Sunday, October 31, 2010

distracting myself....

I confess....I'm really just trying to distract myself....

  • My back hurts. Bad. The endo hurts too...usually the back distracts me but today it's both firing full force. I've actually had some okay days in the past few weeks but today is very bad and I am medicine-less. Which means I want a lot of comfort food. Which wouldn't help.
  • After finally seeing the Project Runway finale, I'm hoping Heidi decides to invest in Mondo herself. I do think Gretchen is more marketable, but Mondo is more fun and seems more runway-like.
  • I miss Mad Men but am looking forward to Men of a Certain Age in December.
  • When we first moved to PA, we could get close to 100 kids on Halloween. My mom says we get very few now. When I moved here, there were families with girls my age on both sides of us. All three families are still here. I'm fairly sure those are related.
  • I am coming up with excuses to make a right turn after PT even though I need to go left b/c it's always backed up. Voting will be a good excuse on Tuesday...I'd prefer to go earlier but like the right turn excuse.
  • I want a tuna melt. Which is odd since I generally hate mayo. See entry one, I suppose. I also want wine. And chocolate.
  • Sestak, Onorato, Murphy. I may skip other questions since I haven't paid attention to any other races.
  • I wonder what will fill all the ad space after polls close on Tuesday.
  • I've read three fiction books set in the Holocaust era lately. I've appreciated that they've had three unique focuses. The most recent was about a camp in Israel where British forces detained undocumented Jewish refugees after the war. The camp was probably well-intentioned and humane in general terms but must have been awful for people fleeing memories of fences. (see
  • An Internet friend needed support a few days ago but I just didn't have strength to give that day. I feel guilty about that even though I know it genuinely wasn't mine to give right then (and that I still supported her in my heart).
  • Still hurt.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

americans who like puppies and kitties

I confess...I forget what is advertised on TV when they don't have political ads for four out of five spots. I'm also envisioning the use of assorted digital tools and such to enable political ads in a product placement format...Booth and Bones can talk about a local race (w/ the fancy computers helping tailor it) rather than the gadgets in a Toyota.

Anyway, I have two "thoughts of the day" related to political ads:

Thought One:

I'm living in Southeast PA at the moment. We have busy Gubernatorial , Senate, and House races of our own and our TV stations cover multiple states. It amuses me how many of the ads fail to mention what office the candidate is seeking. Honestly, I had to do a bit of work to figure out which ones applied to me. I know that other races impact me in terms of the balance of the federal government and even at the state level for things like redistricting. But I obviously only get to vote in my specific campaigns.

So, let's add a requirement that ads not only mention their sponsorship but also name the office they are seeking. It's good to say who brought you the message...though I am waiting for one by "Americans Who Like Puppies and Kitties" since not all having clear names...but it seems more important that people know which names will be on their ballot.

Thought Two:

I fully own that this thought is not flushed out AT ALL.

I'm troubled by how much money is spent on political advertising, especially in the cases where mega-millionaires are involved (i.e. E-Bay lady). I think we need a rule requiring that a given amount go to charity for every dollar spent on political ads....ideally charities specifically aimed at the area they seek to represent. I foresee a bit of complexity in making sure the money isn't going to a political charity (even some 501(c)(3)s have pretty obvious political ties) and I'm not sure how to solve it. Maybe the money goes to schools...since we all like schools....or food banks since I think we all like that too.

Like I said, not fully flushed out...I've got the idea, I'll let someone else figure out the details.

(unofficial Thought Three: Click the "Follow" button and follow my blog...'cause I said so)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

tales of school

I confess...I've been thinking a lot of schooling lately. Some of this is more general and theoretical...I still think we need longer school days and years despite some disagreement to that idea when I mentioned in on Facebook. Other parts are more personal. I suppose the theory would be of broader interest, but oh're getting some vignettes of my education instead:

  • Writing Like a Sixth Grader

One of the first assignments for English in sixth grade was a project about the Summer Olympics. My mom was an active parent and helped proofread most of the project but thought I should do two sections on my own. I got a B. At Parents' Night, the teacher told my mom she gave it a lower grade because she thought I'd had too much help. As proof she cited two sections, the one's I'd done alone. She admitted that she'd since seen more of my work and now wouldn't have questioned it. Turns out, my mom tried to edit the work to sound like a genuine sixth grader...but I didn't write like a sixth grader on my own.

