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    Friday, April 5th, 2013
    7:57 am

    I've been thinking about the phrase, putting my life on hold.

    My mother is in the end stages of ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's disease. It's as awful as you think it is. There was a time period where we thought it was ALS, then she was told it was Multiple Sclerosis, and we were like, crying tears of joy and relief. It's just MS, thank God! But then she got a third opinion. Doctors hesitate to issue death sentences and therefore hesitate to be definitive with this particular diagnosis, but it was confirmed to be ALS.

    My mother is hilarious. When something good happens to her these days -- like she got a big tax refund because she had thousands and thousands of dollars in deductions because of all of her medical expenses -- she smiles and delivers her favorite punchline, I'm so lucky.

    Having an awful illness really does make you courageous. It's something people say, oh she's so courageous to battle this disease. If you're on the inside, part of you cynically thinks, well, what else is she going to do, give up and die? But then on the other hand, it's probably true that we human beings do have a lot of courage. The simple fact we don't give up and die proves it. So yes, my mother is courageous.

    The frustrating thing of course is that I didn't need this stupid, awful illness to show me that -- I already knew that from the way she has always lived her life, a loud-mouthed, opinionated, brilliant thinker who challenged the utter stupidity of prejudice in countless ways as a mother, teacher and small-town activist. She raised two feminist daughters who believe that our identities, happiness, bodies and minds have value -- no small feat in our culture.

    I'm 39, and I think about the fact that she finished her PhD after 40. Who does that? Who believes strongly enough in themselves to finish college *after* they have kids, then goes on to pursue a PhD in their 30s -- finishing just as her kids enter adolescence? Then, the President at her tenure-track University notices what a kick-ass and outspoken leader she is and begs her to apply for the position of interim Dean, which she is awesome at, so that she goes on to accept the permanent position, making her the first woman Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Western Illinois University. Then negotiates an awesome golden parachute during a later regime change, securing a cozy retirement for herself and showing the rest of us "this is how it's done, ladies."

    Who does that? My mom.

    So, I've put my life on hold to help care for her. I took a formal leave of absence from my work, after calculating that we can survive on Kevin's salary for a few months. I spend about equal amounts of time with my mother and her parter in Illinois, and with my family here in Cambridge, doing my best to keep up with the emotional, educational, financial, and therapeutic/medical needs of my children. Although traditionally I love my work, it's easy not to work when my mother's needs are so much greater. It's very, very hard to be away from my kids. I am grateful to have a husband who is a true life partner and keeps the homestead humming along while I'm away.

    Everything is on hold. The kids aren't doing activities because it's too crazy to keep up. I'm not working, and don't even volunteer for the kids' school if I can avoid it. All I do is focus on taking care of my children and taking care of my mom.

    When I'm in Illinois, I spend a lot of time sitting with her while she sleeps. She sleeps in her power wheelchair because she can't reposition her body and her back begins to ache terribly if she tries to lie in bed. Her bed is adjustable, but her wheelchair is customized and has a lot more ways you can move. Among its cruel ironies, ALS paralyzes you but does not take away your sensations. You can think and feel as always. So if your foot has become twisted, you can't straighten it out. ALS has also robbed her of her ability to speak, so she makes noises and points - thankfully she can still move her arms - until you work out what is causing her pain and help her fix it. When you relieve her pain, she has to lie back, exhausted from the effort to communicate.

    It's ok to leave her alone while she sleeps, but it scares me to think of her struggling, alone, unable to call for help. Her loving and amazing partner, Jim takes incredible care of her, but he needs to be able to leave the house sometimes. She is utterly dependent on others and she holds onto every last ounce of independence that remains: her ability to make decisions, to type a message on her iPad, to drive her wheelchair, to lift a strap on one of her medical devices. Jim, my sister, and I are trying to be a team - supported by friends, the hospice nurses and my mother's neurologist - in caring for my mother.

    I help her administer medications. She has some regular pills she takes, which we crush and dissolve in water and inject through her feeding tube. Feeding tubes sound invasive, but hers is just this little rubber hose with a nozzle on the end, and you insert the end of another plastic tube, which comes from a bag in which there is formula -- just like babies get but formulated for adults. She does this twice a day, napping and watching tv, or checking email while she is nourished.

