Tuesday, January 16, 2018

You get a vote! And, you get a vote! Everybody gets a vote!

About a week and a half ago now, I guess, The Golden Globes were on. Oprah was honored with the Cecil B. Demille for "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment". I am not here to dispute her merits. She has had an incredible life and has done some pretty amazing things. Her acceptance speech was both inspiring and on point when it comes to the current climate of empowering women in an industry which is proving more and more to mistreat women sexually and financially.

With all that being said, I move on to the outpouring of "Oprah for President" and "Oprah 2020" sentiments. Let's think about this. The current White House resident can sound dumb as a box of rocks (my apologies to both boxes and rocks). He is not eloquent nor inspiring to those who want justice, equality, peace, and tolerance. Oprah does have 45 beat in this area for sure. I would never dispute this point.

But, a good speech does not make a president. Let's not start a trend of celebrity being the qualification for becoming commander-in-chief. Do we want to be a part of a cult of personality? Blowing someone up to heroic proportions; using ones celebrity status to rally the masses. This isn't to say that celebrities can never be a part of the world politic. But, jumping right to trying to be president doesn't sit well with me. Reagan eased his way in by being a spokesman for the Goldwater campaign, he was a part of many political committees, and he was elected Governor of California all before he made his presidential bid, which we all know he won.

So, how about "Oprah for Governor", "Oprah for Representative", "Oprah for Senator", heck, maybe even "Oprah for City Council", just to get started?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Remembering what took my memory away

It’s been on year since you hooked up me
Shocked my head on each side
And made me fuzzy
Twelve months since you shocked up me saying
Get some rest and come back and see me
Twelve months since the waiting room
I realized it was worth a try, and I told you
Last year you signed off on me
But it’s still in my head, “Was I really ready?”

*With apologies to the Barenaked Ladies

Thursday, December 21, 2017

I’m no ballet dancer

I was just thinking that I am most certainly not growing old gracefully. It’s not because botoxing and facelifting the hell out of myself to stop time. There’s nothing graceful about my aging because I’m doing it with bumps and bruises; with surgery scars and accident scars; with the scars of mental illness; with the severe memory loss from ECT; with bottles and bottles of medication, mostly for mental health, but also physical; with sleep that is so ridiculously irregular; and, all kinds of bullshit. I’m growing old, not gracefully, but taking it all is it comes with all life’s trips and falls.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Greeting Cards Have All Been Sent

As I typed that title, Karen Carpenter was singing in my head. Just a little FYI to get us started.

A couple nights ago Shawn and I finally wrapped up things with this year's card. Shawn finished the editing of our photo. We picked out a design from Walgreens.com to go with the photo and ordered a bunch. The order was picked up; address labels and return address labels were printed; and, stamps were at the ready.

My process was stuff envelope, lick the envelope to seal it closed, and stick on address label. Then Shawn did the sticking on of the return address label. Finally, I added the stamps. This was done for a little over 70 cards. I found it exhausting....then, I thought about my dad.

My dad is kind of a greeting card legend. His Christmas card and Christmas letter game raises his legend status to whatever is above legend. And, thinking about his legendary status made me feel somewhat ashamed of my annoyance at my own process.

My whole life, except a couple recent years, there has been a Christmas letter. The letter has a pattern. It goes through the year focusing on the events beyond the everyday life. Each of us 5 kids would have our own paragraph (talk about a reason for sibling rivalry, you want your paragraph better than everyone else's). Then it was wrapped up with a memorial section for those who died over the last year, think the "In Memoriam" segment of The Oscars. But, he writes the name, age, connection to him/us, and cause of death. For some we know, like my BFFs, it was a sign of great pride to make the letter.

The letter is an accomplishment on it's own (always multiple pages), but the letter isn't what made me feel guilty. My dad sends out at least 200 cards. He was doing this in the age before self-adhesive stamps. He would send the letter in an average sized greeting card which required multiple folds to fit inside. The greeting card itself was signed by hand. The envelope was hand addressed. The envelope was stuffed and licked to seal. Each stamp was licked. A tester was taken to the post office to check if extra postage was going to be needed and often it was. 

As time has moved on, as it does so quickly, things have changed. He has self-adhesive return address labels. He has started using business envelopes so the letter fits easily, but he has included a card still, just a small sized one that also fits in the envelope. The stamps don't need to be licked. He still hand signs the card and addresses the envelope by hand. He tries to keep from needing extra postage.

