Category Archives: Society

Serves you right!

And just like that, we’re back to bitchy…  Last week I had a passive aggressive episode in the gym that got me thinking.  My life is so crazy that it takes having a membership at two different gyms to make my commitment to training actually workable.  Half the week I’m at THE GYM (queue angels singing) and the other I’m at the fitness center at work.  Luckily I have both, but the mix of people at work is… well, somewhat different.  There are a lot of people who only use it for 15 minute increments while on their break and still in their work clothes.  I understand that it IS better than nothing but it is a very different commitment level than those who make time to do a full workout including sweating enough we need to change clothes. I mean, it’s one thing to go for a walk during your break but to have an entire fitness center on the premises and not utilize it fully?  What a waste!

I admit I get a bit of entertainment watching them come and go on the treadmills and elliptical machines and there’s one… um… girl… in particular who stands out among the rest.  Why?  Because she comes in every day, dressed in her skirts and knee-high boots AND jacket or blazer – crazy enough by itself.  But what’s more crazy is the choice of television while she’s at it.  At a glance I’d say she’s in her twenties – early to middle – and yet she’s watching TV that my nine year old likes.  We’re talking Nickelodeon and ABC Family and even the Disney Channel.  Laughable really and at times I find it hard not to do so out loud. 

So back to last week’s episode… I’m on the treadmill sweating like a pig, jamming to some Marilyn Manson doing intervals: two minutes of “normal” running followed by a minute of sprinting.  Because I have my iPod and there were only iPod-ers there when we started I turned the television off (yes, people, there’s an off switch on those things!) and dropped the remote into the cup holder on my left.  Half an hour into my workout, teeny bop girl walks in and climbs on the treadmill to my immediate right and starts looking around for the remote for the TV hanging directly above my treadmill.  I’m watching out of the corner of my eye and I know exactly when she finds it.  Even if I hadn’t been watching, I would have known because at that point she started STARING at me.  Like craning your neck and staring at me from just within my peripheral vision is the same as asking for the fucking remote?  Seriously, it was creepy and it went on for the entire time she worked out.  I kept thinking she would ask me and after a while it became apparent that she wasn’t going to and I thought ‘Oh, you think I can’t outlast your childish stare down?  You are wrong chicky!’

Like clockwork, ten minutes later she turned off her treadmill and headed back to her time-clock punching job (God I’m glad I don’t have to do that!) until the next day.  I’m sure she was totally pissed that she’d missed out on her tween show while she went for her leisurely stroll but here’s the kicker – I would have gladly given her the remote if she’d just opened her mouth and asked me for it.  I even gave her an opening when one of my friends got finished with her cardio and headed for the locker room as I turned and said goodbye – after she’d gotten my attention from my tunes that is.

The snotty bitch in me gloated that I had outlasted the childish stare down after I got over how creepy it all was.  But then I started thinking about the greater tragedy of the whole thing.  You see, that girl is in her twenties and still doesn’t know how to ask for what she wants.  Not the remote in the gym, probably not with her job, most likely not even with her friends – and God knows how unhappy she probably is in the sack!  Tragic, really but until she learns that life lesson she will continue to be frustrated everywhere she turns.  Unable to voice her own desires, she will continue to be thwarted in all she does – usually by bitches like me who know exactly what we want and aren’t afraid to ask – no, DEMAND – what we want both in action and in words.

I made sure to rush home and work this life lesson into a conversation with Big Sister so she hears at an early age how important it is to stand up and ask for whatever it is that you want most.  This is something big enough not to be left to that old ‘lead by example’ bullshit.  There’s too much objectivity in that approach to be trusted implicitly in all things.  Although, I have no fear she will see it enforced daily through my actions.  Later she will thank me when she has a life that she wants and everything as she likes it with her husband and her own children.  And if I see the Disney chick attempting the stare down again, I might just tell her “it serves you right for not asking!”

Public Service Announcement

It’s been a while since I got on my soap box about society here in America.  Today that ends, if just for a moment.  Several years ago we banned High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) from our diet after I read the book “The Omnivore’s Dilema” and learned the real nature of our “food” here in the States.  I was such a vocal bitch that all my friends and family heard about it and eventually hopped on the band wagon if only half-heartedly; well, most of them anyway.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one.  Now, enough people in general have started reading labels that the food industry is having to change their tactics.  I heard the other day that they are going to relabel HFCS as “corn sugar”.  Doesn’t that sound so much more appealing and so much less harmful?  Yeah, I think that’s the point.  What enrages me the most of late are the commercials where people are talking about how “they’ve done studies and, cane sugar or corn sugar, you’re body doesn’t know the difference”.  Every time the variations of this commercial come on I literally yell “BULLSHIT” at the television at the top of my lungs.  Yes, I know they can’t hear me but it sure makes me feel better.

