Thursday, July 21, 2011

I'm Going To Do It - Again!

This is scary.  Really scary.

I haven't had my hair colored in years.  I have so much white hair in the front, and it grows so fast, that I just could not keep up with it.  Roots always showed within a few days.   But this time I am going Bonnie Raitt and leaving the white in front.  I'm only 54 and I think my hair is making me look older than I am.  I have wrinkles and such but I have light fairly good skin that with continued weight loss (down 15 lbs from May) and slightly younger looking hair should take at least 5 years off my apparent age.  Or, that is what I'm telling myself!

Here I am now:

And another pic will be forthcoming tomorrow.

I am so not a Fashionista, but I have some vain tendencies that I have had to squelch in order to live according to my ecological and economic principles.   So this is disconcerting for me.  If you read this, tell me it is okay.  I'm serious, I have moral qualms about doing these kinds of things. 

The first hurdle I had to vault, many years ago, in my early 40s was even going to a hair salon or spa. I managed to get myself through the front door of a nice salon a little over ten years ago. 

Up until that time I had only been in a salon on a few occasions.  The first was when I got a pixie cut that was hideous.  It was way to short and sharp for someone with as long and sharp of features as I had, even in 5th grade.  The second was when I had my hair "set" for my eighth grade picture. Here is the picture - for the ages of me with the rest of my class - circa 1971.

Second row Second from right, the one with long dark hair.
The third was when a girlfriend in high school convinced me to get my hair cut for my senior picture at a mall salon in which her sister worked.   It turned out okay. Although my stoic midwestern ancestory is a bit too evident in the pic for me to want to track it down.  It was just between chin and shoulder length tapered a bit longer in the back than front and brushed under just a bit.  It was a long Page Boy.  No bangs. 

I have had problems whenever I strayed from my basic Cher Hair as I referred to the long, lustrous dark hair that I loved having most of my life. 

The next times were the last two hair professional hair cuts I had for the next two decades. 
Dorothy Hammill and her original Hamill Wedge. 

The first time, when I tried to have the cut from the senior pic  recreated and I ended up with a Dorothy Hamill haircut, aka the Hamill Wedge, that was almost as tragic on me as the pixie cut from 5th grade.  Thank heavens no images from that time remain.  That was the summer after high school graduation. 

Honey Huan from Doonesbury. 

The straw that broke the camel's back was when I was a sophomore at Purdue and some psycho stylist made me look like Honey Huan. My now Hubby still laughs and loves to recall the time went through my Vietnamese militant period as he calls it and I wore black work boots, denim overalls and had a hair cut that did look like Honey's.  However,  Honey is Chinese. 

I so hope tomorrow goes well.  I don't think I can stand another travesty of hairdom.  And after not going into a salon for decades, I had more than a bit of awkwardness at not knowing salon culture.  I felt like I was a foreigner in a strange land who speaks not a word of the language. 

This time I am more prepared for the culture immersion.  I am an anthropologist by training, I can do this.  I will never be able to replicate the favorite time and hair of my life when joy was everywhere and I really did not care how I looked -- but I think Momma and child both looked pretty happy.  

We will see if I can't find a new favorite for my I'm Done Nesting phase of my life. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Thoughts on Hurt and Healing

Geesh, where to start? 

Sometimes try as we might to live a good life, think good thoughts, to love, and to be positive forces in the world, things in our lives become difficult and it seems like our path in life is stagnating or straying from the way we would like it to proceed.  I know this happens to everyone on occasion, but those of who live with depression or ongoing situations of illness or injury often have to work more diligently to stay on the track or path down which we would like our lives to proceed. 

Hubby was out of town last week which usually gives me time to catch up on things.  But this time I was grumbly because Hubby got to see the grand babies via a slight detour on the trip route, and I didn't.  It was sort of scary as a tree fell during a storm and broke through the roof of their cottage.   I was busy putting together a new website for a friend but the close call made me want to see the babies all the more. I was watching the grand puppy a lot as Zilla was prepping to take the GRE.  But the pup isn't allowed in the part of the house where my kitties reside and my office is in that part of the house.  The pup chewed up the top of an antique rocker of mine.   Grrrr.   I'm a bit obsessive about my "things."  Then my trainer wasn't at the gym when I went for my personal training session. Double Grrrr.  And to top it all off I was having a really difficult time posting every day to my political blog which is the blog I was trying the Nablopomo challenge to post everyday.  I missed a day last week. Then my dear Zilla had our truck and got a $175 parking ticket which because she is a student and not making much money, I had to pay.    I'm just not a happy camper. Bitch. Gripe. Whine. Moan.  A couple little things I can handle.  Many I start to feel overwhelmed.  When I'm overwhelmed I tend toward inaction.

