31 August 2006

Middle-Aged HNT Continues

In my continuing theme of addressing what real, middle-aged women look like, I offer my latest installment of the Inner Bitch occasional HNT. I guess this is claiming my outer bitch, huh?

Since I don't have a fabo camera, I've played around a bit with my Picasa editor effects to tone down, or up, the skin tones. Interesting effect...where does skin end and clothing begin?

Collarbone, a little neck and a (very) little cleavage. It may not be fresh as a spring chicken but it's still a nice place to visit.

Happy HNT!

tags: bitchy / blogging / HNT / middle age / photo editing

30 August 2006

She's Here!

My watercolor arrived today, safe and sound and dry all the way from the other side of the country. Isn't she beautiful? Her colors are much more vibrant in person than the gallery photo would indicate. It only just occurred to me yesterday that I'll have to get her framed. Any suggestions would be most welcome, as I've never done that before though I have selected frames for my cross stitch pieces in the past.

Only in the house for 5 minutes and already undressed and spread out on the bed. That's my kind of woman! And look at those hips! Yeah...this is a real woman!

If you have an interest in the art of
self-taught artists, go check out "my" artist, Mara McWilliams. She has some very powerful stuff there, much of it woman-centred. And she has a great business card, too.

tags: art / beauty / life

Evil Skulker

Jean made me do it! How could I resist previewing what my obit would have to say about me? I'm such a sucker for these things:


'What will your obituary say?' at QuizGalaxy.com

"Evilly skulking" makes it sound like I've been spending too much time with pirates and such...

And, for the record, I always hated the Lollipop Kids!

tags: blogging / fun

I've Found It!

I've been searching for it all my life and I've finally found it!

I need...

a disambiguation page!

Think I can get wikied?

tags: blogging / disambiguation / humor / internet

29 August 2006

New Profile Pic

The image to the left, which I have selected as my new profile picture, is of a watercolor I purchased, and am anxiously awaiting delivery of, from a California artist named Mara McWilliams. Here is the link to her gallery. Check out her stuff.

I haven't read everything about Mara on the site yet, so you may learn more about her than me if you go there now. I'm waiting until I have the painting in hand to examine before I find out more. I bought her piece because I was interested in the art, not the bio. I've read enough, though, to know that Mara has battled bipolar disorder. She uses her art as part of her recovery.

It amazes me how many talented folks out there are openly discussing their struggles with mental illness. Leahpeah is a blogger who comes to mind, a lovely woman whose life was tragically affected by dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder.

Mara and leahpeah are both gifted artists who are shedding some needed light into the rank tunnel that is mental illness. Why can't depression, bipolar disorder, even schizophrenia be viewed like any other medical problem? We are, after all, nothing more than this amalgam of atoms. If something goes haywire in the circuitry, whether it manifests physically -as in boils- or mentally -as in dissociation- isn't it really nothing more than a physical problem? A medical condition for which we have more questions than answers. Since we know so little, we prefer to treat mental illness as magical or, more precisely, demonic. It's nothing more than a screwy shuffling of some nanoparticles we haven't discovered yet, folks. That's all. Sex ain't "magic" and mental illness isn't "demonic." I sense a theme here, hmmmm?

Anyway, I didn't buy the watercolor (which constitutes my first purchase of an original art piece outside of jewelry and pottery, which don't really count anyway) because I wanted to make a statement about the stigma of mental illness in our culture. I bought the painting because I liked it. It spoke to me.

I like that the Complete Woman has roots which reach down into the ground beyond the boundary of a mere canvas. I like that she has a red, hot center. She has a furnace at her core in which to burn the flotsam and jetsam of life as her fuel. I like that her arms are opened wide to the world to embrace all that life has to offer. I like that her colors are vibrant and distinct yet simultaneously soothing, like the sea to which I am so tied. I like that she is so connected to everything around her yet Complete. I just like her. So now she's going to hang out in my bedroom. Would that real life would work so easily. : ) On second thought, I don't wanna pay for it. : (

For the record, my DSM diagnosis is dysthymia. I always thought dysthymia was just sort of a lesser depression. Hell, I don't care what they call it just so long as I'm getting through it. Now that I've gone to Wikipedia and read what dysthymia really is, I'm more depressed than ever!

Yes, I've been psychoptopicized, on Lexapro for a year and a half and have been on Wellbutrin in the past as well. Prior to 2004, I'd never taken any psychotropics (well, except for recreational purposes). I've made tremendous strides in the area of self-awareness and personal growth in the past two years. I have been with the same therapist since June of 2004. I had never been in therapy successfully in two brief prior attempts (in 2000 and 2002...it seems to be an even year occurrance for me).

