Wednesday, July 30, 2008


After drinking some dark and curvy at piece last night I was tipsy enough to arrange an at home photo shoot. Fun!

Oh, and also--check out the best article ever written about the Dark Knight. This article covers everything.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hopeful News

Ahh Sundays. Fro is off today so I'm all alone at work today with just a few volunteers. Sundays are usually slow so I brought my ipod with me. I thought it would be fun to listen to music and just chill out in between calls. Of course, we haven't been able to make it through one song without getting interrupted by a call. This should teach me a lesson--never count on work being slow, because then it will inevitably be hectic.

Last night after work neill and I checked out the wicker park street fest. We got there just in time to see the tail end of The 1900s performance. I've heard a lot of buzz about them so it was cool to check them out. We also found some awesome artwook being displayed. I wish I could remember this guy's name because both neill and I liked his stuff (and it was kinda cheap). Very simple and minimilist, but he had interesting compositions. It was pretty crowded and so after about an hour we ditched out and went over to our favorite neighborhood plant store, Asrai Garden. The staff there is so friendly and knowledgable. We ended up picking up a new plant for the bedroom (a philodendron) and figuring out the name of Neill's plant we got there a few months ago (its a Zamioculcas zamiifolia a.k.a a ZZ plant). Yay plants!

Anyways, I should probably be working so I'll end the post with two articles I found that made me happy. Maybe they will make you happy too!

I found a really uplifting article on the advocate's website. [I actually had no idea that the we had any laws against individuals with H.I.V coming to the United States. But, I'm quite happy that the ban is being repealed.]

Also, here is another happy piece from the huffington post. To hear about Catholic groups petitioning the pope to lift the birth control ban is an interesting comparison to yesterdays post on the whole birthcontrol/abortion mess.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Equally Horrifying

McCain's beliefs on H.I.V prevention.

I've aborted millions of babies

Ugh. I heard some murmurs about this at work the other day, but I dismissed them as office rumors.

How could any rational human being argue that birth control (such as the oral contraceptives that SO many women take) is synonymous with abortion?

How could our Department of Health and Human Services go againt the medically accepted definition of pregnancy and argue that conception (when an egg is fertilized) is when pregnancy begins and not implantation (when the fertilized egg/embryo/blastocyst gets hitched into the nutritious uteran lining)? [Side Notes: 1) A woman's body begins to recognize the pregnancy at implantation--not conception. 2) There is no way to test for conception. Pregnancy tests look for the hormone hCG, which is produced only after implantation. 3) The time between conception and implantation is variable, but is usually somewhere between 5 or 6 days.]

Even if people choose to personally believe that pregnancy begins at conception, why is our government trying to label birth control as abortion? Why attach that stigma to it? Why try and make women feel guilty for preventing pregnancy and scare them into believing they might be guilty of getting an abortion if they take bc? Why make it easy for more and more creepy crazy christians to legally deny women their rights?

It's already been decided that pharmisists can deny to sell women the morning after pill if doing so is against their conscience, but with this new proposal pharmistis would be legally able to refuse to fill birth control perscriptions. Here in Chicago this might not seem like such a huge problem. If one ignorant employee wouldn't fill my perscription, I have a million other options to choose from. But what about women living in small towns with only one or two pharmacies? What about those with no access to transportation and so they are not able to make it to the other side of town or the next town over? This proposal could create a real and highly problematic obstacle for women.

Accessability options aside, I wonder what something like this might mean for women who don't believe in abortion. If someone deeply believes abortion is wrong , how will they feel about taking birth control once it is deemed equivalent to abortion? How many women will worry that they have unknowingly ended their unborn childs life? Will something like this prevent young women from taking birth control?

If you are interested in reading other articles/posts about this topic, check out this and this and this. And of course feel free to sign this petition or engage in other acts of random resistance :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

happy hour

Some points of interest

+] Yesterday, my boss told me she thought I was cheerful. Weird. I've never heard anyone use that word to describe me. Usually, people tell me I'm sensitive, or smart, or thoughtful, or headstrong. Its not often I'm complimented on my cheery disposition. Being cheerful isn't even really part of my self-concept. If I was asked to describe myself, I'd be more likely to use words like "brooding" or "introverted" rather than "gregarious" or "happy". But, apparently at work I'm cheerful. This makes me happy to know.

