Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Moving to LJ, I think

I'm not without some ambivalence about it, but I seem to be preparing to move to LiveJournal instead of blogger. I still really like blogger. But I want to be able to write friends-only stuff sometimes and I want tags. So let's see how this goes, shall we?

If you want to be on my friends list on the new LJ and I missed you, send me an email or leave a comment. If you have me in your LJ friends list under my old username, could you switch/add "syncretistfool"?

Sorry for some administrative hassle. Hopefully the result will be more interesting /more frequent content. We shall see.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Another silly quiz

This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

babies babies EVERYWHERE!!!

We have officially arrived at that stage of our lives in which our friends are having kids, a LOT. To wit, in the past 2 months:

Hannah Kelso Dunn, 8/22/05

Mose Vigoda Millburn, 9/22/05

Peter Terran Labana Drake, 10/19/05

Guinevere Evelyn Menyuk, 10/24/05

Ingrid Laurel Johnson, 10/26/05

Congratulations to lots of delighted and exhausted parents and siblings!
Welcome to new small people!

(Whoever's next, can you try and hold out until 11/23? I think 3 Scorpios this year are plenty.)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A million thank you's

We are working on thank you cards for the wedding and honeymoon. It's a big job. We're nowhere near done. But it's amazing how much we have to be grateful for, and you just can't complain about that.

A couple of you heard me say this: the wedding was a seriously humbling experience for me. I spent months doing everything within my power to make sure all the details would be taken care of, and then we got there the day before and saw all the things we HADN'T managed to take care of, and it was terrifying. Suddenly it's not humanly possible to be in control anymore, and whatever is going to happen, will happen. It's a great big "trust fall" exercise. I remember feeling very exposed -- everyone's about to show up and see the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I just have to let go and let them see.

And then it just came together. People started jumping in and dealing with all those loose ends for us, frequently without our even knowing it. The folks we had asked to help did amazing jobs and a whole lot of folks we hadn't asked did too. By breakfast time on the day of the ceremony, I was able to just pay attention to being a bride and let all the other stuff happen without me. When I was sitting alone, ready, waiting for Twink to come tell me it's time for the procession, I cried, able to just sit there and be overwhelmed with how happy I was. And a huge part of that was gratitude that this wonderful crowd of friends and family had pulled together and given us the gift of this day.

It was a hell of a gift. It was a great big fabulous party and it will always be one of the best days of my life. Looking at the pictures makes me all giddy all over again. (And yes, photos will be online soon...)

When I was in the receiving line after the ceremony, hugging everyone, I remember feeling kind of silly that the only words I seemed to be able to come up with were "Thank you." If you thought to wonder whether other people got more words out of me than you did -- probably not. It's not that there weren't lots of other things to be said. But I was so full of "Thank you" I just couldn't think of anything else.

Friday, September 16, 2005

NEVER check your luggage.

Jesus Christ.

8/26 My big backpacking pack with all my clothing in it was lost by Northwest Airlines on the way home from Vancouver. So was M's bag. We filed a report at the airport.

8/29 M's bag was returned.

8/29 through 9/6 M and I called daily to Northwest's baggage office at the Albany Airport, where we had been told to call, to follow up about my bag. The automatic "check status" phone line and website unhelpfully reported that my bag had arrived in Albany and I would be contacted to arrange delivery. We got an answering machine every time, left messages with no response.

9/7 I finally found an 800 number for national Northwest "luggage irregularities." I was told that the case for both bags was closed when M's bag was found, and a message would be sent back to Albany to reopen the case. I called Albany, miraculously finally spoke to a human, and played a couple rounds of "The national office told you WE would re-open it? But they're the ones who have to do that!" Eventually I was told the woman in Albany would call me back the next day.

9/8 nada

9/9 I called Albany back. Case had not been re-opened yet. They managed to do it, and told me to call back in a few days now that they were looking for the bag, to find out if they had any luck.

9/13 I called Albany back. No luck. I asked if they would send me a claim form, which one is supposed to do after the bag is missing 5 days. (It's not available online or anything, they have to give you one.) I was told I had to wait until the case had been *reopened* for 5 business days. I called the national 800 number back to ask if they knew anything about my bag that Albany didn't know. They didn't, but at least they emailed me a claim form.

