30 April 2007


I really should stay away from the whole "Lad Mag" genre. Really, really. Things like Details, Maxim, FHM, all of those. Trouble is, that I like men's fashion, and each of those publications usually has someone interesting on the cover. I'm also into pop culture, and often there's bits and pieces that I read in the lad mags that keep me plugged into that loop. So I get sucked in by whoever they're featuring and then inside the mag I'll come across an article that is so offensive that it makes me see red.

May's edition of Details is no exception. Orlando Bloom is on the cover, looking rugged and his hair slightly mussed, as if someone had just been running their fingers through it. Niiiice. And inside the magazine is an article about the insult that guys (and women too, I'll admit) sling at one another, one of the nastiest things you can say to someone. "Douchebag". Oh, all right, there are perhaps worse things that you can call someone, but isn't it interesting that the insulting things guys say to one another are all about womanhood? "Douchebag" "Pussy"?

The article's author, Simon Dumenco, does a good job of tracing the word's entomology, and use through the 1930s until today. But he's talking about how most guys dread becoming 'that guy' in the bar, you know, the douchebag.

This unthinking offensiveness, the ease with which we all (men, and women too, I'll admit) sling this word around is to me a statement about women's place in society. Foul language in English, things not fit for polite society but not necessarily curse words, all are about women. "slut" "whore" "bitch". There are no equivalents for the men; calling a guy a slut isn't an insult.

I like curse words as much as the next girl. Perhaps even more so than the next girl. In real life, I have quite the potty mouth. When I list English words that I like, the f-word is on that list, nestled in with things like 'coagulate' and 'prognosticator'. The little thrill you get when you say or do something illicit. So yes, I'm guilty of it too.

I can even curse in several other languages. Italian, French, Spanish, Swedish, German...and each tongue has its own set of words that aren't polite. When you meet someone that speaks another language, what's one of the first things you ask them to teach you? How to swear.

The only society that I am able to compare contemporary America with is Sweden, since I've only lived in those two countries. And while my writing frequently posits Sweden as utopia, I do know that it isn't. I lived there when I was 17, young, naive, and of course I thought it was perfect. But Sweden IS one of the most equal societies that I've ever encountered, women's rights being not a struggle but an assumed prerogative there. So it is interesting to me that curse words in Swedish have lots more to do with hell and the devil than any particular gender. A reflection on the status of women? Perhaps.

The women's movement has made strides in taking ownership of the word "bitch" in recent years. When someone calls me a bitch, the response they usually get goes something like this, "Thanks!! My momma always said 'don't let anybody walk all over you' and I don't!" Much like gay rights activists have urged the homosexual community to take back the word 'faggot'. I see that as a positive, a very positive, thing.

But why is it that words like 'douchebag' remain popular? I was talking to a friend the other day who said she'd noticed a resurgence in the use of the word in popular culture. We were talking about how internet speak has become de rigeur, how each of the forums that she and I belong to have their own forms of acronyms and slang. At a site where she spends a lot of time, she's noticed over the past two years people using douchebag quite a lot. It has wormed its way from the internet into popular usage, you see it used on Entourage, which I think is a look into that quintessential guy world, and even on network TV shows.

If that's the most insulting thing that one man can say to another, what do they both think of women? Not much, is all I can imagine.

29 April 2007

Perhaps baking as a form of therapy.

I was channel surfing yesterday and caught a few minutes of "Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee" on Food TV. I wasn't fully focused on the telly, having the laptop in my lap and reading fan's accounts of Jensen's new movie Ten Inch Hero from the Newport Beach Film Festival. Lucky, lucky, lucky fangirls who attended the screening!!!! Part of the cast, including Jensen, was there. So since I was more engrossed in reading about how one fan got to take his picture and hear his voice in person, ('scuse me while I swoon!) I missed exactly how Sandra Lee made the cookies that I thought looked good.

I don't like most of what she does, because I vastly prefer to make my own stuff instead of doctoring box mixes or using some of the other shortcuts that she uses. Yes, she makes homemade cooking more accessible to folks who think the kitchen is a scary place, but for the rest of us who really enjoy the process, the chemistry, the end result, her recipes are usually a "pass". Besides, pre-packaged mixes are always full of the worst things for you, bleached flour, white sugar, tons of salt, high fructose corn syrup, even tBHQ. If you are trying to avoid those things, as I am, you've got to read the label on positively EVERYTHING you pick up in the grocery store, because you never know what you're going to get in that box of Hamburger Helper, or sugar cookie mix.

I've been so weighted down by the depression which I've been trying to work my way through that I haven't made anything from scratch, or created a new recipe, or even fussed much in the kitchen over about the last two months. Y'know things are not good when the food writer isn't working in the kitchen, doesn't want to eat, and can't focus enough to make dinner, right? Something about these macadamia nut cookies made me want to get in there and bake something, though, so today I went rooting through the cupboards and discovered that yes, I did have an unopened container of macadamia nuts. I'll take the spark of inspiration wherever it comes from, I'm not picky.

I next went to my cookbook shelf, which takes up an entire section of my library's built-in bookcases. I was looking for a sugar cookie recipe that didn't require rolling out on the countertop (more mess than I could currently handle having to clean) or chilling in the refrigerator (I want COOKIES and I want them NOW).

Much like collecting shoes is an issue for me, collecting cookbooks is a habit that I can't break. I will actually sit down and READ a cookbook, just like I'll read a novel, learning new techniques or getting an idea for a concoction of my own. I own somewhere around 70 cookbooks, at last count. Go ahead, point at me and say, "Lucy, you're a complete geek." Yes, I know that and am OK with it. I have, at a minimum guess, about 10 cookbooks that are strictly cookies, and several of the old standby all-purpose cookbooks, like the red and white checked gingham covered Better Homes and Gardens, the Joy of Cooking. I couldn't find a recipe that I wanted to use, and even leafing through the huge three-ring binder full of things I've clipped out of magazines, printed from the web and photocopied out of library cookbooks didn't bring any inspiration. Dejected, I put the books all back on the shelf and went to lie down for a bit.

Christ, how ridiculous is it that something like that will put me into a tailspin? The anti-depressant seems to be helping a bit, but not enough, yet, to bring me out of that horrible funk. In my defense, I did only sleep about 3 hours last night, from around 3 am until about 6:30, so perhaps a short nap was just what I needed.

After napping for about a half hour, I thought about the bag of chocolate chips that I'd seen while hunting for macadamia nuts, and I decided that instead of a kind of sugar cookie with macadamia nuts in them, I'd make macadamia nut chocolate chip cookies. There are any number of good chocolate chip cookie recipes out there; I'm fond of the original Tollhouse recipe, with a few small modifications such as using all brown sugar instead of white, and the addition of a little bit of milk, but in about the last two years whenever I've made chocolate chip cookies, I've used Alton Brown's recipe for "The Chewy" which seem to stay soft after baking. I don't like rock-hard chocolate chip cookies. It is very much a personal preference.

A quick second of OT gushing...I heart Alton Brown's show Good Eats. Love how he explains the chemistry of cooking and baking, love his insistence that the only tool in your kitchen that only does one thing should be a fire extinguisher, love how he shows unique ways to accomplish complicated kitchen tasks with things that you already own.

When I'd finished mixing the dough, I looked at the lump of it sitting in the bowl, and was overwhelmed at the idea of scooping out four dozen cookies. (I make them much smaller than Alton recommends.) Just more than I could handle, I guess. So instead I put the whole thing into a round 9-inch cake pan and baked it for 30 minutes, and now cooling on the countertop is what looks like a cookie pizza.

I certainly don't NEED these cookies in the house. One of the problems that I have with food is that I can't eat just one cookie, I want a dozen. I don't want just the recommended serving size of potato chips, I want the whole bag of them. So I don't normally have things like that in my house to avoid temptation. I know this and can plan for it so it doesn't become a problem. When I am testing recipes, or working on a foodie article, I will give whatever it is away after reserving a small portion for myself.

This cookie pizza is cute, though, and I won't cut into it until DH gets home so that he can see what it looks like. And then it will go with me to work tomorrow, so my staff can eat it instead of me. They love it when I'm testing recipes.

Progress, however, in that I was able to get the house cleaned up today, I made something in the kitchen, did some laundry and I'm on the computer looking for story ideas for posts next week. The sun's out, birds are singing, distantly I hear lawnmowers chugging along as people cut the grass for the first time. My house smells like cookies and clean laundry, good, homey things that are sure-fire spirit lifters.

If only baking wonderful things was the answer. Wouldn't it be nice?

28 April 2007

Proof that watching even one TV show is one too many

There's only one television program that I watch. That's it. I've never been a fan of TV, and the addiction to Supernatural is quite enough, thank you.

But even that one hour of television a week is too much. Last week was "TV Turn-off" week, and I didn't even know it until Thursday, and since that's the day Supernatural airs, I certainly wasn't going to not watch. Heaven forbid.

Television is all around us. There are too many TV screens to even count at my gym, mounted on the walls surrounding the cardio studio. The treadmills and steppers and elliptical machines and stationary bikes all can each see at least three screens at any given time. There are about half a dozen treadmills with their own built-in TV screens, and about an equal number of elliptical trainers with their own televisions in addition to all those wall-mounted TVs. It is in every restaurant I go to, a distraction that is unneeded when I'm dining out with friends and family. So hard to tear your attention away from, even when what matters are the people in front of you.

