Friday, June 29, 2007

shopping, shoulders and other shhhh

So I am a baby when I am in pain...well ok so I'm not a baby, but I definitely talk about it. Like poor Jamaal will call me and say "how are you?" and for a split second he must think that he called the wrong number and is talking to a 90 year old woman because he hears stuff like this in response: "well my sciatica is acting up and I have this heartburn that I can't get rid of and last night I got a foot cramp that is really lingering and I have a headache but I think that's cause I'm dehydrated and this post-nasal drip is KILLING MY SOUL!!" Ha. Yeah, I do that.
When it all started: I was a synchronized swimmer in college I got a nasty case of what I think was tendonitis in my shoulders and neck. This is a common competitive swimmer's injury, but synchronized swimming can be rather vigorous, and I think it was some repetitive arm movements that did me in. Combine that with having to move out of my third floor room later that year lifting things and carrying them down 3 flights of stairs and my shoulder and neck were DONE. Jesus, they hurt so frickin' bad. A month after the move I went to Kenya to study and didn't swim much at all. My arms got a break and they felt better. Given the diet and exercise regime in Kenya I was healthy and muscular, probably more so than I had ever been or have been since. Good bye tendonitis!
Recently the old injury has been flaring up. Nothing to horrible, but uncomfortable enough that I take two aleve every day except within 48 hours of platelet donations. While my right shoulder is uncomfortable, I never thought there was anything truly wrong with it aside from some discomfort until today. I went to the ladies room and in opening the door I twisted my arm in such a way it went numb for a second, then the most hideous shooting pain went down my arm then it went numb again and my fingers bent weird and froze. I shook it off and it feels ok-ish now, but the experience was daunting, especially since my grandma just had her rotator cuff done and the recovery has been long and hard. I'm hoping nothing is really wrong with my shoulder. I know if something is that surgery isn't necessarily my only or even best option, but these kinds of things usually need to be dealt with sooner or later. errrr.
Of course my shoulders could just be bearing the weight of my guilt for getting sucked in to mildly expensive accessories at a local vintage store. I "needed" a silver purse for the wedding I'm going to this weekend. Well I sure found one. It's ridiculously hawt. Then the shop owner talked me into some earrings, which unbeknown to me cost more than the damn purse. Sh*t. That totally eliminated me from being able to buy the shoes and perfume I had my heart set on (oh I have the money, I'm just not allowing myself to be ridiculous and spend it!), however the purse and earrings are PERFECT and I will be jamming my feet into a pair of fabulous albeit small silver shoes, plus to dress up the dress I found a pin belonging to my grandmother that I put at the base of the halter. I feel glamorous. Hopefully it won't be too fancy for the wedding - the dress is pretty casual. Though I can't really say I'd care if I were overdressed for the simple fact that my accessories are................vintage. Yum.
Finally I'm going to share some pics with you. The rest are on Flickr, but these are my favorites. I'm hoping this and no permanent damage situation is why my shoulder is bugging me so much!

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Now for those of you who've read this blog, you know I love the Flickr community. I SWEAT Seriously. And no, it's not because my gorilla picture went in their book, it's for so many other reasons, like the fact that a random guy from India friended me and now I look at his pictures almost every day and they're freakin' gorgeous, or the fact that people who have photogroups like "the world of birds" troll the site looking for photographs of species that haven't been represented in their group and invite you to add your picture. Flickr rocks, and whatever it cost me to become a "pro" member was money incredibly well spent.

That being said...................the people on it are dirrrrrrrrty.

Here's the thing - for the most part, unless my photo is part of a big group, somewhere between 1-6 people look at the pictures I post there, with the occasional photo being more popular for whatever reason. Yesterday I put up crazy photos of my sister and I jumping on the dock up New Hampshire. I have to admit they were pretty cool:
And I even got a comment on one right away. I was a bit surprised though when I clicked on "popular" (it tells you your most popular shots) that this one was already on the list with 41 views. 41 views in a day?? I am not one of the "cool kids" on flickr whose photos get hundreds of views in a day, so I was shocked at 41. Then I realized that I had titled this one "Nice Underwear" because the teensiest bit of underwear is sticking out of my pants. Which means that people who typed in a search for "underwear" got this shot included in their results, and that's why 41 people clicked on it. Jesus. If I knew that was a way to boost popularity I'd name my pictures things like "naked" and "vagina" instead of what they actually are....but I think that might gain the wrong kind of popularity, LOL. Oh well.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

oh COME ON now

after weeks of gut/heartwrenching posts about Rwanda, Darfur, the Congo, cancer, family drama, being grateful, preaching, bitching, whining, complaining and generally being too intense i give you a humourous sonnet of my "own pure brain" and no one leaves a comment. This is truly a tragedy. I think I might have to go cry now.

