Saturday, May 26, 2007

What can happen in seven days?

  • My columbine can bloom.
  • One cucumber seedling can pop her head out of the loamy soil.
  • A sweetheart can purchase tickets to Europe after diligently searching for the best price.
  • Meaningful connections can be made with important women in one's life.

Oh! If I were to be a little less myopic and concentrate on the world?
  • A major death can occur in a tightly knit community of 77,000.
  • Summer weather can arrive.
  • Wars can continue to be fought. And argued about.
  • Old friends can have reunions with their hometowns.
  • Neighbors can become engaged and make plans to move.

One of the members of my girls' group was reflecting that she is sometimes afraid she is going to wake up and realize years of her life are gone. It is nice to take a moment to just think about the little things that have happened, as well as the big things that may be impacting my life. As I write and think I remember the Susan B. Anthony quote that sits in the upper right box of the Collected Works of Clownface. These are the little moments that make up a life.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Celebrating humor

I'm working 55-60 hours a week at work, and starting to get embroiled in back room politics. I have millions of dollars for which I'm responsible, am working on a brand new publication that is two months late and is likely to come in 6 months late. Work is stressful. At home, I've gained weight, am struggling with the effects of a new kind of medication, and cannot seem to make the time to exercise (see work stress above). My niece has cerebral palsy and is bleeding out of one side of her head for reasons no one can explain. I head to Hingham to visit BMG in what I call "the vacation home" and get stuck in traffic that leads to the 20 miles trip taking 2 hours. That's 10 miles/hour folks.

How do I react? (How would you react?)

I laughed. Hip hip hooray for being able to laugh.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My Birthday Wish List

It is, by my definition, my birthday month. BMG says one's birthday month is the entire month in which you were born. I say, however, that one's birthday month is the month leading up to one's birthday. And, after THE day, it is over. Kind of like Christmas - I tend to love the build up of excitement to Christmas, but my family's traditions lead me, on December 26th to be ready for the pine boughs and nativity scenes to be put away.

So it is, by my definition, my birthday month. I definitely want to celebrate, but I cannot figure out how. Here are the ideas I've had so far:
  • Lawn party at BMG's bungalow complete with grilled hot dogs, bocce, and badminton
  • Hike Mt. Monadnock
  • Chocolate cake from Formaggio Kitchen
  • Paintball party
  • Trip to New York City
  • Trip to Toronto
  • Trip to San Francisco (I have some wanderlust right now)
  • All-you-can-eat sundae party.
I think it is likely too late to plan a major party - paintball or lawn games at BMG's. What is the best birthday party you have ever had?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Breast cancer....

....quarters? You may remember an earlier rant about the overuse of the breast cancer ribbon as a marketing tool? Well, imagine my amazement when I discovered, in the coin cup in BMG's plastic car, a pink ribbon quarter. Worth $0.25 in the great nation of Canada. Maybe I could use it to buy the pink ribbon, vanilla scented air freshener for my car that I saw while killing time at Advanced Auto Parts on Somerville Avenue?

Saturday, May 12, 2007


This was my day, on Friday, May 11th.

8:00 AM - 1:30 PM: Work from home as confident grant writer and strategic planner
1:30 PM - 5:00 PM: Tool around Boston; Watch Spiderman 3 in a theater crowded with teenagers who were CLEARLY skipping school
5:00 - 6:00 PM: Drink wine and eat Italian nibbles on Newbury Street, watching beautiful people
6:00-7:45 PM: Sit in Somerville City Hall listening to hippie liberals and cool young 'uns debrief their experience in the Somerville Conversations Project
7:45-9:00 PM: Sit in the student run cafe at Somerville High School with townies, at a reverse Keno-like Bingo game, hoping to win $10,000 (didn't - sigh).

I'm now in tony Hingham, getting ready to take a bike ride along the Atlantic coast.

How lovely to be able to bounce between Euro-trash, urban hip hoppers, zealous liberals, and parochial old-timers, making connections and observing amusedly the group dynamics around me.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"You just ruined curly fries!"

BMG likened curly fries to a certain part of every adult's anatomy today. How can I eat their spicy potato goodness now? Drat you BMG!


The Dalai Lama is one of those people - like Nelson Mandela - whose mere presence causes me to smile.

The Boston Globe reported this morning that he gave the convocation speech at Smith College in Western Massachusetts yesterday. In his speech, he is reported to have "...also warned of the psychological dangers of unhappiness, hatred, and anger and of broader challenges, particularly that of overpopulation, which he said he views as a major issue facing humankind." ("The Dalai Lama looking for answers too," by Michael Paulsen forThe Boston Globe, May 10, 2007)

Four years ago my biological clock surprised me by starting to tick. It really felt as though a clock had been turned on. It took me more than two years to sort out my feelings about having children from my hormonal and biological impulses. In the process, my then relationship of nearly seven years ended.

I made it through the woods and have enormous clarity and confidence about my role as an aunt to six little people, and the loving friend of countless 30- and 40-somethings who have families, or are working very hard (and spending lots of money) to make families. And, I have no pangs. I have no second thoughts. I have no inner, torturous dialogue when I talk with friends about their efforts to get pregnant. I have no fear that my family will be disappointed with me if I don't populate the earth - carry on the family legacy - as they have chosen to do. I cannot explain what created the confident shift in attitude - except perhaps the willingness to engage in the difficult conversation between my biological drive and my rational self, and to share the struggle with other people as I sorted out what was right for me.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Hell Week 2

It is a wacky week at work. Again. So frustrated and harried last night, I let out a primal scream at around 7:15 PM. One of my neighbors, a very nice Moroccan man, came rushing downstairs to make sure I was okay. I feel glad to have such kind and attentive neighbors. I need to find a token gift to thank him for his concern for me and my safety.