  • Tracking, In Bold

I have noted before that I benefited from tracking and its tendency to give the very best teachers and smaller classes to the honors classes. And noted that I feel a bit guilty about that since it isn't very fair to the rest of the school. In junior high, I took all honors courses...except for Science...I was recommended to Honors but I always had to work very hard in my courses and needed one class where I could relax a bit. My honors teachers were active and involved with debates, conversations, role-plays, and more. My science teacher once had a computer brought to the classroom. Two kids could use the program at a time. The rest had to sit silently. I tried to take out a schoolbook and work...I think it was even the textbook for that class. I got reprimanded and told to put it away and sit quietly. Not something that would have happened in my other classes.

  • Honor Code Preview

In ninth grade, I'd missed the Social Studies teacher handing out a take home exam. When I got the papers from her, I asked if it was open-book and what the time limit was for the test. She laughed. She couldn't imagine giving a take-home exam with resource limits (and this was a Gifted program class). I was a bit hurt by the lack of trust that implied. I ended up at both a college and a law school with strong honor codes...including unproctored exams that were sometimes closed-book and/or timed.

  • The English Major Pep Talk

I majored in English because I liked it, not because I excelled. I did well and all, but my non-major GPA was definitely higher than my English GPA. I told a Professor that I felt intimidated when people flung back and forth elements of critical theory...I enjoyed talking about literature but the theory and the language of the discipline were hard for me. I was nervous in this Prof's English Drama class, even more so because I knew he was going to be my senior thesis advisor. He told me "Cheryl, you sling the vernacular has but you know what you're talking about." That felt deeply insightful...and accurate.

  • The Socratic Method

The image of law school is one of the Socratic method, where teachers guide by asking questions of random students rather than simply explaining the matter at hand. Really, many of my Profs only did this first-year or at least gave you warning of when you'd be on call. I was in first-year Property. I'd already been called on so I felt confident I was in the clear. I was cold and borrowed a friend's flannel shirt. The room filled up and I realized it had been flagged as a course for admitted students to observe during an admitted students visitation. The sixty person class doubled. And, within two minutes, the Prof called my name. She was known as a tough one...and very good Prof but a challenging one. She kept on me the whole class. At the end, I hadn't taken a single note (a friend gave me some later) and really couldn't recall the content. The sleeves of the flannel were wrinkled into tight balls. The Prof stopped me on the way out...she said I'd done very impressively (I'd NEVER heard her do that before) and that she'd called on me because she knew I'd be prepared and do well. I was amazed she even knew me apart from the rest of the class. The next year, first-years remembered me and said the class almost scared them away from law school. I took the Prof again my third-year and she lamented that 9/11 interrupted my scheduled on-call days. She and I were really different (she's very conservative politically) but her respect really meant a lot to me and still serves as a boost when I recall the experience.

I should proofread this. But I'm feeling lazy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

mini-post: an amusing political ad

I confess...I have an angry tummy that doesn't seem to want to get okay. Being me, this means I want comfort food but I've managed to be smart thus far. I am very ready for this tummy monster to leave now....I keep picturing Rudy Huxtable as a five year-old telling the germs in her tummy to stop partying.

I feel the need to post but don't have a ton of energy. So I'll just share a political ad. It seems like 3 of 5 prime time ads right now are political...maybe 4 of 5. We're in the southeast corner of PA so we get two statewide PA races plus a handful of PA House races and we also get ads for neighbor states. Including Ms. O'Donnell but I already complained about her.

Anyway, I like this one. It is a bit corny but I think it is actually a decent response to ads criticizing the candidate for voting in favor of bailouts and the like:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

this time i'll be bullet-points (i amuse me...)

