31 January 2008


I was at the eye doctor's (yes, again) trying yet another pair of contacts out yesterday. The original contacts were grossly uncomfortable. In addition, annoyingly, they didn't enable me to really see any better than without them. We tried any number of combinations, switching strengths, switching which eye the stronger contact is worn in; none of it really seems to work for me. And driving in the dark? I couldn't see at all. Dangerous.

I asked for a different brand of contacts. Anything but what I'd been wearing. The new ones were instantly more comfortable, I noticed an immediate change. But something had been bothering me; what if it was the meds that was making my vision worse (some weird-ass voodoo side effect) or maybe they were more irritating to my eyes because of the meds. So I asked the eye doc; could any of my prescriptions be causing some of these problems?

He pulled a PDR off of a shelf, and thumbed through it while glancing at my chart. "hmmm, Singular," he mused.

"That's not the one that concerns me," I told him. "What about the Wellbutrin?"

He raised his eyebrows slightly, but didn't comment, flipping closer to the end of the book.

"You know what that's for, right?" I asked him. (Yeah, yeah, he's a doctor, but I'm thinking that eye doctors don't write so many prescriptions for anti-depressants.)

"Yes, an anti-depressant, right?" He asked.

"Yes; I'm on a fairly high dose of it," I told him.

450 mg/day of Wellbutrin XL is the maximum recommended dosage. My cute family doctor tells me that it would be OK to exceed that if the effectiveness wears off again as it did when I was taking 150 mg/day and then when we upped it to 300 mg/day. I disagree; but I digress. Back to the chat with the eye doctor.

He didn't ask me why such a high dose. But I'm decent at reading people sometimes, and I could tell he was curious. He did ask if it was working for me. Briefly, I explained that the 150 had helped, 300 was better, but that to come out of the dark, I'd needed the 450.

"It is hard to explain to someone who's never been there," I told him, "but depression is like this giant inertia that surrounds you, making it hard to breathe, hard to move. It isn't that you don't necessarily want to do something, it is that you almost can't. It is like sitting in a dark room; 150 made me feel like someone turned the lights on, but not up; at 300, it was like a dimmer switch being turned up, but it took the 450 to turn the lights on."

I told him if it bothered him for me to be so frank about it that he should tell me; but he said no, that he wanted to understand. The PDR tells us that blurred vision IS a side effect of Wellbutrin, but that it is a very rare one. And my vision started to get worse before I started taking the med. Days when I've forgotten to take it, I see no better than on days that I do take it, so I don't really think the med is causing the vision deterioration. We'll see what the new contacts bring.

Today, I was talking to a friend that I haven't seen since last spring; she knew that I started taking the med, but its been a long while since we had a chat. She too has lost a ton of weight, and she too has been battling depression. Sans medication. I was telling her about the eye doctor, and she told me about how she's been coping. She's doing well.

She described the way that she'd felt in a manner that I thought was both interesting and on point.

"I felt like I was behind a wall of Plexiglas," she told me, "and I was scratching at the glass, banging against it. I could see everyone else, but I felt like I couldn't be there."

What is interesting about that is one of my sisters had told me that she felt like I wasn't 'there' sometimes when she was talking to me when I was in worse shape.

Feelings of alienation are common in people suffering from depression. Trying to explain it to someone who has only been outside of that glass wall is nearly impossible.

My friend C said something else that stuck with me. She said as she's begun to feel better, she feels, "more like me. More like the C I used to be. I see her, and I recognize her. I've missed her."

Me too, honey. Me too.

29 January 2008

This almost changes everything...

...we don't need to settle down
we live our lives upside down
to figure out
we are just like love and war, baby

...we wake up
break up
make up
fall asleep and do it all again

~Red Wanting Blue, Spies and Lovers, Pride: the cold lover, 2005

(An Oh-hia-ia based band)

Driving the other day, I woke up from zoning to note that I was on a familiar route; the same one I drove to take care of my Auntie when she was at the local hospice facility, with the above song playing on the iPod.

It made me think about how much time changes things. And how little time changes things.

When Auntie H was ill, it was fall, the most beautiful time of year here. The gently rolling hills are covered with blazes of red and orange, flashes of yellow fire, dynamic, vibrant colors. We even see the sun, a little bit, in the fall; when we do, the sky is an autumnal blue that you don't see the rest of the year, a deep, vivid hue. Combined with a crisp chill in the air, it makes me think of apple cider, Halloween costumes, new #2 pencils.

That same route in January is darker; the trunks and limbs of the trees look grey from a distance, sometimes tinged with small hints of red, but mostly dark. The farmer's fields are either plowed under, (the corn fields) or shorn of wheat. When there's no snow on the ground, everything looks dirty, from the overcast horizon on down, as if the whole world could use a good scrubbing. When there is snow, it looks clean, at least, but no less overcast.

And yet.

The road is still in terrible shape, it has needed paved for at least 10 years. The hospice still sits back a bit from the road, with a lovely view of soothing countryside. (If you can ignore the gloom; I'd probably draw the blinds rather than look out at the grey skies.) The gas station and pizzeria on the corners of the nearest 'major' intersection are still there, unchanged.

Time hasn't eased my grief a whole lot. I know I complain about this happening quite a bit, but I see people who at first glance I think are my aunt, and when I look again, there's no similarity whatsoever. That second look happens after your brain registers...'hey, there's Auntie H!' and you almost call out, and then reality crashes back down on you as you remember that she's gone. It hurts, a sharp stab that sometimes takes my breath away.

I can't help but wonder if that happens to me because my subconscious thinks about her, (with me mostly unaware as I go about my daily business) or if it is because of an explanation I like a whole lot better even though it is crazier; that there is some tenuous connection between this world and the next (if there even is an afterlife) and she wants me to know that she's all right. Because that first glance almost always shows me a big smile and I feel waves of reassurance.

The world keeps on turning, the days continue to pass by, and other things do change. Life continues, sometimes in predictable patterns...Pilates classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, nights with not nearly enough sleep, dinners contemplated and prepared, work attended to.

And then along comes something that is a change, something that does change things, or something that has the potential to make changes. We find new hope, or new ideas.

Is it as a culture, or as humanity in general that we hope for new beginnings and yet fear change at the same time?

28 January 2008

Politicking (as in, ignore this post if you don't like my political POV)

I know that by the time Oh-hi-ia's primary rolls around, the question of both the democratic nominee and the republican will be determined; we're after Super Tuesday, and I think by that time, the winner will be determined.

I think it is going to be Barak for the dems.

I don't know whether to be elated or disappointed by that. Both?

I still don't know which way I'm going to vote...allow me, if you will, to quote Jimmy Buffett's character Frank Bama, who said, "The best navigators in the world don't know where they're going until they get there. And then they're still not sure." I'm feeling a bit like that about who to vote for.

President Idiot was on the telly tonight giving his State of the Union address. For many of the previous speeches, I haven't watched them on television, because I got in trouble after throwing large, heavy things at the screen during his 'axis of evil' remarks.

I'm struck by a few things that are different from listening to the speech on the radio. One, watching the polar opposite reactions of the dems and the repubs is hilarious. Barak, scowling at him. Someone on the republican side, I don't even know who, nodding with every point he made, like some syncopate.

