Wednesday, December 29, 2010

a rambling mind, the early years

I confess...I believe that we are all fluid and works in progress.  I believe that we are impacted by a multitude of factors and always becoming rather than finished.  That said, there are many moments in my early years that show much of what makes me who I am was there from fairly early on.  Some examples...
  • From what I've heard, it isn't uncommon for babies to react a bit to the many vaccines that mark the early months of life.  They get cranky, maybe even run a little fever.  I went beyond that and got very ill with every vaccine.  They actually adjusted the routine to try and alleviate the misery that I showed (and that, no doubt, was passed to my mother).  I haven't changed...I don't get the flu shot because I react terribly and I'm generally on the sickly side. In later early years, strep throat was an annual event. My body showed some of its challenging issues pretty early on.  (Side note:  I favor vaccinations generally...I'd get any that are really necessary and vaccinate a kid if I had one)
  • My mom was the primary care-giver in the early months (well, beyond that too).  She's a speech pathologist by trade.  My dad's a doctor and everyone in my family in education oriented.  No one spoke baby talk to me.  Pretty much ever.  I'm not sure how old I was..probably pre-verbal myself but close to talking when my grandmother's friend visited.  She didn't know the speech habits of my household and, while doting on the adorable baby (modest, huh??), she touched her necklace and said "Look at the pretty beady beady beadies"...or something close.  My mom says I looked at her like she was completely nuts.  Conjecture has it that I was thinking, "It's called a necklace, lady" and just couldn't say it quite yet (though I did talk early and in more complex phrases than the average to)  The traits seen here...being on the smart side (more modesty), liking well-used words, and being a bit snarky when intelligent people act stupid.
  • I remember the aftermath of this event, but not the moment itself.  Apparently, I had asked a pre-school classmate to move.  She didn't.  I asked her again.  She didn't move.  I bit her.  She moved.  What I do remember is hearing two teachers talk and hearing the term "problem child" retrospect, the teacher was likely pretty thrown when the 3 or 4 year old girl with all the curls said "Problem solver!"  Again, a bit sassy.  And also quite logical...I apparently explained it to my mom with the logic above...asking didn't work, biting did.  (Note:  I outgrew biting, but still like logic)
  • There are two circus tales.  I think this one happened a little later, but I want to build to my favorite.  I was on a school trip, either kindergarten or first grade (i.e 4-6yo).  My trip-buddy and I got lost.  She thought she saw the teacher (another early sign...I was shorter and couldn't see), she dropped my hand and ran off.  I was alone in a big crowded hallway.  I wasn't all that scared because I knew what to do.  When you got lost, you were to stay where you are and the grown-ups would find you.  So, I sat down.  In the middle of the hall.  I remember ankles passing, many almost tripping over me.  I'm here so I must have been found but I think that may not have been exactly what the teachers meant by staying put.  Early insight here, I like rules and tend to follow most.  I also take things pretty literally.  And I get lost easily.
  • Circus Story #2 (and my all-time favorite story of me) was with family.  I watched the events with rapt attention (another lesson: I was a good focus-er, even at age 4ish).  I very clearly remember when the tightrope-walker-man appeared. The crowd fell silent, as they do at such moments.  I remember being filled with fear and worry for this man.  I wanted him to be okay. I felt tense and I couldn't contain my concern.  With the crowd silent, I yelled up to the tightrope-walker-man "Be careful, don't fall!"  I remember the crowd, and the tightrope-walker-man all turning to look at the odd youngster (still with loads of curly hair).  I imagine that somewhere there's a tightrope-walker-man who tells this story (and maybe uses it as a warning in training new folks).  Early signs of me:  I am a talented worrier and this extends to utter strangers...I worry about people I pass on the street...I've gotten shier (note: did you know shyer and shier are both accepted?) and quieter, but I'm still yelling warnings inside.
I have others examples covering many me-ish things...early love of books, never-ending clumsiness, being the only kid who didn't have big lists of toys or other things I wanted for the holidays.  But I like the tightrope-walker-man story (and saying, though not so mugh typing, tightrope-walker-man) so let's end there.

Monday, December 27, 2010

book review: The Women Jefferson Loved by Virginia Scharff

I confess...I'm not a history buff (in large part b/c my fact-memory is weak), but I've always had an interest in the often untold stories of the women whom history tends to overlook.  Thus, I was interested in The Women Jefferson Loved, a recent book by Virginia Scharff, and selected it as one to receive from Harper (in return for a promise to review it but w/ no limits on what I write).  The book is focused on the home life of Thomas Jefferson and the women he cared for including his mother, his wife, Sally Hemmings (a slave w/ whom he had a long relationship), his daughters (only two lived to adulthood), and a bit on his granddaughters.