I confess...I am feeling particularly rambly and random today. And you know that means you are treated to a bullet-point post....
  • Is it still an attack ad if the opponent would embrace everything in it? There's an ad now that one candidate runs noting the other compares himself to Rick Santorum and opposes a woman's right to choose. I do see the wisdom in the ad, especially in an area that is economically conservative but socially more liberal making a fertile "middle" group of voters. But the opponent wouldn't disagree with the it is still an attack?
  • I went to a small local supermarket today and felt jolted back in time. The aisles are tiny and they didn't need to scan my soda 12 packs (5 for $10 is why I went) even though they were different types...which surprised me since it meant an inability to track stock details.
  • I am awaiting a book shipment and re-reading Little Bee by Chris Cleave. I love the following passage:

On the girl's brown legs there were many small white scars. I was thinking,
Do those scars cover the whole of you, like the stars and the moons on your
dress? I thought that would be pretty too, and I ask you right here please
to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers
want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We
must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it
from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.

  • I am glad that bullying is getting so much attention. I went through years of it and it is horrid and awful and technology has made it all the more pervasive.
  • I am starting PT again next week. This is good. I hope they take my old PT up on his offer and call to chat with him. I liked him and think he worked to understand me, both in terms of the physical injury and my mental/emotional space around it. I did ask for a PT who'd understand an athlete/gym-rat and that is truly important to me. I think it makes for different goals than a worker's comp or elderly patient. It also means I know my body well and I appreciate someone who talks to me with that understanding.
  • Christine O'Donnell is NOT me. Even the people I vote for are NOT me. In some ways, I hope they are BETTER than me. I'm smart and a good person but don't think I'd be good in politics. I could take a candidate saying they'd "speak for me"...though even that seems limited since they speak for many more voices than just mine.
  • I think I may be done with CSI: Original. I like Nick and Greg but have been less of a Catherine fan and really can't stand "Dr. Ray." My reaction to him is a lot like my reaction to Goren on L&O: CI...pompous, know-it-all folks annoy me. It is even worse with Ray since he's actually a junior team member.
  • I am enjoying today's rain. Okay, I'm enjoying it now that I'm done my gym and store runs.
  • More bars/taverns should serve tater tots. And not fancy ones with truffle oil that cost $9. The tot is an underutilized side item.
  • You should "follow" my blog. Because I say so.

Monday, October 11, 2010

a bonus book review...The Book Thief

I confess...I typically onlypost my HarperCollins reviews here. I do review other books that I read on Amazon and Goodreads but usually leave those there. This one I wanted to share though because it stood out and has made me ponder heroism and other topics.

I finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I might not have ordered this book if I had seen the "Young Adult" label. I am so very glad that I didn't.

I spent a good deal of time pondering this book and I think it excels at showing an interplay between the extraordinary and the ordinary. Death narrates but not as an evil figure...he's rather ordinary despite having the job of carrying souls away from bodies. Death's not happy about his job but he isn't the cause of the end of a life...he just comes in to deal with the ending (and these are busy times for him with the war and the death camps).

Likewise, the novel's characters are ordinary citizens living in Nazi Germany before and during WWII. Most are swept along in their times, there aren't many bad people and Hitler Youth and swastikas are just part of their is their normal, their ordinary...even if some recognize something is amiss. Some, including the main character and her family, show extraordinary bravery in their quiet resistance. These are truly acts of heroism, but they are (in some ways) just acts of ordinary humanity (handing bread to a hungry man, sheltering a Jewish man) that are rendered heroic by the context of their times.

The style of the novel is a bit unique, with the omniscient narration at times interrupted with short, bulletpoint thoughts or facts. The style appealed to me (a lover of lists, bulletpoints, and non-traditional stories). I saw a review that said this wasn't a quick read but I found the pages flew by fast and I was through the 550 pages in no time at all. It is, however, a story that I'll ponder for much longer than it took me to journey through the words. Strongly recommended

Sunday, October 10, 2010

status update

I confess...I'm either sleeping for too long or not sleeping at all. Neither is the best in the world. Last night, it was the latter and I was tempted to come down and write this but decided it might make me more awake. So, a status bullet points...because we all know I like bullet points. And if you're not up for some reflection on my own state, including wallowing and angst, then you are free to leave and come back for a future post (which you should do either way...and you should become a "follower" b/c I want more followers).

