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Archive for April, 2009

In Gratitude

Shortly after Christmas I started feeling a bit lonely. Now my husband and dog are very good company–the best company, in fact. But I had been sorely lacking for female interaction. Phone calls to my sister and mother weren’t cutting it. Then Victor moved in and I started to realise that having outsiders into my world is a good thing. A necessary thing, in fact. Husband and I weighed the risks–stress, overtiring, exposure to virii–against the benefits and any way you sliced it, the idea of a Ladies’ Party won out.

The last time I did something like this was two years ago when Aunt B. brought a bunch of us out to Mack’s (Yasgur) farm. There was a bevy of broads and booze as well as a bountiful buffet. I look back on that night a lot as a restorative and energising time.

That’s enough backstory, I guess.

I don’t know that words are enough to thank all of the women who were willing to spend time and gas money to drive out here for grilled food and soda pop. Seeing living people, laughing with friends, eating, talking about books, politics, gardening…it was all so healing. So enriching. So wonderful.

Last time we did this another blogger complained about how boring it was to read about fat chicks roasting marshmallows. So I don’t want this blog entry to go on forever because I don’t want to tax anyone’s patience. But I can’t say enough thank yous to all the women who came. I must say, though, that the women who weren’t able to make it were genuinely missed.

Thanks again to all of you.

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Well That Sucks

I love having a Vanderbilt doctor. It’s the best patient care I’ve ever gotten from anyone. They call me within 2 hours if I ever have a question and I can email them 24 hours a day.

I can also now view my records online thanks to MyHealthAtVanderbilt Dot Com.

Since I went to the doctor this week I went online to check my Immunoassay and Liver Function tests. I clicked over to the Vital Signs page. I should never have done that.

Because, on the vital signs page you can see the steady weight loss I’ve had in the year and a half I’ve been under their care. (The 25lbs I lost before going to them aren’t on there, obviously.)

And here’s where I admit that I’m all messed up. Because I’m glad that I’m losing weight even though I’m not glad. The part of me that is so conditioned by society is like “cool, maybe now I’ll finally be Acceptable.” The part of me that is a free-thinking feminist-of-sorts is very aware of how completely screwed up that is. Because it means that I am embracing a destructive disease where my body LITERALLY EATS ITSELF TO DEATH and the toxic agents I take to halt that disease. I’d rather be skinny and dying. Which is absurd.

But then as I looked at the downward progression of the numbers–I now weigh the least I’ve ever weighed in 18 years–I clicked on the little “I” for info, which then brought up the BMI table. I’m still Obese.

And I know that in my head. I knew it before I clicked on the little “I”. But it still upsets me. And then I’m upset that I’m upset.
Because I know all those things I’m supposed to think–that I’m not a number, that people love me no matter what.

But I have to admit that the little perfectionist voice inside me that screamed whenever I got a bad grade is shouting at me now.

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I want to write something but don’t necessarily feel like combing the web to find something that outrages me to the point of making a post about it. I just don’t feel outragingy right now, I guess.

I joined the Arthritis Foundation’s web based support board which has a chat forum.

I hate chat forums. I hate them because they are just so….ugh. I don’t know. The people on the RA Connect board are knowledgable and nice. And as chat forums go it’s one of the better ones. The worst ones are the ones about Disney World, and I say that only because I’ve never been to the Mommy Boards, which judging by the content on the Disney boards must be HELL. Absolute Hell.

The thing about chat boards is that people are devoted to their .sigs. I’m an old-timer on this here Internet, starting back in 1988 when all we had was Unix uphill both ways. I make this point because it was a hard and fast rule that your sig (all text) couldn’t be any longer than 4 lines. And we only tolerated 4 lines if they were especially witty.

Then came the ASCII art. People started putting kitty cats made of 1s and 4s and 0s in their sigs, which seems like a cute idea. Except that invariably by the time the message made it to the other person half the numbers had shifted so your angel’s halo was over its left shoulder or your cat’s ears were floating in midair roughly three inches from its body. I hated ASCII art and was pretty vocal about it. I should have shut up.

Because the sig line (Notice that word “line” and how optimistic and wistful I am when I use it) has evolved into the inside locker door of an eleven year old girl. Little creatures bob up and down in annoying animation. Tiny Angels flit across the screen. And of course there are the Rob My House Ribbons.