So it is inescapable, and I end up seeing more of it than I care to. I'm more plugged in to the pop culture loop than I care to admit, and sometimes when people ask me if I've seen a particular commercial, I have seen it, and can talk about it. There's a Verizon commercial running right now that has subtitles and is about text-message speak that is really funny, I stop what I'm doing to watch it when it comes on. Advertising is such an interesting thing, trying to persuade you to do things or buy things that you might not otherwise buy or do. I'm not going to change mobile phone providers based on that commercial, but it certainly generates buzz.

And then there's good old Chuck. There are several commercials from Charles Schwab running in heavy rotation on seemingly every single channel right now. They irritate the shit out of me. I'm not sure why. They're "normal people" in everyday situations, a backyard barbecue, sitting around a table in a restaurant, standing outside a chi-chi coffee shop, to name a few. The people are talking about how they're unhappy with their stockbroker, or they were unhappy until they switched to Charles Schwab. All that is fine, normal advertising schtick so far. But the people have been cartoonized, for lack of a better term, much like some of the effects that you can do in Photoshop. Even MGI Photovista, the photo-editing software I use, has a cartoon effects filter. You overlay the picture with this effect, and it makes your picture look like a cartoon. You can do a similar thing to make your picture look like a painting. Very easy, a 3rd grader could do it with the right software.

For some reason, the cartoon effect in those Schwab ads bother me a lot. Is it because it is such a low-budget effect, or because looking at the people, you can kind of envision what they ought to look like, and it causes some disconnect in your brain? I don't know. They just bug me.

I hate even admitting that I know about and can quote television commercials. I'd love to toss a "Damn You, Kripke!" out there, and blame this on my SN addiction, but that wouldn't be precisely correct or fair. (Kripke's one of the producers of SN, and that is really a compliment, or a catchphrase, depending on you POV.) I watched bits and pieces of television before Supernatural, and when it goes off the air (god forbid that be anytime soon!!) I'm sure there will be other times that I watch bits and pieces again.

Such an ingrained part of our culture; I wonder if it would be possible to truly disconnect from all of it.

27 April 2007


Many, many, many thanks to Mischa at Church Made Me Stupid for writing a post about this, which caught my attention. Rarely if ever do I do more than one blog post in a day, but this is important enough to warrant a dual post.

Please direct your mouse over to Feministe, and read about an attempted bombing at an abortion clinic in Austin, Texas. What, you didn't catch that in the national media? Oh, that's because "terrorism doesn’t count if it’s directed against women and their health care providers"

Dual standards for everything else in the whole wide world, not just male and female public behavior, but even for the safety of providers for women's health. Good Goddess, what is the world coming to?

Really Weird Dreams

Sleeping is such a problem. I want to lie in bed and do nothing, but I'd also love to get more than a few hours sleep, and it just isn't happening.

Last night I climbed into bed around 12:30, after watching Supernatural (twice). I spent from 10 pm until just after midnight talking online to other SN fanatics. Yes, a new episode of Supernatural aired last night, and yes, it was wonderful. I'm resisting the urge to write a complete rehash of the whole episode. I do have this one thing to share...Jensen's character had several lines that made me laugh out loud, but the best one has to be when he's being interrogated and someone asks him "You think you're REAL cute, don't ya?" and he responds with a mile-wide grin, "I think I'm adorable!" Yes, yes, you are. And that sound you heard? Was about 30,000 fangirls screaming their agreement.

Moving on. I'm going to talk about sleep today. Really.

I am still taking Ambien, and it gets me to fall asleep very quickly, but it seems to level out at about 4 hours of sleep, because without fail, unless I climb into bed after 1 am, I wake between 4:17 and 4:38 every day. I get up at 5, and waking thirty minutes or so before when I am going to really get up irritates me. I'm not sure why, other than perhaps I feel that I'm being robbed of a precious few minutes of sleep.

Sometimes I am able to fall back asleep for those precious few minutes. Sometimes not. I have vivid dreams in that short space of time when I do manage to fall back asleep. I am able to "lucid dream," something I've been able to do almost as far back as I can remember. Sometimes I'm even able to control the dreams. Not all the time.

This most recent one that bothered me was one that I wasn't in control, nor was I lucid. It involved a dinner at a restaurant, with a table for about 12. I can tell you what the table looked like, the chairs, the decor of the restaurant, even what the dishes and glasses looked like. Very, very crisp, vivid detail. I can't tell you who all was around that table for twelve, but one person was one of my ex's, and another was a parent of an old friend, a third was a high school classmate that I haven't spoken to in a while. The parent was asking how on earth I could be friends with the ex when I'm married to someone else. I tried in vain to explain it, finally coming up with the lame non-explanation "Because we're friends." (real life answer isn't all that much more clear: he's a good guy, and we're both grownups enough to be able to be nice to one another. We share a political viewpoint, I like his wife, and we're not interested in ever getting back together...this is a friendship, not an opportunity, fer gawd's sake.)

My classmate and I left the restaurant, shaking our heads over the inability of some people to recognize that men and women can actually BE FRIENDS, walking down a set of concrete steps, and we ran right in to another ex-boyfriend of mine. In the waking world, I haven't seen this particular guy for a very long time, and in the dream, he of course looked exactly the same as he did when I was 15/16. I'm not sure I'd be able to pick him out of a crowd today, like many of my schoolmates, he remains forever 17 in my memory.

He persuaded me to come back into the restaurant with him, after spending several minutes kissing me in the parking lot. Um? WTF? Hadn't I just finished explaining in the dream a few minutes ago that I was married to someone else? And in real life, I am very happily married to someone else. Dreams like this bother me so much. Not only did I go back into the restaurant with this ex, holding his hand, but also introducing him around the table as "my ex-boyfriend Joe" and then kissing him again in full sight of everyone, who gave me jaws-on-the-floor-shocked glares. I woke up a minute or so later, gasping for breath, convinced I'd done something wrong. I was very disoriented to discover myself in my own bed, DH asleep beside me, instead of where I'd expected to be, standing in a restaurant surrounded by accusing glares and angry words.

Sometimes dreams mean something. Sometimes they're just dreams. I attach no particular significance to this dream, it isn't allegorical or a statement about my life, but man, it made me squirm. I don't have dreams quite like this when I'm not taking the Ambien. Never as vivid with the detail, and hardly ever traumatic. The level of weirdness knows no bounds.

26 April 2007

Run, girl.

I had another tough day on the treadmill. I don't understand why this happens. I couldn't run for more than about eight minutes today, when I've been doing 11 for a few days.

As if I'm not convinced that I'm completely losing my mind, I've had a couple of odd things happen to me that make me think I'm slipping over the edge. Tuesday, I 'lost' my iPod. Had it IN MY HAND when I got in the car...got to the gym, and it was gone. Now, really, where could it have gone? Had I dropped it in the garage? Set it down inside the house? Frantic searching ensued when I got out of the car in the gym's parking lot, looking around the seats, and it was nowhere to be found. So I used the gym's phone to call home and asked DH to look for it in the house and garage. No iPod.

Working out without music is horrible. Running on the treadmill is boring. Being at the gym isn't fun. So oddly enough, on Tuesday, I had headphones but no iPod. Fortunately, you can plug the headphones into some of the treadmills and I survived the workout.

Where was the iPod? Uh, in the car. Under the passenger seat. Found it when I got home, in the lighted garage. The gym's parking lot was just too dark to see it. But wait, that's not the worst of it.

This morning, I couldn't find my cell phone as I was on my way out the door to work. I'd tossed a load of laundry into the washing machine and started it, and somehow became convinced that the phone was inside the washing machine. Maybe it had gotten into the laundry basket. O, crap, what if it got in the laundry basket? Wet cell phone = bad. So I pulled every soaking wet thing out of the washing machine, shook it out, got water everywhere, and no, no cell phone. Finally found it about 10 minutes later, I'd set it down in my closet when getting dressed.

Scatterbrained like that isn't like me. Good god, I am losing my mind.

25 April 2007

French Elections

I am interested in politics all over the world, not just here at home. I listen with interest when NPR covers international elections, which they often do for many nations. Rarely Sweden, which disappoints me, but I'm kind of biased when it comes to all things Swedish.

The French election cycle has been in the news lately, and I've listened, fascinated, about how France handles elections. There are a few great lessons we could take from them. In the days leading up the election, for example, there is a complete media blackout on political advertisement and rhetoric. According to NPR, they do that so the French voters may have some peace and quiet to make up their minds. Isn't that an interesting idea.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, I worked for John Kerry's 'organization'. I use that term very loosely...they were so disorganized that I thought weeks before the election that it'd be a miracle if he did win. I volunteered to be a poll observer, to watch at a polling station for the majority of the day to ensure that no one was disenfranchised. I thought it would be really interesting. In the days leading up to the elections, when I already had my assignment for my polling station and had been through the training, I got countless phone calls from the Kerry campaign, asking if I would volunteer to drive people to the polls, asking if I would do this or do that on election day. By the third phone call, I was no longer nice when I explained that I already had an assignment for election day. By the tenth, I was no longer civil.

I remember how badly that "Swift Boat" advertising campaign hurt the Kerry effort, and how it started shortly before the election. I wonder, first how we could enforce a media blackout when there are so very many media outlets, and also if that would work here. It is an interesting idea, especially when held up before the freedom of speech in the first amendment. Does that inhibit free speech to have a media blackout? Yeah, maybe it does. I still think it might be a good idea.

