Archive for November, 2009

I’m still not sure if I’ve done the right thing posting this. I seldom if ever have second thoughts about what I write here. But if you read this once and come back to find it gone, I apologise. This is a hard issue for me to write about.


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Lunch money. Early morning meetings. Extra #2 pencils for a test. Your grandmother’s birthday (November 17.)

There are a ton of things I can imagine a person forgetting. I myself forget things a lot lately–just another happy side-effect of My Furry Little Problem.

But seriously. I don’t mean to sound judgemental, but rather to sound incredulous, when I ask
How on earth could a woman forget a tampon?

My mind is still boggled, twelve hours after reading the discussion thread with that post. More boggled yet to realise that it’s not an isolated incident.

For men who can’t relate, try this experiment. Take an entire paper towel, fold it up into as small a square as you can make, attach a three inch piece of yarn and shove it up your nose. (Or another, lower orifice if you want to be slightly more accurate.)

Now try to forget that it’s there.

I confess myself bemused.

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In what I have always considered one of the best uses of the blog medium, Rachel Walden maintains an excellent site dedicated to news and discussion about women’s health. This weekend she has a terrific roundup of writings about the Mammogram Controversy that I would consider a must-read for every woman.

I’ve been known to have an opinion or three, but I’ve intentionally kept mum about mammograms for years. I don’t want other women using my reasons as an excuse to avoid a mammogram they’ve been told by their doctor that they should have. And I don’t wish to be stereotyped as a granola luddite, which is the view most people seem to hold when you tell them you have elected to forego mammography as a general-screening tool.

The controversy has grown louder in the last three years or so, with each side mischaracterising the other wildly and making good information on the subject harder and harder to find. I myself have spent years trolling medical journals for good, hard data.

The conclusion I have come up with for myself is no longer such an outlandish one as it was at first. Mammograms were sold to women for years as the baseline method for early cancer detection and prevention. Over the past two decades “get a mammogram” has been the cheery, bumpersticker shibboleth to go along with the pink ribbons and mini-marathons. Just as “loose lips sink ships” was a World War II comfort-slogan, so is “Get a yearly mammogram!” today.

Even though the evidence is mounting against mammography’s effectiveness.
Even though mammograms are, in actuality, a painful procedure which may actually increase a woman’s chance of succumbing to breast cancer.
Even though the American Cancer Society has known since 1985 that 90% of early detection of breast cancer is as a result of painless self-exams, as opposed to intensely painful mammography.
Even though women are now often assuming they are at greater risk for cancer than they actually are AND that they have a greater hope in mammography’s effectiveness at diagnosis.

In short, mammograms are an outmoded tool that have been sold to the public as a silver bullet. Do some women need mammograms? Yes. But I argue that the number for whom a mammogram is essential is far smaller than the number of women (closing in now on 100%) who are advised to have one. For instance, I am taking a medication for which I need to have a liver panel test done every three months. It is necessary for me because I am at risk for liver disease. But no responsible doctor would tell every woman to have a liver panel done four times a year. And a liver panel is cheaper and far less painful than a mammogram.

In the fervor to publicize and market breast cancer and to fund a cure the public has become woefully misinformed. I would urge every woman to drop by Rachel’s roundup and do a bit of research for themselves. As usual, life is more complicated than soundbites.

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In the past three days my productivity at writing has increased by about 300%. What is it? Caffeine? Drugs? No.

It is a shareware program called Typewriter Keyboard. It makes my Mac sound EXACTLY like the old Corona electric I learned on. Enough so that whenever I have to backspace I start to look over my shoulder for Mrs. Miller and her ruler and her stern expression.

There’s even a little ::mash-DING!:: whenever you hit the carriage return.

I used to stay after school in junior high to type stories on that old machine in the business classroom. I feel like my life has reached a sort of new completion. I honestly can’t stop typing. This sound reminds me of exercise books and liquid paper and the first time I realised that my hands were just MEANT for typing. Screw piano. I’m a writer.

I just double-spaced so I could hear my carriage return again. Loverly.

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It happened again. I signed up for something called “Nashville Almost Free” where they mail you cool coupons for local businesses. The catch seems to be that you get email on a daily basis advertising local businesses. Not too shabby, really.

But then the company–Savvy Avenue–behind this project asked me to take a short survey. After the typical questions about my age and income we got to the dreaded “What Area Do You Live In?” question. They had every niche of Nashville covered, from the bohemian digs around the Gulch to Downtown to Demonbreun to 12 South…everything you could ever want from a six-block radius. To be fair I think they also listed West End, Belle Meade, Bellevue and a few other suburbs.

Then they listed…Franklin. A completely different city with its own mayor and governmental body. Its own fire department and police department. Its own school system paid for with taxes from a county entirely separate from the the county Nashville is in.

No Donelson–a suburb of Nashville.
No Hermitage–a suburb of Nashville.

I’m not sure but I don’t think Antioch was on there either. Brentwood was, so I guess you could lie and pretend you were in “Brentioch”.

So once again, Franklin is part of the Cool Kids’ version of Nashville, while they omit the neighbourhoods they’d apparently like to pretend don’t exist.