Ah. The wonderful RMH Ribbons. I call them that because most everyone who uses them on the Disney Boards has them as the countdown to their next Disney Trip. But I’ve seen them to chart weight loss, countdown the months of pregnancy or whittle away the time until the next LOTR movie is released. They’re on blogs too but it isn’t so bad there. Because you don’t have to look at it fifty times in one thread. Although I still think that it isn’t all that wise to let people know you and your entire family will be away from the house in 82 days.

Of course that’s not as stupid as the pictures in sig files. Over at WDWInfo.com (The Dis Boards) there are a few people who have put gigantomo photos of their favourite hotel room door decorations (?who does this?) at the end of every message.

So if you’re having a threaded conversation on these places and the sig files take up ten times the space that the message info takes it’s really annoying.

I can’t believe I’ve gone on about this for 500 words now. That’s kind of sad. Can you tell that I’m procrastinating my work?

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This morning when I woke up the sun was shining, the sky was blue and it looked for all the world like a perfect summer day. Except I had the excruciating pain in my spine, which always means that it is going to rain (if it isn’t already raining.)

I told my dog that it was going to rain and he looked at me scoffingly. I know he thought I was just trying to get out of taking him outside.

But it is now raining.

And apparently I didn’t think of anything else to blog about since I’m blogging about my old-lady rheumatism.

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Kat’s surefire way to gain, maintain and expand power and control

Step 1–create a common enemy.

Now, it’s okay to have this be a living being–say, Hitler– or a country of living beings–say, the USSR. But since those things can and do talk back it’s even better to make an inanimate object the targeted cause.

Well, either you’re closing your eyes
To a situation you do now wish to acknowledge
Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated
By the presence of a pool table in your community.

Step 2–release escalating propaganda about the dangers caused by this enemy.

Since people aren’t necessarily scared by an aspirin or a weed or a piece of metal you’ve got to tell them what’s so bad about it.

I say that any boob kin take
And shove a ball in a pocket.
And they call that sloth.
The first big step on the road
To the depths of deg-ra-Day–
I say, first, medicinal wine from a teaspoon,
Then beer from a bottle.

Step 3–Threaten people’s families.

Nothing gets someone’s goat like being told about the dangers posed to The Children. (Just a note. The correlary to Step 1 is to always rely on The Children as people’s common cause. It’s safer than religion or nationalism but serves the exact same purpose–fueling steaming piles of indignation and spurring otherwise disengaged and self-involved folks to frenzied action.)

An’ the next thing ya know,
Your son is playin’ for money
In a pinch-back suit.
And list’nin to some big out-a-town Jasper
Hearin’ him tell about horse-race gamblin’.
… Make your blood boil?
Well, I should say.

Step 4–Move In For The Kill. The people are yours.

We’ve surely got trouble!
Right here in River City!
Remember the Maine, Plymouth Rock and the Golden Rule!
Oh, we’ve got trouble.
We’re in terrible, terrible trouble.
That game with the fifteen numbered balls is a devil’s tool

And that’s how we get to the place in the land of the free that school teachers and principals (remember..he’s your PAL!) are allowed to root around in your child’s underwear to make sure he’s not sneaking aspirin into class. Or heroin. Or whatever.

I was a teenager once and the thing I remember most about that time is that what was most attractive to me was also what was most forbidden. So I think that perhaps one of the causes for the rise in drug use in the suburbs is the very forbiddenness of it.

Do I favour legalising all drugs? No. Just pot, really. But I also favour stepping down from the unwinnable War on Drugs to the place where we no longer fetishise drugs and turn them into a totem for absolute evil. That means the cost of fighting the absurd war will go down and this nonsense about violating the privacy of citizens will cool off. We hope.

Hat Tip: The Divine Miss R, Radley BalkoReddit Libertarian and of course Aunt B. Oh, and Meredith Wilson

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I wrote my earlier post on 420 and then I got to thinking about a) what a nerd I am and b) how much this next train of thought is going to really tick off my parents.
Standard Paragraph for Parents, Siblings and fellow churchgoers:
I neither drink nor smoke marijuana. But I am hampered by a slavish devotion to consistency and an annoying habit of contrarianism.

This is 420. Since Wikipedia already partially explains it, I’m not going to retype an explanation here.

