20 July 2012

SS-A, SS-B, KCS, CRT, SED, ANA, GERD, IL-1, TNF-a, Fc IgG = SLE, RA, 1-SS, 2-SS, MS (?)

all those letters, they actually mean something (well, lots of things).  in fact, they're all related to each other and to this post from a while ago regarding my health.  since then a few things have changed.  as some of you have noticed, i've been around a whole lot less.  my body is upset and if i want to have any hope of making it to work as scheduled i pretty much have to spend all of my down-time resting or sleeping.  (yes, i know it sucks.)

first off, i'd been suspecting for quite sometime that i have more than just hyperthyroid and discussed the possibility with a few doctors.  but after the one who initially diagnosed me moved i had trouble finding one who listened.  none of them were able to grasp the scope of my complaints let alone connect the dots.  then one night last summer i ended up in the emergency room and the doctor who i saw (really listened to me then) suggested that i get tested for lupus, ms, and other autoimmune disorders.

since then i've put off having further testing and have been treating my symptoms individually (which will ultimately be the plan i end up with a more comprehensive diagnosis anyway). but in the meantime had my bi-annual eye exam which sort of changed everything.i learned that i have very dry eyes.  i'm missing two of the three layers of moisture that we rely on to keep our eyes free of debris and lubricated.

it is now very likely that instead of the more common/well-known autoimmune disorders i have sjogren's syndrome, which means that i have inflammation in response to my body not recognizing and then attacking its own cells mainly in my mucous membranes.  when this happens all of my systems could be (and usually are) stressed.  due to all of this i will be seeing a doctor (who i know and trust) shortly after i move.  hopefully he will be able to get the results quickly as whatever i have has started to impact my day to day life.

14 July 2012

rape is funny. you know, because it's true (not 'ha ha' funny).

On Thursday evening I posted this on facebook.  And unfortunately there was a "friend" who felt the need to speak out against it.  I responded (as did a few others) and that seemed to be enough; until the middle of the night when the post was hi-jacked by four guys acting just like Tosh and the other comedians (which makes sense as a few of them tell jokes on a stage while holding a microphone).  Needless to say, I un-"friended" them, deleted the comments and carried on with my day.  But I've had some time to think about it and I'd like to say this:
People deny the holocaust as well; that doesn't mean it never happened only that they are not ready to cope.
Women fear rape.  It is true and probably appropriate for them to do so because statistically it is pretty likely to happen to them.  To this point there are many who do so because it has happened to them (even though rape is grossly under-reported 1 in 4 women have been sexually assaulted, in my experience it is actually more like 1 in 2).  How does this happen?  What systems are in place that enable men to rape and oppress women?  Why aren't more people upset or acknowledging that it happens or talking about it?  What in the hell can we do to fix it?

In my experience, whether they acknowledge it or not, a good majority of women's interactions with men are a result of "rape culture" or things associated with it.  Especially things like outward appearance/self-image, dating rituals, and interpersonal relationships.  (FYI: just because you personally don't accept something it does not mean it is untrue.)  Women are taught to let the man take the lead and be timid when it comes to intimacy, as if they are just along for the ride.  Society says that women shouldn't make the first move because they wouldn't want to give the wrong impression or appear easy.  Men get to control our sexuality and dictate how it is expressed.

Women are also taught to be aware of their surroundings.  They are conditioned to constantly assess likelihood that they will be harmed or violated.  If they do not, it is their own fault for being irresponsible.  It is their fault for not defending their body (you know, because the rapist is really never responsible for his inability to control himself).  They are also taught that the sexier they dress/act the more it appears they are inviting an attack but all the while the media tells them that they are only valuable if they are sexy and desirable.  These are confusing messages which place blame on the victim.  It is very possible that her own guilt will make her less likely to report the rape, which compounds the issue for her personally and society as a whole.

Ultimately women are taught to fear men who they see in alleys or when they are outside at night. This is bad for both men and women...you guys aren't all rapists and we shouldn't have to fear the good guys because there are a few douche-bags out there. But when you guys spend all sorts of energy supporting and defending them it is hard to believe that you really get it, even just a little.  It pretty much seems that you're on their side.  That you like rape, what it does to women, and how we as a society function because of it.  If not you could just say "No, it wasn't okay that he joked about that woman being gang raped."  Or even just "I'm sorry that he said that."  That would make us all feel a lot better (probably enough that we wouldn't have to rant about it on the internet). 

As someone who has been raped I can say that I will never forget that experience.  I will always be conscious in someway that others have the ability to fuck my shit up completely if they so wish.  I know and will remember what it feels like to be at someone's mercy.  The twisting and turning that happens in my guts when I think about it will never be funny.  Not to me and hopefully not to anyone else.

