Thursday, August 31, 2006

Feminist Depression Support Group

Does someone have rocks I can use to fill the holes in my head?

My energy level is at a lifetime low, so I decided to create a feminist depression support group! Amananta was looking for one, V was discussing it, I've been chatting with Belledame about depression in comments, and today, I read Pippi's post about depression. Her comparison of depression to a near-drowning incident shook me up. Considering the life-changing impact depression has had on me, and the lack of a feminist perspective on depression, forming a group seemed like a good idea.

I hope that women will join to give and receive support. Given my current health status, I'd be grateful for 1-2 women willing to serve as moderators. The fastest way to destroy a group is by having trolls posting unchecked or member's messages drowned out by spam. To join the group:

Click here to join feminist_depression_support
Click to join feminist_depression_support

Any questions can be left in comments or you can email me: Please feel free to invite women you think would be interested in the group.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Last Health Post

for a long while, I promise.

Turns out that in addition to fibromyalgia, I have high levels of inflammation in my body. The blood tests were nonspecific (why, thank you body), so it will take time to figure out what exactly is wrong with me. It does mean that I now have to take more drugs, and that in addition to having all my muscles hurt, my joints will keep hurting too. The inflammation is likely contributing to the fatigue.

The good news is that this may be temporary. Want to know what I think about the odds of my body doing the temporary thing?

Screaming language so foul your ears would melt if you heard it!

The bad news is that it may be permanent, as in rheumatoid arthritis or something worse. Must all of my health problems develop in PAIRS?

allergies, then asthma

generalized anxiety disorder, then bipolar disorder

fibromyalgia, then "condition stupid"

Be very happy that you are not my roommate. I'm very foul right now, as you may have guessed. My social skills are on the level of the rage-infected monkeys from 28 Days Later. I've wanted to write a post for several days now, but can't control the crankiness. Sigh.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Woo-hoo! I have fibromyalgia.

Exhausted, confused, and in pain
But isn't my blanket nice!

Fibro's been my suspicion since April. I also have a problem with my knees I didn't know about, and am awaiting more blood test results because of a potential inflammatory problem that showed up on the initial tests (I wasn't processing information by the end, but Mr. Elephant knows).

I am so proud of myself. Not to brag, but I have a real talent for developing nasty, chronic conditions that no one takes seriously: depression, asthma, and now, fibromyalgia. Of course, people who know what bipolar disorder is tend to sit up and take notice when that is mentioned. But otherwise, I'm the queen of the "I think you're malingering" or "Oh, get over it already!" illnesses.

The fun part is that all the meds they want to put me on are contraindicated for people with bipolar disorder, and given my recent bout with the crazies, I'm very reluctant to go on any medication. There are meds for pain and meds for fatigue. When I asked about clearing up the cognitive problems (the worst symptom of all), the doctor just smiled at me and said nothing. Or maybe he did, I can't remember.

I can't remember. That's pretty funny.

I'm going back to this doctor (who was not an asshole, although very strange) next week. Between the rheumatologist and the psychiatrist, maybe a treatment plan will be worked out. I hope so, because as of right now, there is no plan. I have one prescription for a non-narcotic pain pill, but don't know if I can take it yet (has to be approved by my shrink). Theoretically, with fibromyalgia, one can get from disability to normal functioning, but no one has told me how that's supposed to happen.

Anyone out there with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome? I'd really appreciate any feedback or advice you can give me:

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Monday Bunny Blogging

Bumble's Adoption Anniversary, Part 2

The new hidey-box:

Hard at work demolishing the new toy

"Why no, as a matter of fact, I won't hold still for a clear shot."

For John Cade

It has been a very bad week. I won't go into the symptoms because they're extremely boring. But all aspects of My Undiagnosed Health Problem have been acting up, with impressive intensity, this past week. Also, I finally have an appointment with a specialist on Monday. I'm dreading it, afraid he will be completely useless ("Golly, I don't know what's wrong with you!"). Or worse, he will proclaim that all my problems are due to the fact that I AM FAT.

Though I'm miserable, my mood is holding steady. I mean, I'm not happy, but I'm not slipping into a deadly depression. Lithium has kept me, well, me through all of this. I'm so grateful for that. I wish that the Australian doctor who discovered lithium's therapeutic benefits was still alive. I wish I could thank him. I wish I could make some maudlin public gesture of gratitude to him. He deserves something much bigger than this post.

John Cade (1912 - 1980)
You took away a lot of suffering in this world.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Monday Bunny Blogging

Happy Anniversary, Bumble! We sure are lucky we adopted you!