Two, I have to look at Dick Cheney's face...does that man EVER look like he's not constipated?

I mean, seriously. Dude. Do a poo. Looks like you need one.

(Sorry, everyone needs some potty humor every now and then. Politics and poo. They're a natural pair, no? At least, they often smell the same.)

Third, and I think that this just might be the audio on the channel I've chosen to watch on, it sounds like people in the gallery are clapping in unison, in time with one another. That is seriously annoying.

I wish we were more like the Brit House of Commons, where they make all kinds of disagreeable noises when the opposing party is speaking. That's unthinkable here, and its a damn shame, because a whole lot of what he said during that speech needed booing.

Finally, the repubs popping up out of their seats every ten seconds to give him a standing ovation is obnoxious.

There is so much that I disagree with that he said; we'd be here for the next six hours if I picked every bit of the speech apart, so I'm going to focus on just two things...No Child Left Behind and his blatant applause-whoring by mentioning the armed services over and over and over and over again.

I have a friend who is an elementary school teacher who calls it "no child left untested" because it has increased exponentially the amount of standardized testing she has to do. And yet, the legislation has never been funded. President Idiot said that 'no one could argue the effectiveness of it.' Mr. President, I beg to differ. You've got to back up that sort of thing with cash money in order to get it done. Urgh.

If I spend more than a line or two bitching about his Iraq policy or his applause-whoring, I'm going to get comments bashing me for not supporting the troops. Therefore, let me say this:


/end rant.

Every single time the president mentioned those serving in the armed services, cheers. And you know that's going to happen when you're writing the speech, so the only thing I can surmise is that he wanted to ensure that there'd be plenty of applause. Grr.

How come I've never heard of the Democratic Govenor giving the dem response? Kathleen Sebelius....gotta say, like her.

25 January 2008

And you call yourself a....?

The other day, I was at a women's health thing, a community event that I was working.

The keynote speaker was a woman who is a therapist, with a thriving private practice. Someone who works as a motivational speaker, and has even been on a popular daytime talk show. She was amazing, and inspirational, mostly. She talked about how women take care of everyone but themselves. The kids. Maybe their elderly parents, or their partner's elderly parents. Women choose caretaker careers, and then take care of everyone at work, too.

But we don't take time for ourselves. Know why? Because "good girls aren't selfish." C'mon, when was the first time you remember being told to not be selfish? My bet is before kindergarten.

I preach this to friends all the time, reminding them that no one is going to take care of you BUT you. I do things that are incredibly self-indulgent, on a regular basis, because no one is going to do it for me. But that's a lifelong philosophy of mine, that its OK to indulge yourself in little luxuries like a massage or a pedicure or hell, even some time to read a trashy novel if that's what you want to do. Not daily, maybe not even monthly, but from time to time. So this speaker's message of valuing yourself wasn't lost on me, nor was it particularly revolutionary for me either.

What DID make me sit up and take notice is something I'm still very puzzled over.

She was talking about our perceptions of other people's lives. I'm paraphrasing, but here's the gist of what she said.

Maybe you've got a neighbor or a casual acquaintance who you look at and think, "Damn, her life is perfect. Look at her perfectly clean house, fabulous spouse, great car, fantastic job (or whatever you happen to admire about this woman)." But what you don't know is that maybe her life isn't so perfect. Or if she is all perky and happy, maybe she's on 200 mg of Prozac every day.

And when she said that, the audience laughed.


Roared with laughter, really.

I sat there, appalled, wondering how many other women besides me in that room are medicated for a mental illness, dying a little inside as a room full of their contemporaries AND a mental health professional belittled their brave choice to admit that they've got a problem and the decision to take medication for it. I took a seat shortly before she began, as I was working the event, and ended up with seat front and center as a result. Consequently, I know she saw that I was the only one not laughing.

I'm still disgusted that her casual remark might have dissuaded someone in that audience from seeking help for depression or frankly, any other mental illness.

After the speech, I introduced myself and talked briefly with her about time management. I didn't tell her why I wasn't amused, nor did she ask. I could hardly have berated her for the remark. My employer is unaware that I'm being treated for depression. I'm 'out' about it both here online and out in the real world, but don't feel that I need to share that information with my bosses unless or until it affects my ability to do my job. (Note please that I would never lie if they asked about it.)

What an uphill battle those of us who fight this disease EVERY DAY have to struggle against to get out of bed, second guess ourselves about our decision to medicate ourselves or not, fight the personal demons that tell us we're worthless, useless, unloved, unwanted, unlovable. And then someone we recognize as a professional in the mental health field makes fun of a medication that has probably kept countless people alive. Un-fucking-be-lieveable.

I wanted to introduce myself and say, "450/mg Wellbutrin XL. Daily." Wonder what she would have said.

23 January 2008


Tuesday (January 22) was the anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Thirty-five years of choice for women.

Without a doubt that decision means the most to me of any decisions made in recent history. I grew up under the permissive climate of Roe, and unlike my foremothers have never needed to seek a back-alley abortion. I never lost a college classmate to the horrible complications that arose from those procedures. I never had to live in a world where I was limited in the decisions I could make about my own body.

I have contemplated such worlds, though. They are the stuff of my nightmares. That we would go back to a climate where abortion is illegal is terrifying to me.

The anti-choice folks frighten me a whole lot too. NPR usually makes some mention of the anniversary of Roe when it rolls around, and Tuesday was no exception. They broadcast a story about the "human life amendments" which declare that a fertilized egg is a person, from the second of conception. Bible Belt states, and, surprisingly, Colorado, have these initiatives on the November ballots. Interestingly, most of them never mention the word abortion. Making it easier for the anti-choice movement to get them passed, of course. Remove that oh-so-crucial controversial word, and even folks who are informed about the issue get confused.

According to NPR, some of these misguided attempts at legislation could possibly make it illegal for a woman to have a miscarriage. There's a thought for the folks that call themselves 'compassionate conservatives.' What's compassionate about charging a woman who has had a miscarriage with murder? As if she's not dealing with enough already.

It is so hard for me to be calm about this issue.

The most strident anti-choice folks I've ever met are men. I don't understand where they get off with their holier-than-thou attitude; until YOU can get pregnant....well, I used to say that when men could get pregnant, then they could have a choice. I no longer have such a hard line attitude. But I still feel that the issue is one of control; as I see it, our misogynistic society wants to keep women in their little boxes, keep them from being able to make decisions about their own lives and bodies, keep them from being able to behave, in short, as men do. Multiple conquests and promiscuity are OK in our culture for men. Not so much for women.

Freedom, to make a choice yourself, no matter how difficult that choice may be, is paramount. By keeping abortion legal, we are not allowing the Congress or the Supreme Court, or our individual states for that matter, to make these decisions for us.

22 January 2008

A Dying Breed

While shopping with my mother recently, I was trying on shoes when I heard, from the next aisle over, "Ohh, I like them shoes."

I met my mother's eyes and ground my teeth, seeing my own expression mirrored on her face. Bad grammar! Ugh. We both laughed. "Y'know..." I said, "When you and Dad used to correct us, it drove me crazy. Now I want to smack people who don't speak properly."

"Nuh-uh," she drawled, too amused.