Each election cycle here in the States seems to get dirtier and dirtier. Attack ads, run by special interests, which twist the truth. (On both sides, liberal and conservative.) Debates which don't hold true to the spirit of Lincoln-Douglas. The amount of money that it takes to be elected President of the United States is obscene, and disgusting.

So I wonder if we shouldn't take some lessons away from France. I'm not crazy about the runoff system that they're using, but really, it isn't much different from the primary election system we use here, just closer together.

I don't have much to say about the two candidates, Royal and Sarkozy. I've written about Sarkozy before, when he was interior minister of France. He said some things that I thought were unfortunate and very anti-immigrant. Some horribly racist things. How quickly we forget! American media has been reporting that he's the most pro-American candidate of all of them, but since most of Europe is anti-Bush at the moment, I imagine that what they mean when they say pro-American is pro-Bush. Which is an automatic strike against him from my point of view. And the anti-immigrant rhetoric he was spouting back in 2006 would have been offensive to anyone descended from immigrants, i.e. most Americans.

Royal I know very little about, other that she's female, in her 50s, and a socialist. I lived in a socialist country, so I can tell you that no, socialist is not communist. There's a big difference. Mostly, I think it would be cool for France to have a female president. And I like socialism.

Interesting, isn't it, that if she is elected, we'd have yet another country beat us in the race to have a female leader. Even Bangladesh had a female head of state before us.

If Sarkozy is elected, immigrants in France will have an interesting road ahead of them. At least Jean-Marie LePen was forced out during the first round of elections, he is quite the nationalist, with his "France for the French" campaign. Scary.

24 April 2007

Never Was A Cornflake Girl

This post has sat in my queue for a while, as I've spent some time contemplating if I am going to share it with teh internets. I've edited, edited, edited, revised, changed, and generally obsessed over it. This is perhaps the most honest thing I've ever penned, and is without a doubt the most difficult thing I've ever tried to commit to words. It may also take the prize for Longest. Blogpost. Ever.

The title refers to a Tori Amos song, with lyrics that have almost never made sense to me. I'm a big fan of Tori's music, but that doesn't mean that I always know what the heck she's talking about.

It seems an appropriate title to use when I'm going to talk about something else I barely understand.

Once upon a time, I had the blues. Summer, 2004. Not depressed, just down. The blahs, the out-of-sorts feeling. My sisters had moved far away, my job sucked, and I lived in an apartment that I despised. I put some effort into finding another job, and when I finally left the big ol' bank, I thought I'd left the blues behind too. For a while, things were great. My new job was infinitely more fulfilling, we moved, my sisters came back to Ohio.

Fast forward almost three years. Things are better. And worse. I have a beautiful home that I love, I've discovered that I am a writer, but my sisters are far away again, things on the job front have deteriorated, and I feel the weight of so many things on my shoulders that it is hard to move sometimes. Literally. I feel like I'm dragging myself around, every step a monumental effort. This isn't a case of the blues. This is clinical depression.

If I could pinpoint an instant when things changed, that would be lovely. But it isn't just one thing. In a way, it is a fairly standard issue mid-life crisis kind of thing, albeit about 20 years early. Because while I feel old, even ancient some days, I'm not really in the proper age bracket for a mid-life.

I'm wondering what the hell I'm doing here, that existential question of why we're all here on this earth. What's my purpose? I'm wondering what happened to that rebellious , spirited, loud, I'm-going-to-change-the-world 17 year old who I used to be, and why I can't go back to being her. Someone invent time travel, and I'll be happy. Riiight. But it is also part self-realization, that I don't like where I am. In my career, geographically, emotionally. I'm not sure if I like who I am at all. I'm having trouble envisioning a future when I don't feel this way. Hell, I'm having trouble envisioning a day when I'm not a complete train-wreck of a mess. Days have become something to be endured, a waiting time between when I can escape to sleep.

I was able to admit to myself that something was really wrong when I had a conversation with my mother while sitting in a busy restaurant, and I burst into tears at something she said. It isn't like me to burst into tears in public. It isn't like me to not have 36,000 things going at once. It isn't like me to not be reading 3 books, working on a myriad of projects. I'm not the lay in bed and do nada type. I can't focus at all on any one thing long enough to fix what the major problems are. I feel twitchy, like I need to jump out of my own skin. There are things spinning around and around in my head, endless loops of things that are far beyond my control, and yet I worry about them, worry at them like a dog with a big treat bone.

Back in 2004 when I had the blues, I was on a whole boatload of meds, including a very small daily dosage of a common anti-depressant called Elavil. I had extensive stomach problems at the time, acid reflux, esophageal damage, crippling heartburn. My gastroenterologist, aka the tummy doctor, had prescribed about 3 of the meds I was taking. I objected, strenuously, to 'an anti-psychotic' (my words) when he told me he was going to prescribe Elavil, but he convinced me to take it by explaining that it was an experimental off-label usage, trying to ease some of the pain I was having with the acid reflux. And it worked. Like a charm. Helped with the pain, which was a minor miracle. {It is sort of beside the point that what he should have done is told me to lose some weight and the heartburn would disappear.}

I had far too many prescriptions in my 20s. Besides the 3 from the tummy doctor, I had allergy meds, asthma meds, the Pill, more crap than most 70 year olds take every day. When I came to my current job, at about 29 years old, I trashed everything except the birth control pill, and that was it for meds in my 30s until recently, when I started taking Singulair for the allergy/asthma crap and Ambien for my sleeping trouble.

So I didn't want to go on an anti-depressant, because I thought it wouldn't really change anything. I don't particularly like the idea that there's a little pill to fix every single ill. I know I've got some problems. I know that I need some help. This time is much more than the blues that I had before. More intense, more debilitating, more suffocating. Sure, going on an anti-depressant will help the chemical imbalance in my brain that makes me depressed, but it won't change the rest of my issues. Which are myriad.

I spent some time talking to Dr. Hottie, (you remember Dr. Hottie, my family doctor, right?) who explained to me that within two weeks of beginning an anti-depressant, I'd feel 'better'. And that most people who take them end up being on them for six to nine months, that they're able to move off of them, get things back under control. He told me that the Elavil that I'd taken previously at the dosage I took it was not the same as taking an anti-depressant for depression. He told me that at the proper dosage, anti-depressants can change things. He also agreed with me that treating what's going on with me with medication alone is not the best answer. I love it when he agrees with me. Do it my way, doc, it is so much easier.

He gave me a prescription for an anti-depressant, at 150 mg/day. I agreed to give it a shot. I've been taking it for about ten days. It seems to be helping a little bit. I'm not sure that it will be the final med that I end up on, so I'm not going to mention it by name until I've been on it for a while longer. We're messing with brain chemistry here, scary stuff, kids. What works for me may not work for you, your mileage may vary, et cetera. It gives me a headache, every afternoon, like clockwork. I don't know how long I'll be able to handle a daily headache. I really dislike needing to take an over-the-counter pain reliever to counteract the side effects of a prescription.

I've always been a 'fixer', I want to 'fix' everything. So this bleak outlook I've developed requires some tinkering, some adjustment.

I have decided to get some therapy. No, seriously. To work with a psychotherapist, doing some talking about the things that are problems. And the reason that I'm posting this in my blog? I mean, seriously, girl, why would you want to share this with the whole wide world? There are a couple of reasons.

One, I'm not ashamed of having a mental illness. My maternal grandmother suffered from depression, suffered in silence, never getting any treatment for it. I wonder who she might have been if she had gotten some help. I wonder who I might be if this giant suck wasn't weighing me down. Gram suffered in silence because that's what you did in her day. You didn't talk about it, there was a huge stigma attached to any mental disorder which then reflected poorly back on the family, was a sign of weakness. I reject that.

Two, I'm hopeful that by adding my voice to the chorus of those sharing their struggles with mental illness (Dooce, among many others) that it will help with the destigmatization of all mental illnesses, not just depression. I am certainly not the first blogger to ever talk about depression. Far from it. I truly believe that this is a disease like any other chronic condition, and should be treated just as diabetes, or cancer is treated. Don't get me started on the insurance companies, and what they will or will not cover when it come to mental health issues, because that's a rant for another time and place. I'm talking about society in general, and things have come a very long way since my Gran's day, but we're not there yet.

So going forward, occasionally, I am going to post something that relates to what I'm working on in therapy, what I think about it, and if the meds are working. I'll stick the tags 'depression' and 'cornflake girl' on them for identification purposes, and because everything must be compartmentalized and organized. (hee! My inner geek is showing.) Having a label of 'cornflake girl' entertains me a whole lot. Don't ask me why. I just find it really funny.

This sharing of my depression and general miserable-ness isn't a desperate bid for attention, merely a simple statement of fact. I don't want pity. I'm having enough of a pity-party for one without help from anyone else, and feeling guilty for feeling sorry for myself. So spare me the sympathy. I'm only one of millions who is depressed in the US, and depression diagnoses are handed out every day, all over the world. While for me, this started as a deep sadness, and I think maybe partly stems from grief over a death in my family, true clinical depression rarely has anything to do with being sad or just having the blues. The clinical symptoms are more about that huge dragging suck I was talking about earlier, and not having enough energy to do things that normally give you pleasure.

