Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Hanumas!

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Friday, October 24, 2008

I Guess I Finally Arrived!

Yesterday, I got my very first hate mail. I don't know where this yahoo got my e-mail address, but there it was: a nastygram raving about my "liberal brainwashing," and how if I knew Obama's real past, watched the YouTube video that he attached, and started listening to (sic) Russ Limbaugh, then I'd be singing a different tune.

I told Husband about this, and he smiled and said, "that's a good thing! That means that people are reading you."

This emboldened me to reply to the sucker. My exact words were: "You know nothing about me so you have no right to speak to me about 'listening to the liberal press all these years.' And if you're going to spout your hero's hate speech talking points, then at least spell his name right." And I promptly checked the "junk" button on his e-mail.

I fully expected never to hear from him again, but there he was two days later, in my junk folder. And there was another video, and again, I did not watch. He wrote that I sounded like an intelligent person, so after he sent this last video, he wouldn't be bothering me again.

So does that mean if I were not an intelligent person I would be more susceptible to his slime?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Own “Bridge to Nowhere”

Most of you know by now that about 3 ½ years ago, I injured my back. This was complicated by a severe fibromyalgia flare-up and other things that ultimately left me with a lot less physical function than I had before.

Or so I talked myself into believing.

Because many of the professionals on my health care team told me that I should be able to do all these things. On the physical therapist’s table, I had full range of motion. But once I stood up and gravity took hold, I could not bend forward far enough to touch the bottoms of my kneecaps. Aside from an unusual amount of tightness in my muscles and tendons, I was told that I was within the range of normal.

Normal? I didn’t think there was anything normal about me. Every time I tried to do something “normal,” like unload the dishwasher, make a bed, climb a hill, squat down to pick up a ball or look into a child’s eyes, or even kneel long enough to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, I would pay the price of days of soreness, or a trip to the chiropractor or a spin on the physical therapist’s table.

And after trying enough of these things – and failing – a mindset solidified, that I’d never be able to do the normal activities that I hadn’t thought twice about before.

Some of you may also know that I live on a hilly road, in a house with a very steep driveway. And since hills were one of my imagined enemies, if I wanted to go for a walk – or even visit a neighbor, something that I had missed for a long time – I had to get in the car. That driveway became such a barrier between me and the rest of the world. I had become its prisoner; like a sort of Grimm fairy tale princess trapped in a tower of her own making.

I didn’t get to write about my first steps into the sunshine last weekend. It got all twisted up with all the other things that we were doing, and plus, I made my first foray out with my husband beside me. This doesn’t diminish the profundity of it one bit – but having him accompany me didn’t feel like I was doing it for the right reasons.

But today, I ventured out on my own. I, alone and unprodded, took the halting steps down the steep grade of our asphalt driveway, already covered with leaves. I felt the mild strain in my quadriceps as I worked to keep myself from falling forward. When I got to the bottom, I was bathed in full, late afternoon sunshine. As I turned left to make the trek to the very top of the hill and the very end of the road, I was a little bit frightened, especially as the hill grew steeper and I had to work harder. My heart was pounding – with the effort, and with fear – and I could feel my back muscles working, and stretching, and I could feel the tight fibers in my hamstrings and the backs of my knees being plucked like a cello.

But I kept walking.

I had hoped some of my neighbors would be home. Sometimes, when we drive by, or walk by, a few of them are out tending to their yards or visiting other neighbors, and I hoped for the distraction and camaraderie of them, cheering me along as if I were a marathon runner pushing through the wall toward the finish line. But nobody was around. I had to be my own cheerleader.

So I kept going, noting that the water level of one neighbor’s pond was low, wondering why another neighbor’s dog was always outside and in the road even when they weren’t home. Anything to keep me distracted from the one last, big hill I had to climb to get to the flat part of the road near the end. As the hill leveled off, I was back in full sunshine again, the light soft and warm against my face. Acorns popped as they hailed down on sheds and gazebos.

Finally, I reached the dead end, and the fence that separates the road from the huge, rolling meadow where one of my neighbors keeps her horses. I paused, looking through the fence, hoping the horses would come around to see if I brought any apples. But no, they were too content with nibbling on the grass in the sunshine to even notice that I was there. I felt like without having at least them as my witnesses, that none of it was real, that no one would know that I had escaped from my tower and fled the kingdom.

All my husband knew was that I told him I was going for a walk, and then opened the door. How would he truly know that I’d picked up the hem of my gown and waded through the moat and escaped?

But I’d know. I knew it, as I walked home, absorbing the beauty of the fire-tinged trees against a backdrop of unbroken blue. I knew that I’d be able to walk out the door and down the driveway anytime I wanted. To visit a neighbor, to get some fresh air, or to simply get the mail. I was free.

I’ll probably be a little bit sore tomorrow, like I was last weekend. But people who know such things have assured me that each time I do it, it will hurt a little bit less. And I hope that soon, I’ll start believing them.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Some interesting viewing

Want to know more about the Keating 5 case the Obama campaign has been bringing up, and why it says so much about the character of John McCain?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Heartbeat Away...

I could watch this again and again and again... ;)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Joe Biden Practices for Debate

To paraphrase the words of the late Governor Anne Richards, “Poor Joe. It’s not his fault; he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

So today, in what can only be assumed as an attempt to rid his extemporaneous speaking style of embarrassing flubs, Senator Joe Biden announced that he is sequestering himself in Delaware in preparation for the first and only vice presidential debate on Thursday night.

Unbeknownst to the Senator and his crack security squad, our tenacious, yet uncredentialed RFG reporters snuck a tiny video camera into his “war room,” because, well, we were just so darn curious about what was going on and how he was going to avoid sticking his foot in it once again.

We would’ve loved to bring you full video and audio coverage, but we were advised not to do so by copyright law, our fussbudget lawyers, and some stupid “cease and desist” order that we got from the Biden campaign.

So, we hope that this play-by-play analysis will suffice. And just a quick word to our readers who may be concerned about animal cruelty: no actual bugs or senators were harmed during the creation of this broadcast.

Often you will hear that candidates assign somebody to be their “practice dummy,” or, as they are usually called, debating surrogates. This way the candidate will have someone similar to the abilities of the person they will be facing so they can work the bugs out of their debating style. (Good thing for me that they haven’t worked the bugs out of the war room.)

And what we have found out is that--yes, it’s true, you heard it here first--that the Biden campaign has hired – yes, we’ve confirm the identity – none other than Tina Fey to play Sarah Palin. No doubt Ms. Fey was hired based on her striking appearance to the governor from Alaska as well as a certain performance that she put on for a recent episode of “Saturday Night Live.”

Is this a gauge of how worried the Biden campaign is about facing the actual Governor on Thursday?

That remains to be seen. It could be that Ms. Fey was hired to give Senator Biden a more realistic sparring partner. Or, she simply had a break in her “30 Rock” taping schedule this week and is so enamored of the Obama campaign that she volunteered her services.

At this point, we don’t know. Calls to Ms. Fey’s personal assistant, despite how many times we begged and pleaded on her voicemail, were not returned in time for this broadcast.

But here’s some of what our camera (and teeny tiny microphone) was able to pick up:

Tina Fey: (sounding frustrated, in an Alaskan accent) Senator, we talked about where your eyes are supposed to be.

Joe Biden: (voice barely audible, pounding a fist into his own forehead) Don’t look at her breasts. Don’t look at her breasts. Don’t look at her breasts. Okay, Tina. I think I’ve got it now.

Tina Fey: (straightening out her jacket and low-cut blouse, and smiling) All righty then. But Senator, try to remember to call me Governor Palin. We’re shooting for realism. So let’s get this puppy on the road. (She clears her throat) Shoot us a question, there, David.

David Axelrod (Senator Obama’s campaign director): All right, but we need to take a break soon. (Looking at his watch.) McCain’s due to come out with another one of those attack ads taking credit for the Wall Street bailout plan and we gotta fight back with a statement. So let’s do it. (Reads from an index card in his hand) Some in the news have been debating whether the office of Vice President even matters anymore. Can each of you tell me, and our audience here and at home, what you personally bring to the ticket and how you plan to be involved with the administration if elected?

Joe Biden: (gesturing to Tina Fey) Ladies first.

Tina Fey: Now, you see, that’s just the kind of sexist, old boy network thinking we’re trying to change here in Washington--

Joe Biden: Oh, crap. (Turns to Axelrod) I shouldn’t say that, right?

David Axelrod: (rolls his eyes, looks exasperated) No. For God’s sake. Didn’t you learn anything from that tape we showed you of the Rick Lazio debate?

Joe Biden: But I was raised to think that that was a polite way to treat a woman –

David Axelrod: Stop thinking of her as a woman, Joe! You even said it yourself— that you planned to debate her like you would any of your other colleagues in the Senate.

Joe Biden: Oh, right. I said that. Right after that thing about hating one of Barack’s ads.

David Axelrod: And right before the thing about Roosevelt being president when the stock market crashed.

Joe Biden: He wasn’t? Oh – right. It was the other Roosevelt. Damn. I always get those two mixed up.

Tina Fey: Can we get this going, guys? I’m due on the set, like, tomorrow. And please stop looking at my chest. Eyes up here, dude. Focus. Cripes.

Joe Biden: All right. So why don’t you just start first? Give me something to react to.

