I love you you love me unless you're fla

(no subject)

Step 1: Post this into your LJ publicly.
Step 2: Others will reply anonymously (if they'd like) about what they really think of you.
Step 3: Cry, because this meme is so brutal, and it hurts.

Comments will be screened.
kitty peeks!

in the interest of trying to save some money

and avoid wasting food let's look at the bits and pieces I have laying around and

This week's mealplan
Today: Moroccan stewed chicken with fresh pita (found perfect pita at the store)
(zucchini, chickpeas, tomatoes)

Tomorrow: Stir fried chicken with bok choy, 2-minute noodles and teriyaki sauce
Make ahead: Beef stew in the slow cooker
(carrots, potatoes, onions, cubed cauliflower and broccoli stems, peas, corn)

Wednesday: Beef stew with potatoes from the slow cooker
Make ahead: Spicy beef burritos (refried beans, chilis, hot salsa, brown rice, cheese)
To Do: label your individual portions of leftovers from the freezer, remove stuff you're never going to use in its present state (the squash soup that's meh and bland, ice cubes of veggie stock, that other veggie stock that ended up tasting sort of southwesternish) and make something useful out of it (more vegetable lentil brown rice soup?)

Thursday: Bison meatloaf (homemade bread crumbs, skimmed liquid from the stew, balsamic shallots, dark beer, green bell pepper, carrots, flat leaf parsley, arrowroot egg substitute, onion, garlic)
(consider using up that frozen bolognese that needs a tour through the food processor instead of adding tomato paste)
side steamed broccoli
Make ahead: Make two meatloaves and freeze one
To Do: Baked tortilla chips out of leftover tortillas
delicate food


I decided a while ago to challenge myself to make my own bread.

Bread is one of these things, like pastry, that must be made several times in order to hit on the right recipe and then to perfect it. I see myself wanting to switch recipes as soon as the recipe I'm using works perfectly -- in order to try and improve upon it somehow, better nutritional value or whatever.

Last time I had a perfectly good 50% whole wheat recipe that was wonderful and delicious. So I changed it by making it 100% whole wheat and in doing so wrecked the recipe. I ended up with two tasty but very very short multigrain whole wheat loaves. Next time seems to be the mantra of every bread recipe. At least this time I got smart enough to write the recipe in dry erase marker on my kitchen whiteboard so that I may hurriedly erase and re-write tweaks for next time.

Last time's tweak was to "do it like you did it in the first place."
yes they're real -- they're not mine but

the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill

So many directions one could go with this one. I think I'll pick up on a conversation that I've had more than once with my husband.

I think it's a concept that's not well-understood by the men in our lives. How the Pill, and with it, easy access to legal and safe birth control, made it possible for women to have bodily autonomy. Prior to this, women had to trust men to pull out, to wear a condom, or to not force sex during their fertile periods. (In Canada, this was only criminalized in 1982. In many parts of the US, rape between spouses is still a lesser crime.) For the first time, with the legalization of the IUD and the introduction of the birth control pill, women had the ability to choose not to be pregnant.

There's varying opinions on how this influenced second-wave feminism and the sexual revolution, but that's beyond the scope of this writing.

This was something women could take without their husband's knowledge, that girls could take without their parents' knowledge, that didn't involve the moral quandary of abortion, that was more reversible than sterilization surgery, and was more reliable than the rhythm method taught in Catholic marriage prep.

My own Catholic grandmother had a miscarriage after her sixth child, an experiment with birth control. Who knows how safe that method was -- there were pills advertised around that time that were advertised with large cautions: "not to be used during pregnancy as they will cause miscarriage." Her doctor said if he had known she already had six children he would have simply performed a hysterectomy -- and then, I would have no mother. Instead, he preserved her uterus, and she went on to have four more children -- but not before her priest at her parish told her her miscarriage was God's way of punishing her for using birth control.

In her mid-40s, seeking freedom from pregnancy, she wanted to get a tubal ligation -- a method of surgical sterilization. She had to get a permission slip signed by her husband, and her priest from her church -- and they still wouldn't perform the procedure at the Catholic hospital where I was born.

