Monday, December 17, 2012

Teachers as militia? No thanks.

Back in July, after James Holmes shot up a movie theater in Colorado, I wrote a post about guns.

On Friday, when I learned of the shooting in a Connecticut elementary school, my first reaction was, "Oh, no.  Not again."  I checked in throughout the day as the story unfolded and watched with horror as the death toll mounted - most of them small kids.  I remembered the public's reaction to the Colorado shooting and the number of pro-gun folks who said, "if only there had been someone in that theater with a gun..." and thought, "I wonder if anyone will dare suggest that there should have been an armed person inside the school to save lives."  I doubted it.  I mean, who would even suggest such a thing?  It's an elementary school!

Sho'nuff, it didn't take long.

"They needed an armed, trained teacher in that school to take this guy down."

Hmm.  Okay.  Let's take a look at this argument.  Armed, trained teacher.  We're going to assume that this "armed, trained" teacher isn't Mrs. Rumpl, my 80 year old kindergarten teacher who wore coke-bottle glasses and saddle shoes.  Let's assume this "armed, trained" teacher is more like my 6th-grade teacher, Mr. O'Shei.  He was young, strapping, and physically fit.   

So.  "Armed, trained" teacher is teaching geography at the north end of the school.  He's engaging a classroom of young minds and showing the location of the Dead Sea on a map.  Suddenly the intercom crackles with the sound of chaos, and gunshots ring out from the south end of the school.  "Armed, trained" teacher first has to make a quick decision about the 25 young lives sitting in front of him.  He tells them to get under their desks as he sprints from the classroom, running toward the sound of the commotion.  His weapon is drawn, and he's running, full-speed, past terrified teachers and students.  He gets to the south end of the school and finds 27 bodies, including that of the gunman.  Oops.  Too late.

Scenario #2: The gunman forces his way into the school and enters the "armed, trained" teacher's classroom.  Assuming the gun is locked safely away, the teacher now has a split second to divert his attention from teaching, access the gun, and take the bad guy down, all while the gunman is aiming a Bushmaster at his head.   Perhaps, however, the gun is in "armed, trained" teacher's holster.  He is pointing out the Tropic of Capricorn when he hears a noise, looks up, sees a semiautomatic barrel in his face.  He reaches for his gun, but this crazed massacrer is quicker.  Boom.  Teacher's dead.  Let the bloodbath begin.  

Scenario #3: While those who are defending this line of action insist that this could never happen, the possibility does exist that a student could get hold of the teacher's gun and accidentally or purposely shoot himself or someone else.  And just imagine the backlash from that.  

There are too many variables and potential negative outcomes and moot points to justify this idea as a good one.  Guns are dangerous and do not belong in schools. Teachers are not paid to be militia.  Teachers are paid - and not that well to begin with - to teach.   I don't have kids, but that shouldn't affect how much weight my argument carries.  I have nieces - one of whom is 6 years old, like most of the Sandy Hook victims.  I have a nephew.  Many of my cousins have children or even grandchildren.  I am an "honorary aunt" to a number of my friends' kids.  I wouldn't want any of these children to be anywhere near a gun, regardless of how "well trained" the person is who's carrying it.  

There are a lot of "what ifs" in this situation, but what it comes down to is my previous argument that more guns are not the answer.  We tried that once, remember?  It was called the Wild West.  Surely we've evolved since then, no?

Prepare for the onslaught

I have a LOT to say in the wake of recent events.  Meanwhile, project deadlines loom (or pass), the mess in my house continues to pile up around me, my pets look at me with bewildered eyes wondering what's got me prone to spontaneous sobbing outbursts,  and all I want to do is write it out.  If I don't, I'm liable to nap my emotions away (one of my coping mechanisms involves what my ex called "fetaling"  - the act of curling up in a fetal position and falling asleep). And so I must write.

Three days ago, a 20-year-old mentally ill Connecticut man - boy, really -  killed his mother with her own gun.  He then drove her car to nearby Sandy Hook elementary school and shot his way in before gunning down the principal, a school psychologist, four teachers, and 20 children between the ages of 5 and 7.   We've all been bombarded with the details of the story, the names and faces of the victims, and a barrage of commentary in response.

I have so much to say that I cannot possibly say it all in one post without risking the loss of my readers' attention.  I have to break it up into segments, and so my next few entries will deal with my response to the tragedy, from the media attention to gun control to mental illness to the unbelievable reactions I'm seeing from people.