I really enjoyed this book.  It showed that the women who supported Jefferson lived complex and difficult lives.  Many women in his immediate circle perished in childbirth and the women often lived with the debts that his position entailed.  I had been aware of the Hemmings story but learned a lot more about it...I hadn't realized that the relationship developed only after his wife's death, that Sally was also his wife's half-niece, and that she was about 30 years his junior.  Throughout the book, the author notes the complexities of slavery including the shadow families that were so common and the balancing of ideals with the reality of the times. 

There are a lot of names here, which tends to be hard for me in any book.  The author anticipated this, using nicknames to help distinguish different women and providing both a genealogy chart and a "cast of characters".  I very much appreciated these additions and they contributed to making the book an enjoyable and approachable read.  Definitely recommend to anyone with an interest in women's history...not the women who made the headlines but rather the women behind (and overlooked by) the well-known stories of historic men.  Four stars (of five...I rarely give five).

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I confess....I'm going to whine.

I'm in a lot of pain.  It is the wrenching pelvic pain that comes from the endo and is always at its nastiest when I'm on the tail end of a bug.  It feels like someone reached inside my, around the hip line, and is twisting everything tightly. 

I spent the morning curled under the covers waiting till it got bad enough that my body let my mind go and I just passed out.  It isn't fainting, but it isn't real sleep's hard to explain.  I was at the point where I just waited for it to get a little worse because I knew it would take me away.  It is an odd moment that only other pain folks get...when you almost want it to get a tiny bit worse so your mind leaves. 

I actually did walk a bit.  If I can get moving, I get a break while I'm going and for about 20 minutes after.  Then it comes back.  Worse.  Much worse.  I went back to bed.  I even curled up next to my mom...not at all like me...sometimes you just want Mommy...even if you are 33.  I curled up and shook...there's this odd point of pain that just makes me shake like a leaf....I have no idea why.

I'm out of medicine and feeling grouchy generally so I'm taking the totally unhealthy approach of wine and comfort food.  The wine will eventually help a bit with the pain.  The comfort food will...well, comfort.  Though the snow limits my options...but I'll make do. 

I was tempted to watch the football game...I normally couldn't care less but it's Philly versus Minnesota which has a bit of an emotional tie to it this year.  It is postponed till Tuesday...I doubt I'll watch it then, especially after an extra splurge day today (I know that isn't a logical head works its own way).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Here is a Human Being: At The Dawn of Personal Genomics by Misha Angrist

I confess...although I tend to be a fiction gal, the topic drew me to Here is a Human Being: At The Dawn of Personal Genomics by Misha Angrist as a book to receive (and then review) from the folks at Harper. I never really focused on science studies but I was always intrigued by genetics and fulfilled one of my natural science requirements in college with a course titled Human Genetics, Ethics and Public Policy. I was in college in the later 90s so obviously there has been change since then. I say all this to provide more information about my background...I think I'm a smart gal and I've had more than passing exposure to genetics issues but I'm really a lay-reader in this realm. I'll also admit I read this with a nasty head cold which limited my ability to focus intelligently.

That's important context for my review. I found the book very interesting, but I had a lot of trouble following it. It felt a bit jumbled to me. The book explores both the technology of studying human genomes and the ethics and other human issues surrounding it. The main focus is a project that sought to sequence and make public the genomes of 10 individuals who were selected because of their knowledge and understanding of the field. Angrist does try to explain the technology and science but I got a bit lost in it at times. I was more drawn to the ethical issues and thought they were well explored. I was drawn to a few individual stories (esp. a young girl whose father was trying to identify the condition that caused her health struggles. I cared less about the battles between different companies and different techniques for gene study.

There's a lot of information in this book, a lot of good information, and I'd give it high marks for content. But the form was hard to follow and made the reading experience much more difficult. It might be better suited for someone a bit closer to the scientific realm or with a bit more patience for pushing through the information.