Ok I won't go cry. I'll just go study wetlands regs. But I'll think carefully before I send another poem crafted from the cockles of my heart your way. grrrr ;)

Monday, June 25, 2007

An Ode to my Vegan Cookie

You are chewy and delicious
Though not exactly nutritious
Wrapped in cellophane
You ease each hunger pain
Egg, dairy and lactose free
The satisfaction you give
Is worth the fee
Paired with a cold Coke Zero
You're my Monday snack-time hero
Made in Somerville, just up the street
Your baker I would like to meet
To thank him/her for making you
The tasty snack that will keep me going
The rest of the afternoon through.

Ooohhhhh poetry slam night here I come. Not really at all. But considering I am rather inept at poetry and all kinds of writing (dry biological papers excluded) I thought this was clever, LOL. Ok now back to abstracting cancer patients...boooooo

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It has been

*all pics courtesy of my sister amy_c on flickr

One hell of a week. I won't even lie! I am relieved it is Thursday and that in about 24 hours I will be leaving for this place:
Well my sister and I have been needing to get our boating license in NH for over a year now. It's something we totally kept putting off until we buckled down and decided that we'd take the test on June 23. The thing is that even though we live in MA, our boats are registered in NH, our boats spend more than 30 consecutive days in NH waters, and it appears, though no one really spells out the rules for you, that you need to take the proctored Safe Boater Education Certificate Exam in NH. We realized that Gilford is only about 30 minutes or so from the island and that we'd head up this weekend and take the exam.

On Monday, I called my grandma to make arrangements and told her I wanted to bring my kayak. She's like "helll to the no" in so many words. See, she had rotator cuff surgery and is working one-handed and absolutely positively under no circumstances can she use her bum arm. NONE. So naturally my grandpa is a bit nervous about maneuvering the boat with only one set of hands, and they felt that if I had a kayak up there holding me down, my hands would be too busy to help. I didn't feel this way and was totally disappointed that I couldn't bring my new fabulous pink boat, but whatever, you're not exactly gonna go against your grandma, and I'm an adult, I can handle the disappointment. I even vowed to Jam that I would start taking my kayak out once a week to be sure it gets use and researched good paddling spots on the South Shore. Case closed.

Tuesday my grandma calls me at work. Which means, of course, that she called my mother for the number, because she definitely doesn't have my work number. She says "you're bringing your kayak because I disappointed you by telling you couldn't" I'm sitting at my desk thinking "seriously? we're talking about an inanimate object here" I said "no no grandma, so not a big deal I don't need it" "NO" she said "You're taking it!!" Again, you can't fight with this woman. "Of course," she said "this means we'll be leaving Friday morning instead of Thursday afternoon" Bummer, I thought, I've rearranged everything to accommodate a Thursday departure. Oh well. Ok I agreed. Case closed? Maybe?

Since I knew I would be leaving Friday and would now be able to work a good part of the day on Thursday, I decided to leave work on Tuesday around 4. I figured I'd get home, go for a run, and work on a paper that had been looming over my head. As I exited the subway, I saw a baby bird lying on the cement in the stairwell. Sad, I thought. Then it moved. Ohhhh I thought, running away. I can't stand seeing helpless things suffer, and the fact that hundreds of people were tromping by made it worse. It's probably half dead I thought. I sat in my car for a second and of course, because I am soft-hearted and a sap, grabbed a roll of paper towels, the only supplies I had appropriate for transporting a baby bird, and called my sister for directions to the New England Wildlife Center. When I got to the bird I did a test: I turned it upright to see if it would fight to stand or just flop over. This is in no way scientific really, but a bird never voluntarily lies on its back, and if this baby flopped over on its back, well, it's probably too far gone for help. I righted the barely feathered eyes still closed creature and it stood and fought to move. Ok, little guy, I thought, we''ll get you some help. I looked to put it back in the nest because honestly, taking a baby bird from its nest is probably the single worst thing you can do for it. No nest in sight. It must've fallen from a nest in the rafters 8 feet above my head. Dammit. I wrapped the small body in paper towels and set off for the wildlife center.....which was closed to new admits when I got there. WHO DOES THAT??!! YOU'RE A WILDLIFE HOSPITAL. Suddenly I found myself saddled with the responsibility of a baby bird that requires food every 20 minutes. I hate to admit it, but I checked the bird all the way home to see if it was still breathing, because I knew I could do very little for it, and at the very least, if it died in my car at least it was warm and calm and on a soft bed of paper towels.

