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Archive for November, 2010

I’m still on someone’s media relations list, even though it’s been years since I ran a community blog.  (Thank the good Lord above.)   I’m forever getting emails about mediocre artists’ new album releases and strange gift books.   Today’s was the absolute limit.

From a woman called Gabrielle at myhormonesmademedoit.com (seriously) I am invited to write about The Hormone Horoscope:

For instance, if you’re in Week 1 of your cycle, seek out family members you adore! In Week 2? Careful of spur-of-the-moment confessionals! Week 3? Your best bet is to sit next to a chatterbox! Week 4? Sidle up to the punch bowl!

It’s Hysteria!!! Literal, actual hysteria–blaming the womb for the (perceived) insanity of women. It sets the clock back for women a millenium or two. And it simultaneously seeks to relieve women of the responsibility for their own actions. You know–blame it on the hormones. Which are the equivalent of the devil. You know, that phrase that Flip Wilson made popular a generation ago? “The Devil Made Me Do It.” Well, just substitute “my hormones” for “The Devil” and you have the URL for this woman’s abomination of a website.

I realise that most women have an uneasy truce with their hormones, similar feelings to those a seasoned cowboy has for the racing stallion it took years to train. You know that you are sitting astride raw, unmatched power and that you have to control it so it doesn’t run away from you. Occasionally you get bitten–but more often you can race like the wind. And with the stallion on your side you can accomplish great things. You can literally create and nurture new life. You can heal and feel with unmatched sensitivity. Female hormones are nothing short of a miracle. A miracle that begets more miracles.

I think it’s a good thing for women to know their bodies and what those bodies are up to. But I always have and always will hate the cutesification of knowledge. Just as I rail against sweet nicknames for genitals I rail against the idea of making female hormones the subject of some idiotic “horoscope”. Yes, your hormones can have an effect on how you feel physically. They can even effect how things smell and taste. I personally am enjoying a Coke that I wouldn’t be able to stand the taste of in the first two weeks of my cycle. But I’ve been married for a long time and would never countenance blaming my hormones for hurting my spouse. Hormones are a tool. When you make them into something mystical, something beyond your control, you cheapen yourself and your worth.

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Today’s writing is apparently brought to you by the letter O. As in Oh brother, I can’t believe I’m writing the whole thing on an iPad.

My husband, who loves me in spite of all reasons not to, also loved his ipad so much that he bought me one for christmas, which he actually gave me at the end of October. It’s come in handy as I’m road-testing various accessibility tools. (that is apparently what we the handicap able call the extra farfignewtons we need to use the stuff other people use quite well unaided.). So, anyway, I’ve got this sucker, partially so I can write on the go, but I tend to use it only for playing We Rule and Godfinger. Because I’m five. But then I had to have the pus filled tooth yorked outta my head on Wednesday morning (there was a cancellation at the oral surgeon, moving the day of reckoning up by one) and I found that I could stay in bed, per doctor’s orders and still watch Netflix and Youtube and Hulu and all those other things people substitute for books. There are no experiences quite like that of being loaded up with oxycontin (again per doctor’s orders) and watching Johnny Cash videos on Youtube.

Having tired of all the bleakness of Cash and relentless naive optimism of 70s tv (Emergency and Adam-12, y’all!) I broke down and watched JK Rowling’s chat with Oprah from six weeks ago. I knew it was out there, but didn’t reLy feel like dealing with the conflicting emotions of watching someone I admire have a friendly chat with someone Ive chosen to disregard. But as I do with all things Rowling, I watched in the end. Sure enough, it took less than a minute for Oprah to turn the topic back onto herself. In between the bits if good conversation from Rowling we got a lot of Billionaire Girls’ Club nonsense, some guff about the sad life of the late alleged child molester Michael Jackson and much musing from Oprah about how scary it is to leave her popular talk show and start up a television network. All in all I got about 15 minutes of Rowling out of a 40 minute interview. Which was slightly better than I expected.

Do I think she will write another Harry Potter book? In the interview she basically said ‘i doubt it, but I also know to never say never.’ Personally I think we’ll get the Encyclopaedia and other world-building material, but she is probably done with straight up narrative. That’s fine by me, as I reckon the story speaks for itself.

I thought it was interesting to compare and contrast our two lives, as I often do. She is Joanne Kathleen from Britain. I am Katherine Joan from the US. Our lives are often inversely parallel. She has finished writing a popular book and is published. I haven’t and am not. She lost both her parents…one to death, the other to estrangement. I have loving relationships with all my family, including both living parents. She has pots of money. For a long time I struggled financially. (doing alright now, though). As I watched her interview it struck me that I am happy with who I am and would not trade places. As much as I would like to author a successful fiction book, I know that I’m blessed beyond measure to have the love of family and friends and wouldn’t trade one for the other. I’d definitely not trade anything for the pots of money.

