posted 11.18.05

You know when you're exhausted and it feels like you're walking around neck deep in molasses? I'm feelin' sapped of my energy, drained of strength - it must be the holiday season... I swear, it takes reserves to deal with things familial - reserves I just haven't got. Familial complications run rife through the Brulee line, keeps us busy. Who knows what we could have accomplished had we managed to pry our heads out of our asses long enough to apply ourselves?

I'm in a harsh kinda mood, I guess. The holidays bring out the porcupine in me (some people break out in rashes, I break out in quills). Which I try to temper with the wisdom I've scrounged up through the years (ah, the hours of therapy, the meditation, the medication...). I swing back and forth between the extremes of wanting to bump half of my relations off, and seeing them as the ultimate opportunity to practice compassion. Okay, so maybe that's not quite the extremes of a full arch, but it feels like extremes of something from inside my head. To the relations in question it probably looks pretty peculiar - "Why do you think she's taken up biting her napkin like that? Is it a new lesbian thing?"

At one point of the turkey-centric feast I felt a strong urge to dive across the table and stab an uppity relation with my fork. It's one of those dinner forks with the exquisitely long tines, so it would have been an excellent tool for the job. Let's call this relation Lucky, because at the time, my well-endowed fork had a bit of watermelon pickle on it, and I waste that on no mortal. Instead, I told Lucky that if she didn't stop trying to score points off of me and put her social yardstick away, I was going to have to do it for her, and it might not be so comfortable stored where her head was usually lodged.

Okay, I didn't say that, it was Thanksgiving after all, and I was a guest - I just told her to leave me alone and to do it pronto. Communicate your needs quietly, but with purpose, and you can get marvelous results! Of course, if the person you're communicating your needs to is totally plastered, you may have to repeat it, but once it filters through, the effect is pleasing enough - and you can eat your watermelon pickle in peace (mainly because everyone else in the room is staring at you in shock, but that's okay, at least it's quiet).

Ah, the holidays... family... warms my heart no end...

"So why do you go?" You might ask (I sure as hell would - and do). Family can be so complicated. When my father died, that was my deepest lament - I kept asking myself, "Why is it so complicated? Why so hard?" I've been working to simplify - to let go. It ain't easy. Brulees are a competitive, grandiose lot. I've managed to acquire an ounce of awareness of my condition. Doesn't make me superior to the rest of the horde (yeah right!), but it can make me easier to be around. Or so I assume, because they keep inviting Ume and I back... wait a sec, maybe it's just because they like Ume...

Ume's always been an astounded bystander at Brulee gatherings. This year, however, she reached her limit - she asked for permission to fire back - it was granted. "If they start giving you shit, I don't think I'm going to be able to control myself this year. Who the hell do they think they are?" She got her answer over dinner when one of my relations dragged her favorite ancestor out of the crypt, and in the course of a sentence actually said, "...we're descended from royalty...". I wanted to turn to Ume and say, "It explains so much, doesn't it? All of that inbreeding..." I didn't though, I was too busy trying to keep the wine I'd swallowed from spraying out of my nose - happens sometimes, when I'm laughing that hard.

It's not fair to harp on my relations when they can't harp back and say things like, "If you had any idea what a spoiled ungrateful tyrant Creme is, you'd run screaming. She talks a good game, sounds all sweetness and light, but just you dare get between her and the last hors d'oeuvre on the platter - then you'll find out what she's made of."

One point of view of any story is just that - one point of view. But it's my point of view and I'm rather enamored of it, so I'm sticking with it. It's got me this far, hasn't it? Through an entire holiday! As a backup plan, I'll be working on the whole letting go thing (what Ume and I have come to call our Fuck It philosophy). It's making my life easier, and with any luck it'll rub off on the relations and bring a little genuine ease to their holidays as well. In the big picture, of course, they're responsible for their own holiday buzz - I can't be trespassing around in other people's buzz responsibilities, that's unhealthy and whatnot (or so every therapist I've ever had has assured me...).

