26 February 2012

For some odd reason, the cats like to have their litter box periodically cleaned out, and since tonight is trash night and all the gross things get taken to the curb for the garbage fairies to come magically whisk it all away at 6:30 in the freaking morning with their obnoxiously loud magic wands, I figured today is as good as any day to go buy some litter and then clean their box.

Sometimes, I'm nice like that. Well, there's also knowing that if I don't clean it soon they'll start peeing on my stuff, but mostly I'm nice, dammit.

So to Walmart I went. I picked up the litter and some canned cat food, wandered around a bit, trying to remember if there was anything else we needed, got in line behind the 1000 year old woman who absolutely did not want help emptying out her cart, and then waited somewhat patiently while she slowly emptied her very full cart.

Might as well be patient; the place was a little crowded and it wasn't as if it would be any quicker if I'd changed lanes. But while I stood there being all gloriously nice and not OH GAWD LET ME HELP YOU ANCIENT ONE I started getting thirsty. It was a twitchy kind if thirsty, too, one that had me wondering if my meds were wearing off really early today, and one that wasn't going to wait until I got home.

No big deal. Walmart was crowded but the in-store Subway was not. After I paid for the kitty litter and cat food (and several other things we needed, like cookies and pizza rolls, because nothing says STICK TO YOUR DIET like cookies and pizza rolls) I went into the Subway, bought a drink and then sat down. Not wanting to just stare at other people, I pulled out my cell phone to surf Facebook, but that didn't keep me from listening to the conversations going on around me.

"I hate that. I hate those goddamned Bible thumpers being so public in what they do."


"It's pretentious piety, and it's wrong."


"So you're a Christian. Go home and really read the damned thing. Pay attention to where it says to not do that shit in public in a way that draws attention to yourself."


"Don't tell me I'm wrong. It's right there in the Bible."

"Dad. That's a cell phone."

That's when I realized Dad was talking about me, upset about my pretentious piety, apparently reading a Bible in the middle of Subway. And I can see where he would think so; even the Spouse Thingy has mentioned that my iPhone case looks like a pocket sized New Testament.

I kind of wanted to look up and start spouting off completely made up scripture--Lo, and the Lord said unto him, Shutteth thy mouth and judgeth not, for I am the Alpha and Omega, and I could smite your sorry ass--but my brain doesn't engage fast enough, and even if it guts.

Besides, I get where he was coming from. I detest public pretentious piety, too, but I don't think someone sitting quietly by themselves while reading from their chosen religious text falls under that. I'm willing to bet if I'd had The Catechism of the Flying Spaghetti Monster in had he wouldn't have batten an eye.

I don't think the guy believed his kid until my phone beeped from an incoming text message, and I started tapping on the screen as I answered.

It would have been funnier if the Spouse Thingy had called right then, the sound of a Dalek from Doctor Who screaming Exterminate! Exterminate! cutting through the air.

Dammit, I could have made that happen. But like I said...the brain just doesn't engage that fast.

And double dammit, the Girls Scouts set up to sell cookies outside while I was shopping, so now I have a lot of cookies. A lot.

Evil kids.

19 February 2012

Randomness #752924.982

  • Facebook status updates are driving me batchit…
  • Grammar, people. Just some BASIC grammar, please. It’s not “should of,” it’s “should have” or “should’ve.” A status update is not a title and You Do No Capitalize Every Word of it. And if you’ve graduated high school, I kind of expect a modicum of spelling ability. It really does not take any more effort to type out “You’re coming, right?” over “ur cming, rite?”
  • I really do have to resist pointing out horrific spelling. Because we all know how prefect mine is.
  • I want cake.
  • If you’re prone to exaggeration, don’t be surprised when no one believes it when something truly urgent happens and you need help/to see someone/to talk to someone. You can only stretch things so far so many times before people just don’t take your claims all that seriously.
  • Don’t presume you know the whole story. You may have been given a watered down version, and it might have been for your own benefit. Or to keep you from worrying. Or to keep you from gossiping. But never presume you know the whole thing.
  • My current project requires that I go back and read the archives of my training blog. It now amuses me how excited I was to be able to walk 5 miles and not die.
  • Buddah is not available for adoption, no matter how adorable you think he is and how nice a life he would have with you. He’s my basement kitty, and I’m keeping him.
  • People used to offer to take Max, and I really thought that sometimes they believed his blog posts of mistreatment. He’s not going anywhere, either.
  • I should have bought some Bose headphones years ago,
  • It is really jarring to be listening to a CD of instrumental music, and suddenly someone is singing. I’m looking at you, John Tesh.
  • On Facebook again…I hate status updates that beat you over the head with things unspoken. If it’s cryptic, just keep it to yourself, all right? If the people on your friends list have no idea what’s going on, don’t dangle that chit in front of them. It’s as rude as whispering and laughing with one person in front of someone else.
  • Best text message of the weekend: OMG I LOVE THESE DRUGS!
  • Saddest text message of the weekend: I saved that cookie for three days, and when I had my back turned, the dog ate it.
  • I know that feeling. Hank once took the very last cookie in the house right out of my hand when I wasn’t paying close enough attention. You think I would have learned, but the chitmonster snatched lots of things from me over the years.
  • I still miss Hank.
  • Dammit, John Tesh, this is supposed to be piano music. No singers allowed!