Here’s the truth in a nutshell for those of you who haven’t read all the studies.  Yes, your body DOES know the difference and here’s where it gets freaky.  Your stomach is not able to handle the digestion of HFCS, your liver has to do it.  And your liver can only process so much of it.  The excess the liver can’t handle gets converted directly into triglycerides in your blood stream.  You know, that part of “bad” cholesterol that clogs your arteries and gives you heart disease?  Yeah, that.  Told you it was bad!  And even worse is the fact that HFCS is in everything – and I do mean everything – so you eat a ton of it without even knowing if you aren’t paying attention..  Your yogurt that you think is healthy?  Check the label and chances are you’ll find HFCS!  Your bread – yes, even the wheat variety.  Your milk can even have it in it!  So people please, start reading the ingredient lists on your labels and take control of your own health because trust me, the food industry isn’t going to do it for you.  They are the ones feeding you propaganda on the television after all!  You can find practically everything – even soda – with real old fashioned natural cane sugar if you’re willing to read every label before buying something.  Trust me, your arteries will thank you for your vigilance!

This past weekend I came across something even more frightening.  An article in the magazine put out by our gym was talking about how in one study they had taken cancer cells and fed them different forms of sugar to see how the cancer responded.  Apparently it was already well known that cancer cells thrive on all kinds of sugar but what they found is that high fructose corn syrup not only fed them but increased how fast they metabolized and split to multiply and MAKE. MORE. CANCER. 

HOLY SHIT!  I might just go to a diet of 100% whole and natural after reading that article!  If only it wasn’t so expensive to eat “real” food in this country…

The current health debate

No, not THAT health debate…  I’m talking about one of a more personal nature.  The one that involves my gall bladder that may or may not be failing me and, more importantly, what to do about it.  A couple of weeks ago I thought I had a touch of food poisoning – and I blamed the fry sauce in the back of the refrigerator that didn’t have an expiration date I’d eaten the night before.  But a week later after a very rich dinner with heavy cream sauce – oh so yummy! – I had what can only be described as some sort of attack.

This attack was not pretty and involved hours and hours of vomiting – first the projectile kind followed by what happens when there is nothing left to come up.  This by itself is bad – because you see, I. DO. NOT. VOMIT.  Not even once when I was pregnant – either time!  And I can tell you the exact dates of the last two times I had done so previous to this new development in my life.  (Family reunion 2008 and an unfortunate night of drinking circa Halloween 1999)  I’m a master at NOT vomiting…  But not this night!  On top of that horror, I had such excruciating abdominal pain I was crying like a small child who’d just had her stomach run over by a MAC truck and wanted her mommy.  It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt – and remember I just had a baby and felt every bit of it because my epidural failed.  This was worse – way worse.  I couldn’t stand up straight because the pain in my stomach was so bad.  And I couldn’t take a deep breath for HOURS because the pain radiated up into my back.  All total, I suffered for about 20 hours before the pain was gone.  After talking to my mom the nurse and extensive Google searches by my hubby (who needs doctors for diagnosis these days anyway?!) we concluded it is most likely my gall bladder.

Now comes the debate.  The first thing out of EVERYONE’S mouth are things like “oh, easy surgery” or “I had mine removed after my second pregnancy, too”, etc.  Is it just me that thinks removing an entire organ – one that I actually use everyday unlike my appendix – is a bit on the drastic side?  Not to mention the permanent side!  When I started thinking about it, it’s kind of creepy how everyone just assumes I’m going to have surgery to remove it.  Like that is the only option.  Twilight zone-ish creepy even!  I mean, I still have my tonsils and have never had surgery.  Never.  This cannot be taken back people! 

So I Googled some more on the subject this time down the alternative medicine and treatments road.  Since that is my nature after all…  And what I found was pretty interesting.  Both the traditional medical sites as well as the natural healing ones agree that the cause of gall stones is a concentration of cholesterol that builds up and crystalizes.  Which means it is yet another side effect of the American Diet of processed foods.  (Oh God, don’t get her started…)  Okay, so I went further down the rabbit hole.  Are there alternatives to surgery is really what I wanted to know.  Well, that and how specifically do I avoid another attack!  I found a very compelling quote (which I’m paraphrasing because now I can’t find it again…) Gall stones and the accompanying gall bladder attack are caused by the way we eat.  So removing the essential organ which contributes to the digestive process is the equivalent to removing the engine from your car just because you put the wrong gas in it and it stopped on the side of the road.

WOW… that stopped me in my tracks – pun intended – and appealed very deeply to the hippie, naturalist, tree hugger I am at my core.  The irony is not lost on me that this is probably the years of High Fructose Corn Syrup and fast food consumption coming back to haunt me…  And part of me thinks it might be easier to stay on the healthy eating soap box if the consequence of eating crap is a gallbladder attack.  Drastic, yes but very persuasive all the same.