Among the many things we weren't allowed to say....'nuh-uh' was tops on the list, followed by 'yeah,' 'shut up,' 'dude,' 'ain't,' and 'like,' when used in the following manner..."so, I was, like, so tired and stuff, and she was like, no way!" Valley Girl-isms, 'gross' and 'totally' were verboten. (Yes, I grew up during the 1980s.) Swearing was out of the question, too. I never heard either parent swear until I was well over 21, and I never swore in front of either of them until long after I was married.

This insistence on correct speech was yet another square thing my parents did that made them so much stricter than my friend's parents, and lame, if you'd asked me when I was about 11. Now, however, I wish fervently that more people paid attention to good grammar and basic fundamentals.

I have to attend a business writing workshop, and I'm beyond annoyed by it; does it look to you like I needs help with my writin' skillz? A friend who is an educator pointed out to me that everyone could use a refresher course from time to time. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But if more people paid attention to the basics, this wouldn't be an issue.

I know that the 'rents laugh these days when my sisters and I are annoyed with bad grammar, poor diction, and the like. They chuckle to themselves, having proved to the sibs and I yet again that they knew what they were talking about.

Like, dude, that's totally annoying, fer sure.

21 January 2008


My M-I-L got me a cookbook for Christmas. My addiction to all literature of baking, cooking, entertaining etc is well-documented on this site. So I was thrilled. When I opened it, and noticed the subtitle (Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food) I raised an eyebrow; she quickly explained that she hadn't realized that it was aimed mostly at kid-friendly recipes.

"That's OK," I replied cheerfully. "Its a cookbook. I'll use it!"

"Told ya so!" DH exclaimed triumphantly from his corner. Apparently, they'd had a "discussion" (read that disagreement) over whether or not she ought take the book back.

I'd seen Jessica Seinfeld's book in bookstores during the holidays, but hadn't leafed through it after noticing that it was aimed at families with young children. Seeing as I don't have any and all.

There's some controversy and she's being sued over the book for supposedly taking the idea from someone else, but *shrug* I just don't really care about the hoopla.

I like the book. There are a few things that I don't like; she's hyper-focused on getting her kids to eat their vegetables, but there isn't much in there about organics or focusing on cutting down carbs, and too many places where she's using ingredients like margarine spreads that I think have no place in any kitchen, too many artificial ingredients. That's really me nit-picking, though...in this age of fast food for dinner all the time, the fact that she and Jerry actually cook a real dinner for their kids is commendable. And note the artificial flavoring (banana candy flavoring) I suggested that you use in my Banana Cake recently...I have all sorts of rationalizations for it (DH likes a stronger banana flavor, I spent a small fortune on the teeny-tiny bottle and might as well use it up, there's no sugar in the stuff...) so I've got no room to throw stones and I'm sure she's got her reasons for icky artificial margarine. No one said I had to use it.

So the premise of the book is this; rather than fight with your super-picky eater kids about "EAT YOUR VEGETABLES, DAMMIT!" hide the veggies in things they like to eat by using pureed veggies in things like spaghetti sauce, chicken nuggets, sloppy joes, mac & cheese, and even burgers. Not a bad idea, really. I kind of had a V-8 moment when I started reading it...why the hell didn't *I* think of that?

Another thing I'm not crazy about is her assumption that she needs to teach you to cook from square 1; it comes off as condescending, in my ever-so-humble. I'm probably a better cook than you are, Miss Hollywood Wife, so let's skip the "what is a steamer" section, mmkay? Not that I'm egotistical about my culinary abilities, not at allllllllllllll. Where'd ya get that idea?

I don't usually cook vegetables; I like a green salad better than cooked broccoli any day, and eating cooked spinach rates right up there with a root canal as far as I'm concerned. Unless we're talking about spinach and artichoke dip, or a spin/artichoke appetizer I make that also has sour cream and creme cheese in it, so not good for you. There are some vegetables that I'd like to prepare (squash, among other things) that DH just turns his nose right up over, and aren't worth my irritation when he won't eat it.

DH will tell you that he's not a picky eater. I disagree. I'm adventurous when it comes to food, I'll try just about anything once. I have firm opinions about what I do and don't like, but something new? Sure, I'll give it a shot. I discovered sushi and curry, both of which I like, by saying, "sure, I'll have a bite of that, what is it?" I have tried reindeer, (didn't agree with my tummy) lutefisk (ugh) and a whole bunch of other oddities. When in Rome and all that. DH, on the other hand, is sort of a meat-and-potatoes kinda guy. Nothing wrong with that. I just like a bit more variety.

I'm giving it a shot; I bought 2 bags of baby spinach, steamed them and pureed them, put them in 1/2 cup portions and tossed them in the freezer just like she suggests. I also steamed a whole head of cauliflower (add that to the list of things I'd rather eat raw) and roasted an entire butternut squash. The head of cauliflower yielded the most, a cup and a half of finished product.

The first thing I sneakily put veggies into was homemade mac & cheese, following MotherMe's recipe. (I did make a few changes; see below.) The book suggests cauliflower OR butternut squash for additions to mac & cheese. I had both purees, but since I was using Colby and cheddar with a hint of Monterey jack, the squash seemed more likely to blend in color-wise.

In the interest of the additional 23 pounds I still need to lose, I cut out the really yummy half & half and used skim instead of whole milk, along with a reduced-fat cheddar, after carefully reading the label to make sure there was nothing icky in it. I also added a whole onion, pureed and quickly browned in a skillet, with 2 cloves of garlic. Then for the protien additions; I added 12 strips of bacon, browned super-crisp and crumbled up, and two diced (pre-cooked) chicken breasts. I didn't need the additional liquid from the half & half, because the puree of squash was pretty liquid-y, and I popped it in the oven only long enough to brown the top.

The result? Good! It was a bit too sweet...I think using a sweet onion probably had a lot to do with that, and next time I'll use a regular old white onion. And the squash is kinda sweet too, so I'll give the cauliflower a shot the next time around. DH didn't love it; but he ate it without too much complaint. I didn't think it was necessary to inform him that there was both onion and butternut squash in his mac & cheese; he blamed the taste being "off" to him on a head cold he's suffering from. We had it again the next day for lunch, and in my ever-so-humble, it was better the next day.

There are a ton of things I can't wait to try in this book. She even manages to squeeze veggies into baked goods...it will be interesting to see how that works out. I could do without the parenting tips on every third page, too, but whatev.

18 January 2008

Retreat! Sound the retreat!!

On the phone with a friend the other day, I was discussing the possibility of a yoga retreat. There's someplace in Massachusetts, somewhere in the Berkshires, that she wants to go. Sera Gamble over at VHJ has me thinking about Esalen (funny, salen in Swedish is 'hall' or a common area; Esalen sounds like it believes big-time in sustainable community living. Nod and smile, folks, these are the connections my brain makes).

My yoga instructor, a serene woman who is mother of 4, has been pushing me to go and get my yoga certification, so I can teach classes. The first time she said it to me, I didn't believe she was serious, then I was really touched that she thought I was good enough to be an instructor, and then greatly humbled. She gave me a website for someone who does certification locally, and I promised to look into it. Months passed; she nagged me, and I'd say sure, I'll check it out, and then just....didn't. (I blame the depression, and laziness.)

