Thursday, May 31, 2007

What, Me? Pregnant?

The Mad Magazine, Alfred E. Neuman reference is actually horribly appropriate.

I'm four days late. I've had sex once in the last three years. (I know, TMI.)

I didn't intend to have sex because I had been on and off antibiotics with my tooth abscess and extraction and I wasn't feeling all that confident about my birth control. And we weren't going to... but then he did that thing with my back and well, never mind... You can figure it out from there.

Here's the thing. I'm taking at least two drugs that are known to be tetragenic. I'm not taking ANY folic acid. My caffeine intake is ridiculous and I've been drinking more than once a week, which is a lot for me. And my basic nutrition SUCKS. This is NOT how I would go about being pregnant. Vital organs could be forming and I'm doing everything in my power to screw them up.

But here's the other thing. I'm almost 37. What if this is my only chance to have a baby? How can I NOT do that?

I can't tell anyone because I can't admit who I slept with, among other things, so I went to the iVillage website and forums.

Well, if you ever want to feel better about yourself, that would be the place to go!

After reading through the other posts, I have no idea what my problem is. I don't have any illegal drug addictions, children in the custody of social services, the father of the possible child isn't trying to kill me, I have a job, a roof over my head, I don't have 8 other kids already, I'm out of my teens, graduated from high school ~ I really feel like I should just be taking the kids off of these other women's hands!!

So, after getting over the fact that I don't have a problem, I discuss my very real problem with one of my very non-judgemental co-workers. She has the best advice. Go out and buy a pregnancy test and find out.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

And yet somehow, it's still about Duke...


They lost.

They got their asses handed to them in the first half. Yes, they made a gorgeous rally in the third quarter, but bottom line: THEY. LOST.

Okay, so yes, I am a Hopkins fan. Class of 1993, thank you very much. And it's Johns to you!

But how does it work that even when Duke loses the championship, it's still about them??? Sure, they were wrongfully accused of rape. But it's not like they were a bunch of boy scouts doing yard work for nuns. Doesn't anyone remember that they were a bunch of drunk and disorderly complaints against Duke players that came to light with the rape allegation? Or what about the assault charges in Georgetown that some of those same players earned while out barhopping? PLEASE. And let's not forget that email message sent by Ryan McFadyen saying he planned to invite strippers to his dorm room, kill them and cut off their skin. He's still on the team, by the way...

And McFadyen isn't the only one still on the team. Much of the 2006 squad managed to get the 2006 season removed from their NCAA eligibility, giving them a postgraduate or fifth year senior (or in one case, if ESPN was accurate, a sixth year junior) year on the team. So when ex-coach Pressler predicted that Duke would win because they had the better senior class, was he referring to both of them?

These guys thought an appropriate activity for a Monday night was underage drinking and hiring exotic dancers (you know, strippers) at the home of their team captains. Now they will be the legacy, the standard-bearers that everyone will look up to for everything, in the classroom and on the field, at least according to their new coach. Kind of makes you fear for the future, doesn't it?

Yesterday was at least partially a grudge match for Duke. Two years ago they faced Hopkins in the National Championship and lost. Then last year when their season was cancelled and the future of their entire program looked bleak, Johns Hopkins was one of the first schools to come out and say that they wouldn't touch anyone associated with the Duke program. (read: Don't even think about trying to transfer here. We're better than you.)

The reality is that even with a 3.45 or 3.3 at Duke (gentleman's B, anyone?), a student would hard pressed to prove himself up to the academic standards of Hopkins.

Meanwhile, back at the Homewood campus, home of the NCAA Lacrosse champions, the team members may not be slated for sainthood, but at least they can define terms like integrity, character and ethics. One of the team captains is even a member of the University Ethics board. I'm pretty sure you don't get that kind of position if throw parties with strippers and underage drinking. And trust me when I tell you that the staff know what's going on. I seem to remember getting busted as an IFC officer for not busting a fraternity that was making their pledges wear New Kids on the Block buttons ~ harmless, yes, but still hazing. We knew it was wrong, but found it rather amusing and had a certain amount of respect for the creativity involved. But I digress....