It survived to my house and I nestled it in a box from with a piece of Hello Kitty flannel covering it. I jacked up my heating pad (it's really weak) and starting mashing cheerios for the thing. I also put some eggs on to boil, because I knew in a pinch that mashed yolk, high protein cereal with a little warm water fed in small bits is a good substitute food. I realized that I'd have to keep the bird alive until the hospital accepted new admits, til Thursday. I found an old syringe I used for shooting water at my teeth when I had my wisdom teeth out and cut off the skinny part so I was left with a wider syringe curved a bit like a beak. Thing went well at first. I knew that I had to get the food in a certain place - I learned this from working at Foster Parrots and learning about the baby bird bill they're trying to get passed, and how important it is to get food in the crop so the baby doesn't aspirate. I knew I was getting the food down the right place because the baby kept begging and its little crop filled. It even started to open one eye. It bit me twice and bit on the syringe, taking bits of food. Then without any warning or sign of distress, its head dropped down and it went still. Dead. I said to my sister "Oh my GOD I just killed it." Amy, who is a tough girl on the outside, but sensitive on the inside (she bought me two t-shirts from cause my week was going badly!) said "Allison you did not kill this bird. It was going to die anyways, unless you took it to the wildlife center, and those jerks were closed." My mother and father, when they came home and told the story, assured me that the bird was too small to leave its mother. I knew these things, but still I felt so so bad, bad enough that when Amy told me that I couldn't just throw the bird outside, I had to bury it, that I went and go the shovel. Then I sat down to write my paper.

So I turned in my paper last night, and I have to admit, though it was written during a slightly stressful period, was kickin'. I was in a good mood all the way home, listening to a cd I burned to compensate for the busted iPod. Then I got home and had a chat from Ame and realized there's all kinds of family bullsh*t drama going down, some of which revolves around me and this stupidf*ckingkayak. First I say "FINE I WON'T BRING IT!" Then I'm like "but Grandma told me" Ultimately this leads to me getting rageful and frustrated because I don't know what to do!!! My mom is pissed at me for being upset about wanting to bring my boat, my grandma is upset because she "disappointed me" she says, though she's really just upset because her arm is busted up and she can't use it, but my mom is pissed that I "made" my grandma upset!! WTF WTF WTF I need non-family opinion. I consulted my main man, Jamaal. He graciously listened to the whole story, including major flippage and said "talk to your grandma, she's the one you need to go to." This put me at ease. Though I figured I wouldn't be able to get a straight answer from the woman, I could at least defray the drama.

Wouldn't you know it, there was divine intervention which actually eliminates the problem. I went to give platelets this morning at 7:30. A pheresis tech I really like had me - she's been setting me up for platelets for 2 years now and knows my veins and everything. So I settle in the donation lounge chair with my warm blanket at "Good Morning America" and wait to get stabbed. Well the needle KILLED when she did it. Usually I'm a soldier and sit there silently, but today I went "woooooah!" "I'm sorry I'm sorry!!" she says. We both look to the blood draw tubing, and it's empty and dry. Missed the vein. "Oh damn!" she says. She takes the needle out partway and restabs. Holy Jesus it hurt like a mofo. "You ok?" she asks. I have a pretty high pain threshold, and this was maybe like a 3 on the 1-10 pain scale, well on MY 1-10 pain scale. No biggie. The blood fills the tubing and the machine starts drawing it out and and filtering the blood. The tech says "are you in any pain??" Compared to before, not really, I think. "No nothing too bad" She turned the computer screen towards me and says "just wondering because this thing is barely drawing blood. though you did have low blood pressure this morning, 100/58" Suddenly, the machine is ready to recycle and send me back my red blood cells, sans platelets. "OH MY GOD" I say as I feel pretty much one of the worst feelings I've ever felt. My arm is burning and swelling and the needle site is a lovely iodine-covered blue purple - the needle went right through my vein, and now the blood was being sent into the great beyond in my arm. "Oh JESUS!" says the tech, untaping the tubing from my arm and removing the needle as fast as she can. She jams gauze on my arm and applies pressure, sits me up and calls another tech. He runs over to stop the machine, and gets the air out of it (you know, so I don't have an embolism!) and they restab me in the right arm instead. It feels soooo much better. I relax.

Then it dawns on me: I won't be able to lift anything heavy over my a kayak
SO in one slightly dramatica moment at the blood donor center, almost all family drama is completely resolved. While I may want to bring up my kayak, I physically can't, and without my dad or even my sister there to help, I am S.O.L cause I can't lift the thing and I also can't leave it parked in the wooded lot at the marina because it will absolutely disappear. Problems completely solved. It's incredible how the world works sometimes, isn't it?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


would it be wrong to read a novel at my desk as a means of dealing with stress?

hmm. Probably not. I think I'll go get a coke zero and that delicious blueberry pie I brought and consume those like a ravenous beast instead. That is probably more appropriate and acceptable, LOL.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Why My Sister is The Funniest Person I Know

We're griping back and forth about the iPod she sold me, which has died (well I think, I probably should take it to the local Apple store), and I'm bitching cause I'm like "well if I knew it was gonna die, I wouldn't have bought it off you"

To which she replies:

Oh watch out biatch. I don't sell faulty hardware.