Monday, December 20, 2010

destined to be well worn...favorite new reads of 2010

I confess...I tend to get a bit befuddled when asked to make "Best of" lists. Though, ironically, befuddled would totally make a list of Words That Are Just Plain Fun. But, it is the season for such things and I feel like partaking. Being me, the topic is clearly Best Books with 2010 being the year I first read them, regardless of when they were written. Being me still, the list shall be in alphabetical order so that it is clearly not in any "rank" order. More me...a caveat that I probably missed some. And the use of bullet points :)
  • The Book Thief by Makus Zuzak -- I've read a lot of WWII-era novels but this is truly special. It is narrated by Death, who isn't at all evil...just a "guy" with a job kept quite busy in 1940s Germany. The protagonist is a young girl, sent to live with foster parents. The book celebrates acts of bravery...from big ones like sheltering a Jewish man in hiding to smaller acts like handing food to the starving or refusing to fall in line with Hitler Youth. Beautiful tale celebrating the important acts of everyday people. It's classified as Young Adult but has great value for adult readers as well.
  • The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir by Josh Kilmer-Purcell -- I'm a fiction gal and I would never have bought it on my own. I'm so grateful that it found me (with help from the folks at Harper). Josh and his partner, Brent, both have middle America roots but are very much New Yorkers. During an apple-picking excursion, they fall in love with an old mansion on a farm in a small rural town. The memoir follows them as they work to restore it to working order, learning about the realities of farm life and also themselves in the process. I not only gave it five stars but felt inspired to write the author (who wrote back!!). It is a very real book, things aren't perfect nor are they all Green Acres cute. The farm struggles (still does), their relationship struggles, they doubt. But it is just a beautiful tale. Try it, even if memoirs aren't your thing. (Side Note: They have a TV show too, The Fabulos Beekman Boys...I watched a few minutes but it didn't pull me in. Also, I'm not a Martha Stewart follower but Josh's partner was Dr. Brent and on her show).
  • Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese -- I just reread this story of twin boys (conjoined but separated at birth) born to a nurse-nun in Ethiopia who dies in childbirth. Their father, a doctor, flees and they are raised by two other doctors who are struggling to keep the hospital afloat and to save patients suffering as much from poverty and circumstance as disease. The author is a doctor himself, which is made clear both in the medical language and in the passion for the art of healing. At root, it is a story about family and loyalty. Taking the narrator from birth (well, even before...) to adulthood and Ethiopia to New York, the novel shows insight into culture, devotion, and the journey that forms our identity. (Side note: On the first read, I gave it four stars on goodreads...I actually enjoyed it much more the second time which is rare)
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer -- A young boy tries to make sense of the world after losing his dad in the 9/11 attacks. This is an unconventional novel but it works beautifully. The young protagonist (who shares narrating duties with his grandparents) is insightful and wise. His journey is unique (he looks to find a lock that matches a key he found among his dad's belongings) but the motives are universal -- it is his way of trying to make sense of a confusing and troubled world. Truly beautiful.
  • The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton-- I don't tend to read thrillers or detective tales but recently became a fan of literary mysteries. This book tells one overall story through three women in three time periods. The modern narrator learns that her grandmother was a foundling whose efforts to track down her roots were cut off when the granddaughter was left in her custody. Many elements are beautifully woven together including a book of fairy tales, family secrets, a garden hidden behind a hedge maze, and competing loyalties and loves. A great book to get lost in and one you are sorry to leave.
  • Little Bee by Chris Cleve -- An African girl (well, young woman) shows up on the doorstep of a successful and busy magazine editor on the day of her husband's funeral. Many reviews warn that they can't really tell you what happens without giving too much away and I agree. As the novel unfolds, we learn how the women are linked through an unthinkable shared moment during the editor's visit to Nigeria. The story is one of endurance...facing horrors, coping, surviving, and moving beyond the impossible. It stays with you for its depth and beauty. Even the somewhat comic image of the editor's son, a little boy who only answers to Batman and refuses to wear anything other than his costume, is a statement about coping and asserting control in a chaotic world.

I look forward to new journeys, meeting new characters and visiting new worlds, in 2011.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

guilty pleasures

I confess...I'm wanting to wallow. The endo pain is at the point where I want to curl up and cry, but I'm trying to distract myself a bit. I've taken medicine but it is only helping a bit. And I felt bad about it since I'm running low and feel bad asking for more. Anyway, the idea here is to move on so I'm going to confess to some guilty pleasures...