On Friday, we celebrated Bumble's 2nd Adoption Anniversary. Instead of cake, he got his favorite food: banana. Here's a video of him polishing off the end of the banana*:

This video is in slow motion. He chews much faster than this.

Bumble also got a toy basket. To be clear, for Bumble, toy = something he can chew and eat. So we gave him an edible basket full of oat seed heads, pinecones, apple sticks, and best of all, a hay cube.

It's really hard to eat a hay cube when you only use your mouth. I shot a video of him eating his hay cube, but at the end he got really irritated with me:

His last present was a new hidey-box. Pictures will have to wait. He was so excited about it that he kept running in and out of it, and jumping on top of it, so all the pictures I have are blurry.

*Why is it that when humans chew with their mouths wide open, it's disgusting, but when animals do it, it's either hilarious, cute, or both?

Friday, August 11, 2006

I Give Up

I'm furious. I've been trying to read a few sex pos blogs to understand their perspective, and hopefully (ha!) open a dialogue. What set me off was a comment left on Bitch Lab's blog. I'm not going to refer to the subject of the post, because I'm taking exception with one comment:

Anthony Kennerson Says:
August 11th, 2006 at 11:48 am

And this crap about “coercion” and how prostitution is innately rape solely because the woman pays for sex that she apparantly doesn’t like: Does the thought that the woman might actually like the acts she does (or the client does on her) even to the point of doing them in private for free ever cross RM’s synapses?? Or, the fact that coercion can vary in degree and form; and to simply reduce all encounters between the prostitute and the client to mere rape simply because the woman “needs the money” is pure lunacy?? Especially given that there are so many NON-sexual professions where women have been forced to do so much worse “for the money”?? (Ever heard of the casting couch in mainstream film, RM???)

Of course, all this bullshit spewed by RM is really all about what I have been saying all along: It has nothing to do with liberating women or even socialism or feminism. It is all about THE SEX…mostly the loathing of other women who enjoy the “wrong” type of sex.

This is going to take a special double dose of SmackDog Whupass ™…first chance I get to the blog, it will be on.

Radfem has officially become the new ex-gay.

Right, let's always argue from the perspective of women who are having fun as sex workers. It's all about the freedom, especially male sexual freedom, and who cares about those women who are being tortured?

It's all about the sex? Yes, thank you, we're all prudes. You've dismissed an entire movement that's fought for women's lives and women's rights with one sentence. Thanks for being so upfront in your hatred.

Equating radical feminism with the ex-gay movement is despicable. He is very concise: in just two sentences, he belittles and others radical feminists. I'm terribly sorry that his sex life might be affected by having to consider the rights of women. This is typical male privilege, and Mr. Kennerson desperately needs to educate himself on both male privilege and misogyny. [Hint: If you're a man who is viciously attacking a group of women who are standing up for women's rights, there's a problem with your behavior!]

What really offended me is that these hateful statements went unchallenged by the women posting on the blog. So much for opening a dialogue.

Please Mr. Kennerson, give me a dose of SmackDog Whupass™. Radical feminists know a bit about male aggression directed at women. We think it's wrong.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Taking It Too Far?

My first thought when I woke up (late) this morning was "I'm revoking my late-night blogging privileges. I've got to get that post off my blog!"

But then I read all of your wonderful comments, and decided it was a good topic to discuss, even if I was uncomfortable.

Subtitle: I am NOT trying to stir up the old beauty shitstorm!
This post is about what I've been going through lately, and I'm interested in feedback.

This is how I'm looking these days:

I've worked hard to be aware of patriarchal standards of beauty when they pop up in me, and fighting to reject them. This process has been occurring over several years. But I seem to have made remarkable progress in the last few months. If you're not sitting down, please do so before continuing.

Oh, I guess you would be sitting at your computer, wouldn't you? Still, brace yourself.

I've been going out in public without shaving my legs.

The horror! Now, before you get too excited, I'm still a shaver. I will still shave, but I no longer shave daily, and last time I was at the allergist's, I realized I was out in public, wearing shorts, with leg hair that was long enough to be soft. I had a tiny attack of panic, then was so proud of myself that I wanted to tell someone. A scan of the room revealed that no one would be sympathetic. (Aside: I used to refuse to wear shorts when I was this fat. Who cares that heat makes me ill? Suffer fatty! So I've made progress there too. Go me!)

