18 December 2009

Friday mornings posts are back! (For today, anyways)

Hey, look at me, trying to get back to my Friday morning blog habit! It's only been, what, six months? Actually would have written more yesterday, but I did not want to take my focus away from the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Modern Hooker tweeted some cool pics; SWOP East was on the internets radio.

Well, christmas is a week away. Compared to the last, oh, 10 years or so, I've been experiencing no holiday anxiety or drama at all! It's the freedom of being an out atheist, out to the three people closest to me who would be the most upset by it. I'm just assuming they were upset; we have yet to discuss it openly! In other words, I've not yet suffered any consequences for my honesty. (Being remembered in their prayers is not "consequences.")

Now for the real nitty-gritty - it's one of those "have to get this off my chest" moments.

Last April, I finished an online Paralegal Studies program through California State University, Monterey Bay - Extended Education. CSUMB EE provides the means of enrollment and certifies completion; an online educational provider actually does the teaching, via its contracted instructors. A little review of the provider/program led me to believe I would receive legitimate, and rigorous, instruction from qualified, working professionals. Upon completion of the courses, I would receive legitimate certificates indicating my completion of the legitimate educational requirements. Hard study and exams completed, and I got my certs.

So yesterday, I'm browsing the updated/revised CSUMB EE website. They now includes links to self-guided, open-ended study courses (versus the instructor-led, scheduled start-and-end-date type). I clicked through to the eLearning Center for CSU Monterey Bay, and browsed the "Personal Enrichment" courses. And what to my wondering eyes should appear but a link for "Psychic Development" courses. For the few seconds it took to click and load the page, my brain sez, "Oh, you must have misread it... they must mean 'psyche'" - like it's really one of those brain exercise programs they show on PBS. Of course, it was not. They actually, really, truly meant psychic - with courses from 40 to 80 hours long, from $228 to $310 per course.

I was taken aback. Not at the existence of such courses. (Full disclosure [as she turns red]: I started but never completed a homeopathic correspondence course back in my woo-lover phase, ca. 1991. Moving on...) No, what took me, uh, aback was that the branch of the institution of higher learning that had charged me around $3,000 for purportedly legitimate legal training also offers this crap, as if it is *equally* legitimate and valuable. Like it's REAL, man. It may be just a shopping cart link on a web page, but you know, that is the same way I got to my "real" paralegal program. The actual provider of the "psychic diploma" is Stonebridge. But look again at the description page, the graphic image at the top. It says, "The eLearning Center", has the cute CSUMB Otter logo, and "California State University, Monterey Bay Extended Ed & International Programs." What does that look like? Like you're reading "real school" course descriptions; you'll be enrolling in a real school, via a real university, which CSUMB purports to be. Maybe I should have waited for the accreditation review to be completed.

I know I don't even need to go into the laughable course descriptions - we all know it's bullshit. But it's endorsed bullshit. Endorsed by the same program that certified my supposedly legitimate paralegal training. Training that California law requires. Gosh, do psychic counselors have state-mandated minimum and continuing education requirements for rune divination, tarot reading, and lithomancy? Um, no. None of those, not even the word psychic, is mentioned in the codes. Gosh, then I wonder - from whence did the requirements for each course, and the program, originate?

This left me feeling very insecure about my paralegal education. And did I mention the anger, that a real school would offer this like a legitimate continuing education opportunity? Seeking to learn more, I clicked the EE contact page. And went, "Ai-yai-yai-yai-yai!" (That's sort of verbal for *facepalm*.) All hope was abandoned. I mean really: when the State university-employed professionals and support staff have South Park avatars for their contact page photos, what can one expect in terms of legitimacy?

Now that I have spent my morning putting this post together, getting distracted by searching statutes and seeking accreditation information, of course there is much more work I need to do if I wish to "do something" about this. But hey, I'm a lifelong, self-motivated learner (that's what got me into this mess!). I'm off to learn more about this program, and its provider, from CSUMB, Stonebridge and their accrediting associations. But it's going to take more time than I have today!

To be continued...

17 December 2009

Brief Public Service Announcement - December 17

Today is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. The following is quoted or paraphrased from Sex Worker Outreach Project sources; links inserted by me.

December 17, 2009 marks the seventh annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Events are being planned in over two dozen countries and in dozens of cities. In San Francisco, sex workers Annie Sprinkle and Kimberlee Cline will host a remembrance ritual and a solidarity stroll down Market Street. In Phoenix, Arizona, sex workers and allies are coming together for a protest rally in honor of Marcia Powell at the Arizona Department of Corrections. Ms. Powell was a prisoner of the State of Arizona who collapsed and died from heatstroke last May after being locked in an outdoor cage and ignored for four hours in 107 degree heat.

The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers was created in 2003 in response to the trial of Gary Ridgway (a.k.a. the Green River Killer) and his brutal statements about choosing prostitutes because he could “get away with it.” Many believe that the Green River Killer did in fact get away with it in the Seattle area for over 20 years because of law enforcement’s disinterest in solving the murders of prostitutes, and society’s general acceptance of violence against sex workers.

From Annie Sprinkle's press release:
"If the victims had been teachers, nurses or secretaries or other women, I suspect--as Ridgway did-- that the killer would have been caught much sooner,” says Annie Sprinkle, Ph.D. a former prostitute and adult film star of twenty years, turned sexologist and artist. “While I personally feel that I came out of the sex industry a winner, I’m aware that there are those that aren’t as lucky as I was and are real victims of bad laws, whore-phobic hate crimes, rape and worse. It’s so important to remember those people, and to let the public know we care and we need and deserve safer working conditions.
------

I think I have already noted that I am not a sex worker. But I am a supporter of civil and worker rights. All workers deserve the right to be safe in their work. All people deserve to be seen as PEOPLE, not as labeled objects. Modern Hooker's latest post puts it out there simply and powerfully.

As a non-sex worker, what can you do? Become aware of those things around you (and maybe in you) that contribute to the marginalization and dehumanization of sex workers - or heck, anybody else! Here are just two suggestions from SWOP's printed handout for allies:
Watch Your Language. Cracking jokes or using derogatory terms such as "hooker", "whore", "slut", or "ho" is not acceptable. While some sex workers have "taken back" these words and use them among themselves, they are usually used to demean sex workers when spoken by outsiders.

Address Your Prejudices. If you have a deep bias or underlying fear that all sex workers are bad people and/or full of diseases, then perhaps these are issues within yourself that you need to address. In fact, the majority of sex workers practice safer sex than their peers and get tested regularly.
Thanks for reading about this event, and please follow the links - SWOP et al. have great information out there, much more organized and articulate than I can express here (hence the heavy use of quoted material in this post!!).

05 November 2009

O, mis frijoles santos!

It's been waaaaay too long, obviously! That's what happens when one trains to run a marathon, gets hurt, then resumes training but for a half-marathon, and she shaves her head and raises money for LLS, and then gets laid off and spends all that new-found time doing job searches and applications online and reestablishing her home office. Whew.

So what is the best thing to do when one is unemployed? ROAD TRIP of course!!

Next Friday, we're traveling to L.A. where friend and tattoo artist Jeremy Swan will be attempting to break the Guinness record for tattooing - he will tattoo over 801 tattoos on an unknown number of people in 24 hours. You might see us spare-changin' it for gas $$ & the very reasonable fee ($20 per tat', choice of 4 small designs), BUT we've got a futon in Dana Point on which we'll lay our weary heads Friday night, then breakfast with my FBF, then back on the road to Monterey. (That's not a typo, she's my Fucking Best Friend & she's more than awesome.) I've got photos of Jeremy's artistry as applied to our skins, they're posted somewhere online; I'll add links when I track them down!

Speaking of fucking, news from the world of sex, according to my interests:

I'm breathlessly awaiting the arrival of my 2010 NYC Sex Blogger Calendar. I'm on the wrong side of the country to attend the release party; maybe next year? I sponsored a day in the new calendar, but I forget which one (my birthday was taken)!

$pread magazine is also about to print their latest issue and has been fundraising on twitter - help 'em out!