Stay tuned.  The Fat Prattler has something to say about all of that.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Here we go again!

It was recently brought to my attention that my ex is now dating a woman he met online.  They're evidently over the moon for each other, he's moved in with her already, and is in love with his "instant family," spending his weekends carting "his kids" to Chuck E. Cheese and whatnot.  And if the trend of my life is any indication, he'll probably marry her.  They all marry the one they date after me.  He always wanted children, so I guess I should be happy that he finally found someone to provide them for him.  Lord knows I couldn't do it.

I know I shouldn't let it bother me, but more than the fact that he's got a new girlfriend, I'm bothered by the fact that online dating actually worked for him.  He's one of about three people I know who've had any modicum of success with the medium, and it pisses me off.

I hate online dating.  I despise it.  I hate the fact that it's superficial and full of nonsense and preconceived notions.  It's an artificial construct that doesn't allow people to really get to know each other or allow people to give each other a chance because too many people will look at a list of interests, likes, and physical stats and think, "nope, not for me."  And that's not fair.  In real life I'm a pretty awesome person, and I'm not terribly bad-looking.  I'm overweight, but I see plenty of overweight women with boyfriends and even husbands - so that can't be all there is to it, can it?

Maybe it's just the area I live in, or the fact that I'm Childfree.  There's nothing "wrong" with me, other than the fact that I take a long time between relationships because the whole process is just a pain in the ass.  And at this age, the pickin's are pretty slim.  They consist of  lunatics, losers, and drunks, or married guys looking for something on the side.

Over it.  All of it.  I've done crazy, I've done loser, I've done drunk (all in one, in one case!), and I've done married.  None of it worked very well.  Crazy loser drunks tend to be abusive, and married guys will always put their wives first (as it should be).  You can't rely on these types of men, and that's such an important part of a relationship.  For if you can't rely on your partner, then what's the point?

Anyway, I was ranting about the whole online dating thing, and someone asked to see what I'd written in my profile.  My account had been deactivated for awhile, but once you log in again you're reactivated and cannot re-deactivate for another week.  So now I'm stuck for a week, and already the bullshit has started.

From "cublookin4cougar" I get this:

Hey there I know I'm a younger guy but I really love being with older women. There a real turn on for me. If you'd like to have some fun maybe we could grab some lunch sometime and talk too see if we could make it to the bedroom ;) lol

Oh, brother.  Yeah, why don't I just jump right into the sack with you?  Now, my friends are offering varying views on this.  Some are sympathetic, but others are telling me, "just go for it!" and "think of it as practice!"

Um. Practice?  Practice for what?  I don't need practice.  Jesus Christ, if you people had any idea what goes on behind my closed doors...practice?  None needed, believe me.  What I need practice in is interacting with men my own age, men who are emotionally available, men who want to treat me like a partner and not just a piece of fucking meat (literally).  I'm not knocking FWB situations, but I'm over it at this point. 

I'm told, "just hold on, it'll happen when you least expect it."

And to this I say, FUCK YOU.  And I mean that in the nicest possible way, because I know when people say shit like that, they mean well.  But here's what I don't understand.  I've been "least expecting" it for the better part of the last 20 years, only about 7 of which have been spent in any kind of actual relationship.  I'm 41 years old. How come some people find their soulmate at 25 or 30 but the rest of us have to "hold on?" Hold on to what? My face as it slides down my skull? My boobs as they travel down to my knees? The handfuls of hair I rip out of my head when I get messages from little pisspots who want to fuck an older woman so they can add it to their resume? Fuck that. And no, I will not go have fun, because little shits like this don't deserve the fun I know how to have.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Shit I think about when I'm drawing anthropomorphized elements

I'm currently illustrating a book about the elements.  I can't really say much else because, well, that's how it works in pre-publication.  I'm not really allowed to talk about it, show it to anyone, or discuss the story.  All part of the whole non-disclosure and being sworn to secrecy lest someone steal the concept.

Anyway.  It's been a long, arduous project, full of frustration, reworks, missed deadlines, and a LOT of dust.  I love the way pastel looks, but it is a very, very dirty medium.  For this reason I am thankful I have a studio space.  

So while I work, I have a lot of time to think.  I listen to music, draw, and think.  I also talk to myself a lot.  Working on a project is a great way to sort through things I might not otherwise have time to mull about.