15 February 2012

Max Thompson, Cheeto Thief

Ignore the trash bag...I was picking up stuff in my office...

I was sitting in my office paying bills, and decided to have lunch at my desk. Multi-tasking at it's not quite finest: pay bills on one computer, load CDs into iTunes on the other, have a hot dog and some Cheetos.

Now, when I sat down with the hot dog, Max was asleep in another room. Sound asleep, like flat on his back, twitching through some dream asleep. I ate the hot dog without any feline aid, but the Cheetos were still on my desk in a bowl when the phone rang, so I left them there while I went into the kitchen to answer it.

When I came back 2 minutes later, Max was standing in my chair, paws on the desk, head in the bowl as he rapidly licked as much cheesy dust off those suckers as he could.

I couldn't get mad--I'd left them there in the open, knowing there are two sneaky cats in this house--but what got me was that he knew he wasn't in trouble. He looked up at me like, "Oh, hi! Thanks for the snack!" I suggested he'd had enough, and he happily got down, the look on his face, "I left you some!"

Yep, he'd left me a handful of cat-spit-soaked cheesy goodness.

Thoughtful, he is.


13 February 2012

In Which I Don My Crown as The Queen of Passive Aggressiveness, and Kick Someone in the But…

Everyone does it. Everyone. I do it, you do it, and we do it without thinking about it. It’s ingrained; it’s a speech reflex. It’s also wrong.
“I see your point, but…”
“I hear what you’re saying, but…”
“I know you have to do your own thing, but…”

As soon as you add the word “but” to the statement, you’ve nullified everything that came before it.

“I see your point, but…” (You’re wrong, and I am right.)

“I hear what you’re saying, but…” (You need to shut up because you’re wrong.)

“I know you have to do your own thing, but…” (Actually, you don’t. You need to do what I expected you to do.)

“You did what you needed to, but…” (You didn’t do what I wanted you to, and it annoys me.)

“You put a lot of effort into it, but…” (You fell short of the mark and you should have worked harder.)

This is grating on me because I’m getting it a lot lately. It’s irritating and it’s dismissive, and it lacks communicative ability. Most of the time it’s just something people use because they can’t think of another way to say what they think; the reality is that it’s a passive aggressive way to tell someone else that they’re wrong, or they’ve done something the person speaking doesn’t like, approve of, and wants changed.

It’s been brewing in the back of my head for a while, but the catalyst for I’ve-had-enough-dammit came in the form of email that took me to task for declining an invitation (order to appear?) to be part of a book signing on the other side of the country. Never mind that I didn’t need a reason other than I’ve never done a book signing and I don’t want to; it felt like every similarly worded criticism I’ve gotten in the last six months boiled over in that one email.

“I know you can’t hear on the phone, but I’m calling you anyway.” I don’t believe you, so I’m calling and you better pick up.

Hey, guess what? I gain nothing by telling people I have hearing difficulties, especially where the phone is concerned. Not being able to hear on the phone is nothing but a pain in the ass. If I have to take a call, I sit there struggling to understand what the person on the other end is saying. I can hear them speaking, but it’s a garbled mess and I have to strain to make sense of it. I have to guess a lot, and I’m wrong a lot. It doesn’t matter who you are; if you’re on the phone with someone and 75% of the conversation is them asking you to repeat what you just said, and they still don’t get it, you start getting irritated.

I end nearly every phone conversation with a bitch of a headache and feeling a little bit diminished, and even a little bit sad. I’m losing my hearing—not just on the phone—and I know it; I don’t need you to make me feel like crap about it.

You have my number? Text me. I can still see and read. Or email me. Message me on Facebook. But if you’re upset with me for not calling…that’s on you, not me.

“I get that you have a bad back, but you participated in those walks.” If you can do X, you can do Y, and because you chose X you obviously don’t care enough to do Y, so you suck.