9/14 and 9/15 I spent several hours filling out their claim form with exhaustive inventory of the bag and supporting documentation. 9/15 at lunchtime I faxed it all back as I was directed to do.

9/16 I called back to the 800 number at lunchtime to confirm that they had received my fax. THEY COULD NOT DO THAT BECAUSE THE PILE OF INCOMING CLAIMS IS TOO BIG for them to be arsed to look through. I was told to call back on Wednesday to find out if it came through yet. I decided to push and ask for a manager, wanting someone to take responsibility for making sure this gets followed up on. The manager had no such power. I asked that someone call *me* back when the claim is entered. She said she would put that request on my record in the computer, but she couldn't promise it would happen. That's the best she could do. I had some words to say about how this system is not working. But I couldn't bring myself to really rip her a new one, because she sounded so miserable. Poor woman is taking shit for this company all day long.

Oh, and I hear NWA declared bankruptcy this week.

Anyone want to place a bet on whether I get anything back from them?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Yes, they were doing it on purpose.

I'm mostly avoiding wallowing in Katrina news, but damn.

Just read a first-person account by a couple EMT's who were in New Orleans for a conference when Katrina hit. I hope everyone and his brother reads this.

> As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across
> the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began
> firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in
> various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us
> inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in
> conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander
> and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were
> no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.
> We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as
> there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the
> West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no
> Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and
> black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not
> getting out of New Orleans.

The good news (because I need some right about now) is that this account is also full of everyday people getting together and taking care of each other, despite the "relief" operation's best efforts.

Go read the full article.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Marty on Zipporah

Marty McConnell and her blog are well worth checking out. If you're in NYC on a Monday night, go visit Bar 13, even if you don't think you like poetry that much. This scene is definitely best experienced live.

This most recent poem on the blog is really striking to me. Mir, you should put "Miriam Cast Out" online so I can link to it here. I am now aware of 2 poems imagining Moses through the eyes of women in his life. It's a pretty different view than most of what we get, to say the least.

The writing exercise this came from, apparently:
"write a poem of instruction or command, telling someone specific how to forget you."

Sunburn from hell.

First off: The wedding and the honeymoon were both absolutely wonderful. We got back Friday. I will have more to say about that stuff, and hopefully photos online before long. In general life is very very good.

But what I really need to talk about right now is the tremendously disturbing thing that is happening to my shins.

Last Thursday, our last day in British Columbia, we went out kayaking on the edge of Howe Sound and the Squamish River estuary. It was the first time any of us had been in a kayak, and we were all surprised by how much we enjoyed it. Because we were beginners, the rental place gave us "sit on top" kayaks, because they're nearly impossible to capsize and if you do, you're not stuck inside anything. This all worked out wonderfully, except that my fishbelly-pale legs were out on the water, exposed to the sun for 3.5 hours. And no, I was not wearing sunblock.

The best I can say in my own defense on this point is that I'd had ridiculously good luck the entire rest of the trip. I didn't wear sunblock the whole time, was outside quite a bit, should have gotten mild burns several times by my usual experience, but didn't. So I was developing some kind of delusion about how the sun must not burn as much when you're this far north. And I had been wearing long pants over a bathing suit, and the weather got warmer than I expected, and I took the pants off, and we didn't have the sunblock with us, and I decided not to care. One of those decisions you don't even really think about. Except I think from now on I'll think about it.

My shins are really not OK. I have serious second-degree burns on the entirety of both shins. I had never imagined that such a thing could happen. I am not going to talk about what they look like. Blisters are involved, and bandages. It hurts, and not like a sunburn. Standing up and walking hurt a lot. My ankles are swollen. The doctor gave me Silvadene and Vicodin, and a note saying I should keep my feet up at work. I have stayed home from work 2.5 days this week so far. M & R are fetching things for me and doing all the work at home while I sit in a recliner with my feet up. This is NOT what I was planning to do when I got back from vacation!!

So, yeah, I feel pretty dumb.
And crispy.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Belly Tales

Hooray! My friend the student midwife has a blog about midwifery, which she has been keeping for a while but just started telling people about. It rocks!!

In particular, I love this post about another way to look at baby showers.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Congratulations, guys.

