The fact that they don't, that they choose not to, seems to mean that they've got something to hide. Or a lot of things to hide, and not just the fact that the president can't SPEAK ENGLISH. Because we know that already. Maybe the thing is that the powers that be, the men behind the curtain, are afraid that if they stick the idiot in the public eye more frequently, he'll do or say something so stupid that it would cause the whole house of cards to fall. Not that I buy into theories like the Illuminati, or anything like that. No. Really.

20 March 2007

Ego Bruise

This Tuesday's Brain Dump is of a bit of a different tone that usual. But as I have said, the Brain Dump posts are always going to be about whatever is running around in my head. As Scary says, "So mote it be!"

I was handed my ego back with a bruise upon it the other day. The less said about the circumstances, the better, the latest in a series of cringe-worthy events in my life. It wasn't a personal attack, and wasn't really aimed squarely at ME, but it felt that way. The confident facade that I show to the world every day hides well the little girl who wants to run to her mum for comfort. I have worked hard to have a very confident exterior, hard-as-nails, cool-as-a-cucumber, takes-no-shit, but it started as an act back in my teens. Eventually, I grew to believe my own hype, and now, when I tell people that I was a painfully shy child, they don't believe it. Maybe I should have gone into the performing arts, been an actress. Anyway. I was talking about being bruised.

My first reaction to this bruise was typical: ouch! And then: DAMN! I was angry. How dare the implication be that my time, me!, wasn't worth all that much? Then, predictably, the thought following that was, 'well, screw that, who needs it? Glad we got that sorted before *I* invested anything else in it.'

I went through a couple more stages of various angst before I simply accepted what's been done, and was able to quietly take a deep breath and move on. When I reflected back on it, I thought that this was quite a lot like the stages of grief, as taught to me by my psych profs back in my Uni days.

Thinking about grief always makes me think about my cousin J, who died in 2005 on Mother's Day at 28 years old, leaving behind a husband and three daughters. I've written about it before, here and here, and have no urge to revisit any of what I've already talked about.

I usually wait until the anniversary of my cousin's death to write about her, and it is coming up, but not so soon that it is quite 'time' to scribble about her. Ridiculous notion. As if I'm not thinking about her, randomly, all the time. All sorts of things remind me of her. I even thought I saw her the other day, but when I looked again, the woman looked nothing like her, and remembering that she's gone all over again was a jolt. I think that this year I will refrain from marking the anniversary of her death because she wouldn't have wanted a fuss made, nor would she want to be thought of in terms of the horrible week following her death, I think she would prefer a celebration of her life.

And it is life more than death I'd really like to talk about. How strange it is, what a juxtaposition it is, that as much as I celebrate being alive, and think that life itself is proof of some higher power, our heartbeats and our every single breath a little miracle, that I am a passionate advocate for the right to die, palliative care, and abortion rights? Plus I'm an agnostic, that does certainly not believe in any patriarchal organized religion, or 'God' in the sense of the male, Judeo-Christian supreme being.

I'm thinking about the Idiot Administration's catch-phrase, "Culture of Life" when they talk about the anti-choice movement. As if anyone who does not buy into that crap believes in a culture of 'death'. I'll say this for the republicans, they've got the better spin-doctors of the moment.

Anyway. I've wandered far afield of the original intent.

Which was? Oh, that having my ego bruised the other day, being hurt, was almost a reaffirmation of being alive. I have been feeling mostly numb over the past few days and that bump was a wake-up call. I've been hurting so much in the past couple of months, in such a bleak and difficult spot mentally, that I have not felt much of anything. I *don't* want to go back on antidepressants, something I've been able to stay away from for more than two years, but this little bump I've got on my soul reminds me that if I have not been feeling pain, I have not been feeling joy either. Not feeling joy is worse than not being able to feel any pain. Sometimes it WOULD be preferable to be numb than to be in so much pain, but that even keel of no pain/not too much joy is very elusive.

I also don't really want to share this information with anyone outside of the computer, because as easy as it is for me to blather on about me, me, me in real life, it is very hard for me to articulate this vague something-terrible-is-going-to-happen feeling, this sort-of despair, when my life is pretty fucking fantastic, and I have no right to complain. Employed? Check. Married? Check. Roof over my head? Check. Good friends? Check. Enough to eat? Check plus... Good relations with most of my family, no abusive past or addiction problems to over come? Check. So grow the hell up already, Lucy, and get your head out of your ass.

That's the easy answer. Too bad it isn't the right one. When I do figure out what the right one is, I will let you know.

Listening to: Incubus, Morning View, "Are You In?"

18 March 2007


I've resisted blogging about my childhood in much detail, feeling that as I wish to remain anonymous, it is foolish to give away too many details that might help someone identify me. But the story I am about to tell has very little chance of adding to the information that the interweb has about me.