“You can’t travel, but you went there.” Mostly, I don’t believe you, so show up here, or else you suck.

Yes, I did those walks. I’m not sure what you think those walks were like, though. I had a metric ton of fun on them because I was with friends, but don’t get the impression I was bouncing on soft fluffy clouds farting sunshine out my ass. Those walks took a lot out of me and took a while to recover from. But I can walk reasonable distances. And guess what? Walking is very good for your back. Training walks may be what keeps me out of a wheelchair.

You saw the pictures from the walks, you read my blogs, and apparently decided that if I could do that, then I obviously don’t have real issues. But you didn’t see me fall behind my teammates—miles behind—and you didn’t see me struggle with hills. You didn’t see me hit the proverbial wall on the first day and have to reluctantly take a sweep van. You didn’t see me trying to get into the van and failing 4 times in a row because my back hurt so much I couldn’t step up into it. You didn’t see me limping starting on mile 5 the second day, something that continued off and on until well after the walk was over. You didn’t see me on the third day, so broken that when I walked into the last pit stop one of the docs literally grabbed me by the arm and made me take a break. You didn’t see the down side. You read what I wrote, but I didn’t dump everything into the blog because people don’t want to read all that. People don’t need to be burdened with my crap.

But hey…I also didn’t say I couldn’t travel.

What I cannot do is travel alone.

Atlanta wouldn’t have happened at all if not for DKM. I can’t travel alone, especially flying. On the best of days I’m a tense flyer; the idea of hurtling through the air in a giant lipstick tube bugs the bejeezuz out of me, but to it I now have to add uneven cortisol levels. You know that feeling of fight or flight? That’s adrenaline and cortisol at work. Put me on a plane and my cortisol levels soar. My adrenaline jacks up.

That’s probably not so unusual in anyone doing something that scares them…but then you add reactive hypoglycemia to the mix, and you have plummeting blood sugar levels. Either one of those separately should be easy enough to deal with, but if you put them together it’s a recipe for some not so good things to happen.

The real problem is that when I have skyrocketing cortisol and my blood sugar is plummeting, I don’t always recognize what’s happening. I get twitchy and irritable, but I don’t necessarily realize what’s happening. By the time I might figure it out, my blood sugar could be in the toilet and my blood pressure so high that something inside is going to have to give. And by then, I’ll either be out cold or dead. I’m not too fond of either happening. The former might have strange people digging through my pockets; the latter is a bit too permanent.

The first day in Atlanta I felt wrecked. I spent the day plastered to the hotel room bed for the most part, playing with my iPad because I didn't have anything else in me. I ate breakfast because DKM got me out of the room and down to the restaurant; I ate dinner because the team got together for it. Otherwise...yeah, no mental faculties to push myself to get food on my own.

In addition to having DKM’s supervision, I also had dozens of people out there walking with me who knew I might need help. On day three when I got separated from my team and walked alone for the last half, no fewer than 5 people on every mile checked to make sure I was all right. The word was out; look for the woman with the neon pink hair and pink cammo pants. What seemed like coincidence at first became obviously organized because the questions were the same and quite pointed.

How do you feel? Are you drinking? Have you had electrolytes? When was the last time you ate? What did you eat? Have you had any sugar? Any salt? Are you sure you’re all right, because I can get you a sweep van.

One stubborn walker wouldn’t go ahead of me until I’d slugged back enough of the sports drink in my bottle to be deemed sufficient. He was probably right, too, because I started feeling a little spunkier after that, for a while anyway.

Atlanta was possible because DKM chaperoned me, and all along the route people had my back. If I didn’t have a teammate walking with me, I was surrounded by people who were aware that I might need help at some point. I was also surrounded by people who might not have been aware of that, but were ready to spring to help anyone who looked like they needed someone.

If DKM hadn’t been going to Atlanta for the walk, I wouldn’t have gone. If I hadn’t known I would have help along way if needed, I wouldn’t have gone.

So yes, I can travel, as long as I have someone with me—someone who knows what to do if I get into trouble. Someone who can recognize it, because chances are I won’t realize anything with me is off until I’m past the point of being able to do anything about it.

I don’t travel alone. Period.

I’m especially not traveling for a book signing that would require the Spouse Thingy to burn off vacation days and for me to spend several hundred dollars for books I would then have to spend a hundred or so to ship, then spend a few hundred on a hotel room, then a rental car, and food, and incidentals…all with the very high risk that I wouldn’t sell even half the books, and would probably sit at a table for hours on end alone, worrying about what the hell I’d do if my meds wore off.

“I totally understand that you don’t want to do public speaking or book signings, but this one is different.” You’re a writer, you should be good with words, and I promised my friend who owns the bookstore that you’d do it.