So now comes the dilemma… I’m 4.5 weeks into my 6 week maternity leave already.  IF this is really a problem with my gall bladder AND I decide to treat it surgically, I’m looking at another week of recovery time.  I’m hoping if I can sell it as a complication of my pregnancy (which many people say it is) they will simply extend my leave and I’ll get an additional week off to spend with my newborn and still get paid for it under short term disability.  (That is appealing!)  But, if I decide to treat it naturally with a detox cleanse to rid my organ of the crap that is making it not function properly – that will take two weeks and I’ll be back to work.  If that doesn’t work, I’ll then be subject to taking an additional two weeks off before STD kicks in again.  But just because it is financially convenient to do as part of my leave, does that make it the right decision for me and my body?  UGH! And what if the claims of all the natural remedy people saying you can reverse the damage and keep your organ are just so they can sell me their products?  Decisions decisions….

For now, I’m treading both paths until the last possible minute when I have to commit to one or the other.  I’m seeing my doctor this week for an ultrasound to figure out if it really IS a classic case of gall stones while I start my detox – which I am overdue for anyway.  Part of me whispers ‘this is a cop-out’ because as long as I’m still in the discovery phase I can hold off making the official decision.  (But hey, knowing is half the battle, as my AA friends say, right?)  While another part wonders if I have really diagnosed myself properly – especially considering the one staple in my diet for the past week has been ice cold whole milk which is supposed to be the biggest trigger for a gall bladder attack according to my doctor and I’ve been fine.  I’m not even putting the little tidbit of ‘what else could it be’ into the sunlight at this point.  Nope, just not going there!  Stay tuned… it is sure to be as heated a debate as what they’ve got going on in the Senate right now only on a much more intimate level…

The Beginning of the End … of Clutter

I had a come-to-Jesus sort of thing happen this week…  I was all hyped up on coffee drank too late in the day trying to wind down from a fabulous visit with my parents flipping channels when I saw “Hoarders” on the channel guide and remembered one of my new blogging friends talking about it on Facebook.  I decided to check it out.  An hour later – after 1:00 AM – I tore myself away and looked around at my house… with disgust. 

Now before you go and picture my place being as bad as anything you might see on the show, stop.  Am I a neat freak?  No.  (That’s my hubby’s job!)  But I am sentimental with a touch of pack rat.  My mind always thinks “what if I need that someday” or “I’ll want to look back on that someday” when it comes to throwing things out.  Plus, (and probably fundamentally more importantly) I’m a recycling fanatic who thinks our society is driven far too much by our obsessive need to consume.  Which means I like to be smart about what I put in the landfill or toss away just because it is inconvenient to store it until the next time I need to use it.  I am also a realist who works a full-time job, has an eight-year-old who doesn’t know how to pick up after herself (we’re working on that!) and doesn’t think it is a bad thing to have a house that reflects that we actually – you know – LIVE in it.

So basically there’s clutter…

That is all going to change because of ONE episode I saw of Hoarders!  Yesterday I barely touched my computer, neglected Facebook (probably should do that more often anyway!) and started to de-clutter.  I am an NPR supporter and my local radio station gives free magazine subscriptions when you become a supporting member.  I’ve been getting Newsweek for a couple of years now… on top of Sunset and Good Housekeeping and Real Estate magazines and HP’s Connections… you get the idea.  I had all these great visions about how well-read on current affairs I would be with Newsweek but the reality is that I barely have time to read books outside of book club or the magazines I get because they relate to my jobs let alone a weekly magazine!  But, did I throw them out?  No, they accumulate in a pile in a corner of my living room.  Once in a while the pile gets really huge and I go through them and if the cover is really old  news I throw them out.  Yesterday I threw them ALL out including the ones I rarely ever read for work!  Okay, I saved about four because there were articles I actually wanted to read.  It was liberating!  (And by throw them out I mean I put them in the recycle bin for pickup, of course.)

I look around and everywhere I find something that really could be tossed… like how long has it been since I did any scrapbooking so why am I saving all the movie ticket stubs in that one drawer?  Let it be known we watch a TON of movies and leave it at that.  In twenty years who will care what the exact date was that we took our eight-year old to see Percy Jackson (the first one) or that it was the first movie ever for our newborn?  Yep, no one!  And after three years of school for my daughter have I once ever wanted to go back and look at the daily school work and mounds of paper that I sentimentally have saved?  Nope!  So recycle bin here we come!  And that basket of spent batteries I can’t bring myself to just throw in the garbage headed for the landfill so there can be more mercury in our soil and water supplies?  Either I will find a place that will recycle them or I’ll just toss them.  Well… I’ll hint to the hubby that they need to be tossed and let nature take it’s course is more accurate. 

