Monday, June 13, 2016

Pride, Muslims and the state of hate in America

I haven't been online much this weekend because of graduation stuff, but I want to comment on the shooting in Florida. Admittedly, I've not read much about it since I've not been online much. I skimmed a few stories this morning. What I understand is that this was an act of hate - an attack on the LGBT community, and I'm sure it's no coincidence Mateen planned to execute this violence during Pride Month.

To hate a group of people that unconscionable to me. I have also seen many posts hating on Muslims during the last 24 hours. Keep a few things in mind. ISIS in not a religion. It is a terrorist group. We simply cannot stop letting people into our country based on religious beliefs. Blending together our differences is much of what makes the United States great. If we turn one away, we should turn all away. Islam is a religion, and yes, has some horrible people within it, but so does every other religion on the face of the planet. Look up Christian Mass Shooters on Google. Mormons, Catholics...have all participated in mass killings.

People are also bashing Obama for letting "these people" into our country. Mateen was born and raised right here in New York. His parents are not terrorists, radicals or extremists. They and his ex-wife said he was not overly religious and don't think religion played a part in this violent act. Sure, he was a Muslim, but more so, he was a terrorist and LGBT hater. When terrorists claim they have committed violence because of their religion, there is usually another motive, be it political, social, or personal (studies have been done to support this).

I will never waiver in support of our LGBT community. I'm supporting the Pride Foundation this month through my business. I know I have alienated and probably lost some of our customers because of it, but I am okay with that. I stand behind my ideologies, my convictions, and my values.

I am proud to be a person who does not judge, stereotype, or hate others based on their race, religion, culture or sexual preference. I judge people on their character. How they treat others and live their lives.

If you want to lay blame, let's look at the gun violence itself. I don't want your guns taken away from you if you are a responsible gun owner. But it is time to admit, and the facts prove it, that the United States has too many guns within it, and those gun are killing too many people. I don't know what the answer is. I don't know how to NOT get guns in the hands of mad(wo)men and terrorists. But is seems like a good place to start would to be to limit their options. No one should be able to kill 50 people and injure numerous others single-handedly within a matter of minutes. No one.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

I resent your intolerance...

This month of June at my day job I am selling two limited edition wines with commemorative labels and donating part of the proceeds to the Pride Foundation. It is after all, Pride Month. I started selling them on the 4th and have mostly received praise. I've not had any opposition to this until yesterday.

I had one customer come in trying to find a bottle of white for his wife. He said she likes Pinot Grigio. Unfortunately, I am out of Pinot Grigio for another few weeks. I told him I had a Chardonnay, a dry Riesling, and something more to her taste, a Viognier/Pinot Gris blend. That blend happens to be my Pride White. He said he could not buy that wine. That he and his wife are conservative Christians and he wouldn't hear the end of it if he brought it home. "No worries," I said. I was polite, as was he. Of course I disagree with his ideology, but whatever. He bought the Riesling and went on his way. 

Later that day I sent out our monthly email newsletter that promotes all of our events and campaigns. Among cooking class, art night and ladies night, I also mentioned our Pride Red and White wines and how we would be donating part of sales back to Pride Foundation. Now, this is not the first time we've done this. We've done this for Mary Bridge Children's Hospital, Breast Cancer Awareness, Autism, many other non-profit organizations and numerous schools. In October we will be doing the same thing for Domestic Violence Action Month.

I received two emails asking me to take them off our mailing list. One was simply, take me off your email list PLEASE... After receiving the second one, I can only assume this is because of our support of the Pride Foundation.

The other stated, and I quote, "I resent your sending 15% to Pride foundations. They are an abomination. Take me off your mailing list."

I am not sure how to respond. I am the manager and will be buying this place soon, but for now, I am not the owner. If this had happened when I ran my own business I would have told that person to fuck off I don't need your business anyway.

But I'm not running my own business...yet.

The other day, I had a customer, who supports LGBT rights, ask me how I came to do the commemorative label and offer my support to that community when my name and heritage would suggest otherwise. (family name Aquino, heritage, Italian, grew up Catholic).