I'm also trying to catch up on a backlog of books that have been waiting to go from the "to be read" shelf to my nightstand for MONTHS. Yesterday, I read Best Sex Writing 2008 and enjoyed that greatly. Tristan Taormino had a piece on phthalates in dildos. Coincidentally, she is speaking in Albuquerque this week, as I heard just moments ago from my bro & sis there (oh yeah, my brother got married last month, that happened, too....). I have yet to figure out exactly WHAT it is I want to do, but my dream job will be SOMETHING to do with sex, as in the politics thereof. And no, Mom, I'm not gonna be stripper - at least not if it involves high heels and poles. (Heh heh, "poles"). Now in progress: Tilly Johnson's Pillow Book. Why the hell did I put this one off for so long?! I guess my priorities have been screwed up - but I THOUGHT I really needed to read "At The Mountains of Madness" four times in six months (loves me the Lovecraft).

Oops, it's just about time for Project Runway - have to move my behind into a different, more comfortable chair now. Ciao! I mean, auf Wiedersehen, babies!

18 September 2009

We interrupt this silence for a brief update

I wish I had the time and energy to keep up with everything (don't we all). I had a setback in my training the last couple of weeks, am recovering from an injury, and with fundraising deadline less than 2 weeks away, I'm feeling the pressure.

The good news is my "main event" fundraiser has come together (bad news is last-minute promotion of it!). I'm having my head shaved for charity on September 23, 2009 in Salinas; details are at my other blog. If you're in the Monterey/Salinas area and have some time between 4 and 8 pm, please stop by - we'll have an information booth, happy faces, and balloons, topping it off (ha!) with me going bald!!

In the meantime, back to planning and recovering! GO TEAM!

17 August 2009

Got 5?

Gentle readers:

I was just challenged to raise $900 by Wednesday - although that only gets me to HALF of my fundraising MINIMUM, I will earn a great incentive: a Team in Training black & purple sweatshirt!! So I'm reposting my fundraising links here.

Sooo... Got $5? Got 5 min.? You're in!! THANKS!!!

Donation page: http://cli.gs/tntJuliana
TnT Training Blog: http://cli.gs/VgB9gz

Back to reality.

Summer is over (the vacation part, anyways) and I am struggling to re-engage my brain and "normal" daily habits. Sweetie is already off to work. I've been up for over an hour and haven't done much productive, unless by productive one means catching up on tweets, taking FB quizzes & posting on walls. One happy circumstance - I swapped Monday cat care for Sunday, so spent yesterday with poopy kittens and cats. Good deed done for the week, now I can clean up after my own poopy cat today. Loves them litter boxes...

Today I plan to get loads of junk from friends so I can sell it all at a giant rummage sale next Saturday. I'll still be doing my 18 mile walk, but on Sunday, with just a few teammates (the rest of the team is going out Saturday). Yikes!

I'll also be hittin' up local business people for donations, for a raffle to be held on some date TBA. I've only got $300 of my $2500 minimum, and only six weeks to get the rest. Gots to get a move on, eh? I set up a blog and twitter profile just for the Team in Training stuff.

The other thing I'm considering is a "shaving-my-head-for-charity" fundraiser. How whack is that? Tee hee, get it...? Have to secure a venue and catering before putting my name on that dotted line.

While I'd rather spend another hour or so catching up on everything else I've been doing & thinking lately (takes deep breath) I needs must get going to start to commence to beginning those things I have to do. At least I can celebrate that football season has started (not that kind of football), and the U.S. did not humiliate itself in Mexico last Wednesday. Perhaps there's a podcast to play while doing laundry...

Enjoy the Monday, or whatever day it is where you are.

20 July 2009

From apparel to anarchy - fun with web histories

The human mind is such an amazing thing. And I love that search histories give us a way to track a train of thought that can be entertaining, or enlightening, or just embarrassing. (The Onion covered this to great effect some time ago )

This weekend's web history traces how I got from considering what to wear to my brother's wedding to a French anarchist's essay on feminism. Tee hee, so much fun!

Bro and fiancee, aka M&C, are Catholic Workers and they're getting married in October. They are non-violent, prayerful activists; vegan, anti-nuclear, jesus-and-peace-loving anarchists. I'm participating in the ceremony (Egads!), presenting collections during the "offering" portion of the mass. And yes, I'm still an atheist, but blood is thicker than politics, and besides, I still appreciate formal rituals that mark life's major events.

Sister Non-Xtian is doing a post-ceremony wedding bellydance and posted her joy at finding an outfit. Gave me something to consider that hadn't hit me yet - what the heck should I wear? Knowing M&C's lifeview, I'm thinking there's no need to hit Macy's for this event. Hm, but what does one wear to a Catholic anarchists' marriage ritual... I'll ask the internetz! And my Google web history documented my journey.

  • July 18 9:15 pm searched for the bride and groom's webpage - to find their wedding announcement and related history, stories, news of their Catholic Worker House
Hm, Dorothy Day is CW founder...
  • 9:32 pm-image search: Dorothy Day catholic worker - Because what would Dorothy Day wear? (also looked up Emma Goldman, but the thumbnail results showed a rather frumpy woman)
  • 9:59 pm-text search: atheist catholic worker? - Because years ago my brother spoke of his atheist Catholic Worker friend at LACW (which M always said he was going to tell me about the guy sometime, but I don't think he ever did...)
Then something or someone IRL distracted me, so I quit for the night.

Sunday morning, back on it, in between playing with my Superpoke Pet, and messaging niece on facebook (and boy am I self-censoring wall posts; she's only 11!!)

Web search highlights:
  • 9:15 am-image search: women's dress 1920s
  • 11:50 am-image search:anarchist woman - jackpot! Found the pictures womans-militia gif, Nancy_Cunard.jpg, song.jpg. The image "song.jpg" illustrates "Gynocracy Song" by Annie LeBrun - which, loving that title, I save to read later.
I searched for some more fashion, culminating in:
So while my dress problem is not solved, all this searching did lead me to form a plan that pleases me and fits the spirit of M&C's lifestyle and lives - I'm going to shop at the Goodwill, find me a cloche hat, and build my wedding outfit around the hat, using only reused clothing.

Mission sort-of accomplished, I could return to the anarchy. I copied it in W0rd (to reformat margins & shrink font for paper-savings [no, did not read online, because laptops are inconvenient if not absolutely dangerous for bathtub reading]). The essay was from a revised translation by Michael William, with a sometimes convoluted intro by Wolfi Landstreicher.

It did make for a tough read on a lazy Sunday afternoon, hence necessitating the focus and concentration only provided by isolation in a tepid bath. But, wow. Anarchist women are hard core. LeBrun even bagged on Simone de Beauvoir. As I understand it, her core criticism is that, unlike the example of Emma Goldman who was for "women's liberation" as a movement toward *all* persons' liberation, "feminism" (now "neofeminism") is dismissed as merely directly substituting men with privileged women in the patriarchal system. In other words, neofeminists want to take over the man's role in the power structure, as opposed to eliminating that structure altogether to provide for true equality among all peoples. I did find some of her arguments persuasive, especially when she addresses the treatment of prostitutes by some feminists. As stated elsewhere, I'm not a sex worker but I am very supportive of sex worker rights (heck, all workers rights). LeBrun calls out the feminists who dismiss SW voices by treating all SWs as deluded victims.

I haven't found the essay's date of publishing, but it seems to be the 70s (& according to the translator, abortion was still illegal in France at the time of publication; it became provisionally available in '75 and legal in '79).

So hey, go get yourself some anarchy for a change. Next on my reading list "Why Work?" Personally, I'm not interested in abolishing work by way of being an anarchist. I'm a hedonist who doesn't mind earning labor-based wages to my support habits and hobbies. It's just, you know, why do the dishes or clean the litterbox when I could be, uh, educating myself on a new perspective toward work, right?

03 July 2009

She lives!

[Warning: um, I'm gonna talk about menopause and menarche - if you don't know (or want to know) what either of those are, or faint when women talk openly about bleeding like a stuck pig, stop reading now.]

I live! and boy, how do I know I'm alive? I'm blogging at 3:30 on a Friday morning, after ~4 hours sleep. Oh, wait, that's how I know I'm going through "the change." I'm only 46, as of last month, but I've been dealing with perimenopause for some time. The hot flashes and night sweats started over a year ago. At least I thought they were hot flashes and night sweats. Now I think they were visits from a happy fairy who'd been doing cardio, hugged me too closely for a few moments, then left. Because now, I have my own blast furnace and no thermostat, no one stopping the fueling of the fire. Hot, hot, hot, sweat, cold. Off and on, all day. And night. And sometimes, my eyes pop open when all others are dead to the world, and the body says, "Hey, you know what would be funny? If we wake up so we can experience this biological wonder in a conscious state. You can handle it, come on...."