My goal - it's an advanced one that I'm working up to ever so slowly - is more ease - and ease under pressure. Okay, ease under pressure is more like a super-advanced goal and I don't know that I'll ever get there, but it gives me something to practice when I'm measuring the distance across a dinner table and wondering if I could make it in one leap.

"Human beings would rather believe than know."
-- E.O. Wilson

It's not every day that a man offers to massage my kneecaps with a baseball bat because I'm a lesbian. It's the sort of experience I could manage without, and yet, there he was, a pathetic example of humanity, puffing his way about the bakery Ume and I had entered. He was bragging how he was going to spend his evening beating up gays - lots of gays. Ume missed this bit of bravado as she was deeply entranced by the goods on offer and conversing with the woman who worked there as to the whereabouts of the bathroom. I told her to keep her head up and she indicated that she had her eyes open.

Mr. Man, realizing that he'd not managed a rise out of either of us, and one of us had even disappeared, upped his play for attention - "Come on out with me tonight, Garry," he goaded his companion. "You came with me last time - last time we beat up gays - and lesbians." He said this while walking across the bakery, towards me, which was fine - because I like to keep an eye out for the mentally challenged and drug addled in case they're in need of assistance. I looked at him, he looked at me. I kept looking at him, not confrontationally, more the way I might look at a bit of litter tossed by a breeze on the sidewalk.

For whatever reason (probably not the small, unthreatening woman who'd aroused his distaste), he decided to change focus and seek attention from the bakery staff - asking them to go to church with him... I kid you not.

Whoa, powerful stuff:
'My Lobotomy': Howard Dully's Journey (you can download this as an mp3 as well)

In the news

Looks like repeating lies and inaccuracies isn't shaping reality quite like it used to for the Bush administration. Even the national press is waking from the spell of their Svengali-like grip. "Gee, you mean, they're wrong? But they say they're right and just and good all of the time! And they sound so convincing in that manly sort of way. Can they really just be a bunch of bullies without any real policy objectives other than enriching themselves and their closest friends at everyone else's expense? From what they say, it doesn't sound like it, but when you look at what they've actually done, it sure seems that way..."

They promised to clean up Washington - clean up in Washington is more like it. Corruption, Republican style - seems Democrats are not the only politicians prone to moral shortcomings...
Jack Abramoff and the Congressional Bribery Investigations (OnPoint Radio, 11.29.05 - audio file)

California Rep. Reigns Over Bribes (Reuters, 11.28.05)

Judge Puts Off Ruling on DeLay Dismissal (Reuters, 11.22.05)

CIA flight probes make governments squirm (Reuters, 11.27.05)

In other news...

Oh sure, these are the people we want to hand over more secret powers to... (see above)
Pentagon Expanding Its Domestic Surveillance Activity (Washington Post, 11.27.05)

You go Wallgreens!
Illinois Pharmacists Balk at Contraception (Yahoo News, 11.30.05)

Of course they do!
S.African chiefs slam banning virginity test (Reuters, 11.26.05)

Cheaper Veggie Diesel May Change the Way We Drive (National Geographic News, 11.15.05)

Caring for Your Introvert by Jonathan Rauch (LearningPlaceOnline)

Scientists find fear gene (Reuters, 11.17.05)

Wonder if there's an overall longevity disparity...
Study finds Canadian-U.S. heart survival disparity (Reuters, 11.28.05)

Discovered abroad

posted 11.18.05

Another major terrorist attack. We're sending out our sympathy and wishes for safety to folks in Jordan.

What a bleak picture this fall's news paints. It's been crisis on top of chaos, sandwiched between catastrophes.

Not much faith in the leadership of our country to do anything competent about it. George Bush's approval rating is at 37%... the Republican Party is in disarray (they must be, they voted against continuing tax cuts for the rich!). Karl Rove still under investigation. Two Democrats won in closely watched governor's races (why, oh why, couldn't this be the mid-term election?!!). Secret CIA prisons have been discovered abroad. It's been a bruising couple of weeks for George and Co. for sure - haven't heard him snickering much lately - or proposing anything constructive ("I think I'll leave the country a lot and have my minions travel too. That ought to distract everybody!"). Recently heard him described as an upwardly mobile failure...