Have I made progress in the past two years because of the psychotropics? Dunno. The effective talk therapy with a fabulous therapist? Unequivocal yes. Because I was finally ready? Dunno. Because I no longer had any distractions? Dunno. Because it would have happened anyway? I don't know. Would I have done as well, as easily without the psychotropics? I don't know and I never will. I chose (in a well considered and moderately educated fashion) to try the drugs.
I don't care. All I care about is that I feel better about myself now than I ever have in my life and what made that happen really isn't important. Feeling good about myself is all that matters to me.

Do I think psychotropics are overly and irresponsibly prescribed in America? Absolutely. It disturbs me that family physicians are prescribing anti-depressants on demand and that patients are demanding, often without benefit of any form of therapy with a qualified clinician. We have become the nation of "a pill for everyone and everyone on their pill." We want the quick and easy way out rather than having to do the real work of self-examination and growth. Therapy is HARD FUCKING WORK and don't you forget deserve it!

Wow! How did this turn into a treatise on mental health, huh? I just wanted to show off the new woman in my life.

Now, where did I put my Lexapro...

tags: art / bitchy / culture / depression / health / life / medicine / mental health / mental illness / pharmaceutical industry / psychotherapy

28 August 2006

Bananahole and Then Some

If you, like Jean, enjoyed Bananahole, you're likely to love this as well.

In responding to a comment, I returned to the scene of...to Bananahole
to dig a little deeper. One of my favorite pictures from Bananahole was this one, the heart-rending tale of the sperm babies gone to waste. Oh, the fetology!

I went back today to have a look at the site which gave birth to this photo, so to speak. I warn you...this site is not for the squeamish. It's probably best, if you're a vegetarian or animal rights activist, if you skip that link entirely. I'm sure I'll think of something else soon to occupy your eyes which is not quite so grizzly. If you're already grizzled, though, go have a look-see at Pulower, the site of a Polish artist/photographer whose rather quirky sensibilities sometimes involve depictions of a bloodied squirrel, squashed rat or doped-up (I hope) chipmunk. Hence the PETA warning.

Apparently, there is a network of contemporary Polish artists out there. Adam Szrotek is the proprietor of Pulower. He and several other Polish artists of similar ilk contribute to an interesting compilation called Head Magazine. Szortek contributed greatly to Issue 9, which I've linked here. I'm sure this stuff is probably right up Jean's strange alley.

What puzzles me, after spending some time among this crew, is what this means:

And this:

And are they related to this:

I thought it was a simple fraternity hand signal. Now I understand. It's the call to arms of The Cult of the Christ! (TM)

(above GWB photo brazenly copped from Tennessee Guerilla Women, in broad daylight yet)

Ship your sons and daughters to Canada! Dress your mother-in-law as a man! Lock up the barnyard animals! The Cult of the Christ (TM) is on the march!

tags: art / Christianity / religion / US politics

Talk of the Nation, Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tomorrow's broadcast of Talk of the Nation is going to focus on race and Hurricane Katrina. It's on at 2PM on my local NPR station. I plan to be there, should be interesting. You can check out when it's being broadcast in your area at the Talk of the Nation site.

tags: Hurricane Katrina / life / NPR / racism

Exploring Racism, Vol. 2

Maxjulian stopped by today and left a comment. He got me to thinking about the "rich kid," who happened to be black, who resided in the "ritzy" section of the small city I grew up in. I can't even remember the kid's name. He was nice enough, I suppose, but I thought he was "snooty," a common perception of the residents of the seeming-mansions in Cramer Hill. I never thought of him as feeling as isolated as me.

We were solidly working-class when I was a kid, much to my mother's chagrin. She had aspirations. She had plans. They were not to be met without a great deal of blood, sweat and tears, mostly in the form of whipping my drunk dad into some semblance of middle-class shape. My mother instilled in me, despite my fervent protestations and revulsion, a snobbishness about class.

I think that's a big part of the reason I never felt as if I fit in anywhere, in any group. My mother had installed in my subconscious the belief that I was "better" than poor people, even when we were "poor people"ourselves. I grew to understand that I should seek out the company of the more well-heeled, even though I felt I had little or nothing in common with them. The subliminal message my mother taught me was racist...that poor people were not to be respected and valued but reviled and avoided. Well, since most of the "poor people" I grew up with were black or Hispanic, the message translated into avoiding and reviling people of color.

I don't want to paint my mother as a card-carrying, hood-wearing racist. She's basically a decent human being who's just never sought to understand the beliefs she holds or the feelings associated with those beliefs. I simply want to point out how closely related racism and classism are and how innocently and insidiously racism can be instilled in an individual, without any overt racist overtones. We were forbidden to utter "the 'N' word" or "the 'S' word" when I was a kid but we still got the message that people of color were "other," "differenet," less than."

I mentioned Barack Obama's Dreams from my Father in my response to Maxjulian and recommend that everyone read it. Obama touches upon bi-racial, racial and class issues with a surprising depth for someone who was then a young law student. Look at this man and what he has done, that he moved to the poor neighborhood on the south side of Chicago to help and ultimaltely represent the people who need him most. He's the Cory Booker of the Senate. (Aisde: I am so proud that Cory Booker is in/from my home state of NJ. There was an excellent documentary last year about Booker and his fight against the political machine in Newark in his mayoral campaign. Look for a rebroadcast of Street Fight
, the POV film, on a PBS station near you.)