But wait, there's more! I haven't experienced that burning pain on my upper lip that comes from hair removal in I don't know how long. My mustache is nice and dark. Again, don't think I've conquered anything-I'm sure to burn the hair off again at some point. But to have gone this long without my Nair (burning-hair-off attack chemical) is amazing for me.

So in two areas, I have made positive progress. But I'm "letting myself go" in other ways, and I can't figure out if I'm rejecting beauty standards or being lazy because I don't feel well. Isn't there something to be said for having a little pride in one's appearance (as in not smelling terrible, and not looking like I've given up on doing laundry)? Is there? I'm not being sarcastic, I'd like to know.

I shower and wash my hair every day, and I use deodorant as well. But I do not comb my hair or dry it, and it forms an interesting and very messy frizz around my head. I'm wearing sloppy clothes, and I haven't bothered to remove the Bumble fur from myself before leaving the apartment (white hair everywhere). I often have hay somewhere on my person, but hay removal is a losing battle. Whenever I eat, I end up wearing part of my meal. I've been this way since childhood, so I don't think it will change. When I'm at the bank and see a juice stain on my shirt, I can't even work up embarassment.

I realize that all of this could be happening because going anywhere takes so much effort that I can't be bothered by my appearance. I also know that my friends will come rushing to my defense and tell me not to worry about a silly thing like appearance when I have bigger issues. Those friends would be right. But in a rambling way, I'm trying to ask a philosophical feminist question: where do we draw the line? Where does a woman find the line between rejecting patriarchal standards and how she is happy in her appearance? If I had energy to be outside working, I wouldn't give a rat's ass how I looked then. But I'm talking about how I look when I run errands, or just in my daily life.

Really, feedback would be great-you will not offend me. Really, please let's not start up attacking each other over appearance issues. We're just talking about messy me.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Monday Bunny Blogging

There was High Drama at the Elephant house (get it? Like at the zoo!) last week. On Tuesday, I did something terrible. I have no idea what that something was, but it pissed Bumble off. Usually he doesn’t stay angry for long, but this time, he ignored me all day long. He wouldn’t look at me, and he oriented himself so that either his back or his butt was facing me:

Bumble giving me The Bunny Butt*

This behavior hurt my feelings. I can’t stand it when he’s mad at me. After several hours, and efforts at making up (saying how sorry I was, attempting to pet him), I caved and offered him a raisin. It worked: we were best friends again. Being angry at me for an extended period of time takes a toll on him. Once we’ve made up, he clings to me like glue and must remain in physical contact with me. He has to make up for all the lost snuggle time. Tuesday was no different, every time I held still, he laid his head on my foot:

I'm forgiven and we're both relieved**

I’ve told him it would be so much easier to avoid all of this. But Bumble's rules are that when you do something awful, you have to be punished, and you must pay restitution in fruit.

*All pictures are reenactments.
**Poses performed by professionals. Do not attempt.

Next week: A Very Special Monday Bunny Blogging, featuring Bumble’s Second Adoption Anniversary Party!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Photoshop that baby out of the picture!

I can't remember where I first saw this story, but it's been featured on several blogs. Apparently, babytalk magazine featured a nursing infant on the cover of their current issue. What's more, the infant was attached to a visible breast. Readers were appalled, as shown in the following quote:

"I was SHOCKED to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine."

Conservatives object to breasts exposed in the context of breastfeeding for reasons that run along the lines of "Because breasts are dirty". Conservatives do a great job of compartmentalizing and condemning the female body. Liberals object to the conservatives' "prudish" perspective and express wonder that anyone would be offended.

Why is everyone missing the point? In our society, breasts have been completely co-opted for heterosexual men's pleasure. (Reminder: only heterosexual men matter in our society.) Breasts are for arousing and getting men off. Look at this quote:

"There is a real puritanical streak in America," Moran told AFP. "You see celebrities practically baring their breasts all the time and no one seems to mind in this sort of sexual context.

"But in this very natural context of feeding your child, a lot of Americans are very uncomfortable with it."

Moran is right on both counts. Of course this viewpoint is ridiculous, not to mention sick. But it is an accurate reflection of how things are in society. We don't object to women showing skin as long as they do it in a sexually provocative manner. Women showing part or all of their breasts in a way that gives hetero men erections are following the dictates of their assigned roles, even serving with distinction!

But let a women expose a breast to feed her child, and the sanctions come out. Why is anyone surprised by this? Protests come not just from discomfort with nudity. Breastfeeding violates what breasts are for. I'll restate the fact: breasts exist for the sexual pleasure of heterosexual men. So it should be no surprise that we only object to displaying breasts when it's a baby's satisfaction at stake.

