Monthly Archives: September 2010

Answering my own questions.

Because I happen to still be stuck with a giant case of writer’s block, I might as well just answer my own questions today…  (Again, if you’re looking for a meme, feel free to snag this.)

  1. Does Daylight Savings Time make sense to you? Yes.  Absolutely.  I look forward to springing forward to sunshine when I wake up and when I arrive home from work.  It’s all about me, you know.
  2. Tell me about the first time you surfed the World Wide Web, estimating the year in which your world expanded (for better or for worse). The last week of my senior year of high school (1994).  We’d already taken Advanced Placement exams, so those class periods were essentially study halls for our other finals.  A classmate showed me IRC at the fledging computer lab in the library during Calculus.   Who knew less than a year later I’d be chatting away on a BBS and sending e-mail to the few friends who actually knew what e-mail was?
  3. Do you even bother watching the television news or reading a newspaper anymore? Sometime this summer, I just got sick of hearing about the economy and crime and tea party politics, so I stopped watching most television news, including The Today Show.  We just got MS-NBC back after a long hiatus (thanks Comcast), though, so I finally watched Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow last night.  This could turn into a habit.  The only print I read is Westword, Denver’s alternative weekly; otherwise I just read the news online.
  4. What are you reading right now? Some Like It Hot by Gary Paul Nabhan – it explores evolutionary genetic responses to various foods, including chili peppers.  I love this kind of stuff, find it absolutely fascinating.
  5. What interests you more – history or literature? History, but just barely.  Learning from past mistakes regarding economics, politics, and social factors never seems to happen, does it?  I do like to escape reality through fiction once in a while, however.
  6. What is one place you have visited (but never lived) that you go back to again and again – in other words, your happy place? Tie between Boston/Cambridge, MA and Portland, OR.  Boston’s got the history and culture I crave, close to gorgeous northern Atlantic beaches, easy to navigate with public transportation.   Portland is the epitome of the relaxed West Coast, close to gorgeous central Pacific beaches AND to mountains, easy to navigate with public transportation, and has Powell’s.
  7. Do clowns creep you out?  If not, what seemingly harmless person, place, or thing does creep you out? Hell yes, clowns creep me out.
  8. What’s love got to do with it? I second that emotion?

Eight really simple questions.

Elly rocks, truly she does.   She rocks so much that she didn’t just have business cards to hand out at BlogHer ’10, she gave out kazoos with her blog information.  Anyways, today she posted this meme – answer eight questions from the person who tags you, then provide eight new questions for eight people you tag.  Fun, right??

Given that I am one giant stress ball these days, writer’s block managed to creep in over the past couple weeks.  Thank goodness for a meme – and a fun one at that!

Elly’s questions for me and seven others:

  1. How many tennis balls can you fit in your mouth? Half of one.  I have a small mouth and a strong gag reflex.  No smart remarks, please.
  2. Do you have a recurring doodle that you always scribble in meetings? Roses. I learned to draw roses in a particular way when I was quite young and when bored, I will start to doodle one without thinking about it much.
  3. If you could have any pet, what would it be and what would you name it? Um, another cat?  Please?  Been holding onto the name Sebastian for a male kitty for what seems like forever.
  4. Do these shoes make my feet look ginormous? You are tall, Elly, so I am guessing your feet are big no matter what shoes you wear.  (Aren’t I nice?)
  5. Can you put your foot on your own head? Yes.  Although dropping the 20 pounds I have accumulated over the past few months would make it quite a bit easier.
  6. What’s your favorite acronym? RSS.   Only because I learned how simple syndication can really be today – Really Simple Syndication.
  7. If you could be a character from a John Hughes film, who would you be? A female Ferris Bueller.   Like if the young woman Ed Rooney feels up in the sports bar was the main character instead of Matthew Broderick.  Yeah, I love Chicago.
  8. If you were a food item, would you rather be packaged in shrink wrap or a tin can? Tin can.  Who knows what nasty chemicals are hiding in shrink wrap…

My questions for anyone who would like to play along, though I shall tag eight bloggers at the end of this post:

  1. Does Daylight Savings Time make sense to you?
  2. Tell me about the first time you surfed the World Wide Web, estimating the year in which your world expanded (for better or for worse).
  3. Do you even bother watching the television news or reading a newspaper anymore?
  4. What are you reading right now?
  5. What interests you more – history or literature?
  6. What is one place you have visited (but never lived) that you go back to again and again – in other words, your happy place?
  7. Do clowns creep you out?  If not, what seemingly harmless person, place, or thing does creep you out?
  8. What’s love got to do with it?

The following women bloggers are tagged.  No obligation to answer the questions I carefully crafted to reach across the demographics of the blogs I read.  I swear.  No, really.  (Oh look, a voodoo doll!)