  • I've watched a lot more TV in recent months but I limit what counts as a guilty pleasure (though I'm hard pressed to put that into a definition...if you have read this blog, you'll know that is frustrating). Glee is a guilty pleasure because of the cheese-factor (despite some very serious storylines) and because anything where they regularly burst into song counts. Community is a new love and I'm not sure why I'm a little embarrassed about it...maybe b/c of how much I like Abed. The View is AWFUL but terrific treadmill company. I stand by my Gilmore Girls love but tend not to re-watch anything so the daily 5PM reruns fall into guilt-land.
  • You know I love my sweets. Most of them are limited to my "off" days, but Chocolate Goldfish are in my daily plan and a bit of a blush-er in the grocery cart. On a different note, the Mousse-style SF Jello cups are an odd texture but I've become addicted.
  • I spend a LOT of time online....I could go on for a while about that fact in itself. My new guilty web indulgence is The Frisky. It's a mix of gossip and random girl chat with a good number of daily updates. I read several forums on Television Without Pity daily (mostly in the Potluck area). I'm awaiting the new incarnation of Ask Ausiello...I don't read most of the articles since I don't watch too many of the shows he covers, but I've become a spoiler-seeker (and that's a guilty admission too).
  • I subscribe to two magazines. I really think Women's Health is of decent quality so it isn't a guilty pleasure. Glamour totally is. Again, it's treadmill candy. I used to get a bit embarrassed reading some of the sex-related articles in public but I've gotten over that. At my current gym, they don't have a great selection of mags there (I leave mine...I think others should return the favor) so I've been known to glance at an Us Weekly or Entertainment. The guilty pleasure becomes guiltier since they are often way out of date.
  • I got a new purse around August. I'd had my old one for at least 5 years and it was time. The new one is a bit bigger. My mom considers it small but I don't carry much since I'm not a make-up gal and I carry a spare contact rather than my glasses. The guilty admission...I love that it is the perfect size for a paperback. That makes me happy (and makes me relate to Rory from the aforementioned Gilmore Girls who brought books everywhere).
  • I've mentioned this one before, but I get some of my workout clothes from the girls department in Target. I consider myself pretty average sized (well, these days that's tough to say...I'm a healthy size) but the L or XL fits and the girls stuff saves a few bucks. I've gotten one regular shirt there as well (usually I pay the extra for normal clothes b/c the shape is different).
  • Gum. A lot. It's not healthy, but especially helpful keeping me from noshing all day when I'm home. It's made a guiltier pleasure b/c it drives me nuts to hear other people chewing gum. I usually do it alone or at least without someone in chew-hearing-distance.
  • As winter settles in, I'm even more inclined to hide under the covers in the morning (again, an unemployment side effect). I'll often read but sometimes I just curl up and turn my mind off and enjoy the blankets and my new Total Pillow.
  • I know it isn't skin-friendly, or earth-friendly, but I love HOT showers. I am usually in and out in about five minutes on a normal day but longer on deep-conditioner days. Yes, it is good for my frizz-prone hair and I do see the difference it makes. But part of me knows it's an excuse for a longer shower (it needs to stay on for 3-5 minutes). And that might account for deciding I need to use it twice a week.
  • Facebook. Sorry for all the updates. No hurt feelings if you hide them.

There are more but I think I'm done distracting myself and ready to wallow a bit.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gym Dandy

I confess...I've never used the phrase "Jim Dandy" but I was trying to think of a title and that's what came. I have been a regular at many gyms: UVA student gym, a women-only gym in Charlottesville (it was just cheaper area gyms), multiple branches of LA Fitness in Atlanta, the Weymouth branch of Boston Sports Club, a resident gym in my Quincy apartment building, and a non-chain gym here in PA. So, I am going to lay forth some rules, both for gym-goers and the gyms. This list is in no way comprehensive...not even close. I'm sure I'll want to come back and add on as soon as I hit "publish" but I'll restrain myself b/c that might be a never-ending cycle.

The format is b/c can't get multiple "levels" of bullets to work...imagine what I'd do if I could!! Another ransom note: My very first blog entry was another rules post (public transit focused).