I had an idyllic childhood, free from abuse, neglect, poverty or horror. I like to say that I have a white picket fences background, with a stable, two-parent family. Both parents were there for my sibs and I in just about every sense of the word. They're pretty conservative, and growing up I felt they were way over-protective, but they're fantastic parents. On my MySpace page, where you can list your heroes, the first two people listed are my mother and father.

We traveled quite a bit over the eastern section of the US as I was growing up, and spent time every summer at a cottage in Michigan, on a small lake. Being there was (and still is, the last time I was there) amazing. For one, as kids, at the cottage we were allowed to get things at the grocery store that weren't allowed at home, "because we were on vacation."

For another, we were just about inaccessible by anyone while we were there. It wasn't unusual for my dad to get phone calls in the middle of the night at home, calling him in to work. He worked long and hard hours as I grew up, and that time at the cottage each summer was devoted to exclusively not being at work, so it was a wonderful novelty to have him around all day, every day.

The area where the cottage is located is pretty remote. There was a party-line telephone there until the mid-eighties. The grocery store was 20 miles away, give or take. The movie theater and mall were farther, perhaps 40 miles away. There was no television at the cottage. And since I've already talked about the TV watching policy at our house growing up, this wasn't a problem at all. There was a radio, used primarily to tune in to weather forecasts.

The cottage did not belong to my family. Another family allowed us to use it in return for doing chores around the property, things like opening the cottage for the summer, repair work that needed done around the house (replacing a rotted floor, for example), cutting the grass, things like that. Many summers we were either the first family there at the start of the summer season, or the last family there before the fall set in, opening it for the summer or closing the place down in preparation for winter weather.

The place was huge, with the capacity to sleep at least 20 people comfortably, and it was often used by the extended kin network of the family who owned it. We often went with another family, and had 10 people or more in the house. It had a rustic kitchen and a microscopic hot water heater, but it also had a washer and dryer, a vital necessity when you wear every bathing suit you own over three days.

My sisters and I were allowed an amazing amount of freedom at the cottage. An almost intoxicating amount of relaxation of the usual rules, combined with the ability to do almost anything we wanted...it was a heady mix. The lake is about three-fourths of a mile wide and about a mile and a half long, and there wasn't much of it that wasn't visible from the cottage's long metal dock. A pair of binoculars hung on a tree at the shoreline, and with them, you could easily spot any of the cottage's watercraft. I don't want to really get into the nuts and bolts of the water-centered activity that went on there each summer, so let's just say that there was a rowboat with a very small horsepower motor that my sisters and I made good use of, as well as a very small sailboat in which I learned to sail. No matter which boat we took, we were usually within 'hollering' distance of my mother.

If we opted to stay on the shore, we weren't allowed to stray much from 'our side' of the lake, but there was more than enough to explore on 'our side' of the lake, so it wasn't a temptation to wander far. A well-worn path extended over most of our side, from the public beach and boat launch area of the lake to a creek which was perhaps 6 houses down from the cottage.

The cottage was strictly a place for summer play; it wasn't insulated and had only a small heater, not a furnace. While there was a fireplace, it would be devilishly difficult to keep the pipes from freezing in the wintertime, so it was prepared at the end of each summer to survive the harsh Michigan winters by completing a long list of chores, which included draining the pipes of every ounce of water. But not all the houses on the lake were cottages; many of them were year-round residences for their owners. It was easy to spot the difference; most cottages didn't have a garage, or if they did, it was a detached affair, with the old fashioned bi-fold doors hanging at an angle, clearly disused. The summer cottages also had that forlorn look that vacant houses often have. They might be unoccupied the whole time we were there, or for just a few days. Many of the cottages were owned by large clans, and while we didn't know the entire clan personally, we often knew many of the members of a kin network from our summer visits.

The houses that had full-time, year-round occupation were more robust and better cared for. I did not have a special friend who lived 'up' there (this spot in MI being far north of my Ohio home) as both of my sisters did. Oddly enough, there was no one my exact age in any of the kin networks or full time residents. Now, in my 30s, an age difference of a year or two is immaterial. At 14, the 16-18 year old set was mostly too old for me to be running around with. I was always old for my age, but these kids were a much faster set than I was used to running with, and their blatant sexuality made me very uncomfortable. So I gravitated to the adults, spending time with people who lived there full time, talking about cooking and often their kids, who were my sister's friends.

I also took frequent walks on the path that ran from the beach to the creek, and there was a cottage along the path with a name over the door, a wooden sign over the door that faced the lake, that wouldn't have been out of place at a kid's summer camp. It looked a lot like the cottage in the Steve Martin movie, Cheaper by the Dozen 2. While it isn't all that odd to name a property here in the States, it is not as common as it is in say, England. This one said "Killcare", and I spent no small amount of time one summer trying both to get an invite to see the inside of the place (note that I never succeeded) and trying to figure out just what, exactly, Killcare meant and how it was pronounced.