    I help her get her biPap machine on -- her arms have recently grown very tired, and when she tries to put the headstraps over her head, sometimes she has to stop to rest because it is so exhausting. I help get the back part, and she positions the nose piece. Although she prefers to have her wonderful and loving partner Jim help her with her most intimate bodily needs, sometimes I help her to use the bathroom. They installed an expensive, un-insured piece of equipment in their bedroom and bathroom which is the primary reason she is not in a nursing home: an electric lift. With the push of a button, we lift her in sling out of her wheelchair and slide the sling along a track in the ceiling so that she can then be lowered onto the toilet, or between her chair and bed. The only time she gets into bed is to have a sponge bath. It's too hard for her to sit up on the shower chair they were able to use for many months.

    I also help her use these foam swabs to apply a medication inside her mouth, because she has thrush -- a yeast overgrowth caused by being immunocompromised and unable to swallow. It's also exacerbated by the nebulizer treatments she has to maximize her airways. I also help her with the nebulizer and this thing called "the vest," which provides percussive rattling to her ribcage to loosen up secretions that build up because she cannot effectively cough.

    My mother does not want to go onto a ventilator, and her particular course of illness is causing her diaphragm to be slowly paralyzed, which will eventually stop her breathing. Her lungs are healthy; she could get pneumonia from aspirating liquids, but more likely her perfectly healthy lungs will just become motionless. She will just stop being able to pull oxygen into them and expel carbon dioxide from them. She will die, and I will miss her terribly.

    So, I have put my life on hold. "On hold" is an uninvited pause. It's an in-between space. It feels like the opening scenes of The Graduate, where Dustin Hoffman is gliding along a people mover inside an airport -- in between terminals, in between college and real life, floating along, in between. Being on hold with health insurance companies and healthcare subcontractors has been a major activity of mine since my mother became unable to be understood on the phone, and it is sometimes frustrating. Some days are like that, like when I'm sitting at home in Cambridge in my pajamas, wondering if I should be doing something different than watching reality tv and folding laundry.

    Other times, when I make my mother laugh,

    or she types into her iPad something really helpful like, "I need you, but your family needs you too. Go home to them" -- I feel the other sense of hold. I feel held by her love, even as she grows weaker. And I know that my love -- and the love of her partner, my sister, and her dear friends -- are holding my mom. This cocoon that illness has woven for us blocks out the light, but it also sustains us.

    Monday, March 11th, 2013
    10:47 am
    People I have yelled at or been mean to
    1) The guy who just delivered my suitcase, for arguing me that he didn't have the apartment number when I gave it to the people in the office, and anyway just was frantic and worried and sorry I got upset, but why are you lecturing me that you didn't have the apartment number FUCK YOU slam door

    2) The woman who informed me my suitcase was still in Chicago, containing the hand-knit items I had made for my children while sitting with my mom who is going to die of ALS within the next couple of weeks; as well as the antidepressents I just started taking, and which give me side effects including multiple-aura migraines and so I really didn't want to re-start the adjustment process - I didn't yell, I just got angry

    3) The nurse who laughed inappropriately when I described my concerns about my mom's swollen lips, an allergic reaction to the medication given to her to treat thrush, which is something that babies and people who are dying get.

    4) The company that keeps sending my mom paperwork to sign for a hoyer lift that is used to lift her out of bed and onto her power wheelchair, which was going to be given to her as a consolation prize for having ALS but we agreed to let them submit to medicare because her private insurance, Cigna, refused to pay any money at all for the electric lift she paid $6000 out of pocket for, because to live her final year, and die, in her own home, she needed a way to get out of bed and into her wheelchair, and out of her wheelchair and onto the toilet. She didn't take a shower for 2 weeks because she was waiting for the electric lift to be installed. Her partner hurt his back helping her struggle onto the toilet. Because the lift she bought is installed in the ceiling and has a motor, it is considered a "convenience item." Therefore, insurance does not pay.

    5) The man at a restaurant at Logan airport who did not understand how to process my voucher from Delta airlines, which they gave to me for causing me to lose my connection to Peoria. I got angry, didn't yell, but stormed off with my salad.