This afternoon I was thinking about this person in whom I am interested.  His name is, well...I've been referring to him as "He Who Drinks My Coffee," and I think for the purpose of this blog he shall remain such.  I'm pretty sure this individual is currently attached.  Married, perhaps.  Not sure.  In any case, I found myself handing him my number yesterday afternoon after weeks - months, perhaps - of admiring him from afar.  We'll see if he calls.  I'm not holding my breath.  He did, however, deliver my forgotten coffee shortly after I gave him my number.  So if nothing else, he's thoughtful if not available.

As I am wont to do in these situations, though, I started really overthinking my behavior.  When he stopped over with my coffee, I found myself prattling on and on and on about various things that interest me.  In retrospect, however, I don't think any of them made me seem all that appealing.  I talked about my power tools, for the most part.  And moulding.  How romantic.  I appeared dressed in my cruddy art clothes - jeans, t-shirt, apron, hair in a messy bun with a pencil stuck in it, and pastel dust everywhere.  I'm sure he was like, "she got THAT dirty in a matter of half an hour?"  Serious Pigpen action, only in technicolor.  

It was hot out.  I started to sweat.  So I talked about power tools, home improvement, moulding, self-employment, and coffee while streaking ultramarine blue pastel across my sweaty forehead.  So attractive.

I hope he IS married.  At least then he has a convenient excuse to not reciprocate interest, rather than trying to figure out a nice way of saying, "sorry, fat manly artists aren't my type."

Oh well.  Back to work.

The thing about being a blogger is that you have to actually BLOG

...and I don't.  At least not on a regular basis lately.

In my defense, I've been extremely busy.  There have been jobs to work, projects to finish, contracts to honor, houses to clean, studios to reorganize, blah blah blah.  Not that I haven't had things I'm dying to prattle about; I just haven't had time to properly compose any extended rants.

Perhaps I should think about revisiting the virtues of brevity, hmm?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Blogs don't kill people

I hate guns.

It's a known fact to anyone who knows me.  I hate guns.  I don't care what application they're used for.  I hate them.  They scare me, and I think America's obsession with bearing arms is out of control.  Now, before you get all "I KNOW MY CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND THE SECOND AMENDMENT BLAH BLAH BLAH" on me, just hear me out.  I'm not encroaching on anyone's rights.  But in the wake of yet ANOTHER mass shooting, another contribution to our standing as one of the most violent nations in the industrialized world, is it possible that the second amendment needs a little...reexamination?  Let's just try and remember that the second amendment was written in a different era and with a different context.  I'm pretty sure that it wasn't written so that we could all protect ourselves from other people also exercising their right to bear their arms in public places.  Right?

When I managed a gas station two blocks from the notorious Cabrini Green housing projects in Chicago back in the mid-90's, I had a gun in my desk - a loaded 9mm.  I never opened that drawer if I could help it, and every time I had to, my stomach flipped.  Just the sight of it made me so nervous I'd want to throw up.  I told my boss the first time he showed it to me that I wasn't going to touch it.  He said, "well, I keep it in here so if you ever have any trouble when you're in here counting money, just use it."

"Just use it."  Like I'd even know how to hold the goddamned thing, let alone SHOOT it at someone pointing their gun at my head.  My office was just slightly bigger than a supply closet; anyone doing said gun-pointing would be doing so at extremely close range - likely pressing the barrel between my eyes.  I told my boss, "look.  If I'm in here counting money and someone busts in here with a weapon demanding I give it to them, they'll get the money.  Fire me now if you have a problem with that, because I (a) do not know how, nor am licensed to, shoot a weapon, (b) don't trust myself to be quicker than a criminal high on crack and adrenaline within reach of several thousand dollars, and (c) value my life more than a Shell station.  Sorry."  He laughed and said he understood, but he also said I was being silly.  "Anyone can learn how to shoot a gun," he scoffed.

Anyone.  Including James Holmes, a quiet, brilliant neuroscience fellowship student.

By now everyone is familiar with this name and the tragedy associated with it.  And already the gun nuts are out in full force.  "Guns don't kill people!  People kill people!"  Whatever.  The guy couldn't have taken out 12 people and injured 60 others with a steak knife.  And the most ridiculous comments I've seen are coming from these people who insist that "if only someone had been there with a gun, they could have stopped this guy."