Oh amazingness.

06/18/2007 Addendum, in regards to coworker taking expired Aleve:

It's two years. It says 05/05 and she already took it and she's freaking out because she says she's growing a brain tumor. How many cancer patients have you seen that have grown brain tumors because of taking expired Aleve?



- Work wouldn't let me buy the "zazzle" highlighters I so lusted after, and replaced them, without asking, with staples-brand "hype" What gives???!!
- Woman elbowed me in head during entire train ride, and would turn to glare at me, like I, sitting in my seat, was the one being extraordinarily rude!
- Boy next to me on Green Line picked his nose for 6 stops


- Jam is coming to see me (multiply x 5 on the excited/happy scale)
- It's a beautiful day
- I just ate a hot bagel, and am about to consume an ice-cold coffee
- I am inspired to take a crochet class (must learn. must make afghans!)
- Did I mention the sun is shining for the first time in many days??!
- Farmer's market at Copley today
- Whole Foods visit to buy supplies for romantic/gourmet dinner this weekend, my first foray into "real" cooking
- Typing this in an empty office - great because there's no one here except me and ET and I don't turn the ugly flourescent lights on, I enjoy the natural light from my window
- Father's Day gift for my dad is AWESOME
- In good spirits in general

-3 peeved things + 10 joyous = 7 good things

It's gonna be a lovely day :)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

To Mr. Wizard

You made kids wonder, think, search and see.
Thank you for that.
Rest in Peace.
Mad scientist love fo' ev'
-- A dorky biologist

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Second Post of the Day BECAUSE

7500 pictures were submitted for the 24 Hours of Flickr book
122 were selected
Mine was one of them

sorry if this is obnoxious but *squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee*

also, this is not me bragging, I swear to God and baby Jesus. It's just that I never thought that one of my photos would be chosen amidst all the brilliance submitted. phew. ok. calm now.

Once again, a big shoutout to my friend the gorilla at the Bronx Zoo.

"I be up in the gym just workin' on my fitness"

A short post because the last 1,265 have been long and intense!

Last Friday, I washed my cell phone. Washed? you ask - you bet. I am doing a wetlands project and went down to the swamp to get a reading. At the last second I shoved my cell in one of the pockets that goes about down to my knees in case something happened (strangely enough I fell off a stone wall down there and narrowly avoided having my leg crushed by a boulder - the phone would've been key had leg been crushed you see, which is why I carry the phone). Upon coming back home I stripped (wooohoooooo) and went for a run (not naked, I put on clothes!). Then I had a tight schedule to keep: load kayak on car for Cape fieldtrip, load tent, get sleeping bags down from garage storage, make 2 semi-gourmet salads, wash "outdoor" clothes for field trip, clean room, blah blah blah. By the time 9 rolled around, I was so tired, but had got most of the To Do list done. My mother and I flipped on "What Not to Wear" (the wedding edition, SCORE) and I got busy making salad and doing laundry during commercial breaks. I finished my chores around 12:30 and went to put my laundry in the dryer. I was kind of wondering why Jam hadn't called yet, so I thought "I'm going to throw this laundry in the dryer and call the man." Imagine my horror when I open the washing machine to see my beloved Razr phone atop a pile of clean cargo pants and fleeces. It was nearly 1AM. I was tired, irrational and stressed and I broke down. Poor Jamaal got to listen to it too, as I summoned his number from the address/phone book corner of my brain, which is now quite dusty from lack of use due to brilliant technology of cell phones, and called him on my portable. I freaked out and said stuff like 'my dad is going to kill me' (whaaaa???) Jam was like "um I don't think so, that's irrational." hahahahha oh the voice of reason.

Of course my father didn't kill me (I think my reasoning at the time was that he got the phone for me - not paid for it, mind you, he procured it for me, and putting it through the wash would be disrespecting his procurement of said phone. Did I mention I was irrational?) and he actually laughed when I told him what I did. He gave me his old Razr that he had just upgraded from to a newer gunmetal gray Razr, and that was that. No biggie.

Yesterday was stressful. I had to run to the laundromat to wash sleeping bags (they won't fit in our washer) and life was just a bit crazy, not helped at all by the fact that the laundromat was somewhat of a bust and I had to rewash some things that didn't come clean. I decided to unwind by going for a run. Then my Ipod bit the dust. It's done. Literally done. Which totally STINKS. I'd become completely addicted. Since I just purchased a nearly $700 camera and $600 kayak, I'm cleaned out. I couldn't come up with $250 for a new Ipod if I wanted to. Sigh. I took it hard last night, and was admittedly weepy about the situation. Now I'm just kind of resigned to an Ipod-less summer, and am planning on investing in a stopwatch, since I used to use my Ipod to time my runs. Oh well.