Through the years my view of the letter involved some eye-rolling and some mockery. Now, I'm embarrassed to admit those things. Things have changed. There have been a couple years without letters. The handwriting on the envelope is a little shaky. I'm not sure, but the list of recipients may have gone down. If I would have valued it more, the recycling bin wouldn't have the makings of a family history that I could have had.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Terrible Tales of Ta-Tas

The other day I was looking through some photo albums to see if I had pictures my older brother wanted. As I was paging through, I came across a picture that got me thinking --- more about the picture later.

My boobs were a huge part of my life from early on (nice segue, I know). As a kid, I developed earlier than the other girls. It was not a good thing. Some girls, who were pretty flat chested, which was normal for the age, would make comments about how I should give them some of mine. When I was older, junior high or high school, I don't remember, I told them I would gladly give them a donation if that kind of thing were possible.

No matter what I was doing or who I was with, it seemed like my boobs were always brought up in one way or another. I think I started to play into the jokes and comments because they weren't going away. One time I was bra shopping with my mom and sister at May Co. (later became Kaufmann's Department Store and then Macy's) at the Euclid Square Mall. I was in the fitting room trying on bras --- not cute ones because those were for cute, perky boobs. No, I had no real options except white, beige, or black. While I was in there, this HUGE bra came flying over the door and my mom and sister were laughing on the other side. The intent wasn't to hurt me (well, at least not from my mom. A teenage older sister may have). To them, I was in on the joke.

As I grew and the boobs grew, things became painful, physically and emotionally. They looked terrible. These weren't implanted-Pamela-Anderson-boobs that stay up. These were like water balloons hanging from my chest. Picture what it is like to hold a water balloon by the knot. Then add stretchmarks. Sexy, right? I played soccer from 1st grade into my senior year. Sports bras weren't really made for someone like me. I wore a regular bra with hooks in the back which wasn't meant for sports. In the middle of the season my senior year, my back pain took me out for the season. I'm not sure I played enough games to warrant getting my 4th year varsity letter, but I did get it.

When I got to college, I was as self-conscious as ever. That is when real consideration of a breast reduction came in to play. The surgeon had ridiculous standards for me to meet before she would do it. She told me to go on this insane diet. I don't remember how many calories a day I was told to have, but weight came off and I was starving. And, with this diet, she also wanted me to start working out. Again, not enough calories taken in to be working out. Guess what, the weight didn't come off my boobs! Also, my parents' medical insurance wouldn't cover it, so there went that.

Then I was out of college and into my career. It took quite some time, about 4 1/2 years, for me to revisit the whole thing. At a 42 DDD, I decided to give my insurance a shot and see what happened. I made my appointment to see Dr. Seth Eisengart. Everything changed. He had barely said two words to me and I was crying. It was the tremendous relief to have him listening to me; a huge weight lifted off my chest (see what I did there?). I told him about the previous surgeon I saw in college, who was a colleague of his. He told me the expectations she placed on me were not good. He confirmed for me that weight loss from the breasts through diet and exercise for someone like me was not going to be significant. He said he couldn't imagine trying to exercise and play sports with a chest the size of mine. 

My insurance came through to cover having a reduction. So, planned things out. He told me the style he preferred to use. He wanted me to understand that I may not be able to breastfeed. At that point, I didn't care. I wanted this done and I was headed to the convent, so whatever. We went forward with surgery. My company only wanted me to have a week off, he personally, not his staff, called the short term disability group and argued on my behalf. He got me two weeks. A post-op appointment had him telling me that it was about 5 lbs removed, about 2.5 lbs each. Breasts aren't typically symmetrical, so it was a give or take on the 2.5 lbs each. When he told me that, he said he couldn't imagine going for a run with a sack of flour around his neck. All of this was freeing me. 

He was willing to take me as small as I would like, but he said it could look awkward if we went too small. So, 42 C it was. A very scary looking 42 C at first. My first time in the shower I almost passed out as I looked at them. It was the first time they were unbound since the surgery. My mom had to come help me. I called them my Frankenboobies. But, they were healing and the scarring wasn't terrible.

A year-ish after surgery, the convent was a thing of the past and I met Shawn...I had been feeling great with weight loss, I was wearing clothes I couldn't before, and I was on meds for the horrible depression I had been in...and now my boobs had me self-conscious again. Remember, I didn't care about the scarring or the possible inability to breastfeed. There I was with this guy that I really started to have feelings for and could see having a relationship with and I had these boobs I was happy to have, but were scarred. Then, time went on and we were trying to have a baby and I thought about how the results of the surgery could keep me from breastfeeding. Things worked out with Shawn and my boobs. The breastfeeding would end up not being an issue, though, thanks to infertility. But, in the end, the reduction was one of the best decisions I made.