In a recent post on thefreeslave, Maxjulian wrote about the African nation of Chad. Chad's president has demanded that the oil giants, Chevron and Petronas, cease operations and leave the country. Apparently, the government of Chad would like to exercise more control over its natural resources and the money those resources bring in. The audacity. The nerve. How dare they?

While there, I clicked on the CNN link and found an article about Barack Obama visiting his family in Kenya and being treated to a hero's welcome in the country. As well he should. What disturbed me was a link to a video in which you can watch "Obama's grandmother and others sing and dance in celebration." I did not watch it and am not going to link it here.

Tell me, please, what that's all about? Why is that noteworthy enough to warrant a video on CNN? It seems to me the American public is being invited to once again open up the cover of National Geographic magazine to ogle the breasts of native Africans. Must we titillate ourselves with the culture of others? Let his family celebrate as they will in privacy and please don't plaster the internet with this patronizing crap.

It's different, people, that's all. It's an expression that's equally valid, it's just different. And "different" is not "less than " or "other" or entertainment. It is not a freak show. This is.

tags: classism / life / racism / US politics

27 August 2006

Exploring Racism, Vol. 1

I guess it's time to just jump in this cannonball style. I've been hanging out on some blogs of people of color recently, primarily Blac(k)ademic, {Nappy as I want to be} and thefreeslave. (Thanks to Nurse Pam for turning me on to Blac(k)ademic, who led to Pam's House Blend and AngryBlackBitch and {Nappy} and to GrannyVibe, who led me to Maxjulian at thefreeslave. I think it was Bitch | Lab who led me to BlackAmazon at Having Read the Fine Print.)

I've been sensitive to issues of race for a long time, having grown up in a very racially mixed small city before moving to the largely lily-white "sticks" at the age of 9. Talk about your culture shock! I was supposed to be the slick kid from the big city and I was scared out of my wits. And I missed my friends. I was always the fish out of water away from my friendly little, lower-middle class, struggling / "dying" city.

So I came to never fit in nowhere. Not among the blacks and Hispanics I spent my early life steeped in, not among the group of young, white snots I thought I wanted to be "in with" when I was in junior high. I had learned to jump double-dutch and chinese jump rope when I was a kid. I was a master at hopscotch. Kick the can. Stickball. 1-2-3 Red Light. I was a talented kid. Any grace and ease I developed in those early years evaporated like so much cheap perfume in the vacuum of the South Jersey countryside in 1966.

When I entered junior high in 1969, there were rumors of racial strife among the older kids in the high school. I was never personally witness to the racial tension but it affected us all anyway, we younger kids. It wasn't openly discussed. I remember feeling fearful yet not understanding why. I wasn't nearly as good at self-analysis when I was 13. God knows I wasn't getting any help from the school or my family.

There were few cross-racial friendships in those days. There were a few kids of color who were part of the hip crowd, but they seemed like mere tokens to me. The children I admired most were a couple of Asian kids, cousins, if I recall properly. They were quiet. They were popular. They were accepted without any special skill or effort on their part. I didn't take the time as a teenager to wonder why that was.

By the time I had my first car and driver's license in 1974, I was way more interested in spending a night or weekend stoned out of my gourd to pay much attention to racism. I had my little group, The Freaks, as we were known. A label I'd still claim proudly today! I had my best friend, the first woman I ever consciously "crushed on." I had a car and a job. Life was too good to muck it up with things like thinking about injustice.

I did note, as I flew past in my '62 Chrysler, that the "blacks sections" of the township were all in the 'middle' of the long, country roads. The white families would be at or near the intersections. The black families would live a couple of miles in in small clusters. The last mile or so of road before the next intersection would again be populated with white families.

Some of the black families had been there for generations yet nothing was celebrated about that. They were not featured prominently in community celebrations or gatherings. The vast majority of the voting public and politicians were white. Most of those in government positions were part of a network of prominent families in the town, primarily business owners. Funny how high school mirrors the community, huh?

Like the happy trippin' teen I was, I never stopped to wonder at why this was. I never paused to pay attention to the knot that rose in my stomach when I thought about these things. I was not ready to touch upon more complicated feelings. God knows our family did not touch upon any feelings we could possibly repress.

So, I am here now, belatedly but with good intent, to learn and try to understand. Believe me, I understand about privilege. It's not something I ever asked for or, indeed, ever wanted. If it was possible and my giving up my privilege would make an iota of difference in the larger sheme, I would do it without a second thought. At least, that's the way I feel. I'd like to think I would have the courage of my convictions. Actually letting go of privilege is a whole 'nother matter, though, isn't it?

I think now would be a appropriate time to make Maxjulian the first blogger whose archives I read in their entirety.

tags: blogging / life / racism

If my Spanish is correct...