This also means adjusting to listening to morning radio. This morning I drove to school so I could drop off my car then head to work. The morning radio host said "Gimme some of that Fergie, I love her new song, it's totally grown on me." Having heard it a billion times, I zoned for a second, then started listening to the lyrics. Now I ask you, how can a woman who sings song with the lyrics featured in the title, and other lyrics like 'I still go to Taco Bell, Drive thru raw as hell, I don't care I'm still real, no matter how many records I sell" and can't spell "Tasty" properly (T to the A to the S-T-E-Y girl you *tastey*??!!) expect to be taken seriously, even when she sings a slow jam with acoustic guitar in the intro? She can say she wants to be by herself and "center" all she wants, but she still says in the song "I'm gonna miss you like a child misses his blanket" What the hell is that? Ah well, I'm not gonna hate on Fergie. No way, the first thing I'm gonna do when I get my new Ipod, whenever that may be, is put "Fergilicious" on there and go up in the gym and work on my fitness.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sweet Charity Because I'm Living in the Global Village

Hmmm I just realized that I mean "Global Village" in about a zillion different ways..... But I digress.

Anyhow. A little bit ago I was surveying my room and my craft supplies and thought "Jeez have I got a lot of stuuffffff" And all that stuff was just lying around - you know balls of yarn, fabric GALORE, totes full of cross stitch patterns, rubbermaids with thread, blah blah blah. I knew I had to get rid of it, but you simply cannot throw away that one ball of unusually colored merino wool that you bought with the intention of making something fabulous for yourself that you've now forgotten what that fabulous thing was, but have been keeping said yarn because hey, you're going to use it SOME DAY right? HA! I realized that I needed to start making somethings and moving them out. I thought "oooh I could sell stuff" but eh, I'm not sure I could produce stuff at any regular pace, and I'm more of a giver than a businesswoman anyways. Plus I looked at Etsy to see if I could get a shop started. I read the first few "how to" sentences and was like "um yeah, NO." Jamaal has enough IT stuff to do without helping me set up an online store to pedal my wares, LOL.

An opportunity to move some of that yarn presented itself a bit ago. The author of a blog I lurked on forever (ok if anyone is reading this because I commented on your crafty blog or something, I'm not a creepy lurker, I PROMISE, I'm just a wee bit shy about commenting!!) mentioned her neighbor's need for fingerless gloves. Ahhh perfect opportunity to delurk!! I signed on to that, and I'm just about done with Mary's Mitts, just have to sew some seams.

Next came a chance to move some fabric out of my desk drawers (overflow from the bin). Cindy
requested blankets for an orphanage in China. Woohoo, finally a use for the leftover Hello Kitty flannel! I'll finish the fourth blanket today. Post office day will be Friday.

Today I finally did something I've been meaning to do forever (ok for a month or so). I read this blog pretty much every day. It all started when I googled "knit baby bonnet" and stumbled on these patterns *pauses to drool.* I continued to read Larissa's blog because 1. she knit great things 2. she told funny kid stories about her son that reminded me of my former boss Janet's stories about her precocious son Edward 3. she was a runner who had really worked her way into hardcore distance running, something I can really appreciate (see October 2005 archives about the Portland Half Marathon!) Recently she posted about her next running feat, a fundraiser for Congolese Women. While this will not get yarn or fabric out of my house, it's something I knew I had to support, even if I only could donate a little bit.

As you all know, Kenya has a special place in my heart, and some of my life's best memories are ones from my semester abroad and reunion visits. While I may talk about sunsets and cape buffalo, giraffe and lions, Maasai mamas and warriors and drinking at the small bar in Kimana, I don't often mention the tremendous poverty I saw there, the children sleeping in the streets, the limbless beggars, the not even close to adequate hospital I visited full of dying children lying on cots without mosquito nets or even bandages. While they're memories I'll hold forever in my heart and head, it's sometimes just too much to share, plus when people ask you about your vacation, they don't want to hear about some little girl whose face was burned off, no, they want to hear about lions and elephants. But it's those harder memories and my friendships with Kenyan men and women who truly became a second family during those months away are what fuels me to hit up friends, family, parents, and even members of my bookclub for the tri-annual school fees that send my friend Mboya's sister, Mumbua, to school each semester. Knowing that she is safe despite her brother's unemployment, being educated, fed and sheltered at school brings me immense comfort. I think this has also made me even more sensitive to the plight of the Congolese women for whom Larissa is running.