I don’t know how long this might last before I run out of steam but when I do I’ll just watch another episode and start all over again!

Baby’s room, writing and other random thoughts – week 27

Wow, what a week!! My first leg cramp – a very painful charlie horse – woke me up in the wee hours of one morning and I thought I was going to die. Ok, maybe that’s a little melodramatic, but it really hurt! I walk with a noticeable sway now… not quite a waddle yet but we’re surely getting there. The baby is very active and, for those patient enough to sit with their hands pressed to my bump, she will get over her shyness and move. Well, at least for Grandma and big sister it has happened. Another memorable highlight was my fabulous find of a pair of comfortable maternity jeans. FINALLY! I’ll probably wear them out in the last 2 or three months that I have let because they are so great. Like angels singing and rays of light shining down on me when I put them on great. Seriously!

This was the last week before officially heading into the 3rd trimester and I guess you could say I have started the nesting process which at our house means a domino effect of activity that starts nowhere near the actual baby’s room. First, a new set of bookshelves for the master bedroom so I can organize some of my inner sanctuary (ie. books) that are currently taking up the extra space in there (and driving hubby nuts). Theoretically this was not a necessary step but it was something for me and because it also benefits hubby, I went with it! Next the exercise bike will be banished to the basement from the master bedroom so the bassinet will have a spot in the corner. Then we move on to big sister’s room since she is currently the owner of the dresser that matches the crib since it was hers to begin with. We acquired a new dresser for her – a tall chest of drawers that will hold more than her current one and which she is so excited for. But first, we must de-junk her room (or at least that’s what I’ve told her is the first requirement because it is a disaster in there!). We spent part of the past weekend organizing and getting rid of things and made a dent but are far from done. Once we get the new dresser out of the living room and into big sister’s room, the baby dresser will go (let’s be honest for a minute) into the living room while we move the computer desk and painting easel’s and supplies from what is currently the office/art room to their new locations in the basement. Then the dresser and crib for baby’s room can be setup and curtains acquired and hung, etc. The fact that 1) we have a definite plan and 2) we have started the plan toward getting the baby’s room done is great progress for us so I’m celebrating! I stressed so much about it in the beginning and now I remember that big sister’s room wasn’t done until after she was born since we knew she’d be sleeping in the bassinet with us for the first few months anyway. Minimum requirement is the dresser/changing table setup in her room and a place to rock during feeding time. Piece of cake at this rate!

The best part of the week was spent feverishly writing and my word count for the month is now hovering just below 25,000 words. I made a deal with myself that if I got half done before the 15th so I could slack off for a few days and read this month’s selection for the book club and still get my 50K by the end of the month I could read. Now, I’ve gotten so far along in my manuscript that I find myself not wanting to stop to read someone else’s work and I only have two days to finish the book. I will force myself because it is a book I really want to read but I’ll be kicking and screaming and mind wandering back to my own characters the entire time I fear.

No doctor’s appointments or other noteworthy events this week other than our first home visit as part of the National Children’s Study baby and I are participants in. 3 1/2 hours at our house and what felt like millions of questions and samples later, I’m officially helping make a difference in finding the cause of autism and other childhood diseases for the next 21 years. People are still panicking about the swine flu everywhere here and I think it is silly. Even the CDC person I heard interviewed on NPR said (and I paraphrase) that yes, it is different than the seasonal flu because it hits younger kids more often that older people but that it was just another strain of the flu. If you always get a flu shot, get one but if not (like me) and you never get the flu then there’s probably not much to worry about. I laugh about the hysteria the “mainstream” news sources seem to thrive on inciting and how many people buy into it. (My soapbox for the week, I guess!) Oh, and hubby is now on Facebook – aka the mother of all time wasters – after months of bitching to me about how much time I waste and how he would never join. He spent “Football Sunday” glued to it and I laughed… and tried not to actually say the words “I told you” outloud.

Just say no to H1N1 and the return of uncomfortable things – weeks 23 thru 25

The last three weeks have been an eye opener for me. I have been thoroughly enjoying my second trimester which I realized recently has been flying by so fast it is pretty much over already. I had been feeling so great I didn’t see some things catching up with me until they were staring me in the face – and laughing maniacally!