I was privileged to be there yesterday when two friends, M & D, tied the knot. They chose not to get married, for a variety of reasons, even though they legally could have. But they got their family and friends together and had a ceremony on a mountaintop to celebrate their relationship, and it was completely their own, and very cool. No officiant, lots of participation from family and friends. And yes, they really did tie a knot.

I was especially glad that they chose to speak openly in their ceremony about how their relationship has been affected by D's experience with breast cancer. She was diagnosed at 26, with no family history, no risk factors, no reason to believe this would ever happen to her. She has been in remission for 5 1/2 years and is doing very well, but she has been face to face with mortality in a way relatively few people our age have been.

As it happens, one of her big supports through this process was a man who was also going through a life-threatening illness that started at a young age -- he was diagnosed with HIV at 21 years old, 26 years ago I think. He got up with D in the ceremony and talked a little about how it changes you, to live for a while as if you don't have much time, and then realize you might have more time after all, and start to make long term plans again...

I was grateful that they did this on several levels. It gave me a new understanding and respect for what D has experienced (it was before I knew her), for the bond between my friends, and for what this celebration means to them. And also, talking about cancer and HIV on equal footing this way was just one more small but real step towards breaking down the stigma around HIV and AIDS. Everyone present yesterday got a chance to see this man through D's eyes: a fellow survivor, a source of strength, and a much-loved friend. Not an unknown person with a scary disease that people assume you usually get by doing something you weren't supposed to do. It was only one small part of the day, just a couple minutes. But this is the kind of thing that can change the way people think.

Good day with good people. May they have many good years together.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What a singing there will be when I get home

That's the title of Helen Schneyer's last recording, which will come out next month. I just found out yesterday that she died on July 16. Her obit in the Washington Post gives a basic bio; the Mudcat thread tells much more, through all the tributes of her friends.

She was one of those people whose presence is just huge, and love-inspiring. She always wore all white, with long white hair, and a metric ton of silver and turquoise jewelry. And I haven't met anyone who heard her sing who hadn't been moved to tears by it.

Mostly what I know of Helen, I know through her huge influence on my Mom. The songs Mom most loves to sing are the ones she learned from Helen. When she sings those songs she sings them with every cell in her body, which is the way Helen sang. For that alone I am tremendously grateful.

As Garrison Keillor put it, when Helen sang on Prairie Home Companion, "A lot of agnostics, atheists and people of no particular religions sang about the hope of heaven for the redeemed. It was quite amazing for her to perform." It's probably largely her fault that I love singing a certain number of spirituals and Baptist hymns. It's hard to explain, but it's beautiful.

I wish I had more chance to know her.
Rest easy, Helen.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Breakfast this morning: yogurt with fresh local blueberries and black raspberries. Life doesn't get much better than that. Happy summer. I love my CSA.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A change of plans

Some of you have been hearing from us for a while that when we start trying for a baby, we have been planning that I would be the first one to get pregnant, and Miriam would have her turn at carrying a baby a couple years later. This past weekend we decided to switch. Which is kind of a big change.

The basic reasoning behind the change is job-related. If I got pregnant anytime soon, I would have to go back to work pretty quickly for us to make ends meet. Miriam, on the other hand, has the power to make money from home as a freelance writer. It has been her plan for a while, that she would use that to be able to stay home with a baby after she has one. She's feeling ready to do it sooner, and if I wait til Robin is done with grad school, there's a pretty good chance that I can have a turn to stay home with a baby too. Which would be really nice.

But of course there is more to a decision like this than just that. We had a bunch of reasons for me to go first. That stupid doctor who got me worrying I might have trouble getting pregnant, and my anxiety to resolve that question, probably played a bigger role in it than they deserved. And Mir had wanted to stay at her job longer and develop her skills there more thoroughly before making her next career move. And especially when we thought my mom had Alzheimer's, we wanted her and her grandbaby to get the most possible chance to know each other, as soon as possible. And Mir kind of wanted to go second, for her own reasons... And I really wanted to go first. A lot.