No, this isn’t different. And being a writer does not equal being a public speaker. I stumble over words when I’m speaking; I get to go back and edit them when I’m writing.

I appreciate you asking, but…


11 February 2012

The whole Komen thing isn’t going to go away anytime soon, I’m pretty aware of that. On the surface, I got what I wanted: a reversal (of sorts) with a revision of the new grant criteria, and Karen Handel out of SGK. She “resigned” on Tuesday, refused a severance package (which kinda suggests to me she didn’t exactly leave of her own accord, but what do I know?) which gave me the three things I wanted before considering doing another SGK walk.

Theoretically, that should make it easy. I could walk with a clear conscience, I think, but fundraising has the potential to be a nightmare this year. I’ve gotten some very apologetic emails all basically saying they understand the predicament I would be in, but they’re done with anything Komen and none of their donor dollars will ever see a Komen coffer again. I’ve gotten some tense Facebook messages telling me I’m insane for not taking a firm and inflexible stand, and no way in hell am I getting a donation. I’ve also gotten several “I’ll support you no matter what” messages, which means a lot.

But the one that made me sit back and mutter “What the fark?” was the Facebook message that said, and I quote, “You haven’t made up your mind? You’re fucking retarded if you ever walk for those people again. None of that money you raise goes to helping anyone, it just makes Komen bigger.”

What made this a bigger WTF is that the person in question has never donated a dime towards—as far as I’ve been able to tell—anyone’s charitable efforts. It was made clear to me on my first SGK walk that a donation was out of the question, and that’s fine; what’s important to me isn’t important to other people. We all pick the things we want to give our attention to; for some of us it’s breast cancer or heart disease. For others it’s Special Olympics, or working on behalf of the homeless. For some people, it’s making sure that things at home are taken care of, and there’s nothing left—monetarily or spiritually—for anything else.

I have no issues with that.

What’s not fine is attacking someone else for what they believe in. It’s also not fine to spout rhetoric that defies the truth. Is Komen big? Definitely. It’s top-heavy with too many people being paid too much…like a whole lot of other organizations. But the money we raise, it does go towards helping people. I went looking for the info, something I should have done long ago. The numbers?

In SGK’s 2010 fiscal year, they made grants to more than 1,900 community organizations that totaled more than $93 million.
  • More than 2.2 million people received breast cancer education materials and information
  • More than 275,000 clinical breast exams were provided
  • More than 351,000 mammograms were funded
  • 2,000 people were enrolled in breast cancer clinical trials
  • 7,000 people were educated about clinical trials

As it stands, 80% of money donated goes towards research, treatment, education, and screening. The remaining 20% goes towards administrative costs. Those bloated salaries come out of that it would be nicer to see something more like a 90-10 split, but that’s still better than most charities.

You can’t tell me people aren’t helped by Komen. It might not be in the amounts we wish for or even in methods by which we want that help to come, but people do get help from Komen.

No one is “fucking retarded” for considering or still wanting to walk for the cause, because most of the money goes towards helping people who have breast cancer, who are learning about breast cancer, who want breast cancer prevention, and who simply can’t afford basic screenings. I don’t like everywhere their money goes, but hell, I don’t like everywhere MY money goes.

I don’t like that my taxes go towards paying egocentric lawmakers to play partisan politics on Capitol Hill. I don’t like that tax dollars go towards funding unnecessary pet projects. I don’t like the likelihood that some of my taxes will go to partially pay for a new arena for basketball players in Sacramento when the roads around here are falling apart and schools need more money.

We take the good with the bad.

Have I decided yet about walking for Komen this year?

Nope. But the money—while that will be difficult to raise—isn’t even the issue. It’s not worrying about what friends might think or even that I have some deeply-seeded issues with SGK still. If fundraising tanks, I’ll self-fund, should I decide to go. I may have a friend or two with issues, but that’s not a deal breaker; I’ll still like them, they’ll still like me. I’m not 100% happy with Komen, but I did get what I wanted, after all. Those I know who are for sure walking, they’re honoring a commitment made before the whole Komen Kontroversy began. I respect the hell out of that.

I respect the hell out of the people I know who will not back down from their decision to not walk for Komen again. They took a stand.

Me? I made the commitment, but I still don’t know. And the stupid thing is, what bothers me isn’t that I’d be bailing on a commitment; it’s that if I don’t go, I’ll be missing out on the fun. But I haven’t decided.