As a "survivor" I wish that I didn't have to explain why this is a problem.  I'd like for you to understand that if you aren't part of the solution you're a part of the precipitate.  It isn't really that hard of a concept to grasp.  Women deserve to not be raped.  For that to happen society needs to send a message to rapists.  This shouldn't be pushed onto the shoulders of victims, we already have enough shit to carry around.  You can stand up and speak out against rape-culture.  You can help us with our load, our burden is to heavy to bear alone.

For those of you who insist on joking about rape.  This post on Jezebel will help you do it an not sound like a total asshole by most people's standards.  But please remember just like "you can say whatever you want" it is important to remember so can your audience. And as I recall, no one has said "hey you can't say that" they've just been saying that it isn't funny and that it does more harm for humanity than good. Most people I know, myself included, are all for individual rights and want you to have freedom of speech.  But that also means that we don't want you to say that we can't have the same right.  It is not okay for anyone to say what another person can find offensive or take away their right to express it.  (That sentiment right there.  That is oppression.  You are trying to say that we don't deserve the same thing you do.  Fuck you for that.  I will not take your shit anymore.  IT IS NOT OKAY!)

So, even if he was joking about the woman being gang-raped...it wasn't funny because she felt threatened (which yes, is probably more the result of our culture than the "joke"); however, most rape jokes are an issue because instead of challenging the fucked up nature of our society they accept, encourage, or trivialize it.  The complexity of the issue increases when you start to think about the percentages of male and female comedians and the prevalence of rape jokes (perhaps women don't think it is funny but since that seems to be a big chunk of people's material they don't necessarily see themselves as funny or think they'll be accepted so they don't even try?).  Additionally, it is hard to ignore Tosh's history as a proprietor of rape-culture(as illustrated by his half-hour rape joke special).  It seems like he's a repeat offender. 

Rape is gross, messy, and painful.  Just like people of color do not need to be reminded of racism constantly because they still deal with it on multiple levels women do not need to be reminded of the fact that you could violate them at any point because society pretty much takes care of it 24/7.  Making jokes about rape that blame victims, trivialize, or sexualize it are a part of why it is generally accepted by society in the first part.  You may think it is just a joke but ultimately it becomes a tool used to silence victims.  Period.

Also on Facebook, comedian W. Kamau Bell wrote:
For the record I’m anti-heckling & anti-rape but I’m waaaaaay more anti-rape than I am        anti-heckling. (If I have to choose. And apparently I do. Weird.) If every comic had to spend every minute of every set being heckled but nobody was raped, I’d be ok with that.
To understand this post better you could research:  systematic oppression, the wage gap, privilege, and the dynamics of sexual assault.  Rape isn't about sex, it is about power.  It is about fear, intimidation, and control.  Also worth reading is this post about the status of women and peace.

30 June 2012

growing pains

bare branches
give way to
buds – soon

leaves dance
in the wind

bits of moss
grow on my
trunk atop the

rings concealing
my heartwood.
deep down i go

underground –
rooting around

17 May 2012

envion(mentalism) - part two: food

to me, being an environmentalist influences every aspect of my life.  i have talked about it in previous posts and most of my friends and acquaintances know that it is important to me to have the least impact on our environment as possible.  this means that i have made a lot of modifications and adjustments to reduce, reuse, and recycle (amongst other things).  i believe that small changes are a good place to start but to make a difference you really need to reevaluate everything you do, buy, or make. it means thinking about the products you buy, how many times they've changed hands, and how many miles they've put on.

food, for example, usually changes hands multiple times before it ends up in your shopping cart.  it is really difficult to say what the first step in food production is these days, but i'm going to start with seed production (and possibly a seed wholesaler and retailer).  after seed production comes planting and harvesting.  the food then goes to a wholesaler, distribution center, then retail store.  and that is just for whole food item that does not require processing.  many items broken down into their basic elements or altered, then put together into products, and packaged before going onto the wholesaler.

each of those steps requires energy, time, and effort from people and consumption of our resources.  however, you are able to drastically alter the number of steps between farm to table that your food must take.  first and foremost, there are usually local farmers markets and produces stands in every region.  many urban areas have thriving local agriculture - some of which is even produced within city limits.  these producers often take the time to research where the seeds they use are coming from and the impact of their distribution.  the beauty of going to these markets is that you get to interact with them directly and can ask them about the issues that matter to you.  they are usually excited to talk about their practices and enjoy that you care about what they do.

secondly, you can join a csa (community shared agriculture).  this option includes all the benefits of your local farmers market, however it is conveniently put together in a box that you pick up weekly (some may offer drop-off service as well).  last year i was a part of a one and i loved it.  however, you pre-pay which means you're taking the risk with the farmer.  if something happens to slow production (weather, pests, etc.) you may get less than you were expecting.  while this did happen last year, i think that the cost was on par with the local grocers (on good to average years you will certainly save money).  i also talked to the farmer about his seed choice and it turned out he'd been researching which tomatoes had the best flavor and nutritional content.  (it is amazing how much they take their customers into consideration!)