I suppose I could follow Aunt B.’s lead and take the opportunity to dissuade folks from moving to our very nice and quasi-pastoral neighbourhood. I’m honestly torn between wanting Hermitage to be a well-kept secret and wanting to let the rest of Nashville know that those of us out here by Percy Priest Lake don’t live in East Cracktown.

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I am married to a man for whom buying gifts is impossibly hard. His gifts are usually things we buy together so that he can make sure to get the exact right thing.

This year I found something perfect for him. I friend of mine told about a book she was reading on Goodreads. A biography of sorts for Richard Hampton, one of the Top Gear presenters, I knew Husband would a) love it and b) be surprised.

So I added it to my Goodreads To-Read shelf so I wouldn’t forget to pick it up.

Last night while we were eating dinner he looked at me and said “When you’re done reading that Richard Hampton book I’d like to read it.”


Turns out that I didn’t realise that every move I made on Goodreads was now posting to Twitter. I’m sure I drove everyone on Twitter nuts. Sorry about that. Just know that I received my Twitter-spammer Karma in spades.

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I was drabbling down my Facebook feed, trying to see if people who weren’t drugged up and crippled are out there doing interesting things. (Answer: no.)

I found this.

“Youre a postmodern Christian if you wouldnt be surprised to see Ghandi in heaven but would be floored to find Jerry Falwell” M. Wittmer

Now, I don’t know who M. Wittmer is. But I do know who Ghandi and Jerry Falwell are. I also know who Jesus is. And I know that when he came here to die it was not for the kind people or the cool people or the funny people or the hip people or the people who drink the best wines. It was not for the guys with goatees who hang out in bars drinking microbeer and saying “I hate religion but I love JEEEESUS!!!!” It was not for the housewives who take Beth Moore Bible Studies and make casseroles. It was not for the crippled author playing Tangled Up In Blue to her dog though the open basement door.

Or, rather, I would say it wasn’t JUST for any of those people. It was everyone. EVERY SINGLE PERSON. Yes, I know that the New Calvinism is hip now, but I’m not down with the idea of An Elect for this very reason. Jesus didn’t weep and scream and bleed as the flesh was torn from his back by the whip, as the thorns peeled scalp from his skull, as the nails spilt his wristbones, bit into tendons and affixed him to the unsanded wood, he did not hang in the hot Judean sun for hours, watching his broken hearted mother screaming to the sky, pulling himself toward new oxygen while his flesh continued to tear….he didn’t do all that to create a new Cool Kids Table.

He died BECAUSE of you. Not for you. Not to do your bidding. Not to become the newest way you can get together and mock someone else and treat them cruelly.

Jesus died BECAUSE of you. Because he knew from outside of time what wretched things his favourite works had become. He knew someone had to put the brakes on. He had to bring Grace into this world.

It is not in honour of that sacrifice to use Grace as an excuse to decide who has won at this stay in this outsiders’ land.

Jesus didn’t die for you. He died BECAUSE of you.

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I came down to my desk to work and blare The best non-Steinman album ever. (I saw someone on Sunday who is from Ashtabula, Ohio and ever since then I’ve had various lines rolling through my head) .

That doesn’t explain why I’ve spent the last 20 minutes over on YouTube listening to Eric Cartman’s cover of Poker Face.

It makes me laugh and dance at the same time, and that’s my favourite state of being really. You can’t grow up to Safety Dance without enjoying the sensation.

So, yes. Tangled Up In Blue is and always will be the single best love song ever written. But Cartman just throws down the jams.

(Is this where I thought I’d be at 40? No. It is not.)

UPDATE: You can download a free MP3 of Cartman’s Poker Face here.

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They may have been refuted by great minds to come later, but I still think the Paradoxes of Zeno are some of the most elegant ideas. My favourites are theTortoise and Achilles and it’s identical cousin, The Race.

Both of them say that you can never finish the course because you’re always only halfway. No matter how far you’ve come, you are not finished going yet.

Physicists came along and ruined it all by throwing the concept of velocity into the mix. They have all missed the point, I think, which is that motion is something you do that does not change who you are. You are always what you are, and you are never finished. You are only ever halfway toward being finished.

This has nothing to do with going places–the primary concern of physicists–and everything to do with being a person who is unable to finish most of what she sets her mind to. Namely me.

And all that being said, this post is written to declare to the world that as of 11:39pm on November 16, 2009 I am exactly halfway through my NaNoWriMo wordcount.

So damn that turtle, I say! Steam forward, Achilles! Fly, little arrow, Fly! For tomorrow you shall still be, even though your journey is only half done.

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I was skimming my news feed in Facebook just now and looked over into the sidebar. Right under the nagging ‘suggestions’ (You haven’t talked to Dennis O’Brien on Facebook lately! Send him a message!) was an ad that read

Obama asks moms to return to school. Finish your degree – Financial aid available to those who qualify. See degrees now from ClassesUSA

Right away my head started screaming. I saw about fifteen things wrong with that little ad all at once, and even now I don’t know where to start. (more…)

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