So here I am. And I guess that intro provides a disclaimer source: blogging at this hour may lead to sub-par quality (you wouldn't believe how long it took me to type that sentence, either). But fuck it, I'm in the moood.

The menarche part of this - my 11 1/2-year-old niece became a woman yesterday. Heyyyyy - it just hit me - if menarche means she's becoming a women, does menopause mean I'm de-womaning? Oh, wait, I still have my womanly bits and gender identity intact, so I guess not. I was around 14 when I "got mine"; 11 seems so young. Sister and I spoke all-too-briefly about it when she announced the news. Sister reassures me that menarche at 11 is not unusual these days, and Niece was advanced a grade some years ago (not to mention she has remarkably attentive, communicative parents), so mentally Niece was already way ahead of where I was at 11.

Sister wants to have a rite of passage for Niece to mark the occasion, but not necessarily a religious one. Google found me lots of "woman's 'first moon' " blather, based on goddess worship. Wouldn't forward that even if I thought she were interested. But she could have a menarche party, thanks to Menarche Parties R Us; looks like all the hips girls are doing it.

I'll tell you what "rite" Niece won't have: facing our Dad (her Papa) and his attempt to show love and support and wonder, which is really embarrassing for the new woman. Although I remember more of Mom's emotion than Dad's at the actual announcement. Oh, and how awkward those belts were (kids today have NO idea, but yes, in 1976-77, we still used pads with belts).

My favorite Dad + period story came out of a battle of wills: Sometime during that first or second year after, uh, onset, Dad invited a family over for a barbecue. He was friends with the parent(s), and they had a couple boys who were my age or younger. Part of my responsibility as oldest daughter was to take charge of my siblings (i.e. keep them out of adult view) AND to entertain these unknown kids. I was a hostess to the next generation. Entertaining included swimming, a pool being great for keeping kids out of adults' hair. BUT, I was on the rag, and had not yet braved the world of tampons. AND, I was going through a really shy time anyways, and didn't want to have to deal with strange kids. I just wanted to hide in my room and read and listen to records. Dad wouldn't let me get away with any abdication of my responsibilities, especially with my weak excuse that I was bleeding and would leak in the pool. Although I probably worded that differently at the time.

As happened quite a lot back then, we argued. I thought I would win by whining, "But I haven't used [a tampon], I don't know what to do!" Dad won the argument by telling me something to the effect of, "You go into that bathroom with your mother and have her show you how to use one, then you come out here and be part of the family and entertain those boys.... It's your responsibility!" I think he also threw in some "some stop making excuses... stop whining... grow up...." Funnily enough, I don't remember being embarrassed as much as being so mad at him for catching on that I really just wanted to get out of having to be around people I didn't know. Tampons were just slightly intimidating (you know, based on rumors at school, like you won't be a virgin anymore, they can get stuck, etc.). I think I even lied about having cramps, shame on me. But Dad was the boss, so I plugged it up and put on a happy hostess face. And spent the rest of the day burning with that glorious teen-aged resentment that is the source of much melodramatic passion and bad poetry. Grrr. Authority had won once again.

And that's why I now hate men.

KIDDING!!

29 May 2009

Plans for summer, and beyond.

I am feeling content today. Had no controversial conversations of any sort while the family was here. I did not attempt any confrontations like I fantasized. And boy, am I glad. Sweetie and I spent alone time with our respective parental units, and we had ample gatherings as a group, and it was pleasant all the way around. Note to self: There are more important things than being right, and being able to show off the rightness. Duh.

In the last few days, I've managed to commit myself to enough activities to keep me busy for the rest of the year. Thanks to Team in Training, I'll be doing the Nike Women's Half Marathon again. Only this time, I signed up for the RUNNING team. I met my new coach last night at an alumni registration party. Not sure what he thought of this 40-something former walker, who is still a good 70 pounds overweight, deciding she can safely run 13.1 miles. But that's what HE's there for - to make sure I finish! Yay, Coach! The major kick off is this Sunday, then training starts on Tuesday. Yikes!! I did not realize the season was already here; I'm going to miss the first two Saturday runs while I'm out of town. So while my teammates will be running locally, I'll be doing some running in Center Valley, Pennsylvania and San Diego, California. More likely, I'll be doing some powerwalking - I don't want to injure myself from the get go! Doing the Nike in 2007 was such a great experience, even though I was functioning at about 70% in the months leading up to the race (it was a very stressful, depressing time). I'm really looking forward to training and fundraising at 100% this time around. GO TEAM!!!

Back to school this fall: Monterey Peninsula College has an offering that will get have me there late on Friday afternoons. ROBOTICS. The instructor is a great teacher; I had him for a programming course, and he was very inspiring to this non-math-head, wanna-be-geek girl. Before that, I'd taken a unix course with him, one of the many courses which I never finished. I used to be very good at starting courses for fun that got dropped when the initial enthusiasm wore off. Generally, I would un-enroll when the homework started interfering with my main hobby - consuming copious amounts of beer and/or wine. Nice not to have THAT distraction any more. The course catalog says the only prerequisites are basic intro to computer science (check), and eligibility for the intermediate algebra section (check). Not that I have used much algebra in the last two years. The course description also notes "no prior electronics experience needed." So I'm up for it. Goal #2 - make a robot by December. Cool.

Since I really have no idea what robotics entails, I decided to do some study on my own in the intervening months. Stanford offers the course materials for their Intro to Robotics course online - for free. I'm going to watch the lectures and read the notes. I even found a refresher trigonometry course so I can review the math, in case I want to tackle some of Stanford's homework assignments. Yeah, right. If nothing else, at least I'll end the summer able to tell my sine from my cosecant, and radians will be my friends. Although as of this moment, I have no fucking recollection of which is what and how to find it; I just recognize that they're trig terms... Ooh, I just realized the best part of trig as a summer project - getting to use my fancy-schmancy calculator that's been collecting dust for two years!!!

Those are the long-term goals - in the immediate future, I have the Women for Sobriety Conference in Pennsylvania next weekend, followed by a girls-only quickie trip to San Diego. I have to add some Total Rewards credits to my Harrah's Gold Card, so we're staying at Harrah's Rincon casino hotel, where they have my favorite slot machine: Hexbreaker. I'm getting one night for $99, and the second is comp'd - it's like I couldn't afford not to go. The flight was a pretty decent deal, too, and I get to fly out of Monterey instead of taking the $40 shuttle to San Jose or San Francisco.

My immediate goal is to get in two hours of billable work, so that today's actual output matches the estimate on my timesheet. Now engaging worker-bee mode *CLICK*
*whirrr*
*ka-chang*
*beep*
(Sound effects make it more official.)

Enjoy your week/end.

22 May 2009

The Word of the Lord? Apparently, it's buggery.

Must give credit where due - the title came from my Sweetie after I shared some details of the Irish catholic church abuses.

I've been in a haze of very busy work, at work, including doing work at home, and not getting my domestic chores done. Then I was locked out of facebook for about 12 days. And then I had a birthday - that just gave me license to be irresponsible about proper nutrition and household chores. Cheesecake for breakfast, anyone? Don't worry, here's a clean ladle, and this catfood dish works as a plate...

I reconnected to the Interwebs last night, and caught up with the lastest church abuse scandal via vjack's post. Just astounding. This article at The Guardian is followed by readers' comments that I think mirror US reaction following revelation of priests' abuse. Only it is even more shocking to read that the abuse (physical and sexual) was institutionalized, at care homes and facilities, and went on for generations.

As previously mentioned, I've got a religious background and family. My parents are very faithful Catholics and were very dismayed by the US scandals. They are dismayed by US Catholics in general ('cause, you know, the liberal ones aren't "true Catholics" and they especially abhor Catholic politicians who are pro-choice. I mean, uh, "anti-life.") Vjack had another great post on catholics' reactions. I gotta get me some of that real catholic reaction: Mom & Dad are spending this weekend down here. I want to have a nice visit, and we will (especially 'cause my mother-in-law will also be in town!). But I'm very interested to hear what Mom and Dad have to say about those generations of children being abused in the name of the lord, and how protection of abusers by THE Church, the OFFICIAL RC Church fits in with its mission of doing the lord's work. Hello, supposedly the church IS the body of christ, right? Apparently his dick has been in Ireland this whole time.