I can't tell you when the last time was that I picked up my knitting needles. Or made up a recipe for something yummy to eat. Or worked for more than an hour or so on my novel writing. Daily posts here can sometimes take me as long as 3 days to write. Those are all things that I love to do, and can't focus on. I don't want to do anything, other than lay in bed, watch TV, and when I'm feeling really 'good', then I want to read or randomly surf the net. I don't want to do much else. I have to FORCE myself out of bed to the gym in the morning, force myself to get to work, and it is a major struggle to do things like laundry or errand running. Minor problems become major hurdles. "Catastrophes," like not being able to find something, become reasons to climb back into bed. Or sob, you know, whichever is more convenient. Unlike lethargy, where you just don't want to do something, depression kind of makes you unable. Makes you feel that nothing matters, so why bother.

The Swedes have a saying, Jag örkar inte. Like many things, something gets lost in the translation. Literally, it is "I go not". But it means both that you don't have the energy or the will to do something, anything. And that adequately sums up how I feel.

I'm hopeful that I'll be able to 'fix' my depression. I am a little frightened of what I'll discover about myself on this voyage. But I'm taking that vital first step, bravely, tentatively, even a little defiantly. I invite you to share the journey with me.

23 April 2007


NPR's Morning Edition is doing a series called "The Long View" and since I missed the intro to the piece I'm going to talk about, I'm not sure yet if it is specifically about sex and sexuality, but that's part of what Renee Montagne and Hugh Hefner talked about in the interview that aired this morning. Tomorrow they're talking to Dr. Ruth (Westhenimer), so perhaps I'm correct that it is a series about sexuality. Or maybe it is about folks who have reached a certain age. Whichever, I listened with interest as they talked about the bad relationship between the women's movement and Playboy.

Hef said that when the women's movement first started squalling about him and Playboy, he was astonished, that he thought Playboy was all about women's rights. Which is soooooo typical male bewildered behavior that I'm not even going to comment on it. But he went on to say that he thought the women's movement had partially grown out of the sexual revolution that Playboy was a big part of, and guess what, he's not wrong.

Mainstream availability of blue magazines and films allowed women to speak up and speak out about things that had long been taboo. A more open society allows debate of a wider range of issues, leading to public conversations about topics that were once the subject of whispers, out there on the edge.

Pornography has always been a tricky subject for me. On the one hand, you have freedom of speech, of expressing yourself, that everyone has the right to produce whatever they like, say whatever they like. A sacred right, one that I hold very dear. You must protect the speech that you don't like as vociferously, or more so, than the speech that you do like, lest the evil persons unknown censor anything. Censorship is wrong, plain and simple. On the other hand, you have the fact that porn IS degrading to women, most of it catering to ridiculous male fantasies, perpetuating the myth that to be sexy you must be blonde, tall, leggy, white, and have huge, basketball sized breasts.

Please note that when I'm saying pornography, I am referring to what could be called 'mainstream porn', not child pornography, not snuff films. I'm talking about the things that can easily be purchased at any newsstand, or rented from the back room of your neighborhood video store.

I've heard the argument that getting rid of porn would solve many of the world's evils. I don't buy it. If you make it illegal, you simply force it to the further edges of society. Or, rather, out even further than it currently is, which would make it more dangerous. Porn is always going to be there. Even the Greeks and Romans had their own versions of pornography, you can easily find examples of Grecian urns with pornographic imagery. I first heard about that aspect of porn's long history in a college class, where Reign of the Phallus; Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens was required reading. So outlawing it isn't the answer, because there will always be a market for it, and there will always be those that produce it for the pull of the money.

Does pornography offend me? Not really. Am I fan? No. So what do I do about it? I don't purchase it, for one. Remember Salt-n-Pepa? Some of the first female rappers? They had a song in the early 90s called "Let's Talk About Sex" which caused a huge stir when it was released. The song is really about safer sex, talking with your potential partners ahead of time about using protection, keeping the lines of communication about sex open. But there's a line in that song that I'll point to as what I think is a good way to think about pornography.

Those who think its dirty have a choice;

Pick up the needle

Press pause

Or turn the radio off

Will that stop us, Pep?

I doubt it.

If it offends you, don't buy it. Don't look at it. But know that someone, somewhere is going to produce it and someone else is going to buy it. Live and let live, essentially. Lobby to keep it out of your kid's face, absolutely. However, what happens between consenting adults shouldn't be the subject of the debate.

When I posted a diatribe a few weeks ago about rude public behavior, a comment from another blogger got me thinking about the rise of female raunch culture, which is a topic far afield from where I started today. While I agree with the premise that women who star in pornographic publications are objectifying themselves, allowing the objectification of women to continue, I also think that it certainly is within each woman's rights to choose to be in a porn film or racy magazine.

And then turn it around to another angle; women are certainly no less guilty of objectifying men, but that's a much more recent development. Not until long after the sexual revolution did you find PlayGIRL. There's a much, much smaller segment of the porn industry that produces porn for women. I don't purchase that, either. My non-support of the industry extends over the whole of the industry.

I'd like to say that when men are objectified that they ought to be flattered, but realize how incredibly chauvinist that is of me. How horrified I would be if a man suggested that to me. I don't know if men could ever understand why being objectified is such a problem for women. Why we aren't flattered. Being looked at as purely a sexual object can indeed be a thrill, but you can also end up feeling like you're worthless, because no one cares about who you are outside the fantastic body. I think that's the piece that's missing from Hef's brain when he talks about how crazy he thinks the feminists are.

I don't think that Hugh Hefner is the devil incarnate. I think he's a pretty clever fella who figured out how to make millions off of taking pictures of naked people. And I know about 3 million men who wish they were in his shoes. He's going to be 81 soon. Should I live that long (and I'm not at all certain that I wish to), I hope that I'm as healthy and active as he is at that age. He certainly is proof that there's some truth to the saying that growing older is inevitable, growing UP is optional.

Listening to: Anna Molly, Incubus

22 April 2007

A Movie Review

What's next? It may be a sign of end times, first I write a sort-of review about an episode of Supernatural, and now I'm going to post a movie review? Well, all politics and no silliness makes for a dull Lucy, so why not?

DH and I went to see Redline on Friday night. My recommendation to you is to wait until it comes out on DVD and get it from Netflix. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't fantastic either. Here's a quick summation of the plot. Super-rich assholes stage completely illegal car races, betting inordinate sums of money on the outcome of said races. The races take place either in the desert, at abandoned airports, or at the end, in the middle of what you are supposed to think is Red Rocks. Or near Red Rocks. I think all they said about the location was "at Red Rocks." Anyway. By a fairly twisted and contrived storyline, the characters are drawn into the final race for one last showdown. The races, while completely illegal, have a huge following of the types of entourages you assume that actors and music moguls have. It is a bit tough to keep all the rich assholes straight, let alone trying to keep track of who is in which entourage.

Cops only show up once, at an illegal street race. There were some horrific car crash scenes, any of which would have been serious enough to have fatalities, and the racers not only could care less about loss of life that doesn't include the drivers, they seem to revel in the destruction.

The best reason to go see it would be for Nadia Bjorlin, a Swede, who is so incredibly beautiful that she shines from the screen. She's got these huge, huge expressive blue eyes that draw your gaze to her no matter who else is on screen with her. Supporting cast includes Eddie Griffin, Angus Macfadyen, Nathan Phillips (who I am compelled to note is very good looking, and an Aussie by birth, so mmmmm, accent), and Tim Matheson. They each were believable as the characters they played, Macfadyen doing a fantastic scary psycho, Phillips doing the heartthrob/hero/all around good guy, Griffin and Matheson doing stereotypical Hollywood archetypes, Matheson as a film/TV producer and Griffin as a music producer. Now that I know that Phillips is an Aussie (I didn't while watching the film) I have to say that he did a great job on the Yankee accent.

But whoever was in charge of costuming for this film had Bjorlin in clothing that her boobs were hanging out of, in almost everything she had on. It was distracting for me, and I'm not attracted to girls. If I was into girls, I'm fairly certain that I wouldn't have heard a word she said through the entire film. As it was, all I could think about was something Demain wrote on TWoP....which had me imagining that the boobs were talking, saying things like "Dude, we're really squashed here. Get us something more comfy, will ya? Would it kill you to wear a bra that wasn't killing us?" But then, cruising through paparazzi pics of her, looks like she wears that sort of thing all the time, so flaunt it if ya got it, I guess. Jealous, moi?

I could also rant and rave about the exploitation of women, because she was the female lead, and all other women in the film were also dressed as tramps, but I can't muster up the energy to care.

There were some awesome cars in the movie, oh, and a very cute boy who I thought at first was James Van Der Beek, but he turns out to be Jesse Johnson, son of Don Johnson of Miami Vice fame. Did I mention that Jesse's adorable? Young, but very pretty. They kept talking about how young his character was, but in reality he's about 25. I think we were supposed to think the character was 18 or so. They kept him dressed in layers upon layers of preppy boy clothes, and he had some of the coolest James Bond-esqe gadgets. But I digress. Let's keep the distractions of the male variety to a minimum today, shall we? OK.

Back to the car thing. I've always been a car girl, thanks to my dad, who is the original gear-head. So I thought it was really awesome that Nadia's character was the driving maniac and uber-gear head that she was. It wasn't that believable, but hey, what's a blockbuster movie for, anyway?

The theater where we watched the movie was playing Hillary Duff's "With Love" when we walked it, at such a volume that I could feel the pulses in the song in my chest. I was hopeful that the volume would go down when the movie started, but such was not the case. The movie was loud enough to blow your socks off. I take earplugs to the concerts that I go to in the summertime, hoping to forestall more hearing loss. Guess I'll need to start doing that for the movies as well, my ears were ringing when it was over. There were all of 4 people in the theater including DH and I, so I suppose I could have gone and asked the management to turn it down, but I did not.