Rules for Gym-Goers
  • Some nudity in the locker room is a necessity. And I totally get blow-drying your hair in a bra and slacks...I have thick hair, it gets HOT under there. But locker room nudity should be functional and kept to a minimum. I admire your body confidence but I don't need a show.
  • There are reasonable priced gym clothes available (Target is a great option). Please purchase them. I've accepted that some people disagree on the need for a gym wardrobe and can deal with some street clothes but still get amazed. Recently, it was a guy in slacks, a button-down work shirt, and a leather belt. A friend shared seeing a guy in a sweater! It baffles me. I'll credit my friend with noting that it poses a danger to the rest of us...cause it is bad of get the giggles while bench-pressing.
  • I'm not a germ-freak. I actually don't always see the need for wiping off a treadmill (you don't touch much of it, unlike a bike or something). But, if you are wiping down equipment (and you SHOULD in the right cases), please don't use your towel on your face and then use the same towel on the equipment...especially w/o any cleaning spray. I know the other direction would be icky to the wiper-person, so try two towels or a paper one for the equipment.
  • You have a lovely singing voice. I don't need to hear it when I'm working out.
  • Smoking is bad for you, but you know that. I won't lecture you. But please wait till after the workout to indulge...breathing is kinda important at the gym and hard to do when there's a human ashtray a few feet away.
  • I do weights and I know they are good for me (and vital to the return of my cute triceps) but I don't like them much so I do like to get through them. Sometimes, I'll switch between two exercises, like a shoulder move and a tricep move, to use time efficiently. This can require having two sets of weight handy. That's well and good. But keeping possession of more than two sets is just selfish as wrong. It's like draping your belongings across four machines at once.
  • I kinda like that my current gym schedule puts me there with the senior set. They smile and I like that they give an air of working out for health rather than vanity. While I'm a solitary gym-rat, I understand that the gym is often a social event, especially for this crowd. It's fine that you want to chat and catch up but please be considerate. Don't sit on the leg press machine and talk for 20 minutes about the Eagles. And keep an eye out, there's a restroom near the aerobics room in my current gym and it is often blocked by folks waiting for their "Silver Sneakers" class and they tend not to notice the dark haired gal trying to get around them.
  • Ladies -- I get that in the afternoon/evening, you might be coming from work and have make-up on. But I'm pretty sure some of you are putting it on before the gym....I get feeling good about yourself at the gym but limit it to some foundation or the like (I don't "speak" makeup...). It isn't a fashion show.
  • I've been known to breathe loud or even make an audible grunt when finishing out a set. But let's be reasonable folks. Being able to hear you across the room is not reasonable.
  • This is not a rule but one of my favorite tips. Ladies -- if you can find one, the gym that caters to gay men is the best thing ever. A compliment is always just a compliment. No one cares about how you look...but there's often quite a lot of nice eye-candy for you :)
Rules for Gyms
  • Okay, you need to make money. I get that. And resolution-season is a boon. And lots of newbies will drop out in a month or so. But there needs to be a limit on sales. In Atlanta, I sear I'd have to wait a half-hour in line to use a treadmill with a 20 minute time limit. I'd like to suggest a "go to the front of the line" card for longer-term folks but I do see that one isn't too likely.
  • Day care options are great and I know they are vital to lots of gym-goers. I like that you have them. But please put a bathroom in the daycare area. At most gyms, the bathrooms are through the locker rooms. There's an age at which kids still need watching but are a bit too old to cross through the opposite sex locker room (w/ a parent or the care-giving-employee). It doesn't bother me in a typical restroom, there are doors there (well, at least for ladies) and I get not wanting to send a 6 year old alone. But the locker room is another story.
  • I've never been a "pink girl" but I don't hold anything against those who are. I know that sometimes the smaller dumbells (3-7.5 lb-ers) are bought separately from the main set. And I know that women are generally the ones who use them, both because we naturally have less muscle mass and because some women have a heavy weights phobia. It still bugs the feminist (I may do a post on what that means someday) part of me when the little weights are pink.
  • Member appreciation days are nice. Some cut veggies or a new logo-ed water bottle would be lovely. But big hoagies, burritos, and cookies are just wrong. I battle tempting food enough (at one gym, I had to walk past a Moe's and a Coldstone Creamery), I don't need to deal with it INSIDE the gym. And the ban goes double, maybe triple, for food that SMELLS tempting.
  • Employees shouldn't hover. I know you want to push personal training but I don't need frequent sales pitches. But they should be present. I don't want tips, but sometimes someone "official" needs to warn a member doing something really dangerous. And sometimes I just need someone to change the channel. I'm devoted to the treadmill but I need entertainment.
  • Not a rule, but just something that would be nice. Most gyms have a little vanity area for post-workout primping. It would make me smile if they left a few hair bands there. I know you can't anticipate everything I might forget (I've neglected a sports bra and even a left sneaker) but I know that my hair tie is vital and is probably the most forgotten item for ladies. I've given one out more than once, in exchange for the promise that the recipient do the same one day. Cheap-o ones are fine, because I can totally see folks stealing them, but I'd love a gym that anticipated the need.
  • Broken climate control qualifies as a gym emergency. That problem was largely an issue in my apartment gym. I get that it isn't of the same rank there that it would be at a "real" gym but, when it is 95 degrees...or 3 degrees, it can render the gym useless. One branch of my Atlanta gym also had climate control issues several times. In the summer. In Atlanta.
Yeah, nowhere near complete....
This isn't a tip but something I want to say. I'd like to say I don't notice when a larger person is at the gym...people say that when overweight folks are nervous about starting to workout...but it isn't true. I do notice. But it is with awe and admiration. I know it is harder for people with a significant weight issue to go to a gym, both emotionally and physically. I know it takes more work for them...I couldn't go as fast on the treadmill with a 75lb backpack on. I want you to know that I know it takes an extra effort. And that I admire you so much for it. I won't tell you, because I feel like it won't come out right, but I think you rock.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

checking in w/ me

I's time for a check-in with me. There will, of course, be bullet points...