Dream 4

As I woke up this morning (at 5:45 AM), I was dreaming about taste testing sushi meat (i.e. raw fish) at Whole Foods in Cambridge. There were three types of sushi meat out - all different types of salmon - except it looked like tuna. None of it tasted very flavorful, even though one piece was doused in sesame oil and seeds. When asked by the salesperson at Whole Foods what I thought I was honest.


I was thinking last night about taking a sushi-making class at one of the local centers for adult ed. I was specifically wondering where one would buy sushi meat - if the fish at Whole Foods was good enough, or if there were specific ethnic markets (e.g. Super 88) where one needed to buy sushi-grade fish.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

I am SO aware

Who is paying for all this breast cancer product placement? While getting coffee this morning, I noticed that the woman in front of me was wearing a nurse's uniform; you know the look - white clogs, magenta scrubs on the bottom, and a color-coordinated and utilitarian short-sleeved top. The breast pocket of her generic floral shirt was adorned with a pink ribbon decal that said, "Aware."

Now I've been alive long enough to know the pink ribbon connotes breast cancer awareness. And I get the importance of keeping the public - particularly people with money to fund research and women who need to get their breast health checked regularly - mindful of this underfunded and once under-diagnosed disease. I did my time in the field, having once interned for the National Women's Health Network where I sat in on FDA tamoxifen hearings. I have lost women I respect and love to breast cancer, and am grateful for so many more who are still here due to early diagnosis and breakthroughs in treatment - all funded in part by the M&Ms and Beanie Babies purchased by me.

But, the pink ribbon is becoming so pervasive as a marketing tool that it is losing its potency as an advocacy tool. We've all seen the stamps and the M&Ms. How about
  • Breast cancer spatulas
  • Breast cancer fondue pots
  • Breast cancer rubber gloves
  • Breast cancer BMWs
  • Breast cancer tweezers
  • Breast cancer post-it notes
  • Breast cancer iPod cases
  • Breast cancer chapstick
  • Breast cancer smoothies in a can
  • Breast cancer boxing gloves
  • Breast cancer skis
  • Breast cancer frozen dinners.
I could go on.

A website called Think Before You Pink appears to be calling for more responsibility in cause-related marketing to support breast cancer research and awareness. Some of the questions they ask include,
... How much money goes to the cause? What is it supporting? How is it being raised? And will it truly affect the fight against breast cancer? Make sure you know what your money is actually supporting, and consider whether shopping will truly make a difference. What the breast cancer movement needs is political involvement and action to create real change—and we don't mean the kind you keep in your pocket.

What I feel is that too many companies are slapping a pink ribbon on their products, giving some money to breast cancer research, and then milking the "breast cancer awareness" designation to sell products to women long after their donations have ended. For example, I read on "Think Before You Pink," that the donation portion of Pink Ribbons Tic Tacs was this: "...between September and October (of one year), 5 cents from every pack sold will be donated to CancerCare, with a maximum donation of $100,000." Suggested retail for the special Tic Tacs was $0.79. I KNOW I saw them retailed for much more than this. Because retailers KNOW women will spend more for breast cancer anything. So, we pay more, retailers earn more, and the amount given to breast cancer research and diagnosis stays capped. I bet there were more than 2 million packages of breast cancer Tic Tacs sold. Think about it. There are more than 300,000,000 people in the United States. If half of these people are women (150,000,000) and approximately 50% of these women are within the age range to get breast cancer (75,000,000) and an estimated 1 in 8 will be diagnosed with breast cancer, that is more than 9,000,000 women with breast cancer. The breast cancer Tic Tacs gave $0.05 for first 2,000,000 packages sold during a two month period in one year. If every woman potentially diagnosed with breast cancer bought a package of breast cancer Tic Tacs, more than 9,000,000 packages would be sold. Meaning the retailers or the Tic Tac people were able to sell the product at a higher price while getting good publicity and manipulating the public's perception about the magnitude of their commitment or generosity. Don't you feel used? I know I do.

I invite consumers to think before they pay higher prices for products simply because they are pink or have a pink ribbon emblazoned somewhere on their package. If you are buying for the novelty of it, then go for it. However, If you are buying because you want to support breast cancer research or awareness, there might be a better way - by giving to Breast Cancer Action, the National Women's Health Network, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation or your local hospital system.

And a partridge in a pear tree!

Okay. So my niece's cerebral palsy diagnosis is 98% and her doctor (and her moms) are proceeding as if she does indeed have this disorder. If I'm not crying I'm shaking my head.

Here is my family profile:
1 mom
4 daughters (including me)
1 brother
1 biological father
1 step-father (now divorced)
2 (maybe more) step-mothers
(at least) 2 step-brothers
(at least) 1 step-sister
4 nieces
2 nephews
1 uncle
1 step-aunt
1 cousin.

Now, just within the households of the members of my nuclear family (mom, sisters, brother), we have the following:
2 gay people, one partnered
2 African Americans
1 person with a disability
1 felony conviction
3 divorces
1 civil union (now dissolved)
3 masters degrees
2 associates degrees
1 former member of the United States Army
2 Africans
1 Burmese
3 people who are Limited English Proficient
1 abortion
3 survivors of sexual abuse
1 person with an eating disorder.

BMG says, "It is a little slice of Americana, your family." Someday I'll write a book.