We haven't been to see a movie for a good long time...I was surprised that tickets were $8.50 a pop. Certainly not worth the price, for this film.

21 April 2007

Sakta mina steg

Or, in English:

Slow my steps

Every now and then I just can't resist slipping a little Swedish into the mix. Sorry. I was listening to Swedish pop on my iPod and I'm having trouble getting back into the English groove.

I know I was complaining just a few short days ago about how my exercise program isn't working as well as I'd like, and that's still true, but I noticed a few things today that thrill me to my fingertips.

I take an early morning Yoga class on Saturdays. In the depths of winter, it is really difficult to get to that class...it is still dark outside, bitterly cold, and forsaking the warmth of my bed is hard. As spring continues to unfold, it gets easier, in part because it is light outside, and in part because it isn't as frosty outside. I've been doing this class for between 6 and 7 months, it is intermediate Yoga. Some of the stuff we do is hard, some less so. I find Yoga very soothing, usually. Every now and then, if I've been out on Friday night before the class, it is awful.

My instructor is a serene woman, mother of four. Her kids range in age from 8 months to 10 years. I have no idea how she stays so calm all the time. I've never seen her in a snit, or on edge. Which makes me slightly suspicious that she's one of those "terminally happy" people, you know the type. The ones that need a good bop in the head. But maybe she just really loves teaching Yoga.

Today she led us through a series of moves, from downward-facing dog, into plank, to upward dog, table, to cat-back, lather, rinse, repeat. We went through this cycle half a dozen times, and I was breathing at her instruction. I have never been able to hold the plank pose for very long, it hurts my lower back. Today, not a problem. Not a hitch. No wimping out and dropping the pose to its modification, which puts your knees on the floor.

Sometimes, if I can drag my ass out of bed, I do my cardio on the treadmill before Yoga. Most of the time, though, I end up doing it after. I left Yoga today feeling strong and positive, but I really wanted to go back to bed. Part of this whole exercise thing is pushing myself to do more, a little bit of beating myself up over having gotten as overweight as I was. Part of it also is when I joined the Y, and informed DH that I intended to go every weekday when the gym opened up at 05.30, he said, "That will NEVER last." So I'm thumbing my nose at him a bit. Don't get me wrong, he's really supportive. On days when I can't drag myself out of bed, or don't feel well, he's always really sweetly concerned. But the fact that I do go six days a week in no way means that I really like it, or am enjoying myself whilst at the gym. I hate almost every stinking minute of it. I'm not having a good time, this isn't fun, it isn't a party at 05.30 every morning.

I worked my way up to 11 minutes of running on the treadmill today, and ran in much longer bursts than I usually do. Normally I do 3 minutes running, twice, and then four minutes to get to my ten, taking walking breaks in between. Today I did six minutes and five. With significant breaks walking at a slower speed. And it felt wonderful. For the first time in weeks, no pain. No muscle spasms, no aching calves or tibia muscles. In fact, it was almost easy. At the beginning of each running episode, I wanted to bump the speed of the treadmill up, because it was too easy. I know from experience that I tire quickly, and if I had given in to that impulse to sprint, I wouldn't have been able to do what I did. And by the end of the second bit of running, I was gasping, sweat pouring down my face, dripping off my nose. Hardly a pretty picture. I bring a small towel with me every day to mop at my face, and it was drenched by the time I was done.

I was reading on someone else's blog about people who lip sync to the music they're listening to at the gym, and how funny they sometimes look. I do that! It is less rude, I think, than doing what I want to do, which is sing at full volume. When I'm running and listening to something appropriate for the running, like "Dig" by Incubus, I mouth the words along with the music to force myself to not watch the timer on the treadmill, because if I watch the timer, all I can think about is when I can stop.

Running along today with Brandon Boyd's voice echoing in my ears, the iPod so loud that I couldn't hear anything else, urging myself to not clock-watch at least until the song was over, I felt such a swell of pride, because I knew even before the song was halfway done, that I'd managed to run for longer than I have in so many years. I hesitate to say, "I felt great!" because I haven't felt good, let alone great for a very long time. I'm going to post something next week about that, something I've been working on writing for a few weeks, and I don't want to get into all the details of that right now. But I felt pretty damn good when the program on the treadmill had run its 40 minute course. While stretching, I was thinking about going back for some more running, when the remix of Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" popped up on the iPod. Which, really, WTH? I haven't ever wanted to run.

Slow steps, but progress. I like that. Finally!

20 April 2007

Random News Notes

Two completely disjointed things that I want to talk about, and this will be a comparatively short, for me anyway, post.

First is this news about Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who said yesterday that The Most Meaningless War Ever (tm) has been lost. The White House shot back that they thought his comments were 'disturbing'. I'm chuckling because I agree with the White House, but not in the way they mean. I find Senator Reid's remarks very disturbing because HE'S RIGHT! Did we tell President Idiot over and over and over that an escalation of troops wouldn't work? We did. Did he listen? He did not. Is it a catastrophe? Yep. Are we surprised? Nope.

Next, I was up much, much too late last night talking online about the new episode of Supernatural that aired yesterday FINALLY, after a month-long hiatus. After the episode aired and I did my traditional re-watch of the tape of it (since I miss bits of dialog, being deaf) I had on Headline News as background noise.

I glanced up from the laptop, where I was busily typing away to a cadre of other hard-core nuts, oh, I mean fangirls, to find a clip of Neil Patrick Harris on the Ellen Show at one point. He came out. First, Neil, GOOD FOR YOU, I love that the culture here in the States is becoming more and more accepting of homosexuality and that you feel comfortable enough to take that step. Next, duh, 'cause I knew that.

But the bubble-head on Headline News just had to make some dumb ass remark about "Wow, and he plays such a ladies' man on How I Met Your Mother." IT IS CALLED ACTING HONEY, EVER HEARD OF IT? You're an entertainment reporter. Yeesh. NPH is one of the good ones. I don't watch his current show, but he's been in a bunch of things that I liked, and he's good at what he does. Is it so unfathomable that a gay man could play a ladies' man? Herregud!

Speaking of TV watching, I would like to squee endlessly about last night's SN episode, but since I am a complete freak about this show, there are a few details that bugged me. (I lied, there are three things to talk about today.) For the other fangirls who check my website, because the rest of you? Are going to be real lost in about ten seconds and for most of the rest of the post....

I get really annoyed when they stray from the mytharc for a whole episode. Less than one sentence's mention of Heart, nothing at all about the YED...and a few other things about the episode that bothered me. It would take Sam 6 HOURS of watching dailies to figure out that the Latinating was for real? Have we forgotten that he was up for a full ride law school scholarship at Stanford? Law school, Latin...and the fact that BDW tutored them in this stuff from the time Sam was 6 months old on. Anyway. My point is: Continuity of the storyline!!!! Argh! Sam is supposed to be super-smart. And psychic.

Dean and the food, again. Haven't we beat that horse to a bloody, gruesome death yet? Not that I ever get tired of looking at Jensen's lips, but enough with the food already.

Metallicar was missing from this episode, and I felt its absence keenly. A late-model, bright yellow Mustang convertible did not make up for the lack of Metallicar, although it did help a little.

A thing or two that really made me laugh...Jared's non-verbals at the mention of Gilmore Girls, OMG that was funny. His facial expressions when he figures out just what Dean's been up to with Tara/Wendy, priceless. Priceless, I tell you. Dean, getting the girl, love that. Never enough of that in any of the episodes. Dean, getting dressed as he comes out of the trailer at the end of the episode and his hair's a big mess. (Resisting the urge to suggest that there should be a lot fewer layers of clothing...resisting...) I like that Dean wasn't all angst-y and tortured in this episode. I suppose I want it both ways, mytharc, which equals angst, and Dean-the-pickup-artist. That's a pretty tall order, but I expect fantastic things from the show. And when it works? It really works. The fact that they "salted & burned" in this episode, yay!!! There hasn't been near enough of that or shooting things in the face with rock salt this season. That rocked. Oh, and Dean's a total fanboy when it comes to horror movies, that, THAT is fantastically funny. The in-jokes about acting, the film and television industry were cute, too. I caught a whole bunch of them, but I'm sure I didn't see them all, having not ever really worked in TV. The ones I did pick up on were howlers. Which is why I can't wait until TWoP posts the recap, I'm sure that they'll catch a bunch more of them. TWoP's recapper for SN is hysterical.

All right, all right, enough already. Two paragraphs about politics/news, more or less, and too much ranting about my hopeless addiction. Must. Stop. Now. I'm not crazy. Really. I am a serious political blogger. I AM!!!

(Lucy, dear, if you have to tell the good people that...well, it is a little like declaring, "I'm a classy broad!" or asking how much something costs...if you have to ask, you can't afford it. If you have to TELL them that you're a serious politico....) ~.~

19 April 2007


I'm still reeling over yesterday's Supreme Court decision. I've been checking the news wires to see where public opinion falls, and I read a statement that has me thinking. I've read about a dozen wire articles and have a few to link, but first, this quote from Ralph Naes is dead on.