    6) The woman at Logan's magazine store, who refused to even look at my voucher, just said "we don't take those. I SAID we don't take those." I really did yell. I yelled, 'it's a CREDIT CARD. IT HAS A NUMBER! WHY WON'T YOU EVEN LOOK AT IT! I JUST WANT DELTA TO BUY ME A MAGAZINE AND YOU ARE BEING MEAN"

    7) The man at Dunkin Donuts who wouldn't take the voucher. I stormed off and kicked my suitcase. Then I went back and apologized and explained I was trying to get to my dying mother, and it wasn't his fault, and I was really sorry. He offered me a free cup of coffee and donut, he was so kind that it made me cry.

    8) The luggage people at the same airport, who didn't know how long it would take to get me my luggage back, so I could switch airlines and get to my mom. I sobbed by the turnstile, and then it arrived and I went to another airline. This was all 2 trips ago.

    9) Many, many customer service representatives from Cigna Insurance and ESPECIALLY their lackeys, "Carecentrix." Carecentrix is a company that Cigna pays to bid out requests for durable medical equipment. If you call them, they say their job is to get the best quality equipment for the most reasonable price. What actually happens is: Your doctor says you need a piece of equipment. Say, a machine that will help you to breathe and not have carbon dioxide build up in your lungs, killing you sooner. Your doctor fills out the paperwork and submits it to Cigna, and contacts a vendor. After a couple of days Cigna faxes the information to Carecentrix. After a couple of days Carecentrix calls you to tell you your case has been assigned to someone. If you've already talked to another vendor, you need to cancel it, they will find the vendor. After a few more days someone finally contacts you about the equipment. Any problem, any shoddy service, any confusion can set things back by weeks. Carecentrix will say it will be overnighted tomorrow, but it won't be. I have yelled at Carecentrix a lot, and any time I have had the opportunity to tell someone else about how much I hage Carecentrix, I have told them. Carecentrix is why healthcare costs so much, it is why it is so broken. They are a middle man created to save pennies, with no concern for the impact on patients. They are paid to fax things. They are the opposite of care, their name is horrendously ironic and stupid.

    10) Many, many people who insisted that although my mother finds it exhausting to try to talk on the phone, and is not understandable, they needed to speak with her first before they could talk to me, and then asked her how she's doing and to re-state her birthdate; or who asked me if I have a fax machine. You might think, why not send a letter to all healthcare providers granting permission to talk to me? Well, we tried, but there kept being more providers and vendors; and some of them had their own form that was different than what you've already sent. Sometimes we sent it and they never entered it into their computer. My mother's legal right to privacy was more important than basic common sense or concern for the suffering of our family.

    11) The airline robots you have to get through to make or change a flight. Also the robots you have to get through to talk to customer service at Medicare or health insurance companies.

    12) My mother's friend who tried to tell me what my mother needs, or tried to take over on things I was doing for my mother. Totally well intentioned, but not understanding the boundary I was setting. I regretted getting upset immediately. She is also in pain.

    13) My kids when they were being rude or selfish, and I was upset and worried about my mom. They're just children, and I shouldn't yell at them.

    14) I yelled at my mom, in my imagination, when I felt like she wasn't understanding that I'm not trying to control things, just trying to lessen her suffering; or felt like some old issue around her way of thinking of behaving bothered me. It's amazing how angry I have been at my mom, and how this disease has forced me to let go of that anger.

    15) Myself. I get mad at myself a lot, for feeling so powerless and for being so stupid that I would think I have any power. I get mad at myself for not doing enough, and for being so stupid I would think there's more I could do. For yelling at my kids and being completely boring and unhelpful for Kevin. For not being in the moment, for not believing in god, for not exercising, for being irritated with my mom's friends, for yelling at people who earn minimum wage and don't deserve to be yelled at by some frantic crazy person who's gone insane with grief and rage. For thinking things should be fair and people should be kind and systems should make things easier. None of those things should be true. They are not true, and that's all there is to it.
    Friday, May 14th, 2010
    8:42 pm
    I wrote some stuff about our week
    over here:

    But also: I now have strep also, which is not even close to the worst thing I went through this week. Kev already wrote about it, I don't know why I want to share, but you know, I want to.
    Wednesday, September 17th, 2008
    12:37 pm
    10% is not enough! Recruit! recruit! recruit!
    Let's all be lipstick lesbians today! You know you want to.

    I found this on Shakesville, my fave.

    Also I humbly join the chorus of "Live Long and Prosper George Takei and Brad Altman."