Becky at Tales of Princess Mikkimoto


Heather Trix

Jacquie at Typical Type 1

@jenndola at Like Swimming

Bittersweet Karen

Kerri at Six Until Me

Lauren at mommy is rock n roll

High school reunion.

“Come on, was high school really all that bad for you?”

I found it kind of funny that the guy who teased me each and every day in front of our lockers happened to ask me that question soon after reconnecting on Facebook.

I answered him honestly.  Yes, by the end of those four years, I never wanted to step foot near the school and certainly never wanted to attend any reunions.

High school life looked nothing like the movies or television.  I didn’t have a slushie thrown in my face; I didn’t receive Saturday detentions; I didn’t go to prom – not even with some goofy guy with unrequited love for me; I didn’t go to a local hangout after school or even work at a local hangout; I didn’t cut class to experience all that Chicago has to offer; I didn’t go to band camp.

That’s the thing.  I didn’t do anything but my homework.  Oh, there were teachers who influenced writing and world views.  But for someone who could barely assert herself to be allowed to sit at a lunch table, high school pained me.  And staying after school to participate in some activity or another?  I’d rather go straight home to talk to Mom than develop college application bullshit.

I could blame others, like I did back then.  I could blame myself, like I did for so many years after the fact.  No doubt, extenuating circumstances at home made things that much more difficult and yet I do not wish to blame family either.   But I choose not to dwell on those four years that still bring me to tears if I dawdle down memory lane.  Instead, I take note of how much I’ve changed in the past sixteen years.

In some respects, I learned lessons immediately after high school.  The young woman who introduced herself to each woman on the dorm floor on the day we moved in as freshmen?  That was me.  The young woman who shied away from activities in high school, choosing to be somewhat of a recluse?  She jumped into volunteer assignments and participated in most dorm events, from homecoming to trivia weekend.

It took longer for other lessons to stick.  That “nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent”.  That you don’t have to be everybody’s friend; that not everybody wants to be your friend.  And that some people, people you never thought would give you the time of day given their relative popularity or position, can really surprise you with the way they provide unconditional support and friendship.

…And the most important lesson of all?  If you are left off the ten year reunion mailing list (like so many “unpopular” others were, it turns out), then dwelling on the past is most certainly not worth the pain (or the twenty year reunion).

(This is a submission for the next edition of Living Out Loud.  This month’s topic – the difference between who we were in high school and who we are now, inspired by Genie’s observations about reconnecting with classmates on Facebook.)

What you should be reading.

  • Drew Carey says his type 2 diabetes was cured after he lost 80 lbs.  Kerri says, not so fast, Mr. Carey.  And so do I.  It is easy to shout “cure” when you make those initial lifestyle changes – I know, I was there once.  Ask Mr. Carey in a year – or in five years – if he still feels cured.  Burnout happens, acute illness that wrecks the best management happens.  Trust me.  I know.
  • Melissa tells the other side of the story – when breast is not best.  Although I am not a mother (and will not be), I occasionally encounter judgments about my own health decisions.  I cannot imagine being a mother who is judged by the way she provides nourishment for her child (through choice or through circumstance), never mind all the other controversial subjects that come with parenting these days.  Whether it is an individual making decisions about their own health, or parents making decisions about how to raise their child – we should applaud any way that makes individuals and families happy and healthy.  The alternative sucks, doesn’t it?
  • And then there’s more reaction to what Mike Huckabee said regarding insurance companies covering pre-existing conditions.
  • Speaking of pre-existing conditions, those of us with them do end up seeing doctors all too often.  George and Sara have started a group called “Waiting with Diabetes” on Flickr.  While this project is specific to diabetes, I am sure anyone with a chronic condition can relate to sitting in doctor’s waiting rooms.
  • This isn’t so much a must-read, but a must-see – thanks to Jasmine.  The title says it all – yes, the little people will never win, but they can fuck shit up. (Pardon their French.)

Turn back the clock: Published!

The first time I ever managed to publish something outside of a school newsletter, in response to Odyssey magazine (March 1989) asking the question, “What invention will most benefit humanity by 2500?”

It would be the weather controller.  Each region of Earth would have one.  You would have a chairperson to control the weather controller.  There would be the following buttons:  rain, snow, cloudy, partly cloudy, dry, partly sunny, and sunny, and temperatures from -25 degrees to 100 degrees.  Humans would be happy with their weather.

Oh, how innocent I was, thinking that putting one person in charge of a region’s weather would make everybody happy…

Dear Mr. Huckabee…

Dear Mr. Huckabee,

I must respectfully disagree with you that insuring people with pre-exisiting conditions is even remotely comparable to trying to obtain insurance after a car is wrecked or after a house has burned down.