I haven’t decided simply because I do want to give the Avon walk a try. I keep pondering the MS Walk. I also know my body has some real limits now, and I’m not sure I have 3 long walks in me this year. I keep wondering if my indecision is a sign; maybe I should back off, take some time to get healthier, stronger, and lighter (not an original idea by a long shot; DKM did it last year and her results are AMAZING), spend more time on activities that aren’t just walking.

I want to walk; I want to go play with my friends. If my friends aren’t going to go play, it’ll be easy. If I don’t walk, I can take that money I would use to self-fund and support someone else.

Yeah, this is me, thinking out loud, trying to decide. What to do, what to do…

It’ll come to me. But I’m not “fucking retarded” no matter what I decide, and neither is anyone else. We all have to do what feels right, though I cannot imagine any situation where attacking someone for doing something they believe in would be right. Oh, and that goes for the showing of aborted fetus pictures on Facebook.

Yeah, someone did that—they were apparently very upset that Komen reversed and Planned Parenthood has a chance at applying for future grants and decided to show us the error of our ways. That was vicious, cruel, and incredibly selfish…and that’s the first time I’ve ever defriended someone on FB.

That’s a whole other rant…


9 February 2012

From my inbox:
"I’ve started and then stopped about 20 different blogs, mostly because I got worried about who might read what I was writing. I don’t want my family to find it but I’m afraid they will even if I don’t tell them about it. Do you censor yourself? Or do you just write and worry about it later? I have a lot to say and I really want to blog, but how?"

Do I censor what I say here? Hell yes. If I blogged about all the things spinning through my head while they were spinning the fastest, I would alienate 80% of the people who read my blog, and the other 20% would probably only hang around to see me crash and burn (I have haters! Who’da thunk it!) I try to not blog the things that I shouldn’t—if it’s going to embarrass or humiliate someone close to me, I just don’t put it out there—and I try (stress try) to be fair in the things I do throw out into the Internets.

I know there are a lot of bloggers out there who lay it all out, good and bad, for the world to read and then pick apart, but I’m not one of them. Consequently, I’m far less interesting, but things that are not mine to tell, I avoid telling.

[Part of that is knowing that I’m socially brain dead; I don’t tell…but I also don’t ask. I’ve spent so many years being friends with the World’s Most Paranoid Person, knowing there are questions I just don’t ask because no answers will be forthcoming that not asking is the norm for me (he knows I blame him. I blame him for a lot; he’s easy to blame and he doesn’t mind taking the blame. He knows he’s incredibly hard to be friends with…which is good because he’s ruined my ability to navigate simple social situations.)

Ha, so there. Not censoring that.

Still…if you know me in person and wonder why the hell I don’t ask the questions most people ask, why I’m as quiet as I am, it’s the fault of the World’s Most Paranoid Person. I used to be a chatterbox; now I wait until answers are offered without the questions being asked.]

If I were going to start blogging all over again (which seems like a lot of work after nearly 10 years) and I wanted to talk about things I didn’t want people connecting to me… I’d probably blog anonymously, using pseudonyms other than “the Spouse Thingy” and “the Boy” for people in my life. I would imagine that would get awfully confusing after a while, but it would be a way around the little identifying details.

I don’t know any other way around it; if you want to blog without worrying about what family thinks, make up names and places. But I’m putting it out here in case someone else has a better idea, because my friends are pretty smart, even the most paranoid one.


8 February 2012

I actually feel a little bad for laughing at this...

...but just a little.


7 February 2012

A thought that occurred to me late last night while I was trying to fall asleep: are we now going to wage a rainbow ribbon war? Was the whole Komen debacle just the beginning of something huge, something that could bring a whole slew of charities to their metaphorical knees? Have we hit a pinnacle of compassion fatigue and donor apathy, and will look for any and all excuses to not donate?

It’s not just Komen. Look at all the ribbons out there, the colors connected to individual causes. Pink for breast cancer is probably the most noticeable, but there’s a plethora of ribbons out there. Blue for prostate cancer. Purple for cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s, Fibromyalgia, and a dozen other things. Red for AIDS and heart disease. Orange for MS and leukemia. Violet for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Gold for childhood cancer.

And on and on and on.

The organizations behind them all need money.

One of the things that keeps coming at me in the last few days has been indignant utterings of “Did you see how little goes to research?” usually followed by percentages. Twenty per cent. Twenty two. Thirty. Oh my God, only ten cents of every dollar we raise!

Some complaints have come from people who walked the 3 Day and who are—and perhaps rightly so—offended that they’re spending so much time and effort training and fundraising and then getting out there for the actual walk, only to have their work minimized by the idea that of the $2300 they raise it might be that only $230 makes it to the research they’re praying will find a cure.