This guy walks into a crowded movie theater, tosses a couple canisters of tear gas, and then just as the audience is trying to process what's going on, he opens fire with an automatic assault rifle, spraying bullets into the auditorium.  Chaos ensues.  People are bleeding.  People are dead.  People are screaming, running, throwing themselves on the ground, pushing each other out of the way.  It's dark.  The flash from the gunfire is blinding, making a clear shot likely impossible.  I don't care if you're an expert marksman - this is not target practice.   And unless the concealed-carry laws include automatic weapons, no civilian with a Smith & Wesson snub-nose revolver is a match for a heavily-armed, well-armored massacrer on a mission.  You might as well be carrying a cap gun.

Everyone likes to think they're Chuck Norris, but the truth is that NO ONE knows what they would have done in this situation.  Think of every bad thing that's ever happened to you.  Was it what you imagined?  Did you react as you thought you would?  Probably not.  Everyone likes to think they're a hero, or that there's a hero out there who'll save us from the bad guys, but superheroes are only in the comics and the movies.  Get real, stop speculating, and for God's sake - stop fantasizing that another gun would have solved the problem.  

The truth: guns kill people.  Guns are weapons designed for that very purpose.  And as long as we continue to think that more violence will cure violence, we're deluding ourselves into a false sense of security.  The United States has one of the highest rate of gun deaths in the world.  I could spout statistics at you, but I'll let you do your own research.  It's not hard to find.  And it's not easy to ignore.  

The gun debate in this country will never end.  But really - how many people have to die before we come to SOME kind of conclusion?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Weddings in the park: I have something NICE to say about that!

Two years ago I posted about the trend I was seeing in weddings that bucked tradition, and how I much preferred a casual affair over black-tie swank.

I still feel this way.

And in fact, about halfway between the time that post was written and today, I got engaged. The engagement has since been broken, but my wedding was going to consist of me, my groom, an officiant, and a laptop streaming the event from a beach in Thailand. I was going to wear a white halter dress, a la Marilyn Monroe's famous grate scene, my groom was going to be in shorts and a polo. And shoes? Who needs shoes on the banks of the Mekong river? Puh-leeze! If nothing else, it gave me a really convenient excuse not to have to endure the angry throngs upset that I refuse to let the DJ play either the hokey-pokey or the chicken dance at my wedding.


 This past weekend I had the great honor of attending the wedding celebration of Jennifer and Chuck Weber. Jennifer, the engine behind All Things Jennifer, is one of Buffalo's favorite bloggers and an all-around most excellent person. I have spent the last couple of days trying to explain to people just how much fun this wedding was, but I find myself getting flustered when trying to decide on a starting point. Do I start with the beautiful view from Porter on the Lake Park? The bounce house? Do I start with the bride's fabulous outfit? And even then, do I start with the red tulle petticoat, or the red hi-top Chuck Taylors? Do I start with the zombie vs. soldier cherry chip cupcakes? The TATER TOTS on the dinner buffet? The "guest book" involving Jenga tiles and a dictionary?

 It's all a bit much to try and sort out, and I end up prattling for a while before I wonder if I'll ever be able to recall all the details that made this a most excellent event. Just when I think I've covered it all, I remember the reply cards with song requests hanging around the DJ station (when's the last time you went to a wedding where they played "Gin and Juice?"), the hand-decorated mason jars that held a healthy amount of drink, and the karaoke (that I sadly had to miss thanks to my early morning wake-up call the next day). Even the presence of a million small children (something that normally brings me a fair amount of stress) didn't faze me, such was the fun I was having.

 Look. They had TATER FUCKING TOTS on the buffet. Nuff said. Best. Wedding. Ever. 

This, my friends, is what weddings are all about. Never once did I look at Jennifer and see the familiar shell-shocked, glazed-over, I'm-so-exhausted-but-I'm-going-to-fake-it forced smile I've seen in other brides. Not once did I see her dragged around by her mother. There was no formal reception line. No structured wedding party intro. No bridezilla. No long, drawn-out ceremony involving readings and sermons. There was no shoving of cake in each other's faces. Just two people, very in love and wanting to share that with 100+ of their friends and family by throwing a super fun party. Every wedding should be so devoid of pretense and obnoxiousness.

 Say what you will about tradition, but I'm always in favor of bucking it - particularly when it involves tater tots.

 Congratulations, Jen and Chuck! May life be long and merry for you both!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Just another waste of legal resources

...and a few more dollars for the psychotherapy industry for these poor people.

I just can't wrap my head around this whole thing.

1. Who would think to accuse a GAY man of raping his DAUGHTERS?
2. Who would BELIEVE it?

I fucking hate people sometimes.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Slime, Slime, Everywhere Slime (and BEETLES! STRAWBERRY SAUCE IS BEETLES)!!!