So, what does all of this have to do with a picture in a photo album? I'm starting to wonder myself.

When I graduated college, I went on a 10 day service experience in the inner city of Cincinnati. It was through the Marianist Volunteers. I was there and so were my big boobs. The picture I came across was of me sitting with four of the head volunteer staff.  We are all smiling and laughing and I notice that the one leader has her arm around me with a big smile on her face and her hand was hovering over my breast, ready to go in for the grab.

I don't remember this exact moment. I'm not sure if I knew she was doing it at the time or if I only found out once the film was developed. Maybe I was in on the joke. Maybe I made myself play along with the joke. Like I said, I don't remember.  Maybe this is my #MeToo. I don't know. 

I know things are different for me now.

And, I just realized, after this blog about boobs, I have my routine mammogram tomorrow....so, yeah...there's that.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

#MeToo?

I've been in my head a lot lately. Thoughts have been swimming since the ever growing list of celebrity men committing sexual offenses of varying degrees. The spectrum is immense; things I never could have imagined were being done.

A movement took social media by storm, a hashtag movement (I've talked about the hashtag movement thing before). It was #MeToo. People were using it for solidarity with the women coming forward about being victimized by the celebrity men. The popularity of it was to reveal just how many women have fallen victim somewhere on the spectrum of offenses.

I didn't Facebook and Twitter post a #MeToo statement. As I thought about my life, I just wasn't sure that I experienced anything which made me feel like a victim in any kind of sexual way. So, I opted out of the hashtag activism this time.

As the #MeToo posts were flooding my social media, I did find myself questioning the validity of the person posting. In part, I guess I just couldn't imagine that that many people could possibly have experienced something #MeToo worthy. Also, I know some to be wolf criers who love social media. I'm sure some of you have those people in your lives. Those people who jump on a bandwagon and then cry wolf at the top of their lungs for the entire trip. Perhaps my cynicism is too strong, but crying wolf has been around for a long time and social media has taken it to a new level. I'm not anti the #MeToo movement, not at all. It just bothers me that some may hijack the hashtag which minimizes the value of those who really have a #MeToo story to tell. 

If your still with me and haven't decided to hate me for the previous paragraph, I do have some other stuff to say.

As the names of the accused started to roll out, our family was gut punched.

Shawn, Conner, and I have been huge Louis C.K. fans. Earlier this year, we had a family night out including dinner and than going to see Louis C.K. do his stand-up. It was a good time.

And then, months later, we are left with a giant WTF? and how could he possibly have done something so horrible? For me, I won't speak for them, I'm disgusted and done. I felt the apology was some kind of PR written bullshit.

Then, more names start to be revealed.

Early on in our relationship, just a few months, actually, a new radio network was launched. It was a progressive radio network, Air America. It was how Shawn and I first heard of Rachel Maddow and look where she is now! Another personality from the station was Al Franken. For me, his progressive politics were a bigger hit than his SNL career. Shawn and I connected through this. We bought Franken's books and even ended up seeing him at a book signing here in Denver. So many shows on the network were speaking to our progressive minds.

And.....now we're hearing the stories....of one...then two...then 3 and 4....and 5 and 6 women coming out with stories of Franken's sexual offenses toward them. Again, I'm done. Again, the released statement sounds like such bullshit.

It's weird when you come to realize how much stock you put into the character of a celebrity of whom you are a fan only to have that stock's market crash.

Now, we jump to Matt Lauer. He's the latest to be added to the list of scumbags. However, I've always had a dislike for him. Something just didn't sit right with me. My douchebag radar must have gotten something right with this one.

The lesson I'm taking away from the revelation of his various sexual offenses is that sometimes you should read the comments' thread.

Now, typically, I've been trying to avoid reading comments on posts because it leads to anger and frustration that will not get resolved. Then, a bottle of Ativan later, I'm still trying to bring myself down. I would still say this is a good rule. It's especially helpful when reading articles and posts that have a huge following of strangers. But, thanks to Matt Lauer, I learned it can be helpful to read comments.

When the Lauer shit was hitting the fan, I found that I had many friends and "friends" (social media leads to a separation of sorts) in common when it came to a lack of surprise. Then, there was that one post.