When the calendar turned, though, I made it part of my plan for 2008 to actually get off my ass and get it done. I'm appalled to discover, though, that the certification process costs $1800. I dunno how expensive I was thinking it was going to be...but I haven't got a spare $1800 lying around. You apply to this program and give them a $1000 deposit; IF they accept you, you owe them another $800. If not, then they give you back your $1000.

Sure, the potential for making some extra money by teaching yoga kind of balances out the price tag, but in my hippy-dippy way, I kind of think as an instructor I shouldn't charge to share yoga with others; the benefits it has brought to my life are priceless, and karma demands that I pass that good fortune along. Or something.

Then there are weekend retreats where you can get a yoga certification. Those are all over the country, and pricey, too. Some of the retreats my gf was looking at are one price to attend as a student and another price to attend as an instructor. Ouch.

I'd love to tag along with my friend to the Berkshires; I'd like to go back to Lilydale, too. Esalen has over 300 programs that I'd be interested in. Unfortunately, not only do I not have the spare cash to do all of this (Esalen is waaaay expensive; Lilydale not so much) but I also don't have the vacation time to spare. Very unfortunately. Because I'd also like to get over to Sweden, visit the 'rents in Florida, the sisters in New York and LA, go with DH to a thing for his industry in Chicago, and then there's a con or two that I might be willing to sell my soul to get to. (Kidding! About the selling of the soul thing, not about wanting to go to a con. Or 3.)

And yet...how dare I whine about such things? I've a roof over my head, enough to eat, a life that is rich with friends and family. Are any of us ever satisfied with the lives that we've got? When I'm thinner, when I've got enough money, when I'm whatever, we say all the time. What about now? Is now good? Because blink, and you'll miss it, and ten years will have gone by.

Huh. Gettin' a wee bit philosophical today.

Listening to: Turn on your love light, The Grateful Dead, Live Dead, 1969

17 January 2008

Fell On Black Days

Whatsoever I feel has
come to light
Whatsoever I fought off
became my life
Just when every day
Seemed to greet me with a smile
Sunspots are fadin'
Now I'm doin' time
Now I'm doin' time

'Cause I fell on
Black days

~Soundgarden, Fell On Black Days, Superunknown, 1994

Its a rough day today. For absolutely no reason whatsoever, I'm feeling like I was hit by a semi.

Part of living with this disease is that you know there is still so much unknown, no discernible reasons why it takes the course that it does. If there WAS a pattern, reasons why there's highs and lows, I think 'they' could treat it better.

Patients, me included, want to self-medicate when things don't go so well, or when things are going great; we think that we can quit taking the meds when things are looking up, and consider all sorts of other options (like booze or upping the dosage ourselves) when things are down.

There's all sorts of possible explanations; its overcast and cloudy today, and that makes me want to stay in bed; sometimes hormonal shifts, part of the normal menstrual cycle, make your moods go wonky; I'm frustrated over some other areas of my life that we don't talk about online; the whole glasses/contacts thing is pissing me the hell off, I've been back to the eye doctor's twice and still can't see well out of the contacts; pick any one of those. To a person suffering with depression, any one or any combination of the above could sometimes be enough to be tail-spinning. And sometimes, there's no reason at all.

I was complaining about the FDA just the other day; that whole non-labeling of cloned beef thing. But they're not just the food-checkers, they're also the drug regulators. A friend sent me a link to this Yahoo! News article which suggests that the drug companies AND the FDA bury studies that don't show the meds in a favorable light. Fan-fucking-tastic. The major med that they're talking about, Zoloft, isn't my poison of choice, but what's good for one company is good for another, no?

I also skipped the gym this morning, and won't have time the rest of the day to get to it, which doesn't help.

Ranting about it sometimes does, though.

Listening to: Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Ahi Wela, Alone in Iz World, 2001
(Cheerful, sunny, Hawai'ian music)((that helps sometimes too))

16 January 2008


I thought that you might have
Some advice to give
on how to be

~Jan Arden,
Insensitive, Living Under June, 1995

I have hyper-sensitive skin. This is a legacy from my father's side of the family. Dermatologists and other folks who care for skin troubles just hate that term, sensitive, because it doesn't really "mean" anything. Sensitive to what, exactly?

For me, its artificial colors and fragrances, and I have to be careful with soaps and other cleaning agents that might hurt my skin.

Lately, I've been wondering if I'm hyper-sensitive in other areas of my life as well. In the last couple of days, I've heard some remarks that I consider excessively racist. I've always been a champion for the underdog; and bias of any sort, be it racism, sexism, most other -isms, I don't understand well. You don't like me because I'm Slovak/a girl/short/any other identifying characteristic, but you haven't taken the time to get to know me? I don't get it.

I'm standing a bit on the edge of a dilemma; do I repeat what I'm talking about, and thus perpetuate what I see as hate speech, or do I just try to describe it to you in vague terms and leave you with these very nebulous sort of ideas?

I think I have to spell out what I'm talking about. Because I'm not sure if these two instances are"just" bad or way over the top. I think they're way over the top; see what you think.

A man that I was talking to said (about someone I know) "She's very pretty. For a black girl."


Back up.

Did you REALLY just say that?

I was so stunned, I was speechless. Striking me speechless is tough; I've always got lots to say about any and everything. I didn't know what to say. Over the years I've variously done nothing, said something smart-assed and nasty and biting back, and outright verbally attacked whoever said what I found offensive. None of those has ever really worked well.

I'm not proud of what I did this time. I did and said absolutely nothing, and excused myself as soon as I could.

Then, a woman, telling a story to a group of people, said, "...then this young kid comes in the room and sits right in the middle of us, and he was dressed like a thug. He had on, y'know, that Sean John stuff, like black people wear..."

I know my eyes got wide at that one, but again, I did and said nothing at all. That makes me ashamed. I feel like I should have called both of them out, pointed out how inappropriate those remarks both were.

Maybe I am being overly sensitive. I don't know.

I don't think I want to get to the point where things like that *don't* bother me, though.

15 January 2008


I was watching a bit of Headline News this morning, and adorable-as-hell Robin Meade did a tease for a story about cloned cattle being one step closer to being on your supermarket shelves.

WTF? No, wait, seriously. What the fuck?

The Washington Post has an old piece slanted in the pro direction; even though they quote a survey that says 63% of respondents were opposed to serving cloned milk and meat at their tables.

Then there's this vid from CNN itself that warns against the possible health risks.

Gentle Goddess, this is horrifying news.

The FDA isn't even going to label things as being cloned; the CNN bit quotes someone from the FDA as saying "Cloned products will be so similar that there will be no need for labels."

How about because you don't want to eat that shit, how's that for a reason? A damn good one, too, if you ask me.

I don't eat red meat; not because I'm vegetarian, but mostly because I really don't like it. A perfectly cooked steak holds absolutely no appeal for me. The reports are talking about cloned cows, and pigs, but not yet chicken. I'm sure that's next on the list.

Fortunately, I do know where to get both chicken and beef from local producers, folks who use organic methods and I can trust. It isn't convenient to buy from either of them, but I'll take the inconvenience over not knowing where the hell the food on my plate comes from.

What is next?

Y'know what...I don't really want an answer to that.