Pink Slime. It's what's for dinner.

I've been reading with a fair amount of amusement as people freak out about "Pink Slime" in their ground beef. It's gross, yes, but no grosser, honestly, than anything else most people eat.

This is not to say I'm not outraged at the idea of Pink Slime - I am. But I avoid it by not eating ground beef of unknown origin. What strikes me as ironic is that he same people who are freaking out about the Pink Slime are probably feeding Happy Meals, hot dogs, and white bread to their kids.

And speaking of pink....

Similarly, the whole outrage over the recent revelation that Starbucks uses carmine (extracted from crushed cochineal beetles) in the strawberry sauce used for frappuccinos and smoothies is equally as silly. I dare say if you're horking down that sugar and fat-laden crap, a common ingredient used in TONS of red-colored foods is the least of your worries. I get that vegans are a little bummed that it contains an "animal product," and I respect their dismay over having to skip the treat as a result, but the whole "cruelty" and "ew gross" freakout is what annoys me. Please. What did you have for breakfast? Examine that first, look at how many artificially created chemical ingredients went into it, and then talk to me about how "gross" it is that there are extracts made from beetles in your food coloring. It's an EXTRACT. It's not like Starbucks is tossing handfuls of beetles into the blender when they make a drink. I mean, really, people. Get a fucking grip.

I'm not trying to be unsympathetic. In previous posts I have made it very clear how I feel about the food situation in this country, and how I have made the commitment to eat closer to the earth and eat meat of only reputable origin, to support local farmers, et cetera. So I get it.

But here's the issue: strawberries are not pepto-pink, and yet people who want strawberry-flavored things want them to look that color. And so they must be enhanced. Artificial colors are created in labs by scientists and are not a natural food source. The harvest of cochineal is a sustainable source of income for the Central- and South American communities who make their livings plucking the bugs off cacti. So in essence, Starbucks is helping people and staying consistent with their mission to promote sustainability, and are using a source that is harvested from their natural habitat and not raised in a factory farm. But they've managed to piss off another segment of the population in the process.

So. I guess it boils down to two fundamental points.

1. Pick your battles.
2. You can't please everyone.

And life goes on.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

"Traditional Markers"

The other day I posted on facebook that I felt like I was spinning my wheels because I don't have a life filled with what I referred to as "traditional markers."

What I mean by "traditional markers" is the various points throughout life with which people mark and/or celebrate the passing of time: engagements, weddings, pregnancies, births...followed by anniversaries, birthdays, first days of school, graduations, and so on.

So. What about people who aren't married and have no children? How do we mark the passage of time? We have no sparkly rings to show off, no proposal stories. We have no meetings with caterers, tailors, printers, priests, or DJs. We have no countdowns. We have no expanding bellies to measure (well, maybe we do, but not because we are growing anything except a gas bubble and some subcutaneous fat). We have no nurseries to paint, no Lamaze classes to attend, no first teeth, words, steps, full nights' sleep to document.

Do not misunderstand. I am not lamenting or expressing regret over my lack of these markers (jury is still out about the marriage thing; I would still consider it if the right person actually bothered to show up in my life, but at this point I think Vladimir and Estragon might have a better chance at catching a glimpse of Godot than I do at finding a husband). No, I do not regret my life choices. What frustrates me is trying to decide how to mark progress when I live a life that hasn't followed "natural progression."

I guess it would help if the rest of the world stopped judging people's lives on it first. :-)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Buy me some soy nuts and bubble wrap...

A few days ago I went to visit a friend in the hospital who'd just had a baby. Before going, I assembled an adorable bouquet of balloons; a mylar "It's a Boy!" balloon surrounded by blue, white, and yellow latex balloons, all on baby blue ribbon shaped into cute curlicues. It was fantastic. It took up the entire back seat of my car. She didn't know I was coming. It was going to be epic.

After obtaining my visitor pass, however, I was stopped by security on my way to the elevator.

"Ma'am, you can't take those balloons up into the hospital."

I thought it was a joke.

"Um, why not?"

"Because they're latex, and this is a latex-free hospital."

I was astounded. Dumbfounded. Was I not in a HOSPITAL? I's a hospital. Rubber gloves. Bandages. BP cuffs. Right? I didn't dare tell the guy I was wearing underwear with a latex "no wedgie" feature in the legs. I am well aware that there are latex allergies, and I'm not trying to minimize the inconvenience it must cause those who suffer from them, but come ON. It's a HOSPITAL. Banning latex from a hospital is like...banning peanuts from a ballpark.