Killcare was an enigma to me because we did not know a single person who used the place. And because it was often vacant when we were there. One of the full time residents at the lake was a woman who had grown up on the lake and through a series of lucky coincidences had purchased a home a few houses away from the one she grew up in. Her daughter was my baby sister's closest summertime friend. I remember her name, and can clearly picture her face, surrounded by a curtain of dark red hair, often pulled up into a bun, her apple cheeks, her sunny smile. I don't often use real names here, so we'll just call her Jane. She and her husband (whose name I do not remember and his details are lost to time, I don't remember at all what he looked like, but I do remember his Harley motorcycle, parked in their big attached garage) were involved in a massive rebuild of the house they lived in, gutting it and nearly tearing down the original structure. The work they were doing was amazing, adding a section that was like a log cabin, and I spent many happy hours looking with Jane at interior design catalogs and magazines, and listening to how they had done each step of the remodel. They did most of the work themselves. Growing up, Jane had spent a lot of time at Killcare, and when I found that out, I couldn't restrain myself from asking many questions about the place.

When she said the name to me for the first time, pronounced just as if it was two words, kill care, I said, "Is that the place with the name over the door?!? Three houses down from our place, close to the beach? You know them? What's that place like, have you ever been inside?"

All this was said rushed, with barely a breath in-between. Yes, she assured me, she knew the people. They were "summer folks" like my family. From someplace even further away than the day-long drive it took us to get to the cottage from Ohio, but I can't recall now where they were from. She had been good friends with one girl, and had spent summers growing up sleeping there more often than at home.

I interrupted the narrative of What-I-did-every-summer-growing-up to demand, "What does that MEAN, Killcare? I thought it was maybe the name of an Irish county, like County Claire, and I thought it was pronounced kil-kar-eee. Or that it was a last name, or a town, or something."

She gave me an odd look, as if I'd sprouted a third arm, or if she couldn't believe that such nonsense was coming out of the mouth of a reasonably intelligent, normally articulate, small adult-like person. And this behavior was indeed more kid-like than I usually displayed.

"Kill. Care. Kill your cares. Kill yer care. Killya'care, Killcare," she explained, running the words together slowly and then faster, showing me how the name had been derived. She went on to describe the inside of the place, and talk about how her childhood friend still came every summer and that she and her family would be arriving after my family and I had returned to Ohio. I was mostly no longer interested in nosily barging through the interior after that, but I spent a lot of time thinking about the place's name and what exactly Killcare meant to those who had chosen it.

It struck me as very odd because why would you want to stop caring about someone or some thing? And then when I asked about it again a few minutes later, Jane explained to me that it meant to kill your concerns, leave your worries behind, not to stop caring about someone or something. Oh.

At 14, I couldn't imagine needing to be reminded to let go, stop worrying. Anytime I was at the cottage, it was summer, I had no responsibilities beyond the cleaning chores assigned to me (we all shared all of the housekeeping while on vacation, being reminded by both parents that they were on vacation, too). I've been thinking about Killcare, the phrase, a lot again, wondering if it would, indeed, be possible to let go of all of the things that are weighing me down and leave me feeling fettered to a life that I'm not sure how it got where it is, nor am I sure that I'm happy with it and want it to continue in the same direction as it has been.

How did I end up here? The quest of my growing up years, to paraphrase a line I once heard Madonna use, was to "Get the hell outta Ohio." I have a memory book, an autograph book that I purchased while in Sweden as an exchange that I encouraged friends to write messages on the blank pages. I told them they had to write something, "deep and meaningful" and since almost everyone who wrote something in it was 17 at the time of the writing, most of it is filled with what are now howlers of most amusing variety. We were so young. What was then deep and meaningful is now trite or worse, hilarious instead of earnest. But I'm struck at the fact that more than one person wished me sincere good luck in escaping small town America. I wonder what any of them would say if they knew that the zealot of those times still lives not at all far from the hospital where she was born, or that any of the places she's lived since Sweden were all in and around the hometown that I so desperately wanted the hell out of.

I need to make some changes. I need to get moving. Change directions. I'm going to quote Dave Matthews band lyrics here, and I hope I can be forgiven for regressing to a teen kind of thing to do, but he does say it so much better than what I would come up with.

To change the world
start with one step
However small
first step is hardest of all
Once you get your gait
you'll be walking tall
You said you never did
cause you might die tryin
cause you might die tryin

Right now, I'm feeling like I just might die if I don't try to make some changes. The 'die tryin' lyric is sarcastic, that hey, man, if you don't get out there, what's the worst that could happen? You might die trying? Right.

So this is my 'first step', admiting that some changes need to be made, that something must be done. Perhaps that is letting go of some of my worries. Killcare. What a great idea.

16 March 2007

Dammit. And Fcuk.

I was supposed to travel to New York City today to visit my sister. My flight was canceled. So I called my sister and she suggested Amtrack. Which I checked, and sure enough, a train was leaving from Pittsburgh in about an hour, so I got in the car, drove most of the way to Pittsburgh before I figured out that I wasn't going to make it. A flurry of phone calls, and I found out that there was another stop nearby, and chances were good that I could make it to that stop, so I drove there.

