Saturday, March 24, 2012

I'm sick of myself

I know I've been rather quiet of late, but I'm going through one of those periods of having SO MUCH to say, but none of it seems worth remarking upon.  I'm living too much in my own head, which is a constant failure of mine, you might note.  It's funny because I feel like I have so much to say, but perhaps I have already said it all, or someone else has - clearer, more convincingly, more precisely. I spend a lot of time reading things, marking things, copying things, pinning things, caught between thinking "Thank god, other people feel this way too!" and "See: Someone else has said it already, so keep your own ramblings to yourself." I am feeling both unworthy and completely worldly - as if I am learning new things every single minute of every single day, but they were things that everyone else has already known, and I am just the last to catch on.

 I am going through a period of change, that much is certain, and it's quite unnerving to look at yourself and not recognize the person you are becoming.  Some of the changes are positive, and purposeful and challenging - things I have been working so hard to address in myself, and am finally starting to see improvements in.  Others are things I had no real concept of - I didn't even begin to think they were lurking in the corners, waiting to greet me when I finally got around to them.  These are the most unwelcome, of course, the ones that spring up just when you think you've finally got something conquered... "But wait," it says, slithering out just as you're congratulating yourself on some great accomplishment, some true challenge that you have met with all your courage, "you've forgotten about me, and I am a much more formidable foe than the last fellow."  It seems there are no end of corners, no end of foes. 

And, again, at the same time, I find myself completely sick of how much I am thinking of myself - all of this questioning and second guessing, and erasing of mental tapes, and it begins to seem as if I do little else but sit and contemplate my own life, or read others accounts of how they contemplated their lives and strive to apply it to my own struggles.  Which, while a worthy goal, does not a good friend, sister, aunt, daughter, granddaughter make. 

So everyone else's worries pile in, or my worries about their worries, if I am being specific.  Or my worries that I am ignoring them, being selfish, not giving them the attention they deserve.  And somehow, in that muddle, I've come full circle again, and am thinking about my own faults and follies, instead of the people I was meant to be attending to. 

I don't know about you, but all this introspection is giving me a headache.  I'm going to do something for somebody else today: I don't care who, just so long as I'm not stuck in my own mental muddle for one more minute. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Insomnia, Devil: same difference.

You guys?  This insomnia is so massive that I'm almost impressed.  I feel like this is just another example of how my chronic illnesses are combining in a manner created to drive me over the edge.  It's like they all fit together just so - not interlocking and meshing like a nice puzzle, but all jagged edges and hard corners and raw spaces that rub up against one another till they bruise and bleed.

 This one requires that I exercise; that one makes exercising without passing out a near impossibility. 

This one says carefully plan meals & eat healthy; that one says have no energy for cooking, no brain for the math required, and a nausea so lasting you might as well be living on board a rolling ship. 

This one says wow, you're super-emotional and could really use a hug; that one says a hug will cause you more pain than ripping off your own fingernails. 

This one says be super exhausted for every minute of every day forever; that one says, and also don't even think about sleeping.

They just all mesh so nicely together, don't they?

What with all of the insomnia, especially since I had been making small, tiny, minute improvements in my sleep over the course of the past few months, and a pain flare up that came out of nowhere (hello, ridiculous barometer: I'm wondering if you are not a main culprit here), I am beginning to feel like I can not handle things.  Easy things like getting out of bed and washing off an apple to eat it (instead I find myself sitting in the kitchen staring aimlessly into space and wondering what the hell I went out there for), harder things (go ahead and ask me when I last showered: I dare you), and impossible things (lunch tomorrow with Grandmother and some cousins I haven't seen in three years? Never going to happen!)  - they're all just sort of accumulating in a little pile over here, that I'm labeling "Hell no, but thanks for asking!"

It's hard to explain what the combination of CFS & Insomnia is really like - one of those 'you have to be there' kind of things, I guess.  Because everybody can't sleep sometimes - a sleepless night now and then is just a part of life - and so people think they get it.  But they don't.  It's like being underwater, like drowning, almost.  You know you need to push up towards the surface and get air, take a breath - get more than 5 minutes of sleep at a time - but you don't have the energy too push off in the right direction and your arms and legs won't work together for some reason, and your brain says helpful things like "now is a good time to panic, only do it as slowly as possible, if you please", and you wind up just floating away again, hoping the air - the SLEEP - will come and get you on its own.  Parents of newborn babies come the closest to understanding it, I think - the sheer levels of exhaustion you can reach, which you didn't even know existed until right this moment.  At least, that's what they tell me.