I told her that although I was brought up Catholic, most of my family were very liberal and have always been welcoming of others regardless of their race, religion, sexual preference, culture, etc. We believe that everyone is equal and deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.  We are all human, we all laugh, cry, hurt, heal. We all bleed the same color. 

I cannot speak for the rest of my family, but I cannot and will not believe in a god that does not love all mankind. He is supposed to be all loving, all forgiving, merciful. Anyone who follows him and preaches his words and his works should emulate him and offer all human kind the same love, forgiveness and mercy. Yet far too much, bible verses are picked and chosen to fit in with agendas. How about these ones?:

John 8:7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them,  “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
James 2:1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.

Romans 3:23 ...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...
Matthew 7:1  Judge not, that you be not judged.
Don't get me wrong, the bible also talks about judging. Judging what is good. Using the right judgment. Test everything and abstain from evil. I know many that belong to the LGBT community. They are good. That is the right judgment. Are they all good? Of course not. But neither are all Christians, Mormons, whites, blacks, women, men, and so forth and so forth. There are bad apples in every bunch.
But they are not abominations or evil because of who they love. 
Many of them are even Christians! Whoa, I just blew your mind right there, right?
And let's keep in mind that these quotes, regardless if what agenda we're seeking them for, come from a book thousands of years old and translated millions of time. 
I defend my business decision to support LGBT rights and the Pride Foundation. If I lose customers over it, maybe they're not the type I want shopping in my store anyway. I will not back down from my convictions, ideologies, or values to make a few more bucks. 
And anyway, I've sold a lot more bottles than I've had complaints, so there's that.
Happy Saturday everyone. Come to the shop and see me sometime.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

I think I might puke

Tonight my 2nd child, my baby, my youngest daughter graduates from high school. I am at an intersection of sickness and denial. My stomach is in knots, not only for this child but for both.

My older daughter moves to Montana to play soccer in August. My house will be void of the laughter, screaming and messes made by college students. At times, the idea of that comforts me. My house will be cleaner, my electricity bill will decrease, my groceries will last longer. However, this child and all of her friends who consider my home their second, some of them their first home, will be gone. My house will be silent, close to empty. I'm not sure how that will affect me.

My younger daughter will probably still live at home. She wants to go to school, but she has decided to work through the fall and then decide where to go. For her, I think this is a wise decision. Though she will be here, she will have a full time job. She is very independent and likes to go out with her friends. It would not surprise me if she moved out sooner rather than later.

At times I'm like, "When are you leaving already?" Because I think I'm ready and want my basement back, and my house clean, and to enjoy a pee or a shower without interruption (yes, this continues well into their young adulthood). My body wash, underwear, forks, coffee cups, and shoes won't disappear anymore.

But where will that leave me?

Alone. Old. A single person with adult children, shower items, pieces of silverware and clothing intact and accounted for.  I will have all the time in the world on my hands outside of work. Cleaning less, cooking less. No more nagging at them the way mothers do, to do their homework, clean their rooms and pick up after themselves. This is ideal, right?

Then why do I feel sick?

All I can do is wish for their happiness, health and safety. Pray that they don't get hurt. That they succeed at whatever it is they want. For me, I wish to find someone to fill some of that void. To spend some time with so I don't resort to 20 cats or talking to myself...too much (I already do that anyway, just a little, I swear).

So here I am writing this blog on the night of my last child's graduation. Sick, worried, sad, proud, happy, overjoyed really. And I know we have the summer, most of it anyway, but I can't stop thinking about the silence and emptiness of this house. My big yard. My life. My heart.

But every parent reaches this point, right? The time to let go. To allow our children to become the adults, the unique people they were meant to be. And for me to become something other than Mary and Rachel's mom. For me to find whatever it is that is out there beyond motherhood.

Congrats to all the graduates, both college and high school in this class of 2016. And to all you parents going through the same thing...I feel ya.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

20 Minutes of Action

I know, everyone's already said everything there is to say. No. there is never enough you can say about injustice and rape culture. Not until it ends, which we all know will be never. When people like Brock Turner states a thing like, "I thought she liked it because she rubbed my back." So, the whole thing about her being unconscious didn't give you reason to doubt her willingness? And when Brock's father says that his 6 month sentence - 6 MONTHS - "is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action." I mean, he can't even enjoy a ribeye steak any more. God forbid!