    Wednesday, August 27th, 2008
    9:57 am
    8:56 am
    Theme Music for Hillary Clinton
    Did anyone else think the two songs used to introduce the video montage about Hillary Clinton were incredibly inappropriate? I know it's hard to find music that talks about women in a way that isn't demeaning or sexist, but The Kinks and Tom Petty talking about having sex with hot girls seemed to me to undercut the notion that the Democratic Party has respect for the position of women within their ranks. Reminds me of that peace activist in the 1960's who was quoted as saying, "the appropriate position for women in the peace movement is prone."

    I wracked my brain last night trying to think of a rock song to better capture Hillary Clinton's run for the nomination, and the song that kept filling my mind was Janis Joplin shouting, "Take it! Take another little piece of my heart now baby!"

    And no I'm not voting for McCain and no I don't have a problem with Obama. But let's get real about Clinton. She's a strong advocate for the issues that many women and people with children are deeply, truly passionate about. She's competent and effective and is working like a dog to support the Obama campaign. So to those who read any lack of enthusiasm into the way she is communicating with her supporters about the importance of electing a Democrat: I'd suggest you settle down and say thank you.
    Thursday, August 21st, 2008
    10:55 pm
    mind of love
    In case you are interested, I wrote about prayer, buddhism and a youtube/espn video about a women's softball game over at Mind of Love.

    Been awhile since I wrote about that kind of stuff. Night everyone.
    4:24 pm
    Getting excited about voting again...
    I love the self-assured, warm sound of Obama's voice as he says smart things (such stark contrast to the mean-spirited tone McCain repeatedly strikes these days) and the cleverness with which his campaign does things like publicize broadly that they'll announce his VP choice via email and text message before they tell the press publicly. Go to his website -- check it out yourself if you haven't already -- it says in big letters, BE THE FIRST TO KNOW with an email signup.

    Way to win back your progressive, young base, who were mad when you started talking like a politician (shocker) during the general election. And women like me who voted for Clinton and never put ourselves on your list but are dying to know what the ticket will look like. Seriously, so, so smart.

    Also I love this, from his website:

    [John McCain's] top economic advisers said the other day that Americans should stop complaining, that they've become a nation of "whiners." That all of the economic problems that everyone is talking about is just a mental recession.

    ... Then yesterday, he was asked again, "What do you think about the economy?" And he said "I think the economy is fundamentally strong." Now this puzzled me. I was confused as to what he meant. But then there was another interview .... where somebody asked John McCain "How many houses do you have?" And he said "I'm not sure, I'll have to check with my staff."

    ... If you don't know how many houses you have, you might think that the economy is fundamentally strong. But if you're like me and you've got one house, or if you're one of the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so that they don't lose their home, you might have a different perspective.

    By the way, the answer is John McCain has seven homes.
    Ok one more thing -- just randomly clicked on an image of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DiRossi's wedding day. Made me smile. Not sure who I think looked hotter. Plus pillows, candles, and a vegan meal? Now THAT's the kind of wedding I like to go to.
    Tuesday, July 1st, 2008
    8:59 am
    Letter to the Editor I just sent The New Yorker
    Hendrik Hertzberg's Comment, "Exhillaration" calls women to support Obama while patronizing us for our intentions, concerns, and intelligence as voters.

     Attempting to illuminate why women in large numbers might be drawn to Clinton as a candidate, Hertzberg boils it down to the year we won the right to vote and our shared experience of discrimination in the workplace. However, he argues, these injustices pale in comparison to the history of racist violence—from slavery to lynchings to Medgar Evers—which cuts a far deeper wound.

     He further suggests that aside from Clinton's failure to stand with the minority in the US Senate who voted against authorization of the Iraq war, "it's hard to find anyone who will dispute" that she was basically not a very good campaigner—her message too negative and incoherent compared with her eloquent opponent.

     First of all, it bears pointing out that while the horrors of slavery, segregation and white supremacy are inarguable in their atrocity, the atrocities committed against women throughout human history are no less painful. The raped and battered bodies of women litter the landscape of American history; and it is a complex intersection of race and gender that leads to wartime rape of civilian women and the bayoneting of their pregnant bodies—an act which aims to annihilate not only the woman and her unborn child, but also the very source of women's unique power.