My dad was a probation officer and corrections specialist his whole career, for FSM's sake! He trained probation officers and counselors; he worked in institutions that housed dependent and delinquent children. The last years of his work was at the state level, developing hiring and training standards for staff who worked in correctional institutions. If any of those institutions had allowed a single instance of abuse to go without consequences, he would have been the first to clamor for prosecutions, protection of the children, and accountability by the managers. Even the "really bad" delinquent kids, not just dependent kids needing shelter, have strong protections (thank you, Constitution and Bill of Rights). I was a counselor in juvenile hall for a brief time; besides the hours and hours of training in the "how tos" of custodial work, there were hours and hours of the "why fors" - i.e., even children in custody for alleged or proven crimes have rights and protections, and the law AND your institution will punish you (the custodian) if you violate their rights.

So now, here is Dad's church, committing acts 180º from everything they officially teach, let alone 180º from what he knows about institutional care. And I don't mean to imply that the abuse committed by "rogue" parish priests is "less bad" than that of the bands of them running abuse factories. What I'm hoping is this institutionalized wrong will connect for him, flip the rational switch in his head. I mean, come on, he's smart, he's educated, but he turns off that part of his brain when he puts on his true-believer glasses. As a former supervisor and manager, hell, just as a lifelong bureaucrat, he MUST see that this corruption taints the ENTIRE church. If a juvenile hall or camp has staff abusing wards, management is liable. Management is responsible for the staff - their hiring, training, supervision. So why can't he apply those standards to his church? He MUST question how the church bureaucrats let these atrocities go on for decades. And their response now is motivated by self-protection, not helping the people. Dad and Mom raised five kids in the church. They taught us to do right, and if or when we do wrong, we are to make it right. And it worked, as far as I can tell. So how can that same philosophy not fucking apply to the entity that he credits for teaching it to him?? What is this blinder he has?

Now, I'm really glad I came out to my sister recently - I don't have to pretend to respect their church anymore. Note to Sweetie: Don't worry, I'm not going to pick a fight and ruin the weekend! But maybe on Monday evening, after dinner, over coffee, I will quietly ask Dad a few questions, point out the analogy, just to see if he is prompted move beyond a "good priests I have known" defense and look at the church as he would a "normal" bureaucratic institution. But no drama. Especially not in front of the mother-in-law (that would really mortify Sweetie!).

Whew, got to get to vacuuming now. Good luck, people of Ireland, in throwing off your blinders and walking into the real light!

10 May 2009

On being an ex-drunk lady

It occurred to me to share this part of my life today. I don't want to make this a sappy confessional or AA 8th step thing (warning: I detest AA as much as I detest astrology, but will try to keep disdain level to a minimum; lots of alternatives out there.) In a few weeks, I'm traveling to Pennsyvlania for an Ex-Drunk Lady conference, my first one, so the topic is on my mind.

I started getting drunk when I was 14, binge-drinking, which habit I maintained through high school with little consequence beyond one 3-day suspension from school, frequently getting grounded or put on restriction, and lots of sloppy making out and sex. In my early 20s, I started gaining weight and having hangover-related attendance problems at work. Coincident with the last year of my first marriage, I quit drinking cold turkey. I did attend a few AA meetings at first, read the "Big Book," etc. but found it too depressing and full of people who liked to rehash/relive their mistakes and problems - they couldn't move past their past. Oh, and they liked to tell other people how to get sober - their way, the AA way, the only way. Yeah, well, I got out of there pretty quick. I abstained easily for about four years but eventually started drinking socially. Which eventually turned into regular binging. I was what is known as a highly functioning... drunk lady. I'm averse to using "alcoholic" not because I don't think I am one, but it's such a loaded word, along with "victim" "disease", "suffering," etc. My take on it is that the drinking started as something I did to be social, relieve stress, or escape, whatever; routine reliance on it as self medication (i.e. for numbing) gave me high-capacity tolerance, which turned into a physical addiction. I never lost my job - I was stressed but appeared to be thriving - nor did I ever get a DUI or go to work drunk, but for sure my work suffered, and so did my ever-lovin' Sweetie.

I was open with my doctor about how much I was drinking, partly 'cause of the side effects - my weight went up every year, as did my blood pressure, blood sugar, etc., I had to start taking prescriptions, blah blah blah. Two or three times a year, over the next three (or four or five?) years, we would have the same discussion: she would tell me to knock it off, and I would say I was trying; she would thank me for being honest, and I would be proud of myself for not lying about it. Like that was my rationalization - I may have a problem, but at least I'm not hiding it from my doctor!! I would back off or try to moderate, and had more than a bit of that fabled Augustine attitude - I wanted sobriety, just "not yet". Without going into sad-sack, gory details, let's just say I reached a point where I transitioned from Augustine to Popeye: I'd had all I could stands and couldn't stands no more. I made (and kept) another doctor appointment, and asked her what she recommended for treatment. She told me "outpatient rehab." Cue jaw hitting floor, anguish, embarrassment, disbelief, and other not-so-nice feelings. No, shit?! Rehab - f'realz?! Wow. That really scared me. Not enough to go actually go to outpatient rehab, because the only one available was AA-based (I did have an intake meeting w/a counselor, who gave me the old "AA's the only way..." speech, which I knew then & now is not true - people who use it successfully can have it, but it's not me.)

I really was scared for my health, and my marriage, and wanted to make the sincere effort to change. What I didn't want was to have the same conversation with her in another three-to-six months. I just decided that was it, and I wanted to change enough that I would go cold turkey again while doing whatever it took to stay out of AA. I Googled AA alternatives and found Women for Sobriety. I vaguely recalled having seen their site somewhere before. Hm, oh yea, it was during one of those late nights up by myself, when I was drunk and seeking the self-help site that would tell me how to cut back so I could get to work everyday, but not where I had to quit so I could still get drunk on weekends, holidays, and most Thursdays, and Sundays. Really, I drank a lot, and frequently. Yikes.

Ah, the beauty of Women for Sobriety, aka WFS. Founded by a woman, it's an organization of women, for women, with a woman-centered philosophy, with autonomoous self-help groups in (mostly) North America. It seemed the opposite of AA to me - taking personal responsibility for the problems caused by drinking, extending that to everyday life's problems, recognizing strengths along with the weaknesses, and growing from it all. Acknowledging the past, but not living in it - learning from it and moving on. Wow, could I relate to that, I wanted that. I didn't go to any actual meetings for about nine months - was afraid I'd meet people I knew - but I devoured everything from their newsletters and online community (message boards, chat rooms, links to medical opinions/articles, etc.). I read the autobiographical writings of the founder, Jean Kirkpatrick. Learned about post acute withdrawal (PAW), which explained why I suddenly wanted sweets all the time (before then, I'd always preferred cheese to chocolate, being more of a savoury girl). Eventually I worked up the nerve to attend a F2F (face-to-face, or friend-to-friend) meeting. There, I made friends with some other ex-drunk ladies. And wow, all the talking about life's issues, problems, joys and sadness with other chicks who had also coped (poorly) with life for a while, but who were focused NOW on GROWTH and TOMORROW'S OPPORTUNITIES, not beating themselves up over past behavior - it was really helpful! I don't have a "sober birthday" or count the days/months/years, because I refuse to any "magic power" to a unit of time. I just don't drink anymore, and I won't, no matter what. I don't want to go back to that preoccupation with whether or not I'm going to "get to" drink on a particular day; I just abstain. And between the WFS stuff, a little personal counseling, lots of naps & cake & cookies & Prozac & self love, I worked out a whole mess of baggage. With the in-progress result of being totally fucking happy with my life a good deal of the time, satisfied nearly all the time the time, and accepting of whatever happens 100% of the time, it's crap. It's my crap, and I can handle it. *Big sigh* What a relief, especially the getting over trying to be perfect, a typical feature of overachieving drunk ladies.