...the translation of the above, linked post title goes something like this:

Mom has tits!
Or would that be:
Mom wants tits! (Though it looks like she's already purchased a pair...time for a trade-in already?)
Maybe it's:
You want my mom's tits?
Though my favorite interpretation is:
"Mama mia, what a set of knockers,"
spoken by the kid who looks like he's holding a 40 oz., wide-neck Bud.

tags: bitchy / body image / breasts / "Look! I bought breasts" / milf / public nudity / sex / sexuality (It's "Guess the Fake Tag" time again, folks!)


I found the most outrageous site tonight.

Bananahole is a hoot!

Click on the third photo in the In Towns post and look closely at some of the faces and bodies in the crowd. The woman on the left, the one practically dragging her dazed husband by a leash, looks like she's about to vomit.

God, the internet is a wonderful place.

tags: body image / humor / life
/ public nudity

26 August 2006

Ahh, the Internets

God, I love these internets thingies!

One of the headlines on my AOL homepage linked to a video on their comedy channel. I often have problems viewing the video from AOL so I went off on a hunt through YouTube for Mel Gibson's "Signs" of anti-Semitism. Oh, please go watch it. It's hilarious.

I love Mel Gibson. There are few stories in recent years, other than those of war and destruction, which saddened me as much as Mel's travails. It hurts me to see what a nut case Mel has become, or has always been. Frankly, I think Mel needs more than rehab, but it's probably nothing a good therapist and plenty of pharmaceuticals couldn't cure.

I fell in love with Mel after watching The Road Warrior, the first film I ever saw him in and my first exposure to Mad Max. Strictly in order of my personal preference, the Mad Max movies are: The Road Warrior (2nd film), Mad Max (1st film) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (3rd, boring sequel) which, aside from serving as a showcase for Tina Turner's legs, was on par with Wyatt Earp...the only movie I ever left a theater halfway through. (Aside: check the URL for the second "The Road Warrior" link...it's from "prisonflicks.com." You know I've got to go investigate that further!)

As a matter of fact, I have been MadMom2 on the internet for as long as I've been on the internet. I was the original MADMOM on AOL but gave that name up when I discovered that "all caps" is rude. What most people don't know is that MadMom had nothing to do, really, with my then-13 year-old son. I had a Stepford child. I really did. Mike was frightening at times, especially to a mother as off the map as me. I wondered what they'd done with my real child...and why.

"MadMom" was primarily a take-off on the Mad Max movies I had discovered and fallen in love with in the 80's. I wanted to be the road warrior. I wanted to tread the forsaken paths of the world in search of my true being, righting wrongs along the way. I wanted to not have anything to lose. Mad Max was my mentor.

If you need another reason to understand why I love the younger Mel Gibson, might I suggest a little gem of a film I found on HBO many years ago. Mrs. Soffel is the first Diane Keaton film I could ever stomach. (She really does play a good, tragically sexually repressed wife/mother role...see The Good Mother for further evidence.) Mel played a death row inmate in a Pittsburgh prison at the turn of the last century with whom the warden's young wife has a torrid affair. He was fabulous and the two were enticingly sensual in the film.

Anywho...the next Mel Gibson-related video on YouTube tonight was this uproarious bit from Denis Leary. Denis Leary, who personifies his own premise that the only thing separating drunken Irishmen and Jews is a bottle of Manischewitz. My drunken-Irishman-spawned grandmother and probably-Jewish grandfather are turning over in their graves right about now.

Is Leary doing color commentary for the Red Sox now? See what a World Series victory will do for you?

I hope you enjoy as much as I did this blending of Irish wit and The American Pastime, baseball. (P. S. It was a great stop by the first baseman.)

tags: anti-Semitism / baseball / humor
/ Jews / Mel Gibson / movies

Will somebody, please,...

...teach BlogRolling how to alphabetize properly so I don't have to enter links as, "Secret Brain, The," in order to get them in their proper place? Sheesh! I'm not a frigging libriarian!

tags: bitchy / blogging / blogroll / proper-fucking-English

25 August 2006

The Wife I Want / Want to Be

Everybody who's anybody is out there discussing this idiotic article by an idiot (and, coincidentally, male) columnist at Forbes' detailing why men should not marry a woman who has a career. (Which leaves whom...the teenaged deli counter girl at the Wawa? The nubile ticket-taker at the local Regal multiplex? Go for it, Bud, and leave the woman with a brain for me.)

My favorite response so far has come from Hedonistic Pleasureseeker, who provides her own commentary on the author's points. Very funny!