One last thing before I sign off…another note about my personal happiness. I know I whinge alot about the chronic pain of arthritis, but I want to make one thing perfectly clear. While I appreciate the pain management from the dilaudid and oxycontin for serious surf like surgery, I DO NOT ENJOY taking these drugs. I don’t like feeling like there is a pillow pressed against my personality, suffocating who I am. It occurs to me once again that I am a poor candidate for Rx addiction.

But iPad addiction…that may be another thing altogether.

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I’m not scared of many things.  But two things that petrify me are so common in the Phobia guidebook that it’s almost a cliche.  Clowns and dentists.

The thing is–you don’t really ever have to go to the circus.   Once you reach a certain age if you never propigate there is very little social obligation for you to endure a clown for any reason.    But dentists are another story.

I haven’t been to the dentist in a very long time.   I don’t generally tell people that because it’s a shameful secret that society frowns upon.   Not going to the dentist is like having sex with hookers.  You know a bunch of people conduct their life that way, but it’s far from something you brag about and definitely not something you want other people to know about you.

Six months ago my #31 molar broke.   (It’s the one in the very back on the lower right hand side.)  I was eating a salad, so clearly the tooth wasn’t up to that much.   For six months I’ve dealt with it.  I’ve chewed on my left hand side.  I’ve drunk through straws.  I’ve brushed my teeth rigourously and often.

In fact, that’s something I should clear up.  I do take good care of my teeth.  I brush and floss and use mouthwash and am very circumspect about them.  I just don’t go to dentists.   Because  even driving by a dentist’s office can make me have an anxiety attack, complete with heart pounding in my throat and chest tightening into a visegrip.     I figured as long as I brushed, flossed and stayed under 40 I’d be good.

Alas, my tooth broke right in sight of my 40th birthday.   And after six months of pretending like everything was okay that side of my face started to swell and ache and–well…it was just gross.  My husband reached over to comfort me on Saturday and felt the hard swollen lump and said “Oh my gosh!”   And by 1:am on Sunday I knew that I couldn’t put off the dentist any longer.

So today I went for the first time in (let’s just say) a very long while.    Thursday morning the tooth comes out in an oral surgeon’s office.  Making up for lost time, by the end of the week I’ll have been to the dentist’s office no fewer than 3 times.      I made it through the exam with the kind nurse patting me on the shoulder, my whole body shaking like a leaf.  But once I got back there the one thing I know how to do–be a patient–kicked in and saw me through.

I’m still not believing this is all happening.  I’m loaded up with painkillers and antibiotics for the abscess until Thursday morning.  No one has mocked me and called me a loser.  They’ve all been very kind.  And now there are dental records if I die in a fire.

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In the years that I have been blogging I’ve met many people whom I now consider to be friends.   We have a lot of differences; different faiths, different sexuality, different politics.   But at the core of the matter we have in common an essential ingredient.   We are humans who wish to do all we can to make life better for other humans.   Sometimes we disagree on how that is to be done.  My libertarianism definitely clashes with their communitarianism.  But the end result is that we wish to see good for mankind.

I appreciate having these people in my life because I learn from them on a regular basis.   They also encourage and uplift during hard times.   They spur me to do better.   They are my friends.

There is another group of people with whom I have a lot more in common.  They are Christian women, like me, and when we connect I feel like we are connecting on multiple levels.  Like my other friends they wish the best for humanity, but the shared religion we have imparts a special bond.    They are my sisters, and knowing them is a blessing beyond measure.

I am very grateful to have these wonderful people in my life–Christian, Pagan, Atheist, Jew.  Democrat, Republican, Libertarian.   Homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual.

You friends, and I hope you know who you are, are one of the greatest blessings of my life and knowing you is a true privilege.

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Update:  What’s been said has been said.   Both sides have aired their opinions on the matter.  I have no wish to further continue a stressful and unproductive argument on my blogspace.  All the participating commentors have blogs of his or her own, and of course are free to continue talking over there.   To sum up:  God allows all manner of bad things (trials) in our life to strengthen us.  From sickness to job problems to relationship difficulties.   But there is a key difference between allowing trials and INFLICTING trials.    God does not afflict the children God died for.