+] Neill and his band have been busy in the studio recording a new EP. Last night, Neill played me some of the rough recordings and they sound fucking awesome. Even without mixing and mastering, they sound totally sweet. I'm so excited for them to finally have some good recordings of their songs!

+] I get to go swimming with Gracie today. She is going to pick me up at 5:30 and then we will hit the pool together. Hopefully, the weather will hold so we can enjoy the sun while we are in the pool. Eventually, I hope to start jogging to the pool and then swimming laps. It would be exactly a 1 mile run from where I live. The only problem is that I'm not sure how I could do it and still have all the stuff I need for swimming. I could jog with my swim suit on under my workout clothes, but what about my towel, hairbrush, swim cap, goggles, and all the other stuff I would need? Is this why I sometimes see people running with back packs on? ick. That just sounds so uncomfortable.

+] Nish had his interview at NRS yesterday with my boss. He says it went well. I'm hopeful! It would be awesome if he started working at NRS. While it might suck for him to work overnights (12am-8am), I would be excited to see his face every morning when I arrived for work! And honestly, I could sort of see him enjoying the night shift. Its just creepy enough to make him happy :)

+] We acquired a new baby plant. Its a cute little succulent and its housed in the sweetest tiniest baby blue pot. We've got a nice collection going now--I will post pictures soon.

+] Neill picked me up from work and completely surprised me with a bouquet of flowers. So sweet and wonderful. ::swoon::

+] Tomorrow I'm going to go see the new batman movie with froilan and brian! Ive heard such good things about the movie. I'm totally psyched to see how Chicago looks as Gotham city. Plus, we are going in the afternoon so I only had to pay matinee price for my tickets. Saving money = me happy.

+] On Sunday and Monday I got to do fun arts and crafts projects at work. I LOVE that I get to be creative at work and make collages/draw/do fun stuff with art supplies!

+] I have NO obligations for today (besides swimming). That means I get to putter around the house till my hearts content! Yesssssss. I want to declutter our mantle place over our fire place and listen to music and waste time and snack on whatever food we have in the house and read in bed in the middle of the day and other luxurious things like that. I'm so easily pleased with free time :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I found some great teen friendly informational videos on teenwire--a website sponsored by Planned Parenthood that aims to disseminate health related information to youth. Sometimes websites that are too kid friendly can be obnoxious because they come off as pandering, but I really appreciate how this website mixes a youthful dynamic design with important information. For example, I liked they way they answered a user's question about whether or not doctors can tell if women have had sex. Check out their response here.

Coincidentally, just yesterday we had a call from a young girl who wanted to know the exact same thing. In her case, she wasn't trying to hide anything from her doctor--she wanted a doctor to be able to tell her whether or not she had sex last night. She couldn't remember much about the night, but she knew she was hooking up with a guy and so she was worried that they had sex. While most of the information in the response provided by the teenwire editors might seem basic for some, there are lots of people out there who never had access to reliable sexual health information such as this. I don't know if our caller never had sex education in school or if the curriculum used by her school district just completely passed over the basics of the hymen, but it seems like websites like could be a great resource for teens seeking information that they can trust . (Although, I'm sure some would argue that Planned Parenthood is not a trustworthy organization, but whatever).

Anyways, I found a few videos on teenwire that I thought I'd share. I think both of them are creative ways to educate teens on issues that are important to them, but that adults might be hesitant or refuse to talk about.

Here is a video addressing the how the apperance of genitals can vary from person to person.

Here is a video with instructions of how to put a condom on.


Saturday, July 19, 2008


I don't want to turn the focus of this blog to fitness, but getting healthy is a big part of my life right now and so it seems disingenuous to not address it to some extent. Fitness hasn't always been an important thing to me, but about a year ago (August 07) I joined a gym near our house with the overarching goal of becoming a healthy adult. I've been heavy on and off my whole life and I have always known that being overweight wasn't healthy. But, once I graduated college I started worrying about the health problems it would bring me later in life and the sort of example I want to set for my own future family. So since then, I have consistently tried to make working out a priority in my life. Even though it sometimes totally blows to carve out two hours of my evening to make sure I have time to get a work out in, overall it has been really rewarding. With my year mark coming up, I've been feeling the urge to evaluate my progress and set new goals. When I started out I didn't have many specific goals. I wanted to lose weight, but that was about it. Now, my attention has turned more towards fitness. I want to be able to do x number of push-ups or I want to be able to run x number of miles. I want to focus on building muscle. I don't just want to be not fat, I want to be fit.