First, I know this is the mark where if I had been allowed to be running I’m sure I would have to be stopping because I physically can’t do the same things I could just a week or two ago. I’ve kept myself pretty active – I walk 3-4 times a week – and have only gained 9 lbs so far for my efforts. About a week ago I was leaving work and by the time I walked down 6 flights of steps and out the door to walk to my car, I was aching and out of breath. WTF?! I hoped it was a fluke – maybe I was a bit dehydrated or something? – but every day it is the same thing. Even my backpack with my laptop seems heavier lately and my mind goes over ways I can lighten my load. Maybe I don’t need to carry a purse AND a backpack to work every day? What a drag… Second, I don’t have the energy to keep up with all aspects of my life anymore. I haven’t slowed down in the Mom department or the work department and last week the keeping up with my 8-year old and her dance schedule on top of my work schedule with graveyard and swing shifts on call from home really took a toll. By the time Thursday night rolled around I was ready for bed at 8pm. Me, the ultimate night owl! Third, the aches and pains and discomfort of my body as it grows huge to accommodate this baby I’m carrying are starting to annoy me. I feel like I’m back in my first 12 weeks again and always needing to sit on the couch with my feet up except it isn’t because I’m exhausted but because my legs hurt and my back hurts and even sitting there I can’t get comfortable. Even my sleeping has been impacted. I’ve had to start the pillow dance at night in order to be comfortable. What is the pillow dance? It is the weirdness of propping pillows between your legs and under your belly and snuggling with them like a lover in order to find just the right sleep position. If it sounds like a drag, you’re right, it is. But, it is worth it to be able to sleep all night. And fourth, there’s the bladder bothers. Having to wake up in the middle of the night at least once for a bathroom visit is now the norm. And during the day is even worse with visits becoming more and more frequent. I know that will only get worse as things progress but man is it ever so annoying!

The baby bump is still growing and I look my 6 1/2 months along just as much as I’m feeling it. She is still a feisty baby who likes to kick my innards at all hours of the day and night. The funny thing is, the minute I voice that she is kicking and anyone around me touches my belly to try to feel her, she stops. How can she be my kid and be that bashful? I’ve started to employ this to my benefit and when I want a break from her acrobatics I call her sister over to touch my belly. It works like a charm every time!

Last week was a routine doctor visit. Everything looks good – baby sounds great and my ultrasound results are as good as the sonographer indicated. The placenta is a little low and I’ll have to have a follow-up ultrasound in a couple of months to make sure as things grow there’s enough room for her to squeeze by on her way out. If not, there’s a C-section in my future but I’m hoping that isn’t happening. My doc said we’d just have to take a look and see in a couple of months to make sure and was pretty calm about it so I’m staying positive.

The insane (and in my opinion unnecessary) panic and pandemonium about the H1N1 Swine Flu caught up with me twice in the last two weeks. I have said before, I am a healthy girl and I never get the flu – except those two years about 10 years ago when I got flu shots! – and I do not ever get flu shots. This year was no different for me and I’m not giving into the panic and craziness about the newest strain of flu that is getting so much attention. Yes, the swine flu is a nasty flu and yes it kills people but that is no different than the “regular” flu every year. I discussed it with my doctor at my visit and of course he gave me the party line that it is recommended for me to get it because I’m in one of the risk categories. I respectfully declined and I’m sure he wasn’t too happy with me but I’m not going to get scared just because we are now collecting different statistics in order to scare larger pieces of the population. I work in healthcare and I know for a fact that we’ve never collected statistics on flu specific to pregnant women. With H1N1, now they are and I had those statistics thrown at me at the doctor’s office. I asked what the stats were for pregnant women and the regular seasonal flu and he couldn’t answer. Sorry, not compelling enough for me. Especially when I read on the CDC website that there are insane things like mercury and formaldehyde in the vaccine. Sorry, I don’t ever want those things injected in my body for any reason! This last week our company got a limited number of vaccines from the Health Dept and they were only being offered to pregnant employees. Another respectful decline, thanks. It amazes me how easy it is to incite panic in the masses and how trusting people are. Maybe it is my cynical nature but I’m not ever going to be ok taking something that has been so fast-tracked on the way to market that the safety factor is based solely on the history of the companies making it and not on the actual manufacture process itself. “It is assumed to be just as safe as the regular seasonal flu shot” isn’t good enough for this doubting girl! Just say No!

All in all, things are progressing nice and quick and holy shit I’m almost in my 3rd trimester! Where did all the time go? Better get my ass in gear and get working on getting the nursery put together or she’ll be here and we won’t be ready for her!

Highs and Lows – Weeks 14 & 15

The last two weeks (weeks 14 and 15) were a crazy roller-coaster ride of highs and lows. First, we went in for the dreaded and fearful genetic screening tests. We decided to do it just for piece of mind but with all the talk of my “advanced maternal age” and statistics being thrown around and things they were testing for that could go wrong, I admit I was a little more worried than I probably should have been. Call us cold and callous but it was such a relief when both the hubby and I were honest with each other about the fact that if there were indications of severe problems, we would most likely choose to “interrupt the pregnancy” which I guess is the polite way of putting it. (As a woman, I am so glad I have that choice and it is still a legal option in the USA – even though I hope never to have to make it!)