Think I'm wrong? Have a look around the liberal blogosphere. Check out the comments made by male liberals. In addition to condemning the prudishness of Americans, men were compelled to state just how lovely that breast on the cover of babytalk is-so perky, so full. One man even expressed envy, oh how he'd love to be that baby!

See? Breastfeeding is acceptable if the boob in question makes men hard.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Book Meme

I've been tagged by tng for the really fun book meme! The impossible part of this meme is that you can only select one book for each category. This activity is really difficult, but very enjoyable since you get to think about important books.

1. One book that changed your life?
Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide by Kay Redfield Jamison
I know this choice will seem horrible/morbid/depressing, but it isn't. This book changed my life for the better. The overall look at suicide was informative, but the part that qualifies it for this category was Jamison's coverage of Meriwether Lewis (of the Lewis and Clark expedition across America fame). He did fine when he was busy, even when he was too busy-pushing himself near collapse. But when he had unlimited down time, his brain would take a sharp turn into depression and it was during one of these down times that he killed himself. This book was a wakeup call (scream) to me about how I needed to structure my own life.

2. One book you have read more than once?
Watership Down by Richard Adams
I have an irrational and overwhelming love for Watership Down. It's a great story, but I think it's the greatest story of all time. The last time I read it instigated my desire to adopt a rabbit. Maybe I should have listed this book under the first category.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
The Complete Far Side by Gary Larson
I've seen people put clever books here, such as How to Build a Boat, etc. But I'm a depressive, remember? I know I'm not getting off the damn island. So I want something to keep my spirits up, something that's long, and something heavy enough to kill frightening creatures.

4. One book that made you laugh?
Remarkable Trees of the World by Thomas Pakenham
It isn't a comedy. It made me laugh in a "joyful, glad to be alive so I could see such things" way. I linked to it so you could search for some amazing pictures. I recommend entering "redwoods" and "methuselahs" in the search inside this book function.
(Thanks tng, I hadn't looked at this book in too long.)

5. One book that made you cry?
Shockwave : Countdown to Hiroshima by Stephen Walker
I cry easily at happy things, sad things, and horrific things. Most of the things that interest me make me cry. But Shockwave was just horrible, because you see how easily the attack on Hiroshima could have been averted. It's an excellent book, well-researched and well-written.

6. One book you wish had been written?
The Natural History, Ecology, and Behavior of the Spanish Mustang
There is at least one great book out there on Mustangs in general, but it's not an exhaustive source on this one horse breed.

7. One book you wish had never had been written?
The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance by Laurie Garrett
It's a great book, well worth reading. But it lit a fire under my tail and sent me on a self-destructive path into and through graduate school. If not for this book, I might have wised up sooner and decided to do something else when I grew up.

8. One book you are currently reading?
Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis
I actually just finished it. If you haven't read this book yet, by all means get it and get started. Davis pulled together so many sources, and she gives a comprehensive treatment of racism in the women's movement (the "first wave", the women's suffrage movement).

9. One book you have been meaning to read?
A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
I have carried this book with me for years, and moved it from state to state. I kept it so long, that a new edition came out. Now I'm carrying the new edition around. Other books keep getting priority, while this poor book just keeps getting more dusty. It's widely recognized to be an excellent book, but I'm put off by very long books.

10. Now tag five people. I tag:
Amy at Feminist Reprise
Kaka at Kaka Mak
Hexy at Hexpletive
Witchy-woo at Well, I'll go to the foot of my stairs...
Pippa at One Salford Feminist

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"I'm a hateful moron, and it's YOUR job to fix me."

I've avoided writing about Mel Gibson because I despise him and life is short. His latest apology, however, has sent me over the edge:

"I'm not just asking for forgiveness," Gibson said. "I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one-on-one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing."

Mel's privilege really seems to be acting up. When you spew hate-filled venom about a group of people, you apologize as a first step. You then take action to address the hate you feel, unearned benefits you have relative to the group you attacked, and the inequality of the situation. There is one thing, however, that you do not do.

You do not place the burden for your atonement and education onto the group you have just attacked.

As long as people refuse to acknowledge this, they won't make any real progress. Mel claims he doesn't really hate Jews. Now, c'mon Jews, figure out this mess for him. Saying you're sorry is necessary, but not sufficient, to move beyond hate and continued harm.

As long as we're on the topic of making amends, when is Mel going to apologize for calling the female police officer "sugar tits"? Don't worry, I'm not holding my breath.