  • Body

I "failed to progress" in PT so I was kicked. I am a logical and rational person and I do understand that the insurance company won't keep funding something that isn't helping. I had no real pain relief and made only a small advance in flexibility. I KNOW that I worked hard in PT. I'm just frustrated. My older PT said it can take 90 weeks to heal these injuries. My old doc said it is a minor injury medically but still feels like a bullet to the spine. I'm trying to believe and trying to do the strength work on my own. It is a lot of work.

The endo is also acting up. I had a tummy bug around Thanksgiving and I have a bit of a cold now. For me, any sort of bug sends my body into a downslide. The cold is just a sniffle so far but the hives and endo are kicking up. One of the friends that I've reconnected with did have a hysterectomy to treat endo. I'm not sure if that's right for me...endo is odd and I have a small amount of it but a lot of pain so I don't know if that would impact a doc's willingness. I've never "needed" to have kids but I am not quite ready to write it off. I have decided that I'll evaluate that again when I turn 35....looking at where I am then (including relationship status).

I'm not thrilled with my current weight but I'm trying to be okay with it. I have definitely added back a LOT of lost muscle. I am VERY proud of that. And letting myself say so:)

  • Jobs

Still plugging away. I have a few visions of jobs I'd really like but know I need to keep things broad. I'm worried I scared one employer away with an ill-posed question (one I thought was reasonable but these days they have so many people to choose from...). In the ever valid words of Dory from Finding Nemo...."Just keep swimming!". Really, that's one of my mottos.

  • Relationships

I'd definitely be ready to date. I am at peace with the divorce...I still shed some tears at times but I think that's normal. I still, however, feel like a can't look for a relationship until the job falls in place since I'm looking in multiple markets. I am more a relationship girl than a casual dates girl and wouldn't want to risk a hard decision (or do long-distance). I have a jumble of things I'd look for in a partner. Smart is key, probably including well-educated because that's a big part of my identity. I want someone who is active (my gym habit is baffling even to active folks but would be too strange for a non-active type). Physically, I definitely prefer strong guys, tall is nice too, but I'll admit I would feel intimidated by "perfection"'s my body issues talking there but it's honest. Non-smoker. Enjoys red wine (so they'll share a good bottle). Non-smoker. Here's my oddest pets. I love dogs but my allergies would never cooperate (even with those labeled non-allergenic)...cats get to be an issue too. Personality-wise, I think I like dog-lovers but I would never date a dog owner because there would someday be an awful decision to be made...I couldn't live with someone giving up a pet for me.

  • Books

Only in my world would this be its own bullet line. Truly, books have fed me even more than normal in the past months. I often read more than one a week...recently, I went through three in three days. Luckily I find good deals on them and I'm waiting on a shipment from Amazon. I love falling into a book, meeting the characters, and thinking about their worlds. I have read several WWII era books recently with an amazing variety of voices and contexts....I think it is an era that the current crop of writers are intrigued by since it is recent and still felt today but also a bit removed. My last read was a harsh reminder of how recently terrible racial divisions exist. Okay, I know they still do. But it was interesting to note how even the "good" characters took for granted that the black neighbor (returned from the war) "belonged" in the bed of the truck if he got a ride from town (not the cabin, next to the white driver).

Books are in my blood. The time to read and enjoy the experience (rather than just using it to unwind before bed) is hands-down the best part of unemployment.

  • Etc.

I'll see the step-family folks for the holidays. It will be fun...there are three step-siblings, all are married with nine kids amongst them. My aunt and uncle will also join. I don't know if some other folks will be there too (my step-siblings have steps on the other side too). I'm glad I get to join. And, I'll confess, glad I'll go home after. I am easily overwhelmed.

In January, I'll spend a few days at my dad's. I like that we have a better relationship than when I was young and that I feel welcome and wanted in his home. His current wife is always kind to me and she encourages, rather than blocks, our relationship. It will always be very complex with lots of baggage but it has very much evolved. There are steps and youngin's on that side too...a fun group that I'm glad to have added to my world. I have half-siblings too but that's even more complex...not sure I'll see them.

I often meet some friends for Friday night dinner (I can't say that w/o thinking of Gilmore Girls...but mine is chosen and one I enjoy). I sometimes stop by another bar has much better wine and a half-price happy hour. I've met some nice folks there and that's been a pleasure. One thing I didn't like in Boston was it didn't feel welcoming. This place is totally welcoming and I really enjoy that. And the good wine choices helps does the fact that the bartender knows what I like. I enjoy having a "regular" and folks who know who I am.