I know I'm fortunate, but at times I lose track of that.  Then yesterday, I, along with all of my famil,y got a wake up call.  My beautiful step daughter and her talented husband and the remarkably gifted twin babies were still at the lake cottage in Michigan that Hubby had just visited.    Son-in-law was out on the lake in a kayak getting a few moments of quiet alone time in the late afternoon calm before sunset.  His kayak was run over by a motor boat piloted by a 17 year old boy.  His right leg and foot were severely injured.  Mangled would be a better word. I think there are parts of his leg and foot missing.  He was in surgery for hours and hours at a level one trauma center in Kalamazoo.  They were not very optimistic about being able to save the foot.  Today though, they are getting good pulses in the foot.  He can feel most of it and I guess some movement.  No toe wiggling yet.   They will be doing more surgeries to remove bone fragments and unhealthy tissue.   He is a University Lecturer and a poet of some notariety, and a wonderful addition to our family (after Hubby got over calling him Poet Boy which is how scientist Hubby referred to the father of his grandbabies until the wedding) but it isn't clear that he will be able to teach in just a few weeks, he will probably be undergoing reconstructive surgeries for a while.  He is alive and the babies have their daddy even though they can't come in to the ICU to see him now.

I have felt so damn fortunate all year, and am still trying to be positive... and I feel like an absolute whiner when I zip over to The Burrow and read the daily ups and downs of a Tucson blogger who has had more challenges and adversity this year than anyone should ever have to experience.   Last week she mentioned me and a phrase I'd posted on her blog in a comment and apparently I had grasped, somehow, how she was feeling after the 6 month anniversary of the Tucson shootings, in which she was injured and in which she lost a dear young friend.  All of Tucson aches, but no one can know how she feels.  I take it as a good sign that she is saying, "No" to some invitations to events.  Sometimes it is okay to just pull the covers over your head, sleep in, then sit in your garden and drink tea all afternoon; or to work in your backyard garden rather than to greet the world.  I have denied obvious things in my life, and I've wallowed in self pity, but as always, knee jerk reactionary responses were not healthy ones.  After experiencing a wound, emotional or physical, it takes time to get rid of the adrenaline and respond to life as a whole human being again without responding to the wound. Sometimes you have to heal physically before you can begin to heal your heart and soul.  It is different for everyone and varies through time for the same individual. 

Healing never ends.  Each day we wake we are slightly different than the way we were when we awakened the previous day.  That different person might approach healing from a different perspective and need to act or react in a different way than the person we were yesterday did. 

Not all wounds are the same.  I won't ever say they are.  I have experienced wounds to my heart and soul, and senseless injuries to my body, some of which were orchestrated by those closest to me who were supposed to love me and protect me. I've been thinking and writing a lot about this topic as I'm working on a book about healing from medical child abuse and healing the series of misfortunes that followed further down the path the abuse readied for me.

I wish I could make people feel better, but only people themselves can make adjustments that change feelings and perceptions. If I can somehow help someone by letting him or her know that they are not the first person to walk the lonely path of healing, and that there are others who, even though they have never met, are with them in spirit.  I believe that we can make a difference, and that we make differences to people all the time, most of which we won't ever know about. Holding on to that belief is difficult, but essential for those of us who have been wounded.  There is no reason for the injury happening, but there can be reason created from our reaction to the injury.  

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Planned Parenthood Blog Carnival. I'm telling my story.

This post  is cross-posted from my blog,  Build Peace,  which is participating in a blog carnival today organized by two Hoosier-based blogs, What Tami Said and Shakesville in support of Planned Parenthood which  as you know is under siege from Right Wing extremists.  Check out the Blog Carnival here.  

My story of interaction with Planned Parenthood is not all that special.  Every woman's life story is unique.  Planned Parenthood allows women to have unique, self-guided lives.   That is a very good thing.

I live in a city in Arizona where Margaret Sanger spent much of the later part of her life.  I grew up a few miles from a country town in Indiana where good but poor girls died from septicemia or blood loss from botched back alley abortions and wealthy girls traveled to "see an Auntie" who lived somewhere that a skilled physician performed abortions for a hefty fee and silence in a clean medical office after hours.  It was a very big deal.  I grew up hearing my Mom's stories of good women who died young from back alley abortions.  Her take.  Nasty business, but sometime necessary, and it should be legal.  Apparently at least one of her friends died because of lack of access to medical care and the butchery of an illegal abortion.

"The pill" was developed around the time I was born, with persistence it could be obtained in the 1960s when I was a child, and by the time I was a teenager it was widely prescribed to mature adult women, but teenagers needed to have their parents permission and that was a rarity.  I knew one girl who had a mother who actually helped her get on the pill.