     I am not—could not—argue that oppression of women is worse or deeper than oppression of African Americans and other people of color in our culture. Comparing racism to misogyny is like asking, "How would you rather be executed? Firing squad or guillotine?" You can make an argument on either side, but it is better to reject both.

     To offer an alternative view of Hillary's candidacy: voting for Hillary was a difficult choice because of her vote on the Iraq war and the sense that she is by nature a compromiser—one source of her effectiveness and also a source of disappointment when it came to her husband's Presidency. When I entered the voting booth in Illinois, Edwards was out of the race. In Obama I recognized a powerful and persuasive leader during times when we need to believe in hope. In Hillary I saw a career spent working for the interests not of women, but of children. Her career and Congressional voting record reflect her conviction that our best hope for the future lies in providing educational opportunity, health care and other basic necessities to the next generation of Americans.

     Just like McCain voters, I would venture to guess that Obama and Clinton supporters are motivated not as much by race or gender, but by the issues. Obama supporters are less forgiving of Clinton's war vote and less interested in her hard-won victory passing SCHIP, one of the only progressive pieces of legislation to make it through to law during the Bush II years.

     For Clinton supporters, her vote on the war may disappoint, but we recognize how unlikely it was that a protest vote would have been effective and how likely it would have been used against her as evidence of her feminine weakness, thus thwarting her Presidential ambitions. That one vote, for us, does not outweigh her dedication to ending poverty through enactment of concrete policies that address the burdens on the working poor -- including the women-headed households who disproportionately make up their ranks.

     That Clinton is also more experienced, has sat on committees that give her deeper and more broad policy experience in the area of defense, and was a champion of health care reform long before the issue was an issue are all factors in our voting for her. The role that sexism or feminist consciousness plays in all this is small but irksome—because we cannot help but notice that Obama supporters like Hertzberg dismiss our concerns and dismiss our candidate, asserting that this photo finish was a sweeping victory for Obama and that despite her seniority in politics, Clinton lacks his political acuity in the areas that truly matter.

     As for “our” issues, Herzberg’s evidence that Obama is just as good a candidate as Clinton when it comes to “women’s issues” is that he was raised by a single mother, has two daughters, and is married to a strong-willed woman. I agree that he seems like a good father, son, and husband, but you'll pardon me if I don't swoon.

     Hertzberg ends his Comment with a challenge to women: it's up to us to respond to Obama. Don't worry, Hendrik. Speaking demographically, women are nothing if not responsive.

     I was a stronger Obama supporter when I voted for Clinton in the primary. The more I see Clinton and women voters patronized by Obama's ardent supporters, the less voting for him really feels like change.

    Tuesday, June 10th, 2008
    10:21 pm
    Saturday, June 7th, 2008
    9:16 am
    Michelle Obama
    Great piece on Racialicious about Michelle Obama. The sexist and racist attacks began before Barack won the nomination, and now it's just going to get worse.
    Friday, June 6th, 2008
    10:01 am
    Mamas for Obama
    Barack Obama's speech Tuesday night was a wonderful speech, and he is a wonderful candidate.

    He is also so, so smart to be doing what he's doing to reach out to Clinton supporters--to recognize what she has accomplished and not dismiss her as so many have done. He not only needs to do this on a practical level, but he is right to do this.

    It's also subtle and smart that he has made it known that he is taking the weekend off to have a date with his wife and go on a bike ride with his daughters. The image that came into my mind as I heard that this morning was so human, and such an image of a man who values and respects the women in his life. Good husband, good father... good way to woo women voters.

    When I was a little Rosalie, I listened to Marlo Thomas's Free to Be, You And Me -- an album filled with a multicultural group of actors, musicians and athletes talking about the ways in which gender and race don't need to define or limit us. Songs like "Mommies are people, Daddies are people," "Sisters and Brothers," and "It's Alright to Cry" (aimed at boys) taught me that, in the words of one poem, "A person should wear what he likes to, and not just what other folks say. A person should be who she wants to. A person's a person that way."

    As I got older, I experienced and witnessed the same gender indoctrination that everyone does. There were plenty of painful examples, but I still believed I could do anything I wanted to do as I went off to college. Daily, I saw and see messages in the media and heard words on the radio that indicated that women's primary value is as a sexual object or as a passive, dutiful wife and mother. But still, I did not feel defined or limited by my gender until I became pregnant and had children.

