kitchen table

straddling adulthood, or something like that
August 30, 2006, 12:01 pm
Filed under: Blogging, Darn Kids, Growing Up

This morning before work I took my brother out to coffee. Well, he got some ridiculous strawberry-shake drink and I got tea so coffee in the atmospheric sense, not the literal. We had a bit of banter about the worth of classical music: he took the “it’s outdated” argument while I insisted that respect for the likes of Beethoven and Mozart was essential for a musician. It is a clear example of my getting older, of gaining significant distance from the youthful inclination to dismiss the accomplishments of those that came before. But it’s also evidence of a trait I’m not eager to embrace: the inclination to argue on behalf of people for whom or ideals for which I don’t really care about just for the sake of pointing out to a young person what they should respect, what they should know.

I like to think that I redeemed myself somehow though as I spent the rest of the conversation, and the ride to drop him off at home, asking him what he thought made a good teacher. Picking his brain, I was reminded that if I want to know what makes a great teacher and if I want to be one, I need to listen to some of their greatest fans and critics: their 15 year old students. At times it’s hard to get my brother to talk about anything passionately besides his music but when I asked him that simple question–what do you think makes a good teacher?–he was practically tripping over his words, they were coming out so fast.

This straddling of adulthood and youngin’-life is a funny thing. In any given day I feel hypocritical, responsible, wise, and compromised. Or contradictory, sold-out, and doing-the-best-I-can. Just the other day I read through my journals from the first couple years of college and I hardly recognized the girl who must have held the pen, the girl who must have written the words. And again I felt those mixed emotions: embarrassed by her ignorance and yet moved–inspired–by her innocence.


news from Addicted to Race
August 28, 2006, 3:50 pm
Filed under: Blogging, conservative craziness, Racism

I’m coming out of the depths of my ongoing illness to shake an angry fist at the following discovery: Survivor, that pioneer in reality television, will be dividing tribes by race in the upcoming season.

Yeah, that’s right. By race. The Ladies at Addicted to Race have some analysis up on their site.

Update: I was telling some of my friends about this and one of them pointed out that if the show really wanted to portray accurate racial politics, the White team would show up the first day to find their shelter already made. A team of lawyers would be standing by with the deed and a list of all the other luxuries they inherited. Meanwhile, the other teams would be appropriately scrambling. Fucking Survivor, I hate this idea.

my adventures with methylprednisolone (and birth control too while I’m at it)
August 23, 2006, 12:49 am
Filed under: Feminism, Healthcare, Reproductive Rights

So I got sick last week, really sick. What started as a cold turned into an infection. I entered that tricky place–the one I often get to when I’m ill–in which I find myself both wanting the doctor to fix me and becoming suspicious of our medical system.

Anyway, I was so ill though last week that I crossed over, became practically supplicant to my physician, and ended up filling prescriptions for Claritin (10 mg pill) and anti-biotics. (A small, relevant aside: As a recipient of the state-sponsored medical care, Healthy NY, I shelled out a $20 copay each time I visited the doc as well as the full cost of prescription drugs. There is a Healthy NY plan that includes drugs but I can’t really afford more than my HMO’s single-payer, drug-free plan of $147.33 a month). After some negotiating with the pharmacist, I took home a generic version of Claritin and a less expensive anti-biotic–the original drug was $47, the second $12.

Within 24 hours it was apparent that something wasn’t right with me and my drugs. I developed a gross/cool rash all over my body and on Wednesday morning, landed right back in the Doctor’s office. He took one look at me and instructed that I stop all medications: I had an allergic reaction to one of them, at the very least. He then handed me a pack of Methylprednisolone (steroids, for us lay people) and told me to take them as a boost for my immune system. With a couple warnings about bone thinning and possible weight gain, I started popping.

The only side effect I noticed that first day was trouble falling asleep. The next afternoon however, a casual observer would’ve thought I’d done speed. At 7:30 that night, on a minimal amount of food, I was dragging my boyfriend out of the Target parking lot with a bag full of craft supplies. T-shirts! We were making t-shirts! Let’s go! Let’s go! He looked at me and said I should probably calm down. He told me I had “‘roid rage.”

On the drive home, a couple hours later and still hyper, I read aloud the possible side effects of methylprednisolone, as listed in the accompanying booklet: “Psychic derangements may appear…ranging from euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, and severe depression, to frank psychotic manifestations.”

Frank psychotic manifestations? Hey, now.