It was not easy to get access to the services Planned Parenthood now offers.  The Fort Wayne branch, founded in 1977,  did not exist the first time I went to a women's clinic in Fort Wayne.  The county of my official residence at that time had no dedicated women's services.  You had to lie to say you lived in Allen County and give the address of a friend or relative if you wanted to get birth control. If you did not want to take your chances and go to a male physician who might or might not lecture you, refuse to help you, or who simply was so old school that he (physicians back then seemed to all be male) didn't understand the basics of the types and risks of different contraceptive options.

Then I began to attend Purdue University and had some not so good experiences with the campus Medical Center, again largely because at that time you did not know what type of person the physician you might see was and whether you would get a lecture, good information, or help.  That is when I began to use Planned Parenthood for annual check-ups.  The Lafayette branch opened in 1975. 

For the next ten years all my annual check ups were done there.  I paid the highest price on the sliding scale after I was out of college and continued to use PP because I felt it was important to support the only facility within an hour and a half drive where women without support systems could turn for information about contraception, annual check ups, and referrals to more specialized services.  I remember interns rotating through the clinic getting experience that was not easy to arrange in Indiana back then.

I am fortunate to have faced no unwanted pregnancies and to have had no abortions.  Until I was with my husband (in my thirties) I never faced an unplanned pregnancy.  In my twenties when I was unmarried and living with a man with whom I knew I did not want to have children, I was the birth control Goddess.  It was a bad situation and I didn't realize the gravity of it until I tried to leave him and experienced "spousal" rape, stalking, and threats of violence.   I could not safely use the pill but had a couple different models of IUD,  and used a diaphragm religiously.  I had made the decision that if I became pregnant I would immediately go to Planned Parenthood and seek a referral for terminating the pregnancy.  I now understand that this determination to never have a child with this guy signaled the problems in the relationship long before I consciously admitted them to myself.   Prevention, prevention, prevention was also my mantra because growing up as an unwanted and unplanned child myself, I swore I would never expose a child to the resentment I had experienced because I was not wanted.  I am still haunted by the memory of my mother, when I was no more than 9, when in an angry outburst she voiced, with utter contempt of having to deal with a preteen, that she had not planned for nor wanted me to be.  It stays with me to this day. 

My daughter was unplanned but dearly wanted and born in another state than Indiana.   I will never tell another woman what she should do in a given situation. I just want all the options within our current human tool kit to be available to that woman.   I dearly and passionately want every child born to be a wanted and loved child.  That is the bottom line for me.  I will never forget stopping at a Planned Parenthood booth during a street fair when I was very preggers just about 3 weeks before I had my daughter to sign a petition to keep abortion safe and legal and the wonderment that even the women working the booth showed that a pregnant woman would support abortion.  It was then that I realized that I would be fighting this fight to keep all our options open for the rest of my life because ingrained attitudes and stereotypes do not go away easily or in one generation.

I ventured to Washington, D.C. in April of 2004 to participate in the March for Women's Lives. That was one of the largest marches, some say the largest ever marches on D.C. The official count was 1.4 million in attendance.  I volunteered to help direct people arriving in 1000 buses that parked at RFK Stadium to transportation to the National Mall. It was amazing.  I will never forget the school bus filled with Junior High girls from Pennsylvania,  a Quaker School I believe, that had raised funds to attend. After the bus parking, I "rushed" to the mall as fast as the packed metro would take me.  I marched with Arizona Planned Parenthood.   I wanted to march with my friends in CODEPINK, but I felt it was far more important to show that even "conservative" states such as AZ have large numbers of people willing to spend time, money, and effort to be a part of a national statement by women, and men, about our commitment to the preservation of women as agents of control over their own lives.

My hope is that one day Planned Parenthood will no longer be the needed, vital service it is today.  Good top notch healthcare needs to be available to everyone. Someday it will be. Perhaps then we will stop segregating, and thus stigmatizing health care for women, and we will be able to offer all services under the same roof as immunizations, back to school check ups, and routine visits with your physician,  and with that all surgical procedures will then done in multi-specialty clinics or hospitals without the stigma of separation of services, and the denial of privacy from which specialized clinics suffer and to which their clients are unconstitutionally subjected. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Doctors, Gyms, and Computer Programs

In May they told me that I had diabetes because my blood tests showed a 7.5 on a scale that measures long term "sugar."  I haven't wanted to dive into figuring out all the jargon though I should.  I'm not measuring short term "sugar."  I am convinced that by next year I will be in a totally normal range, not taking Metformin, and eating normally in a veggie, whole foods sort of way.  You see yesterday I went to the Doctor.  This time my M.D. was the cutest, youngest looking physician I have seen to date.  She looked to be the same age as my daughter who is 21.  Argh.  They all look like babies!