We were really hoping that Cornell would beat Duke in the semi-finals. The game would then have been about undefeated Cornell, but that would have been more bearable. You would have thought that was Duke was shut down the story would be over, but you would have been wrong.

“When I woke up this morning and ESPN did a story on the national championship game and didn’t mention Johns Hopkins once, I took that personally,” the Hopkins senior Jake Byrne said.

And he wasn't the only one.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Elevator from Hell

Forget Love in an Elevator.

How about those moments of your life that you'll never get back when you're stuck riding in an elevator with someone that you were really hoping you would never ever see again for the rest of your life? The elevator itself, including the four other people, shrinks to the size of an upright coffin and the nearness is unbearable.

I can still smell his cologne. And I actually forgot he wore any.

It smells like betrayal.

He was my boss, my advisor, the person who was going to direct my development in this new direction of my career.

Instead he just terminated it. Without any warning. Without any criticism. Completely blindsiding me.

It will be a year three weeks from today. The anniversary of the only time, in my twenty one years of employment (according to the Social Security Administration), that I have ever been fired.

I figure I still have at least nine months to loathe him. Maybe I can hold out forever. I did move halfway across the country for that job.

The truth is, I don't really need to expend my energy holding a grudge.

I'm fully aware of the truth, as much as his cheap perfume, Karma is a bitch.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Hold the benefits...

So, I think I may have gotten dumped....

Last night, I stop over to my friend's place and we're just hanging out and talking. He's telling me that he went to the doctor that day and something about his blood pressure but shouldn't his Mediterranean background and diet and wine intake prevent high blood pressure? (Yeah, whatever, believe everything you hear that was printed in the New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA and was re-reported in USA Today because it's all meant for non-medical people.)

Should I be so impatient with him?

Absolutely. One reason I would kill him if we dated is that he completely lacks empathy and has no concept of THE GREATER GOOD. Medical research is completely beyond his comprehension and did I mention that he's really not that bright? And he totally doesn't get my sense of humor. That's like 8 separate deal breakers.

So, as we're watching the 10 o'clock news to see if the bank robbery that happened near his office is going to be on and I realize that I really haven't had enough to drink to find him appealing...

He says If I tell you something do you promise not to be mad?

Now having spent a few years working in infectious diseases and knowing that he just went to the doctor, my first thought is If you tell me you have an STD, I WILL kill you!

But instead, I dutifully tell him that of course I won't be mad.

Seriously, though. What the hell are guys thinking when they say these things??? They obviously know they're about to piss us off. Are they trying to get some get out of jail free card??? Why make someone make a promise? Be a man and suck it up! Take the fury that you've earned!!

He's met someone else. He actually already knew her, but something romantic has developed. (That was quick...)

Fine, I tell him, relieved that my name and address won't be filed on a reportable disease form with the state agency where I work, in an office where I actually interviewed for a job...

This was just an arrangement I tell him. It wasn't a relationship. Relationships take precedence I tell him. I'm happy for you.

I'm very calm and business-like. In fact I'm probably about 50 degrees below cold.

He's stunned, but watches as I get up off the couch and go home.

I consider that this is probably my own fault, at least tangentially.

He had been putting the moves on me for nearly a year and now that he knew he was never going to have a relationship with me, he may have opened up his eyes to other opportunities he had been oblivious of.

Or there's also the attraction of being wanted ~ you've experienced it, I'm sure. When someone wants you, you radiate a confidence or something and all of a sudden others are attracted to you.

I had the strangest experience one day when I was seeing this guy and he wanted to meet for "lunch", but I was really busy at work and absolutely couldn't and wouldn't. But when I walked out of my office that day at noon to pick up a sandwich to eat at my desk, it seemed like every man in a two block radiance turned to stare at me. I was convinced I'd tucked my skirt into my underwear or something, but I didn't ~ maybe I just had some mischievous grin that said I could be having a completely different kind of lunch right now if I wanted to...