People are looking closely at the numbers, and while right now I think a lot of it is caught up in rhetoric and emotion (so maybe only 20% goes to research; there’s still money that goes to treatment and education, those numbers are being kind of shoved aside at the moment, but they do add up), I have a gut feeling it’s not going to end with Komen.

That’s not a bad thing; if you’re digging deep into your wallet to support a friend walking or biking for a charity, or if you’re donating directly, you have a right to know where your money goes and how it breaks down. And you should ask some questions or do a little investigating online.

The problem, though, is that what I’m hearing from upset donors is that if 100% of their money doesn’t go exactly to what they assumed it would, they’re never donating again.

To anyone.

There is no 100% in donating. Like it or not there are always going to be administrative costs; there will always be some divide of funds across multiple venues. You might like where 50% of it goes, accept where 25% goes, and hate where the remainder goes. And that’s whether it’s for breast cancer, MS, heart disease, lymphoma… No one will ever be completely satisfied with the breakdown of funds distribution.

And right now, with emotions running high over Komen’s major fumble, I suspect most of the major charitable organizations are going to suffer for it.

I hope not, but I can see it happening.

A worthy cause is still a worthy cause; I might not like that a small percentage of my donation to Charities Iz Us goes towards a bloated administrator’s salary, or that a penny on every dollar goes to operations, or even that a quarter of a penny pays JimBob McBozobrain to stand on the sidelines with his megaphone and pom poms while he cheers the people doing grunt work, but if the majority of the money goes towards the actual cause—research, treatment, grant funding, medicines—then I can live with it.

Worthwhile charities are like a classic painting. People are getting close and squinting hard to see the little details, but sometimes you really do just have to step back to take in the whole picture. Nothing will ever be perfect…but when you soak it all in, you can see the absolute beauty in what you’re looking at, and those few errant brushstrokes don’t take away from the whole thing.

The greater good, and all that…


6 February 2012

Does he look annoyed?
He's annoyed.

He has been such a little shit lately. The commado cuddling is cute; he still stomps up to me plops down on my lap even if there's a computer there, and forces his head under my hand until I comply and give him head skritches until he's tired of them. That could be 1 minute or 30, I never know.

I can even deal with him tracking litter-tinged pawprints across the coffee table. And the fake fireplace. And my blankets and sheets.

Paw prints are just part of having cats. You learn to deal.

I don't have a problem with him being on the counters; I feed him up there to keep Max from scarfing his food down and then going for Buddah's. we have bleach for a reason.

I don't mind him getting up on top of the refrigerator, and then on top of the cupboards. He loves being up high, and who am I to deny his need to tower over me?

But the other night he jumped to the counter, and then to the fridge, and then stopped. Fine. He's not hurting anything up there. I sat here in the other room (kitchen right behind me, open concept sort of thing) watching TV with my laptop open as I surfed FARK and reddit.

From the kitchen: bang bang bang.

I didn't have to turn around to know what he was doing. The fridge is right next to the pantry, and he loves opening pantry and cupboard doors. Still, that's one thing he's not supposed to do, and he knows it. So without turning I said, "No, Buddah. You can't go in there."

Bang, bang, bang.

I turned around and he was looking right at me. "No. Stop doing that."

He reached over with his little paw. Bang, bang, bang.

"I said no." I started to get up, intending on pulling him down from the fridge, risking my flesh, because he's a biter when he's ticked off.


"No, no, no."

He stuck his paw under the edge of the pantry door, slid it in as far as he could, grabbed a box of Pop Tarts, and pulled them out...looking right at me as they fell to the floor.

THEN he jumped up to the top of the cupboards, with I WIN! plastered across his face.

Well. I couldn't let that pass. So I waggled my finger at him and said sternly, "Don't do that again."

Yeah. I'm sure he listened.


3 February 2012

You've probably heard, Komen issued this statement this morning, which is being held up as a reversal to their de-funding Planned Parenthood and a rewriting of their grant criteria.

One of the things that has bothered me the most about this whole thing is the seeming condemnation of Planned Parenthood on the part of Komen; using their new criteria of not granting funds to groups under investigation, they cited an apparent investigation of Planned Parenthood by Rep Cliff Stearns for the possibility of PP having used federal funds to provide abortion services.

The problem with this is that there hasn't been an investigation; at best it's an inquiry, and a hearing has not been, and may never be held. So it felt to me as a declaration of presumed guilt until found innocent.

One line in today's statement jumped out at me:

We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.

To me this reads that the changing of the wording of their criteria now means that there now must be an actual investigation, it must be criminal, and there must be a conclusive end--proven guilt. And that sounds good.