And I missed the goddam train by about 20 seconds.

So more phone calls, to the airline, to DH, to thesister, and there was a flight later that I might be able to get. I made the decision to stay in the Pittsburgh area and have lunch with a friend. The airline had suggested that I call after noon. Dutifully, I did so, and no, I can't have a seat on the seat on the later flight. Why? All New York City regional airports are closed due to a massive snowstorm working its way up the east coast.

No trip to NYC for Lucy. Dammit.

15 March 2007

Interesting news from Texas

A little while ago, I wrote an outraged rant about the Texas governor Rick Perry sidestepping the legislative process by signing a law that requires girls going into the sixth grade to have been given the new HPV vaccine. My issue with that is that I think if the shoe were on the other foot, and it were a boy cancer prevention vaccine, no one would be talking about requiring it for anyone.

My header at the top of the page used to say that I wrote about the disparity between expectations of public male and female behavior, but I took it down because I so rarely do anymore. Yes, society expects vastly different public behavior from men and women. Yes, it still pisses me off. But pointing out every single instance of it solves nothing and only makes me mad, so it takes something special, like this issue, to make me put that hat back on. And I've been very busy blathering on about something else lately. What?

The news today is that the Texas legislature is firing back, passing a bill with 119 votes to 21 to overturn the law. The Texas legislature doesn't work the same way as the federal Congress does, so there is no surety that this will pass, or that they would override a veto if Perry chooses to veto the measure. They also only meet every other year, so if it does not pass this year, it will be 2009 before they consider it again. (How do you get a gig like that, working only every other year? I'd like to know.)

Now here's something that makes me vaguely unsettled. Conservative Christians are also against this law, not because they think that it was really wrong of the governer to usurp the legislature, but because they feel the vaccine will encourage promiscuity. Heh. It doesn't happen very often that I am on the same side of any issue as conservative Christians, but in this case we are on the same side for different reasons.

My stance on it is about personal choice and privacy. It should be the decision of the person getting the vaccine (or their legal guardian). Not the legislature. The privacy thing is that once you've gotten this shot, mandated by the government, then you must have a record of it to show the school. Are we puppies, with our 'papers' or people? I suppose that you could look at any government issued identification the same way, using that logic, but this is very different from, say, a passport. And it also reminds me of some of Twisty's recent posts, tagged with the label Men Hate You. I never really thought about it that way until I started reading her, but the more I look around and think about it...yeah. She's right. *Sigh.*

Reading the Bloomberg article that I linked above a bit further, I find that Rick Perry has ties to Merck, the vaccine's manufacturer. Dun dun DUN! And people wonder why I'm a conspiracy theorist.

14 March 2007

The Ambien Experience

I've blogged, copiously, about my insomnia. The only thing that seems to help it is a prescription sleeping pill, Ambien, or zolpidem tartarte. I hate it that I'm dependent on a medication for sleep, viewing this as something completely different than needing an allergy pill, or an anti-depressant, for example. My opinion in general about medications is that if you need it, honey, take it.

The insomnia thing, though, is something completely frustrating and apparently, I'm unable to solve it without medication. I have tried everything. Everything. And I have written about this a bunch of other times, here, here, and here. So let's list, just one more time, the various natural and artificial means I've used to try to get more than 3 hours of sleep a night.

Melatonin. Didn't work.

Lavender oil, rubbed at the neck and temples. Didn't work.

Lavender baths, around bedtime. Didn't work.

Lavender body lotions, homemade, not filled with artificial fragrance. Used with massage, an attempt at a relaxation technique. Didn't work.

Washing the sheets and blankets in unscented laundry detergent, with lavender essential oil added. Smelled nice. Didn't work.

Chamomile tea. Drunk before bedtime. Didn't work.

Rozerem. Prescription. Made me groggy the next day AND didn't give me any more uninterrupted sleep than I can get on my own. Didn't work.

Nytol. Over-the-counter medication. Didn't work.

Valerian root. Herbal pills. Tasted like hell. Didn't work.

Sleepinol. Over-the-counter med. Didn't work.

Took up yoga. I love it, but it doesn't help me sleep.

Tylenol PM. Over-the-counter med. Didn't work.

I began working out every single day. Cardio, 35-45 minutes a day. Weight training, 4-6 days a week. Pilate's classes twice a week in addition to the cardio. Yoga classes weekly. I've lost weight, my asthma is under control, and my flexibility, much to DH's delight, has improved dramatically. (Hee!) But it doesn't help me sleep.

Luensta. Prescription. Didn't work. And, oh, the side effects. Ick on an epic scale.

Tylenol's Simply Sleep. Over-the-counter med. Works for a few hours only if I exceed the recommended dosage by a factor of 3. I don't think that's smart, so I don't do it.