Tina Fey: (reading from her script) Well, of course the role of vice president of the United States is extremely important given the dangerous state of the world today, Bob. Otherwise, why would John McCain – who is, by the way, the only man short of Jesus Christ himself who can bring real change to Washington, and give me a couple days, I’ll bring ya back a few examples of exactly what he did – choose me, a simple hockey mom, to be his running mate?

David Axelrod: Senator Biden? Two minutes for your response.

Joe Biden: Well, Bob, even though some important guy a long time ago once said that the job of vice president isn’t worth a warm bucket of shit –

David Axelrod: That’s spit, Joe.

Joe Biden: Sorry. I knew that. I’m just – I keep finding myself distracted by her breasts.

Tina Fey: (sounding indignant) I am a nursing mother, Joe. It’s a normal human function. I even fed little Tumbleweed here while I was riding on the back of the moose, since I sold my SUV in order to give the good citizens of Alaska a check for $.03 for every man woman and child.

Joe Biden: Yeah, but -- they’re – enormous – and did she just unbutton another button on her blouse? Dave, is that a legal debating tactic?

David Axelrod: Just a way to see how you react under pressure, Joe. Tina, you can button up now.

Joe Biden: So how come she can do that and I can’t unzip my trousers or something? Isn’t that sexist?

Tina Fey: (pointing a finger toward Biden) He’s harassing me! He’s harassing me! I don’t have to stand here and take this! Listen here, mister. I can take down a bear and I can take you down so don’t go tryin’ nothin’.

Joe Biden: David, I see your point about my not treating her like a woman. Okay, let me see if I have this right. If she’s not a woman, she doesn’t have any breasts for me to stare at. I should treat her just like any other guy on the floor of the Senate. (He grins) That means I should treat her just like Hillary, right?

Tina Fey: Sexist! Sexist!

Joe Biden: It was just a joke. Geez, I thought you comedy people had a sense of humor. Even Hill would have laughed at that one.

Tina Fey: David, is it too late to ask Hillary if she’s got anything planned for the next, oh, four or eight years?

David Axelrod (shaking his head): Don’t think I haven’t thought about it.

Joe Biden: Come on, give me another chance. I was just having some fun with you guys, it’s been so darn serious around here. I know what to do. Just run the words through my brain first before I let them come out of my mouth.

Tina Fey: By George, I think he’s got it!

Joe Biden: So, David, anything I should know about this George guy?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Chicken Soup for the Nostalgic Soul

Husband went out of town this weekend. As fate would have it, the day he left, I woke up with the scratchy yuck that for me, always signals the beginnings of a cold. So when my husband called to check in, he asked how I felt, and reminded me that there were a few cans of soup in the pantry.

Sensitive to almost every food group and a bit of a culinary snob since going organic a couple of years ago, I tell him, “That’s not soup.”

He had no other suggestions for me.

What I longed for – well, most of you married ladies know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t, I hate you (just kidding) – and what I didn’t get, was comfort. I wanted someone to whine to about my stuffy nose and my stuffy head and say, “I’m sorry, sweetie. Let me get you some soup.”

And I don’t mean soup in a can.

I wanted the real stuff. I wanted the stuff that my grandfather taught me how to make. Although I’m not religiously practicing (I could never get it right, and I figured that all my practicing was for naught, so I quit), I come from the Jewish tradition. For the most part, the Jewish tradition does not come with recipes. At least those that are written down. It goes like this:

One day my grandfather said, “Ya wanna know how to make chicken soup? I’ll tell ya how to make chicken soup.”

I perked up and listened. He was a short order cook and used to run a restaurant. I figured that he knew from chicken soup.

My grandfather held both work-hardened hands out in front of him, elbows bent, palms pointing toward each other with the fingers slightly cupped, like he was holding something, oh, vaguely chicken-sized. “Ya take a nice chicken…”

In addition to having been a short order cook and running a restaurant, my grandfather also used to run a chicken farm. Not only did I figure that he knew from chicken soup, I was betting that he knew a thing or two from chickens.

“Ya put it in a pot. Throw in some water, a little onion, a little carrot, a little salt, boil it for a while, and there you are. Chicken soup.”

I knew not to bother asking him how I’d know when it was ready. Because the answer would be, “Ya cook it until it’s done.”

From my own mother, I would get more practical answers. Things like: when the meat falls away from the bone; or until it’s no longer pink in the middle; or, the one that perplexed me the most, which was probably inherited from her own mother, that it will just “look right.”

My mother is a fabulous cook. She starts with a recipe, and then improvises, based on her particular preferences, and what she happens to have in the house. I have literally seen her make a gourmet meal with a few limp scallions, a can of tuna, and some old croutons. She kept her extravagance to a minimum while she was raising three children on a tight budget and deferring to my father’s high blood pressure. But after their divorce, she unleashed her inner Julia Child.

Now everything starts with butter. A pound or more if it’s for a crowd. (I lose count of how many pounds she uses at Thanksgiving.) If it’s dinner, she adds meat, garlic and onions. If it’s dessert, she adds sugar and chocolate.

While Husband tells me otherwise (I must have trained him well), I don’t think I inherited my mother’s or even my grandfather’s cooking gene. I don’t know what I was thinking when I was toddling around the kitchen, watching her. Maybe I was daydreaming about the books I would write one day. Maybe I was just daydreaming in general – memorizing the pattern of the wallpaper, and the way the light shone through her collection of glass roosters on the window shelves.

Or maybe Husband was just being polite. I know how to do the basics, like boiling an egg, making an omelet, preparing dinner so the main dish and the sides are all done at the same time. I have a few signature dishes that I learned how to make, but these were from recipes I’ve culled from magazines over the years, and then made them so many times that I’ve memorized them.

But day-to-day cooking? As far as my likes and dislikes, that ranks somewhere between a gynecological exam and doing our taxes. Meanwhile, my husband, usually a good sport about having to forage through the refrigerator for dinner, often would slip in small comments about the dishes that he loved so much from his childhood.

I love those dishes too. His mother would make them for us when we came to visit. And since she passed away in January, I’ve been feeling especially nostalgic, among other things, for her cooking.

“Have her come over one day,” Husband said, a few years back. “You could learn how to cook more stuff, and she’ll feel really good about helping you.”

Yeah. And in no way would he benefit from this at all.

One of his favorite meals was her chicken soup. When she first made it for me, I expected that it would be just like my grandfather’s. But no – there was a twist. Yes, it started with what I assumed was a nice chicken. But hers had parsnips, and tons of dill.

Wait a minute. Parsnips?

This is the thing about families, and what I learned the first time I ever ate dinner at a friend’s house when I was a child. Everybody does things differently. Not every family had food made from scratch. Not every family had tossed salad with dinner. Not every family had whole wheat bread, instead of the kind that came in the plastic wrap with polka dots all over it.

And not every family made chicken soup the way ours did.

My mother-in-law served hers buffet-style. The broth ladled from one bowl, pieces of boiled chicken plucked from another, plus – another surprise -- both matzoh balls and egg noodles. My mother wouldn’t have gone for that – two starches at one meal? Never. And would my grandmother ever serve both matzoh balls and egg noodles? Not on your kishkes! It was matzoh balls or it was nothing.

So I already knew that my mother-in-law’s chicken soup would be a little different. And when I called her to ask if she would come over and show me how to make it, she was delighted. I carefully made note of all the ingredients she asked me to buy. And, as I suspected, it began with a nice chicken. She was easily half the size of my barrel-chested grandfather, but I can still imagine her, on her end of the phone conversation, making the same kind of gesture.

Was this the universal Jewish symbol for “chicken?”

One day, I’ll have to ask my rabbi. If I can remember his name.

So she came over. We put a nice chicken up to boil in a pot of water. And then we waited, watching it like an egg that was about to hatch.

Like a little Jewish Yoda, she stood by me, leaning on her cane. Watching and correcting, while I skimmed off shiny globules of fat and deposited them in an old tin can. She went out for a smoke. We added a little onion, some carrots, parsnips, a couple of stalks of celery, a ton of dill, a bit of salt, then started on the matzoh balls.

All in all, it had been a good day. It was a challenge, but we figured out how to make a giant pot of soup, fluffy matzoh balls, and egg noodles, all on my two-burner stove. And the crowd went wild.

Since this first tutorial, I’ve learned how to make her lasagna, her spaghetti sauce, and her brisket. I’ve made her soup a few times on my own, but because of my lousy memory, I committed a sin against Jewish oral tradition and wrote down the recipe as we went along.

Which was a good thing. Because several years later, with my throat scratchy and Husband out of town, I bundled myself up, and went out to buy myself a nice chicken.

I made my own comfort. And in this case, four quarts of it.

My mother tells me it freezes quite well.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Silly Season

The largest lending institutions in America are failing. Wall Street is going crazy. I can’t even take out a loan to put gas in my car, and what do the media report concerning the two presidential candidates?

Lipstick on pigs. Hollywood fundraisers. And Lindsay freakin’ Lohan.

Come on, now.

Since when are the blatherings of addled-brained celebrities – lifted from their blogs, yet – considered newsworthy? Sure, it gives people like me something to do, but I never claimed I was a journalist.

Aside from all the financial stuff that makes my head hurt, let’s look at this presidential election. Forget the lipstick. Forget Barbra Streisand. Forget even the history-making demographics of both tickets. Let’s look at what these campaigns have done to get people younger than – say, my age – excited about politics.