  • A Wish and a Promise

So, for my birthday (12/13), I am asking for more followers for my blog. I don't know why I want more...I just do. Rationally, I know I have some regular readers who aren't registered "followers"...I appreciate them too. What can I say? I like numbers. I am going to get to be a part of a "blog tour" in February for one of the books from Harper (I think they have reviewers lined up to post one the book each day for a bit...)....that sounds fun. I have to make sure I have good regular posts near the time of the review....

Which leads to part two of this section, the promise. My promise is that my next post will be more interesting than this one....I felt the need for a self-check but I imagine these aren't the most intriguing for readers.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

a scary tale and navigating the line between caution and fear

I confess...many of you have heard this story before. But I've been feeling compelled to add it to my blog. They say things you post online are there for ever so I guess I want it recorded. It is a story that could have had such a bad ending. It is a story that still scares me, no matter how much time passes and no matter how much I share it. It is a story I want to share because I want people to know it is real.

It was the second New Year's that I spent with X...12/31/2003 (I am never confident in labeling the holiday with a's NYE 2003 but it became 2004). We went to a fancy hotel party...the kind with an open bars, several different rooms with music, fancy clothes, and fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts at 1AM). We'd had dinner before, nothing fancy but plenty to prep for a party, and I had a few bites off the snack buffet too. I recall getting in line for a drink, it would only be my third glass of red wine...three glasses is generally enough to relax me but not enough to really make me drunk, just a little happy. The line wasn't too long but I recall the guy behind me commenting on the fact that a guy near the wall seemed to be staring at my butt. He offered to angle himself to "protect" me from the gaze. I kinda laughed since the guy he accused of ogling was X. We chatted very briefly, I got my drink and went off to join X.

I don't know how much time passed, I don't think it was long. I remember feeling really upset all the sudden. I'm told I demanded X go find us champagne for a toast as midnight was approaching. He says he protested he might miss the moment with me but I was adamant. I do know he didn't make it back for the stroke of midnight and I know I looked mad since I remember a guy (not sure if it was the one from the line) trying to say something to make me feel better.

It's hazy beyond that (well, during that too). I got more and more upset. I do remember a girl stopping me in a hallway and telling me it would okay but I should go to my room and lie down (many people had rooms there...we didn't and planned a cab ride to X's after). She said we all had night "like that" and that I should go lie down and things would be better in the morning. I'm not sure when, but X eventually started to sense it was more than me being dramatic. I think we sat outside a bit...I have a memory flash of slumping over on a curb. We got a cab and I am told I passed out the moment we got seated. The next flash of memory is of me standing in the bathroom at X's apartment...I wanted my earrings out but was baffled by how to make that happen. That's all I have from that night. The next day, I was very very sick. I don't know that I'd even finished that third glass of wine...

I'd never put my drink down. I'd never let anyone touch it. But I have no doubt that I was drugged. I suspect it was the guy in line by the bar. I don't remember anything specific but it wouldn't have taken long for him to pass a hand over my glass and drop something in. I didn't make any obvious mistakes. It is only because I was with someone I could trust that the story isn't much much worse. X was angry and confused at first when I was acting off (totally understandable) but ultimately he made sure I got home and safely to bed (umm, to be 100% clear, he put me to bed to sleep...). He brought me water the next morning and even came back to my place (unplanned, we both had work the next day) the next night to make sure I was really okay.

I have tried to find the lesson here. The best one I can get is to have people looking out for you and to look out for each other. Look out for others too...if you have a concern that a woman is not functioning and may be at risk, tell someone to see if you can have help (as a woman, I'd be nervous intervening on my own, I think a bartender would be a good option to help). When I first shared this story, I said you should always have someone you trust nearby. I'm older and my life has evolved. That doesn't seem like it is always going to be possible...I go for a drink on my own these days. I don't take extra risks (I don't leave an unfinished drink if I go to the ladies room). When I'm alone, I do chat with the bartender...partly because I like to, partly because I know they are another set of eyes. I stay alert and aware, not only of my surroundings but also of my body...I hope I can catch the warning moments.