Oh. Wait.

Last year, some baseball stadiums began offering "peanut-free zones" at their parks during certain games. This is being done, of course, to offer the experience of a hometown ball game to people who might not otherwise be able to enjoy such because of their deadly allergies to peanuts.

My first reaction was a pronounced eye roll. My second reaction was an audible "ugh." Lest you mistake my disgust for insensitivity, let me clarify. Look back at my previous posts about modern society, food ingredients, and corporate control on the food supply, and then chew on this for a second:

Peanut allergies affect roughly 0.5 to 1 percent of the population and appear to be on the rise, perhaps even doubling in the last decade, according to experts. It remains unclear exactly why. Researchers are examining the idea that a child's immune system has not been properly challenged in an environment that is too clean, also known as the hygiene hypothesis.

BINGO. Overly sanitized environments + helicopter parenting + all sorts of nasty shit in our food supply = weakened immunity and allergies abounding.

Think about this. Anyone over the age of 30 can probably remember when they were in elementary school and there was that one kid who had some weird allergy and couldn't eat lunch like a normal kid. Remember him? When I was young, there was usually one kid every year who had a milk allergy. And nine times out of ten by the time we hit junior high, they'd grown out of it. I'd never even known there was such a thing as a fatal nut allergy until I was in my 20's, and even then it was a rare and newsworthy occurrence. Now it seems everyone knows someone who'll go into anaphylactic shock and die if they so much catch a whiff of dust from a peanut shell blowing down the street the next town over or who will shit out 20 feet of intestinal lining if they look at a glass of milk.

I'm being hyperbolic, of course, but my point is that our society has gotten so weak and sensitive that it borders on just plain silly. Back when little Mikey Sanchez couldn't drink milk like the rest of us, he stood out a little - and we might have even been a little jealous because he got to drink that orange-ade stuff instead of boring milk. Then the next year, Mikey was drinking milk with us, and Laurie Johnson was rocking her milk allergy. Davey O'Connor was the next year's victim. And so on and so on and yet...none of us died.

As an (adult onset) asthmatic with respiratory allergies, both of which are triggered by some airborne chemicals like cleaning agents and colognes, I can definitely attest to wishing the shit would be outlawed, and can definitely vouch for the insensitivity of some people when it comes to wearing WAY too much of the stinky stuff. I appreciate "scent-free" zones in doctors' offices and such, and the chorus I sing with has a "no scented products" rule for rehearsals and performances. I have a special cache of fragrance-free shampoo, soap, deodorant, and laundry detergent for this purpose. However, I can't demand that ballparks, shopping malls, stores, theaters, clubs, buses, and other public venues be designated as "scent free" just because the stuff bothers me (and yes, could potentially kill me if it triggers a severe enough exacerbation). I suppose I could rally for the cause, but I just prepare myself, avoid situations if I can help it, and have my inhaler handy along with a handful of Prednisone if shit gets really hairy.

None of this stuff was an issue as a kid. I didn't develop allergies or asthma until I was well into adulthood, and I'm pretty sure (and the doctors concur) that the asthma is a direct result of years of smoking. But growing up, I didn't have problems. I also didn't have parents who hovered and worried about every last thing I put my hands on. Contrarily, I had a dad who smoked thirteen packs a day, a house that most likely had lead paint on the walls and asbestos in the floor tiles, and a lawn treated with god-knows-what is in that Chemlawn spray. I was also a dirty little kid. I handled toads and wildflowers, fought tooth and nail to NOT take a bath most of the time, and was not required to go through an autoclave before dinner. Our utensils and dishes were hand-washed and air-dried. We washed our hands with bar soap, and my mother cleaned the house with Windex and Pledge. There was no antibacterial hand soap, and you killed germs with Lysol spray. In the gold can.

And we all lived to tell about it. Go figure.

Anyway, back to my original point, which is that we have gotten so ridiculous in our quest for political correctness (unless you're a member of the GOP, in which case it's perfectly fine to slam minorities in your campaign) that we've lost sight of the bigger picture. In our effort to take care of everyone, we've often inconvenienced and excluded everyone else. And the hilariously tragic irony in all of this is that in a country where we can't provide basic health care for all our citizens, we can spend a shit ton of money overhauling stadiums and hospitals to allow "protection" for a few. Yet if that money was somehow channeled into health care spending and improving the quality of our food supply, we likely wouldn't have the prevalence of allergies like we do.