Speaking of being vegetarian, I baked a vegan cake the other day for DH's birthday. My nephew is allergic to eggs, so I'm always looking for recipes for baked goods that don't have eggs. The holiday cookies that I bake with the kids can't have eggs or nuts in them, which makes finding recipes tough. I thought DH's birthday cake would be a good place to experiment, because I had no butter, no eggs, no sour cream and no cream cheese in the house, so a cheesecake was out.

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Bouncing Banana Birthday Cake

Makes 1 8x8 square cake. For layers, or bundt cake, double the recipe.

Oven 350

Whisk together in a large bowl
1-1/2 c unbleached flour
1 c turbinado sugar (sold under the brand name Sugar in the Raw)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

In the food processor, combine
2 bananas
1 c water
1/3 c oil (or unsweetened applesauce, or a combination of the two)
1 tsp vinegar
1 tbsp vanilla
1-2 drops banana creme candy flavoring (completely optional)

and blend until smooth. Dump the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and mix well. Pour into a greased and floured 8x8 pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Cool on rack in pan 10 minutes and remove from pan. Allow to cool completely before frosting or decorating.

I didn't bother to frost it either time I made it; once, in the square pan just for DH, and the second time in a bundt pan for his family's celebration of his birthday. I used all oil the first time and mostly applesauce the second time. It was definitely more dry the 2nd time around, which just means I've got to tinker with it to find the right mix of oil and applesauce to lower the fat but keep that cake texture. Another change that I made the 2nd time around was to use 1/2 Splenda instead of all turbinado sugar, for my diabetic M-I-L's sake.

I have to say, it turned out far better than I expected. It ages well, too, becoming more moist the 2nd day.

14 January 2008

"Real" ID

Because anything you're already carrying as identification is apparently fantasy ID.

I'd be laughing if I wasn't so worried about my own personal privacy.

The Department of the Fatherland, also known as the dep't of homeland security, I just can't help it, the name and their activities just remind me too much of the Third Reich, announced on Friday that they're moving ahead with the "Real ID" program.

They want the states to make changes to their driver's registration processes so that illegal immigrants can't get a driver's license, so that a license is nearly "proof" of citizenship.

Hello? We've ALREADY got a document that does that...called a passport, federally issued ID that proves that you're a citizen, is fucking expensive AND a pain in the ass to obtain. You need to prove citizenship in order to get one.

DH has a brand-spanking-new passport, issued last year, that has a computer chip inside it. Now I know that counterfeiters still exist, and a truly talented one could conceivably produce an acceptable facsimile, but what's to say that this "Real ID" program is any less prone to subversion? Nothing.

And then there's the privacy concerns. My Oh-hia-ia driver's license has a magnetic swipe stripe on the back, just like a credit card, which contains all of the information that is printed on the front of the license. When I got pulled over a few weeks ago for speeding, the cop didn't want my car's registration information or anything else, because, he said, "that'll all be on your license." Ulk. There's a scary thought; what else is encoded on there? Who else can access it?

Here's why this worries me:

I guess I hadn't realized that so much info was encoded on that stripe; when I worked as a teller for ye evile bank years and years ago, we could swipe someone's license and print the encoded information on a check as verification of identification. If the check was bad and came back to us, and you had that license info printed on it, you weren't in as much trouble as you would be if you hadn't gotten that information. But what it printed was a string of letters and numbers that was so much mumbo-jumbo. I never had any idea how to translate any of it into information that would actually be useful. But then again, I never needed to. I was only a teller for 6 months (because I hated, despised, and detested being a teller) and I was lucky enough to not ever have the problem of a 'bad' check coming back to me.

Now, I can envision bars, and restaurants carding you and gathering information not just about your age; you can very easily tell by looking at the printed information on an Ohio driver's license if someone is of legal age to drink or not. Minor's licenses are printed with the information vertically, with a red background to the photo. Those of legal age have their information printed horizontally, with a blue background for the photo. So there is no need to swipe the license to verify age.

Department stores, or other places where you write checks could also have the technology needed to swipe that license and gather goddess-only-knows what data about you. Not cool.

Just 17 states have passed legislation opposing the Fatherland's new program. It is very unclear what changes might take place in each state; I'm guessing that Oh-hia-ia, with its existing magnetic stripe, digitized pictures, and holograms that print over top of the address/city/state information, already meets the criteria for the "Real ID" program, and thus there won't be many changes for the state to make. But I'm guessing, and I have absolutely no intention of reading the thousands of pages of guidelines that the Fatherland's secretary issued on Friday.

Sigh. Makes me want to flee north and start singing "Oh Canada."

And here's a problem that they have apparently NOT considered; forcing you to prove citizenship to get a license will only have illegals walking away from the whole licensing procedure; then we'll have a horde of unlicensed, uninsured drivers on the road. Fan-tab-u-los.

13 January 2008

C (from a different perspective)

I made a pilgrimage to the eye doctor's recently, because my eyesight is diminishing, and reading "cheater" glasses just aren't doing the trick anymore.

The doc is one that I've seen before; someone I communicate well with. The vision problem that I've been having is that I can't see (well, duh, bright girl, call yourself a writer? Let's try that again.) Unless I really make an effort to focus, everything's gone all blurry. But I've had a hard time explaining that to anyone. I've always had good vision, not a problem seeing anything, near or far. So verbalizing what's wrong has been tough. Fortunately, the doc understood right away, and I've got a fun, funky pair of glasses ordered. In the meantime, he gave me contacts to wear so that I can see on a daily basis.

I hate them.

They're a pain in the ass to put in my eyes, and then I can feel that there's something that doesn't belong in my eye. I can't wait until the glasses get here so I can ditch the damn things. It is nice to see again, though. I'd been unable to spend much time on the computer, especially when I was tired, without the whole world going fuzzy.

On the way home from the doctor's office, I was listening to NPR as usual, and my local NPR affiliate is airing something called "Newslink" which is an English-language program produced in Bonn, Germany by Deutsche Welle Radio. They had a story on about Nicolas Sarkozy (the current French PM, in case you're clueless), or more accurately, the piece was about his current girlfriend, Carla Bruni.

The perspective of the piece was one that just infuriated me; by listing the entirety of Madame Bruni's conquests, the reporter managed to all but come out and say that "the lady is a tramp". I was gnashing my teeth about 3o seconds in to it, and it was made worse by the fact that he was oh-so-careful to point out that the legacy of the male leaders of France have been judged often by their virility or lack thereof; French PM's are just about expected to have a mistress or 3.


How is that just, reasonable? Obviously, unless you don't have more than 3 brain cells to rub together, it is dammed unreasonable. But it seems that it is perfectly acceptable to still bash a woman for the number of her conquests while venerating a man for the same. Are we still in the 1560s?

The really interesting thing, in the end, though, is the vastly different attitude (perspective) that the Europeans have about the whole thing; Sarkozy isn't being bashed for breaking up with his wife, he's being ridiculed mostly for taking up with a woman who has been around. Here, though, on this side of the pond, the problem would be that he had a mistress at all.

Ahh, humanity. Nutbags, the lot of 'em.

10 January 2008


I had one of those days yesterday where I lost absolutely everything I touched. Keys, lost in my giant new briefcase/purse. My phone, usually clipped to my hip; the dress I had on yesterday made that tough, so I'd put it down on a flat surface, and bam, it'd be gone. The headset for my phone, which goes flashy-blinky, so I take it off when I'm talking to someone face to face. I'd take it off, set it down, and then not be able to find it. That shiz makes me nuts, makes me feel like I've lost more of my mind.