Anyway she shared some good news with me.  On top of losing 10 lbs.,  I have also brought whatever it is that was 7.5 down to 6.8.  My other short term blood-sugar score was 108 which is apparently good.  By the next medical visit in 3 to 4 months I plan to be in good enough shape to have them let me officially go off the oral medication and control everything through diet and exercise.  The glycemic index seems to be the central good thing I've found out about. 

Now that I'm sleeping well and awakening rested after having my septum fixed, I plan to reintroduce the gym to my life.  I will beat this crap.  I will be GREAT again. 

If I'd have had the surgery a couple years ago and began breathing and sleeping better before these problems fully presented themselves, I am convinced I wouldn't have gained weight so readily and then developed the non-alcoholic fatty liver and diabetes. 

Anyway, things are moving in the right direction.  I've also found something called Perfect Diet Tracker that seems to be a great food monitoring program that calculates everything for you, is well rated, contains information for almost 90,000 foods, and is easy to use.  While it isn't for diabetes monitoring as such, it does help see sugars and carbohydrates, fats, proteins, calories, percentages, and totals. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Independence Day by Candlelight with Explosives

I spent way too much time on Facebook catching up on my game playing yesterday, before our power went out during the very powerful monsoon yesterday afternoon.

I enjoy pointing and clicking.  I think it actually fills a need I have positive reinforcement.  It is not that my life is lacking in rewards, it is just that I live with my scientist husband. 

I'm not sure this is true for every science type, but I've talked to other folks who live with a scientist or scientifically trained professional, such as a veterinarian, who also find that these folks sometimes seem to not be able to just be, apart from their professions.  There is always a critique somehow embedded in simple conversation.  Or there often an implicit weighing of importance in computation of shared tasks.  This isn't a criticism. Well, ok... maybe it is a little bit of a criticism. But I can have knocked off three blog entries, finished a book chapter,  driven across town to the bargain grocery, fought traffic, changed the cat litter, fought with a utility and an insurance company, and when we are sitting down to the chinese dinner he brought home for dinner, he says something that effectively means, "I saved the world today, and picked up dinner, what did you do that tops that."  Of course I'm being facetious.  But there is a tendency for many highly educated people to disengage from the critical mindset employed in their professional lives.  But I digress.

What I'm saying is that I have had to work out my own reward system for positive reinforcement as my husband just isn't the type of person to give supportive comments regularly.  One of the ways I do this is through computer games where there is nearly immediate gratification for my actions.  Point. Click. Kapowy!  Point.  Click.  Prize.  Point.  Click.  Reward.  The positive, feel good reinforcement seems to carry over into regular life for me. 

Anyway.  Life has been very busy this past month and I didn't get to accept all the game items given to me by my game playing Facebook friends.  So yesterday I caught up in Farmville, Treasure Island, Frontierville, Cityville, Yoville, and Mafia Wars.  I know,  I know, don't say it.  I did quit the Cafe game that I can't remember the title of. 

The moment I turned off the big screen computer and grabbed my laptop to go hang with Hubby, the monsoon started throwing water sideways in a near zero visibility situation and the power went out. That is when Hubby grabbed his phone and started texting my phone and Facebooking me via phone, from across the room,  things like:  "Ma, how long you spoze the 'lectric is off fer?" For 6 hours.  4 PM to 10 PM.  Fortunately we have a gas stove.  I mean for cooking dinner, not sticking my head in. 
Everything would have been groovy if someone I live with who shall remain nameless had not opened all the doors to enjoy the cool air after the storm, that lasted for all of about 5 minutes, and let all the cool air-conditioned air out. 

Then we enjoyed candlelight from 6:30 until 10PM while 100 degree temperature, 100 per cent humidity-filled air swathed us in a dewy sheen of sweat, while our dogs, all 215lbs of them, until our daughter's dog joined them bring the weigh total up to 315 lbs, paced and grew more and more agitated with the BOOM, sizzle, ZIP,  twip, Ka-BANG, Ka-BOOM that filled our neighborhood that until now I did not know was filled with idiots who have explosives, also known as fireworks, stock-piled for just such a situation. Usually these fireworks would have been doled out over several weeks, but with half the state burning here in Arizona even doofus types have curtailed fire starting.  This year the combination of 4th of July, rain, and all your summer explosive use happened simultaneously.  The survivalists the next block over seemed to set all their stockpile off at one time, reminding me of the old Redneck Joke.

What was the last thing the Red Neck said?

"Y'all watch this!"

I'll be less snippy and bitch next time...  Nah.  Probably not.