The response I've appreciated the most so far is that of Sage at Persephone's Box. Sage advocates reclaiming the word, "wife," and does so with elegance and humor. This definition of "wife" is my favorite passage:

A wife is a woman who is loved by someone enough to want to share a home together. A wife is a passionate lover, both playful and intimate. She is strong enough to support her partner emotionally through a rough patch, and secure enough to show her vulnerability and ask for support when she needs it. She’s capable at her work, and is willing to shoulder her portion of the financial burden of the home. She’s introspective and intelligent enough to question and debate with her partner, creating an opportunity for personal growth through exchanges of substantial depth. A wife has her own life and ideas which make her that much more interesting to be with.
Yeah! That's the woman I want to marry. That's the woman I want to be.

tags: bitchy / blogging / feminism / humor / lesbian / life / sexism

24 August 2006

Random Movie Madness

This was the cause of my latest tangential trip across the internet. One Mae Whitman is the young siren who lured me onto the rocks tonight.

You may remember her as the little daughter in Hope Floats, which I am ashamed to admit I like. Hell, it's got Harry Conick, Jr. in it and he's about the smoothest man since Archibald Leach. Mae played Beatrice, the heavily bespectacled little girl who blames her mother for her parents' divorce. What a stellar performance from a little kid! The mother is played by Sandra Bullock, whose best two movies (only two good movies?) were Speed and The Net, though I really enjoyed her in a small, probably indie film called Love Potion No. 9...so campy, so outrageously funny!

Mae also played in One Fine Day as Michelle Pfieffer's precocious daughter, sparring with the son of her mother's love interest, George Clooney, who may just be the sexiest man since Frank James Cooper. I loved that one, too, sad to say. I got positively misty when they fell asleep on the couch together. Just adorable.

Prior to that, Miss Whitman portrayed the grieving daughter of the leader of the free world, Bill Pullman, who is whisked away as her mother dies. ::dabs at eyes with clean corner of hankie:: LOVED that one! Loved it almost as much as I did, Mars Attacks!, which did not feature Miss Whitman. God, I miss 50's B-movies! Independence Day also featured a role for Harry Connick, Jr.

If you, too, have the hots for Harry, rent Copycat, definitely in my top 100 list...stunning performances, debauchery, depravity and suspense. What could be missing? Stars Sigourney Weaver...about the only woman I might prefer in the role would be Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, who happens to also be in the above pic with Michelle Pfieffer. I loved Mary E. in The Abyss and Class Action, which also stars the very suave Gene Hackman. You know, Gene Hackman might just be the suavest guy since Frederic Austerlitz Jr. If you've never experienced it, you must obtain and watch The Conversation starring Gene Hackman and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, circa 1974. It's a taut morality play, set in one room, if I rememberr correctly. Very interesting.

Sigourney was masterful but I have this little MEM thing. What can I say? Another cutie, Holly Hunter, who is an alum of my son's university, speaks softly but tough with a charming drawl and looks so very nice in a vest. (She was also fabulous in a little gem called Miss Firecracker from 1989.) Dermot Mulroney is the epitomy of sweet, innocent youth. But the film was stolen, for me, by William McNamara. What a socioopath and how deliciously portrayed! The look in his eyes as he carried out his horrific acts was just the sort of sick pleasure I'd anticipated. He was diabolical. Yum!

Think William McNamara is just the cutest young thing? Go see him in Stealing Home, if you want to see absolutely adorable! This movie might just have to rank in my personal top ten for content only, not plot or character development or anything else of more substantial value; I just like it. Mark Harmon, with whom I had a torrid mental love affair during his early tv career, though I can't recall now what show he was on. (Could it really have been 1972 on Emergency?)

Harmon is perfect as the bedraggled,
downtrodden semi-pro ball player (baseball, of course). Blair Brown stars as Harmon/McNamara's grief-strickened, recently-widowed mother trying to drown her saddness in booze and men. (For classic Blair Brown, see A Flash of Green, a film produced by PBS for American Playhouse, arguably my all-time favorite non-science tv program) as the grief-stricken widow drowning her sorrows as she tries to make sense of her life again. But the queen, Jodie Foster, is at her ephemeral best. She practically floated through the film, so light and airy. It's hard to imagine someone so carefree could carry the heaviest load.

No, Mae Whitman wasn't in Stealing Home, but my beloved home state of New Jersey was, including:
  • The Garden State Parkway which is, in my old neck of the woods and Jersey shore, the prettiest highway going
  • Camden, where I was working at the time. Yes, it really looked like that. They had not yet started to clean up and build in earnest for the Republican National Convention, which would come not long after
  • Atlantic City and Steel Pier, of which I have such fond childhood memories.
Take a gander at our Miss Whitman now...what a young looker she's turned into! Is it any wonder it was her siren sound that called me away?

tags: life / movies

22 August 2006

Sexy Slips in Old Movies

Well, I saw that Hedonistic Pleasureseeker dropped by today to lust after the fabulous women I found over the internet. Drool away, HPS. They're all mine. Or as all mine as they can be considering thry're readily available for download by anyone who chooses.

Anyway. It got me to thinking...wouldn't it be fun if we all found a favorite sexy vixen in a slip (or nightgown or other sexy wear) from the old movies we love.