Insuring people with pre-existing conditions potentially allows for better care of those conditions.  Insuring people with pre-existing conditions potentially allows them to be more productive in society.  Insuring people with pre-existing conditions potentially allows for economic prosperity instead of despair.

If you do not believe me, please allow me to introduce you to three amazing women who inspire me who happen to fall into the category of pre-existing conditions.

Anne is an amazing athlete who continues to persevere through type 1 diabetes and devastating injuries.  Jenni manages several clients in many different genres in her independent writing and editing business, as well as runs a website empowering young women with chronic illness.  All of this with multiple chronic illnesses.  Laurie teaches writing to young university students and writes about health topics for both online and offline publications – all while managing a significant rare condition that impacts her daily life.

These houses have far from burned.  These vehicles have far from crashed beyond repair.  These people all have potential to inspire young people, these people all have potential to change lives.  I could certainly hand you a list of many more people who live meaningful lives in the presence of chronic illness, if you would like.

If you would like to turn this into “the survival of the fittest”, however, I must remind you of your own publicly disclosed pre-existing condition.

Mr. Huckabee, I know you and I share one thing, the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes on our medical records.   Despite losing weight and making significant lifestyle changes, that declaration is still on my medical record.   It still impacts me when I become acutely ill and when it comes time to tally up medical bills at the end of the year.  Because of it, I certainly fear what I would do without health insurance.

You must be a little different than me regarding the type 2 diabetes on your medical record.  Are you prepared to be denied health insurance with your own pre-existing condition?  Are you willing to give up your right to Medicare down the line because of your own pre-existing condition?

And more importantly, are you willing to give up your presidential dreams in 2012 because you, too, are a vehicle that has crashed and a house that has burned?

I didn’t think so.


Rachel B

Psychological pain – Invisible Illness Week 2010.

Putting on a happy face all week long at work may mean a weekend spent in bed weeping and sleeping.

Dining out or attending concerts or going to parties may drain precious moments of calm and bowing out early may become necessary to avoid anxiety at its worst.

Even when enjoying photographing cats, or watching football, or traveling around the country, darkness may be settling deep inside the mind for a long winter’s nap.

Sometimes writing upbeat, positive, or even funny items allows a memory of what it feels like to be upbeat and positive and funny – and may bring hope and joy and laughter back to life.

Mental illness can be invisible, too.  Psychological pain can be every bit as devastating as physical pain.

If you are in pain (mental OR physical), you are not alone.

Invisible Illness Week 2010.

Invisible Chronic Illness Week is here once again.  Lisa Copen does a great service by organizing not only a virtual conference, but also a large advocacy campaign to raise awareness of chronic pain and other invisible illness.

This year’s theme is “Each One Can Reach One”, highlighting efforts to (a) reach others with invisible illness through blogging and other social media and (b) leave anonymous sticky notes in public places encouraging others who may live silently with invisible illness.

My own invisible illnesses are type 2 diabetes and mental health issues, health conditions about which I have often blogged.

I also happen to have experienced chronic pelvic pain in the past and remained silent about it far too long in comparison to these other issues.  I never thought I’d be able to say “in the past”, so I recognize the struggles of others who are not able to find relief from chronic pain.

If you are in pain, you are not alone.

Four Mile Canyon.

It is not easy to ignore what is going on in the foothills above Boulder.

The smell, sometimes even the taste of smoke, throughout that city in which I work.

Meanwhile, at home, firefighting aircraft flies overhead every half hour or so, approaching the nearby airport to refuel.

The foothills burning, the land scarring, people losing homes and businesses and livelihoods.

It would be simple to judge why people live up there with all that fire danger.  Dry earth, low humidity, it makes you wonder.   The first manager I worked under when I moved to Boulder lived in those hills once upon a time.  Then a fire came through, nearly destroying her home and certainly destroying her fragile marriage.   Never again would she live in those hills.   Nice to visit, not nice to take the risk, she explained.

For a long time after hearing her story, I agreed and could not imagine taking that risk.  I would stay in the Denver suburbs or Boulder, never straying from city limits.  Then I remembered the beauty, the quiet, the views – all not that far from Boulder and Denver – and I know why the risks are taken.  For some, livelihood means staking a claim in those foothills, up in those mountains, in spite of the danger.

(To provide relief through the Red Cross, please visit the Northern Colorado chapter website.   To help out the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, which is taking in temporarily evacuated pets, please visit their website.  Our older two cats came to us from there, so it holds a special place in our hearts.)

(UPDATE 4:00 PM MDT:  The City of Boulder is warning residents west of Broadway and north of Spruce to stay on alert for a possible evacuation this evening, Thursday September 9, due to expected high winds. So much for staying within city limits to stay safe, huh?)


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