 The other day, after about 37.5 hours with no sleep, and with my FM pain level reaching "i will claw my face off now" proportions, & having tried every 'sleepytime' trick in my repertoire, I was just laying on my bed, curled up as best I could, waiting.  And every minute that ticked by made me more angry, made me feel totally out of control, made me want to track down every single doctor who'd told me to 'set a sleep clock' or 'try sleeping with the windows open' or how exercise would make my pain go away and stab them somewhere vital.  Not that I would, but it seemed like a good idea, just so that I could say something equally meaningless like "try not to get stabbed, because then it won't hurt so much."    It's just ridiculous, the things you hear when doctors have no freaking clue what your disease is/means/feels like. 

Anyways, to avoid a similar fate tonight, and because I hope some people are still reading here, even if only occasionally, here I am at 3 am typing away, hoping that my words make sense (and being eternally grateful for spell check, because holy jebus, if you could see some of these errors).  I'm trying not to be angry that the rest of you are sleeping peacefully in your beds, but not angry is about all I can manage: don't be jealous is definitely asking too much of myself.  But being green eyed is understandable, I think, given the circumstances.  Next, I'm going to go attempt to bake cookies, because if there's anything an exhausted insomniac should do at 3 in the morning, it's play with fire, while attempting to make an edible food-type product, completely unsupervised. 

Well, when I put it that way, it doesn't sound like the wisest decision I could make, so maybe I'll just open another book instead.  Or order something off of the internet.  Those sound like good options, right?  Aw, what do you care? You're probably snoring away anyways, you lucky bastards.  Well, I promise not to hate you too much, if you'll come back soon. 

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Dear Scholastic,

As a geeky bookworm of a kid, I looked forward to nothing more than Scholastic Book day at school - the day those thin, two page booklets full of books to buy would get passed out.  We rarely ordered from them (my grandmother was a teacher, so if we had stuff we really wanted, she'd order for us with her class order), but the idea that there were all these new (to me) books to add to my library list was one of my favorite parts of school, hands down.  And I've read a million excellent books that  you've published, or had a part in, and, as a former K/1st Gr teacher, taught out of more than one of them myself.  That's why I was disheartened this morning to see these two specific groupings of books available for sale through one of my many daily deal outlets: 
The Girl's Book of Glamour: A Guide to Being A Goddess; The Girls' Book: How to be the Best At Everything; The Girls' Book of Friendship: How to Be the Best Friend Ever.


The Boys' Book of Adventure: Are You Ready to Face the Challenge?; The Boy's Guide: How to Be the Best at Everything; The Boys' Book of Survival: How to Survive Anything, Anywhere.

I'm going to be really clear and say that I have obviously not read these books, and hope that there is not such a great difference between the two sets as the titles imply, but it seems unlikely that this could be so.  The titles make it clear that the girls' set is concerned with appearances and relationships - things girls can be into; while the boys' set is equally stereotypical - boys need to survive and have adventures, can face challenges.  Is this the message we should be sending to our children - not just our girls, who need to know they can face challenges too, and don't have to be glamorous while doing so, but also to our boys, who should also be capable of being good friends?  Is there a reason why girls can't be adventurous as well as glamorous? Or why boys can't be gods who know how to survive anything?  This kind of gender binary crap is beneath you. 

Yes: both boys and girls have their own guide to being the "best at anything," and hopefully the chapters of those books are less gendered - although a quick glimpse of their Amazon book descriptions does not bear out that hope.  The boy's book includes how tos on all sorts of interesting things:
Found yourself in a sticky situation? Inside you'll learn how to escape quicksand (p. 40), build a raft (p.41), start a survival fire (p.99), or fly a helicopter (p. 11).
Want to impress your friends? Now you can rip a phonebook in half (p. 35), hypnotize a chicken (p. 56), or read their minds (p. 73).
Boring Saturday afternoon? Not anymore when you find out how to make a waterbomb (p. 79), a boomerang (p. 95), or a volcano (p. 88).
And loads of other keen things you need to know how to do!
 while the girls choices are certainly more stereotypically 'girly':