So that's where I came from. Back to where I am now. Uh, still an ex-drunk lady. :) And I love my little euphemism. (Aren't euphemisms great? My favorite euphemism for a whatchamacallit is "package." *tee hee*)

I missed out on last year's conference for of lack of travel funds, even tho' I got a scholarship for the registration. This year they couldn't offer scholarships, but two of my WFS friends are sponsoring me - so cool!! I'm excited and a little nervous to be going. The nerves come from uncertainty - it's just me and a couple hundred other ex-drunk ladies, at de Sales University, for 2-1/2 days. I know from the boards that there are (or were) a few atheists among us, but don't think we're in the majority by any means. (The online group has a thread just for invisible sky-fairy thank-you notes, as well as plenty of woo scattered among general topics. Yeah, I don't go there too much since meeting F2F.) The official WFS position is non-religious, non-higher power - it's focus is woman-centered, (but not necessarily hetero-centric) self empowerment and building self esteem, so I just hope the talks and events reflect that. My goal is to meet some more people like me - not just ex-drunks, but free-thinking, well-coping, generally positive chicks. Especially if they have a blasphemous sense of humor and know how to use the f-word. And please, FSM, let there be some childless ones, too! No offense to breeders or wanna-breeders - just need the company of my own kind, ya know?

p.s. Almost forgot - speaking of breeding - Happy Mother's Day. In our house, the one I share with Sweetie & Otto, we've declared it Happy Motherfuckers' Day, and celebrated with a beef-based lunch with onion rings and mud pie for dessert. For the people; Otto gets his own kitty treat. Fuckin-A :)

02 May 2009

Openness, Part 2.

So, as previously mentioned, I "came out" as an atheist to my sister, and by extension (i.e. family gossip), my parents. It was on Good Friday (tee hee.) Really, the timing was not intentional. Things just happened to come to a head that day; a passionate but civil exchange of emails between us led to her direct question of my beliefs, and I gave her a direct response.

It started with her email re the April 17 Day of Silence events; her forwarded message (from this place) encouraged parents to keep their children home from school that day to avoid "homosexual activists" interference with parental rights (whatever!). My response started a courteous email dialogue, which boiled down to this (grossly abbreviated, of course):

ME: [Channeling Kathy Griffin] I'm down with the gay. Duh. You know that, why do you send me this stuff, I'm bummed my family feels this way. Also bummed you want to hurt public schools, me being married to H.S. teacher and all. Luv U! J.
SC: [Ignores school teacher part] With love, I respond: Compelled to act against others' sin, and homosexuals are conflicted, in pain, "love the sinner not the sin," me and the Church are here to help them overcome temptation. BTW, do you believe in God or what? Luv U2! SC.
ME: Here's a brief explication of my 35 years of spiritual searching, which ultimately led me to NO; no gods nor superstitions nor ghosts. And astrology buffs just piss me off. Don't mean to ruin Easter for you & Mom & Dad. Luv U! J.
SC: [NOTHING].
(I'm still waiting for some kind of response or feedback that addresses the "atheist question," either from her or my parents. She had to have told them - they live close to each other and visit multiple times a week, between grandkids' activities, appointments, babysitting, etc. Plus M&D practically command a prayer army, with all their church friends and ministry activities.)

Unfortunately, day or so after this exchange, my dad sent a note saying SC had an ultrasound that revealed her unborn baby had died. Made me feel like a creep. I offered my condolences, and heard mostly nothing for two weeks. But the other day, we had a good conversation via phone - no religious talk on my part, just concern for her, and over her oldest who was recently in Mexico. The nephew wasn't going " oink-oink-achoo," she was okay, and the fetus had "passed" a couple days before. She said she got her cry in when she first got the ultrasound results, and they let their kids know that night. Interestingly, her second oldest (a boy, age 14) was quite upset about it, and really questioned why "god" let the baby die. SC got to give him a "god works in mysterious ways" speech. Meanwhile, I'm thinking, "All RIGHT, dude's asking the right questions, maybe his mind is salvageable!!" I did NOT say this out loud or otherwise contradict her beliefs - I may be a social boob, but I've learned to have some sense of discretion when it comes to others coping with loss and grief!

Just for fun, I took screenshots of our exchange, so I could share her question and my response. They're below the post.

I like my response a lot. And I truly am relieved to have gotten her direct question so I could give her that direct answer. The other sibs, my co-workers, FB & twitter friends/acquaintances all know I'm an atheist. And if it comes up, I'm out there, as an advocate of rationality and skepticism. But my folks, SC and I have passively sidestepped the issue for over 10 years, so I am relieved that it is over. I would just like to know if they're going to respond in any way, besides praying for me. They may cut me off; my previous fear of that kept my mouth shut until now. My dad shunned me once before, at age 20, when I moved in with my then-boyfriend, later-first-husband. It lasted two or three months, then he heard the "Prodigal Son" sermon at church and loosened up (he's such an obedient little Catholic). We since have the understanding: he knows he's right; he's got god on his side; he doesn't approve of some things I've done, but I'm his daughter and he loves me. Well... me completely rejecting not just their religion but the deity, too, gets me sent to hell. SC already discourages contact between her kids and her gay bro-in-law; an atheist must be worse. But this last controversy just made me realize, hey, I'm up for it. I'm tired of suppressing my side of the story, or my feelings, or my valid political arguments in the name of family accord. They do not hesitate to attack my political stance or favored causes - I guess they do not consider my feelings, because they are, well, they're just right, 'cause they're on god's side. So, to borrow their argument, I have accepted them in spite of their unacceptable ideas. If they can't love *this* sinner while hating my sin, I give up!

On the other hand, they may just ignore the whole thing, like they've ignored all the hints and hems and haws over the years. If I'm not in their faces about it, I'm sure they'll happily ignore it. I'm just glad it's out there. I even put "atheist" on my facebook profile, the one where I'm friended to Dad. Um, but I must confess: I made up a 2nd "vanilla" facebook account for "vanilla" family contacts. I'm not ready to expose them to my openness about sex and sexual politics. Maybe I'll get inspired if I work up a post on how they reacted to me losing my virginity. That was fun. The reaction, I mean. Well, the losing the virginity was kinda fun (I was so proud!!), and a year later, the confrontation regarding the status of my hymen made for an exciting family moment. Now that I think of it, it was a relief when they found out about that, too. See, I just hate to hide things, even if the revelation gets me into trouble.

And hey, I just realized: SC narc'd on me that time, too! Now I'll have to blog it! Wow, history repeating itself - no wonder I still feel like I'm 17!

Q:



A:

Openness, Part 1.

Yep, I'm all about the openness lately, open to change, open to feelings, open-minded but not empty-headed...

Virtual Juliana still has a business, but she's not actively marketing or working it. Although I'm only working two days a week for a private firm at a smallish wage (as an employee), it is regular income and enjoyable work. And there is totally a chance to grow with the firm: two new associates came on, and looks like the office manager/paralegal will be on maternity leave come December. Aside from those practical issues and opportunities, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE working with these people. The partners have different practice areas - my friend ("S-1") has the criminal side, his partner ("S-2"), the business/civil side. I have a whole buncha things I want to share about criminal vs. civil clients, but it will have to wait - got too much to catch up on today! (Let's just say I'm still more comfortable with the guys in jail, for philosophical reasons [not personal safety, necessarily!].) I expressed to S-1 my delight at working with and for him, and what a revelation it has been: being in a small, private office with others who work hard, have fun, and respect each others' contributions is heavenly. He asked whether it was really the office, or whether I had changed. Hm.... Yes, I have. Besides being able to see and appreciate the qualities of this office, I'm a lot nicer to myself. I don't expect me to know everything just 'cause others expect it. That was a big trap at the old place - everyone was used to relying on me, I wore many hats, and when I didn't know an answer I knew where to look. But I took it wayyyy too seriously, and had that whole "my work identity IS my identity, and if I can't do it all right now and do it perfectly, I'm a failure." Not a good mindset under which to operate. Yeah, I've gotten over that. So almost daily, I tell my coworkers how happy I am to be there, to be able to help, and to have something productive to do. I like being comfortable with them (and myself) enough to practically bliss out on life over the little things. Oh, and working in Carmel, just blocks from the ocean, helps a lot with the attitude, too.

On a related note, I'm also getting used to be social - learning how to "play well with others." While I didn't celebrate Easter, of course, I did manage to go out to brunch that day with my dear friend Wendy. As a surprise, she brought Natasha, a close friend of hers whom I haven't seen in probably 3-4 years. I've been telling people for ages that I am "not a social animal" and spending "friend time" in one-on-one situations. What I'm trying to say is, I don't hang with chicks much. But guess what: I had a fantastic time. I guess I just have to be in the right crowd, and these two women were it. Ohmygosh, it was so much fun, great food and conversation and company, and NOT talking about shoes (I abhor shopping & related fashion talk, BTW). It's so weird, being almost 46 years old and feeling like I'm just now learning how grownups relate to each other. Like the work thing, I'm getting more comfortable in my own skin when it comes to social relations. But I think I'm also benefiting from being around some outstanding individuals.

p.s. have to add, we ate at the Ol Factory - a coffee house/bar/hangout spot, with a superior chef in the kitchen!! Had eggs benedict with salmon, with to-die-for potatoes, nom nom nom. Glad I was open to the benedict and didn't settle for an omelet!