This doesn't mean that funding will be restored to Planned Parenthood. It really means squat for Planned Parenthood. It means that they'll be allowed to apply for future grants--no guarantee they'll be awarded anything.

In an article by Greg Sargent for the Washington PostKomen board member John Raffaelli came straight out and said that the "reversal" doesn't mean Planned Parenthood will get funding from Komen. He told Sargent "It would be highly unfair to ask us to commit to any organization that doesn’t go through a grant process that shows that the money we raise is used to carry out our mission."

So really, Komen caved but didn't reverse. They tinkered with the wording of their funding criteria, but it doesn't really mean anything for Planned Parenthood other than that they can apply for future grants.

Fine. I can almost swallow that.


Now they need to admit that the masses are not collective in stupidity, and that the whole mess was indeed political, and they need to get Karen Handel, the likely arbiter of this all, to resign. And if she refuses to resign, fire her sorry ass.

The statement issued by Komen was enough for a lot of people; walkers who were on the fence, agonizing over whether to walk or not, feel a little better about honoring the commitments they've made to the organization. and they should; their hearts are absolutely in the right place, and they're willing to put forth the effort needed to hold up their end of it.

I don't think fundraising is going to be a breeze, though. Komen hosed things up royally, and potential donors are taking a long, hard look at Komen as a whole and many don't like what they're finding.

I'm not sure anyone other than someone who has participated in a 3 Day, especially as part of a team, can understand how truly devastating this has been and how much it hurts. It's easy to sit back and say that Komen will never get another dollar, that Komen is antithetical to its mission, that Komen is overfunded at the top and money doesn't go where it should. It's easy to say those things when the people who are on the ground, literally walking the walk, haven't become like family.

Char and I texted back and forth a bit while I walked today; she's recovering from hip replacement surgery and today is day one of clear-headedness and she wanted to talk about it, wanted to know what she'd missed, because one day she'd like to be able to walk in something. And she's right; while this might not feel exactly like a divorce, as I've seen some people online describe it as, it's definitely like a tense trial separation.

The walkers and crew...we're like the kids caught in the middle. We have one side that screwed up and is scrambling to apologize without really changing anything, the other side screaming about betrayal, and we're in the middle with our hands over our ears, begging them to stop fighting and start talking.

I think before that happens, both sides have to let the anger subside a bit, the hurt sting a little less, and then they have to find their footing.

Will I walk for Komen this year? I have no idea. I haven't formally pulled out of anything, but the walk I signed up for isn't until late November, so there's time to see what's really going to happen. I'm not going to fund-raise for it until I know for sure. I will likely walk in the Avon Walk in July, and I'm still eyeing that MS Walk in September.

Will I support my friends who are definitely walking and crewing for Komen?


These are women I've come to love; they aren't playing with politics, they're interested in saving lives. And no matter what happens with Komen and Planned Parenthood, what the actual monetary split between administration costs and research and treatment is, whether a bucket of fried chicken carries a pink ribbon on it or not, lives are being saved.

My friends are awesome people and deserve support.


2 February 2012

This would make a cool tattoo...
Out of the ashes rises the Phoenix…ok, kinda sorta. It sounds good. And it was an excuse to use a pretty picture. Mostly, out of the controversy comes some good. If nothing else, this whole mess has had me pondering what else I could do. There’s the Avon Walk for breast cancer which will be held in San Francisco in July, and Michelle found a MS Challenge Walk in Carlsbad in September.

So I have options, some pretty spiffy options. Walking for breast cancer means a lot to me—I’ve lost friends and that sucks hard—but I also have several friends with multiple sclerosis, so I’m looking at that one with keen interest.

I’m also taking the time to poke around online and see what else is out there. I have a vested interest in a lot of things—lymphoma, diabetes, heart disease, stroke—and am looking at the possibilities for those as well. Some of the walks are so short—just a mile—that I wonder why they even bother, and some are so far from here that it’s not possible, but I’ll find something.

In the meantime, please enjoy this escaping kitty.


1 February 2012

My Facebook status yesterday

For the record, I am not pro-abortion; I am against the sudden removal of funded basic care for women (and men) who have no other resources. I am against the politicizing of an issue that should not be political; it's a human issue, and it deserves basic human consideration. If the approach had been different, so might my reaction be...

I am conflicted, seriously conflicted. On one hand, the SGK Foundation does so much good every year; on the other hand, the de-funding of Planned Parenthood goes against the “mission,” so to speak. On one hand, SGK gave “only” $680,000 or thereabouts to Planned Parenthood every year; on the other hand that’s still nearly 200,000 women getting basic breast care and nearly 7,000 getting funded mammography referrals.