It started with Barack Obama. Legions of younger people flocked to his website to make their $25 donations. Armies of them gathered in towns across America making plans and contributing to the platform, in one of the greatest get-out-the-vote efforts ever seen. Having briefly been a soldier in this Army, I can tell you that the organization rivals any small- or medium-sized company I have ever worked for. These are all volunteer positions, and each one has a full job description and accountabilities. The depth and spread of this grassroots movement is astounding. I don’t know the exact statistics, but I’m willing to bet you that between the Democrats and the Republicans (excited by the “new car” smell of the Governor from Alaska) that for this election, more people have registered to vote than for any other presidential contest ever.

We are standing with our toes wrapped around the precipice of history, and many of these young people are voting for the very first time. What an example we as a nation could set for these eager, newly-legal citizens! We can show them, as Senator Obama said in the “Forum for Service” on September 11, that government can be “cool” again. We can show them why it’s good to give back to your community, and the intrinsic rewards you get from that. We can show them that political contests can be conducted without rancor, and with grace, and with dignity.

We are not doing a very good job. We are showing these brand-new voters the dirtiest of our dirty laundry. We’re doing the equivalent of taking them into the bowels of a shiny, architecturally brilliant new building and showing them how the furnace works. Or, more accurately, how it doesn’t work, because the contract went to the lowest bidder, and there’s no money in the budget to get it fixed.

We’re telling them, “Forget about your youthful ideals – nothing is ever going to change, so why even bother trying?”

We are raising a new generation to argue about idiotic metaphors and subtle innuendo and frankly stupid off-the-cuff comments.

Our slips are showing.

So before we essentially tell these kids that the voter registration cards that they’ve filled out are no better than toilet paper, can we please elevate the conversation and get back to the things that really matter?

Like, how is Cloris Leachman going to do on Dancing with the Stars?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Television Correspondent Washed out to Sea… I Wish

I have never been a big fan of Geraldo Rivera. When he was a young reporter way back in the 70s on WABC-TV news, he annoyed the heck out of me with his breathless reportage. “Chill out,” I'd think. Just calm down and tell me what happened. Then he took this whole bizarre turn into sensationalistic journalism. Then he annoyed the heck out of me with overwrought, tawdry accounts of the life of Charles Manson. A few years later, he annoyed the heck out of me with that whole Al Capone’s vault escapade. Weeks and weeks of hype, while we sat on the edges of our seats waiting for him to dig through layers and layers of nothing just to find even more layers of… nothing.

Now, the only time I see him on the air (he is on that network that I currently refuse to watch, except for notable events like this) is when he is deployed, along with the other poor schmucks, to some quivering piece of coastline where a hurricane is about to make landfall. Usually, he is in front of a levee, or a sea wall, or on a beach. The wind is beating up his normally perfect hair. One manly hand is grasping onto something because he can barely stand up straight.

And he’s loving every minute of it.

And, apparently he thinks that we’re supposed to be loving it, too.

But do we? Do Americans, jaded by an excess of popular culture, get excited by the prospect of someone putting himself (or herself) in mortal danger?

All you have to do is watch the ratings for shows like “Fear Factor” and its many copycats (The latest is the current phenomenon, “Toughest Jobs in America”) to know that the answer is a definite “yes.”

This is an odd phenomenon in our society. I think the Weather Channel started it all. Whenever some evil nasty from the sky was about to strike, they’d bundle up one of their reporters (often someone without much seniority) in conspicuously name-branded outerwear (usually a company that was one of their larger advertisers). They’d lash these intrepid young lads or lassies to something vertical while the blizzard, the tornado, the hurricane, or whatever Mother Nature could dish out pounded them, just so you, warm and toasty at home and curled up on your couch eating chips out of the bag, would know just what it was like to be out there firsthand.

I felt sorry for these poor people. This is the age of video recorders in ATM machines, of tiny spy cameras wired up at red lights to catch lawbreakers, and miniature cameras in our laptops. For Pete’s sake, couldn’t we just mount some kind of weather-proof camera atop a building or on a bridge and get a good look at what it’s doing outside without somebody risking their life to show you that it’s snowing?

But then I think that other networks started having weather envy. Why should the Weather Channel get all the points for bravado? Why should they be allowed to have the equivalent of broadcast orgasms every time a big storm comes along?

Then came Geraldo Rivera. Manly and fearless, his hair sprayed into a tousled mane. The hairs of his mustache combed perfectly straight and his eyeglasses shining with righteousness, standing with his bulging arms akimbo atop a sea wall like some Hemingway-esque hero. With no care for his own safety, mind you, and wearing his own conspicuously name-branded outer apparel, just to bring you, the viewer, the real news as it is happening!

Now, I am not making light of the seriousness of hurricanes. My heart goes out to all the people who lost loved ones or were displaced from their homes during not just Katrina but all of the storms that ravaged this country and others.

And I have no desire to see Geraldo Rivera nor any other news personality harmed by any idiotic event they might try to cover.

But I’m so sick of watching this guy jump into the fray during every storm just so he can hang on to some tree, or dock post, or other kind of vertical handhold, his hair dripping, his eyes shining, just so we viewers at home can see how dangerous it is and how brave he is being.

What would we do without this macho stud on the air, risking his life to tell us that the wind speed is now up to a whopping 80 miles an hour? Without him there was a microphone, yelling out, “Oh, my God, there’s someone in the water! Somebody fell into the water!” Only to find out that the guy who “fell” into the water was in the Coast Guard and he was trying to secure something to a dock, not flailing for his life.

It disturbs me a little bit to discover this about myself, but every time a hurricane comes along and Geraldo is doing the report, I’m praying for the elements.

I’m hoping – well, I would never wish for anyone’s death or injury – but I’m hoping just once to see him get knocked over a sea wall and have to crawl his way back over, his mustache drooping, looking like a drowned rat. And I want to be able to see it over, and over, and over again.

Whoever invented TiVo deserves a medal.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pressing the Wrong Buttons

I am proud to belong to an online fibromyalgia discussion group. These people are terrific, and have offered me some great help, and I hope I’ve been able to help them too. They wear their religion on their sleeve, however. Mostly it doesn’t bother me – if prayer and faith in a higher power makes it easier for them to get through the day, then, hey, whatever works. Just don’t tell me that’s the way I have to run my life. Sometimes I envy them. When you wake up with your back aching (again) and cramps in your shoulders (again) and a wonking headache (again!), it must be really comforting to be able to throw that in someone else’s lap and go about your business.

But we’ve had some issues come up in the last month or so. And they all have had to do with seemingly random political rants suddenly showing up in our discussion threads. Several people get all huffy about it (myself included, most vociferously) and the post gets removed. And it happens again. The post gets removed, and the same people are warned. The person responsible pleads “fumble fingers,” that they pushed the wrong button and sent the wrong thing to the group by accident (we fibros are notorious for having foggy brains at times). The person apologizes, and is forgiven, as it is a forgiving sort of bunch. But when it happens over and over again, by the same person, it can hardly be called an accident. And then we are told by the group’s moderator that if it happens again, all members will be put on notice and all posts will need to be reviewed before being allowed into the discussion.

And I’m happy with that. For one, I’m in that group for fibromyalgia support, a little sympathy, an urge to help, and not much else. There are plenty of places where you can go to read all of the rants you want (my blog included!). For two, it was a rant that I strongly disagreed with. Yes, I’m biased, but at but least I’m admitting it.

And on that point of places where you can go to read all the rants you want, I happen to have started writing a few on a different website. As part of my shameless promotion, I forwarded the URL to a bunch of people in my address book that I felt would appreciate it.

The next day, I get flamed. One extremely huffy e-mail appears in my inbox. This woman, whose name I don’t immediately recognize, is deeply offended by what I had written and didn’t think this sort of thing should be allowed here. “Here?” I think, not yet comprehending the whole context of this complaint. “On the Web? In America?”

Then I look at the name of the woman who had forwarded the e-mail to my not-so-greatest fan.

It’s the moderator of my fibromyalgia discussion group.

My own fumble fingers had sent a liberal leaning attack on the right wing media to a bunch of (mostly wonderful) Bible thumping Republican Christian ladies.


After a couple of humbly apologetic e-mails, I am let off the hook.

Then I notice that at the bottom of the new article I had written, was a comment from someone whose name I didn’t recognize that said she liked the article very much.

And shortly after the flurry of flame throwing and apologizing, I get an e-mail from said woman (who is also a member of the fibromyalgia group). And she wrote, “I don’t care what that woman said. I really liked this article. Republicans are just thin-skinned.”

My hero.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Another Roadside Attraction

it's the little things in life that amuse me...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Because We Stand on the Shoulders of Others

You may have heard this phrase before. Various sources attribute this either to Sir Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein, and the full quote is, “If I seem to see more [or appear taller] than other men, it is because I stand on the shoulders of others.” It has also been paraphrased by all stripes of people who credit their success to the struggles and sacrifices of those generations who came before them.

And I think many women have forgotten that it also applies to them. Particularly those who are making fun of Gloria Steinem, and the opinion piece she recently wrote about McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin for Vice President. Some call Steinem an outdated icon of a bygone era, write her off as a shrill voice from the past, someone who no longer represents their ideals. They call themselves “post-feminists,” whatever that means. Particularly those women under 50, those who think it’s “no big deal” that they were able to play in Little League along with the boys. That they were able to go to the colleges of their choice. That they can hold professional jobs. That they can have children as well as careers, have careers and not have children, or have children and no professional career outside the home.