Of course, that could just be my twisted logic, but it makes sense to me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I have heretofore been relatively quiet

This belies my name now, does it not? A fat prattler who doesn't prattle is, well, just...fat.

And fat I am. Still. My foray into juicing was, like so many other things in my life, an exercise in excess and enthusiasm which burned out rather quickly. In three weeks I lost 25 pounds. In the two weeks afterward, I gained 12 of them back.


To my credit, I juiced this evening. A lovely kale/apple/lime/kiwi/celery/cucumber/zucchini/ginger juice that made me feel immensely better upon its consumption. The difference really is noticeable.

It's now just over 10 weeks until I leave for India. I'll be at 5000 feet in the foothills of the Himalayas for the better part of a month. The rest of the month I'll be in Delhi, where the average temperature in June is like 164 or something. Just because I want to see India before I die does not mean I'd like to actually die there. I have 10 weeks to whip my ass into reasonable shape.

This ought to be fun.

I wonder how many calories pointed annoyance, crushing fatigue, acute frustration, and raging hormones burn?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Juicy, Juicy Juice

I know I had promised not to make this blog all about my personal life, but I really just need to share this with you all.

Last week I mentioned I'd seen Joe Cross' film Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, and that I was shopping for a juicer. Well, I bought one.

Behold - The Cuisinart CJE-1000 Juice Extractor:

Yeah, baby. I can't say enough great things about it. It's easy to use, and even easier to clean, and it yields a shit-ton of juice. Seriously worth every penny (and then some; I found one on sale for an awesome price - nearly half-price, in fact).

So what have I been making in my juicer of amazing delights? Oh, man. Check it out:

First of all, here's a photo of my fridge and my counter after my initial juicing-ingredient shopping spree:

I bought most of it at the co-op in an effort to keep it organic and local where possible, but some of it also came from the grocery store. My budget is not limitless, after all, much as I wish it were.

What you're looking at is about $70 worth of carrots, kale, spinach, lettuce, beets, celery, apples, oranges, lemons, limes, kiwis, mangos, bananas (which don't juice but I'll explain later), ginger root, pineapples, pears, cabbage, blueberries, and cantaloupe. Oh, and flax seed.

For whatever reason, I opted not to photograph the first day's juices, but I really wish I had. Because I'd had to work so early in the morning I decided to wait until I got home from work to try my juicer out for the first time. I ended up eating a banana to stave off hunger, but I don't think that's a crime. Then when I got home I made a green juice made of kale, celery, lemon, green apple, kiwi, and cucumber. I must say it wasn't bad for my first attempt! And dinner was what I dubbed the "Red Menace" - One beet with greens, 4 carrots, 1 chunk of ginger, a cup of red cabbage, one apple, 5 cups of spinach, and half a lemon. It was pretty amazing, to be honest. Very zippy.

On Day 2, I decided to show everyone what I was doing. I'd made a smoothie at work earlier (I can't bring my juicer to work and was worried that juicing too far ahead would break the nutrients down too much) with a banana, blueberries, and a couple of mangos, but for dinner, I took this:

and turned it into this:

Day 3 started off with the "Breakfast of Champions":

Mid-day I had to stop at the health food store to pick up some other things, and I was starting to feel hungry so I grabbed one of these:

And with the exception of the banana, the almond milk in the smoothie, and the Happy Herb bar, it's been nothing but fruit and vegetable juices for me. I'm rounding out Day 4 now, and I feel...good. I'll save the full commentary and the FAQ's and such for a later post, but so far it's going not so bad!

Also, lest you think I'm writing about this simply to read myself write (which is often the case), I'm doing it because I can't very well sing the praises of healthier eating - or drinking, as it were, if I'm not actually doing it, right?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Food Matters. Western Medicine - not so much.

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" - Hippocrates

Yes, I know. The obsession continues. As I hope it will.

This past weekend, on the eve of setting off on my juicing adventure (next post will be about that), I watched Food Matters. It didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know, but it really drove home the point that better nutrition really is the way to better health, and reminded me that the more I deal with Western medicine, the more I despise it.

You might remember my rant about health care in this country, but the more I learn about our corporate food system and the medical system, the angrier I get and the less dependent I want to be on them.