When I returned to college after a semester in Kenya, I took as many African history courses as my schedule allowed. This probably seems a bit backwards, but senior year was the first time I only had to take one bio course! I took "Colonialism, Democracy and Violence: The History of Central Africa" with the brilliant scholars David and Catherine Newbury. It focused solely on the Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi. That class is the reason you blog readers see me bitch about the Rwandan Genocide and talk about divesting in Sudan, the reason why I think it's incredibly important to support the Run for the Congo, why I think it's important for Mumbua, though she is fairly safe in Kenya, to go to school. In class we'd watch movies, terrible movies, with live footage of the Rwandan Genocide, and its aftermath. The good thing about these movies though is that they showed the one light at the end of the dark long tunnel, the fact that women were largely in charge of rebuilding the country - post-genocide, they women were 70% of the population (mostly men and teenage boys were killed). While that country slowly rebuilds, the aftermath of the genocide is still being felt in the Congo, where soldiers left over from conflicts in Rwanda and Burundi and other rebel forces are terrorizing women so brutally, that the first-hand accounts are incomprehensible. And while our eyes (some of our eyes) focus on Darfur (as they should) we forget about the DRC and its turmoil as rebels fight to control the resource-rich eastern provinces. Despite the tenuous peace agreement brokered 5 years ago and a newly-elected president, there is no control. There is complete and utter chaos in that country, and women are bearing the brunt of the disorder.

Ok by now you're like "Um Hi Allison you lured me in by talking about fabric, but now you're lecturing us about Africa...AGAIN! We-eeelll it's me after all, LOL. I guess this brings me back to my title (oh what a circular post this has been). Why am I helping people I do not know? Because I can. It's really that simple. We all share a home here on planet Earth, that's a common thread we all share. As citizens of a common place, it's our job to help each other out in any way we can. If I can use the resources I have in my good life, why should I not try to better the life of someone else? It may seem silly to some people, sending small security blankets to China or donating a mere $20, about 6 grande non-fat lattes at Starbucks, to women in the Congo. What if it makes a difference though? What if Mary's mitts warm her hands enough to allow her to do something she wouldn't be able to do, and that in turn benefits the lives of others? What if my little security blanket gives a Chinese orphan the courage to do something new, and what if that courage leads to greatness? What if Mumbua becomes the first prime minister of Kenya? Who can predict the doors that will be opened for these Congolese women? We don't know the answers to these questions, and that's exactly why we can't afford not to help. This entire world is filled with unknown and unrealized potential. We can't let that go to waste simply because we're too complacent or lazy or busy to help. The smallest gesture can change a life, I really really believe that, and that's why I gotta help out whenever I can. And of course, anything that gets rid of that yarn and fabric is a good thing ;)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

For the love of ----!

For the love of whatever deity/spirit/tree/thing/nothing you believe in: wear a bike helmet when riding a bike!!

You're saying now "but Allison, they are so dorky and unwieldy and they totally mess up my hair." I understand how you feel. As a small child, I had to wear a bike helmet that resembled the type of helmet they put on people who've had a piece of their skull removed and need to wear the full-coverage helmet to protect their exposed brains. I can blame my father for this - he, like me, is accident prone, only he takes the accidents to a whole new level of badness (ie sawing into arm putting up Christmas tree, cutting finger open after forgetting razor blade in pocket, jumping off highway overpass chasing criminal thinking it was only a guard rail and ripping hamstring off bone). Because he is accident prone, when he put a baby seat on the back of his bicycle he made sure I had the proper protection bike riding required. He of course did not wear a helmet and allowed me to suffer alone in the back seat with the brain-injury helmet. Oh the humiliation. I will say though that my father did dump his bike once with me on it. I believe it was near the train tracks that ran by a few houses down from our old house. He dumped the bike sideways and while he had some nasty injuries, my head simply bounced off the pavement. Of course the helmet protected my jug and I didn't feel a thing - I just waited calmly tilted sideways until I could be unhitched from the baby seat.

When helmet awareness really came on the scene, we got to wear cooler, streamlined helmets, thank goodness. We were the only kids who wore them in the new neighborhood and got some heat for it, but my sister and I are pretty confident kids, so we shook it off and pedaled along the way. I mean, I kind of resented having my dorkiness and awkwardness enhanced by a bike helmet, but the parental wrath of being caught without one was far too great to risk riding without one. As I got older and more sensible, and as our town lost a 13-year old boy to a bike vs. truck accident (the child probably would've lived, had he been wearing a helmet) my mentality about helmets changed. I didn't give a crap what people thought of me or how dorky I looked. My attitude was: Does Lance Armstrong feel like a nerd when he puts on his bike helmet? I can pretty much guarantee you that Lance doesn't do anything that makes him feel nerdy at all because he is a pretty badass guy. I mean a bike helmet is really a piece of sporting equipment, kind of like a cup. I bet if you're a guy and thought cups were dorky or overprotective, the first time you really got hit hard in the balls, you abandoned that sentiment and went out and got a cup. It's the same with bike helmets, except the first time you hit your head may be your last. A brain injury or even death might not give you that second chance you need to go out and get a helmet.

