Sunday, July 02, 2006

HGTV is Porn for Women

For those of you not blessed/cursed with a cable system with this channel on it, HGTV stands for Home and Garden Television. And if you didn't need that explanation, you already know that the title of this post is the absolute gospel truth. HGTV is porn for women.



If you even mention the four letters in close proximity to one another in the company of women, you will see a mischievous gleam in their eyes, and knowing glances and moans of approval will pass through the group like the "wave" at a sporting event. It is unbelievably addictive, a visual sensation that is pleasurable to women, which is perhaps akin to men's pleasure from an internet flash of naked skin and accompanying slapping sounds. The glazed eyes and the intermittent drooling are the same for both sexes.



I wish I could tell you what the draw is, but I can only speculate, having flown entirely to close to the flame myself, only to be hypnotized by its warmth and light. Is it our biological imperative to feather the nest that makes us swoon over the home makeover shows? I acknowledge that I am drawn to feather my own nest (and adorn myself, for that matter) with beautiful things, not unlike a crow when her interest is peaked by shiny things, and the key to the appeal of some of their programming is just that. There is a show called "I Want That!", which is an open appeal not only to our love of all consumer goods, but also to novelty, and the practicality and beauty of items cleverly engineered and still aesthetically pleasing. What crow, er, I mean woman, can resist the lure of such clever and shiny things? Caw! Caw!!



Perhaps the appeal is not so much about accumulation of things as it is the excitement of the electrons in our brains when we see that you could be so much more creative in decorating your home with, say, only $100 dollars!? I know many women who do not consider themselves "creative", but when they talk about HGTV, they admit that they had been drawn to rearrange rooms, paint things, and turn items that seemed useless into something pretty and clever. Although television watching is a rather passive activity, it seems that a lot of home improvement has been spurned on by the shows on this channel, and as a result, a lot of women who normally would have no idea what to paint a room beyond pastels have been positively motivated.



Whatever the reason for its appeal, I am completely smitten. And if you are without a Y chromosome, you probably are, too. (That's not to say that there aren't plenty of men who have been sucked into its vortex as well, but this is mostly a "female thing".)



I'd love to talk to you more, but I think that there might be another edition of "Curb Appeal" coming on soon, and I really must see how the decide to paint the garage doors. And there is my half-finished project of faux painting to finish in the living room. And the episode where they rearranged that guy's garden gave me an idea about where to plant those perennials...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

What kind of coffee are you?

Well, this is exceedingly lame to start blogging again after such a long time, and then only to post the results of a silly quiz - but I couldn't figure out a good way to jump back in otherwise, and might have procrastinated forever. I will be writing more soon, to what end I've no idea, since surely no one reads this anymore, but it was good therapy at one time, and I need to vent again. Anyway, until then, there are a lot of cute quizzes on the Blogthings site (link below), and this is a fairly accurate description of me. "Cheap"? Ouch, that hurt.

You are a Black Coffee
At your best, you are: low maintenance, friendly, and adaptable

At your worst, you are: cheap and angsty

You drink coffee when: you can get your hands on it

Your caffeine addiction level: high

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

It was a stupid argument on the surface, about something so minor it shouldn’t even be considered an argument. Yet just underneath that surface, it was an argument about everything that has always been wrong in our sibling relationship. It is a familiar, painful pattern.

I remember long afternoons at home, mostly without supervision, arguing about who even remembers what. He seemed purposefully cruel to me then, taking out his 11 year-old chubby boy with a crazy mother angst on me, the 1st grader who seemingly got all of the attention. I was far from a perfect child, but my grandparents would dote on me, obviously praising me and doting on me more. The excuse given was that they were used to little girls, having only had daughters, but try explaining that little bit of rationalization to a small boy. The preferential treatment burned into his tiny mind, humiliating and hurtful images buried under layers of self-doubt and fury, still broiling and twisting away in there all these years later.

My poor unwitting father only added to the problem, as I guess he saw something of himself in me, a smaller, female version of himself, and took me under his wing as a partner in crime. Add to that the maternal neglect that was due to mother’s mental illness, and you have a recipe for one troubled, angry man. And I will forever pay the price of those subtle and not so subtle shows of preference, when it comes to my adult relationship with my brother.