  • Relationshipy Stuff
Okay, most of you know his name but I don't feel it is my place to use it so I will call my ex-husband-to-be simply "X". X and I chat online about once a week. I'm not a big one for big phone conversations so this is better. The chats have been amicable.

X asked if I'm "ready to move on." If that means, ready to meet someone theory, yes. The reality is I want to wait till I feel like I'm someplace more permanent before I do, but that's the practical side, not the emotional. If "move on" means no longer hurt, no longer angry, then then answer is no. But I'm not one to really forget or to shed emotions. I can move PAST it and I guess that means move ON, but I'm not one to forget.

And I'm thinking about it a was last night's source of sleeplessness. I'm angry and hurt that I wasn't enough...that isn't intended as a value-laden sentiment (though it sounds like one), just a fact of compatibility. And I'm wondering if X's feelings changed or were never really there. I do NOT mean to imply anything malicious. It would have been a lie to himself as well as to me (and others). I don't hate him and, even when I am angry and feel like throwing things, I do not think X is a bad person at all. I do NOT want to disparage him. But I just have a lot in my head....and heart....
  • Job

I'm frustrated. I was laid off in April. Having spent the past years in recruiting, I know it isn't unusual to be looking for more than six months. There's an odd reality that the search is often longer for people with graduate-level makes us harder to place. Especially when we don't want the most natural position for our degree. I'm underqualified and overqualified. I know I have great skills and that I'm a "catch" for an employer...I work damn hard. I know it is largely the market....I've heard several times that I was at the top of "Tier Two" where "Tier One" was folks with experience levels that I couldn't match (they'd held the exact job before...though I can argue for me being better anyway...). It's just still hard. And it is hard to put in effort when you keep getting knocked down.

And it just feels like I'm on pause until I fnd a job. I don't want to get too settled and I can't fully move on without that step, especially with a nationwide search. I had to ask X to send down some fall/winter tops...that made me sad. I'd hoped to be in a new job (and thus a new place) before I needed them.

  • Body

It hurts. A lot. When I move, I feel a knife in my lower spine. It travels through my hip and down to my knee. My foot is probably secondary and less severe, but the plantar fasciitis is back. I'm looking into a PT here...that's a mental challenge as well since I'd hoped to wait until I was in a new place but it just can't be put off.

I'd gotten some pain meds but I blew through them way too fast..I'm scared about not having it. And I worry about using to much. I worry a lot (I'm a talented worrier)...too many PSAs and ads for Intervention. I DO take them to escape, but not from life...just from my body (the pain, not any emotional/mental body issue). The medicine lets me escape from my body a bit, which feels more like a hindrance and a prison than a part of me. When I get that escape, it is hard to go back to the pain...I hang on to the escape until I fall asleep to ease the return. I do NOT think I'm abusing medicines at all. And I'd admit if I was (I admit to abusing Chocolate Goldfish crackers on Fri and Sat). I use it for its purpose. But I hate that my body is such a barrier that I need the escape. If you've read my blog for a while, you know I have mental/emotional body issues in addition to several sources of pain. It is MUCH harder to work on that and to find peace in my body when it is a source of such pain.

The endo's acting up too. But it seems so secondary. I've heard that an itch is just a low-level pain and that scratching overpowers the lower, annoying pain. I guess the level 7-8 back pain is a similar "cure" for the level 6-7 pelvic pain.

  • Etc.

I appreciate the place to stay but still feel 16 being at my mom's.

I'm doing long walks since I can't run...I'm probably doing more than is ideal but it is a time when I can't eat which is good. I am doing upper-body weights once a week and most of my old PT back/core/legs routine on another. I am starting to see my triceps return, which I like.

I drink too much diet soda.

I have become a DVR addict and it will be hard to go without it one day...but I think it will fall into the "not necessary" realm. Though basic cable and wireless may be necessities.

I'm reading a lot. I'm embodying my new shirt that quotes Erasmus: "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." Luckily, I usually get them used on Amazon, often for under a buck. Since they are from different places, I pay shipping on each...but $3.99 shipping fees aren't too bad when the book is 75 cents. And there's worse stuff to spend money on.