You may ask why I'm writing this seemingly out of nowhere. There are two reasons. The first is an article my friend Rachel sent me. Incredible. The second reason stems from something my two friends and I witnessed yesterday. We were leaving the salon where we had all just paid some people to sexify our hair. We were walking down the street in Boston's *points noise in air* idyllic Back Bay, when I saw a dark green minivan take a left down a side street and clip the leg of a biker. This happened so fast that I thought "no this is NOT happening." His leg and wheel were clipped by the right front fender of the van and the rider went flying sideways onto the sidewalk, and then I heard that unmistakable "thwack" of helmet hitting pavement. Amazingly, the rider got up and was hobbling a bit, his left leg must've been killing him. As we approached we heard him saying "nah, don't call 911." I think some of the people were going to call anyways (there were 5 or 6 horrified and slightly militant people on the sidewalk demanding an ambulance come, which was a bit funny to see - this tall black lady with dreads saying "I WILL call you an AMBULANCE" and have this short skinny white guy saying "no no it's ok, thanks, my leg just hurts"). When we got to the corner, I saw someone jump into the passenger side of the van and speed away. There were so many people there that my friends and I moved on, they didn't need 3 more people shoving in their two cents, and I'm sure that since it became a hit and run situation that the police were called, especially since one old and bent lady said that she was going to get on the approaching MBTA bus and have the driver call the police, LOL.

Anyways, the most important part of my story is that the guy was ok, and I'm convinced it's because he was wearing a helmet. Just this morning I saw a fit guy riding his bike near my office. He looked like the type of guy who rode to work every day - but he wasn't wearing a helmet. He stopped to let me cross the street, which was very nice of him, and he smiled and nodded at me when I said "thank you." BUT it was all I could do to say "where's your helmet"??! I don't mean to preach, especially in a place (and I mean Massachusetts specifically, even more than America as a whole) where the citizens do not like to be told what to do, even when it comes to safety, but I think we would've seen something very different happen yesterday had our bike rider not been wearing a helmet - not to be gross, but they might've been still hosing his blood off the sidewalk as we speak. So if you have a bike, make sure you have a helmet (besides, you saw what happened in City of Angels, right??!?!!! GOSH!) Being safe and wearing one is waaaay cooler than being brain injured, brain damaged, paralyzed or dead, right? Right. Ok, that's it for me, I'll leave seatbelts for another discussion ;)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Don't Complain!!

A little bit ago I read an editorial piece that basically said Americans need to stop complaining all the time. The other day when I read a person's blog (not going to say whose, but if you're reading this it's probably not yours so don't worry!!), it's all I could think of. This person has had it rough, I absolutely positively will NOT deny that. Their road has been rough and rocky and I think their blog is mostly for getting some of their anger out, true, but it was taken to just such an extensive level that I thought "woah. simmah. step back and look at your life."

As the column I read said "Is the word "Darfur" in your address? NO? THEN CALM DOWN.

I'm not saying I don't bitch because, oh hell yes I do, and let's face it, we all have bad days. The thing is that as sucky as our lives can get (like ripping your second pair of ATL pants in less than 6 months DAMMIT!!!) I think we can all put it in perspective, and this blog I read made me worry a little because I'm not sure this person could.....I don't know for sure, maybe I'm taking everything the wrong way, but whenever I'm really internalizing crap that doesn't matter really but at that moment it's the most important thing in the world I think:
1. I'm not a patient at my place of employment (the cancer hospital). Bonus.
2. Darfur is definitely not in my address
3. I don't have to wear a burka when I go outside
4. I can go to work by driving/taking public transportation and walk from the subway to my office pretty confident that I'm not going to get shot, attacked, or blown up by a roadside bomb 5. I have a job, and that in and of itself is more than so many
6. I have food. I f*cking HAVE FOOD PEOPLE. THERE ARE STARVING PEOPLE IN THIS VERY COUNTRY and all over the world and I have food - as much of it and whenever I want it. 7. I live in a nation where I am a free woman and go out with whomever I choose and can get as much education as I want and am able to keep a personal blog. There have got to be countries that don't allow that (the blog..well and the relationship....oh and the education and going out. Ok everything I mentioned).
8. My work address does not have the word "Iraq" or "Afghanistan" in it
9. The air I breathe is clean (relatively)
and finally the most important
10. The Red Sox are up by 10 1/2 games

Now taking all this into account, especially number 10, there really isn't anything to complain about, is there? Except for the fact that this morning, on the train, this guy sat next to me and.....
No seriously - stop complaining ;)

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Audacity of Hope

I decided to read The Audacity of Hope because in general I believed I supported Barack Obama. I say believed because I was basing my beliefs on interviews I'd seen with him or news stories I'd read, that kind of thing, and I believe that this next election is going to be a hairy one....and by "next election" I'm talking about the primaries, LOL. I decided that if I'm going to support Obama 100% that I needed to read his own words, his words that were written before he put in his formal bid for the presidency, so I could see what he was like "before" - you know, before the campaign trail. While Barack Obama managed to infiltrate my dreams (Jam thinks in some sort of sexual way, LOL, but let me more than assure this was NOT the case - in the dream we had LUNCH!!! Jeeez) I wanted to be sure that I KNEW him knew him and that he wasn't just that candidate I saw a couple of interviews with and decided that he was an ok guy.