Every conversation has the following subtext:

“You always went out and had fun, and left me to take care of Mom alone.”

“Well, YOU got more attention than me.”

“ But I ended up having to be the responsible one when I was too young to handle it.”

“But I’m the responsible one now, with a wife and children, and you go out to shows and concerts with your boyfriend.”

“Well, you chose one lifestyle, and I chose another – it doesn’t make me irresponsible.”

“Yes it does, because when I ask you to do something, you don’t do it immediately.”

“Well, your definition of an emergency is skewed. You can’t prioritize, you are obsessive, and you nag me about things endlessly.”

“But I’m stressed, and you have to help me. I didn’t have a Mommy, so you are my Mommy.”

“ I don’t want to be your Mommy, I was Mommy to OUR Mommy, and it nearly killed me.”

“Well, you are all the family that I’ve got, so you must take care of me, and praise me even when I drive you crazy.”

“I’ll try to be as supportive as possible, but your passive aggressive behavior is suffocating me.”

And on and on and on.

A conversation about the cable bill is loaded with more charges than the ridiculous fees. A problem with the DSL is a mountain of guilt and recriminations. A seemingly sound and logical financial decision to live in the same house has turned into a prison, both financial and emotional. We are close, and yet we are on the opposite ends of the solar system, shooting stinging rays across the cosmos at one another.

I love my brother. I would give the man a kidney if he needed it. But the unresolved conflicts from our emotionally tortured childhood sometimes make me want to run to another country, to get out from under the burden of being near so much repressed rage and fear. Had I known then what I know now, I would never have tethered myself so tightly to him by virtue of that one real estate closing.

And so we squabble about the bills, the fence, the yard, the roof – our lives.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Katrina


There's not much I can think to say about this catastrophy that hasn't already been said before. As a nation, we do what we can to help, and we grieve.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Starfish



I swore to myself that I would not be one of those bloggers who abandons her site, particularly and most monstrously with a cliff-hanger. And yet here, dear reader, I have been gone for well over half the year without a word. To the few but obviously caring people who read this blog before, and who left me kind encouragements regarding my impending surgery, I apologize for leaving you in the dark.



As my last post mentioned, I was scheduled for a hysterectomy in the beginning of 2005, and I'm pleased to say that it went off without a hitch. I have been relieved of my troublesome uterus, and all the burdens that came with it. (Well, not all, but I'll get to that.) I was mildly apprehensive about the surgery, but more so about the time at home afterward, and how uncomfortable I might be, and for how long. But it could not have gone better, the doctors and hospital staff could not have been any more helpful and professional, and I am told that I healed remarkably quickly. I am lucky, and very grateful, that this episode is mostly behind me.



J, my boyfriend, was supportive and wonderful throughout, as was my brother and his wife, and my closest friends, including my friend/immediate supervisor at work. Everyone was so lovely and helpful, that it makes me tear up a little thinking about it.



It will certainly sound strange to some, and it may be nauseating to those who dislike or even hate their jobs, but it meant the world to me that I was able to do the most important part of my job from home during my convalescence, via some improvements made to my home computer courtesy of work. Everyone was so helpful and generous during the time I was out of work, and especially so during the time I was still shakily first back at my desk. It was incredibly humbling and touching to see tangible proof that I was appreciated and liked by my supervisors and co-workers. It's difficult to put into words how grateful I am for that. Anyone who has worked at a crappy job, and believe me I have, knows what a treasure it is to be happy with where you work, and even on the days that I am aggravated by something or other, I am aware of the gift that fell into my lap when I got this job.



Since the surgery and the healing time, I have slowly but steadily gotten most of my energy back, and if I can coax that remaining bit of lead out of my pants, I will be good as new. Slight fatigue and a small tugging sensation on the "anchor" side of my surgery scar notwithstanding, I am feeling as if I never had surgery at all. Oh, but of course, the pain and discomforting side effects of the fibroids are gone, so in that respect, I feel better than I did before, far better. There is only one strange and head-stratching aspect to any of this: I have continued to get my period, even though I no longer have a uterus.