I have been on preparation-for-baby mode for pretty much all of this year. I went off the Pill in December and started taking my temperature every morning and charting my cycles to find out if I was ovulating. I have been taking vitamins, and taking strange measures to block out light from my bedroom at night because that's supposed to promote healthy cycles. I have been exercising for several reasons, but not least because I wanted to be in shape for a pregnancy. I have been going out of my way to spend time with the babies of friends. You could say I've had a lot of energy to redirect -- we were pretty much all three ready to get going on the having kids by last Fall, and we've been assuming since then that I would be going first. But we decided we wanted to get the wedding part done before we started trying. So this stuff was what I was doing instead. :-)

Mir and Robin never would have thought to question that I should go first, I think, because it had become so solidly the plan. And to be honest, if they had brought it up, I probably would have flipped. I had so much of my brain wrapped up in getting ready to be pregnant, if I felt like they were trying to take that away from me it would have been bad news. But as it happened... Mir gave herself a vacation for her birthday. She had a long weekend at home first, and then a week away by herself on a writing retreat. She was relaxed, and happy. And I found myself thinking that I would absolutely love to be able to give her the chance to be like that more of the time, sooner than we have been planning on. And I realized that might be in our power to do, if she had the first baby. I talked with Robin about it while she was away on her retreat, and once I figured out I would be OK with the switch if we all decided that made the most sense, I brought it up with Mir when she got home. And then we took a while to think it through... and it really seems to make a lot more sense this way. And it's actually OK with me, which I might not have been able to imagine a couple months ago.

More than that. I feel GOOD about it. Mir keeps being surprised, I think, that I seem as happy as I am with this. I definitely did have to go through some feelings of loss about it, and that may not be over yet. But I think without being aware of it I had gotten pretty self-centered about the whole baby business. I was thinking about my fertility and me being pregnant and me having a baby. And of course my family being there too... but in retrospect it feels like it was too much just about me. In contrast, I'm now looking at a plan where I get to go through the whole process with Miriam and be the best support for her that I know how to be, and she will get to spend some time focusing on home instead of work, and it's about US, together. So much better.

And as a side benefit, the next time I go off the Pill, I think I will just stop taking pills and see what happens. Not so much with the charts and the anxious preparation. I think that might very well turn out to be more fun.

Friday, July 15, 2005

No no no no no.

I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was, when my friend in midwife school told me that student doctors and student midwives in the US are no longer taught how to deliver vaginal breech births. It is assumed from the start that a diagnosed breech should be delivered by caesarian. And if you have an undiagnosed breech, they'll rush you to an emergency caesarian if they have time, and if they don't -- you may well be in a dangerous situation, because there may not be anyone around who knows how to handle this. Even though someone who has been taught the appropriate skills could handle it just fine.

Since she won't get it in school, my friend is planning to travel somewhere else where she can learn how to do it -- but even if she gets enough practice to feel confident, she probably won't be able to get malpractice insurance without promising she'll require a caesarian for breeches. There are no words for how wrong that is.

Lots of research to do about the midwives and doctors in this area. I have heard there are a lot of good resources out there, and separately I've heard that things are a mess. Except for the whole travelling to Tennessee bit, The Farm is sounding better all the time.

Friends with interesting things to say

Quinn on sex, love, kids, and oxytocin: more lab notes on the necessarily subjective research topic of how hormones affect our thinking, desires, identity...

Kif on cachexia: what happens when you're not eating and it's NOT because you're obsessed with losing weight. You're right, Kif, I've known other folks who have this but I never had a separate word for it, and it's a very good thing to have a separate word for.

Ada on BOUNCING! That looks like so much fun. Do they let big kids go on that ride?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Random computer generated thingy #853

Found on A's LJ, which I would link to if it weren't all locked and stuff. Finally got back in touch with A. Hooray for that.
Meanwhile I am still not dead. Today I made a decision about a caterer and bought a strapless bra; tomorrow my mother and I are going for a dress fitting. I think I must be getting married soon.

I am The Empress

The Empress can refer to any aspect of Motherhood. She can be an individual mother, but as a major arcana card, she also goes beyond the specifics of mothering to its essence - the creation of life and its sustenance through loving care and attention. The Empress can also represent lavish abundance of all kinds. She offers a cornucopia of delights, especially those of the senses - food, pleasure and beauty. She can suggest material reward, but only with the understanding that riches go with a generous and open spirit. The Empress asks you to embrace the principle of life and enjoy its bountiful goodness.