I am 121 pages into The Audacity of Hope and to quote a Tom Cruise movie that was popular at one time and now only seems corny he "had me at hello." hahahahahahahahha. Ok, Obama didn't have me have me at Hello, it was more like on page 10 when he said this in his prologue:

I suspect that some readers may find my presentation of these issues to be insufficiently balanced. To this accusation, I stand guilty as charged. I am a Democrat, after all' my views on most topics correspond more closely to the editorial pages of the New York Times than those of the Wall Street Journal. I am angry about policies that consistently favor the wealth and powerful over average Americans, and insist that government has an important role in opening up opportunity to all. I believe in evolution, scientific inquiry, and global warming; I believe in free speech, whether politically correct or politically incorrect, and I am suspicious of using government to impose anybody's religious beliefs--including my own--on nonbelievers. Furthermore, I am a prisoner of my own biography: I can't help but view the American experience through the lens of a black man of mixed heritage, forever mindful of how generations of people who looked like me were subjugated and stigmatized, and the subtle and not so subtle ways that race and class continue to shape our lives.
But that is not all that I am. I also think my party can be smug, detached and dogmatic at times. I believe in the free market, competition, and entrepreneurship, and think no small number of government programs don't work as advertised. I wish the country had fewer lawyers and more engineers. I think America has more often been a force for good than for ill in the world' I carry few illusions about our enemies, and revere the courage and competence of our military. I reject a politics that is based solely on racial identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or victimhood generally. I think much of what ails the inner city involves a breakdown in culture that will not be cured by money alone, and that our values and spiritual life matter at least as much as our GDP.
Undoubtedly, some of these views will get me in trouble. I am new enough on the national political scene that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views. As such, I am bound to disappoint some, if not all, of them. Which perhaps indicates a second, more intimate theme to this book--namely, how I, or anybody in public office, can avoid the pitfalls of fame, the hunger to please, the fear of loss, and thereby retain that kernel of truth, that singular voice within each of us that reminds us of our deepest commitments.

Oh, Obama, you had me at "I suspect." *licks front cover of book, puts under pillow, pulls up covers* Just kidding. Kind of. No really, just kidding, though I won't deny that that was my instinct when I read the above paragraphs - finally a politician who I believe and whose beliefs align with my own pretty much exactly, except for that whole NYT thing because I think those people are condescending as hell, LOL.

In the interest of fairness, I will do more research about Hil. HRC is the only other Dem I think I'd be able to consider. I can't stomach John Edwards, plus I think the nomination is going to be either Barack's or Hil's. Of course the result of the primaries could be devastating and knowing my luck I'd be sitting in a booth on election day trying to figure out if I should vote for Edwards or not vote at all because my other choice is Rudy Guiliani (writes self note to research John Edwards). Eeeeh. But yes, I, the white Massachusetts women's college educated female who supports the bright black male candidate raised in the city will research Hillary if only out of love and support for my other half, a very bright black male raised in the city who supports the white female Massachusetts women's college educated candidate. Oh how psychologists would have a field day with us, ha. I doubt my mind will change, but hey, I'm all about equality.

A final thing - even if you've heard about Barack Obama and think "never in a million years would he receive my vote" pick up his book - you might be very surprised what you read. I braced myself for things such as Republican-bashing and Bush-bashing, two things I find as effective in inciting change as farting into the wind, and trust me, I've done that enough to know that not much happens when you do that-your basically left with something stinky, but I find that it doesn't exist in this book; what exists instead is logical and well-though criticism. This book contain rational discussions about both parties, equal critique, as well as the hope that our nation can be different and better. I love it, but I am also guarded, realizing that campaigns change people. My thoughts echo the sentiments that Obama heard during his senatorial campaign:

At the end of the meeting people {general public attending "town meeting" style gathering in Illinois} will usually come up to shake hands, take pictures, or nudge their child forward to ask for an autograph. They slip things into my hand--articles, business cards, handwritten notes, armed-service medallions, small religious objects, good-luck charms. And sometimes someone will grab my hand and tell me that they have great hopes for me, but that they are worried that Washington is going to change me and I will end up just like all the rest of the people in power.
Please stay who you are, they will say to me.
Please don't disappoint us.

Yes. Please. Though how can you not like a guy with a soft spot for Le Carre?

The Audacity of Hope.