In Part 2, I share my coming out as an atheist to Sister Christian; it was poor timing but I'm glad that's over with.

16 April 2009

It's been so long (not putting out fires)

I have been away for too long, but I have this weird mind: blogging is fun, but takes a lot of time. Mind says, "Do not take that time while you have [some sort of onerous duty] to do!" Stupid mind. I'll try to catch up quickly; I have to leave for work in 45 minutes but still have dressing, makeup application, cat maintenance & lunch gathering to do. I am keeping up a little better on twitter (trying not to do it at work, except at lunch...).

SCHOOL UPDATE: I've finished the Alternative Dispute Resolution part of the Advanced Paralegal series. I have three units each left for Constitutional and Immigration Law. Plus finals. I had planned to catch up on IL yesterday, but another kitty medical situation arose last week, and it's a doozy.

KITTY UPDATE: Otto had a kitty pee pee problem, the typical straining followed by blood in the stream. I got him in to the vet right away. That was the easy part to control, under $200 for the visit and medication. However, the doctor asked how long his eyes had been two different colors. They had been that way since we got him from the shelter, about two years ago, although the left eye does seem to be getting darker. Sure enough, it warrants a visit to the kitty ophthalmologist, and I get three choices. Operation to remove the dying lens now, which can save vision but leaves risk of cataracts eventually requiring removal of eye - $2000. Removing the eye now - $1200. Treating the eye with medication until the lens luxates (totally dies and falls out) to give us time to save up $1200 - about $30 for medication. Plus the $170 for the visit, exam, tests, etc. Oy vey. We chose the "treat til it has to come out" option. Oh, that's the new thing to add to the morning list. Otto gets eye drops (yay, can't wait for that).

As a side note, I was very impressed with the facility, and the staff. It's an emergency hospital, and the ophthalmologist goes there once a week. The place looked like a human medical office, only cheerier. And the two parrots in the back arguing sounded like some crazy ladies I know from the bus.

Okay, now I've got just over 15 minutes to get ready, so I will stop now.

In our next episode: "Juliana describes her new working situation, gets social, and comes out as an atheist to Sister Christian! On Good Friday! Feeling of great relief tempered by revelation two days later Sister Christian lost her baby (early in pregnancy, 6 wks)." Good timing, julz....

25 March 2009

Please pardon the disruption in semi-irregular posting...

I've been sickie-pooh. Missed work yesterday, haven't looked at schoolwork, husband is doing all chores & feeding me. (Whine, sniffle, grouse *cough* snort, sniff.) I'm doing a little better, hope to improve my attitude even more by Friday, then re-engage my brain to catch up on posting & homework. Eh, Happy Spring and what not.

The medicine works - I can breathe, but my boogers are all dried out.

14 March 2009

Jessica Gottlieb, and why I blog

I "met" Jessica Wilzig Gottlieb on twitter, and we're "facebook friends" too - and I'm not even a mommy, neener-neener. Jessica rocks - she's sharp, witty, a green mom, and posts her mother's great iPhone photos. She invited me to join The Diagonals, a Ning group for bloggers who "don't fit into traditional slots" (heh heh, she said "slots"). Apparently, as an atheist, porn-loving, self-employed non-breeder, I qualify. I kinda thought blogging *is* non-traditional behavior, which might give one a clue as to my age. (In case it doesn't: I'm 45, for two more months.)

One of the first group questions posted was "Why do you blog?" I thought I would share it here, too.
So this is my excuse for blogging as of March 14, 2009 (subject to change with guaranteed lack of notice):
I blog because I'm trying to find my voice and challenge myself to say what I mean, and mean what I say. I like the format, with its combination of safety and danger. I can express myself clearly and have editing to fall back on; I can control the environment via moderation. At same time, some of my thoughts, politics, and opinions are unacceptable, at least in my immediate family and social circle. I've got to get it out somehow!
I want to thank Jessica here in my own space, too - THANKS, JESSICA! And point you to her many activities. Besides the links above, she's at http://www.Sanctimommy.com, http://ecochildsplay.com, and http://www.celsias.com. Following her almost makes me wish I were back in So-Cal, just so I could hook up with her some time IRL and see the dynamo in action!

In unrelated news that's on my mind this afternoon...
Millwall lost their home match DAMMIT!!! but Liverpool beat Manchester United - at Old Trafford! We're not going to the Earthquakes' last pre-season game tonight. But our home opener is next Saturday, against the New England Revolution, and I can't wait. As promised, I'll be putting blue in my hair for every home match, and will take the photos to prove it. Too bad the semi-permanent blue hair dye doesn't last more than a few shampoos - I quite enjoyed the blue streaks applied so artfully by friend Wendy during the holidays! Okay, back go housekeeping before company arrives - happy Saturday to all.

11 March 2009

Mostly a wail over family

Happy Wednesday! It’s already 11 March; I’m still not doing enough training for my half-marathon walk in April. Meh, I’ll finish, just maybe not on the official clock!

Yesterday, I began working for a friend of mine. I’ll be going in two days a week to start, helping the paralegal/office manager take care of both partners. I’m soooooooo excited to be working outside the home, and in Carmel . Great environment. Do have to work on my phone manners, tho’ – I felt like a total dork playing at being a receptionist. Jeez, I’ve been working for almost 30 years, you’d think I could handle taking a proper message. First day jitters, I guess. I did get to do some billable work, and hope that, down the line, I’ll be doing lots more to REALLY contribute to the practice. An added pleasure is one partner, who is a long-time friend, happens to be one of my very favorite people in the world. And he’s totally HOT!! I’ll stop with that; not sure whether I’ve already shared dabbleponder URL with him, and don’t want to get fired for sexual harassment in my first week. Or for his wife to wanna kick my ass... (Really, K.M., I'm all talk, no action!!)

So what I really wanted to discuss is my family and their faith. And the problems I have accepting that I’m the one who has changed and they will never change.

You may have seen the reports of the 9-year-old girl in Brazil who was raped by her stepfather (I first heard of it via Sean The Blogonaut). The adults who helped her abort, the doctors and her mother, were pronounced excommunicated from the Church by the local Archbishop. The stepfather was not automatically excommunicated. The Vatican shared its support of the Archbishop. *deep, hopeless sigh* My parents and youngest sister, known here as Sister Christian, also side with the church.

You see, I sent a “family-wide” email soliciting their reaction, asking for their personal feelings, as opposed to their reactions as Catholic, pro-life activists. Especially since SC’s middle child is also a nine-year-old girl. I am so naïve. Their personal feelings = their beliefs = church dogma. There is no other argument or “facts” available. Of course, they are equally horrified by what happened to the victim, but (just like the church says) she was victimized a second time by being forced to endure the abortion. The images below are screen caps of emails from SC & my pops. Both can be thoughtful and articulate; rational or able to step away from the dogma, they are not. (Click to view larger image in new window.) I post them like this because, well, I wanted their words to speak for them.

SC's first response:

When I specified "no, really, what do YOU think", she continued:
And then Dad wrote (click to embiggen in new window):
They are so brainwashed by the cult of the fetus, they argue that the four-month-old unborn twins were likely to survive a cesarean. What about the nine-year-old mother?!?!?!?

Mom chimed in too, sending a link to a pro-church editorial from a pro-life site. Mom referred to her timely receipt of their message as a “godincidence”. Yeah, funny such an opinion should be published, just as this story makes the rounds of international newswires and blogs.

Okay, I am done with this topic, at least until they push another one of my buttons. Writing this way helps me process this... situation with my family. It is one thing to read crazy blatherings from religious wackos on websites and the occasional blog trolls. But having it in the family is rough. I know, I know, I should not be surprised; I know their opinions and beliefs, intimately. My Sweetie is never surprised, except at my reaction!