thirdly you can shop at your locally owned grocers, co-ops, and specialty stores.  there are often options for locally produced meats, grains, cheeses, dairy, eggs, honey, maple syrup, baked goods, and even sometimes fresh roasted coffee.  if there aren't local options available, these stores have more control over the products they stock and will often seek out products by request.  it helps if you have other people with similar interests start asking for locally produced items.  they will supply what you're 'demanding'.

speaking of co-ops, there is an awesome online version that is not quite as nice as a local store where you can go, touch, smell, feel, and interact; however, it does have some of the other benefits (low prices, reduced environmental impact, bulk options/less packaging, natural and organic products).  they often run specials and give huge deals for buying huge quantities.  i get things like sugar, rice, beans, quinoa, popcorn, oatmeal, nuts, seeds, and other non-perishable items from them.  i save fifty percent on the one cereal i like enough to buy periodically.

which brings up a huge point.  one of the most important changes i made was buying food items, not food like products.  while i don't have a maximum ingredient list number i am very conscious of them and due to my allergies always look and try to limit.  i purchase mostly whole foods; in addition to the bulk items listed above i typically have on hand fresh or frozen produce, regional raw/organic cheese, peanut butter, olive and coconut oil, some sort of pasta, tortilla chips, and a dairy alternative.  periodically i treat myself to a chocolate bar, ice cream, or mac n cheese.  i almost always get a kombucha, but my next project is to experiment with brewing my own.

additionally, i have made my own nut butters (but sometimes buy them in glass jars) and i started roasting my own coffee beans that i purchased them from a retailer who gets them directly from the importer.  currently i'm saving the money to get my own 'milk maker' which turns seeds, nuts, and grains into milk using hot water, pressure, and a grinding mechanism.  for now, i'm okay with the few products i buy.  however, i plan to research more to see what the environmental impacts are of the options that are available.

and that is just food.

environ(mentalism) - part one: introduction

so the title of this facebook note is a little misleading what's my toothpaste tube made of and is it trying to kill me? OR how an (environ)mentalist celebrates earth day.  it is not so much about what i did on earth day (although i do try to find some sort of project and if the weather permits attend the earth day celebration at msum).  what the post is describes is my dedication to environmentalism through changes to my daily habits and routines.  some people call these quirks, others probably believe they are a result of some sort of mental disorder; however, i believe they are a reflection of my values.  i take my impact on the global community seriously and like to think about how everything in my life came to be.

"In the future I plan to find a hemp or bamboo shower curtain, buy wicker laundry baskets, buy non-plastic toothbrushes, replace my plastic hangers, and replace my plastic storage bins. (Don't worry, when I say 'replace' I mean wait until necessary or find used and cheap.) Also, deodorant that isn't in plastic...does it exist?  What about face soap?  Thinking about my art and craft supplies makes my head hurt so badly I pretend that they don't exist more often than not.  To me, tackling them seems like trying to climb Mt. Everest."

I did find a shower curtain, two of them, actually.  And I'm not sure what they are made of, but I got them both for free (both off the curb...one after a rummage sale one during clean-up week).  But, since I picked them it doesn't really matter what they're made of since keeping stuff out of the landfill is always green.  Plus, they are cloth, not plastic so that is good too!  Also, I have a wicker hamper in the bathroom now and just need another basket and I'll be plastic laundry bin free.

So far, I'm still using facial soap that comes in a plastic bottle...but that's just because I'm still using the same giant container that I had when I wrote the original post.  I think I know enough now to just make my own.  Same with deodorant and toothpaste.

As far as crafting is concerned I've basically shifted my focus to eco-friendly endeavors like re-purposing.  Here is a photo of my latest creation (this piece was donated to the FMCBW's Art in Action silent auction and fundraiser).

04 May 2012

its all about perspective.

the following post contains information about my illness.  it is not something that i have shared with many people but please know that if you are just finding out about it now i have not been trying to hide it. honestly, at this point i am just not really sure how to approach it without feeling like i'm trying to give an excuse or seeking some sort of attention or special treatment.  if this is the first time you've heard about it please understand that it is a difficult subject for me to bring up even though i'd really like to.  not only because it feels good to relate to others but it impacts my life quite a bit and knowing what i'm dealing with will definitely help you understand a few things.

26 April 2012

rough around the edges: a trio.

these couldn't be hotter off the press.

it crept in through the shadows
and rooted around as i
escaped to greener pastures.

in hopes of preservation
i approached with caution
but still was overcome.

now that i can feel it growing
perhaps it will blossom
and soak up rays of sun.

currents chase down my spine
as my stomach turns circles
kickstarting my heart. 

the blushing begins and
beads of sweat appear
after sparks turn to fire. 

cracking from the pressure
my body splits in two
as the eroded tethers crumble.

a rusty chain hangs over the edge
clinging but barely hanging on.
each time the gears grind
another link is let loose.

freedom has its downfalls
soon each one shall learn. 
but inching forward keeps
them quiet, even as they break.

only if you listen closely
can you hear their weary cries.