Wasn't Marilyn in a slip in Some Like it Hot? And seems to me I've seen Kim Novak looking incredibly foxy in a lil' slip of a thing in some old flick? Or maybe I'm just remembering her looking so deliciously witchy in Bell, Book and Candle, a true favorite of mine. She simply ooooozed sex appeal.

I remember when I read that post where I showed off Liz and Kim and Anna that there was someone else I left out...some quintessential vixen in the slip. I can't seem to bring her back to mind, though. It's driving me crazy now! Help me out!

Let's see what you've got. Either take the lazy way and just post in the comments or go out and find your own for us to see at your place.

tags: blogging / lingerie / sexy

21 August 2006

Right-Wing New York Times

Egalia, of Tennessee Guerilla Women, pointed me in the direction of this hilarious mock-up to be found at The Huffington Post. Want to know what the right-wing sees when they read the front page of the NYT? Go see for yourself.

(Egalia credits Avedon Carol of The Sideshow for pointing it out to her.)

(In case you didn't see this post at No Ordinary Princess)

tags: bitchy / blogging / humor / US politics

20 August 2006

The Post I've Been Avoiding

Most of you probably know I lost my dad in March. I've written more about it on my old, now-unused blog, MadMom and Mutt, if you want to read about it a bit. Check the February and March archives. Hell, check out April, too, if you want. Just no snickering...that was my first foray into public blogging!

It was a tough time for me and a difficult process. We didn't have much time to get used to it, really. Less than a year prior, Dad was only beginning to complain of feeling seriously short of breath on exertion. He was still robust enough to tinker around the house, go to the shore house most weekends, travel, etc. until July of 2005. He was on home oxygen for only nine or ten months before he died. He had a procedure done late last July which drained 2 liters of fluid from the space surrounding his right lung...the pathology came back showing no evidence of cancer. Dad's recovery from that relatively minor procedure was terribly slow and no one could understand why.

It wasn't until 10 weeks before his death that we had a definitive diagnosis of mesothelioma, the "asbestos cancer." He was only under hospice care for 11 days following cessation of chemotherapy. Only eleven days of resigning ourselves to having no more hope. A week and a half to say all our good-byes, to forgive all the old sins and slights, to heal decades of old wounds. It was not enough time, not nearly enough to get used to the idea of living in a world without Dad.

Over the course of the spring, I discovered a wonderful blogger named Liz from Granny Gets a Vibrator. Liz is 52 and fabulous! She's the woman I wanna be someday. She's mother to two (okay, so I'm not having another kid to be like her) amazing, talented, feeling, gorgeous, self-confident grown sons; arty as the day is long; has impeccable taste and great hair! I'd French-kiss a slug to be one tenth as cool as Liz!

Was it really less than a month ago that Liz posted about some upcoming diagnostic tests for the nagging cough and dyspnea she'd been experiencing for a while? Asthma, right? Sure. 52 isn't too old to get asthma. Or some freaky form of COPD which will affect healthy, middle-aged, athletic, regularly-exercising, healthy food-eating women who never smoked. Yeah. That's the ticket. Not bad news, God. Not bad. Have a heart.

Liz doesn't have a definitive diagnosis yet. She's still in that initial investigatory phase, getting tests, biopsies, seeing specialists who are trying to figure out just what this is that is making her breathing so damned difficult while raising a massive tumor behind her mediastinum.

It's not easy to read Liz now. There are too many similarities to a pain that is still so fresh. The parallels are too great. But, read her I do. How can I stay away? She's so fresh and honest, so intuitive and open, so energetic and optimistic, so real. How could I not read her now?

In 1984, my 19 year-old sister was struck by a car and killed. A few days later, as my mom and I were out shopping for the funeral, we witnessed a woman get hit by a car. It was nothing like my sister's event. This car was going very slow and had braked hard when the woman walked in front of it. She seemed to be unaware of walking into traffic. Turns out she had diabetes and probably was not aware of much when she walked into the street.

I made a deal with God. Okay, you took my sister. Let this woman live instead. I'll forgive you for taking Lisa if you let this one, who was also hit by a car, live in her place. The woman, whose name escapes me now, lived for a few weeks but ultimately succumbed to her other, chronic illnesses and their complications.

About a month after Lisa died, I began taking care of a 19 year-old girl with a rare form of ovarian cancer. Back in those days, women used to stay overnight on a unit like mine for their chemotherapy so we all got to know Joanne quite well over the next several months. Joanne was a challenging patient. She was a pampered child whose parents thought the sun and moon rose around her. She might have been an only child, I can't recall. She couldn't accept the things that were happening to her body. She cried and cried over her hair loss, her nausea, her pain. Once again, I bartered with God...let this 19 year-old live to make up for taking my beloved 19 year-old sister.

No deal, said God. Joanne died in the spring of 1985, about 6 months after my sister. I don't think she had any idea that she was really dying until the very end.