Meditation and biofeedback, trying to consciously relax every single muscle in the body, preparing it for sleep and relaxation. Can't focus enough to do it right. So it doesn't work.

Ambien, which is a very powerful prescription sleep aid, seems to be the only thing that helps. This stuff comes with dire warnings, having the potential to be highly habit forming. My cute doctor prescribed it for me only after hearing that laundry list above and me begging over a series of three visits spanning six months with him. He gave me samples of Rozerem, and suggested that I try those before filling the Ambien script. Yeah, I listened. For two nights. I blogged here about the experience I had with Rozerem.

My bastard insurance company won't allow a continuous prescription of Ambien; I'm allowed 60 days worth of it every 90 days. So for one month out of three, I don't have it, unless I ration the pills and take it only every other night. Which doesn't really work well for me, no matter which way I go, rationing or being without for a month.

I know why I can't sleep. I can't write in any detail about it. It is all work-related. My job is a very stressful thing, and several things that have been happening there over the past....year, I suppose, have made it impossible for me to turn off the cacophony in my head, which makes me worry incessantly about things that are far beyond my control. Stray thoughts run around and around my head when I try to relax, both possible solutions and doomsday scenarios.

So, quit, I hear you say. Move on, do something else, let someone else worry if it is damaging to your health. I wish....well, I don't know what I wish. I wish I could up and quit? I wish that I could fix it? I wish that things weren't so awful? Yeah, all of those. Mostly, though, I just wish I could get a decent night's sleep.

I told you that whole long, convoluted story so that I could tell you this short funny one.

At the moment, I have the prescription. Monday night I was on the computer, and around 10 pm, got up to get some water. I saw the prescription bottle sitting on the kitchen counter, and took one, after looking at the clock. Take it too late at night, and I can't get to work on time, which creates a whole 'nother level of problems. I went back on to the computer, and continued the conversation with a friend in Michigan. Not ten minutes went by before I was nodding off over the keyboard.

Remember falling asleep in class as a teen, when you could hear the teacher's voice coming from a distant planet and your eyes got heavier and heavier until your head would droop, which startled you awake? I was doing just that over the keyboard whilst still typing. I thought I'd copy and paste the message I typed here because it is funny, but taken out of context it won't make much sense.

When I was dozing, I was dreaming about my mother and grandmother standing over my shoulders, one on each side, and that's weird because Gran has been dead since I was....uh...18. And they were telling me what to type. And while I was typing exactly what they told me to in the dream, when I woke up, what was on the screen was gibberish. So I deleted it, and tried to sign off before I said something stupid, but as you will see, I didn't really succeed.

"I've typed three rambling sentences apprapro of nothing at all and just realized that I was trying to typ the dream...Yeah, it is time to quit for the nigt. Some of what I typed was completel gibberish, so this is about as goof as it gets, a bit of Lucy trying to fight the sleep deamon.

Yeah, dreamland. It is caling me."

I managed to forget the cardinal rule of sleeping pills....when you take them, GO TO BED. Those dire warnings are to be taken seriously. One of them, I swear, really says, "Warning. May cause drowsiness. " Ya think? But it ought to include one that warns you that you might say or type something pretty rambling and drugged sounding. Oops.

13 March 2007

More reasons to dislike the Idiot Administration

Tempest time yet again! Here's a shocker...someone from the Idiot Administration has said something tacky, insensitive, and offensive in public. This time, it is Joint Chief of Staff General Peter Pace, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. And then he apologized, not for saying the offensive things, but for expressing his personal opinion. Sigh.

He said that he thinks homosexuality is immoral. And that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of the military is NOT out of step with modern times. NPR is of course where I heard about this first, and I'm astonished and amazed, perhaps naively so, when I hear public figures being discriminatory. Politically correct speech began to be de regur when I started college, waaay back in the 90s, and while I don't always agree with the doctrine, I do think it is better to say things like mentally handicapped than it is to say retarded. So hearing someone be so openly homophobic, so derogatory, so outre, it really surprises me. What shocks me, is that this is one of the most powerful people in the country; I'm left with a sense of "He CAN'T do that, can he?" He can, and he did.

And then apologizing for expressing his personal opinion. Oy. Where, oh where, do I start with that one? As I have said so many times before, freedom of speech means that you protect the speech that you don't like even more vociferously than you protect the speech that you DO like. Why? Because the next time you don't speak up for free speech, it is going to be someone saying something you agree with that is being censored.

It is this idiot's right to have the opinion that homosexuality is immoral, even when he's dead wrong. And it is MY opinion that he is dead wrong, I firmly believe that homosexuality is genetic, that you are born that way, it isn't a lifestyle choice. If it was simply that someone could 'choose' to be gay or not, why would they, when society treats them the way that it does? C'mon.

As I said a few days ago when I was talking about dear old Scooter, I think you should do whatever works for you when it comes to sex and sexuality. Gay, straight, bi, poly, trans, mono, whatever, dude. Forcing men and women who serve in the armed services to put their personal lives on hold, and not have a relationship with anyone while serving, is just not right. Don't ask, don't tell IS outmoded, and it is time for the military to come into the 90s, at least.