Full disclosure: I have not shared this blog with that part of my family; no doubt, if they looked hard enough, they could find it. Dad would say I am committing the sin of lying by omission; I have failed to openly assert my (somewhat rabid) atheism and support of the right to choose. Some 10 years ago, I admitted to my brother-in-law, SC's hubby, that I was an atheist; he explicitly warned me against telling SC & my folks. I like to think I have passively come out: When religion comes up, always in F2F conversations, I take the skeptical or anti-faith stance. And boy does it push their buttons. If ever they ask "you = atheist, yes or no?" I will admit, but I'm not volunteering anything otherwise. They make me crazy, but I still love them. And I especially don't want to be cut off from the niece and nephews! I'm the COOL aunt, with all the tattoos, fart jokes and cute profanity, dammit!

10 March 2009

M.O.E. is no mo'

Sorry to be flip, if you're sensitive to that kind of thing, but we had to let M.O.E. go on Sunday evening. I refused to be there; I just did not want to deal with it. My kind-hearted Sweetie got the vet to stay a little late so I would not have to A) worry about it all Sunday night, nor B) take her in by myself on Monday. An ironic sign of how right it was - according to Sweetie, the vet assistants came in to pet M.O.E. & say good-by - and she let them. Without growling or hissing at anyone. Poor thing was really far gone. Some consolation - M.O.E. had the best life an ex-shelter kitty could want while she was here; now she is pain-free and does not have to worry about our other (dumb) cat bothering her ever again. And the $1200 or so in vet bills for her last 10-12 days? Well... I figure we probably would have spent that if we had had her for the other 10-12 years of her life. We did what we could to try and bring her back to health, but she was just too old and/or too sick.

The other (dumb) cat, Otto, is now officially king of the apartment. He gets all the kitty furniture to himself, can wander at will, and does not have to share toys or treats. He seems pretty pleased with himself. He better not get fuckin' sick for a long time, tho'!! He's only about 4-6 years old (we think), and is up-to-date with his shots & checkups.

Okay, enough pussy talk. There are a few other things bubbling at the back of my mind, waiting to be shared, but I'm going to save them for Wednesday. My favorite time to practice blogging is around 7 a.m., after Sweetie's gone to work. So that's the plan - me & laptop, meeting for coffee, right here, in about 12 hours. Whoo-hoo!

02 March 2009

Update on M.O.E.

Well, M.O.E. got admitted to the kitty hospital yesterday; she's apparently in renal failure, is anemic and has a urinary infection. I called at 8 a.m. today, and she was growling at the vet tech, which is a good sign (scratching would be better, since that's her normal reaction to being handled. Yes, she's quite a lover, that one.) They were giving her meds orally, and she's on an IV, of course. Poor little kitty! The vet also figured she's well into her teens. The rescue shelter estimated her age as much younger (3-7 years!), but shortly after we adopted her, I figured she was at least 10.

This may sound inhumane to some kitty mommies, but we put a dollar limit on M.O.E.'s treatment before we went to the vet. Thankfully, her 2-day stay was estimated well under the limit. It's all we can do; the vet said she has a 50/50 chance of making it.

I am keeping myself detached as much as I can. It has only been two years since we lost our Bijou (after I had her 18+ years) and I don't want to get all emotionally jacked up if I don't have to. I just wish it didn't take so long to see results. Ugh, I hate animal hospitals almost as much as people hospitals........


UPDATED Update: Vet says she's getting better; she ate last night, she's been eating today & taking her meds and peeing okay. They'll check her blood again tomorrow. If she has improved significantly, I can take her home; if there's only slight improvement, we'll have to talk about it. And this assumes she continues to improve, for which I am optimistic.

26 February 2009

Kitty Woes

Gone into domestic-chore assault mode this week, doing some early spring cleaning complete with the jettisoning of clutter. But chores are interrupted early today: Miss One-Eye, affectionately known as MOE, is having problems again. She was ill in November, got meds, got better. But it appears to be back - she peed on the bed last night. While we were sleeping in it. And I see by her food bowl she her appetite is down, which it wasn't last time. So now I'm sitting here, worrying, and waiting for the vet's office to open so I get her in. Thank goodness I got the car today! The vet's just a few blocks down the street, and she doesn't weigh very much, but we have an oversized carrier ('cause Otto is so big) and it's a bear to walk down the street with it. Especially in the rain.

*Sigh* Hoping she'll be okay, poor kitty.


UPDATE:
Well, $250 later, MOE is resting quietly in the closet and has eaten a little. She got a shot, and I have a liquid antibiotic to give her. Waiting for the lab results; not sure yet if it is a urinary infection, she's anemic, and may have a problem with her kidneys. The vet also agrees with me - there is no way this cat is only 7 years old (shelter kitty, NFI). Poor kitty. But guess I can be glad I'm not the guy with the dog whose tests alone are running $600-$800!

17 February 2009

Embarrassed or afraid?

Vjack's latest post is entitled "Embarrassed For Humanity." He links to several recent stories in the media, and as noted, they make one wonder what century we're living in. For me, I think this may be an argument for spending more time offline so I can read the local paper (oh, god, no!). The majority of my goof-off time online is spent following like-minded friends at twitter and facebook, or at atheist-, sex- or soccer-related blogs. I spent 14 years working for public defenders, an extremely liberal environment, and now I work from home. Yeah, I've been a little insulated from the red-state mentality. So it's shocking to see the faith-based ignorance and bigotry that people are happy to display in other communities.

Rachel Maddow had Alexandra Pelosi as a guest last week (after the ads, at 1:50). Pelosi just did a documentary while following the McCain-Palin campaign. The impression I got from the interview is that Pelosi tries to humanize the conservatives, not just create more fear of them. I don't have HBO so haven't seen the film yet. I want to, because I think I need to understand these people. Then maybe I'll learn to understand and tolerate people like, oh, I don't know, maybe starting with my parents. My own damn parents! They aren't just embarrassed for humanity. They're very afraid for, and of, people like me. People who don't share their values, where values = devout, pro-life Catholic. People like me are condemning the world to suffering now, and our souls to hell later. And they don't even know (for sure) that I am an atheist - it's sort of the "issue which must not be directly addressed", by mutual, unspoken agreement (Mom, Dad & Sister Christian are the only family I have NOT directly discussed my atheism with, but that's a topic for another time).

My folks are afraid of what Obama's administration will do to America. But like Pelosi pointed out in the Maddow interview, they are where me and my friends were from November 7, 2000 to November 4, 2008. And even then the passage of Proposition 8 limited our sense of joy and liberation. My parents focus their energy on pro-life causes, and Obama is "pro-death" for innocent unborn babies (oh, and they actively supported Prop 8, too). When considering our country's engagement in war on two fronts, the global economic crisis, accusations of torture, the cost of health care which directly affects their retired selves and their eight existing grandchildren - really? Unborn babies? How irrational is that?

I should not, but I do continue to be surprised by them and by their like-minded friends all over America. Even though they were always like this. And they ain't gonna change, so I gotta get used to it. Embarrassed for humanity, afraid of Americans, 'cause I live with them, even though I don't see them.

Whew, now I really do need goof-off time, guess I'll look for porn.

13 February 2009

We don't need your education

I'm not a breeder; I'm the "cool aunt." Well, I think I'm cool - I still roughhouse with the nieces & nephews, I'm tattooed, and I'm the one who got first-born nephew, at age two, to say, "Piss off, mommy!" His mommy, referred to here as "Sister Christian" has four boys and one girl, ranging from 1 to 17 years. My other sis', "Sister Hippy" has a pre-teen daughter, Hippy Jr. This brief background to explain how I learned of "All Things Girl," a workbook series for "tweens" and their moms, written by some probably very nice Catholic ladies who are into fashion, media, and indoctrinating the next generation. They also have a companion book for boys, "All Things Guy." Sister Christian tho't Hippy Jr. would like "All Things Girl," and Sister Hippy forwarded the link to me.

There are so many things I could point to and laugh in the series, it would take me longer than I want to spend on this, plus I'm typing on the non-ergo keyboard, don't have the wrists or patience to do a complete examination. But I did take screen shots to aid in the "Girls" vs "Guys" comparison.

The titles in the "All Things Girls" series include "Friends, Boys and Getting Along", "Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, What is Beauty After All?" "Girls Rock", "Mind Your Manners", and "Modern and Modest." The single boys' title they have so far is "All Things Guy, A Guide to Becoming a Man that Matters". Do you see where I might be going with this?