The testing itself was also one of the highs because as part of the screening we got to have a pretty extensive ultrasound. We were able to take our 7-year old who LOVED seeing the baby and getting to be involved. It was so surreal to watch the monitor and see how feisty and lively the baby is – constantly moving around and waving at us – and yet not be able to feel one bit of it yet. At one point the baby had decided to flip over and wasn’t cooperating so we took a break (OK, I had to pee so bad!) and my daughter became like this drill instructor reminding me that I was supposed to be pushing on my tummy to get the baby to move around. It was so much fun to have her there with us and feel like she was a part of the whole process. After a great discussion with tons of our questions answered by the genetic counselor, we headed home for the process of waiting – something which I don’t do well AT ALL. This all happened on Monday and the counselor said (and I quote!) “if you don’t hear from me with the results by next Monday, give me a call”. I of course figured we would hear long before the following Monday….

In the meantime, the following Monday was time for Girl Scout camp which I had signed my daughter and I up for months before I was pregnant and included many hours of planned horseback riding activities. I called my doctor and asked for specific permission on whether it was safe for me to be riding or not (with fingers and toes crossed!) He gave the green light which kind of surprised me considering the “no running” rule but I said THANK YOU and didn’t question it. Now “camp” implies somewhere in a rural setting – in this case, up a canyon about an hour from home. As we were driving and I was trying to navigate to a new location without the help of a male or GPS, in the back of my mind was “today is the day I get to call and bug them about my test results” with the plan to make that call when we arrived. HA! Little did I know we were driving into not only 3 days of horseback riding and camp songs, but 3 days WITH NO CELL PHONE OR INTERNET SERVICE. Of course because I am a good and responsible cell phone citizen and try not to make calls or text (or read Facebook updates) while driving, I didn’t realize this until we were there and what turned out was miles from the nearest service area. I carried my phone with me the entire first day and every time we came to a new spot in camp, I would check to see if I had service there. It was so frustrating when there was never a single bar – especially when we were surrounded by flushing toilets, showers, and electrical lights. I got over it quickly and enjoyed camp but always in the back of my mind was the hope that there would be a voicemail with good news waiting for me when I was back in cellphone range.

Wednesday arrived and that afternoon we bid farewell to camp. I turned the cell phone back on and waited for the inevitable alerts of incoming voicemail and text messages I was certain to have missed to signal our official arrival back into civilization. Came they did – but not until we’d been on the road for more than 7 miles. (Good lord!) When we stopped for the slushy I’d promised my daughter, I checked the voicemail and NONE OF THEM WERE FROM THE GENETIC COUNSELOR. I was pissed… if there’s one thing I hate it is people who do not meet their commitments. I don’t care what you tell me to expect, I will expect them. Since I was told I would get a call LAST WEEK and that if I hadn’t heard I could call on Monday and it was now WEDNESDAY and I still didn’t know what the tests had shown, I was not a happy camper.

Several days and several phone messages later – each one I’m sure in a more bitchy tone than the previous one – finally resulted in the genetic counselor calling me on Friday. After all the anticipation and accompanying worry – which was exacerbated by the fact that I had signed up for a service through my insurance company where I was able to see the test results but still not know what they meant – we got the news that I am officially in the “low risk” category for genetic disorders. What a sigh of relief. We have one more step in the genetic testing processes which includes more blood work this coming week to measure the specific markers for 3 genetic disorders. Because I am low risk, it is merely a precaution and we expect everything to be smooth sailing from here.

The next big step is that this week I am far enough along to find out what the sex of the baby is. Totally frustrating is that there are three different places you can go and pay for an ultrasound to determine the sex of the baby and because we live in Utah, NONE OF THEM ARE OPEN ON SUNDAY. So, that didn’t work out today and who knows when we will have time during the week to go before we leave for the last camping trip of the season on Friday. We are hoping to squeeze it in as early as tomorrow if we can get an appointment so stay tuned!!

Meanwhile, I am still feeling great, getting some of my appetite back for things other than cold cereal, and am finally able to walk without inner-thigh soreness from my horseback riding experience. I tell you, there is one good thing about being a horse girl, and it is toned thigh muscles! I am starting to be able to feel little movements from the baby and besides the very unmistakable baby bump it is the first thing that makes it in-your-face real for me. I still worry about how I will love another child as much as I do my first and how I will go back to sleepless nights and carrying a diaper bag and everything else that goes with having a newborn but man, am I excited!