I wish there was some magic answer. I'm struggling with how to close this post (and I'm coming back to add this in partly because I don't feel satisfied after doing so...the following are the only words I'm finding....). The solution is NOT cowering in fear and never having another beverage in public. I got on a plane in October 2001 because I felt and still feel that "they" win if I don't keep living. I will be smart. I will make good choices....not "perfect" choices because there is no such thing...but I will do my best. I will fight the bad guys by being one of the good guys. I haven't had to face the moment when I've seen someone whom I think is in a danger zone, but I hope I'd find a way to intervene. I will keep sharing my story to make others aware...not to make them scared but to remind them that these stories aren't just quick items on the evening news. As corny as it sounds, knowledge is power...awareness is isn't perfect, but it's what we've got.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

the journey

I confess...I'm feeling reflective lately.

The following paragraph is from a Thank You email that I sent following on phone interview. I had parts that were a bit more specific, but this paragraph was rattling inside my head last night and I think it expresses a lot about where I am:

At the risk of committing a few interviewing faux pas (the recruiter in me knows not to talk about age or anything remotely religious), I'll share a bit more. I have never been a religious person but I have a clear memory of my AP English teacher telling us to always watch out for 33 year olds. Per her discussion, it is considered the age at which Jesus died and authors often use it to signify characters at a crucial changing point or ready for rebirth of some sort. I turn 33 on December 13. By any measure, my 32nd year was a rough one. It has, however, led me to reflect and take stock of who I am and what I want my life to be. I have had the job with the big paycheck and the fancy office and it didn't satisfy me. I have had a job that was "just a job" and I still worked hard and found things in it to nourish me, but I felt empty. I want to look back and say that 33 is when I found where I belonged.

I'm not one for resolutions or bucket lists. I get nervous even with enumerated goals (of a personal nature, I like enumerated goals in my work world...actually, I really really like enumerated goals in a professional context, especially ones I can measure and check off of a list). But I do have things rattling in my head that I want to strive towards. I want to feel good about what I do...ideally this comes from work given the time we spend there, but I can find it someplace else too. I don't have anything more specific about what that means -- (I felt like I needed a change from the dots there) finding it will be part of the journey.

In another vein, I also want to try to get published. I submitted an essay to a Glamour contest about my eating battles. At this point, I'm pretty sure I didn't win. I actually wasn't enamoured with the was important to me and personal but I'd had to work to reach the minimum word count and that made it much less "me" (I like to be succinct). Being a lawyer, I recall that entering the contest meant signing over the copyright on the essay but I think I can fairly take it back to the pre-adding-words-for-words-wake stage and try some other places. I don't have a story to fill out a novel and I don't think a book of my ramblings would find enough of a market, but I will try to send out some essays. And take pleasure in just the trying, even if it never goes further.

These aren't resolutions. And I don't even want to call them goals. They are steps on my journey...not the only steps rattling around in my head, but I hope they will be part of my evolution.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

and so on...

I confess...I was trying to avoid my trademark bullet-points, but I'm giving in...

  • Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate. When I was very young, my mom and I only had a one bedroom apartment. My "room" was actually a dining area...a small space off the kitchen. But I didn't know it...there's a beauty in being five, I suppose. At Hanukkah, my mom put the menorah on the half wall between my room and the kitchen and it made me happy.
  • I continue to wait for us to get rid of legalized discrimination on the basis of sexuality. As I've said before, I hope that in a generation or two, the kids are as baffled by these bars as we are when we think of bans on interracial marriage etc. But my tendency to want the right words is putting me in an odd spot...I can't fully say we need to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." I want people to be as open as they choose, to "tell" if they so desire. But I don't think we should be asking...
  • I never excelled at foreign languages but I recall a French teacher saying it meant you were on the way to fluency when you dreamt in the new language. I've had several dreams recently about pain...really, I didn't want to be fluent in that.
  • I was discharged from PT. I know I got stronger, but the pain wasn't better. I thought I was more flexible but she said it was just a few CMs and that it wasn't enough to satisfy the insurance folks.
  • It says so much about our world that there are PSAs telling people to stay home from work when they are sick.
  • I drink way too much diet soda. I often recall an exchange with a friend (hi, L!) about how sometimes we really liked the tickle of the bubbles. I'm totally wanting that these days...maybe due to dry air from the heat.
  • I was sick last week with a tummy bug. With me, that means I get another week with the endo bad. This is when I question whether my immune system is bad or REALLY good but confused. Whenever any bug hits, the endo and hives fire up for a while.
  • I mentioned this in the last post, but one of the things I do enjoy about unemployment is slow mornings. I like to linger, then get the contacts and teeth in shape, grab a beverage, and slip back into bed to read under the covers for an hour. It rivals my post-workout shower as a favorite time of day.
  • Ben Affleck is about to be on Ellen. Clearly, I need to go.
  • But, first -- I have three exciting phone interviews coming up. Send good vibes!