As part of this, I've started adding new activities to my workouts. For example, a while ago started doing core work and push-ups after my usual cardio workout. More recently, I've started swimming too. A friend and I have a standing date to hit the pool twice a week. Its been awesome getting outside and a welcome break from the gym. Plus, I can really feel it in my arms, back, and shoulders :) Also, instead of doing the elliptical all the time, I try and break up my gym workouts with some treadmill work every once in a while too. That's been a real challenge for me. Running has always been something that seemed out of the question and to (somewhat) get over that mental road block of "I can't" has been awesome. For a while, I was on a pretty good roll with running. I was following a 5k training plan and running every other day. Unfortunately though, a pain in my left leg set me back and I haven't gotten back into the groove. Eventually, I do hope to start that up again. I definitely want to run a 5k race within the next year (mark that as one of my new fitness goals). I would love to add other sorts of fitness activities that don't necessarily include going to the gym, such as yoga, so that might be something in the works this year. I'm also interested in doing some personal training sessions. I couldn't afford to see one once a week, but I think it would be really helpful to even go a few times. I would want to learn new ways to build muscle and it would be nice to have some help in figuring out fitness goals that make sense for the results I want.

Anyways, yesterday my plans to go swimming were ruined by the rain so I had to hit the gym and it looks as though the same thing will happen today. Maybe I should take this as an opportunity to pick up running again?

Friday, July 18, 2008

little details make up the story

I got caught in the rain today on my way home from work. It started out as a slight drizzle as I was walking to the bus stop. It was so humid outside that the rain almost blended with the thick air. Seconds after taking my seat on the 9, big fat drops started falling fast and hard. It was still raining when I got off the bus so I quickly shuffled around the corner to wait for the number 72, which would take me all the way home. I tried to hold my pants up so the bottom of my jeans didn't get soaked by the puddles. It smelled awful. Chicago rain always smells a bit industrial, but today the smell was overwhelming. As the rain dried on my arms and face my skin began to feel tight and itchy. Wet in the front, my jeans stuck to my legs. When my bus arrived I squished on with all the other wet passengers. A nice man offered me a seat, which I declined. Just moments after I got on the bus, the rain stopped.

The worst thing about the trek home today was that neill wasn't around when I got here. I don't like coming home to an empty house. It feels lonely doing everything for one. Cooking for one is the worst. Who ever cooks with just half an onion or makes just one turkey burger? It doesn't feel right. I made enough for two out of habit. Although come to think of it, eating alone might be slightly worse than cooking for one. When neill is here, we can sit down together--have a real meal. Share. What do most people do if there is no one to share their food with? Multitask? I guess people could eat while checking their e-mail, watching television, paging through a magazine, or even talking to someone on the phone (although I have always found that theis leads to misplaced silences), but that doesn't really sound like having a meal.

I watched television while I ate. What Not To Wear was on, but I missed the first half so it wasn't that interesting. The first half of that show is much more entertaining than the latter. Who cares how some chubby chick looks in her dark denim pants that go straight down from the widest part of her (usually her hip/upper thigh region. saddle bags I think they are called. These seem to be an inevitable problem for women) and a flashy structured jacket? I want to see the before part. I want to see stacytron and clintontron rip a woman apart just for being normal. I want to see what fashion crimes they caught on the secret footage.