To many women over 50, it is a big deal. Some of them still think it is. In fact, when I was in high school, and casting my eye on colleges, my guidance counselor (who I’m certain belonged to the pre-Gloria Steinem era), discouraged me from applying to Colgate University, saying, “that’s a man’s school.”

I, the daughter of a feminist, didn’t understand that. Was it because they didn’t have female dorms? Didn’t have any ladies’ rooms? I didn’t remember reading anything in the four-color brochure about a “no women allowed” policy or that Colgate was a “he-man woman-haters club,” like Spanky and Alfalfa formed in the Little Rascals cartoons to keep Darla out. And I was valedictorian of the freaking class, for God sakes. It’s not like I didn’t have the grades To get into Colgate and she was trying to soften the blow (like that would have made it any softer.)

I’m hoping that this woman has either retired or changed her ways.

But this was so often the way with “women of a certain age.”

It’s true. If you don’t believe me, ask your mothers, your aunts, your grandmother – when they were newly minted young women, doing anything outside of what was considered “normal” was a big deal, or frankly, impossible. This meant that when you finished high school, you were expected to get married. If you didn’t have children right away, perhaps you would take on what was considered a “respectable” job for a young woman: secretary, teacher (elementary grades only), librarian, or nurse. And then, you were only expected to work until you gave birth to your first child. Then you stayed home with your children until they themselves left home or you overdosed on oven cleaner, whichever came first.

I once asked my mother in law, who passed away earlier this year from breast cancer at 67, why she married so young. She looked at me like I was crazy, and shrugged her shoulders. “That’s what you did,” she said. “That’s what you did back then. And if you didn’t,” she added, “you are considered… funny.”

And I don’t think she meant in the “ha ha” kind of way.

So those women who dismiss Gloria Steinem as a relic of a time long past, take a good look at how you got where you are: because you, and the women of your generation, are standing on her broad and strong shoulders. You were standing on the shoulders of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, of those “bluestocking” women who dared to go to work in the 30s and 40s, of women who were beaten and arrested for fighting to vote, of all the women who died from getting back alley abortions, and all the others who dared to break out of the mold that society had corseted them into – all because you were supported by the ones who dared to come first.

And if you forget that, remember what is said about those who don’t know history: they are doomed to repeat it.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I Just Can't Leave This One Alone...

I believe that I said a while back that I wasn't going to get into politics.

I lied. Well, technically, I hadn't intended on lying. But this issue has gotten me a little riled up, and you lucky people get to be recipients of my ire.

I'm still stuck on John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin for VP. Now, I'm going to leave her daughter out of it because, like Senator Obama has so poignantly said, everybody's children should be off limits. And I think everybody who hops on the Internet and thinks it would be a dandy place to unload their venom should back off, too. After all, it's only going to backfire.

But what's not off limits is Sarah Palin's behavior, her experience, her performance in her past offices, and how that reflects on John McCain's character for choosing her.

For one, I heard this morning on MSNBC that up until a few days before the VP pick was announced, McCain was going to go with Joe Lieberman, until an aide talked him out of it. I mean, come on. I'm not exactly a political maven, but I know that if you take a nonconservative presidential candidate and pair him with a nonconservative vice presidential candidate, then you are not going to make conservative voters very happy. And this, as recent history has shown, has been the base that has made the difference in the last two elections. It has been speculated that he wanted to go with Lieberman because he has a high regard for personal loyalty and wants to be around people he knows well and trusts. So, after being convinced to jettison Lieberman, McCain goes for a candidate that he has met only once, and has received the most cursory vetting process. I believe that in process must've gone something like this:

McCain aide: Ever been arrested?
Palin: Not yet, but my husband has been. DUI. But no one died, that we know about.
McCain aide: Okay, we can overlook that. Either you or your husband having an affair?
Palin: Not that I know of.
McCain aide: How do you feel about the second amendment?
Palin: Wanna see my gun?
McCain aide: Okay, you're in.

It is also being reported (On MSNBC but also on ABC's George Stephanopoulos' blog) that while Palin was mayor, she sucked up every possible earmark from Washington that she could. So much for her much-touted reputation for saving taxpayer money and not being part of the Washington lobbyists' machine.

Wonder if McCain knew about that one?

It is also being reported that while Palin was campaigning for governor, she was all for the "Bridge to Nowhere" project. And when she became governor, she was against it. Sounding familiar?

Now, this dance is on the edge of being personal, but this gives me pause about her ability to do her job and her judgment about her family. Please remember that a feminist is writing this, and I would expect what I'm about to say to apply to a mother or a father. That if you have given birth to a special-needs baby, I don't know that I would go back to work three days after the delivery. If I had a pregnant 17-year-old daughter, I would be a little wary of how I tossed around topics like teaching "abstinence only" in schools. I would also think about this daughter and think about the love and support she will need, and think very hard about taking on such a difficult and time-consuming position as Vice President of the United States. If I were a pregnant 17-year-old and my mother was in such a public position and my growing belly will be the object of everyone's opinion, regardless of any kind of oath the media might have taken to leave me out of it, I would be completely humiliated.

But that's just me.

After all, didn't we hear about poor brave Elizabeth Edwards and how even though she had inoperable and incurable breast cancer, she wanted her husband to go ahead with his campaign? And the media fell all over it. How could this man be so heartless, they said. How could this man run for the highest office in the land when his wife needed him at home? I should know, I was one of them.

In situations like this, the personal blends with the politics. And I don't think it's possible for the personal to be completely excised from the politics.

And let's look at the other side of the political coin. Oh, how the judgment rained down when it was learned that Senator Obama went to this particular church and listen to this particular pastor and didn't immediately renounce him, and how the judgment rained down when the media reported the most tangential association with the former 60s radical? And we argued in the media about what his personal life says about his potential political service, and nobody had a problem with that. Yes, he got a little ruffled when they went after his wife for making so-called "unpatriotic" comments. But that was considered fair game.

And now we're supposed to look the other way when a vice presidential candidate conducts her private life in a way that may influence her public service?

We had the same argument about Bill Clinton, back in the day, back in the day of blue dresses and Kenneth Starr. We talked about compartmentalization, and how it is possible for a man to have personal failings and yet still be a good leader. But the right saw it a completely different way. They couldn't separate the action from the person. And they said that anyone who cheats on his wife would cheat on the country.

And while I have reclaimed my original roots as a Democrat, I do believe that a person is a sum of their parts. And that you can't separate the person from the behavior, and the behavior speaks to personal integrity.

Integrity. We talk about it, we say that certain people haven't or don't have it or that such and such they said points to their personal integrity. But do we really mean it? And is it the same for the right as for the left?

Absolutely not. I've stepped away from my party of origin long enough to see the double standard -- that some behaviors that are tolerated and excused from Democrats are excoriated when performed by Republicans. And I guess that's just the way it works. I'm not going to change it. A politician who claims that he can reach across the aisle is not going to change it. Even having a third party is not going to change it.

I believe it's just the way of human nature. It comes from when we lived in caves. Everybody in your cave, and in your system of connected caves was okay. Everybody else was the enemy. And when religions began to sprout up, some believed they were more holy than others, more worthy of saving, had the moral high ground over everybody else.

So all I'm asking for is a little common sense. Being human is to judge. We select our leaders based not on an internal checklist of sorts, but by the sum of the whole. Do we like this person? Do they share our values? Do we think they have the judgment to lead? If they are in the White House, will I have more money in my wallet? And so on.

So while I can respect leaving the innocentd out of it, you can't expect me to separate a candidate's politics from their personal behavior.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lost in Translation

I am a year older than I was a couple of days ago, and to celebrate the start of another orbit around the sun, my father and stepmother took Husband and me out for dinner at a local Indian restaurant. We arrived to find the two of them already seated, the table sprinkled with glitter and little tiny "happy birthdays" cut out of blue and red foil, and against one wall, a bouquet of Gerbera daisies (my favorite flower -- take note, for future occasions). My stepmother said that they'd gotten there a little early so they could "set all these things up," but I didn't think much about that because we were all hugging and saying hello and getting settled at our table.

Dinner was excellent, and as we chatted, we passed different dishes around, each with varying degrees of hotness, quenching the fire with white rice and water (Husband commenting that beer would've been better, but the place didn't have a liquor license). At the end, my stepmother inquired of the young waiter our selections for dessert. He said, "We have rice pudding, mango ice cream, and honeyed cantaloupe." The mango ice cream sounded like the perfect follow-up for a spicy meal, and we ordered two dishes to be shared among the four of us.

When we told the waiter, he said, "Okay, but you won't be able to put the candles in the ice cream." And then he left.

Silence. Then my stepmother started chuckling to herself. "Well," she said, "I guess some things get lost in the translation."

Meaning, I guess they don't have too many surprise birthday parties at Indian restaurants, or at least at that one.

And when the waiter came with our ice cream, he handed the package of candles back to my stepmother, and she gave them to me. He was right, they wouldn't really have worked with the ice cream, because the candles were thin and squiggly and then probably would not have not stayed up very well.

They probably would've worked better with one of our appetizers, mashed potatoes and spices coated with chick pea flour and fried, but I guess there probably aren't too many birthday chapatis.

Still, we had fun, and now have a new story to add to the family almanac, which is already bursting at the seams. and so am I, after that meal.

But that's a good thing, because I'm finding that each new orbit has been requiring greater and greater amounts of energy, and as I push toward 50, I'm going to need all the strength I can get.

So pass the chicken vindaloo and get out of my way.