I have struggled with a number of health issues for several years - I have asthma, ADHD, and suspected sleep apnea. I'm also, as you might have guessed from the title of this blog, fat. My doctor, however, doesn't really seem to care. Only one time did he mention my weight, and that was only when I called attention to it. I said, "look how much I've gained in the last six months," and he looked at my chart and said, "oh yeah, you're up about five pounds every time I see you." FIVE POUNDS. I see this man EVERY MONTH for a med check (my ADHD med is controlled and has to be prescribed a month at a time). Why is he not alarmed? Well, why should he be? My obesity is going to make him a mint, right?

I wait sometimes up to 90 minutes to see him, and he spends a grand total of five minutes with me. "Everything okay? Good. Here's your prescription. See you in a month." Thirty dollars for the office visit, ten bucks for the pills. $40 a month, for what?

Well, I'm not doing it anymore. I took my ADHD medication dose down on my own, so I have a backstash of pills at this point. I'm canceling next month's appointment, and I'm going to continue to wean myself off the med. And when my pills are gone, they're gone.

Now, before you jump to the conclusion that what I'm doing is dangerous, let me just explain. There is an established co-morbidity between asthma and ADHD. When you have asthma, particularly if it goes poorly controlled for a long time, or you have scarring on your lungs from exacerbations, you spend a good chunk of your existence wheezing and short of breath. This translates into decreased oxygen flow, which, as most people know, can cause one to become cognitively impaired. So over time, as brain cells die off, the ability to concentrate becomes reduced, and voila! You're diagnosed with an attention deficit. I'm not entirely sure that's totally true in my case, as I've been a "nutty professor" type my whole life - very smart, but not very reliable or organized. In my case, the asthma likely only made it worse, especially after it got really bad in my early 30's. So there's that.

Then there's the asthma-apnea connection. So now I have THREE conditions that play off each other. I can't concentrate because my sleep quality sucks. I can't sleep because I can't breathe. And both proper sleep and proper breathing are necessary for proper brain function. I also think it's pretty common knowledge that obesity comes with a whole host of co-morbid conditions like asthma and allergies and sleep apnea and hundreds of other conditions which make it hard for one's body to work correctly, so is it any wonder that my doctor doesn't yell at me for being fat?? I'm a walking dollar sign; a heart attack waiting to happen, a diabetic in the making, a cancer patient in the rough. I'm so many things in my current state, and while it all scares me, it also really, really, really pisses me off. Being unhealthy is fucking EXPENSIVE!

I work hard for my money, and I don't make tons of it. I spend $95 of that money every month on doctor's visits and meds. What if I could get off at least some of those meds, simply by taking better care of myself? What if the only "meds" I really need are vitamins?
What if Linus Pauling really was right, and we can cure any ill with enough Vitamin C?

One of the analogies they used in Food Matters was to imagine your body is a house. It could be the most beautiful house, but if the infrastructure is not sound, the house won't remain beautiful for long. If the foundation crumbles, the frame breaks or rots away, then the structure won't hold up, and it will become broken and diseased. Proper nutrition and vitamins can help square that frame right up.

So what if I spent some of that "doctor money" on better quality food that would nourish me and help the infrastructure become strong and resilient to illness and injury? What if instead of paying a $300 co-insurance fee for a sleep study and another $300 for a CPAP machine I just fed myself better, took lots of vitamins, lost weight, and alleviated the apnea symptoms in the process, thereby strengthening my system even further to cure or alleviate the other conditions? Well, that's what I'm going to find out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

America's Biggest Threat - Our fat selves

I am a woman obsessed.

In my last post I prattled about Food, Inc. Well, folks, that was just the beginning. Since then I've been loading my Netflix queue with all sorts of related documentaries, and man, let me tell you - we are in trouble.

Don't believe me?

Well, maybe it's not my place to push an agenda (oh wait - this is MY blog. So...yeah, it IS my place) so I'll start with this list of recommended films and let you form your own opinion. If you can watch any of these and not walk away with some shred of outrage, I'll eat my hat. Hell, it's probably more nutritious than most of what's on the supermarket shelves anyway.

Food, Inc. See my last blog entry for commentary on that.
The Future of Food. Came out before Food, Inc. and is sort of a precursor to it.
Killer At Large: Why Obesity is America's Greatest Threat. Seriously. Weapon of mass destruction? Our fat ass selves.

Unrelated to obesity but still worth watching if you're the type to get pissed off about corporate control over what we buy in the supermarket - Tapped. It'll change how you look at bottled water.

Last night I watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, Joe Cross' documentary on juicing/juice fasting, and I'll tell you - I am sold. I'm gonna drink the koolaid. The raw, green, pulpy koolaid. More on that later. I'm shopping for a juicer now.