My parents raised me on the beauty of America. How the Puritans came here to be able to worship free of state persecution in England. How my own Mennonite forebears came here to be able to worship free of state persecution in Germany and Switzerland. How America is wonderful because everyone can follow whatever they believe in and we’re all grownups and agree to get along peacefully with one another.

I am reminded of those thoughts every spring, beginning on March 17th. I don’t drink, but my love for what this country stands for means that I am glad that all the Irish, Catholics, Alcoholics and Sport Drinkers get an occasion to celebrate what they love. Then again when May 5th rolls around and I can’t get out of the Food Lion parking lot because of the tequila tent at the adjacent Mexican restaurant and its devotees rejoicing in Mexico, Alcoholism and Sport Drinking I grumble but also rejoice at the beauty of FREEDOM.

But sandwiched in between there is the lie of 420. The sharp hull in the center of the popped corn that sticks in your teeth and hurts and reminds you that in adulthood even the promised good things often come with a dark side. The poor gentle slackers and dudes who are too busy chillin’ at home in front of a lava lamp to block the Food Lion parking lot or force Corned Beef and Cabbage specials on me in restaurants don’t get to have the freedom of their day. They have to celebrate in secret and with codes and obscure symbology.

In that way the potheads remind me of the Early Christian Church. And because of my fellow-feeling with that Early Christian Church I also feel sorry for the potheads. I want America to not be Nero’s Rome. I want America to be the America I believe in. So I want 420 to someday soon be like Cinco de Mayo & St. Patrick’s Day, where your co-workers can send you eVites to their Bake-ins and the stores put Cheetos on sale and you can give a commemorative roach clip to your grandma.

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420

In honour of today I figured I’d do what any decent blogger would do and post some half-arsed bit of stuff really late in the day as though I were not able to be bothered with working.

Then I realised that’s how I’ve been blogging for the last week and a half, so nothing special about 420 after all.

Then again, the fact that I am who I am–exceedingly law-abiding to a fault and suffering from many many allergies–means that there’s nothing special about my 420 anyway.

Nerdalert.

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I should be clear. The peeve is about the iPod touch and iPhone. The size of the peeve is mini. I don’t think there IS a mini iPod.

Anyway. If you have an app that is designed to promote a movie, it’s BALLS to charge any money for that app.

Yeah, I’m cautiously intrigued by the new Star Trek movie. But I ain’t paying ninety nine cents for a Movie Countdown app.

I DONT PAY FOR ADVERTISING. YOU DO.

ps. The Watchmen Countdown app was frakkin FREE.

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I’m re-reading Little Women today, and it’s an interesting experience. Before Harry Potter and To Kill A Mockingbird, this was the book I read over and over. One year–the year I was nine–I read it an even dozen times. My mom, who had a policy about never telling us what we could and couldn’t read because she didn’t want to discourage curiousity, ended up having to practically pry it out of my hands.

I’ve not gotten very far (Quinndle says I’m 16% through it) and it’s striking me just how much of this book is a sermon. I’m actually kind of surprised they still require it in some school systems AND that it isn’t labeled as Christian Fiction.

I’m also really mad that worse didn’t happen to horrid Amy for burning Jo’s book.

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Now that tax day is over, I can share my dirty secret.

I like to file taxes.

I don’t like the concept of taxes, I don’t like the way they are presently handled. As I’ve said over and over again, I think there should be a tax bill system in place.

Since there isn’t one, and since I generally like to be a good citizen–albeit a loudmouthed one–I file my taxes. And I enjoy it.

I always have, because I have a weird genetic quirk in that I enjoy filling out forms. A good form makes me feel like I’m taking a test where I know all the answers. “Why, yes! I DO know my home phone number!” They are the easiest pop quizzes in the world.

But when I was 21 my dad–who prepares taxes for people as part of his job–introduced me to tax-prep software and my life has never been the same. Filing taxes has become like a video game where you actually win money back instead of tickets.

I now use Turbotax online and they actually have a little window in the upper right hand corner that tells you how much you’re getting back or how much you owe. And it changes when you input different things. It is SO much fun to watch the little numbers click over. It’s like The Price Is Right or something.

So yes. I’m a libertarian. I think the current tax structure sucks and I think we all have to pay too much. But as long as I’ve gotta do it anyway at least I’m having fun with it.

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