But I think I've lost something else, and I think it has a lot to do with the meds. I have a fearsome temper. Really. I know, I express anger about women's issues and politics all the time, but in the world outside of the computer, I have a yelling streak that might surprise you. Or, rather, I should say I *had*. Nothing too much gets me super-pissed off these days. Sure, advancing age makes you mellower, and working with terminally ill children taught me that there is so much that isn't worth getting upset over, but since the dosage for my meds has been adjusted to a level that seems to be working for me, I'm not quick to anger about anything.

I was thinking about this because of something that happened at work. Since I don't talk about work online, I'll just tell you that this boiled down to a clear case of sexism, which is enough to send me into orbit. Two or three years ago, this would have had me storming into the office, and furiously having it out with the person who I saw as the problem. I've never been a violent woman, but I promise that anyone within hearing range would have known exactly what I was upset about, because the volume? I can project that. (Thank you, voice coach!)

Instead, I handled it another way entirely, and I think that there's a chance that there will be a good resolution to a bad problem. Worked out calmly and rationally. Huh. You can do that? In'trustin.

I was offended, and annoyed, but not furious. Couldn't really get worked up over it.

I don't really like knowing that it must be the meds, because nothing else has changed. I got into an...ahem...argument with someone recently, and the day it happened, I hadn't taken my meds. So they're keeping me on a sort-of even keel, not just helping with the depression. Instead of reassuring me, that makes me pretty worried, anxious, again, about are the meds making me a different person? Someone less recognizable as myself, or are they rather helping me to be a better person. I don't know.

I don't think I mind losing the temper. Much. Sometimes a good screaming hissy fit is a good thing, just like every now and then we all need a good cry. But what happens when you don't have that emotional outlet available to you?

09 January 2008


After not touching my novel since September, in the last week I've been taking another look at it and trying to do some polishing to what I've already written. I'm still stuck; there's a point where I've glossed over a whole chapter because I'm not sure how/what to write, and last summer I just gave up, moving forward from that point. Which was fine for a while; but now I'm stuck again.

I have the entire story arc worked out, know where I want to go, even have ideas (nebulous, but still) for subsequent adventures featuring my 2 main characters. But I'm struggling to move it forward from where I'm stuck. How to get from x to y, when it isn't a straight line.

I have been thinking about J K Rowling lately, and how she had the idea for the entire HP series whilst on a train. And then she worked on it for more than a decade, all told. I'm not that patient. I want to be done with the story and to be shopping it to editors and publishing houses. Because I've decided that I definitively want it to be published. I've gone from just wanting to write because I didn't like anything I'd picked up to read lately, to vainly wanting to see my name in print, so that when I wander in to a bookstore I find MY BOOK sitting there.

The Very Hot Jews had a post a few weeks ago about how to run for president you've got to be a sociopath. (True dat, no?) When I worked in and around the health care industry, I decided that to become a physician, you had to be one arrogant sonavabitch, male or female, to survive medical school and the internship process. Otherwise the withering criticism of an older doctor or battle-axe nurse would be enough to have you huddled in the corner, whimpering.

Writers, I think, need to spend a whole lot of time living inside their own heads. I didn't stumble upon my story idea while having superfast conversations with my bffs; it came to me in moments of quiet contemplation, all by myself. I am a solitary person and gregarious at the same time, which is a strange dichotomy. I suppose that's a bit of a mystifying statement, but it is true.

I am bored when I'm driving in the car from point A to B if I'm not gabbing on the phone to someone (you SO don't want my mobile phone bill, I promise) but at the same time, I treasure time to myself. I need time alone. I was a pretty solitary kid; you'd find me nestled in the branches of a tree at my parent's first home, reading, more often than running about with the neighborhood kids. The 'rents used to joke that you could set an explosion off next to me while I was reading, and I'd never notice, so lost did I get in other worlds.

When I'm writing, I'm completely immersed in the moment of storytelling. I had to quit last night around 10pm because I had an early meeting today, and it was damn near impossible to sign out of the program and turn off the computer. Now that I've finally got some inspiration back, I don't want to walk away from it.

I carry around a blank book in case something strikes me, a turn of phrase or a description, or something a character might do or say. And I dutifully write it down if I'm not in front of the 'puter. But it takes nearly all my control to not quit whatever else I'm doing to get back in front of the computer and frantically type.

I suppose that's good; but the last time I had such mania for writing, it was the predicator to a backslide in my mental health.

Geez, I need a worry-stone, or a trouble box to stash all of this ridiculous worrying into, so that I can stop worrying and start DOING!

On another note entirely....

How about Hilliary winning in New Hampshire? I'm still fence-sitting. Barak? Hilliary? Barak? Hilliary?

Moon Over Malaga

This is a storytelling post, something that's sort of a new experiment.

Late in the summer last year, my NYC sister came to visit us. Her plane was scheduled to land late on a Friday night, so as soon as we got the call that she had pushed back from the gate at La Guardia Airport, we left my parent's place to pick her up. It takes about the same length of time to drive from the 'rents house to the airport as it does to fly from NYC to Oh-hi-ia.

As we got on the freeway, my mother said to me, "Did you see it? Its beautiful. Behind us."

I had no idea what the hell she was talking about; I imagined at first that she meant an accident behind us on the freeway, which confused me, because when was the last time you saw a beautiful accident? But when I turned around in my seat a gazed out the back window of my dad's very big SUV, I saw an enormous golden moon, hanging low in the sky. I can never see a moon like that without remembering the very first time I went to Europe, and a night that perhaps had a hand in shaping the adult I became.

I was a lucky, lucky kid. We weren't well off, but we didn't want for much either. During my 8th grade year, the school announced a trip to Europe, for a fee, of course. I don't remember why I wanted to go so badly, especially when none of my friends wanted to go. But I talked my parents into the first informational meeting, and they agreed that I could go. I'm sure there were rules about keeping my grades up and various other things tied to actually being able to go on the trip, but time has stolen those recollections away from me.

We left the states via JFK Airport in New York and flew to Madrid, Spain. It was the first time I'd been so far away from home, something I was super-excited about. We spent several days in Madrid before heading south, into Seville, and then Spain's Costa del Sol, and the crown jewel city of Malaga. By the time we got to Malaga, we were used to hotels that weren't fantastic and very odd-seeming food. A pecking order among the 50 or so kids on our bus from schools all across the country had been established. I had made friends with a boy and a girl from Delaware, and even made a few new friends from my own hometown, with kids I'd never speak to at home.

There was a boy; isn't there always? I was 14 during this trip, young, to say the least. I just realized that most of the rest of this post is going to horrify my mother (Hi Mom!) who reads my blog from time to time. Oh well. Now that I am over 30, she can't get angry about such youthful transgressions, right? Right?!?

The boy was 16-ish, maybe 17. He was from Oregon, and I had a huge crush on him. He seemed to like me as well, or at least we enjoyed one another's company during the small amounts of free time we had. This was all pretty platonic, things like sitting together on the bus or checking out a piece of art in a museum after the rest of the group had moved on.

The chaperones from my hometown were particularly vigilant about their charges; we rarely had unsupervised time. When we did, we made absolutely sure that we were up to positively no good whatsoever.