 

 

There is a lot I don’t like about being sick. I hate the pain. I hate the inescapable nausea–I’ve either got pain so bad it makes my gorge rise or the medication I take to correct the root causes carries its own brand of regurgeousness. But more than anything else I deplore the current trend of Blame The Patient thinking. Any person with a serious illness will inevitably hear that the illness is their fault. Sure, medical conditions like pregnancy (while not an illness) can definitely be traced to a person’s participation in certain causal events, willing or unwilling. But more often than not, the reasons behind a person become sick are such a convoluted permutation of factors that there is simply no way to say “you have this because did that.” And that’s okay. Real life is not an episode of House M.D. where finding out the origin of a disease directly leads to a cure. Real life is complicated. It’s messy. And it’s always, always, always terminal.

[Since this is longer than my customary 500 word limit, I'm throwing in a jump] (more…)

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As I said in an earlier post, this is a day for re-reading Harry Potter. And so I am. I’m closing in on the end of book four (Goblet of Fire) and am enjoying the ticklish delight of knowing there are still three books left to read. For the first three years of my involvement, the books stopped at book four and I wandered around emptily, theorising on possible outcomes on the internet.

If I was really desperate for more time in the Potter world, I’d watch one of the movies. But as time has gone on, that’s served less and less. After Cuaron dipped his hand in, and again after the execrable casting of Michael “I haven’t a clue” Gambon as Dumbledore, the movies took a turn. They are now their own brand of dark and intense.

Don’t get me wrong–I don’t hate the movies. I just don’t consider them to be a true part of the Harry Potter books I love. In my mind the books are warm and colourful. Hogwarts is cheerily firelit, with vivid paintings and tapestries throughout. The Ministry of Magic is rich gold and peacock blue, dancing with cheery orange flames from the fireplaces. But in every place where the movie makers could have taken direct descriptions from the books to create a thrilling and vivid environment they opted instead for drear. Their Hogwarts (from movie 3 onward) is a cold gray stone husk in the wilds of Scotland. Their Ministry headquarters is walled in onyx tiles and murkily lit by greenish fires the colour of infected snot and sour apples.

And every time I pick up a book to read it after seeing the movie version, my mind’s eye is blinkered by the filmmakers’ visions. I have to fight to see the Hogwarts of the books. I don’t like that.

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I’m enjoying the crisp days under gray skies a lot more than I probably should. But lately they seem to be the base chords underscoring the treble harmony of hot summer, and they feel right in a way that is hardly tangible. These are the days that are made for reading by the fire. These are the days that just beg you to make a warm, savory casserole with stringy cheese and tender meat mildly seasoned. This is the day for taking a pie out of the oven, crust flaking and a bit of the fruity, sugary pie blood sizzling on the foiled baking sheet beneath.

This day is a day for re-reading Harry Potter.

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Via Tiny Cat Pants I am alerted to the case of Cooks Source magazine violating an author’s copyright on an article about an antique recipe she posted to her blog.

I have an ongoing interest in the copyright protections of blogged material. I also have a firm belief in using the Internet to point out things that are wrong in the world in an effort to get those wrong things fixed without bloodshed. I’ve seen it work in the past. I’d like to see it work once more in favour of the wronged author, Monica Gaudio.

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Those are actually two independent thoughts.   My breaking up with Evangelical Right leader Colson happened before the elections ever took place.  But since they are the only two politically significant events I care to write about, I’m throwing them all together in a distasteful stew of political posting that could also be called “Libertarian Burgoo Boogie”.  Come to think of it, that’s actually a better title.   But I’m committed here.

Politics and I actually broke up awhile ago.  While I maintain an adult’s responsible and education sensibility about who is running for what office and what that candidate brings to the table, I no longer thrill at the call of long arguments over bearing arms and bearing children.   I know what I believe; I know those beliefs are not easily changed and if changed slightly only because of long and studied contemplation.    No one has ever–not once–changed my mind with screedery and obstinance.  In one case (that of the blogger  who calls himself Mack Farmer) that strident behaviour actually DELAYED a change of mind I’d been harbouring for awhile.   I didn’t want to appear to give in to his arrogant bellicosity.    That being said, I stopped flirting with politics.   In fact, perhaps you could say that we’ve married instead of broken up.   It’s a mature relationship, not a wild college group date speeding down the back roads into Muncie.

As for Colson…there’s another story.   I used to admire him in the days when I wanted (most of) his career as my own.  A Christian at the upper edge of political influence!  That was the dream of my 16 year old self, and Colson was living that dream.  He came to it later in life, joining Christianity during a stint in prison as a Watergate conspirator.   Maybe that difference in Christian life experience is part of why we’re parting ways.    When I picked up his opinion piece in the last Christianity Today the first paragraph was clearly written about me.