For a full description of your card and other goodies, please visit LearnTarot.com

What tarot card are you? Enter your birthdate.

Month: Day: Year:

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Saw the movie Crash last night.  Went to sleep with it in my head, woke up before my alarm still going over it, had to drag my head out of it when I got to work.  It is not an easy movie to watch, but it's beautifully done.

I was pretty skeptical when I heard this was a movie "about racism." Tough to make that sound anything but pedantic. But this movie is not pedantic, or simple in any way. And while it's not a feel-good movie with a happy ending, it does not come out to be a tragedy either. Some of the story threads within it are tragic. The stakes are high enough that pretty much everything that doesn't turn out to be a tragedy feels like a miraculous escape. But, well, that's not entirely unlike life.

It brought me near tears. Not tears of sadness, really. Once, I nearly cried with relief. But mostly what I was feeling was just recognition.

Go see it.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

In which I am a geek about reproductive health

So I've been learning about Fertility Awareness. It's a way women can tell if/when they ovulate, when in your cycle you might be fertile, when you're definitely not, etc. You take your temperature first thing in the morning every day, and watch the changes in your cervical fluid (not as gross or difficult as one might initially think) and keep a chart of that stuff. People use it for birth control, or when they're trying to get pregnant, or to help diagnose and monitor various problems with hormonal cycles and the reproductive system.

I got interested in this because a couple years ago a doctor told me I might have trouble getting pregnant. This doctor was not one I particularly liked or respected, so I have not been worrying overmuch about what he said. But I'm aware of it. And if there were anything I could do to increase the chances that I won't have a problem, I would want to do that. So on good advice from a friend, I got off the Pill well in advance of when I might start trying to get pregnant, and I'm using the charting to get a sense of what's going on with my cycles.

Of course, one of the things I found out is that it's not at all unusual for it to take MONTHS to get back to normal after you come off the Pill. So I don't have a lot of interpretation from my data yet, because everything could just be residual effects of the Pill that will even themselves out. But it's empowering already, because I can come up with better questions to ask my new (way better!) doctor, and I don't feel like the whole thing is just out of my hands.

And the particularly cool thing is that if you do find out something's not working right, there are things you can do about it. Apparently sleeping in complete darkness can cause people to start ovulating when they haven't been, regularize their cycles, etc. And there are diet changes and nutritional supplements and other stuff that can be helpful... and you can TELL whether whatever you try is making a difference or not because you can see it on your charts.

Right now I'm working on figuring out how to make my bedroom totally dark -- we get a lot of light from the street and the firehouse next door. Anybody have any experience/advice with this?

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Still here.

Yeesh, it's been a month? My brain has been very full and time is flying. I'm doing OK though, didn't disappear into a depressed funk or anything. Just busy.

Strange news this week: the doctor now says he does not think Mom has Alzheimer's, or any degenerative neurological disease. The trick is that he doesn't have any clue what the problem actually is. No dispute that something's not working right, but what is it?

On one hand this is a relief, because we don't have to look at what's happening to all those folks who do have Alzheimer's and prepare ourselves to go through THAT. But on the other hand, her support group and all the connections she's made with people in Alzheimer's services are suddenly not there for her in the same way, and she's still having all the same problems she was before. And we just don't know WHAT to prepare ourselves for at all.

Next step, talk to some different doctors. And we just keep going one day at a time.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Someone made a map of who slept with who at a high school. Very interesting. And not exactly what they expected to find. Some bits from the article:

"The results showed that, unlike many adult networks, there was no core group of very sexually active people at the high school. There were not many students who had many partners... But they were indirectly linked, partner to partner to partner. One component of the network linked 288 students – more than half of those who were romantically active at the school – in one long chain."

Which has implications for STD prevention:

In adult populations, in which there are cores of sexually active people who are the main conduits of disease, you can focus education and other efforts to this select group.

Hmm, that sounds familiar... Oh, I know -- that's the only kind of HIV prevention education the CDC will approve funding for! The kind that's targeted to a small core of high-risk individuals.

But in the case of adolescents, “there aren’t any hubs to target, so you have to focus on broad-based interventions,” Moody said. “You can’t just focus on a small group.”

Oh, and this is somebody's random art project, that I think is pretty cool.