Now, this is not to say that it's completely about me.

Well, why can't it be completely about me??? This is MY blog.

But do I feel dumped? Not at all. I feel like I tried something different. It was a nice change, but not what I want in the long run. I okay with the way things went.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Gimme A Break!!

No Nelle Carter jokes. This is a high class operation...

I'm talking about Wolfowitz again, and hopefully for the last time. My life is too damn short to spend this much time considering a FOW (friend of W).

So he's resigned from the World Bank. Hurrah!

He's been exonerated and he got to negotiate his compensation package!

How come only complete assholes get to leave under their own best terms???


The rest of us are lucky to get our vacation time paid out and not have someone screw up our COBRA benefits.

Am I wrong?

This guy screws the pooch, in more ways than one, no offense to Ms. Riza, I'm sure she's a lovely woman, but how on earth does he get a severance package???

Oh, and did I mention that he never had to pay income tax on his earnings at the World Bank? Nice little perk, huh? And his contract already allowed for a year's compensation if he were terminated (again, tax free) ~ since he resigned, he probably got more. Wrong, wrong, wrong....

Is it any wonder the rest of the world believes the United States is bereft of any morality? We're doing a better job of demonizing ourselves than radical Islam ever could!

And let's just add insult to injury ~ Wolfowitz wasn't even a freakin' economist!! He had no business running the World Bank!!! (Not that proper credentials, experience or education has ever been a factor for job placement in the W. administration.... How silly of me to thing otherwise.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Oh, Come On!!!

So let's get this straight.

A chump, let's say a chump with a very impressive resume and beltway connections coming out of his ears, gets a really high profile job, say President of the World Bank. Just for example. It seems like a nice place.

His girlfriend works there and she's assured him that as long as you're not a woman of Arab decent, you get treated fairly.

He starts out pretty well. He follows the rules, discloses that his girlfriend is also an employee and offers to recuse himself from any personnel decisions regarding her. Ethics Committee agrees. Everybody's happy.

But then somewhere along the way, somebody stepped in it BIG TIME.

Girlfriend decides she wants an outside assignment and you know what, she should really be making a lot more money. Remember the thing about being an Arab woman? Well, she's been getting screwed on pay because of that for years, so she wants to be bumped a few pay grades and not to the base of the pay grades. We like the middle. And enough of this depending on other people to make sure your compensation keeps up with inflation, she wants her pay grade upped every few years regardless of anything else. Oversight, performance evaluations? Who needs those?

And remember Mr. Recuse Himself? Well, he approves the whole deal!!!

Word gets out, as it always does. And don't go thinking about investigative journalism or Deep Throat. Inside the Beltway, information is leaked via press release.

Next thing you know, people, like the Board of Directors, are calling for President Recuse Himself to resign from the World Bank. Not an unrealistic request. Generally, when you're caught padding the salary of someone you're sleeping with, it is customary to get fired....

Here's where it gets ridiculous. Paul Wolfowitz, with George W. and Dick watching his back, has basically dared the Board of Directors of the World Bank to fire him. He's trying to negotiate a way out where he is cleared of any wrong doing otherwise the United States won't play with the World Bank anymore.

What are we, 3 years old?

You screwed up, buddy. Deal with it!!

And PS, I don't really want to be part of a country that plays hardball in a situation like this. Could someone overnight some integrity to the White House? They've apparently run out...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hold the drama

So I'm sure you were all thinking that I couldn't pull off the Friends With Benefits thing, right?

Yeah, I was pretty sure I couldn't either.

But, you know what?

It actually works.

It's nearly the perfect relationship.

There's no BullShit.


None of this ~ does he like me as much as I like him? when is he going to call? should I be calling him? why hasn't he called? did I do/say/communicate-with-Morse-code-using-my-eyelids/signal something wrong?