"The reaction to this decision could help educate many Americans who, quite frankly, have grown complacent about a constitutional right to reproductive health," said Ralph Neas of People for the American Way. (via ABC)

And he's not wrong. Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, a year and a little more before I was even born. I've grown to adulthood with the right to choose an accepted norm. It is only recently, within the past two years, that I've come to understand just how tenuous a right that is. It has hung by a fraying thread for a long time, and I firmly believe that yesterday's decision will cause that thread to break. Which terrifies the hell out of me, the idea that we could push women's rights back into the stone-age era of back alley abortions performed with coat hangers. Do you know how many women ended up dying from unsanitary conditions, from botched procedures?

I want the government to stay the heck out of this issue. Legislating moral issues like this hasn't worked well for us in the past...you need only to look to Prohibition for proof positive of that.

Unfortunately, that's not going to happen, President Idiot and his merry band of zealots will continue to push for a society that is ruled according to their narrow religious beliefs. W has said that he wants people on the federal benches who share his views. Because only people on the right should be allowed to make decisions about women's health. Remember separation of church and state? Anyone? Anyone remember their civics lessons, about a balanced government? Grr, I'm so angry.

Let's move along to some of the news wire articles that piqued my interest this morning before I give myself a heart attack.

Abortion Ruling Emboldens Opponents M live.com

Abortion Fight Coming Newsday.com

Ruling Draws Lawmakers Toward Political Minefield Washington Post.com

Then, of course, there are the wise words of two of my old favorite standbys when it comes to women's issues. NARAL has this article, pointing out the complete lack of regard that the idiot administration has for women. NOW's statement from Kim Gandy is a wonderful bit of language, "
Not since Bush v. Gore has the Supreme Court made such a political decision, or one that so completely distorts the law and disregards the U.S. Constitution."

The time is now for action, to get involved. Make your voice heard. Write to your legislators and let them know that you don't support any abortion restrictions. Get involved, get out there, DO SOMETHING so that the right to choose is protected for us, our daughters, our granddaughters.

Listening to: my favorite protest song, "Fight the Power" by Public Enemy

18 April 2007

Beginning of the END

A severe blow was dealt to all women in the United States today when the Supreme Court handed down a 5-to-4 ruling, upholding the so-called partial birth abortion ban.


For many years now, this has been one of my greatest fears. That the door would be opened to the anti-choice folks, who are no doubt popping Champagne corks as I type. Any restriction on a woman's right to choose is too much restriction. Any ban on any type of abortion procedure is egregious. It is a slippery slope, which will end in the termination of YOUR right to end any unwanted pregnancy.

I'm not sure if abortion is "right" or "wrong", but what I do know is that I don't want a bunch of old, white men deciding for me if I am allowed to make decisions about my body.

Damn, Sandra Day O'Connor, couldn't you have waited to retire? Damn, Chief Justice Rehnquist, why did you have to die? Those two events were the catalysts that allowed today's decision to happen. President Idiot, who unsurprisingly, praised today's decision, appointed two conservative justices to replace the two who left, and you could hear the religious and fanatical right drooling when he did.

Supreme Court Justices are dangerous people, because they, more than any branch of the government, can have an impact on our lives for a very long time. Supreme Court Justices are appointed for LIFE. So to get a Supreme Court vacancy, someone has to die or retire, and the two vacancies that occurred in 2005 are remarkable for their rarity. Justices can, theoretically, sit for 40 years or more. They are the nine people who review laws passed by Congress, they are the arbiters of what is, and what is not, Constitutional.

In today's decision, the majority opined that the complete lack of any exception whatsoever in the ban for the sake of the mother's health does not preclude a woman's Constitutional right to an abortion. I'd like to know just how the fuck they got to that decision. Because to my understanding, even if a woman's life is at stake, this procedure cannot be performed under any circumstances.

Take note, American Woman. That's how important you are to this administration. That's how much you matter. Your life has that much meaning.

Don't you feel precious?

When is it enough?

I want to rant and rave about the massacre in Virginia, say bunches of things about guns, and how the University didn't handle it as well as they should have in the early hours, but none of that will change the fact that one person ruthlessly took 33 lives. I don't like guns, but the lack of enforcement of gun control laws is not to blame here. One person is. One person who was legally able to obtain the guns that he used; he was over 18, not a convicted felon, and the system, in this case, is not the problem. I'm sure he would have easily passed any background check anyone cared to run. He had a legal right to possess all the guns that he owned. I'm not suggesting that he shouldn't have had that right. But your right to own a gun does not extend to pointing it anyone and pulling the trigger, completely unprovoked. It certainly does not extend to killing 33 people.

Much like child abuse mystifies me, violence does as well. I have a tough time wrapping my head around things like this. I'm not alone in that, I know. Even President Idiot's speech writers managed to do a decent job yesterday, having him tell the grieving Virginia Tech community that there was no way to make sense of a tragedy like this. Astonishingly, I didn't even hear any grammar errors in his speech.

Remember Don Henley's Dirty Laundry song from the 1980s?

Get the widow on the set
We need dirty laundry

I'm watching CNN interview the brother of one of the victims, and he's not completely broken down, but he's a mess. Because you would be. Why do we do this, every time there's a tragedy? Why is there an insatiable appetite for sobbing family members? Can we not let these people grieve in private?

Why does this not happen in Canada, England, Europe? Hell, it doesn't happen in most of the rest of the world. Why is it America that has school shootings? When will it stop? When is it ENOUGH? How do we stop it?

I wish I had some answers.

17 April 2007

Running Down A Dream

Before I get to my usual Tuesday Brain Dump, I need to point your attention to this piece on NPR, heartbreaking in its simplicity, about the shootings yesterday at Virginia Tech. Audio isn't available as I am writing this post, but will be later today. Judith Miller says so eloquently what I struggle to put into words. Give it a listen.

I'm thinking today about running, and the 'runner's high'

I'm still only able to run for 10 minutes out of the 35 that I'm on the treadmill. Some days are easier than others. I don't know why. My routine varies only by a small amount each day; get up, get dressed, go to the gym, come home, shower, get dressed for work, work, drive home, dinner, write, bed. Tuesdays and Thursdays there's an exercise class in between dinner and writing. That's about it. I drink a ton of water each day. I'm watching my portions and eating healthy. So why is it that some days are super easy and some so incredibly tough? I wish I understood.

I have been a runner for a very long time, but taken very long breaks in between times when I run and times when I don't. I was on the track team in junior high school, 7th grade? Or was it 8th? Too long ago to remember now. The junior high school in my hometown was on a tree-lined street, which has about 10 century houses on it, and in fact the original portion of the school is a historic building as well, was at one time a private college. A very, very, very small one. At the end of the school's street is a forest preserve, 243 acres of wild lands. I spent a lot of time there as a kid, and for conditioning for track, they'd have us run from the school, to the preserve, around the loop trail in the preserve, and back up to school. Then we'd have practice. I'm not really sure of the distance. Maybe 3 total miles, maybe less. It was tough, I'd get to the practice field dead tired, panting, and in no mood to do time trials or sprints. I hated it, but kept pushing myself because I wanted desperately to fit in somewhere, and since one of my closest friends at the time was a track star, I thought that this might be my niche. It wasn't.

I'm not a good runner, or a fast one. They stuck me with running the 400, and I never won. I did it for only one season of track, I remember saying frequently at the time that "The only GOOD thing about running is when you stop." I never felt that endorphin high that everyone talked about.

In the spring of the year I lived in Sweden, my best friend and I looked at ourselves and realized we'd gained some weight over the winter. Which is really ridiculous, she was 5'7" and weighed maybe 140 and I was 5'2" and didn't weigh over 100, but I was 17 and she was 19 and we thought we were 'fat'. We embarked on a very ambitious journey, swimming 2 kilometers in the community pool after school on Mondays and Wednesdays, and running between 2 and 5 kilometers on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays and Saturdays we drank. Sundays we recovered.

We made a list, that I still have, of things we agreed to not eat. Nothing fried. No more stopping for something to eat on the way home from the clubs on Saturday nights. The town's cafe/bakery made these donut sort of things called munkar, which were square, filled with a wonderful apple/sugar/cinnamon blend, and I agreed to stop buying them when I got out of school every afternoon. No ice cream.

We did get into better shape, but what I remember most is coming to the back door of my host family's house, panting, opening the door and calling out to my host-mum, Snalla, kan vi har lite vatern? (Please, can we get some water?) We weren't allowed into the house without taking off shoes, and we'd stretch in the backyard before going inside. The route that we ran took us though farm country, and I had to really work to get the mud off of those running shoes. I still hated it, and I remember mamman asking me why we didn't just walk if we hated it so much. I would tell her how we'd look so cute in our bathing suits during the coming summer and she would roll her eyes at me. She ought to have smacked me one, considering what I weighed and my body image at the time. Not that it would have smacked some sense into me, but still, I wince when thinking about how I used to whine about being fat at 17. Someone really should have given me a beat-down.

Through most of my college years, I lifted weights, but did very little cardio, and my weight gain really escalated after I got married. Sure, I walked in our old neighborhood from time to time. I exercised never, though. I joined a series of gyms, but never really got off the couch. The thing that's different this time around is that I now recognize and understand that the working out has to be part of my life every day for the rest of my life, that once I've gotten to the goal, I can't just stop doing whatever finally works to get the rest of the weight off. I might be able to do 3 days a week at the gym instead of 6, but it has to be a part of who I am and what I do for the rest of the time I'm on this earth.