Ellen's talk show has lost its shine for me (I leave it on most days but multi-task) but Gilmore Girls reruns are still a wonderful thing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

name-calling (and religion)

I confess...I'm an agnostic. I believe that if there is a God, that it is beyond our ability to know. I realize that this is why it is called Faith. And that's not really the story of this post, but I did want to mention it. I think it is helpful to acknowledge our "come from" places. So that's mine...born to a Jewish mother and taught to be proud of that heritage but it was more a culture than a religious practice.

I've watched the controversy around Christine O'Donnell with interest. She is the tea-party endorsed candidate running in Delaware. I've seen her opponents ads here in the Philly area. I've only seen hers as a discussion point on news shows. I'd certainly prefer she lose but some of the debate is bugging me. There was a quote pulled from an old reel in which she mentions dabbling in witchcraft and she has a new ad in which she states that she is not a witch (she also says "I'm one of you"....which I could go on about in itself but won't).

This whole debate angers me....both the people who dug up the quote and the decision to dignify it with a response. I do understand both, especially given her position in a fairly "value centric" political landscape. But it drives me nuts. It raises the same anger in me that accompanies claims that Obama is a Muslim.

Why do we let religion be an epithet?

Wiccan is a very peaceful and loving religion. I have a friend whom I watched as she embraced the practice and it seems so open and welcoming, more about communing with and respecting the natural world than turning princes into frogs. Islam is similarly a peace-loving religion. People have twisted it an used it to justify horrible acts, but that is NOT Islam, that is evil wearing a Muslim mask. I want to remind everyone who talks about the religious roots of 9/11 that plenty of evil acts were done in the name of Christianity. Some little thing called The Crusades comes to mind.

I do understand that, my idealism aside, America is not ready for a Muslim president. And may not be ready for a Wiccan Senator. I'd like to think either could win a smaller race, in the right community, and I can respect that as a first step. While I understand the "need" to respond to the use of a religious label as an epithet, it still disheartens me. I wish the denial could at least be simple and a basic conveying of use a lighter analogy, like the Seinfeld "Not that there's anything wrong with that" episode, though truly genuine. I don't have blond hair...that's just a truth...but I am in no way disparing blondes.... heck, I get annoyed at blonde jokes too.

I hope that we'll be laughed at one day. I hope that one day people will look at gay marriage like we look at interracial marriage and think we were utterly idiotic for forbidding it. And I hope that one day Muslim, Wiccan, Whatever will not be a loaded and disparaging label. It will be a statement of fact and a label that can be worn with pride. Obviously, I can imagine a truly evil religion and that would be another case. But I hope we'll recognize that Muslims and Wiccans are practicing a good faith. That there are certainly evil members in both groups and that they may cloak their acts in their faiths. But that we'll be smarter than they are and see past the excuse...that we'll see them as exceptions and disparage the individuals rather than the groups.

I think most Americans would say the embrace the freedoms upon which our nation was founded. I hope one day we'll truly practice that belief and widen it beyond our narrow purview.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

a brief wallow and then the tale of The Un-Natural Runner

I confess...I want to wallow. But I'm going to make myself write the post that's been rattling in my mind....well, after this paragraph...skip ahead if you wish. I'm feeling defeated and down. I am unmotivated to conduct a job search when it feels like the energy comes to naught. And I'm just feeling the very word "wallow" is not an onomatopoeia (I have to sing that word to spell it thanks to a teacher somewhere along the line) since the word isn't a sound, but it FEELS like one. I'll own that the wallow instinct comes partly from recently seeing an episode of Gilmore Girls (which is 10 years old today...happy b-day GG) in which it featured prominently. The gray weather and painful body don't help. I want to hide under the blankets. With ice cream.

But, I'll move on to a real post and another mental track. I was recently talking to a friend who is embarking on running using the C25K program. I never used a program, though I think that one has a great approach, but it has me thinking of my own "athletic" career. I used the title "The Un-Natural" runner...not to refer to steroids or any such thing, but because it definitely didn't come naturally.