What price has Brock's victim already paid. If you've read her statement, you know her payment began by not knowing where she was or what she was doing when she finally regained consciousness. She kept paying by being told she had been sexually assaulted, then poked, prodded, and swabbed. She had pine needles pulled out of her hair. Her payment continued with photos taken of her entire body - every scratch, abrasion, bruise, and yes, she even had to spread eagle and let them photograph her vagina. That is just where here steep price begins.

She couldn't even tell her parents or her boyfriend because she had no idea what had really happened. Her payment again came in the form of finding out what had transpired that night through a news outlet, with the rest of the world instead of finding out privately first from investigators. Yes, a steep price was paid, but by the victim, not by former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner. He committed a crime of the foulest degree and he got caught.

Then the courts even participated in the rape culture when the judge, who could have handed this vile rapist up to a 14 year sentence, gave him a measly 6 months. Why bother at all? In his words, a longer sentence would have a "severe impact" on the sexual predator. Really? Now shall we talk about what kind of impacts a sexual assault can have on the victim?

We've already heard from the victim herself, She felt empty, afraid, devastated. She couldn't eat, sleep, she isolated herself from everyone. She was victimized all over again by having to prepare for trial, by inane and violating questions from the defense. She was helpless and at the mercy of the court because of her lack of memory of the entire event. Brock could tell any story he wanted.

This process lasted over a year, but a victim's suffering continues long after that. Her "severe impact"
will last longer than Brock's jail sentence. Many victims of sexual assault end up suffering from PTSD, depression and dissociation. They may have anxiety, trust and anger issues and the feeling of helplessness. To cope with their feelings, sexual assault victims tend to turn to drugs and alcohol to numb their pain.

Yes, Brock has to serve 6 months. His victim may be serving a lifetime for his crime.

I am tired of hearing statements like boys will be boys, she shouldn't have been drinking, she was dressed like a whore, she was asking for it.

No one wants to be raped.

We shouldn't have to live in fear of leaving our houses because there is a chance we might be raped. We shouldn't have to worry about having a few drinks because some asshole might think that's a good time to sexually assault us. I shouldn't have to worry about showing too much leg or cleavage because some jackhole won't be able to control his dick.

And we've all heard it before, but we should not be teaching women rape avoidance, sure, we should know self preservation, but it's not our responsibility not to get raped. It's a man's responsibility to not rape us. Boys should be taught to respect females. That rape is bad. How if she is drunk, cannot speak for herself, or unconscious, the answer is always no.

People like Brock, his dad and Judge Fucktard help keep us in that same rape culture cycle that seems will never end. Victim blaming, re-victimization, and the good ol' boys will be boys irrationalization.

This is not a man's world anymore. Women aren't home birthing babies, cleaning house and having your dinner fixed with martini in hand when you step through the door after a long day of work. We  live in a world of equality. Stop being little bitches, man up, and see the way real men act. They don't rape and they don't make excuses for rape.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

It's days like this

Days like this I think I should apply for disability. I have been bedridden most of the day, barely able to move, entire body aching, sleepy, exhausted. At this point, I am lost. My medical insurance is very restrictive with doctors. I've made appointments anyway. I'll have to pay out of pocket. I cannot feel like this anymore. Sometimes I feel okay. Good even, but now it's been over a month that I've had no energy, no motivation, no intelligible thought process (of course, the illness has been raging for three years now). It has been hard to get out of bed, go to work, research for my freelance marketing and writing...

I probably have to cut back on the things I'm doing, stay away from stressful situations, start saying no, and asking for help. I asked for help today. There was no way my body was going to work. I had to get my shift covered. I only work three days a week, but come April 1st, it's supposed to be five. I'm terrified I won't be able to do it, that I won't have enough support, that I will only get worse. It's not a physical job, but mental exertion is difficult too. Standing is hard. Sitting is hard. Like today, it matters not what position I'm in - standing, lying, sitting, propped up in bed, everything hurts, and it is all exhausting.