    I'm so grateful for my beautiful, hilarious, clever little boys. But still, having children has meant making choices for the good of my family that mean compromising some of my own wishes and dreams. If I did not have children, I would be in a much different place in my career because I would be willing to travel, to work different hours, to live someplace where school quality is not something to be concerned about.

    The limitations on my personal ambitions have been self-imposed, but still, it's hard to convey just how powerful it has been for me to witness Hillary Clinton's words and actions as a woman who is also a mother -- a woman who works so hard and has inspired so many people and who seems to have a healthy relationship with her brilliant and self-actualized daughter, Chelsea.

    Being a mother and a professional is incredibly hard--it's no coincidence that the highest-level women in the executive branch to date--Condoleeza Rice and Janet Reno--do not have children. And that most of the women you see in legislatures and governor's mansions have grown children--whereas you see many fresh-faced young men with delightful young children bounding exuberantly down the aisles of state and federal legislatures.

    Investing in children is critical to the work of building a strong community and strong nation, but the daily work of raising them takes so much effort that it's best to have a wife, or if you are a woman, to remain childless and leave that work to others as you pursue your career. And, you don't see many single parents -- moms or dads -- in politics. It's just too hard.

    To be clear: I bear no negative feelings toward women who don't have children, and in fact applaud them for the courage it takes not to become a mother--a radical choice in a world that doesn't know what to do with women who are neither sexually available nor devoted to the domestic sphere.

    It's just that growing up, I always assumed that we would have a woman president in my lifetime, and it would have surprised me that that's not going to happen before I'm at least in my 40's. I hope that we will some day.

    So although my heart did melt just a little bit to hear Barack had plans for a date with Michelle and bike ride with the kids, it's also a little sad, because although Barack Obama is a man I will be proud to vote for, I'm bracing myself for the fashion stories on what Michelle Obama will wear to the inauguration and the plans she has for redecorating the White House.

    Because although she is herself a professional and a brilliant woman in her own right, like Hillary, next January (I hope and pray) she will be our nation's next "First Lady."
    Monday, May 12th, 2008
    10:49 am
    economic stimulus
    Hey, so, we're in debt and worried about our personal finances just like everyone these days, but I got an email from True Majority asking me to use part of my tax rebate to support their work to end the Iraq war and refocus our tax dollars on programs such as health care, environmental issues, and education.

    In case you're interested in shoving some of George Bush's refund back up his... I mean redirecting those dollars to a group that is working for positive social change, you can learn more on the True Majority website.

    In case you're wondering why I support True Majority more strongly than MoveOn or any number of other anti-war and progressive causes, I'll just say that as someone who works in marketing, I think their message is powerful and simple, and it's the truth.

    Their campaigns seem to me to be focused and effective, and unlike MoveOn, they have not taken a stand in the democratic primaries because their focus is on the larger issues that are at stake. Watch their oreos video if you haven't already, or look at their very simple and clear pie chart.  Also if you look at their parent organization, USAction, it's all about justice through peace.

    Or as they say, "We started TrueMajority in order to compound the power of all those who believe in social justice, giving children a decent start in life, protecting the environment, and America working in cooperation with the world community."

    You can get their emails for free if you're interested.
    Thursday, May 8th, 2008
    8:34 pm
    Hey friends, you are all kinds of crafty and also Dr. Who fans. Did you see this article about British copyright law as it relates to creative commons licensing of a pattern for knitting your own Dr. Who creatures?

    It turns out, BBC forced mazzmatazz to stop showing people how to make cool things like this Ood. Because of copyright infringement.

    I don't think it's the same as selling licensed work to knit an Ood or what have you and show people how they can knit their own for free. I wish she WAS selling these guys. I would totally buy one. I'm not sure I'd knit one myself, so much as appreciate that such a thing can be done.

    Way to suck the fun out of everything, BBC.
    Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008
    10:33 am
    I've been worrying about BPA a bit -- I never liked the taste of water in nalgene bottles and switched to aluminum awhile ago, but was not sure what exact types of products contain this harmful chemical. So in case you've been worried too, here is a link to a New York Times article that I thought was helpful on the subject.