I made the decision that night to take less than the prescribed dose which may or may not have been a great idea. My hesitation is in part informed by a negative experience I had with the popular birth control pill, Ortho Tri-Cyclen. I had something of an epiphany last year when I went Ortho after a 3.5 year absence; I hardly made it a month before I decided again that it wasn’t my bag. Unfortunately, my brief return was enough to send me into an intense depression, one that hit out of nowhere and made me, well, crazy. (Not an uncommon experience for women on the pill, by the way; this is lore among all my women friends, not just the hippie/feminist ones.) The depression was so familiar and specific–it was the same kind of sudden, pathological self-hatred that triggered, quite out of nowhere, an eating disorder in high school. As I stood last year at the mirror, looking at my body with newfound disgust, it dawned on me that just a couple weeks before my eating disorder suddenly hit, I started taking Ortho Tri-Cyclen. Only then I didn’t have that revelation to save me, to let me know this mood and its damage would pass.

One of the most frustrating parts of the whole experience, stretching from the days of the eating disorder until the revelation of its trigger years later, is the lack of connection between the three health care professionals who treated me during that time. My physician, psychologist, and caseworker at the Eating Disorders Association never suggested that pumping my body full of hormones could affect my mood, could fuck with my mental health–they all knew I was on birth control, I told them. I

So when I read last week that the steroid I was on could cause frank, psychotic manifestations, my instinct was to quit cold turkey. Further reading of the booklet told me that it was worse to drop off completely, better to go gradually. I’ve been taking the pills guiltily ever since because I also secretly love the way they make me feel. This scares me too.

Today was my first day without any steroid (I’ve got half of the free pack left) and I’m back in that place of limbo: trust and suspicion, desiring and knowing better. To pop or not.

American apparel co-opting american progressives?
August 22, 2006, 6:15 pm
Filed under: Activism, Blogroll, Feminism, Gender

Feministing has a great post up about American Apparel and its, uhh, problematic advertising. Check it out.

I love lazy mornings
August 20, 2006, 6:42 pm
Filed under: funny fun fun, home, love

the perfect crime
August 17, 2006, 6:22 pm
Filed under: Darn Kids, friends, funny fun fun

Not exactly criminal: My brother & his friends rolling another kid around in a trash can.

When I was younger, I used to fantasize about all the cool things I could do if I was only willing to be bad. Spray-painting the sides of parked cars–in the middle of the night, of course–and slashing tires seemed totally fun as well as the kind of crimes no one could catch me doing. Sitting in the back seat of my parents’ car, I’d gaze mournfully at all the clean, shiny cars lining the streets–untouched! If I could just get past the stupid dichotomy of right and wrong, I’d be rolling in fun and easy criminal activity!

My friend reminded me of these fantasies today when he admitted, without any provocation, that somtimes he wants to dump a gallon of black paint into a post-box. He said it would be even better if his enemy had just dropped off a bunch of letters in said mailbox!

I related to him my own fantasies of stupid–or as he put it, “Fuck You”–crimes which only encouraged him to open up even more. He also thinks it would be the ultimate to sit on a bridge and throw eggs on passing cars. Ha!

What I think is actually the most fun is not the doing of such immoral activities–frankly, we’re too wussy–but rather the detailed descriptions of how such crimes would be executed. Any fantasies of your own?

August 16, 2006, 7:42 pm
Filed under: Buffalo, funny fun fun, tattoos

I have a tattoo of a postmark on my chest and today the inevitable happened: while buying stamps, postal employees spotted the familiar symbol and became excited. Really excited.

“Is it real?” one asked, staring openly at my neckline. She had just finished telling me that the Quilts of Gee’s Bend stamps are due out on the 29th.

“Do you work for the postal service,” said the other, a woman with a long, gray ponytail.

I confirmed that yes, it was real and no, I don’t work for the postal service. I likened my exposed tattoo—given the place, the people—to wearing a band’s t-shirt at said band’s concert: it’s cool to share your love outside of the institution but being so outright in your commitment within is like showing off, or being a huge nerd.

Ponytail lady’s response only further validated my analogy: “Thank god,” she exclaimed, “I wouldn’t want to think that anyone was that dedicated to the postal service!” The two women shared a laugh behind the counter and turned to me smiling, a look of amusement and confusion hidden under their grins.

“Well, that’s neat honey,” the first one said.

“You take care,” the other echoed. I scooped up my purchase and waved goodbye, happy to be a huge nerd.