A ban I can support

I was struck today on the drive home that enough has not been said about the horrors of plastic bags… at least not from my own soapbox. Why aren’t the rest of the cities of the world taking a queue from San Francisco and supporting a ban on plastic shopping bags? My opposition includes all the normal issues about how they are not biodegradable and most of them end up in the oceans where they either literally choke living things or break down into smaller pieces that totally mess with the DNA of those unlucky enough to ingest them. However, I have a much bigger beef than even that – the laziness of the average American. At this point in our history you would think we had learned SOME lessons from our recent history about re-using. During the early 19th century they had “rag and paper men” who’s job it was to go to individual houses and collect rags from sewing and paper and take them away to be reused. Why, then, a century later, are we having to reinvent this and find ways to make recycling hip again? Every other developed nation in the world (well, OK, at least in Europe where I have personal experience) expects their citizens to bring their own bags when they do their shopping. So why is it a novelty that I get bitchy looks about from folks unlucky enough to be behind me at the grocery store checkout when my bagger is struggling to load my reusable bags with my purchases? I’m sorry my efforts at saving the planet interfere with your rush to be wherever you are heading. Several years ago when Ikea first appeared in my city, I thought it novel I was charged for the plastic bags I used to carry my purchases away and it was the first time it got me really thinking about the issue. Today, I get a credit for every bag I return to the store to reuse which is a nice incentive to get people to purchase the reusable bags but I think we should go farther. It should be a requirement that you go to the store with your own bags and if you don’t you should be charged for the plastic ones you take away. Maybe if it hurt people in the only place most of us care about – the pocketbook – more people would be interested in making a difference that takes such little effort. Call me a hippie or a tree-hugger, call me a liberal fascist, just do it while you are reusing your own bags, please! I would rather see them banned altogether!

Inconsiderate and oblivious

What, exactly, is wrong with people? We were at a local restaurant a few weeks ago and what I observed is still bugging me. So here I am with more ranting and raving. Normally our beef is with the service or the food – why is it SO hard to find good service in the food SERVICE industry? This particular night, however, we had a fabulous waiter who was attentive without being at our table too often. No, the beef this night was with two workers – I think you call them hostesses? – who stood right behind our table performing the menial task of wrapping napkins around utensils. I get that it is a mindless type of duty but if you are standing adjacent to customers trying to eat would you really be as mindless as these two who stood there talking loudly and bothering multiple tables around them who could hear every word? A normal person would probably notice the annoyed stares from the patrons but these two were totally oblivious and carried on for 10 minutes. I wonder though, is it me who is just abnormal and this is what “normal” has become? More often than not the majority of people around me are inconsiderate and oblivious to their impact on others far outnumbering those who are considerate and observant. Is this a type of social evolution similar to where we think nothing of walking around with a telephone attached to our ear and carry on conversations inconsiderately imposing our chatter to others around us where without the technology it wouldn’t be expected? I know I pay attention more lately to how my behaviour is impacting those around me – although is doesn’t seem to be the normal thing to do. What a shame…

A break to talk about the election

I’m taking a break from my novel writing – no, not because I am stuck but because I don’t want to let the moment pass by without commenting on the history that was made tonight in the good ol‘ US of A. Imagine, the first black man in the oval office. Hell, I’m happy enough that it is a Democrat!! Of course, it isn’t the Democrat of my first choice and it is not one above all reproach with his questionable acquaintances of the past but hey, is there really one out there above all reproach no matter which party you look for it in? I’d like to take a moment to address the one point that made me cringe the most when toted by the “flaming red’s” as I like to refer to my fellow citizens of (and I quote) “the reddest state in the Union”. That would be the comment that Obama had no experience compared to John McCain. Please… The facts (which I actually took the time to check!) state that after getting his law degree from Harvard and leading the Harvard Law Review while he was there, he practiced law and did community organizing and then worked his way up in local government before being elected to the US Senate. What does McCain have on his resume in the form of experience? Well, after his stint as a POW in ‘Nam (which yes, is tragic and horrible and noble but does not in any way count as experience in leading a country in my opinion) he was a beer distributor. Yes, you read it right, a beer distributor and then was elected to the Senate where he’s been for decades. No doubt using his POW stories back then to get elected. Now you tell me why one or the other isn’t just as good as the other. Personally I’d rather have a lawyer who knows the laws of the land he is tasked with governing than some beer distributor who calls himself a maverick and continues – election after election – to think that he has anything that the majority of us Americans want. We didn’t want you in 2000 and we don’t want you now. I’m putting my hopes on Obama and look forward to the next 4 years that, at the very least, will not be 4 more years of Republican rhetoric! No matter if upon looking back the “Change” we were promised and that we’re all hoping for actually happens or not, I can say that I was there and paying attention while the things of history were happening!