That’s a lot of women, and every single one of them deserves to be included in the Everyone Deserves a Lifetime stance.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last 30+ hours going over this in my head; it matters enough to me that I lost a lot of sleep over it last night, too. Regardless of this decision, the Susan G. Komen Foundation does a lot of good work, but this also impacts women most in need of aid. It’s been a lot of pondering the greater good versus the greater evil.

If SGK had never funded Planned Parenthood, I wouldn’t have issues about that. If they had gone about pulling the funding in a different matter, I’d probably have no issue with that, either. It would have been so simple to make an announce months ago, letting the people upon whom they rely to raise money that Komen's funding criteria was changing, and that some groups were going to lose direct support. Let the supporters know that before that would happen, alternatives for those women who rely on those other groups would be in place.

Had they gone the route of transparency, the outcry might not be so severe and I might not have spent a nearly sleepless night.

Part of what kept me awake? That this is so obviously politically motivated, and is removed from what the core of SGK should be and what we all thought it was: raising money for breast cancer research and funding care for those who need it.

Today they finally spoke out, at least on their Facebook pages, and this is what they had to say:

To our Susan G. Komen 3-Day friends and family. Let’s set the record straight.

At Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the women we serve are our highest priority in everything we do. Last year, with your help we invested $93 million in community health programs, which included 700,000 mammograms. In order to best meet the needs of the women we serve and most fully advance our mission, we must strengthen our already robust grants program to be even more outcomes-driven. That’s why at the beginning of this year we implemented more stringent eligibility and performance criteria to ensure our funds are used for the greatest need, which unfortunately may affect some long-time grantees of Komen.

Grant making decisions are not about politics--our priority is and always will be the women we serve. Making this issue political or leveraging it for fundraising purposes would be a disservice to all women. It is critical to underscore that the women we serve in communities remain our top priority. We are working very closely with Komen Affiliates to ensure there is no interruption or gaps in services for women who need breast health screening and services.

I don’t buy it. This is very political. This is a decision that comes on the heels of new policy that states that SGK will no longer fund programs under investigation; Planned Parenthood is now the target of a couple of uptight Republicans who are supposedly initiating an investigation into whether or not PP used federal funds to pay for abortions, but there has been no hearing on the matter, and there may never BE a hearing on it. This smacks of declaring guilt before proving innocence, completely opposite of the way it should be.

I take no issue with Planned Parenthood being investigated. I take issue with the fact that this policy comes on the heels of SGK hiring Karen Handel as their Senior Vice President for Public Policy.

Karen Handel is a failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate, endorsed by Sarah Palin, who ran with a promise to defund Planned Parenthood, and promised to end breast and cervical cancer screenings provided by PP. Her mission has seemingly been to wipe Planned Parenthood off the map, and by securing a position within SGK, she has a platform and the means to wage her personal war.

The end result, though, might be that Planned Parenthood secures far more money than it lost—people are donating heavily right now to make up for the losses—and that SGK is gutted.

Source: Planned Parenthood 2008-9 annual report
One of the sadder facts? Abortion services, what apparently has Handel’s panties in such a tight wad, is only 3% or their services. Cancer screening and prevention, however, is 17%.

So…I’m chewing this like a piece of gristle that I just can’t spit out. SGK has historically done a lot of good; SGK right now seems to be in the grip of the far right. I don’t believe for one minute that this has nothing to do with politics; it feels like it has everything to do with politics, specifically the politics of someone with an agenda.

Yesterday I was pretty sure I’d never walk for SGK again; today I am not as certain, and I think I need to wait until the dust has settled and emotions aren’t running as high. But in this moment, I think it would take a reversal on Komen’s part, with the removal of Handel as a VP as part of the deal.

I’m not done walking for breast cancer, though. Even before this I was eyeing the Avon Walk as a possibility and was mulling over giving it a try in San Francisco, just to see if it felt any different. They’re upfront about where the money goes, and it stays local. I’m not as happy with the distribution, though, at least not the numbers I’m finding (which I haven’t verified.) It seems to be close to a 50-50 split; only half the money walkers raise actually goes to what we expect it to. I think (no verification) that the Komen walk was 80%.

All of this could have been avoided if Komen had taken an entirely different approach. They blew it with their silence, and blew it further with a boiler-plate response too long after the fact.

I know I’m not the only one gnawing on this; they’ve outright lost a ton of walkers and crew, and many of the people who supported them (and me) have been very clear that no more contributions will be forthcoming. Those on the fence, who may still walk, are going to have a very, very hard time coming up with $2300 in donations.