The fact that this is Peter Pace's opinion strikes me as part of a larger problem; obviously, President Idiot knew about his POV when he appointed Pace to his current role. And that's OK with W? Yeah, he deserves that moniker I give him more and more every day.

Motherhood and the Darkside known as MySpace

Tuesday and it is brain-dumping day!

I opened a MySpace account the other day. And before you call me a fucktard, and tell me that someone my age and marital status has no business being on MySpace, you ought to know why I did it, because that provides so much more fodder for making fun of me.

It can be traced back to my fangirly-ness, and my admiration of Jensen Ackles. He shot a movie last summer that hasn't been released yet called Ten Inch Hero (which is still looking for a distributor, apparently) and the movie's production people have a MySpace page. They also have a blog here on Blogger. The film is about a sandwich shop, not someone who is ten inches long, gutterface. Yeah, yeah, I know you were thinking it, 'cause I was too.

Anyway, on the blog, they announced a contest for fans to try their hand at making some manipulations of photos of Jensen. The film has not actually released any pictures of Jensen's character, Priestly, who wears a Mohawk and is apparently pierced and tattooed within an inch of his life. So fans have been making their own, with hilarious results. And the filmmakers put the submissions from fans onto their MySpace page. But to see them? You have to have a MySpace account of your own.

I don't NEED a MySpace page. I have enough trouble keeping up with this blog, getting my book finished, and taking care of the crap over on LiveJournal that DH and I do for our little piece of suburban hell. I spend too much damn time on the computer as it is. Friends of mine from high school have MySpace pages, and I've been urged to do one before...but there was never any reason to.

Curiosity over which of the pictures the filmmakers thought were the best, however, got the better of me, so I set up an account of my own. First, let me say that I'm not in love with MySpace's interface. That's probably only because I'm not used to it, and as humans, we're all pretty resistant to change. I digress. Secondly, I have to tell you about the photos...and then I'll get to why this has me thinking about motherhood. And no, the motherhood thing and the fangirl thing are NOT related. (I hear sighs of relief out there...)

Some of the pics are fun, but I've truly gotten old when punk hairstyles don't do much for me anymore. Once upon a time, I was a punk chick, with a bit of purple hair (carefully hidden from my parents) and I greatly admired the day-glo and easter egg shades of hair. My friend V would buy Manic Panic, and I think that Ultra Violet was the shade of purple that I had, but I couldn't swear to it.

In true late 80s/early 90s style, I had a tail of hair that was longer than the rest of my really long hair. (I could sit on it, y'all, that's how long it was.) I went to visit V, and she had just dyed her whole head purple. She had some of the Manic Panic left over, so we decided it would be a fantastic idea to dye my tail purple. With my head hanging over her mother's laundry tub in the basement, we proceeded to try to dye just the tail purple. Laughing uproariously, getting the dye EVERYWHERE, we were having a grand old time. When we were done, not just the tail was purple, but the whole underside of my hair, from about the middle of my ears down. And the laundry tub, and the floor, and our hands, and our clothes were all purple too. When my hair was worn down, it didn't show. Pulled up in a pony, or piled high on my head, you could see it.

So I do have some experience with the punk hair thing, although I never had a 'hawk. I generally put some washable day-glo pink spray or temporary dye into my hair for Halloween, because I like it and can't get away with it in my workaday world. But these pics of Jensen all punked and gothed out don't thrill me. There are maybe two out of 12 or so that I think are cute...and then I just want to cut and wash his hair. Sigh. All I want for my next birthday is to be about 24 again. Because this getting older crap really isn't very much fun. Better than the alternative, but still. Thirty-two vs. 24? I'll take 24.

After looking at all the pictures of Jensen as Priestly, I decided that since I'd bothered to set up the MySpace account, I should pimp out my own page, and began messing around with the settings and my profile. For a brief while, I had a real picture of my real self out there, but I've since removed it. It was not photo-shopped, since I don't have that program, but I did mess with it in the photo manipulation software I do have, MGI Photovista. I think it was still very recognizable as me, though, and my paranoia got the better of me, so off it came.

And then in the profile settings, there are a bunch of things that have radio buttons to click...married...single...divorced...gay....straight...bi....and I clicked all the appropriate toggles....married....straight....smoke, no....drink, yes....and at the bottom was a section about children.

I spent a few minutes staring at the screen, lost as to what I should click. Here are the options.

I don't want kids
Love kids, but not for me
Proud Parent
No Answer

I eventually clicked Love kids, but not for me. But that decision was only after much soul searching. I'm at an age where I am maybe running out of time to have a child of my own. I hear the ticking of the biological clock, loud and clear. Hear it, but I'm NOT LISTENING!