Friday, August 29, 2008

This Presidential Election Brought to You by the Acme Corporation

I'm sure that most of you are old enough to remember Warner Bros. "Road Runner" cartoons. You know, the coyote does everything in his power to catch the Road Runner, but always fails, usually because he had ordered some defective product from the Acme Corporation. And sticking out his little tongue, the Road Runner zooms away, leaving the coyote a quivering pile of ash because something had exploded in his face.

The last few weeks of this presidential election have felt like one of those cartoons. With Obama as the coyote and McCain as the Road Runner. Every time Obama tries to get some headlines, there's that road runner McCain again, sticking out his tongue and running away. During the Democratic convention, McCain ran a series of attack ads, sticking his finger in Obama's over and over and over. He used Hillary's words against her, he used Obama's words against his, and the one time where he tried to look like a nice guy (on the eve of Obama's acceptance speech), running a spot where he claimed that it was Obama's night and congratulations on making history (and by the way, I'm still here) he still had away of sucking the oxygen out of the room.

And when the Democratic ticket was "supposed" to be enjoying a healthy post-convention bounce in the polls, McCain drops the bomb (after playing "Where's Waldo" with the press for most of the morning) with his selection of a running mate.

I couldn't immediately articulate how that made me feel, but NPR's Cokie Roberts summed it up best: "What an... odd choice."

One of the first things I thought was, "there goes McCain's entire argument that Senator Obama does not have enough experience." Even though McCain is in excellent health, and 72 is still considered young (or fairly young), nature does have a way of telling you when your time is up, and should the occasion arise where McCain can no longer execute his duties, does anybody in this universe believe that a 44-year-old first-term governor from Alaska has what it takes to assume the powers of the presidency? I am all for breaking that glass ceiling, and although I'm not one of Hillary's greatest fans, should the situation have arisen where she landed in the Oval Office, she probably would have done a good job.

With this one, on not so sure. Yes, she's a maverick, and yes, she can probably take down a grizzly bear or three, but I have my doubts if she's the right person for the job. Granted, vice presidents really don't have a lot to do. As one news commentator said this morning, the vice presidential pick is important on two days: the day they are selected, and the day of the debate.

I want to I say that Joe Biden is going to tear the governor of Alaska to shreds, but then I remember two words: Rick Lazio. In case you don't remember, this poor schmuck ran against Hillary in her first term as senator. During one of their debates, he stood a little bit too close to her, and was accused of "invading her space," and it apparently egregious violation that equates itself with sexism, paternalism, and all forms of subjugation of women going back to when Eve was tossed out of paradise. I am hoping that Biden debates her just like he would any other candidate and does not fall victim to this fear of looking like the big bad guy even though it was clear that Hillary could've taken down Lazio with one good hard stare.

Yes, people accuse McCain of being a little ossified in his thinking, but this pick of running mate may be a smarter choice than most people think. And there goes that Road Runner again.

We need to change this cartoon and we need to change it now.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Strangely Compelling Sports

Okay, I promise that this is going to be the last Olympics post (unless something odd happens, like I'm hit by a lightning bolt or the entire Chinese gymnastics team is thrown out for being underage -- not that that would ever happen).

But I just wanted to share this one incident with you.

Husband was out doing yard work, and I was surfing about seeing if I could find any events that had slipped through the cracks. And I landed on Rhythmic Gymnastics, which has got to be one of the more bizarre sports in Olympic history, except for maybe back when they used to shoot pigeons and style poodles (seriously, they really did this), compete in the tug-of-war or shoot at clothed mannequins with dueling pistols (this practice was shut down in 1906).

In the particular event that I was watching, a team of five young ladies, dressed up like tasteful Las Vegas showgirls, leapt around an exercise floor, some tossing hoops in the air, some tossing what looked like heavily padded drumsticks, all the while flipping and leaping and spinning about and somehow (I have no idea how) catching these items either with their hands, behind their necks, or between their toes, all while performing the synchronized dance event and performing it for very high scores.

I was transfixed.

And at this particular moment, Husband comes inside, sees me watching this, and shakes his head.

"No," he says. "No, no, no. That is not a sport."

"Of course it is," I say. "Can you imagine the training that goes into that?"

"I don't care," he says. "It's ridiculous."

"But don't you find it strangely compelling?"

"No," he says. "Curling was strangely compelling. With this, they've just gone too far. There's just too many sports in this thing, that's why can't get into it this year. I think I like winter sports better."

To each his own, I thought, as he trudged upstairs to shower. So what if it's out of the mainstream. I can appreciate the hard work it must've taken to learn the routines, to have your body in such great shape that you can be that flexible and have such great reflexes. He comes back downstairs, maybe he forgot something.

I can't resist. "But think about this," I tell him. "Not only do they have to learn those routines, but a bunch of other countries are also doing it at the same time."

"I don't care," he reiterates. "It doesn't make it any less ridiculous. And I don't want to talk about it anymore."

Oh, but for some reason I still do. Probably just to rub it in a little bit -- it's fun sometimes when he gets irritated. "But not only do a bunch of other countries do it too, but somebody got together and established criteria for what makes a good routine or not."

He disappears upstairs and I don't see him again for a long time. Meanwhile, I'm strangely compelled to watch the rest of the rhythmic gymnastics, marveling at how gorgeous the Russian team is, and how beautifully they execute their routine.

And later in the day (I have been recording each days, evenings, nights events so I can watch them at my leisure -- God bless DVRs), I found myself watching the individual rhythmic gymnastics events. But somehow, they were not as interesting -- not nearly as strangely compelling as a group of five women all trained to toss about the same piece of equipment and roll around on the floor. I mean, your average cheerleader can do any of those individual routines -- it takes a lot more, I imagine, to put five women together and have it come out looking good. So I found myself fast forwarding through most of the routines, like I've done for many of the recordings, until I find an event that's more interesting (I'm really not caring much for indoor volleyball) and then deleting it when it's done.

Oh, the fickleness of the average TV viewer. It makes me wonder what other sports could eventually wind up on the Olympic stage. If they can give out gold medals for BMX and for mountain biking, why not dog racing or cage fighting or, hey, why not just bring back dueling. Just have it between countries who are at war, and kill two birds with one stone.

Now there's some political action.

So Much for That...

Earlier this summer, I was bitten by the Obama bug. I actually thought that this would be the first election in a very long string of elections in my lifetime where I would feel stirred enough not to merely slap a bumper sticker on my car and maybe write a letter to the editor, but to take the plunge and get involved.

I mean the Involved kind of involved -- volunteering to man the "get out the vote" booths, seeing the press releases not only get written but get sent to the proper media in time to promote the proper event, and all that other stuff that people with lots of energy and lots of free time and lots of conviction do. I actually went to meetings. Signed up for mailing lists. Signed a list where I indicated my interests and which I would be able to donate to the cause.

Then something happened along the way.

Maybe I was sidetracked by everything I needed to do to prepare for my mother-in-law's memorial service, maybe I just plum got tired, or maybe after watching the news for long enough and hearing him speak for long enough, the stars fell out of my eyes, and I saw just another politician standing there with his shirt sleeves rolled up in the middle of an auditorium trying to get elected.

And then, it seemed that all the hard work and dedication and time that I had with great conviction wanted to donate no longer mattered. There would always be somebody else -- some college student, some old hippie -- there to pick up the baton and make sure the work got done and make sure that petitions got signed and make sure that everybody who didn't have a car would get a ride to their polling place on election day.

It didn't even matter if I voted or not, and this bluest of all blue states.

And that discouraged me most of all. Then why would I be willing to give up 5-6 hours of my week for something that didn't even matter? Yes, if I've lived in one of those swing states, perhaps it might make make a difference, perhaps getting a few more people registered to vote might tip the balance one way or the other, but here? In New York State?

Might as well stay home and watch the Olympics. Now there's some real politics. I don't know how many of you noticed the scores during the gymnastics and the diving, but the judges seemed very generous to the Chinese athletes. Okay, this often happens to the host country, they're known for getting a little boost now and again, but this just started to seem plain ridiculous. Now, I'm no expert on either of these events, but I can tell just from watching them when someone has made an egregious mistake in their routine. Like, falling on your ass, for one. Or displacing half the water in the pool when you dive. These seem like things that should be marked down a little bit. Or maybe I just don't understand the judging process. Maybe that gymnast meant to fall on her ass -- maybe that was really part of the routine.

You can handle things like that when you're 14 or so -- kids are like rubber at that age.

What really bugged me were not just the politics of the games but the politics surrounding the games -- notably the ones that were notably absent. You can't go telling me that there weren't any protesters surrounding the lovely Water Cube and the stunning Birds Nest and in pristine Tienamen Square while events were going on? Maybe something to do with human rights? Or Tibet?

Yet I didn't see or hear word one of any kind of protest -- not since winter athlete Joey Cheek had his visa revoked before the games started -- until today, Sunday, the last day of the games. I turn on my TV -- to the Olympic channel of course -- and during the Sunday morning news shows there it is -- the crawl running underneath the picture. Something that mentioned how many protesters were "detained" during the games. Well. Good thing NBC didn't run anything like that during the games, and possibly get Bob Costas's visa revoked. Now how would that look to the world? How would that look to the chances of NBC ever getting to broadcast the games again?

Just something to think about if you're planning on going to London in 2012 to protest the high price of petrol. or, you know, anything bad that England might be doing by then.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Enough Already!