Who's misunderestimating him now?

Ready or not...

Here come da flu.

You mean we need a public health infrastructure? But why? It doesn't make money - so why on earth should we bother? Let it degrade along with the public schools. The market sure doesn't think it's important, that's why it doesn't support maintaining one. Oh, you mean we'll need a public health infrastructure if there's a flu pandemic? Ah. The market doesn't do that kind of thinking...

Ready or not, here comes flu season - let's just hope that avian flu doesn't migrate to humans in a big way this year. Let's hope it never does - but I've read that it's only a matter of time. I'm sure you've heard the dire predictions - due to the virulent nature of the strain and all.

Sounds like a good time to review flu prevention measures! There's the flu shot, of course... but there are also a few other things you can do.

Number one - get good sleep! Nothing compromises your immune system, and your sanity, more than losing sleep (an irregular sleep schedule sucks too). Everyone is a little different (or so they tell me), but 7-9 hours is optimal for most adults.

Number two - drink a lot of water! Remain well hydrated - a well hydrated system can wash all manner of ills right out. I'm a huge believer in the power of hydration. The amount can vary per person, in general - 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) for women, 3 liters (about 13 cups) for men. Your skin will be softer, it can help you loose weight (honest, look it up), help your digestion, but most of all, it'll bolster your immune system.

Number three - stop touching your face! I know it's hard, you're beautiful and all, but quit it. It's a sure way to catch a virus - touching your face, after say, touching a doorknob or typing on a keyboard someone else may have used (of course, if they sneezed or coughed on you while typing, you're kind of doomed - but you can kick their ass, and that will make you feel a little better before the aches set in, and they might hesitate before spitting on someone else).

Number four - wash your hands! See above (people spitting all over the place). If you don't know how to do it properly, learn - try water, soap and a little elbow grease.

'Course, I could put "Avoid Sick People!" in there, but they lurk among us in so many sneaky guises that it's too tough to weed them out. And besides, some of 'em are kind of cute - just handle them carefully, like, by keeping them at a distance. Keep everyone at a distance, then you're sure to be in good shape (not very popular, but healthy).

And it wouldn't hurt to eat a balanced diet and take a multi-vitamin, but I wouldn't want you to tax yourselves overly much.

The CDC offers a list of their own and they probably know a little bit more about it than I do, so go check it out.

Why does the flu virus thrive in winter, anyway?

"Scientists say this is because viruses survive better in cooler and wetter environments and people crowd together in the festive season, creating the perfect setting for viruses to proliferate.

"With higher levels of stress, that assists the virus to take hold and reduces our ability to fight it off in the first instance so our first barriers to infection are easily overcome," said Alan Hampson, an influenza expert and former deputy director of the WHO's Collaborating Center for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne."

So watch yourselves, watch your germs, and have a nice day!

In the news

So much, so here are some odds and ends...

Are we approaching the end of an oil economy? We shall see...
Fuel's paradise? Power source that turns physics on its head

Engineuity Presents a Breakthrough in Alternative Fuel

We're shocked, simply shocked to learn this... NOT!

A General Accounting Office (GAO) report, out this week, finds that the Bush Food and Drug Administration appointees ditched normal procedure and agency practice, sidelined science, and made it clear - months before a formal review was complete - that Plan B was going nowhere near the counter.

Plan B and The FDA (OnPoint, 11.16.05, audio file)

Kansas education board OKs science standards critical of evolution

Not everyone is heading back to the past - print me a brain!
U. makes a healing 'bio-paper'

Go Maine!
Maine voters turn back bid to rescind state's gay-rights law

A new twist on coming out...
Sheryl Swoopes

Satellite Spots 'Glowing' Ocean

Some people are organ donors, others...
Body Worlds