So now, in Liz, God throws me another opportunity to seek that elusive trade-off. My dad's mystery lung illness. Granny's mystery lung illness. How can I not make the comparison? How can I not try to make the deal?

I won't. I will pray for Liz and root for her and offer any advice I can. I will wish for her and keep her and her loved ones in my thoughts but I will not ask God to keep her alive to make up for losing my dad. I don't have a very good track record, anyway, so Liz might be better off if I don't. There is no substitute for my dad, just as there was no substitute for my sister. Liz's good thoughts and prayers are all her own, not a phony deal I'm trying to make with God to shield me from my pain.

There is no substitute for Liz, either. (I sure hope we don't find that out for many healthy years to come, Liz.)

I will continue to read her, as painful as it might be, because I love her indomitable spirit, her joie de vivre, her family, her hair and those incredible biceps. I'm sure she'll get back up to speed at the gym ASAP after her treatment is over. Liz is invincible.

I hope you might read her a bit. She blogs very honestly about her experiences. She can leave you feeling raw at times but it's worth it. Read her son, Finnegan, too. He's just such a cutie! Finn has a PayPal post up on his site, which I'll link here, if you'd like to donate to Granny's Shoe Fund. See, Liz is one of the millions of Americans without health insurance. So, not only does she have to deal with health problems and a whole new concept of her body, she's also got to learn to navigate the intricacies of obtaining health care without benefit of insurance. (Thanks go out to GWB and his ilk, the Republicans and Big, Bad Insurance from the, what, 45 million similarly afflicted Americans!)

Even if you choose to do none of those things, please offer a prayer or positive energy or wishful thinking or whatever good stuff floats your boat in her direction, for my sake. I'd like to think I've done something positive for Liz. I'd like to think I did some positive things for my dad, too, before we lost him.

Go, Liz! If anybody can do it, you can!

tags: blogging / cancer / health and science / health care / health insurance / life / life sucks but it beats the alternative / medicine / nursing (Guess which is the fake tag!)

I Finally Blogrolled!

I've only had the account for two or three months. Really, finally getting around to it in 2-3 months is not bad for a Piscean.

Now I'll be able to come to one pace to find new stuff from the bloggers I like. It'll take some getting used to but I love the feature that allows you (or me) to roll over the link to see the description. It's just like Wordpress.

No, I didn't get around to playing with the templates I downloaded recently. I really should get a move on over at No Ordinary Princess before someone else with a good blog steals the template I have in mind for that site.

Maybe in, oh, two to three months...

tags: blogging / life

TTLB Ecosystem

I figured I was finally bitchy enough to join the TTLB Ecosystem and not be a mere single-celled organism. Oh, that and I finally went and figured out how to add my blogs.

I have to wait until tomorrow to find out where I sit in the world but I'm betting on "Lowly Insect" for CMIB and "Slimy Mullosc" for No Ordinary Princess. I really like the idea of being a "Crunchy Crustacean" but think my links are already beyond that level. Damn shame. Crunchy things are good.

My ultimate goal? Being a Slithering Reptile or a Flappy Bird would be fine with me. I know I'll never make Higher Power status here.

tags: bitchy / blogging / humor / life / US politics / world politics

19 August 2006

Paronychia, aka "Cheryl Blogs About Her Senses"

I have a paronychia.

I've gotten some weird things in my life...Hepatitis A when I was three, a chalazion when I was five. I still have the scar on my inner ankle from when the top of the birdbath fell off and crunched me (nothing broken, thank God). I pulled a large 1960's black-and-white tv over onto myself somewhere in there. I had a benign tumor removed from a buttock-which-shall-remain-nameless when I was 13. You can feel fairly secure in the knowledge that the unnamed buttock will not be making an appearance on the odd middle-aged HNT post.

(During the overnight hospitalization for that minor procedure (in 1970), I met a man, Rudy, who was in his 70's, making him the oldest person I'd ever met on this earth at the time. We watched the stars together both before and after my "surgery" from the balcony/lounge of the nursing unit we were housed on. Rudy and I corresponded for a few years, back in the days of penpals. He sent me a pair of very colorful costume earrings from the Bahamas when he and his wife visited the Caribbean. I like to carry on the illusion that Rudy is still alive.)

I had unexplained full-body hives with a high fever when I was 16. I was delirious. I thought m
y mother was Mia Farrow. They thought it was caused by peaches. I thought it was stigmata. Before I knew any better, before I became a nurse, I put their premise to the test and found it to be untrue. Thank God I wasn't truly allergic to peaches because food allergies can kill. But, damnit...I'm a Jersey Girl! I've got to have my peaches! (South Carolina peaches might be the most prolific but Jerseys are the tastiest!)