I hope you’re sitting down, because I’m about to do that human thing where I act all idiosyncratic and change my opinion about politicians and their public peccadilloes.

Not all politicians, mind you. Some still need to have their feet held to the fire when they misbehave, especially those like Eliot Spitzer who act all high and mighty, and those like Bill Clinton, who violate the public’s trust and lie under oath and cost us all way too much time and money.

I’m talking about John Edwards. And I think the media should just pack up their trucks and leave him the hell alone. One, he already had the smell of sleaze about him (for those of us with sensitive sniffers) so something like this was bound to happen sometime. Two, he is no longer a political factor. I’m sure if Obama had him on the short list for Veep, he’s been scratched, and I’ve written before that Edwards’ campaign was screwed from the start and he might as well just go back to North Carolina and take care of his family.

Which brings me to three. Yes, he had an affair. There may or may not be a baby involved and there may or may not be political funds involved. But he also has a wife with recurrent breast cancer involved, and Elizabeth deserves some peace. Edwards has to answer to his own karma and to his own spouse, but to parade this thing around in public is not exactly the best recipe for her recovery.

Jim McGreevy’s wife seems like a pretty tough cookie. Eliot Spitzer’s wife can probably melt butter just by staring at it. But they can take care of themselves. Having breast cancer is bad enough without having it reoccur, without having her husband – who claimed that he would be by her side – cavorting around with another woman and getting caught (and lying about it) by the National Enquirer, of all things.

Yes, if it bleeds, it leads, and if it’s sleaze, it leads first, but if I had anything to say about it, I wouldn’t say anything. Especially quotes from the alleged “other woman,” who said that her hope was that the two of them would be together “someday,” (a not-so-vague and definitely not-so-nice euphemism for when Elizabeth dies) and please, please no more high profile TV talk show interviews where Edwards does the contrite Clinton dance, admitting to his misgivings and holding hands with his forgiving and ever-patient spouse, who, like Hillary, probably wants to brain him with one of her high heeled shoes.

Come to think of it, maybe Elizabeth ought to do that to a few of the reporters until they get the hint.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Olympic Dreams

So I'm corny, so I'm a sucker for the hype, but I'm really getting into the Olympics this year.

At first I started watching just the events that I normally home in on -- gymnastics and diving, some of the swimming (and not just because of the guys in their skintight suits).

But then I started drifting.

It was an innocent channel surf, at first. The "girls" were playing beach volleyball. Previously I thought that was a little weird, to have an event like that at the Olympics, a couple of girls in bikinis bouncing around in the sand. With cheerleaders and a rock 'n roll soundtrack, yet. I started to write it off as some kind of eye candy to get the male viewers, but then I started really watching them play.

And this ain't some casual Annette-and-Frankie-beachside romp. These women work their asses off. They are every much the athlete that, say, Venus Williams is. Not only are the two of them running all over that court to smash that ball around, but they are doing it in sand. And anyone who has tried to run around in the sand knows that it ain't easy.

And try doing it in a bikini. I always thought that part was a little unfair. The men get to look comfortable in a pair of jams and a polo shirt. The swimmers get a sleek unitard that stays put no matter what. Even the divers -- except for an unfortunate few who flash some butt crack as they're crawling out of the pool -- don't spend too much time worrying about losing their uniforms. And these women are leaping about, flopping headfirst into the sand, taking their bodies through their entire range of motion, wearing little more fabric that would take to make a neck tie.

Now that's an athlete.

Then I started noticing some of the other events. Some of them didn't get my interest at all -- indoor volleyball struck me as one of those sports that's more fun to play than it is to watch. Soccer doesn't do too much for me, I'm not much of a basketball fan, I can never seem to find when the baseball games are on, and weightlifting? It's not really something that I want to have memories off in my head -- some grunting guy five times my size shoving a giant weight in the air.

But what I do like is when I stumble upon something that I never thought I would like, such as water polo (okay, the guys wear a little less for this one and none of them wax their chests), bicycling, and canoeing. It's good for you to try something a little different now and again -- it kind of cracks your head open, so to speak, takes you outside of your "usualness" and that's always good for the soul.

But I think that I'm getting a little out of hand. I'm scanning the website for the schedule of events, I've signed on for e-mail alerts as to when those events will be occurring, I've become a major Phelps Phan, and I'm recording each night's events on my DVR so I can fast-forward through them in the morning. Which has led to trying not to watch the news in the morning so I don't inadvertently find out who got the gold.

I'm wondering, is there a 12 step program for this? Olympiads Anonymous? Olympanonymous? Do I have to train for it?

God I hope not. I don't run anymore, my legs were always too short for hurdles, forget the high jump, the shot put, and the long jump. It's much too late to be a child prodigy at gymnastics, and I never quite got the hang of diving.

But finally, I can get my head in the water. And one day, when I'm a big girl, I'll be able to swim without my floaties.

If Dara Torres can do it, so can I do. Watch out London -- I'm coming for you in 2012.

Friday, August 01, 2008

RFG on LOA, not DOA

Hello all,

No, I have not jumped off the bridge from the stress of planning an event for 70 in my backyard, nor have I skipped town with the spare change from RFG's slush fund.

So I don't have to keep hearing from certain people about having to stare at that "damned refrigerator," any longer, ( ;) ) this is just to report that I'm taking some time off to work on a deadline (and, start planning an event for 70 in my backyard).

I hope to be back here soon. Please don't go away!

-The editors of our RFG

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

They Shoot Refrigerators, Don't They?

It had to happen sometime. Our workhorse of a refrigerator, which we've had since we first bought our house, was breaking down. The freezer was leaking, which left puddles of water in the produce bins, forcing us to locate strategic Tupperware containers to catch the steady stream. Then these would freeze, and they would require regular emptying. Also, anything that got pushed too far back froze, no matter where we set the adjustments. This led to disappointments (or happy accidents, if you're a terminal optimist) like frozen lettuce, frozen yogurt (and not the kind that's meant to be frozen), frozen and exploded eggs, and frozen and ruined fake butter spread.

We thought about fixing it, as it seemed ridiculous that a refrigerator would only last nine years, thought like everybody seems to be saying, that they don't make things like they used to. Also, an examination by a neighbor's handyman revealed the appliances death knell -- it would cost hundreds of dollars to fix, and doing the cost/benefit analysis simply didn't make repair worthwhile.

You may be thinking that there's an easy solution to this problem -- just go out and buy a new refrigerator. Well, you're half right. We never really liked the refrigerator -- because of the bizarre way that the people who built our house put together the kitchen, we were forced to buy a refrigerator that fit the space. And that didn't leave us with too many alternatives. Plus, we always wanted a refrigerator with the freezer on the bottom to make it easier to get into the produce bins since I'm eating like a rat that these days.

The good news is that after husband hunted down a new refrigerator, he found one that not only had the freezer on the bottom, fit into our space, but was on sale.

The bad news is what I will have to do in preparation for our bundle of joy's arrival on Saturday. No, not simply cleaning it all out, which is daunting enough, given our tendency to leave vegetables languishing in the back of the refrigerator until they become gazpacho.

It's in the dismantling of the outside of the refrigerator, which over the years has become many things to us: museum of kids' drawings, our magnet collection, our little slips of paper that we didn't want to lose, and especially one of my major forms of creative expression.

After I hurt my back, and then the cascade of other health problems that followed, I found myself unable to write, either sitting in front of the computer or with my journal. So with fond thanks mostly to my stepmother and friend, I began letting my feelings out with magnetic letters, rolls of white paper, and brightly colored markers. Another good friend also found for me a package of white magnetic sheets that let me simply stick them up and scribble whatever I wanted to. And although my health has improved greatly, I still occasionally find myself in front of my "Wailing Wall" when I have bad days and want to get the feelings out.

Now, with only a few more days to go until our lovely new refrigerator arrives, I'm facing the realization that by breaking down the past, I'm taking a few more baby steps toward my future. I started working on it this morning, finding an empty organic lettuce container to be the most handy thing to hold the magnets. In the beginning it was easy -- I often approach new tasks this way, by thinking about them for a while, then plunging in. Then I hit that wall. The one that tells me that this is not going to be as easy as I thought it was. As the magnets began piling up in the plastic container, and I began tossing out the ones that had no meaning (after all, how many magnets do I need that advertise one takeout place, and how many 2007 calendars do I need?), I found myself choking up with tears. Knowing full in my heart that I am letting go of a piece of my past, but not quite knowing yet if this was a good thing or not.

After many lessons, I finally learned that when I get like this sometimes it's good to just walk away for a while. And know that I don't have to complete it all at once, but I could come back tomorrow and finish, or the next day, or the next. Or, I could just let the guys take the damn thing away all covered with magnets.

It's good to have options.

I'll try to get back to it tomorrow, and do a little bit at a time, stopping if it gets to be too much.

But in the back of my head, I know that even though we've selected a refrigerator with one of those fancy new stainless steel type coatings, you can still stick magnets to it. And I can start fresh, mapping out my future with rolls of white paper, and brightly colored markers, and all the magnetic letters that I please.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

This Is Why the Terrorists Hate Us

Some people have picnics, some invite the neighbors over for a backyard barbecue, some go to parades, some shoot their fingers off with fireworks. Other people celebrate the Fourth of July by trying to stuff as many hot dogs as they can down their gullets in 10 minutes.

The signers of the Declaration of Independence must be spinning like rotisserie chickens in their graves.