I did hear some good news today. [*After writing that last sentence, I realized that finding out good news when I'm alone is also not as satisfying as when I'm able to share said good news with neill. That being said, I'm not sure if this is more preferable than cooking or eating alone. I would have to say that eating alone is still the worst and then after that comes getting good news alone. I guess that means that in the grand scheme of things cooking for one isn't so bad.] A paper I worked on when I was with Dr. Kathy Grant's Stress and Coping Project ready to be submitted for publication. The paper is on the relationship between body image, race/ethnicity, and disordered eating among urban adolescent females. We examine how low body image relates differently to disordered eating symptoms among white, black, and latina urban adolescent females. In other words, we tested to what extent if at all race/ethnicity moderated the relationship between low body image and disordered eating. Also, we were able to explore some racial or ethnic factors that might account or explain the effects we found (such as different cultural standards of beauty). Interesting stuff. Of course, once it is submitted the paper will most likely get sent back to us with loads of suggested revisions. Its crazy how long it can take to get something published in a peer reviewed scientific journal. Anyways, I volunteered to run some additional literature searches before submission in an effort to address some of the paper's problem areas. My perfectionist side was the one who wrote is almost that e-mail. Sometimes I regret her behavior, but she always gets the job done. Besides, I need a project to work on now that neill is getting busier with the band.

There is not much else to say after that.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Catholics For Choice

I ran across this website today while researching sex education in Illinois. After yeseterday's post, it seems only fair to post this as a follow up. Jon O'Brien, president of the organization Catholics for Choice, has some interesting remarks about the role of conscience in abortion. Also, there are lots of interesting articles that you can access through the online archives of Conscience magazine. Check out:

Prochoice Catholicism 101

Abortion: Freedom and Responsability

I don't know how representative these articles are or how credible their analysis of catholic teachings and policies, but its great to know that there are people from all walks of life supporting women's access to health care and their right to choose.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Claim Your Prize

The new Pottery Barn catalog came yesterday. Fun! I have a mini-obsessions with looking at furniture catalogs. The furniture is just so beautiful and the little set up rooms are just so beautifully arranged that it is hard not to salivate over each page. I have already scoured the pages of the Pottery Barn catalog and narrowed down my favorite I GOTTA HAVE IT pieces. Of course, this isn't enough for me. After picking out the ones I really loved, I had to cut out the little pictures and so that I could see how they would all work together. My wishes are:

Bench with storage compartments to go under the window in our bedroom. We have a desk there currently that we inherited from the previous owners of our condo. Neill wanted to save it, but I have never really liked it and it has always been something I wanted to replace. While in the picture, the cabinet is storing random stuff, I would want to put books in there.

Weird piece of wall art. The colors in this faux folk art piece would look good with our walls and the piece is big enough that it would help fill in some of our sprawling empty space. I'm imagining this piece somewhere in the bedroom (like across from the bed), but it could also go in the office.

Chair and ottoman
. I'm not usually a huge fan of wicker furniture, but there is something about this chair that I really love. I like how it has dark and light tones in it. I've always wanted a chair in the bedroom and I think this would really tie together the light wood of our bed (pine) and the dark finish of our dresser (mahogany or espresso stain, I think). Plus, its sort of neutral enough to not add another competing color pallet.

Green buffet piece. Pottery barn is selling this as a buffet, but I think that it could work in a lot different rooms as a nice storage cabinet. I really love the green color they use and I think it would look good in any of the rooms we have because they all have a bit of a greenish hint to them (minus the kitchen, which is more of a burn burgundy). We definitely need more storage in the bedroom and so this could go there. But, I would say that of all of the pieces that I picked out this is the one that I would easily give up. We are more in a need of a dresser than just some random storage piece that we would probably end up stuffing clothes in.

Exercises like this are all part of my love/hate relationship with furniture magazines. Love because I want want want stuff. Hate because I can't can't can't afford it.

I've always wanted to live in what my mom always called "magazine houses". In case you are not familiar with this term, magazine houses are 100% clean with absolutely no clutter. Everything matches in a perfectly artistic yet homey way. There are no scratches on the furniture (that aren't meant to be there). Beds are always made and floors are always clean. All the towels in the bathrooms match and they might even be monogrammed. They are very well organized. They are expensive. And overall, they are unrealistic. Even though I know that magazine houses don't really exist in the world I live in (and if they do, they take a ton of work/money/cleaning staff), I can't help but let the magazines make me wish for what I do not have. Yuck. Actually, now that I'm thinking about it--I don't really love looking at these magazines. It's fun while I'm flipping the pages, but afterwards they usually just leave me feeling unsatisfied with the things I have (which are truly wonderful, so I also end up feeling unappreciative). It's kind of like eating a piece of cake when you are on a diet. It is delicious when you are eating it, but afterwards you just feel kind of guilty. Except, that I don't feel guilty. I feel greedy.