I had a dental abscess last summer that caused a cellulitis in my mandible (called an osteomyelitis) for which I required treatment with Clindamycin. Clinda is a potent antibiotic, particularly beneficial for strains of bacteria resistant to other agents. Clinda will also, unfortunately, kill off a large portion of your normal intestinal flora allowing the overgrowth of clostridium difficile in those who host the bacteria. To my distress, and no doubt to God's wicked, eternal delight, I found out I harbored that germ just a few days before I left on my three-week Westward Ho! Roadtrip (c) last year.

My medical history is, umm, interesting. Thankfully benign but interesting.

So now I have an infection along the lateral side of my right thumbnail.

I'm right-handed.

This is inconvenient.

I showed it to a doctor at work yesterday and she wrote me a script for Bactrim and elicited my promise to return today if it wasn't improved. It wasn't better
after three doses of the antibiotic. I had wanted something I could take twice a day to improve my compliance. Hey, I know me.

I went back to the ER today, practically panicked at the prospect of possibly having my entire thumb numbed to allow a physician to poke a needle under my thumbnail. Isn't that called torture? Luckily, it is not at the point of needing to be opened so I dodged that bullet (at least for now...keep your fingers crossed for me, huh?).
With any luck, I can be spared a course of Clinda this time, too. I'm now all switched over to Keflex, a much more effective agent for the most likely culprit, staphylococcus aureus.

Largely due to the overuse of antibiotics, s.aureus is following in the footsteps of so many other bacteria before her and developing resistances. (Please, please, please...if the doctor says your child most likely has a viral infection, do not insist she be put on a course of antibiotis anyway???) There is a particularly virulent strain
called Methicillin-Resistant Staph. Aureus, or MRSA. Patients who colonize (are carriers of) this bacterium must be isolated from others in the hospital and must be treated with contact precautions. Trouble is, we in the ER often have no idea what someone's MRSA status is in our initial contacts with our patients. And, yes, we strive to maintain safety for ourselves and our patients but things happen, especially in a rush...like in an emergency?...

Given the speed with which the crack in my cuticle became infected and the fact that Bactrim brought no improvement in a reasonable time frame, the doc is concerned about the possibility of a MRSA infection. I am, too. So, I'll have to remember to take a pill four times a day for the next week and a half. But, given that it's the opposable digit on my dominant hand, I'll do my God-damned best to be compliant.

The real irony? Due to my developing c. diff last summer, I had to call out sick on my last day of work before vacation. God forbid, but if I should have some vile form of s. aureus, I could be forced to remain away from work for my last two weeks there. Can you say, "Woot?"

I've been good with my new pills so far (two pills) and diligent with my warm, moist compresses (warm and moist sure sounds good).

Cheryl's Warm, Moist Digit Compress Recipe

-Take a thinnish washcloth, fold in quarters and wet it.

-Wring lightly.

-Place in a heavy-gauge sandwich or small freezer bag.

-Microwave on high for 10 to 15 seconds. (No longer than that. Don't do this if you can't feel hot things well (neuropathy, etc.) and don't sue me if you burn your fool self.)

-Stick thumb (or other infected digit) into crease in the folded washcloth and enjoy.

-Even if you don't enjoy it, do it several times a day, up to once an hour, for 10-15 minutes. If you can't tolerate that much time, treat digit for as long as you can.


The moist heat makes the digit throb and leaves it sensitive for many minutes following. As luck would have it, I have a few Percocet left over from my dental saga of last summer so I took one tonight. Well, because of the thumb and the fact that Percocet is an acceptable alternate companion for a solo Friday night.

The down side of Percocet for me is that my gut doesn't much like it. I can take a half a tablet and be fine. But that whole tab just pushes me over the edge. I get the cold sweats, nauseous, lightheaded, very tired, finally running to the bathroom and puking your guts (and all my Cocoa Pebbles dinner, damn it) into the hopper feeling. God-damned vomit in my sinuses. The taste lingers for hours. Yuck!

So, the thumb feels better, the stomach and head feel better following the barf, I'm beginning to think the Keflex might work best and I have three courses of Bactrim stashed away in case I develop the odd UTI from "rough sex."

Life is good.

Why do I post this stuff? Why do I equate sex with other body functions so freely? Because, as I've said before, they're no different.

Our senses are all about feeling things...with our antennae, our vision, our cilia. If you choose to feel things, as I've also said previously, you have to take the whole package. The yin with the yang, y'know? So the fabulous orgasms come hand-in-hand with the stench of vomit in my nostrils. And, despite the fact that one is so much more pleasant and positive than the other, they are both sensed and consequently appreciated. They are both evidence that I exist.

Sex isn't magic, folks.

Feelings are.

tags: bitchy / blogging / health and science / humor / life / medicine / self-awareness / senses / sex / sexuality / sexuality education

Locations of visitors to this page

  • *CmIB = Claiming my Inner Bitch
  • *CmIB-E = Claiming my Inner Bitch Enterprises
  • *MBCP = May be considered patriarchetypical (c) 2006 CmIB-E
  • *NOP = No Ordinary Princess, my other blog
  • *THAC = The Hospital Around the Corner