There's no drama!! It's worry free, guilt free, stress free! It's one thing in my life that I can't, make that, won't obsess over.

And I don't have to worry about getting emotionally involved either. Why? Because the more time I spend with him, the more I realize that I really don't like him all that much. I'm not repulsed by him, but I think if we ever actually dated, I might have to kill him or something.

Seriously, it's the perfect relationship!!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Friends with Benefits

Back in September of 1999, there was an epidsode of Sex and the City titled "The F*ck Buddy." It was a storyline that kind of stuck with you because it was mainly about how normal it was to have some guy who you just had sex with when you weren't dating anyone else. Even prudish (by comparison) Charlotte, had a guy who fit this bill. It more or less normalized the idea for the urban, single, happening woman in her thirties. There was, of course, a moral to the story ~ you can't date your f*ck buddy. Carrie tried. She found out they had absolutely nothing in common. Then there was no more f*ck buddy. Whoops.

In the 8 years since that episode aired, "f*ck buddy" has been replaced by a more palatable term, "friends with benefits", which have infiltrated not only college campuses, but high schools and junior highs. Apparently, the outdated (outmoded, outlived its usefulness) abstinence education programs we cling to are ill suited to deal with the "new" technology of cell phones and the internet. Dating is a thing that generation X did. Those who followed can't be bothered with all that emotional baggage and committment.

But still, getting back to the real world. That is, my world.

Can a woman from Generation X ~ one who couldn't walk in Manolo's even if she could afford them ~ could that woman handle a friends with benefits arrangement?

Honestly, I'm not sure.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


There was an interesting OpEd in today's NYT about the power sharing agreement that is about to take place in Northern Ireland between Sinn Fein (pronounced "Shin Finn" and contrary to popular belief, not a part of the IRA, just the only political party that condones the actions of the IRA) and the Democratic Unionist Party (which has nothing to do with "democracy" or "democrat" as defined in the U.S.)

This is an enormous step forward.

The author of the OpEd is the son of a woman from the North and a man from the South and he speaks extensively of his experiences visiting his mother's family in Derry ~ of the roadblocks, the soldiers, the weapons ~ and how now with his own children, there is nothing to explain in Northern Ireland, with a cease fire in place for several years now. It is in New York that he finds himself explaining armed men and women and makeshift memorials. A strange dichotomy, no?

I wonder, does his experience in Northern Ireland make him more or less prepared for the new place America has become post 9/11?

I wonder because I'm asking myself the same question.

I spent the summer of 1993 studying at Magee College in Derry City. It was before the cease fire and there were multiple checkpoints in and around the city with Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in full body armour with assault weapons manning each one. Nearly everyday at lunch, an armored vehicle would cruise through the downtown area, making a loop around the square with rifles aimed out the sides at pedestrians and patrons of outdoor cafes. Then sometimes, a small car would pull up next to the fountain by the shopping district and a bunch of paratroopers in full gear would hop out (strangely like clowns spilling from a VW bug at Ringling Brothers) and take up positions outside the shops. I have never seen so many guns in my life and that's saying something considering I am the daughter of a hunter and have visited multiple gun stores on multiple occasions. I went through checkpoints six times a day. I walked past armored vehicles with weapons trained on my head. I was close enough to touch paratroopers who were not nearly my age of 22, and had less of an idea of what they were doing there than I did.

But here's the surprise. I became really comfortable having all those guns pointed at me. Of all the things that I anticipated, that was never one of them. In fact, when I returned to Londondery and Derry, New Hampshire, it felt odd to not see anyone armed to the gills and to not have armoured vehicles driving around. That was worse than surprising. That was disturbing.

So did I feel unsafe in Northern Ireland?