All through my 20s, I was steadfast in my resolve to not get preggers, and in the fact that I never wanted to have a child. And for the most part, I still feel that way. The idea of my body being pregnant really grosses me out. Which is NOT to say that I think pregnancy is gross or disgusting, I don't. As long as it isn't happening to me. If that makes any sense. Carrying a child is the most natural thing in the world for a woman's body, but I don't want MY body to do it. Never? I hear my mother and grandmother ask. You will miss out on so much joy, they say. And maybe that's true.

My cousins are all older than me, and we're a tight-knit bunch, so there were babies being born every time I turned around in the family all throughout the decade of my 20s. A few friends even had kids that young, and co-workers of mine had a few as well. I love babies. Friends call me "the baby hog" because I'll steal away a newborn at a party or other gathering and hold the baby for hours. But I don't want one of my own.

Which makes me feel very strange. Unfeminine. Somehow, I've gotten the memo that in order to be a complete, whole woman, I must be a mother. The roles of my career, wife, sister, daughter, friend, writer, baker, cook, reader, knitter and fangirl are not enough, and to be all that a woman ought, I should be a mother as well.

Isn't THAT a load of bullshit? Do you hear early feminists rolling over in their graves? 'Cause I sure do.

And is it any wonder at all that I'm completely out of my mind if these are the connections that my brain makes every day?

12 March 2007

The Idiot Tours South America

Greetings to the people of South America from President Idiot!

Everywhere I go, I'm met with people who are so happy to see me that police in riot gear are needed. It is so wonderful to be loved so much by all the world. I can't read the signs that the people are carrying, but my handlers assure me they're full of love and support for the troop increases in Iraq.

I'm sorry that my visit to Columbia had to be so short...but unlike when my predecessors visited your beautiful country, I just couldn't do a popular reception. Not at all because I would have been met with rocks, slogans, chanting and protest signs, that had nothin' to do wit it, I promise.

The 'merican media back home isn't reporting on the Mayan people's intent to hold a 'cleansing ceremony' at a sacred site AFTER the motorcade has left, thank goodness, it might give some liberals ideas about cleansing Congress. Oh, wait, I forgot, the 2006 Congressional elections did that already. Silly me!

But I bet that most 'mericans don't even know that I'm out of the country. Not to worry, I'll be back to keep things messed up until early 2009 very soon!



11 March 2007

Joss Stone

I watch television every day while I'm on the treadmill. Usually, this means that I'm watching MTV or VH1 with no sound, listening to my iPod. Every once in a while, I'll plug my headphones into the treadmill's headphone jack to listen to one or two songs, but usually not. Gods forbid that VH1 and MTV are both not showing videos and are stuck in some stupid reality show bullshit when I'm exercising.

Yesterday morning I wanted to hear the words to the new Justin Timberlake song that I've seen the video for in the mornings perhaps 17 times. So I plugged in, and listened, and I'm not going to tell you if I liked it or not, since I think it will damage my street cred either way.

Right after that, a new Joss Stone song came on, and I will admit to loving her. How can you not? Anyone with a voice like that, and at her age! So I went to iTunes to get her new album. Aaaannndd...it hasn't been released yet, apparently. Just the single of the song I heard, "Tell me 'bout it." So I snagged that, of course, but I'm left wanting lots more, and I swear that's the point.

Record companies are finally getting the fact that people will buy digital music and are putting more and more of it out there, although there are a few noticeable holdouts; I read a quick news item about Apple vs. Apple the other day. If you're unfamiliar with the case, quickly, Apple Corp is the Beatles music company, and they've been involved with lawsuits against Apple Computer since 1978. Read the article I linked, they explain it so much better than my muddling.

There was also Metallica's fight with Napster, remember this? But all seems happy in the members of the band these days when it comes to digital music, because it looks like most of their catalog is available out there on iTunes as well.

But by releasing singles, piecemeal, instead of a whole album as is the case here with Joss Stone's new song, strikes me as a great way for record companies to make up some of the revenue that they've lost in recent years due to the digital revolution. Which is something I'm sure a few record company execs thought of long before I did.

10 March 2007

Oh, REALLY, NPR. I expect better.

When I worked for the big ol' bank, I spent more than 10 hours a week in the car, driving from city to city, and I was a hopeless addict of NPR. I still listen to NPR, just not as much as I used to. Yes, they're liberal, yes, they get government funding. I don't care.

Yesterday, I was listening to All Things Considered on the way home from work, as I do most weekdays, and I heard two stories that had me so incredibly annoyed. First, in this story about US-Russia relations, some random Idiot Administration hack said essentially that a strong Russia is OK, as long as that strong Russia promotes things that the US agrees with. Because heaven forbid that someone, somewhere, should have an opinion that differs with the administration.

Part of the story talked about how President Doofus isn't getting along with President Putin these days...gone are the times when he could 'look into Putin's soul'. That was fun. But the tone of the whole report...gah, it bugged me.