This was the political climate when birth control was legalized in Canada by Trudeau in 1969.

Fast forward to today; my highly Christian family members have no qualms about using birth control to control their family size. I myself have been taking the Pill since approximately the age of 15, though initially to quell the insane pain of menstrual cramping that left me curled in the fetal position on the bathroom floor once a month, barfing from the pain. Originally, this method was available only to married couples. Now, it's advertised to pre-marital women everywhere. In high school, I saw it as a safety measure to ensure I'd finish. In college, I saw it as a safety measure to ensure I'd finish. In my career-centric married years, the shade is a lot more grey. That said, this pill influenced many women similarly -- no more rejection of women into colleges under the assumption they'd just get pregnant and drop out -- less favoritism towards men in the career world under the assumption they'd just get pregnant and go on maternity leave (a fear my first real boss voiced clearly in my interview -- that this is what the job climate was like when he first joined his career.)

In many ways I take for granted all the changes that the Pill has wrought, though my man does more so. I don't think he understood until I made it clear to him that the choice to not be pregnant, the choice to divorce sex from pregnancy, the choice to have sex for pleasure without anxiety about whether there was going to be a little "bundle of joy" to come along and ruin it all, that this was revolutionary in and of it itself. There are women my mothers' age who never had sex they enjoyed until after they were surgically sterilized, so terrified were they that they'd be pregnant.

Few things have changed in the minds of many, however. A close friend of mine recently got issued a prescription for the birth control pill at the age of 16, ostensibly for her premenstrual dysphoria, but in reality in preparation for her loss of her virginity. Her family, her parents, freaked out, accused her of hiding things from them with full knowledge of her plans to go slut it up around town. As if the exclusive reason she'd ever want to get on the pill would be to have sex with as many men as she could manage.

Where does this idea come from, that pregnancy should be a punishment for sluttiness? Where does this idea come from, that sex is only good when it's with someone you're married to, regardless of how much you love them? Why can't we prepare for sexual safety without being somehow branded a whore? Why is it shameful that other people (the pharmacist, your doctor, your parents) who ultimately have your best interest in mind, know you're having sex? Why can't we accept this as a normal human function?

I'd like to hope attitudes towards sex change in the next 50 years. Invariably they'll change somewhat; whether they'll backslide as they have (towards ineffectual purity pledges, distrust in birth control, and sexual denialism) remains to be seen. I've said it as a younger wrin and I'll say it as an older wrin: it's absolutely ludicrous to expect teenagers to repress any and all representations of sexual desire and then once married, to instantly become fully functioning sexual beings. Much as the makers of the pill hoped it would be used to prevent overpopulation, starvation, poverty, death, poor health due to too many pregnancies, and empty marriages sapped by the demands of too many babies, that's not how it's turned out.

It turns out sex is only what we make it out to be.

What do you make it out to be?
Bob Barker GTFO

oh, where has the time gone...

So much has happened. More than I can really cover in a quick post, enough that I would have to spend hours sitting and thinking and painting my thoughts into text. Where do I start? What do I confess? How do I describe the things that make me want to throw up my heart?

Some things, some things I believe in more than I've ever believed in them before. I think it might work this time, and so I'm holding out hope, just this one last time. She asked me, "Are you disappointed?" My reply was truth: I am not disappointed by this, I am not even shocked. In all honesty, it was only a matter of time. What will disappoint me? If I try to trust him a little bit again, and the words turn to ash in my mouth. What will disappoint me? If he says he will, and he won't.

A shred of my heart doesn't want to believe that he will. I believed once before, it seemed too good to be true. I am wiser this time. I am, perhaps, more scarred. Those things he did before, the violence, the fear, the unpredictability ... much as they shape exactly who I am on the inside, exactly how I respond when I am at my basest, when every single layer of defense is stripped away, they are not what hurt me the most, not even close. It was far later, when he said something I think, on an intellectual level, that he didn't mean, when he said it with pure malice in his voice. He forgot who he was speaking to.

I won't forget what I did, or what resulted. I won't forget how I threw things -- I don't throw things -- or how I screamed incomprehensibilities. I won't forget how I screamed, told to calm down, forced to clean up what I had strewn across the floor. I won't forget how he wasn't ashamed.