And I finally get that runner's high. Each day, when I manage to get to the ten full minutes running, I feel like raising my hands over my head and cheering. I want to jump up and down and shout "LOOK!! I did it! Ten minutes!!! GO ME!" I restrain the impulse, but it is there.

I'm still having trouble with cramping in the tibia muscles, and it hurts when I stop running. Which is a complete 180 degree turn from where I was, that it was good to stop. I have been trying for about a week to get up over ten minutes (woot! 11 whole minutes!!) but I can't quite get there. It will come, I know. Patience has NEVER been my strong suit.

What I love about running is that it is now very meditative for me. I can't focus on anything else but breathing and putting one foot in front of the other. I can't think about anything else, and considering the craziness that is going on in my life right now, a blank slate, a clear head, is a wonderful thing. It doesn't last for but a few minutes after I get off the treadmill, but it is nice to experience while it does last.

I was out of bed at 4 this morning, giving up the battle to sleep even a few minutes longer after watching the clock from 3:17 AM on. Can't sleep, can't focus, don't want to do anything, endless circles of the same thoughts chasing around and around in my head. I was at Dr. Hottie's office last week, and he encouraged me to continue to use the Ambien to get the sleep I need. Muscle repair and your body's regeneration happens in stage 4 sleep, and I'm not getting even a minute of that. Dreams occur during REM sleep, stage two. I have very little of those, either. The sleeping pill gives me exceedingly weird, disjointed dreams, but also about 5 hours of sleep as opposed to the three or so I get without help.

So I'm continuing to chase after that elusive fitness goal, and a good night's sleep. But looking in the mirror this morning, I can finally see some muscle definition in my shoulders, and when I turn around and look at my back, there are two fewer rolls of fat. Twenty-two pounds lighter, and that's all the difference I can see. Guess my self-image still needs some work.

Finally, I'm jumping on a bandwagon that I've just discovered. Searching for new music to run to on iTunes the other day, I found Podrunner, produced by LA's DJ Steveboy. Once upon a time, dance hall and trip-hop was all I listened to. And then I figured out that it can get pretty damn annoying. But I'm in love with the mixes that Steveboy produces. I'm gooving to Paintshaker, which was featured the week that Podrunner had its four MILLIONTH download. So yeah, I'm behind the times a wee bit. I haven't subscribed to the podcast yet because I'm running out of space on my iPod, a project for the coming weekend is to delete everything that I haven't listened to since uploading most of my music library in January.

I hope your Tuesday doesn't suck out loud.

16 April 2007

Mid-East Craziness

I listened with a sense of mounting disbelief this morning to the BBC on my way to the gym as they described unverified reports that Alan Johnston has been killed. He's a BBC reporter who has spent the last 3 years living and working in Gaza, trying to bring the story of the Palestinian people to the world. An overwhelming sadness for his family, his co-workers, and the world at large surrounded me.

Here's someone who is trying to bring some balance to the media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and for his trouble, he gets kidnapped. I'm reminded of the famous quote from Rodney King, during the LA riots of the nineties, when he said, "Can't we all just get along?"

What I don't know about the push and pull between Israel and Palestine could fill several volumes of an encyclopedia. But what I do know is that things like this, done by a small group of extremists, makes the road to peace an even more difficult path to tread.

Spots all over the world have been sources for conflict and bloody battles almost since the beginning of time. The Israeli-Palestinian thing is the same tired conflict over land and religion that is played out in Kashmir, the Balkans, and to a lesser extent, Iran and Iraq, every single day.

We need to move forward, beyond the whole "We were here FIRST!" rhetoric in order to solve these problems. Killing journalists isn't the answer.

Say whatever you like about President Clinton's infidelity and stupid behavior while he was in the Oval Office, but his commitment to mid-east peace was an amazing thing. President Idiot, on the other hand, seems content to allow things like this to continue to go on, much more worried about the supply of oil than the lives of the people who live there.

Remember how hopeful the picture of Clinton with Rabin and Arafat on the White House lawn was? Rabin was killed by an assassin, Arafat died during the current intifada. Hezbollah won recent Palestinian elections, causing western nations to cut off funding to Palestinian interests, because they won't support a terrorist organization. Where is the hope now? Who will be the person who stands up and says "NO MORE!" ?

I'm not the praying type. Hell, I'm not even the Christian type. So I won't ask you to pray for him, because I wouldn't do it myself. But I hope, with all my heart and soul, that these reports of Mr. Johnston's execution are false. There's a petition on the BBC's website calling for his release, please go and give it your virtual signature. Keep a good thought in your heart for his family today.

13 April 2007

More Stonewalling from the Idiot Administration

The Bush Administration was trying to prevent a federal prisoner from testifying at a Senate committee hearing. Why? Oh, of course, it is a matter of national security. One of the objections the Idiot Administration really had was that this white-collar criminal might somehow kill or injure senators. Which is patently ridiculous. NPR broadcast this story yesterday. Unfortunately, it only raises more questions than it answers. Mystifying. Was it flexing of muscles? Is this identity thief more than meets the eye? An attempt to distract attention from the Justice Department's troubles?

Most likely it is the last one. By misdirection, they're hoping to move attention away from the firing of the US Attorneys.

Cynical? Me? Naaa.

12 April 2007

Slim Goodbody

Remember the public television show of the late 70s/early 80s? With the guy dressed in a spandex suit printed with the organs of the human body? I remember how much it grossed me out.

Now, however, I am amazed, astonished, and also considerably annoyed by the miracle that is the human body. Yesterday was a rough day for my fitness regimen. I had terrible, awful, painful cramps. Of the womanly variety. I know, I know, way TMI, but if I just said cramps, you might think I meant simple muscle cramps.

Any-way, moving on. I was on the treadmill and hurting. That's been a bit of a theme recently, hasn't it? Instead of the "we were so drunk AND..." stories of my youth, now it is "I was on the treadmill and my (whatever) hurt and...." Getting old is a bitch, y'all. I stopped the treadmill when I got to a mile and a half, which is about half or three quarters the amount of distance I usually do every day. I hurt so badly that instead of doing my usual stretches and then the requisite charting that I do to keep track of my progress, I left and went home for a hot, hot, hot shower. Which didn't help much. Neither did the three ibuprofens I took.

When I finally managed to drag myself into work, I took two Aleve, which eventually, about 3 hours later, eased the pain a bit. I hadn't been able to do the amount of running on the treadmill that I'm trying to do every day either. Which left me feeling a bit like the workout had been not exactly a failure, but inadequate. That's frustrating.

I've been staying off of the scale, knowing that it will only piss me off. I can tell that I'm in better shape than I have been in years and years and years, by the way that the workouts don't make me all winded. The fact that I can now run for longer periods of time before I feel that I'm-so-exhausted-I-can't-do-this-for-one-more-second feeling is another positive sign. I'm pushing myself further and further, every single day. But the results are just not what I'm looking for.

I want to be super-skinny, like I was at 17. That's such an unrealistic goal that I'm dooming myself to failure before I even get halfway there. I have curves these days that I never had at 17. I also happen to be taller, I continued to grow until about 19, an unusual phenomenon that seems to occur on my dad's side of the family. At 17, I was about 5'1". Today I am about 5'4". Not a huge difference, but at 17, I really and truly weighed about 98 pounds. Friends have told me that they thought I was anorexic. I wasn't, and when they told me that story when we were 26 or 27, I laughingly reminded them of the boxes of Fudge Rounds I used to eat, the fried chicken we used to get at the mall on Saturdays, the huge amounts of junk food that were present at every single sleep-over we had. What I wouldn't give to have that metabolism back!

In stark contrast from yesterday's workout, though, today's was excellent. I felt fantastic leaving the gym. When I first started trying to run weeks ago, I'd amp up the speed on the treadmill and watch the clock, thinking, I'll run for one minute. Then back to walking. Periodically, I'd try to increase the amount of time I was running, and eventually, I was able to get where I am now, which is about 10 minutes of the 35 that I'm on the treadmill. The eventual goal is to run the entire program, with the exception of the 5 minute cool down.

My body has adapted well to this, and I'm amazed at what I've been able to accomplish. I watch my heart rate closely, mostly because I'm a geek obsessed with stats, but also because I want to see if my resting heart rate will go down, as it should, when I'm in 'good' shape. I've got great definition on my leg muscles. You should see my calves, and my shin muscles are a beautiful thing. I am thinner than when I started working out 6 days a week back in October. But I'm not satisfied at all with the pace of the weight loss. I'm also very annoyed that I don't yet have a six-pack, and that I think my arms are as flabby as ever. They're not, and I know that because I can fit into jackets and shirts that I haven't worn in a long time, but my perception is that I've made very little progress. My thighs aren't any smaller, either. Dammit.

It is astonishing to me that one day I can barely do what I need to and the next I feel like a million bucks. If one day I had eaten a bunch of junk food, or had lots to drink, I could understand. I went out drinking with some friends last Friday, and Saturday's early morning Yoga class was a real bitch. But the major difference between yesterday and today? I have no idea.

I'm eating right, not snacking on the junk food that ABOUNDS at my office, severely limiting my caffeine intake, I'm drinking a ton of water, trying desperately to get enough sleep, and none of it seems to be making a difference. I've given up coffee, and don't drink soda unless I'm drinking which I don't do often. You would never seem me running around with a diet Coke in my hand. I don't eat red meat, I don't eat pork, I am eating two hateful bananas every day to keep my potassium levels elevated for the running, and what? Nothing. No results. Honesty compels me to revise that. Not no results but perhaps less result than I was expecting.