"Um, what?" you ask. How is that even possible, you wonder? Well, welcome to my bizarre world! The first month after surgery, nothing. The second month, I had a slight and short period, but definitely a period. I called the doctor's office, only a little panicked, and asked what was going on with the bleeding? He saw me, and said that he couldn't say for sure, but it may have been a pocket of fluid that was finding its way out of my body (er, where's it been hiding all this time?), or that I may have some remaining cells that are still cycling. It would remain to be seen in the coming months.



I was flabbergasted. Kinda pissed, even. How the holy hell could I be having a period when the factory has been shut down for good? Quick analogy for the men: How the hell is my car leaking transmission fluid, when you dropped the trans out of it over a month ago?? You see my dilemma.



I was doing the happy dance before surgery, gloating even - I admit it - that I would NEVER have a period again, and what a lucky mutt was I, ladies? You hated me for it, you can cop to that now. Well, you have your sweet, sweet revenge now, as the fates have decided to play a wicked trick on me. I had given away my tampons with the gleeful knowledge that I would never need one again. Never!



NEVER say "Never".



For the next few months, I had a perfectly-timed visitor every 28 or 29 days. It was very light and short, but nothing that can be mistaken as anything else but the seemingly impossible. "I don't have a uterus anymore", I joked with my gynocologist during our last phone call (yes, he called me to see how I was doing, he's a good egg), "so how is this happening? Am I like a freakin' starfish, and it's growing back? Did you notice if I had a spare uterus tucked up in there somewhere? Where the HELL is this coming from?"



I go see him again later this month for another post-operative check-up, and we will re-visit this mystery again then. In the meantime, I am preparing to be famous in the medical journals or something. It's not the worst thing that could happen, not by a long shot, but damn, I was really looking forward to being period-free. I mean, I kept my ovaries, and thanks to some crazy flucuations there I have recently been breaking out like nobody's business. I wanted to keep the estrogen flowing for health reasons, so I can't help it if they act up. But if I had to have surgery, geez, I thought that at least got a pardon from the Monthly Visitor.



Zits, small periods - apparently, my body thinks I'm 12 years old again. That would be great, if I was only that jean size again, I had my whole life in front of me, my Dad was still alive , and I know everything I know now. Wow, that would be something. But the truth is that I'm at an age when the tabloids pick out specimens my age who look preternaturally well-preserved, and announce that they are "Fabulous at..." [my age]. Give me a break, Mother Nature. This hormonal crap is no longer appropriate or particularly welcome.



Well, now that the bitching and moaning has been covered, I will once again say how I am very happy to be healthy and out of pain, and that life is pretty good. And I will not let this much time go between post again.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Pomegranate and The Walnut

I feel anxious for a resolution to many months of discomfort and worry, and yet still, I find myself dreading the operation I face in a few months. It seems that I have developed uterine fibroids, and after much research, discussion with my doctors, and tests to observe and follow the course of their growth, it has become clear that a hysterectomy is necessary.

Let me please just mention up front that I'd appreciate it, if you feel moved to comment on this post, if you didn't offer up medical advice and/or scary stories about what happened to your sister-in-law during her hysterectomy that left her with a limp and an uncontrollable urge to pee in restaurants, or whatever. I'm a tiny bit freaked out as it is, and unsolicited advice from the internet is not going to be helpful at this point. Just rest assured that I HAVE researched all my options, and discussed it at length with my doctor, and we are in agreement that this is the best course of treatment for me.

For some reason, the mere word hysterectomy strikes fear into the hearts of many who hear this news. The look of horror mixed with pity that comes over the face of some people, when I inform them of this impending operation, is something I had not anticipated. I supposed that I am a bit on the young side for a hysterectomy, but it's not the tragedy that I see played out in their expressions. Had I been yearning for children, I suppose that this would have been quite a blow. But since I have no desire for children, to the point where I successfully lobbied my gynecologist to perform a tubal ligation a couple years ago, that is truly a moot point.