The first night in Malaga, they allowed us to do whatever we wanted, provided that we didn't leave the grounds of our ocean-front hotel, the first and only decent one that we stayed in the whole 2 week trip. That was difficult, riiiight. The hotel had 3 bars, one on a terrace overlooking the beach, and most of us had rooms facing the ocean with balconies that seemed palatial.

Several daring souls left the compound and ran to a grocery store across the way, buying booze, wine, soda and juice to mix the booze with and munchies. We weren't particularly sly most of the time, but no one was caught.

The boy and I had agreed to meet, and I spent some time sitting on the beach with him and some of his schoolmates, having earnest youthful conversation and sharing some Sangria. It grew dark and a huge moon, larger than I had ever seen, rose in the sky and we all watched it silently for a while. It was breathtaking. It seemed as if you could see every crater on the moon with the naked eye.

I couldn't stop looking at it. My new friends poked fun at me for losing the thread of the conversation several times as I gazed at this wonder, teasing me about my inability to hold my liquor. It wasn't the first time I'd ever had a drink (ummmm....yeah, let's not tell that story) but it was the most I'd ever had to drink in one sitting. I felt like the night was full of possibilities, adventure untasted, limitless potential. A high-flying sort of feeling. Was I drunk? I don't think so; if I was, what happened next sobered me up in a hell of a hurry.

Eventually, we all grew tired and the boy and I headed back to the hotel, leaving his friends behind. He took my hand as we walked back to the hotel, and my heart pounded. Proof positive! He liked me too!

I thought that this might be the chance I'd been waiting for. To tell him that I had a crush on him, that I sort of thought the sun rose and set with him. Unfortunately, as soon as we walked back into the hotel, one of my roommates spotted me and came running up to inform me that a third roomie, C, was drunk and we needed to do something about it before the chaperones came by for a 1 AM bed-check.

The boy and I followed my roommate to the elevators, and as it rose to our floor, I had the sensation that my stomach had stayed on the ground floor. Possibilities flew right out the window. I certainly wasn't going to be telling him how cute I thought he was with my roommate in the elevator and a crisis of epic proportion looming on the horizon.

Underage drinking was something that could get you sent home, no ands, ifs, or buts, and anyone who conspired to cover it up was just as liable. We knew that, and yet, we were convinced that we could hide it. When we got to our room, on one of the upper floors, we had a Suge Night moment when my boy pulled a guy off of the drunk girl, someone trying to take tremendous advantage of her. He didn't get tossed off of the balcony, but he sure did leave our room in a heck of a hurry.

My fella left soon after, with a rueful grin that I know was reflected on my own face for lost opportunity.

None of us knew anything about sobering someone up, other than what we'd seen on TV. We had no coffee to pour into her; it was superlate and the bars were closing, plus the moment of the chaperones would come knocking on our door was creeping closer. We'd be in nearly as much trouble for being out of our rooms so close to curfew as we would be for drinking. We thought about trying to put her to bed, but with the rest of us wide awake and still chattering, she wouldn't stay in bed. We sat her in a corner and told her to keep her mouth shut, answering any question they asked her directly with as few words as possible. She was a chatterbox, and we told her that if they asked why she was so quiet, she was to tell them that she was very tired.

I was worried about my own neck too; I'd had plenty of sangria on the beach with the boy and his friends, who had much more liberal chaperones. They were allowed to drink if they wanted. I, on the other hand, stood as large a chance as C did to get sent home. The fact that I was merely buzzed and she was completely shit-faced wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference.

The chaperones admired our view when they came at last to our room, seating themselves on chairs on the balcony. We thought they'd never leave; we all managed to work the fact that we were allll soooo tired into the conversation, but they weren't taking the hint. Amazingly, C kept silent, and no one questioned her. When they left, we all were nearly hysterical with relief.

Age and experience tells me, now, that they knew. They had to. I'll bet they laughed themselves silly on the way back to their own rooms.

But that night was the first time I acted as a caretaker for anyone outside of my own family, a pattern which continues to this day. We bundled C into bed, finally, making sure there was a trash can near her in case she got sick, and I found aspirin or Advil or Tylenol for the headache she was sure to have in the morning.

Parties in high school had me doing more of the same, watching out for friends, keeping a cool head about myself. In Europe, my junior year, I wasn't too worried about consequences. My host parents were OK with me drinking, knowing the kids I ran around with and knowing how little trouble I could really get into in Sweden. When I came home from Sweden, my friends were all horrified at the amount of smoking and drinking I'd done; and then, at some point during the middle of that schoolyear, everyone else discovered drinking too. I worried, I watched. At least until Senior's Week, the week we graduated, when I behaved like any other teen, sure I was immortal, and all of my friends were bullet-proof.

We're all lucky that we're not dead of alcohol poisoning, really.

I continue to be the caretaker. Most of the time, that's OK with me. I wonder, though, if my life would have taken a different course, if I'd be the same adult that I am now, if when informed of C's drunken-ness that night so long ago if I'd said, "Hey, figure it out. Not my problem. The boy and I need to talk. I'll see you later."

Oh, and if you're wondering.....nothing ever happened with the boy. Never so much as kissed him. I don't remember even holding hands with him at any other point during the trip. Never saw him again, either. Obviously, it wasn't meant to be.

07 January 2008


They say everyone's got a twin. I was either walking down memory lane today, or just doing more people-watching than usual, because I saw them by the hundreds.

First, walking in to the gym, I saw a woman with a young blonde child who was a ringer for my cousin J. She passed away more than two years ago. I stopped in the parking lot, took a deep breath, and looked again. I've had that happen before, where I think I see someone who I know isn't with us anymore, and when I look again, they look nothing like my loved one. This woman could have used J's driver's license and gotten away with it.

I can't help but wonder if that will ever, ever, not hurt as much as it still does. Because I saw her and almost called out, "Hey cuz!" and realized all over again that she's gone. Damn.

Then while working out, I was on a treadmill where you overlook the main entrance from one story above, like you're the eye in the sky. I saw my Swedish Papa who IS still among the living, a duplicate of what he looked like almost 20 years ago. It wasn't him, of course, and I know that, but man, this guy could have passed for him.

What gives?

04 January 2008

Brave New World

What a stunner, Barak winning in Iowa. I'm bowled over. I'm still on the fence for who to vote for in the democratic primary in Oh-hia-ia in March, but by then the point might be moot...with all of the states that have shifted around their primary dates to get more attention (don't get me started) Oh-hia-ia's is kinda late.

I desperately want a female president; ergo, my choice should be Hillary, no? Unfortunately, I just don't think she's electable. The conservatives just hate her, even moderate conservatives like my parents. Which does not bode well for her electability. Barak is so charismatic; he's a new face, with I think near Kennedy-like expectations from those who still have hope for the government in this country. (At the moment, that does not include me.)

I like what he's got to say a whole lot. Wow, is he ever a good speaker! But I like her, too. Quite a lot. For crying out loud, Pakistan, PAKISTAN, had a female leader, as did England, and we have not yet. Isn't it time? She's got the experience; I just don't think he has the experience needed, the foreign policy sensitivity, to be president. If he'd waited 10 years...but then perhaps his moment would have passed.