    Main take-away for me:

    1) BPA lines most canned goods, so stop cooking with canned beans (Soaking dried beans takes longer but cheaper so that's ok) or other canned fruits/veggies

    2) The #7 inside that recycle tryiangle on the bottom of plastic packaging MAY indicate BPA if the plastic is clear and hard (but it may be a harmless plastic b/c that's a catch-all)

    Better for the environment to avoid all this packaging anyway. Happy Earth Day BTW!
    Monday, April 21st, 2008
    8:25 pm
    I am getting such a headache from loud vibrating music noises in my neighborhood, but thankfully Kevin brought me his ipod and I am listening to his Beatles playlist, which includes some of my favorites plus a couple of Paul McCartney songs (Maybe I'm Amazed and Live and Let Die).

    Now, you know there is no topic I'd rather talk about than the Beatles. Did you see the New Yorker interview with Paul McCartney last year? I haven't bought his last album -- the one before it was kind of eh. I think they said this in the New Yorker, but I'm going to say it now: it's ok if he doesn't write music like he used to, because look what he and John, Paul, George & Ringo gave us already. Don't be greedy. It's enough, what they did.

    Sometimes I feel sad, plagued by anxiety about whether the earth is too damaged, our country too broken to sustain meaningful lives for my children. I worry that there is no God, that when the energy animating my brain abandons the matter that makes up my body, there will be no more me; and in a generation or so (if the human race survives that long) no one will even remember me.

    And then I play some Beatles.

    When I hold you in my arm, and I feel my finger on YOUR trigger, I KNOW, NOBODY can do me NO HARM, because Happiness... is a Warm Gun.  Happiness is a warm, yes it is... gu--uh-un.

    And now the time has come, and so my love I must go. And though I lose a friend, in the end you will know... oh - oh oh oh. One day, you'll find that I have gone. But tomorrow may rain so I'll follow the sun.
    Saturday, March 15th, 2008
    9:08 pm
    Ro's bimonthly blog post
    Hola amigos,
    I just wrote a bunch of stuff about gender, I Heart Huckabees, women's bodies and stuff like that over at if you're interested in those sorts of things.
    Monday, March 3rd, 2008
    10:40 pm
    Crunching the Numbers
    So this article says that a daily workout will extend your life by 1.3-3.7 years. I'm crunching the numbers, and if  you work out for a half hour a day, five days a week from the time you're born (kids get hella exercise) until the time you turn 80, that's 10,400 hours of exercise in your lifetime, or 1.2 years of exercising. So... if you think exercising is boring, maybe it's just as well that you spend that 1.2 years doing something you enjoy.

    I'm just saying.
    Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
    6:43 pm
    att: people who are smart about video
    So I'm working on another video project and I'm flummoxed. I have a bunch of video I need to edit but some are in .mpeg format and some are .avi files. I am using the simplest of tools: choice of Windows Movie Maker or Nero Vision. If I use WMM, it only imports the sound on the .mpeg files - no picture. If I use Nero I can bring in the .mpeg but then the sound and video get out of sync on the .avi files.

    I know I'm out of my depth but can you please help me? Is there a way to simply convert .mpegs to .avi format or vice versa? Because it's becoming clear I can't use the two formats in the same project using the tools I have available. Right?

    PS I also have a program called camtasia studio but can't figure out how that would be helpful in this situation.
    Tuesday, February 26th, 2008
    10:58 am
    Politics, again? *lifts spoonful of lumpy mush*
    I KNOW I only ever almost always write about the elections. Sorry. But anyway, I'm getting more enthusiastic about Obama because I deeply appreciate his grassroots organizing strategy. Very good stuff.

    That said, my feminist and anti-racist consciousness has been raised to new heights through this process. I appreciate that sexism is more visible than it's been in some time, although I wish there weren't so much of it around. Most importantly, I'm disturbed by the dismissal of women's and children's issues as social and economic justice issues--the foundational level on which poverty, violence, and injustice are most often perpetrated. So anyway, here's a link that says it better than I would: Women's E News

    I've also been thinking deeply about white privilege, white women and race. We recently subscribed to The Advocate, and I've been thinking of subscribing to Ebony. I love reading a publication where the intended audience isn't straight white men. So anyway, for a take on Obama that I so appreciate (or rather, on the embracing of Obama by white men) check out Black Agenda Report.

    Final disclaimer:
    Presidents generally don't do the important work for social change... they just ratify what's happening at the grassroots or try to block it. So what's important to me isn't the candidates themselves but the conversation - and activism - their candidacies generate. So back to work, Ro!
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