It's become a matter of being practical about things: How to plan out my leave with work. What do I need to take to the hospital, and how long will I be there. How to make it so that I can do some of my work from home during my recuperation. How to plan to be self-sufficient during the time when I will not be able to drive, and to keep everything I will need during the day on one floor, so I won't be forced to take stairs before it is prudent. How to know when I am ready to go back to work. These are the things that consume my spare moments now. Along with a few paranoid thoughts, like what if something goes wrong? How bad is this really going to hurt? Will I be okay alone at home all day when I first get home? Will I turn into a television watching bowl of jello with all that time at home?

On the other hand, I am secretly looking forward to being out of work for the longest stretch of time in my entire adult life. The longest I've ever gone without working was the one month directly following my father's death, when I had just finished one job and hadn't gotten another, because I was supposed to accompany my father to a hospital in another city for an operation, and didn't know how long I'd be staying with him. Life was so up-in-the-air then, that I didn't dare look for a job and then tell them, "Oh, by the way, I'll be needing an open-ended vacation, beginning immediately..." As it turns out, I was grateful for that month of space, because my father died before we got a chance to go for the operation, and my grief was so encompassing, I would not have been capable of holding down a new job at that time.

I know that I will be feeling miserable for the very beginning of the time out of work, but the prospect of endless hours to myself, to read, sleep, perhaps watch movies or do some little craft projects, appeals to me enormously. Oh, and then, there is the obvious benefit ...

[WARNING: Gentlemen with a reluctance to know anything untidy about women's anatomy and biology will do well to skip down to another part of this post right about now. I'll let you know when to come back in.]

...of no more periods! Huzzah! I will be doing the happy dance of joy around a bonfire of tampons! No more crampy days! No more separate section in the underwear draw for the "period panties"! No more "accidents"! No more spending money on all kinds of sanitary gear! No more making sure that there is a "just in case" supply in the purse, or a place to hid the package of bulky pads in the bathroom. No more bulky pad waddle! No more, "Not tonite, honey, there's a tropical storm down south!" I am so excited. I did the math, and 300+ periods times 4 or 5 miserable days is PLENTY for one lifetime. I will not miss this curse one bit.

Especially after how absolutely horrid things have been for the past few months. I recently read this amusing blog posting, about the author's experience giving birth at home, and she mentions that the midwife said that if she had to stop talking to deal with a contraction, that meant that she was in labor. Well, that is sort of what has been happening to me the last few months. I'd be at work, going about my business, when suddenly Ms. Fibroid #1, a.k.a. The Pomegranate, would decide to let me know that it needed a little attention, and this UNBELIEVEABLY! SHARP! PAIN! would terrorize my lower girl parts, to the extent that I would gasp and have to stop talking in mid sentence, my eyes bulging out and my breath held for an eternity. Lucky, a few close co-workers have been aware of my plight, or I'm sure that they would think that I had developed some sort of seizure disorder.

The other fun experience is what I like to call The Crotch of Fire, in which The Pomegranate or her accomplice, The Walnut, must be pressing on something and annoying it terribly, because a sharp burning sensation will shoot right into the leftmost crotch area, and feel like a burning poker is trying to make its way out of my body. This goes off and on for a few minutes, and then magically disappears again. And did I mention that The Pomegranate is resting directly on top of my bladder? Oh what joy. I don 't even need to explain the fun and games involved here, do I?

My one friend cracked up when I explained my symptoms, and explained that it was just too deliciously ironic that the one woman she knew who would least be interested in giving birth, was the one plagued by all the early symptoms of pregnancy. Cute, really cute. Well, I thought it was funny, too, once she explained, because God does have that kind of sense of humor, I suppose.

The other good part is that I am able to keep my ovaries, so I will not be going prematurely into menopause, and will not have a greater risk of bone density problems later. So, that's good news. It would be a bitch to have this operation and then immediately start loosing my mind and getting hot flashes and all. Who needs that any earlier than necessary?

[Gentlemen: The yucky part is over. You can come back now.]

So, I'm looking forward to getting this over with, but I'm naturally nervous about having surgery, and the aftermath. The MRIs and the sonograms have not been particularly troublesome, and my doctor is a great guy and I trust him. I just wish that the whole thing would magically disappear.