Actually no. As an Irish Catholic college student from Boston, I felt like the safest person in the place. The way I figured it, either side would fall all over themselves to make sure nothing happened to me: if any harm came to me courtesy of the IRA, there funding would try up; if it was the fault of the Unionists, the IRA would see their biggest boost since Bloody Sunday. The only time I did feel unsafe was one morning when we had a surprise guest lecture from two gentleman ~ one a leader of Sinn Fein and the other was a leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) ~ in a different building than our usual class. In their introduction, our professor mentioned that both men had a price on his head, explaining the lack of prior notification about the class topic and location change, and during class the two joked as to whose head was worth more. Some time toward the end of class there was a cacophony from the room directly above us ~ as if a scuffle of furniture and other large objects had occurred. Most of my class was on the floor, under their chairs ~ I, less than a year away from being mugged by four teenagers, was calmly taking in the action in the room and was able to notice that neither of the politicians nor my professor even flinched.

But back on topic. Did all of this prepare me for America post 9/11?

Not really. There may have been all these crazy checkpoints and police towers in cages (to prevent explosives from exploding within many feet of the tower), but there wasn't any real violence. Sure, there were a few assassinations/executions while I was there. But it was precision violence. It wasn't terrorism. There were fewer homicides than in Baltimore where I was attending college.

I guess in a way it made me less "freaked out" by the fully armed National Guard patrolling airports and train stations in late 2001 and 2002. In November of 2001, I went through Union Station in Washington and then flew out of BWI and that was the most extreme security I ever saw, but it didn't seem out of place. Houston, with it's lack of security, seemed to be living on another planet and that seemed strange. I guess "normal" is not a constant.

But nothing could prepare me for working in the emergency preparedness program, for receiving the Homeland Security and State Police Bulletins. Nothing prepares you for playing along in a Department of Defense drill where the whole point is to overwhelm all civilian response, local, state and federal. Where you are being set up to fail on a grand scale and yet you know a simple truth. There is a right was to fail and a wrong way to fail. How can anything prepare you to understand that?

Right after 9/11, I remember being grateful for the fact that I didn't have any children. I couldn't imagine bringing a little person into the horrible place that our world had become. Of course, my perceptions have changed ~ the world isn't as frightening it was in the weeks right after 9/11. Life moved forward and smoothed out. I have more faith in my ability to shield a child from all that is wrong in this world.

And, I have more faith in the ability of this world to heal itself. Just look at Northern Ireland.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Who are these Yahoos?

Now I consider myself to be a fairly well informed person. I read a good part of the New York Times everyday, I completely avoid morning TV, I watch the Daily Show, I frequently read Atlantic Monthly, the New Yorker, Vanity Fair (and not just the Hollywood issue, thank you very much), Harper's, I watch CNN, I listen to NPR, and I've even been known to watch the BBC news (talk about a different perspective!)

BUT, when I happened to look at the front page of the New York Times today at Starbucks and saw the group shot from the Republican Presidential debate at the Reagan library and couldn't help but wonder, after identifying Giuliani, McCain and Romney...

Who are these Yahoos?

Now I know Huckabee is running, but am I actually supposed to be able to identify the Governor of Arkansas in a line up? Seriously?

And James Gilmore, I actually lived in Virginia while he was governor, worked for the state in fact. He held a conference on Right Choices For Youth (about violence, tobacco, drugs, alcohol and sex ~ and if you're unsure of the right choice, it's NO). We called it Right Wing Choices for Youth. I actually had to present tobacco as only being a bad choice because it was illegal for minors, no mention of bad health effects. The conference was truly memorable, what with Gangstas for Jesus and all that abstinence in one room. I nearly signed an abstinence pledge before realizing I wasn't. I stopped counting all the Reverends that gave blessings in the opening remarks.... As for Gilmore ~ I don't know the man from Adam.

Tommy Thompson is obviously unrecognizable because of traumatic mental block. I'm still traumatized by his appointment to HHS Secretary... I mean seriously, what business does Tommy Thompson have being in charge of HEALTH and Human Services??? And please, we cannot elect a grown man who calls himself "Tommy" to the presidency... 'nough said.

As far as the rest of them, will they even make it past Iowa and New Hampshire? Questionable at best. They have little time for yahoos in NH...