I know now, later, that he was shamed. Not a-shamed, necessarily, but shamed, by others, for what he said. I still don't know if he realizes what he did, despite a letter apologizing for the same. I know it crosses his mind and I know he can't feel good about it, but I wonder if it grips him in the pit of his gut, a hot, wet, bloody destruction, I wonder if it makes his heart thump and makes his chest tight and makes it so the tears blind him so that he cannot see.

I am better, I am always slowly getting better, but I feel like it's a healed injury that I will be rehabilitating unto the end of time. I am stretching this knotted muscle that never developed right, this atrophied ribbon of meat that makes me be. I feel like it will never end, like I will never not have days where I trip and my weakness means instead of righting myself I will forever fall on my teeth. I feel like my heart will always beat with a limp.

I can't even recover with anybody. They're gone and it's just me, and nobody who was there.

Maybe that's why I wait, until late in the night, until the dark. I refuse to turn the lights on, and I sob. My husband holds me and is concerned and sometimes I don't know what to say to him. It's as if my defenses dissolve with my strength, and at my weakest, that shredded muscle collapses, and I am prone, in the dirt. I cannot even explain why, and I fumble at words to try and express to him what is so overwhelming to me with words that are painfully inadequate.

He does what he can, and that hurts too. That tightens in my chest and makes me sob anew, and he asks why I am crying, and I still cannot say. I try to tell him, sometimes, when I'm not without my shields, and my chest still tightens and my voice still breaks and my eyes still water. He feels humbled, I think, when I say he is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I can't not cry when I say it. He grasps for words himself, and tries to tell me that it's no great thing. It's precisely that it is no great thing that it makes it so hard to say.

I remember where I was, and how I felt, and what was happening. I remember my whole world crashing down around me. I remember feeling as if I didn't have anything, except him, and my beloved best friend. If I didn't have them, I don't know that anything would have stopped me from trying to make the pain end, and I sob at how close I was.

How long did I spend trying to hide from it? I did what he did. I did what I hate, but without wanting to acknowledge it. It was still, only the hand of those that love me most that dragged me bodily out of the hole I tried to dig for myself. I am no great hero that overcame great obstacles; I did so very poorly and with huge mistakes. I sob for how much he loves me, and the fact that what I did and what I tried to do would have destroyed any ordinary relationship.

And now I am seeing the other side and trying to have compassion, trying to flex that part of me that will always be stunted and misshapen. I gave up. I gave up a long time ago. I gave up for my own survival and my own health. I gave up so that I could get away and take care of myself long enough to wake up from my nightmare, I gave up, and then I realized that I didn't have to feel the way I did. How do you un-give up? When you run like mad to shelter yourself from the danger, how do you know when it's safe to peek your head out again? When the sky stops falling and landing on your head?

He had his own wake up call, and I want very badly for it to stick. He didn't want to tell me, I could see it. He was ashamed.

I've been that person. I've been ashamed like that. I felt for him. That little throb of compassion. I know that. I am that person. I know him. I can see him punishing himself inside his head more fervently and angrily than I ever could. I couldn't heap punishment on top of that. I've had punishment heaped on top of that. It's soul crushing and gut wrenching and makes you feel worthless and self-destructive. I needed him to feel like it was something that was worth doing, not something that he should give up on because he'll only fail at it anyway.

I couldn't run up and give him my undying love, I couldn't thank him and I couldn't forgive him. I couldn't even be hopeful. It was far too early for all of that, yet.

All I could do was tell him that the only apologizing I wanted was to see him prove it by changing, and that that was an apology I would accept.

I expect it'll be a long time I'll forgive him for this new transgression. And it sounds mean and cold and cruel to say it, but I will say it anyway.

Knowing that he had the capacity in him for shame, still, knowing that he took what he has done, all that he has done, seriously enough to make a concerted effort to try and repair it, knowing that he didn't want to admit it even to me, lowly little me, who took years to learn that I was not some kind of subhuman larval parasite? It felt good. Like he may mean it this time. Like it may really, really, really happen.