My natural inclinations showed early. I walked on time but towards the later end of normal...about 15 months. I was talking very early and in a more complex manner than a typical youngin'. This makes total sense to adult me...why walk to get a snack when you could tell someone else to get it? At one point, a bit later down the road, my mother noticed I never ran. She thought this odd since most kids enjoy scampering about so she grabbed my little hand and ran me around an empty room in our house. She says I laughed. I'm pretty sure I thought she was completely nuts.

Fast-forward to P.S. 24, my school from first through third grade. The gym teacher must have been a former Army guy...I recall having to line ourselves up grid-like before class with a barked "Line Up" order and little arms pointed to letters and numbers on the wall to find our spot. Next was "Attention" and we stood straight, arms at the side. Then "Adise" retrospect, I suppose "At Ease" was the actual order...but it will always be "Adise" in my mind. Anyway, one day three of us were taken into a hall at the side of the gym. We got a special little lesson. I was always in advanced classes (or, at that age, advanced reading groups), but apparently I needed Remedial Skipping.

Junior High. An awkward teen who hated Gym. I excelled at the sit-ups portion of the annual Presidential Fitness test but I dreaded the mile (and the sit-and-stretch but there' s less of a story there, unless you are my PT). I was a trim kid at the time, but not at all athletic and my lungs were especially out-of-shape given years of allergies alongside the sedentary style. One year I made it through the mile but couldn't get my breath after. I was sent to the nurse, where I sat with a boy who lamented his pack-a-day habit and assumed I smoked too...a silly assumption if he'd been thinking straight and seen the type of girl before him. My mom was summoned, I was rushed to a doc, given an injection, and permanently excused from running for the rest of my school career.

I ventured to the gym a few times in college. I thought a mile or two on the treadmill was a huge deal. Junior and Senior year I did some aerobic videotapes. But really, I was still sedentary...and eating a lot of dessert and fries b/c I wanted to lengthen the social experience of the dining hall. It was in law school that I started going to the gym regularly. At first, it was peer pressure of sorts...I wanted to be friends with my suite-mates and they were going to the gym so I followed. Over time, it grew in importance and I went alone too. I liked the sense of accomplishment...especially since there's little feedback in law school (grades tend to be solely based on the final exam) and I've always needed some form of kudos. I kept the habit up after graduation and my Atlanta days included adding in weight training and a love affair with the Stepmill which made me drip sweat and felt superior to all other machines.

In Boston, I turned to the treadmill. It was initially a matter of convenience (there was one in the building) but I fell for the numeric feedback it provided and pnline running logs added to my drive. The numbers, the quantitative feedback of the treadmill's readout, spelled accomplishment. I wanted to get to a certain number of miles a week and, as I do elsewhere in life, I wanted to get it going strong at the start of the week so I started "long run" Sundays (still treadmill...often in front of a food critic show). And eventually I ran a half-marathon. I didn't tell anyone before doing it because I didn't know if I'd go...or if I'd finish. But I quantitative side was annoyed at the 2:01:57 time (I coulda shaved 2 minutes!!), but I did it. I would NOT recommend making a half your first race, especially if you've never run outside before and it is a hilly course and 90+ degrees. But I thought of my past as I neared the finish and there were tears mixed with the sweat.

There are hazards to this late-in-life move to athleticism...and I don't quite feel right with the label athlete, 'gym-rat" feels more apt. I think there's a base in the bodies of people who moved as kids that you can't recreate. I've had every injury in the book...shin splints, a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis (still there), ITBS, achilles tendinitis. Ironically, the injury that may have knocked me out of running for good is an annular tear...a back injury completely unrelated to running that's got me down to a mid-paced walk (and made even that tough),.

So, there are warnings in my story. I didn't always take the smartest approach and probably ratcheted up too quickly at times. But I think I can be a positive lesson too. If the girl in remedial skipping can finish a half marathon, I think pretty much anyone can find a path to fitness.

(edited to add a quick additional tale: Senior year of HS, I had softball for two gym terms and programming class on non-gym days. I had an unspoken agreement with the cute boy (way out of my league) that I sat next to in programming. He caught any balls that came near me and I "helped" with his programs (okay, wrote them)).