Want to be known for your unique style? Inside you'll learn how to design your own clothes (p. 35), do the perfect manicure (p. 82), or make your own lip gloss (p. 11).
Feel like impressing your friends? Show them how you can make a crystal (p. 16), juggle one-handed (p. 33), or deal with a bully (p. 42).
Bored and need something to do? Not anymore when you find out how to keep a secret diary (p. 88), make a scrapbook (p. 9), or put together a dance routine (p. 24).
And tons of other neat-o things you need to know how to do!
Here's the thing: I get that these books follow a trend - following The Dangerous Book for Boys book that came out a few years ago, and it's Daring Book for Girls cohort - and that there's a call for these kind of books with all these different skill sets that are seen as retro throwbacks to when kids knew things like how to play cat's cradle and build a campfire out of sticks.  I even think the two books I just mentioned were both interesting and informative (if similarly gender-biased).  I just don't get why it has to be so gender specific: I know more than one boy who could use some information about how to deal with a bully and am sure there are some who would be interested in making crystals or scrapbooks (if only they weren't just for girls!) And I was a young girl, and I happen to know a few of them currently - (me and) every single one of them would like to read minds, loves to play with waterbombs, and would be the hit of a party if she could rip a phonebook in half.  I mean: c'mon.

I just don't get it, and I would hope that a company that is dedicated to helping educate children would endeavor to help them learn that they don't need to be limited by what a girl/boy should do.    So, Scholastic: You Can Do Better.

Sincerely, NTE

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Choosing your friends wisely

 Here's yet another letter I've written lately, this one to Carbonite CEO David Friend, re: Limbaugh's ridiculous show (how is that still on the air?) 

Mr Friend -

  You don't know me, but I am glad to find your contact information here on your website - it is a good sign when the president of the company encourages his consumers to contact him.  I hope that this e-mail, although serious in tone, will be a welcome one.  I am a loyal Carbonite customer for nearly three years now, and I love your product & services.  I have enjoyed the simplicity of your product (the not having to remember whether I backed things up already, especially) and the quality of support I have received from your employees during my time as a Carbonite consumer.  I also am quite glad to be able to support a local company.*  I know that because, as much as I am able, I aim to be a conscientious consumer, which means supporting the local economy when it's possible, as well as shopping around for value, doing research into business practices, etc.  By that means, and my own experiences, I have learned a number of positive things regarding your company and your services.  However, I have quite recently become aware of an issue that has lead me to seriously consider ending my relationship with your company - the fact that you are listed as a major sponsor of the Rush Limbaugh show. 

 Your company certainly has the right to place ads with whomever they choose, and I'm sure (for reasons that are baffling to me as a human being) that there are benefits to being associated with the Limbaugh show that I, since I am totally unconcerned with media relations, am completely unaware of - Someone must listen to that show, because it is still on the air.  What I am concerned with, however is the fact that the show you sponsor is a show in which the host has repeatedly made comments that are misogynistic, racist, homophobic, ableist, and destructive to our country - and to specific individuals as well.  I believe that his speech, while perfectly legal and protected under the 1st Amendment, is often amoral - his latest debacle of calling a woman who dared to speak about her own reproductive & health care needs a "slut", for example -, hateful, hypocritical, and ignorant.  There is nothing to support about a man, a show, a program, who sees nothing wrong with calling the first lady "uppity" or thinks that using the term "feminazi" is appropriate in any context (let alone repeatedly and with glee).  There is no way I want my money to go a company who thinks it worth their time & money to support a man who thinks it's ok to tell an African-American caller to "take the bone out of your nose and call me back," or to encourage the use of slurs like 'retard', because "Our political correct society is acting like some giant insult’s taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards. I mean these people, these liberal activists are kooks. They are looney tunes. And I’m not going to apologize for it."  Are those the words of a man you want representing your company?

I really hope not.

I honestly hope that your company chose this sponsorship based on some random financial calculations - that some math wizard in your advertising department said: 'Hey, look: this is where the money could be.' and you followed along, not knowing that cost would be a real sense of integrity for your company.  I hope that is the truth of it, and that you do not, in fact, agree with Mr. Limbaugh on any of this subjects (or the millions of other insulting and derogatory remarks he makes on a daily basis against women, people of color, people of religions that are foreign to him, people with physical limitations, etc. 

I understand sometimes that business decisions get made with out all of the facts - like you choosing to sponsor this show, or me choosing to use Carbonite's product.  But we both know the facts now - I know you sponsor a show that contributes only hatred and lies to the national discussion, and now, so do you.  One of us will be making be making a new decision very shortly - either you will end your sponsorship of Mr. Limbaugh's show, or I will end my association with your company.  I will be sorry to do it, for it will make my life more complicated & I think you have a high quality product, but I believe very strongly in the power of words, and I won't use the services of a company who allows such hatred to be spewed in its name.



*Carbonite is, at least in part, Massachusetts-based.

Update: I had this post scheduled to go up today, and late yesterday on Twitter saw that Carbonite had removed their ads from Rush's show due to "the greatest outcry" they've ever seen &  that Rush "overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency".  Win!