I don't want to hope. I so hate to be disappointed, and I am so very, very afraid of being disappointed.

But it kind of feels good to.
yes they're real -- they're not mine but

In honor of international women's day...

Let me fill you in on an ongoing dialogue a friend and I have been having.

Those who know me well know that I'm not someone who's always 100% satisfied with her body. I have very small breasts, a rather large ass, some dimples in places I'd prefer not be dimpled, and were you to let me go on, I could fill a page.

I suspect that this is not unique to me. Ask any woman what she hates about her body and you could come up with a smattering of answers. There's therefore built up an entire industry motivated to 'help' women change their bodies in order to meet their imagined ideals.

Some people have quite legitimate reasons for wanting to have cosmetic procedures done. The conversations that a friend and I have been having on the subject seem to end up with me being judgmental about plastic surgery, and him saying that he finds it inappropriate to judge another's decisions of what to do with their body.

I frame it in my mind in the context of my own struggles with body image. Babysitters (parents of daughters themselves) who've called me fat, little brothers who've done the same, kids at school making fun of me for not having developed breasts at the same ages they did, snide comments about my big ass and what I call my "skier's legs" left me with the feeling I was ugly and woefully inadequate, unattractive and disgusting. (Note: I was never an overweight kid, so in retrospect having adults with kids of their own call me 'fat' is particularly deplorable.) Consequently, while actively aware that simply refusing to eat wasn't going to be a good method of not getting called fat (I had a cousin who sewed weights into her bathrobe for when her parents weighed her, so she could lose weight without them noticing,) I spent some time researching the object which gave me the most grief: my complete and utter lack of breasts.

I spent some time researching breast augmentation quite in depth, and was shocked at what I found. Turns out a majority of women (exact figures depend on how many years 'after surgery' you're talking -- but generally the longer after surgery the higher the rate, as high as 2/3 of women with the procedure) will have to have their surgery redone (called 'revision') due to complications -- even some that are not directly harmful and 'merely' look ugly. This needs to be budgeted for, even just budgeting for removal surgery -- so the actual procedure is far more expensive than initially assumed. This doesn't include the most common reason for revision -- "I wish I had gotten bigger implants."

The other thing I learned was that the smaller and slimmer you are, the less likely you are to get realistic results. Essentially, the people most predisposed to small breasts are most likely to end up with the "half a canteloupe in my shirt" look. This is even worse when considering that as you age, your implants will not change in the way that a normal body does -- leaving you looking quite grotesque and almost obscene as you get older. There are few things more off-putting than a huge pair of fake cans on an older lady. There's also the issue of breastfeeding difficulties, lack of sensation in the nipple, and any of a host of other less common complications. Essentially, I'd have to decide if bigger breasts were more important to me than having functioning breasts that really weren't causing me any discomfort or harm.

It was only at the point where I discovered this wouldn't be a quick and easy path to bigger tits that I started to examine the reasons why I wanted to do this. I had no deformity. I hadn't had a mastectomy. The only people who'd ever expressed displeasure at my breasts were people who I wasn't even remotely interested in or attracted to. These were people who had only ever invested interest in trying to hurt me. What would I accomplish by changing my appearance to suit those who would likely only find something else to make fun of me for?

Time went on and I still didn't like my body. That said, I met someone (who I married) who was very insistent on the subject of who has to like my outward appearance and find it attractive. I'm not dating myself. He was quite insistent that he found me more than beautiful, that my body was fine the way it was, and why would I go hurting myself with surgery in order to please... who? I had grown familiar with my body and had learned to appreciate its features -- the fact that I can just go for a run or do yoga without $400 worth of scaffolding in my shirt. I had had classmates with large breasts subjecting themselves to surgery to reduce their size. I discovered that there were sexy bras that could fill out my shirts a bit better and still look beautiful. (This was after the initial experience of being told that I should go shop at a pre-teen girl's store because they didn't have anything small enough.) I realized that many of the bodies I idolized were bodies with breast implants. I watched movies filmed in the '70s, prior to every star having had breast implants. I began to see what a real, normal looking woman looked like.