"Hateful bananas" because I really don't like them. Ugh. I choke them down, though, because I firmly believe that we should get most of our nutrients from real food, not from supplements. I was having trouble with muscle cramping about two months ago, and when I explained to the trainer what was happening, she told me that it was clear to her that my potassium levels were low, and the best way to fix that was to eat two bananas a day. Yuck!

There must be something missing. Some missing link. Something that I've overlooked, something that will turn the key and make everything work. I know that the only way to truly do weight loss is to put in the hard work and the time. That's why I'm not 'dieting', but watching what I eat very closely. I could never stick to Adkins or South Beach or any of the other myriad promised quick fixes out there. Been there, done that. Bought the t-shirt. Long term weight loss and overall health only comes from doing it the right way, watching calories and exercising. I'm doing all that. What's missing?

11 April 2007

Just can't resist.

News news news news that I can't resist sticking my nose into.

Let's start with Don Imus. I don't like him, never have. When MSNBC started simulcasting him years ago, I remember stumbling across him there at some point and I couldn't reconcile the voice with the picture of the man. That was almost enough to turn it off right there, but then I listened for a few minutes and he was talking sports and THEN I was done. I'm not a big sports fan.

This isn't a first for him, by a long shot. The guy isn't a shock jock like Howard Stern or anything, but he's said more offensive things than just this. Let us not forget, either, that it is hardly the most offensive thing said on the airwaves.

That said, I think the casual observer could remark that it might be a freedom of speech issue, but it isn't. In the early days of this country's history, the Supreme Court made a clear distinction between freedom of speech and slander. This is a case of hate speech.

NPR had a story a few days ago where the reporter talked about Imus's listeners as being white, well educated, and upper class. Well educated? Really? Guess I just don't have enough education, then, because I can't listen to him for more than a minute.

The mess with Anna Nicole, I can't really even comment too much about that. 'Sordid' might be the best word to describe the whole thing. Just because I'm not going to ruminate about it for long does not mean I haven't been watching with interest. Poor Anna. And her poor daughter.

Next I heard more disturbing stuff on NPR about the escalation of violence in Baghdad. When, oh, when, can we be done with The Most Meaningless War Ever (TM)? Interesting, and sad, too, that the news is all Larry what's-his-name, Don Imus, and not much else. I had to go hunting for news on Iraq.

Two more things before I get on with the rest of my day.

I haven't done the fangirl thing for about a week, so I need to get that out of my system. I got some new Jensen Ackles pictures, isn't this cute? What about this one? Oh, one more. They aren't new pictures, just new for me.

Finally, Thesister is coming to Oh-hia-ia from NYC for a visit, she will be here tomorrow! Can't wait! Picture me bouncing around like a hyperactive kid, because I'm so excited to see her. I may be off-line while she's here.

10 April 2007

Monster. Asthma. Synonymous .

Tuesday, and time for another installment in my Brain Dump series.

I am an asthmatic. I was diagnosed with asthma at 19 years old, and it has always seemed odd to me that no one picked it up before then. The very first time I thought the asthma might be something other than a hyper-sensitivity to environmental irritants, I was out to dinner with my parents, and this was before Ohio passed the smoking ban. We were in a small, family-owned restaurant, and someone near us lit up a cigar. I hacked, and hacked, and hacked some more, and both parents insisted that I make an appointment to see our cute family doctor.

When I got in to see him, Dr. Hottie had me breathe into a tube (which tests lung capacity), gave me a breathing treatment, had me breathe into a tube again, and just like that, I was slapped with the label of asthmatic. I got a prescription for Proventil as an added bonus. Yay.

Through my 20s, I would sometimes control the asthma better than other times. At various junctures, I had prescriptions for: Advair, Allegra, Allegra D, Proventil, and another allergy med that starts with a P that I can't even remember. Proventil is a rescue inhaler, you are supposed to use it when an asthma attack overwhelms you. I despise the side effects of Proventil, so I've always been very stubborn about using it. Unless I cannot breathe at all, I refuse to use it. It makes my heart race, gives me the shakes and makes me more jittery than a 13-year-old on a sugar rush. It ain't pretty.

When I have an asthma attack, it sounds as if I'm dying. I've told close friends over and over that unless I actually fall over and start turning blue from lack of oxygen, they are to ignore the hacking cough and wheezing that accompanies an attack. They're pretty good about doing just that, much to my relief. I like the spotlight, yeah, but not when I am gasping for breath with tears streaming from my eyes and my nose running, from the sheer force of the coughing.

I'd like to be able to completely ignore the fact that I have this condition, but it has been very difficult to do that over about the past two weeks. Living in Ohio means that we have 4 distinct seasons, a very clear differentiation between winter, spring, summer and fall, and whenever the seasons change, the monster comes out to play. The worst transitional times are from winter to spring and summer to fall, as each time the pollen counts, mold counts, and other allergens are out in full force.

There are more than a few types of asthma, exercise-induced, environmentally-induced, et cetera, but mine seems to be mostly related to environmental factors, like allergens. Besides the blooming trees and flowers and mold and dust, cigarette smoke really bothers me and sets off the monster. Cigar smoke is worse. Makes you wonder how on earth I ever smoked, but I did, from about 16 until about 18. I am really glad that I no longer have that habit.

Big temperature changes, going from a well-heated building to outside in the cold, or walking into a really warm, damp room after being someplace cold and dry will also set it off.

The attacks start out as a little tickle in the back of my throat, as if I've swallowed a small bit of goose down. Sometimes, swallowing hard will get rid of it. Sometimes a sip of really cold or really hot water will soothe it. The urge to cough to get rid of whatever 'it' is becomes stronger if the water tricks don't work. Taking a deep breath becomes difficult, it catches in my throat and then I've got no choice but to cough, a ragged, deep, drawn out hacking bark of a cough, that sounds like perhaps a chunk of my lung might be expelled soon. I can exhale all I want, as I cough, but taking a breath in is like sipping air through a straw. After you've just finished running a marathon.

That's where the wheeze comes in. As my lungs scream for more air, the rest of my body is still being wracked by deep coughs, and a little, tiny sip of air is all I can get in. It makes a small noise, a wheeze that can sound like a death rattle. Which will further convince the uninformed observer that I'm about to die, because it can also sound like an injured animal's last cries.

Bad asthma attacks (as opposed to 'good' ones? No, as opposed to mild ones.) are painful, causing aching abdominal muscles from the coughing, and a tightness in the chest. An invisible giant's hand is squeezing your lungs for all he's worth, and then when he suddenly lets go, and you're able to breathe, the tightness relaxes after a few normal breaths. It only disappears after the attack is completely over, usually ten minutes or so later.

The last time the asthma was badly out of control for me was October of last year, when the last vestiges of Indian Summer finally died away and the leaves began to fall from the trees. The temperature changed from hot and humid to cool and then chilly. I'd have terrible attacks on the way to the gym every morning, after leaving my nice warm bed and heading out into the cool, pre-dawn chill.

Because I got really damn tired of starting my workouts short of breath, I called the doctor's office and requested an appointment with our family doctor. Dr. Hottie gave me Singulair, Xopenex, and Advair that time, and after using each for about a week as prescribed, I ditched the Xopenex (another rescue inhaler) and the Advair, and took the Singulair daily until the weather finally decided to just be fall, instead of jumping back and forth from summer to fall to summer to winter to fall again.

When the very first signs of spring began appearing, daffodils and other early spring flowers pushing themselves up through the snow, I began taking the Singulair again every day. That was about three weeks ago, and over the past week we've seen outdoor temperatures range from 13 to 70F, about -10 to 21C. Trees are blooming, flowers too, and my allergies are bad, making me want to scratch out my eyes and find some perfect cure for the raw skin around my poor nose. The monster is always just out of sight, hiding on my shoulder or behind my ear (he's little, you see, until a really severe attack, which makes him grow to gargantuan proportions) when he decides that he wants some attention, and then he harasses me.

My mind is seriously in the gutter, because re-reading that bit about the monster growing has me thinking about other things that start small and grow large quickly...uh. If I have to 'splain it to y'all, it loses some of the funny, so moving on....

When I'm working out each morning, the last thing I want is to have an attack happen on the treadmill. I could fall and hurt myself, yes, that's a concern, but more than that, it attracts unwanted attention from the other early-morning gym rats that make me feel like I've got a flashing neon "check out the freak" sign over my head.

Here's a cheerful thought about asthma. There is no cure. All I can do, besides taking medication daily when symptoms are bad, is increase my lung capacity through cardiovascular exercise, and perhaps move into the middle of the desert, where there's little or no pollen.

Most of the time, it doesn't bother me. I don't think about it every day, nor do I dwell on it when it isn't acting up. I refuse to carry around a rescue inhaler because it isn't that severe for me, and I'm too stubborn. I don't wander around wearing a badge that says, "I have asthma!!! Feel sorry for me!!!" And that's because until it rears its ugly little head, I mostly forget it is there.

Last Tuesday I wrote a post about OCD. Asthma today. Y'all are going to really think I'm falling apart, a mess, or truly in need of intense therapy, as my own mother suggested the other day. I simply prefer to think of myself as one of those eccentric geniuses. At least I entertain myself, cause it makes me giggle, describing myself as both eccentric and genius.
(Heavy on the sarcasm there, in case it doesn't translate to the written word.)