People keep asking me if I'm still writing. I tell them yes, which isn't exactly the truth. I have projects that are started, started long ago,  but I fear I'll never finish them because of this illness. I cannot fathom sitting down at a computer and making up stories in my head and finding all the pretty, right words to use like I once did.

Recalling words is hard. Even easy ones.

I know I've complained a lot lately and I apologize. Days like today are so difficult to bear, and here, on this blog is where I like to vent. The only place right now that I feel I can get intelligible words to page.

Friday, March 4, 2016

This is what Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease looks like

Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID). Sounds serious, right? What about Myalgic Ecephalomyelitis (ME) ? Sounds horrible doesn't it? How about Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS)? 

These don't sound like anything you would want to endure, do they? What if I told you they were all the same disease? What if I told you, they were all Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Why the fancy names? It's because physicians and clinicians want people to take this ailment seriously. Because they want people to start treating it for what it is - a real illness.

There has been a couple reports lately by Stanford University and Columbia University declaring the highly stigmatized disease formerly known as CFS as having a biological basis. SEID, ME, or CFIDS, whatever you want to call it, is not psychosomatic. This is backed up by a report put out by the Institute of Medicine.

Mady Hornig, the lead researcher behind these studies at Columbia University,is privately funded. Traditionally, CFS research has been greatly underfunded. It is low on the list of The National Institute of Health (NHIS) priorities with a research budget at about $5 per patient for 2015. Yet it's one of the most mysterious illnesses out there.

Why am I telling you all this? Haven't I beat this subject into the ground yet? Well, because I've started to do my own research, but let me back up a little...

Today I was going to show you in photos what it was like to live with CFS, which I will now call anything but that. I took pictures of certain rooms in my home that suffer from my ailment. But then I got embarrassed. Mostly because this illness is over stigmatized as "all in the head." I thought maybe people would see me as lazy or a hoarder, when in fact, that is very far from the truth.

I was afraid to show you the photo of my bedroom. That week I walked to work, I had just returned from my vacation. Why am I telling you this? Because that photo of my bedroom would have shown you a pile of clothing on my bed that I've been too tired to put away. On a chair, a laundry basket of clean clothes I have been too tired to fold and put away. And underneath the clothes on my bed is the suitcase I've not fully unpacked since I returned from my trip to Arizona on February 15th. 

I was afraid to show you the photo of all my medications for ailments connected to ME/CFS. Medications for anxiety, allergies, sleep, and focus.

I was embarrassed to show you the photo of my office and hallway. My office is my go-to room for all my junk. Right  before I left for my vacation, I started cleaning it out. I got pretty far, but I didn't finish. Now there are papers, books, and boxes of things spilling out of my office into the hallway. Me, having been much too exhausted to finish that task since coming back from vacation and overexerting myself that week.

I didn't want to show you the photo of the unpacked boxes I have by my front door. The ones with the groceries I bought from Amazon Pantry because it is too hard for me to get to the store most days. The other two boxes that contain the new shredder I bought to assist in the organization of my office. And the new garbage/recycling can I bought after my garbage can broke about a week ago. 

That is what living with ME/CFS looks like. It also looks like:
  • Sleeping restless every night because you itch, or your legs won't stop moving, or your
    mind won't stop churning, or you have crazy nightmares.
  • Getting out of bed at 12:30 pm on days you don't have to work outside the home. 
  • An aching back, painful joints, sore shoulder muscles, headaches, stuffy nose and puffy eyes. 
  • Not being able to recall the simplest of words, remember people's names, even your own friends sometimes, where you put your car keys, or what you did two nights ago. 
  • Forgetting you're ill when you're feeling good, then overdoing it and suffering greatly for three weeks following. 
  • At the end of the hard spell, having to start over again, trying to get back to where you were before you came out of remission, which for me was going to the gym, cooking, and cleaning, things that normal people can do without thinking about it. Things I once took for granted that I would always be able to do with no problem. 
  • Having to have someone come clean your house and do your yard work once a month (I miss yard work) because if you did them yourself you wouldn't be able to get out of bed the next day.
  • Getting physically exhausted by not only physical activities, but by thinking too hard as well. 