I began to see the fake bodies, and recognize them when I saw them. Some are tastefully done and subtle, but still there nonetheless. Instead of thinking of how beautiful they were and coveting their silhouette, I began to wonder whose idea their implants were, who told them they'd be more beautiful with them, and began to realize that even the most beautiful people in the world were dissatisfied with their bodies, or were told that their bodies were dissatisfying to the audience that was there to gawk at their beauty -- when their body changes were enforced by the world around them.

I scanned ads in the backs of magazines, advertising for financing and ultra-low-prices for their plastic surgery services -- wondering how predatory these seemingly profit-motivated surgeons would be in their glossing over of the 'risks of surgery,' wondering how quickly they'd skip over the "how realistic are your expectations" portion of the pre-surgical consultation. (A plastic surgeon that'd look at someone who wanted breast enlargement, knowing full well she wanted bigger breasts than she initially had put in, and knowing full well that she will still want bigger breasts once her second, larger set has healed, and not proceed by telling her her expectations are unrealistic and that it's unhealthy to have 3, 4 breast augmentation procedures, progressively going bigger and bigger, is an irresponsible surgeon.)

Porn was the thing I noticed the most. I remembered the debates about women and their insecurities in letting their husbands or boyfriends look at porn, knowing full well that they would never have the body of that woman in the video. These bodies are almost all surgically created. The bodies in Maxim and other men's magazines are almost all surgery supplemented with Photoshop to create a body that's completely impossible in reality. These, however, were the women that we were comparing ourselves to -- these were the women that men were looking at and (in some cases) thinking were the real thing.

I noticed this disconnect at a party, once upon a time. I was at a sex toy party with a number of girlfriends, some very close ones. There were a few cocktails involved. The toys all purchased, the merchant having left, we were passing around our new purchases and boyfriends had arrived. Some boys who were friends but single themselves had also arrived.

Maybe part of the issue is that women, being owners of breasts, have kind of an idea of what they are capable of. How they move, how they feel, how gravity changes their position, their shape, ... we know things like the fact that the larger they get, the less they tend to stick out horizontally, unsupported. One girl at the party had particularly large breasts -- DDs, if not larger. She was also a bit of an exhibitionist -- and had been known to go topless with nary a care.

I was shocked to hear boys outside having a smoke discussing how 'disgusting' and 'saggy' her breasts were. She's a 25 year old woman. They are incredibly large for her frame. They aren't going to jut out into mid air and float there! They are body parts, and they have weight to them! I hid my incredulity, but something else popped into my mind -- the only breasts these boys had likely ever seen of that size on a woman as slender as my friend ... were fake.

Joke's on them, of course -- judgemental assholes like that rarely end up with lovely girls like my friend. However, as a result of that experience, I became far more attuned to the bodily expectations of other people -- and acutely aware of the fact that the people we need to please the least are the people who will judge us by our bra size.

A third, and final story: in the breakroom at work, reading trashy magazines, the kind of magazines that take pictures of people sitting in bikinis bent over and blow them up to ridiculous sizes, speculating at what awful dietary choices could result in this star's obscenely obese weight of 130 pounds. A coworker exclaimed, "Taylor Swift needs to get a boob job." When pressed for details, it turns out that she was judging Taylor Swift's breasts as 'too small' and in need of enlargement.

I think this is the experience that's shocked me the most. This is a woman of not yet 40, with a body type most definitely not featured in celebrity fitness magazines, with two young daughters of her own, judging another person by her lack of breasts. I felt immediately put on the spot, in the sense of, if she'd judge her, what stops her from judging me? My greater tact squelched the most immediate thought on my tongue, which was to make an incisive comment about whether she'd recommend plastic surgery to her two young girls if their bodies didn't live up to their standard.

This last scene is the most insidious, in my mind. It shows how people have absorbed this image of the fake female body into their minds, and how even those who have no interest in these people on a physical level feel it is safe to judge them based on how they look. The greater kick in the throat for me was that this is a mother, whose daughters are going to grow up with this kind of flippant disregard for their self-image.