Medical Insanity

Okay, time for the soap box again…. I am thinking that everyone has gone a bit insane and has forgotten the secret to staying healthy is actually getting sick once in a while so we can actually build new immunities. What has set me off on this topic is the incessant bombardment about getting a damn flu shot I’ve had to endure in the last week. Remember, I work in health care now… Gawd help me! So let’s break things down a bit. First, they spew all these crazy statistics about how dangerous it is to get the flu and how people DIE from it every year and how we must vaccinate against this deadly thing. HELLO, do we live in the dark ages? No, last time I checked it was the good ol’ industrial age still. The reality is, that while there is indeed a very SMALL subset of the population who could benefit, there is very little actual risk to the typical person dying of the influenza virus. Which brings me to the second point. IT IS A VIRUS! Repeat after me, bacteria can be treated with antibiotics but if you go to the doctor and all you have is a virus they are going to tell you to get lots of rest and drink lots of fluids. Why? BECAUSE YOU CAN’T KILL A FREAKIN’ VIRUS! Third, that crazy vaccine that they are injecting you with is last year’s flu strain – which has already mutated as virus’ are wont to do – and will not really protect you from much anyway. Just eat good food – you know, real food from whole plants and stuff with vitamins and minerals and all the good stuff nature intended for us – and you are going to be better off than getting that stupid shot. And if you don’t believe me, remember what happened to those pesky invaders in War of The Worlds… We are building up immunities to everything around us that actually protect us from all the nasty things that are out there but only if we are actually exposed to them! Hey, while we are protesting the insanity, let’s throw out the antibacterial hand crap and even the antibacterial soaps! And what do you say you don’t wash your hands – unless of course you are in a public restroom or in a hospital where you might really catch some nasty bugs. And for the love of GOD, don’t get a damn flu shot!

Real food or big joke?

Check out this photo that I came across in the vending aisle of the break room the other day…

Say it with me, “Big Az Bubba Twins”. I know it is a poor quality photo but yes, that is exactly what it says. Is this supposed to be appealing to actual people? Is there REALLY someone out there who would purchase something labeled “Big AZ Bubba Twins”? Never mind that it is frozen chili cheese dogs from a vending machine…. I found myself repeating it over and over again… BIG ASS BUBBA TWINS… And then, of course, I kept repeating it at random moments the rest of the week. All kidding about the name aside, if it hadn’t been $3 to buy it I might have been tempted to do so just so I could see what the ingredient list looks like. You can bet your “BIG AZ” that it doesn’t have anything remotely resembling real food on it! Another example of chemicals in the form of imitation food products that people have been conditioned to think of as real food. My stomach turns thinking of the horror of putting something like that in it. Do you know how many vegetables I can get for $3? And do you know how big one’s AZ would get from eating something like that? At least they have tried to keep SOME truth in the advertising, huh? Friends don’t let friends eat Big Az Bubba Twins.

Learning to live without…

This is a little warning for others out there to never get attached to things that are not really your own! Remember I posted a while back about addictions and the first one I listed was my Blackberry? Yeah, well I’m faced with the possibility of not having a Blackberry any longer… (Reasons why will be announced shortly so stay tuned!) Along the same lines, we have not had our personal computer at home for a couple of weeks while my fabulous brother rebuilds and reformats the hard drive. What an insane time it has been having to explain to the hubby why he can’t use my work laptop to surf for his Internet fix each day like the junkie he is while I found a way to continue blogging using the work PC. (What a double-standard I know but remember I don’t share well!) Of course, I am a cheapskate at heart and instead of purchasing a much-needed new computer we are making the several-years-past-the-expiration-date-of-technology PC we have do for a bit longer. We’ve decided that we need to curb our consumer habits in light of the recent downturn and turmoil in the economy. We need to stop throwing our extra money every month to our out-of-control sushi habit and start putting money away for the inevitable rainy day that is sure to come. I’m certain that this new behaviour will teach me to live without a lot of things as painful as the prospect seems going in!

Here’s something I hope we don’t have to, as a society, learn to live without – financial freedom. I watch what is happening in the financial markets and unless you’re living under a rock you can’t help but wonder what is next and how will we as a society recover? Years ago our fearless leaders in Washington convinced Congress that the American Dream was to own a home and that we should be able to give that to every American citizen (whether they could afford it or not!). And how did we go about making this happen? We deregulated the banking and finance industry and allowed lenders to become greedy and lend to people who really couldn’t afford to purchase a home. Now, the housing market has collapsed and all those people who were banking on being able to refinance their insane adjustable rate mortgages before the monthly payments were so high they couldn’t afford to pay them each month are left with no options and property that doesn’t even appraise for what they owe on it. Result = record numbers of foreclosures and now the banks don’t have the money coming in and can’t recoup. What’s next, no credit for car loans available? Hmmm, with Wachovia being seized this morning by the FDIC and sold off to Chase that could be right around the corner. And what is the only probable way out of this mess? More government control and more loss of “freedom” in what is supposed to be the land of the free. I wonder what else we as a society will be asked to live without. First civil liberties, now financial liberties… what else is there to give?