 

Many Christians have grown weary of the culture wars. Compared with prior years, Christians have little visible presence in this season’s election campaign, and certainly younger evangelicals see the conservative religious agenda as strident and often offensive.

Quite frankly, I balk at the idea of letting so much of the public face of Christian politics be determined by a non-Christian* with a very NON-NEW-TESTAMENT agenda. (I’m talking about Mormon pundit Glen Beck here, who owes his political stance and voice wholly to the Mormon Church’s directives about engagement in American politics. Those are their beliefs, from Smith and Young. Not mine from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.)

Colson’s piece then goes on to actually say–he ACTUALLY SAYS–

Who started the divisive culture wars in the first place? Far from being the aggressors—as the press would have us believe—religious conservatives have simply been responding to the relentless secularization of American life.

This forms the backbone of his thesis statement, that being that we Christians should keep on fighting in the Culture wars, especially on their frontline of elections. Seriously. The man’s actual argument is “They hit us first. We’re just hitting back.” This? From the people who brought you “turn the other cheek”?

We’re actually supposed to bring salt and light to the world by throwing temper tantrums about the word Christmas and fighting over whether or not the state lets homosexual people have tax breaks for long-term contracted partnerships. I cannot allow something so gravely revolutionary, so utterly profound, so beautifully loving as Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection be corrupted into a battle for a transient culture. Let the dead bury the dead. He came so that we might have new life, and that more abundantly. That we may know peace that transcends understanding. That we may know perfect love. He didn’t come for tax breaks and bailouts.

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*There is presently an ongoing debate about the Christianness of Mormons which puzzles me. They believe in a whole different set of gospels in addition to our own, even though they reference our holy books as the precursor to theirs. Calling Mormons Christian is like calling your typical Lutheran a Jew because he reads the Pentateuch. Or like calling Muslims Christians because they pretty much have the same relationship to Christianity that Mormons do. You know–they have our Bible, they read it and they like that Jesus dude. But then they’ve got this whole new prophet who tells them extra stuff that they believe in.

Mormons are Christians like Wild Cherry Pepsi is Classic Coke.

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My Pagan and Wicca friends believe that the fabric between our world and the world of the Spirits is thinnest on Mayday Eve and Halloween. I’ve also heard them say that the entire months of April and October are “gateway” months.

I personally believe that if that is the case, then the spirits have been sneaking over here this October and stealing what little manners are left in the world.

I grew up in a strictly Christian household. The only Magic we were allowed to speak of was “the Magic word”. Please and Thank You were big deals in my house. There were six of us by the time all was said and done–the occasional seventh and eighth when grandparents stayed with us. It was not uncommon to hear requests shouted that go something like this:

“Kathy, when you come back in from the kitchen, could you please bring me a towel? Thanks.” “Bethy, when you come downstairs, could you grab my gold chain from my mirror, please?” (My mother is still the only person I know who drapes necklaces on an old framed mirror. It looks really cool.)

I learned growing up that the key to a happy life was harmony in the home. The Jewish religion has a name for this concept–Shalom Bayit. Perhaps the most essential ingredient to Shalom Bayit I’ve ever come across is simple, earnest everyday courtesy. When you live with someone you show love by showing consideration. ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’, and ‘I’m sorry’ are key. They seem like small things, but I’m a firm believer that those words and the attitudes that go with them show people you are being considerate of their time and their place in the world.

That’s why last weekend left me with such a bitter taste in my mouth (not counting the flu my poor spouse got in reaction to his flu shot and then has passed on to me.) If you read my post from a few days ago–one of the most trafficked posts my blog has ever had–you’ll see that I’ve gotten embroiled in a Neonumismatic game on the iPhone and am involved in what are supposedly “trades” but rapidly turning into caustic demands from ungrateful, spelling-challenged teenagers. I get lots of emails from mature people that say “please send me this thing, if you would be so kind. Thank you.” But for every one of those I’ve gotten 10 that say “Send me a Pfrog. My address is Greedybastage999.”

And then those same kids came trick or treating. We had our porch light on for an hour and 15 minutes. We got 40 trick or treaters. 3 of them said Trick or treat. 2 said “thank you” once they got their candy–one only after I made him say it. My poor generous husband was happily holding out the bowl and saying “help yourself” until several kids took 4-5 pieces a piece. He came in to the house, shoulders hunched and declared that children are ungrateful jerks. And we turned the light out early, hiding in our TV room and depressedly munching on fun size Heath bars.

No one knows the magic words any more.

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