The good stuff is in the book descriptions. Each book in the girls' series has (from the website):
  • An Introduction to the Dignity of the Person
  • A Media Chapter by Catholic Author and Media Specialist, Teresa Tomeo
  • A Virtue Expanded and Explained with Practical tips on how to Live it
  • A Plan of Life to help Girls Incorporate Prayer into their Daily Lives
  • An Examination of Conscience unique to the Virtue in the book
  • A Saint Story called “A Girl Like Me”
  • Quizzes, Games, Recipes, Crafts
The "Girls" description:


Beauty, prayer, craft projects, virtue. That's what little girls are made of. Oh, and learning not to be mean to your friends.

And for boys:



This "talks to boys in their own language" about the body, prayer, and even "Boys in the Kitchen" - can't tell if that's encouraging them to cook or to clean up after the girls (recipes are featured in the girls' books). As the title says, theirs is a guide to becoming a "man that matters." But "Basic Combat Training" - where does that come into a pre-teen boys life, outside X-box games? How come the girls don't get that? Although I suspect that if they had included such a section for girls, it would have been called "self-defense for virtue maintenance."

So the girls are learning to be beautiful, virtuous, modest, mannerly and faithful... girls. The boys are learning to be MEN, men that MATTER. And possibly cook. AND they get to kick ass.

My parents raised five kids: three girls and two boys; I'm the oldest. As adults, we run the spectrum from atheist (me), to Catholic anarcho-pacifist/anti-nuke activist (middle brother/oldest boy) to S.C. the baby sister. Besides a devout Catholic upbringing, my parents did teach us to be thoughtful, to have and act on our convictions. That foundation led me to conclude their [all] religion was a bunch of crap, while S.C. became a fundamentalist Catholic. Go figure.

Wonder S.C.'s five kids are gonna turn out like. They are really good kids, so far. We'll see what happens when the oldest goes off to college next year. To a "faithful" Catholic school, of course - Notre Dame's not Catholic enough. She's given them the same religious structure we were brought up with, and then some - they're all getting home schooled, whereas we just attended parochial school up to high school.

I have an idea - at least I'm hoping - that S.C.'s only girl will not be all holy sugar-spice niceness. Born smack in the middle of four brothers, she's a toughie in a pink dress and stands up to the boys. She may be a sweet little Catholic girl who loves her girlie clothes and toys, but she can already KICK ASS.

Oh, and in case you're curious about Sister Hippy's reception of this crazy link, I'll quote her:
Think I should write back and say thanks, but no thanks since I just gave the kid a planned parenthood platinum card? ;-)

I love Sister Hippy - she funny, funny, girl.

07 February 2009

James Lipton's 10 Questions

Did this for Facebook and wanted to share here, too. Nothing profound, just fun to answer and to see others' responses. Especially the cuss words.

Lipton's 10 questions (via Wendy)

These are James Lipton's 10 questions (In the Actor's Studio).
Copy and paste to Notes, erase my answers, and have fun with it.

1. What is your favorite word?
Fuck - because of its "multipurpose-ness"

2. What is your least favorite word?
Pray

3.What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
A rational argument, learning, good writing, blasphemous humor.

4.What turns you off?
Woo & fanatical believers.

5.What is your favorite curse word?
The most fun to say is "goddammit!"

6.What sound or noise do you love?
Purring from a contented cat.

7.What sound or noise do you hate?
People fighting or yelling at a child.

8.What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I wish I had the brains & balls to be an improv comedian.

9.What profession would you not like to do?
Sales/marketing.

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
N/A (no"if" about it for me!)

06 February 2009

This is a proper Friday.

Huzzah, I found gainful employment outside the home - thanks Kelly Services! As of yesterday, I'm working 15-20 hours a week for a local civil attorney. It is really ideal - 20-minute walk from home, just up the street from the beach, near a park where I can enjoy a quiet lunch, and an office that can use my skills. My brain is so happy to be engaged again. I can also maintain my own business, which currently consists of intermittent inquiries to [a local gov't agency] to check up on my unpaid invoices, and NOT getting calls for more work 'cause of their budget cuts.

Monday, I'll be back at (new) work, so today is a proper Friday: it's cloudy and drizzly, got me some domestic chores to do, and a little studying. And I should have enough time to goof off online. So thought I'd share a couple goodies:
  • Courtesy of a Violet Blue tweet, presenting Яolcats - English translations of Russian LOLcats. I'm not certain the transliterations are authentic; if they are, they make an interesting comparison in cultural humor.
  • I've been enjoying Wil Wheaton's blog & tweets, and he led me to Pseudopod (feeding my new addiction to spoken-word podcasts & streams). I listened to a story he mentioned in his post, Scarecrow. Disturbing, well-told story, couldn't turn it off. Great contrast to the "fun" spooky tales I've been catching from the old Radio Mystery Theater.
My sweetie has a conference to attend on Saturday, so I suppose I'll be watching the football alone. Millwall's next game is Monday night, which is Monday noon here, and I have to work so I'll miss that. Which gives Sweetie the holiday on his own. Perhaps I'll tweet a bit on the weekend, too, and for sure I'll be poking friends at facebook.

Enjoy your weekend, wherever you are.

p.s. have to add this joke I hadn't seen in a while - BAD TASTE WARNING, don't blame me, I didn't write it...


Johnny, a half blind, 5-year-old orphan has to ride 7 miles a day to school with only one leg on a bicycle with buckled wheels and no brakes.

Please give just a small donation of £2, and we will send you the video; it's f**king hilarious!

01 February 2009

February already?

Well, spent last week doing a whole lot of nothing. Not quite true; I've been applying for lots of "outside work" (read: temp jobs). Had a great interview with a really sharp, dynamic attorney, but she went with someone else, probably (hopefully) 'cause I'm weak on civil litigation. *Sigh* That's okay, I'm truly a crim law animal, baby. Speaking of which, the Advanced Paralegal program is chugging right along, already at mid-terms this week! I love learning about the law, and love my student Westlaw subscription.

Today is a big day in football, and not just what you're thinking. Liverpool v. Chelsea is in the 2nd half (I should be paying more attention to it, but I'm frustrated w/Liverpool's failure to score). Following Goal.com on twitter now, too - continuing football education, I'm a lifelong learner in every subject!

And then there's that other football game going on. As per tradition, we didn't start watching until playoff season, just to have some idea who to root for in the Superbowl. This year, I'm not emotionally invested in either team, not even an interested neutral. But as I feel compelled to choose a side, I choose to root against Pittsburgh. We'll be watching just to justify an afternoon of feasting on my Seven-Layer Dip!

Oh, Drogba's coming on; guess I really should pay attention to the match. C'mon, lads! LIVERPOOLLLLLLLL!

25 January 2009

This day in history...

This day in history...

As admin for our cold war history group on facebook, I check in at History.com for highlights every couple days or 10. Today's news of note that caught my eye is not related to cold war origins, but still timely. On this day in 1961, JFK held first live TV news conference. Fast forward to now: Within moments of the inaugural ceremony, President Obama had his staff launch the Whitehouse blog AND they're tweeting (haven't looked on facebook yet). And you've probably already heard about his Blackberry addiction. Hooray for presidential technophilia!

How will our government be communicating with us 40 to 50 years from now? I'm hoping NOT the stuff of old science fiction, like in-home CCTV monitoring, or chips embedded in our necks. Although law enforcement is using CCTV surveillance and license plate scanners on city streets in North America and the U.K. Our cell phones have GPS technology for tracking of teens by parents, or workers by bosses. (Okay, maybe not in real time, unless you have a data service. However, I used to audit employee cell phone bills, so once a month, I saw from what city the user made calls. "Uh, do we have an office in Pebble Beach... ?")

In grade school and junior high, I was really into science fiction and fantasy. I remember the fantastic gadgets - video phones in 2001: A Space Odyssey; Star Trek's communicators and phasers; the awesome and frightening vehicles of U.F.O. and Space 1999. (Re videophones: Our family tried the webcam calls for a while a few years back - the novelty quickly wore off , although now that we all have broadband interwebs, maybe it would be less annoying.)

What will we come up with next? Google had suggestions, but it was all way over my head. I'm just hoping I can soon justify, and afford, getting an iPhone. I have great tools on my PCs, and my favorite web apps, but as for device-to-device communications? Not so much. I CAN send/receive text messages, and have been known to tweet therefrom!

Ideas, anyone? Please let me know!