I was scrolling through my news feed as one is wont to do on Facebook. I came upon a post from a "friend" regarding the Matt Lauer story and she said something about being surprised. So, since I wasn't surprised, I headed to the comments to say that I wasn't and I kind of pegged him (not in the way he probably is into) for that kind of pig. As I was heading down to comment, some previous comments caught my eye. Now, I knew the "friend" was conservative, but I still managed to be surprised by some of her friends (they seemed like the kind not in quotes). It was a mix of statements about how this needs to stop; it's getting out of control; stuff is probably made up; these men are being ruined; accused people shouldn't lose their jobs unless the accusations are confirmed; strong women can handle these things. SKREEEEEEECH! Hold on a second! Let me back up and see if that was really there. Yep. Strong women.

In my greatest moment of comment war self-control, a stopped myself from commenting. Now, you may think I should not have backed out and that I should have set that person straight. Believe me, I wanted to at first. But, I was reading a sea of comments that showed me that I had no chance of making an impact. Yes, I wanted to leave the proverbial two cents, but I could tell my two cents wouldn't be received very well. In comment conversations/wars, seldom does anyone give a penny, take a penny like at the counter at the gas station. Everyone just tosses their pennies out all willy-nilly.

In the end, I opted for un-friending that "friend" like I've un-fanned those celebrities.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

So called volunteers

"Did you know that so called 'Volunteers' don't even get paid?" Why, yes, Mr. Simpson, I know that all too well.

This entry touches on something I posted on Facebook the other day. Given that I've been working for a heavily volunteer dependent non-profit, I started to think a lot about volunteering. I really got thinking about the different sides of it. The way people treat volunteers and the expectations people have of volunteers.

I was updating a spreadsheet that is a list of the adoptions for the year. There were over 600 entries. That is over 600 animals who have been saved. Mostly cats and dogs are on the list, but who can forget the pigs, chickens, homing pigeons, snakes, turtles, guinea pigs, rabbits, and more that I'm certainly forgetting. Then, it got me thinking about what is involved in getting those numbers on that spreadsheet. Yes, obviously my typing get them in the spreadsheet, duh. I'm talking in the broader sense.

I'm sure I will forget things because, well, me. The list below includes the work of a handful, like toddler sized handful, of paid staff and volunteers. Just pointing out that I'm fully aware of actual paid staff.
  • There's transport: driving a box truck to rescue animals from other states; the hours to do this; the wear and tear on the truck; the listening to whining and mewing; the smell of piss and shit and animals; the cleaning of the truck 
  • There's maintenance: the truck; the house we work out of; yard work; repairs; building a pig pen and chicken coops
  • Receiving transport: corralling all the dogs in the backyard; taking cats in kennels down to the care center; vetting the animals (vaccinations, preventative care, microchipping, and anything else they need based on paperwork); oh, and doing all of our own paperwork
  • Fostering: coming to a transport arrival to pick up the dog they are fostering; taking them to vet appointments; keeping them until they decided to adopt them or until they get adopted; taking them to meet & greets that hopefully end in adoption, but not always, so they have extra wear and tear and gas for their cars; sometimes bottle feeding if they take on the tiny cats or dogs
  • Cat Care Center: cats are housed in our office building until ready for adoption at a PetSmart or the Denver Cat Company; I could go downstairs but I'm lazy so I'm guessing we have 30ish cat cages; the cages house multiple cats if there is a litter of kittens; there are 2 shifts of cleaning out the cages and feeding the cats; sometimes there is the additional task of steaming the cages; there's medication to be given sometimes; their an isolation room of cages when things like ringworm breakout; cleaning kennels; and cleaning litter pans; laundry from blankets and towels; washing food and water bowls 
  • There's office work of various types. That's my "specialty". Things like spreadsheet updating; microchip registration; adoption packet creation
  • There are adoption events: they involve fosters bringing the available dogs; means more travelling; leash holding; people selling our merchandise; on the spot adoption application processing; the "go home" paperwork review and fee payment; putting up and taking down our fences and tents and tables and such  
  • Adoptions that aren't at an event: reviewing of applications; processing of applications which means phone calls for landlords & vets, sometimes, and personal references all the time; scheduling of meet and greets to finalize the adoption, or sometimes to have the adoption fail; the meeting needs to have the adopter, the foster, and the volunteer or staffer who will finalize the adoption, yeah, try coordinating all those schedules; more travelling for the foster
  •  Other fund raisers: all kinds of work that I've never really been a part of, but I'm sure lots of volunteers are involved
These are all the things I could think of off the top of my head. These are all things people do in their spare time. So, if it seems like a lot, I'm pretty sure there is much more. But, it is what goes into those 600 plus adoptions.

After all of my thinking about volunteerism and Homer Simpson's profound wisdom, I thought about volunteers being people who do favors, lots and lots of favors.

If you need something from a volunteer, be kind, be patient, and be appreciative.