And I'm trying to remind myself that it is okay. I think that greed is just part of being human. I'm okay with admitting that sometimes I want more than I need. While I try not to act on these desires, it would be dishonest (and totally obnoxious) to pretend that I am above emotions like that.


But, maybe we really do need the chair? And the storage bench? Right?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

pack like sardines in a crushed tin box

Speaking of those creepy christians, I ran into some pro-lifers (or anti-choicers, as I like to call them) protesting in front of the Art Institute on my way home today. Who were they targeting? Harmless tourists trying to enter the museum and maybe check out Millennium Park? There was a whole flock of them carrying HUGE signs that featured pictures of aborted fetuses. [Side note: I've got to wonder if those pictures are even real. Not that I don't believe that fetuses might look like that (big gooey blobs of reddish brownish shtuff), but I really wonder how they access pictures like that. Who originally took the picture and then who gave these crazies permission to use it?] I'm curious if those pictures were accurate or if they were purposefully designed/altered to frighten women away from abortion because its not a pretty posy.

Either way, I think its a pathetic tactic to resort to. Think about it--what purpose do enlarged gory pictures with "Choose Life" written across them serve?

They don't educate.

They don't inform.

They don't prevent.

They don't pose alternatives.

They are meant to shock. They are meant to frighten. They are meant to gross people out.

And why would this be an effective way to protest?

Because, anti-choicers want people to believe abortion is shocking, frightening, and gross. What I think these protesters are missing out on is that no one is arguing the position that abortion isn't a complicated, difficult, and messy experience. I don't think that many women or partners make the decision to terminate a pregnancy lightly. And I certainly don't think that anyone going into something like that believes a cute little angel is being extracted from their uterus. Abortion is certainly shocking and frightening -- especially for the women who have one (and these women deserve all of our support) And sometimes terminating a pregnancy is probably also kind of gross. But so what? What is it about all of that that somehow leads to the conclusion that all women don't deserve the right to choose? Nothing. And that's why anti-choice tactics such as that are so infuriating. They are simply meant to frighten and they serve no higher purpose.

And guess who is most likely to be affected by those tactics? Let me give you a hint--its not the educated middle class woman with feminist leanings that will choose to keep a baby because they ran across some freaks with signs. It is going to be the vulnerable, somewhat uninformed, young woman who probably has fewer accessible resources and fewer people to lean on. Tactics like scary pictures are meant to scare young girls--not help them. But, if they were really pro life like they claim, wouldn't they care about helping the young women already walking around in this world become resilient and make healthysafe choices? Apparently not.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Jesus Camp

Last night, Neill and I watched the documentary Jesus Camp by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. The film is centered on following a few Evangelical Christian children attending pastor Becky Fischer's "Kids On Fire Summer Camp"--a summer camp that takes kids that are already growing up in scarily conservative homes and teaches them how to (supposedly) be god's warriors. Eww. The film is super creepy and made me really sad for these children. I'm not saying that it is wrong to raise your children with certain beliefs, but we've got a problem when parents and religious figures are purposefully trying to indoctrinate youth to such an extent that they are: shaking around on the ground with the "spirit of christ", walking up to strangers on the street telling them about god's mission, distrustful of nonchristians, worshiping a cardboard cut out of george bush, standing in front of the white house with red tape over their mouths to protest abortion, and hopeful to one day become the sort of person that will have the opportunity to die for jesus. Its seriously sick shit.