And then immediately following that little bit of annoyance was this story, I shit you not, about Orange Juice Diplomacy. Truth being stranger than fiction, I couldn't make this one up if I tried. The report mentions the role that orange juice may play in relations between the US, Iran, and Syria. It was complete fluff, total E! Entertainment Television-level reportage. I was actually shouting at the radio (behaviour that is usually reserved for Fox News) about how incredibly stupid that segment was.

The only time I've ever turned NPR off in frustration was during the week of September 11th, 2001, because at some point during that whole horrible time, I couldn't take it anymore. Not one more second of information about who died, what they thought had happened.

I was pretty close yesterday, though, with that Orange Juice story. Until a friend phoned, and I had to turn it off anyway to hear the phone conversation. Thank goodness.

NPR, I expect so much better of you. I expect thoughtful, reasoned debates; excellent research; stentorian tones. I do not expect pap, fluff, crap, especially when it lasts as long as that piece did, and I also don't expect to hear the words 'orange juice' 15 times in a 35 second time frame.

I would write to them to express my annoyance, but I write to them fairly frequently, and I'm sure I'm on their list of "stalker crazies...delete these immediately".

09 March 2007

Scooter Libby Verdict

Yes, I know that the verdict was handed down earlier this week, but I've been busy writing about my obsession and International Women's Day, so this had to wait for a day when I am not being a really ridiculous fangirl. And since that is EVERY DAMN DAY, y'all....well, I think I can put it aside long enough to snark about the Idiot Administration. Right after I tell you that I resolved to stay off the forums for three whole days to see if I could do it, and....no. Couldn't. Oh, wait! I lied. I was off of the CW forum for 4 days, but only managed to stay off of JRAU for about 2. I was on the CW boards last night until one in the morning. Oy. Moving on....

No sooner was Scooter declared GUILTY of obstruction of justice than the media machine began cranking out rumours of a Presidential Pardon. While that would NOT be the dumbest thing that President Dumb Ass has done to date, (umm, going to war in Iraq gets my vote for the most idiotic thing that man has done) it would be the latest in a string of really stupid decisions. His presidency will be remembered in history as the most flawed American administration ever. Ever. The stonewalling of the media, the steadfast refusal to release information to the public, the tendency to steamroll over anyone who disagrees, the victory lap on the aircraft carrier....I digress. But it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if there is a presidential pardon.

I caught a snippet of an interview with one of the jurors on NPR or the Beeb, and he said it best, saying essentially that Scooter was the fall guy. Where is Karl Rove in all this? Why wasn't the Veep charged? Because you know that he ordered the outing of Valerie Plame as sure as you know that the sun rises in the east. Conspiracy theorist? Me? Well, yes.

Poor, poor Scooter. While I was searching for a link to the info about the guilty verdict, I found a website collecting donations for his defense fund. I'm not linking that simply because I refuse to lend credence to such idiots, their description blurb said "Because we know he's innocent." Yikes.

Let's start the pool now that he's not going to get any jail time at all. Anyone with me?

08 March 2007

International Women's Day

With apologies to anyone who is looking for more SN ranting, today I'm focusing on my core issue, women's rights.

International Women's Day is today, Thursday, March 8, 2007. From the website:

IWD is now an official holiday in Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers. The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

NPR had a blurb this morning as part of the hourly newscast that said that the focus of many events around the world today will be to encourage less violence towards women. Great, yeah, but here's a thought...how about encouraging the elimination of violence towards women. That just struck me as...reaching for the low fruit on the tree. Less violence would be great; elimination would be better. Why not strive for the loftier goal?

I've been meaning to link up another women's rights blogger, Twisty Faster, of I Blame the Patriarchy. She is INTENSE, and completely rockin'. I wish to all the powers that be that I could write about 1/10 as well as she does. I'd strongly encourage my male readers to stay the heck away, though, because really, dudes, you can't handle it.

Kind of switching gears...

I've always been really bothered by pay disparity. International Women's Day seems like a good day to talk about this. What gives? Since I have a va-jay-jay, I can't possibly do the job as well as someone who has a penis? Give me a fucking break. Women, on average, still earn only about 70% of what men earn, and that's just the way it is. It is an accepted fact. You don't hear very much about the equal rights amendment any more, and that is a damn shame.

When I talk to younger women about the 'feminist movement', I get eye rolls and much spewing of anti-feminist rhetoric. The perception that feminists are man-hating, butch lunatics who are in desperate need of a shag is pervasive and extremely offensive. I've been given more strange looks than I can count when I identify myself as a women's rights activist. I've said frequently before that I don't much care what other people think, so it doesn't 'hurt my feelings' when someone wants to bash me for standing fast in the belief that women have the right to the same opportunities that men do.

But I'm in my 30s. Where are the younger women? Where are the fiery radicals in their 20s? Where are the girls still in high school, angry that the girl's softball team won state champs, but the football team gets a new weight room?

Why haven't we broken out of the mold of the patriarchal society? What are we waiting for?