I won't paternalize women who've chosen to change their bodies with surgery. I don't judge them for their decision. It's unfortunate, however, that when they want to be admired for their outward appearance, all the feelings I can muster up are feelings of pity. I can't help but look at them and wonder if their mothers called them ugly, if they were bullied for their appearance, if they had lovers that turned away from their natural bodies in disgust. I don't judge them for their surgery -- I wonder who judged them before, that they felt like they needed it. I wonder how we can help these women fix their emotional scars, before we give them physical ones. I wonder if a predatory surgeon pushed the surgery on her. I wonder if she's trying to heal an old hurt by creating a new wound.

Most of all, I swear to myself every time that I will not allow myself or my children to be made to feel ugly because of our appearance. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and it is high time we learned to love our bodies the way that they are.
pale lips and face

A bigger picture than I am allowed to see

I get only a pinhole of these people's lives. It's often used in reference to policing, but it's often said that we will meet people during the worst day of their lives. Sometimes, a day isn't enough -- it's the worst part of their lives.

She'd been having pain for a long time. A long time user of injected opiates (hospital heroin) nobody paid attention to her claims of pain. Discrimination at its finest -- recovering addicts on the methadone program can't have pain, clearly, or they're seeking drugs.

I met her alone, unable to speak, or breathe. I knew nothing about her except for the various acronyms that followed her like the two guards from the prison: HIV on HAART, HEPC, IVDU. I'll admit that she looked the part, skinny with no teeth left, scars from old injection sites, and very sick.

The side effect of forcing her to wait for health care was, of course, that her very real pain denoted a very real problem -- a perforation of the bowel, with fecal contents filling her abdominal cavity. Gradually she got sicker and sicker, until finally the nurses at the prison could no longer manage how sick she was, and she came into the hospital for evaluation, with a belly as large and hard as a boulder.

A couple of trips through surgery resulted in a long stay in ICU. I remember how hard it was to manage her condition, with anaesthesia ordering the same amount of medication for pain for her as they'd order for me -- less, even. This, in someone taking 200 mg of methadone a day, who can't take methadone while she's sick because her gut won't absorb it. No compassion for the drug addict, who hyperventilated to the point of unmanageability as we were completely hog-tied to prevent her from going through racking opiate withdrawal.

She calmed down when her husband appeared to visit. It was here that I got to know her as a person. She was unable to be expressive, sedated and critically ill. It was everyone else that talked about who she was, even the prison guards, who were sad to see her gone, as she was so sweet and kind that she had a calming effect on everyone around her.

Her husband held her hand, and spoke in soft, gentle tones. "She gave me HIV," he said, "but I fell in love with her anyway." His angel, she was beautiful to him. There wasn't this overtone of filth and disease that seems to somehow worm its way into our brains regarding drug addicts, rehabilitatable or not.

They'd recovered together, out of a desire for a better life. He had quit cold turkey, despite taking more methadone daily than she had in addition to his recreational use. He locked himself in a room for a week and endured the pain most people will only pretend they know about, and even then only when those people are using their mass-media gleaned knowledge from a point of sanctimony. They recovered from drug addiction, from their former lives, choosing to treat their HIV in a healthcare environment where doing so wasn't as easy as it should be. They travelled to the isolated, rural North, teaching the forgotten people about the dangers of HIV and STIs, of drug use and a lack of self-respect. They spoke frankly, and used their illnesses as a warning to the healthy. "We thought we were invincible too."

She took shape as a person in my eyes, through his, in a way that made me realize how hollow the previous conception I'd had of her was. Her family, some of them I recognized, some of them friends of mine, who all loved her as I'd love my own flesh and blood. We were the only ones who had forsaken her. She had cleaned up her act long before she'd entered the prison system, reforming her life while on the run for drug possession.

It's in all of her triumphs that I find myself saddest that she didn't do well. I won't see her family again, to find out the rest of the story. My privileged window, enlarged by her family's affection from the pinhole it began as, is shut just as surely as it was opened: all that I had was a glimpse. I will still hear people ask how anybody could love "someone like that," and I will think about her, and remember how she was, to me, a flesh-and-blood representation of why: because she's human, and so am I.