Yet this tradition goes on, sponsored by Nathan's, and held at New York's Coney Island and -- this is my favorite part -- shown on ESPN as if it were an actual sporting event.

Something is wrong with this country, or we have just way too much time on our hands.

But that's not all of it. It doesn't stop with hot dogs. Many of the competitors in the 10 minute glutton-fest also participate in "competitive eating" events featuring other types of foods. According to the caption underneath one competitor, he was once able to eat 77 pickled jalapenos in 10 minutes. As one of my neighbors so poetically put it, "I'd hate to be the one using the bathroom after him."

This year's winner was Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, a young American lad who retains the coveted golden yellow mustard belt for the second year running. He accomplished this feat by downing 59 dogs in 10 minutes, tying his arch rival Takeru Kobayashi and leading to a 5-hot dog "eat off" to determine the winner.

Both of their mothers must be so very proud.

Later on that day, I happen to be watching the news, and saw an interview with a doctor on what it actually takes to compete in one of these events, and the effects it can have on your body long term. Contrary to what you might think, competitors are mainly of normal weight, but they spend months before each competition eating large amounts of foods at once or drinking a lot of water in an attempt to stretch their stomachs. Normal stomachs can hold about a gallon of food or liquid, but these fanatics can get theirs to hold up to a gallon and a half. Long-term, they can be looking at all sorts of gastrointestinal problems, the worst of which can be stomach rupturing, which can cause life-threatening infection in the entire abdominal cavity.

Yet these yahoos don't seem to care. They go on eating their hot dogs, jalapenos, pickled eggs, lumberjack breakfast, pies of all types, and God knows what else, (now here's the buzz kill part) while people are starving all over the world and even in her own backyards.

It's funny on the surface, but ridiculous and even cruel underneath.

They could've at least eaten turkey hot dogs, for Christ's sake. Or those awful tofu things, which would rid the world of them and leave all the good hot dogs for us.

Happy Fourth, everybody.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Flash This!

Yes, it's that time of year again, when the hot flashes are a-flashin' and I ask myself the big, important questions, like, "Why the heck hasn't somebody invented anything to take care of this!?"

And since all the brilliant minds in this world have not been able to solve this problem effectively, how can we turn it around and find something positive in it?

I think I have the answer.

Forget about hydrogen cars. Forget about solar power, wind power, our dependence on fossil fuels - why isn't anyone harnessing the massive power that is being generated by an entire cohort of hot-flashing female baby boomers?

Well, until they figure it out, maybe they can start work on the following, simpler ideas that would be very much appreciated:

1. A self-regulating blanket that compares the room temperature with the body temperature of the sleeper and adjusts its coverage accordingly. Solve this one and you will never have to worry about money ever again.

2. A very tiny, water-tight cooler that could hold the following: two or three ice cubes and a cold washcloth. Very handy for hot flashes while you're on the road, and it tucks neatly into your purse or gym bag.

3. As gas prices go higher and higher, some of us are using our car air conditioners more judiciously. Hence, it gets damned hot in there. Hence, we need a device that will warn our fellow motorists that we didn't just cut you off because we're lousy drivers, but because we're driving like hell in order to get to somewhere air-conditioned. A small digital readout that you can mount on top of your car could be handy. You can program it to scroll several different messages, such as, "sorry about that," "no, I don't have PMS," "I'm sorry officer, but the sweat was dripping into my eyes and I didn't see that stop sign," or simply the curse words of your choosing.

4. Velcro is not just for strippers anymore! Because sometimes you just can't get those layers off fast enough, more clothing should be made with easily detachable seams. One rip, and you're cool as a breeze.

I had lots of other ideas, but because hot flashes have also been shown to be linked to memory loss, I can't think of them at the moment. So I'm going to go stick my head in the freezer until I feel like myself again.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Take A Hike...

As part of the celebration of my father's 75th trip around the sun, a good deal of our extended family got together for a weekend that included dinner, then brunch the next morning at a local resort nestled into the Shawangunk Mountains (just east of the Catskills). A good time was had by all -- or least I hope everybody was having fun -- despite this weird random weather pattern we've been having where it's sunny one minute and a raging thunderstorm comes up the next. After Sunday brunch (and after family photos in many different combinations...a reminder to those of you who took pictures...I want them!!) we set ourselves loose upon the grounds for an afternoon of hiking or whatever else we wanted to do outdoors in this stunning locale.

I've had the pleasure of hiking in this location many times before in my earlier years. There is something called the "rock scramble" whereupon the braver and more nimble members of your hiking party may disappear into a rock crevice and go hand over hand through the course until you emerge from the other side. The locals have another name for it, but by any name, it's a good workout. I was concerned about how much hiking I could do, so in the beginning, Husband and I followed the kiddies through a garden maze and up a treehouse.

Meanwhile, my dad,stepmom, stepbrothers and my older nephew took off for the tower, which is the second most strenuous type of hike -- 30-45 minutes or so uphill then up the stairs of the watchtower, then all the way back down. The view is worth the climb, and when I get into better shape, I can't wait to tackle it.

Once we were done with the maze however, I started to feel a little antsy (that's how I often get when a thunderstorm is approaching) I needed to move. No one else seem motivated, so I took to the lower trail, which looped around the lake. As I progressed, I could hear the thunder growling louder and longer. I heard the horn signal that the boats should get out of the water (I think the signal is also for swimmers, but I imagine the water was a little too cold for swimming and no one was in the lake). But I didn't feel like going back. Maybe that was foolhardy, but that's just the mood I was in, stoked on a decadent brunch and the collective love of my family that weekend. I kept walking until I got to this little wooden gazebo (I suppose it's too small to really be called a gazebo) and was struck by the view of the shack against the lake and the resort. That's what's in the photo. What didn't show in the photo was a bolt of lightning that jolted down just as I was taking the picture. I kept walking a little farther, until I was about halfway around the lake, and with the storm getting stronger, it seemed like a really good idea to head back. I left behind a young couple who were setting up their camera with a tripod, and the woman had just said to the man, "get a good picture of that lightning." I didn't want to be anywhere near them, and their expensive lightning rod.

All in all, it was a great weekend, (thank you, thank you, thank you, to everyone and happy birthday to my father again!) and I'm really proud of myself for trying a little bit of a hike.

I'm looking forward to more -- great weekends, time with my family, and hikes.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Remembering George

George Carlin died Sunday night, and I'm pissed off.

No, not for that reason. We all have to go some time, and his bad heart was bound to get him eventually, but what I'm pissed off about is some networks' coverage of the fact.

Fox, in particular. They called him a "controversial comedian" and that was about it.

WFT is up with that? He was not merely "controversial." He was a freaking legend. Lenny Bruce, another freaking legend, passed the torch to Carlin, who ran with it, performed new tricks with it, got arrested for it (when radio station WBAI aired his "Seven Words You Can't Say On Television," and he inspired every single half-assed dirty comic out there today who thinks that swearing is the way to get a laugh.

There's a difference here, between, say, Jim Norton and George Carlin. A huge difference. Carlin used language appropriate to his point. A fine-bristled brush at times, and at others, a sledgehammer.

For the kiddies out there who haven't heard Carlin's genius, he made fun of the peculiarities of our language, the freak show that is the human race, and our amazing, astounding, head-scratching, infuriating idiosyncrasies and hypocrisies. Welcome to the freak show, he said once (and I'm paraphrasing), and those of us in America have a front row seat.

Another thing that amazed me is that his delivery sounded as if he were making up the whole act as he went along. Yet from what I heard about him in an interview, he very carefully wrote and rehearsed (and rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed) each performance. I don't know how he kept the spontaneity in his act, but that's another thing I admired about him

I was first introduced to Carlin when I, a curious ten-year-old, "borrowed" my father's copy of FM and AM, and Class Clown (which I still have to this day). I played them and laughed my ass off. My friend Deanne came over and we both laughed our asses off, (and I got in trouble with her mother) but from then on we repeated his best lines to each other like certain folks do with favorite Monty Python skits now. (our favorites were from his rants about growing up Catholic, which neither of us were doing)

I began to collect each new album as it came out. Occupation: Foole, Toledo Window Box, A Place For My Stuff, and others. Over time, Carlin began to influence me as a writer. I think that's where my fascination with words began. The way he crafted them amused me, startled me, woke me out of my stupor, and made me think.

And for your amusement and thought processes, I leave you with a few of my favorite Carlin rants.

And the knowledge that whatever anyone is saying about him on the news, he'd probably hate it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Power of Words: And Who Gets The Power To Choose?

At around eight each evening, I go brain-dead and bone-tired and just want to flop in front of the TV. So, to paraphrase my father, I seek out not the most highbrow of entertainment.

Last night, I was particularly zombie-fied (it had been a tough week), and was happy to find a rerun of "Blazing Saddles" on TV Land. I knew it would be cut to ribbons but thought it would be amusing still and also bring back memories of when my folks took us to see it way back when.

Yes, I knew it would be dubbed. But I was surprised at how it had been edited - what was removed and what was left in, which words were OK and which were verboten.