J and I don't talk about it much, since it is really a long time away, but when it comes up, I can tell that he is worried. That is actually another thing that I am trying to plan out for the whole time before and after the surgery - a list of concrete things that J and my brother can do for me, so that they feel like they are being helpful and don't just stew in worry.

In my experience as a caretaker for many sick people over the years, men need concrete tasks to do, or the helplessness consumes them. Women mostly seem naturally able to know what needs doing, and just get down to the task. But I've noticed that most men appreciate being told, "You know what you could do for me right now that would really be helpful? Could you go get me some ice chips from that little refrigerator down the hall? The nurse will point out the room for you. That would be really great." Because then he is helping, not just standing over you worrying and not being able to be active. Of course, I will be needing help galore, and as hard as it is for me to ask for it sometimes, I will be forced to rely on people for a while. So, here's J's chance to feel like he did his part when I was one needing help, like I did for him when he went through his cancer ordeal.

Although he is anxious about my problem and how it makes me feel miserable sometimes, I think in a funny way, he's looking forward to being able to show me that he can take care of me, too. I'll be interested to see how things are when the shoe is on the other foot, because he's been through so much in the past year, but it'll be hard to give up my caretaker position for a while and hand it over to him.

Well, I'll keep you posted. And my apologies to anyone who felt that this post was TMI.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Dear Fellow Driver,

Ah, the holiday season. People are busily rushing to and fro, in the hopes that they will be able to buy every single toy, electronic, computer or clothing item produced in the country, and all between "Black Friday" and Christmas. During this adreneline-fueled festive frenzy, I would like to submit the following list of Driving Do's and Don't's, in the spirit of public service and goodwill towards all men and women. Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

DO use turn signals. Yes, I know that they are "so last week", the Uggs of the world of personal expression through driving technique, but they are not meant for you. Presumably, and this might be a large logical jump here, but presumably you already know where you are going. Please consider putting on your turn signal before that ever so expressive flash of the brakelights, so that I, your fellow driver, may rearrange my driving accordingly. Otherwise, I might have no other option than to introduce my front bumper to your ass. Howdy, neighbor!

DO use your headset if you must chat on the phone while driving. As much of a multi-tasking genius as you might be in other areas, you are currently hurtling down the road at many miles per hour, surrounded by several tons of potentially homicidal metal and fiberglass. Might want to consider paying closer attention. Um, see, there, just now, when you crossed over the double yellow into oncoming traffic, because you were trying to dial and drive at the same time? That's a teensy problem for that other driver, you know, the one inconsiderately driving in the oncoming lane just as you needed to weave into it. Might want to put down your phone a sec, because you need to flip them off for having the audacity to beep at you just then. There you go, well done.

DON'T drive down the shoulder lane on the highway, to make an end run around the huge line of cars patiently sitting in traffic on the highway, and then put on your innocent, "Golly gee whiz!" act when trying to merge back into the lane. May the Traffic Karma get you, in the form of a State Trooper named Bill who has a major hard-on for people who ride in the breakdown lane. I hope Bill just spilled his coffee on his trousers before pulling you over, so he has a mind to write you on your expired inspection sticker and your brake light being out, too. Serves you right, sucker. Next time, wait your turn like everybody else.

DO make left turns from the left lane, and right turns from the right lane. Does this require further explanation? Was something unclear about that page in the driver manual? Driver manual. That book they gave you to study before they let you loose on the public. Didn't read it? Blew the guy who gave you the test instead? But of course. Silly me. Read the first sentence of this section again, and do it that way from now on. No, you don't have to thank me. Please, get off you knees. Oh, fine, if you insist.

DON'T, for the love of God, pick your nose while you drive. Your invisibility shield is currently non-operational. It is NOT festive. Please discontinue immediately.

DO sing at the top of your lungs while driving, windows open, weather permitting. Even without the weather's permission. It lets out the stress, it's fun, and it isn't hurting anyone.

DO keep your hands at 10 and 2. If you don't know what that means, please see the Driving Manual. No, not that again. Get up. I really think you should read the book this time. Oh, alright, if you insist.

Happy Holidays everyone, and PLEASE, drive carefully.

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