The closer the date creeps to March 4, the less I can afford to sit on the fence. But watching them both in action...I just don't know. I think it is impossible to watch his victory speech in Iowa and not be filled with hope.

But the fact that she IS a woman, and has fought for women's rights for years, plus her experience mean so much to me. Both of them want to move the perception of America back to where it needs to be around the world. They're not so far apart. For me, then, it is ultimately this: Who is more electable? Who can actually win the White House?

Now if they'd join forces, and one would agree to be vice....that would be interesting.

I just don't know if this country is ready to elect a woman, or an African-American. That makes me so very sad.

03 January 2008


The end of 2007 was somewhat typical of the rest of the year for the weather around here. Unseasonably warm, weather that is very unusual for the time of year. Our summer was cooler than usual, which was nice 'cause I detest the heat, but the fall and winter thus far have been much warmer than they ought to be.

Hey, Mr. President? Global Warming? Is real. I'm so not in the mood for politics today.

On New Year's Eve, the temp was in the mid-40s. Weather that we should have at the end of March, or near the middle to end of October. Not in December. And then the next day, New Year's Day, it snowed like a sonavabitch, with high winds, blowing and drifting snow...we were forecast at least 4 inches, but didn't get that much around my home.

I am one of those rare lunatics who LIKES the cold. Yes, really. I'd prefer an inch of snow on the ground to 90+ temperatures. My logic goes something like this...in the winter, you can pile on lots of layers to keep warm, or attempt to keep warm, anyway. In the summer, there's only so much you can take off and not be arrested!

We keep the temp fairly low in the winter in the house, partly to save money, partly because we like it that way, and partly to conserve natural gas. Rarely is the thermostat set higher than 68, and overnight it goes down to I think 62. All I know is that woe betide thee if you get out of bed in the middle of the night, because it is COLD in here. It isn't set that low in the summer (our electric bill would be un-payable) but it is pleasantly cool in here in the summer too.

Like so many other things I see going wrong with the country, the weather's anomalies make me nervous. Will my niece and nephew and greats and grands see true Oh-hia-ia winters? Sledding used to be something that we all did (even my parents) every winter. I don't see kids do that these days. There weren't a lot of crisp, cool fall days last year. Days when you feel like you ought to buy some #2 pencils and new notebooks, drink some apple cider. The temps stayed in the high 60s until nearly November; Auntie H's funeral, held 1 November, was sunny and warm, not a cloud in the sky.

I know I'm mostly preaching to the choir. If you read this blog all the time, chances are high that you agree with my POV mostly always. But.

Recycling and making a conscious effort to reduce our consumption of natural resources are, in my ever-so-humble, about the only way the average person can attempt to assist in slowing the destruction of the planet. Even though I don't plan to have kids, I'd like the next 3 generations to be able to continue to live on this planet. I'm working on doing my share; part of my next paycheck is going to one of these. Composting is something I feel I should have been doing for a long, long time. Cutting down on the amount of waste I contribute is a goal for the year.

Cool, eh?

01 January 2008


The goal? Was to finish the race 1) running 2) on my own two feet and 3) not last. I succeeded in those 3 endeavors, although I did not manage to run the entire 3.1 miles. I walked some of it. I'm disappointed by that, but not deeply so.

I had some pain that I've never had running, and was upset by that. Shin splits, I've had plenty of experience with those, but that wasn't the problem. I developed a....cramp, maybe, for lack of a better term...in my right ankle, near the Achilles tendon, but closer to my ankle bone. It hurt, quite a bit. It developed before the first mile was up, and by the time I was finished with the race, I was limping. And wheezing, but we'll get to that.

This race, as I have explained before, was the one I chose because it was a FLAT course. It was a 2 laps of the fairgrounds it was held on. Before the first lap was done, I was wondering why the fuck I thought I could ever do this; I felt like something was trying to claw its way out of my chest, and right at that moment, I'd have gladly allowed someone to crack my chest with bolt cutters to let it out. Took a while for that to fade, too. I've felt that on the treadmill before, but I've just slowed down or stopped until I could catch my breath.

I say to people all the time: "It ISN'T a race, dude, slow down." But this WAS a race, and I was determined to not finish dead last, so slowing, well, wasn't so much of an option, really. I did walk for a portion of each lap, but I didn't stop, not even once, not even when my left shoe came untied with a mile of the race remaining.

DH took a few pictures, and aren't I the fashion plate in them! Grey stretch pants; a long-sleeved t from a public radio station, a black nylon pullover over the t, an orange-and-blue-and-burgundy striped beanie, a black & white number pinned to my tummy, a timer mechanism strapped to my ankle, two pairs of gloves, one cream, one burgundy (which did NOT match the burgundy in the hat, FYI) a red handkerchief, and a red neck-thingy, which I usually wear skiing. It takes the place of a scarf. Oh, and a jingle bell pinned to my left shoe, and my silver iPod in its black case strapped to my right arm in its usual place. The gloves didn't last past the first mile, and by the end of the race, the hat was off, too. Sharp, lemme tell ya.

The only reason I'm posting this picture is that it is a bit blurry, you can't make out the number on my stomach, and I think that if you don't know me very well, you wouldn't recognize me. I'm enough of a paranoid freak that it probably won't stay attached to the post for more than 24 hours.

I had decided previously to run to a Podrunner mix, one of my current favorites, Radiant Dark. At 166 BPM, it is a bit faster than I can really run, but I really like the music, so that was my choice. Additionally, at always at least an hour long, Podrunner mixes are pretty ideal for a race like this.

I couldn't run without music at all, and crossed the finish line to Eminem's Lose Yourself, from the 8 Mile soundtrack. While I'm not a huge fan of Em's anti-woman lyrics or a lot of his ideology, say whatever you like about the guy, Lose Yourself is hugely inspiring and something that gets me revved every time I listen to it. I had listened to it about 5 times before the race, and when I was thinking that I wasn't going to get across the finish line at all, I turned from the Radiant Dark mix to Lose Yourself, which brought me back up to speed.

I was looking at DJ Steveboy's blog a few hours after the race, and I'm so excited about his newest project; Podrunner Intervals. Click the linky above to read about it yourself, but the idea is to bring beginner runners from couch potato to half-marathon. Release date is Feb 1, 2008, and you bet your bottom dollar that I'll be adding that to my list of podcast subscriptions.

The aftermath of the race is that I hurt. I ache. My legs, that spot on my ankle, my lower back, and the base of each of my shoulder blades. I'm exhausted, have a headache, and it took several hours for asthmatic me to return to normal breathing. For all that, I can't wait to do this again. I'm on a high, one that I don't want to end.

I'll tell you this, too. I don't have plans anytime soon to run in temperatures much warmer than it was here today, about 40F or about 4C. No matter what the outside temp, you still sweat, and I was HOT. Any warmer, and I might've been faint.

Here's the best part. Today, my weight stands at 161, up a few pounds from my 40 lb loss, but I'm blaming that on the holidays and all the parties I've been at the last 2 weeks. It'll drop. The best part is that a year ago this time, I weighed 190, and couldn't walk up a flight of steps without wheezing. What an amazing long way I've come.

Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted

One moment
Would you capture it?

or just let it slip?

Eminem, Lose Yourself, 8 Mile Soundtrack