Of course, the "seven deadlies" were removed. That goes without saying. (And for some reason, “screw” is now on this list. Or at least it is in TV Land) And the many, many mentions of the "n" word were obliterated. The people would only get out the "ni" sound and then some other sound (a gunshot, a church bell, the whinny of a rearing horse) would come in and drown it out. But you knew what they were talking about. "Black" and "white," even "schvartze" (Yiddish for "black") were allowed to stay. But so many potentially offensive race references and stereotypes were left in - except for the one famous line when Cleavon Little and Madeline Kahn were in the dark and she was commenting on the size of his schnitzengruber (or something like that). That scene was simply cut. Another reference I found interesting was how the editors dealt with references to homosexuality. It's OK for Dom DeLuise to play an obviously flaming Busby Berkeley type, scolding his chorus of male dancers by calling them "sissy-marys," yet no one in the movie was allowed say "faggot." I remember another instance of censorship of this word when I was driving home from Christmas at my father's and stepmother's house, listening to NPR for company. They were playing Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" and they cut the word. Excuse me? NPR? Home of the open mind? Censorship? Jeez. We got the context. I didn't feel offended, and the several gay people I knew at the time didn't feel offended, either.

But what about negative stereotypes of the elderly, the mentally challenged, Prussian soldiers, Mexican bandits, alcoholics, Klan members, bimbo secretaries, American Indians, and all the rest that were left in? Why are only certain groups protected? The size of their lobbying groups? The number of outraged letters the network would get?

And have any members of these groups ever actually SEEN a Mel Brooks movie? He lives to offend. Nothing mean-spirited is meant (as far as I can see). I can see that certain words should be struck from the lexicon completely, in any context. But the fact of them was clear in Blazing Saddles, which was set in 1874.

Did Germans flood Brooks with letters when “Springtime For Hitler” appeared in the first production of “The Producers?”

Don’t know.

The second movie of that night’s double feature was “Young Frankenstein.” I would have loved to see that, too, but I was leaving TV Land for Bed Land. I wonder if the censors had cut “schvanstukker.”

After all, no one wants to offend the very powerful coalition of Reanimated Transylvanians. They can really get ugly.

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's finally true...

It's finally happened.

The joke that some female comedian (I want to say "Erma Bombeck," but then again, I always want to say "Erma Bombeck." Must be some kind of mental tic. There's probably a medication for that.) uttered about dieting has come true. That one day they'll find out that chocolate is good for you and lettuce is bad.

Now the Food Police is saying that this is so. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants which are good for your heart and keep you feeling and looking young. And according to "First" magazine (and the FDA), 93% of lettuce in America is contaminated with perchlorate, a chemical found in jet fuel and car batteries. Perchlorate has leached from the soil into our ground water, in 43 states. Also effected are cucumbers, citrus fruits and tomatoes (like tomatoes haven't had enough bad press lately). And don't think you can sit back all smug (like I so often do...) with your organic produce - this nasty doesn't discriminate.

Nor does it sit back there with question marks around it as to its potential damage like so many other toxic chemicals in our bodily stew. This one has already been shown to screw with your thyroid gland. Dr. Richard L. Shames, author of Thyroid Power, says that exposure to this chemical can make your thyroid sluggish, leading to fatigue, depression, and weight gain in one of three women.

Finally, finally, you can say "it's my thyroid" and have it be a legitimate excuse for those love handles!

But seriously, folks. Poison like this has been around for years. WHEN are the powers that be going to wise up and DO something about this. A scary fact I found out when I was researching my last article was that even though DDT has been banned for the last thirty years or so, children are still testing positive for this deadly pesticide! It's speculated that the chemical is still in the soil and ground water, so we're still consuming it.

Holy crap. It's enough to make you crazy. But is getting all stressed about it actually worse than consuming a heaping bowl of salad? (like I do just about every day?)

I'm willing to bet you that someone, somewhere has gotten funding to do a study about that.

Meanwhile, I gotta go find someone to write to...right after I finish my lunch.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Stuck On You

Today I went for my annual physical. Based on a previous blood test, my doctor wanted me to up my Vitamin D supplements. He told me the amount he wanted me to take every day, and I asked him to write it down so I wouldn't forget (don't trust that memory anymore!). He scribbled it on a sticky note and I put it on the chair next to me in his office, with my things (actually, atop the overshirt I was wearing when I came in).

Then, he wanted me to come into the examination room, but he has a thing about people wearing their shoes in there so he asked me to remove them first.

We finished, and I left, and by the time I arrived at the health food store to buy a larger-dosed Vitamin D, the note had vanished. Couldn't find the damned thing anywhere. His office, by this time, was closed, so I searched my memory for the amount he'd said. 3000 a day? 4000? Oh, whatever, I thought, and just went inside.

As I approached the door to the little mall that housed the not-so-little-anymore health food store, a woman walking behind me got my attention. "Excuse me," she said. "But there's something stuck to your rear end."

You can probably guess what it was. Yep. The doctor's sticky note.

"I just didn't want you to go around looking like that," she said.

I thanked her profusely. She said, "I hope you weren't wearing that for too long."

Only for three previous errands, I thought to myself.

Great. I'd been trolling all over town with a sticky note stuck to my ass.

I'm glad I ran into her. It made me wonder how many other people would bring something like this to someone's attention, or just let them walk around looking like a schmuck.

A question for my dwindling readership: Would you tell someone if they had something stuck to them? Something sticking out of them? Or let them traipse around looking stupid and laugh behind their back?

Monday, June 02, 2008

RFG Book Review

I just finished reading a tiny unsung gem of a book (actually, not that tiny...) by Margaret Atwood that I found remaindered (gasp!) at B&N. I think the title had something to do with it, as it's a bit obscure-sounding: Oryx and Crake.

Atwood has gone back to her "Handmaid's Tale" style of futuristic allegory with this one. Only the apocolyptic vision of O & C comes after a good chunk of the world drowns due to global warming (pardon me, climate change). Getting too far into it would give away the story, but the artistry with which she winds plot and character is masterful. We open to a mysterious loner who calls himself "Snowman." This malcreant lives in a tree to protect himself from the blazing noonday sun, and is regularly tormented by a group of inquisitive children.

Then, going back and forth in time, Atwood lays out the story, told through Snowman's hunger-fuzzy vision, of he and his childhood friend, Crake, and the girl who came between them. The boys grew up with every privilege in a special secure compound. Their parents were preternatural geniuses who worked in this compound's lab creating various gene-spliced "upgrades" to improve the human condition in this challenged new world. The boys, after college, take over the family business, so to speak, but with quite different results. Which, ultimately, leave Snowman up a tree with a lot of 'splaining to do to this band of children.

I was willing to overlook a few minor plot flaws to go along on the ride through this brave new world. I probably even would have paid full price for it.

Friday, May 09, 2008

A thought for the day...

I don't often do this, but I just had to share this forwarded joke with you:


make a difference when we give
a child the gift of our time.

A young family moved into a house, next to a vacant lot. One day, a construction crew began
to build a house on the empty lot. The young family's 5-year-old daughter naturally took an
interest in the goings-on and spent much of each day observing the workers.

Eventually the construction crew, all of them 'gems-in-the-rough,' more or less, adopted her
as a kind of project mascot. They chatted with her during coffee and lunch breaks and gave her
little jobs to do here and there to make her feel important. At the end of the first week, they even
presented her with a pay envelope containing ten dollars. The little girl took this home to her
mother who suggested that she take her ten dollars 'pay' she'd received to the bank the next
day to start a savings account.

When the girl and her mom got to the bank, the teller was equally impressed and asked the little
girl how she had come by her very own pay check at such a young age. The little girl proudly replied,
'I worked last week with a real construction crew building the new house next door to us.'

'Oh my goodness gracious,' said the teller, 'and will you be working on the house again this week, too?'

The little girl replied, 'I will, if those assholes at Home Depot ever deliver the f_ckin' sheet rock.'

Kind of brings a tear to the eye - doesn't it?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Following up on the bra...

This is why I love my doctor -- when I went to him just to check on the condition of my rib injury (heretofore to be known as The Great Victoria's Secret Debacle of 2008), in the short time that I was in his office, we talked more about his ailments than mine. I found out that he has tendinitis in his foot, and the odd thing about that is that he can run without pain, but he can't walk. This amuses him greatly, and he's started referring to himself as Forrest Gump. I also found out that he still has trouble with the tendinitis in his elbow that he had last summer, had to go to physical therapy for it, and is also annoyed because he was having a slow afternoon because he didn't expect the installation of his new computer system to go as quickly as it did.

Somewhere in there, he poked about my rib cage, said that I had a bruised rib, ran through the range of painkillers that could be available to me, and told me when it came to my usual exercise routine, that if it hurts, don't do it. For this, he went to medical school.

No, I'm just kidding. I've been going to him for about 17 years, and these are the traits that make him more endearing. He's the kind of guy you want to take home and make soup for.

I opted for the Tylenol with codeine, (turned out to be a mistake; it kept me awake all night) and he made a promise not to drive after I took it. If I'd only known what my reaction would be, I could have, say, taken third shift at a nuclear power plant.

But I got thinking about his "if it hurts, don't do it" comment. And it makes me feel like I'm being tested. Like something up there or out there in the universe, the thing that's bigger than all of us that we all tap into now and again, wants to see how badly I want to write.

First, like the doctor, I get tendinitis in both elbows last summer, which necessitated my changing the way I write on the computer. While I was in the acute phase, I started using voice-activated software. I got better and could type a little, and then I got sore again. Back to the VAS, and doesn't iti figure that The Great Victoria's Secret Debacle is causing me pain when I talk.

So there you go. I'm going to have to have some scientists devise a way for me to write by using my eyelashes or following the movements of my pupils.

Because nothing is going to stop me. Not a little pain in my elbows, and certainly not an underwire bra.