The christian right scares the fuck out of me and I don't want to live in a world with people like that. And the truly sad thing is, these kids never had a chance. They never had a chance to think for themselves or say no or question what they are being told. They are fed these awful lies from such a young age and sheltered from people who might introduce "sin" (a.k.a alternative points of view) that they never have an opportunity to develop a system of beliefs that truly makes sense to them. Little kids will believe in santa clause, the tooth fairy, and monsters underneath the bed--it is no surprise that they will believe in jesus if you tell them to. And while most kids grow out of their childhood beliefs, Fischer preaches in such a way to permanently ingrain each child with her message. Her scary threats of hell would make an impression on any 5 year old. She wants to get them when they are young because young kids never forget. And the kids in this documentary get it from all sides--their parents are telling them the same things at home. Most of them don't even go to school! Instead, they are "home schooled". In the movie, there is actually a scene where one of the moms is teaching her children that evolution is just a belief based on bogus science and that creationsim is really the only logical answers to all of the questions. There really is no chance for these kids to believe anything other than what their fanatical parents want them to.

I thought the film raised a lot of important questions about religion and youth. To what extent is it a positive thing to raise children to be religious (whatever that religion may be)? Where is the line between being religious and being fanatical? Can children truly believe in or understand what is means to be religious? Should they have a choice at that age?

I know that this film only follows a few children attending one camp. Obviously, there are thousands and thousands of Christians in the United States that are totally noncreepy and wonderful people. BUT, I can't help but have a little fear and distrust of the church (interestingly, my fear of christians is somewhat related to my fear of the suburbs and the country. I don't think it is a coincidence that jesus camp is located in South Dakota). While sometimes my fears of creepy christians seem totally illogical and crazy, if there truly are people out there such as those highlighted in Jesus Camp I feel completely justified in my concerns.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Literary Tattoos

Work is pretty slow today. We haven't gotten many calls and so the volunteers are restless. I guess not that many people are in crisis today. I should be happy about that, but man - when work is slow on the weekends it sucks. The day just drags on. Here I am, sitting by this beautiful floor to ceiling window and I can't go outside. I never realized how much I liked being out and about until I was caged indoors 40 hours a week. On days like this, my brain feels like its melting from all of the online trolling. I did happen to stumble (and no, not google stumble) on a cool blog filled with pictures and stories of literary themed tattoos. Some of them are really lovely and feature great quotes.

Looking at things like this makes me want a new tattoo. I currently have some hebrew lettering just below the nape that translates to "strong woman". Before I got that tattoo, I carried around the lettering for months waiting for the right time to actually get it done (which happened to be when I was on a trip to Montreal). That was about 4 years ago. I was always planning on getting more but nothing seemed right. I've though of getting some sort of small screws/bolts around where my long back scar is. I've thought of getting a large piece done on my back of old school birds holding banners as a tribute to my mother and father. I've thought of getting some sort of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) themed tattoo, like maybe a neuron or something with the brain. And, I've thought of getting a meaningful quotation done, although it is hard to decide what I would choose for that. I like all of these ideas and I sort of want them all, but I don't want to do all of them--I want one more. It doesn't seem right to get a tattoo without being entirely sure, but part of me thinks that I should just hemming and hawing. I sort of want to wait until something important happens to get a new tattoo, something to commemorate a life transition. Future life transitions that could be occasion for a tattoo are: reaching my health/fitness goals, going to graduate school, or getting engaged.

Uhoh. I hear my supervisory duties calling . . .


Lately, I've been telling lots of people that they should start blogs. When my friend Dorothy moved to Athens, GA for a grand old adventure I encouraged her to start a blog so that I could read about her exploits in plant research. When another acquaintance moved to Brooklyn for the summer with a few of her college friends with out a job I told her, "BLOG IT!" There is just something so juicy and entertaining about reading about other peoples mis/adventures and nonadventures. Because neither of them have started blogs and (dissapointingly) most people I know don't blog (except neill), I seem to be destined to read blogs written by people I only peripherally know. This behavior sometimes borders on creepy in the lurker/stalker sense, but its actually kind of fun so don't hate. Anyhoo, back to the point--I've never had my own real live blog. Maybe because of blog insecurity? There is a a little skinny evil woman in my head whispering things like: I wouldn't have anything interesting to say . . . No one would read it . . . It would be dumb/stupid/ignorant/boring/trite/etc. (As a side note-I hate this skinny woman in my head. She is very hungry and this makes her very mean). Anyways, I've (somewhat) silenced her and so I have decided to start a blog.

So there.

Eat a Big Mac.

With some golden delicious fries.