Don't just take my word for it, find out how others describe ME/CFS at The Mighty.

So I continue to do my research on what I can do to get and be better, to find away to raise money and awareness for ME/CFS research, which by the way, is not an easy find. I looked for support groups or organizations in my city. There are none.

So I guess you could say I'm on a mission. I'm on a mission to get the word out about this disease. To tell people how debilitating it can be. I want my family and friends to understand how I feel and why I can't always do the things they want me to do or go the places they want me to go. I want them not to laugh and mock me when I talk about my medical condition.

I want more research done. I don't want to feel like this. However, I am one of the lucky ones. I can work a part time job, while some can't work at all. I can get out of bed most mornings while some are bedridden. I can walk on my own two feet, where some are wheelchair bound. 

Now that ME/CFS is being taken more seriously by the medical profession, my wish is to someday be the person I was before the illness. Someone who was healthy and fit and happy. Someone who was productive and always on the go. That wish is not just for me, but for all those  suffering from this terrible affliction.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

This is one of those days...

Today is one of the days that my fatigue catches up with me. It's one of those days in which, if I didn't have a job, I wouldn't get out of bed. I believe I set myself back walking to work, and that was two weeks ago. I haven't been to the gym, I'm behind on some of my work, I've not cleaned my room, finished cleaning my office, got my taxes ready, done dishes, put away packages that came last week...

I can barely keep my eyes open. My head feels like someone hit me with a baseball bat. My entire body hurts. I want to cry.

This was something I was afraid of about working again -  that I wouldn't be able to keep up with it. My last job was 5 hours, until 1:30. I could go home and nap. This one, the hours aren't conducive to napping. And come next month I'm supposed to start working from 3 days a week to 5. Basically full time. And I still have two other jobs I don't want to give up. That is something I really didn't sign up for in the beginning and I really don't have any choice. We can't afford to hire someone else.

I don't know what to do. I just want to go back to bed. Sometimes I yearn for the days I was a stay at
home mom and could write all day, go to the gym, get the house clean and have dinner on the table by 5 (the Ultimate JFC). I wouldn't say life was easier back then, it had it's stresses, but my body didn't feel like this. My head didn't feel like this.

I wasn't like this.

But now I just have to suck it up and get ready for work (a job in which I do truly love btw) and hope there are not too many phone calls or hard questions. And I just look forward to Friday, a day I don't have to do anything if I don't want to, or I can catch up on the stuff I need to if my body and brain allow it.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Let's talk about Trump

Jeremy Nix wrote an open letter to his friends that support Trump and it was posted on the Huffington Post. I think in this letter, Jeremy articulates things many of us are feeling. You can go read his letter, but I am going to summarize some things that I believe are the best reasons not to vote for The Donald, and of course, add my own rant.

Donald Trump, if you really listen to him, this is what you'll hear...

Photo © Michael Vadon edited by Megan Bostic
He wants all the Muslims kept out of America because, terrorism. The pilgrims first came here for religious freedom (though it actually took awhile for them to get it). Everyone who lives here is not a Christian. There are Atheists, Agnostics, Wiccans, and yes, Muslims. Islam is really not that different than Christianity. They believe in one god, angels, prophets, prayer, faith, giving...Yes, there are a few Muslims that do terrible things in the name of Allah. But there are bad people in every bunch. Americans are shooting other Americans because of religion, color, culture, and for no reason at all, but let's block an entire religion from entering our country because they're probably terrorists. WTF?!? And the ones who are already here? Registration.

If Trump gets his way, every non Christian will have to bear some kind of mark so people know that they share a different belief system. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Trump is a modern day Hitler.

Trump is also a misogynist. He insults, belittles and marginalizes us. He calls women fat and ugly. He appreciates beautiful women, but not in a healthy way. He treats them like possessions. For instance, in his book Trump 101: The Way to Success, he lumps our beauty and elegance in the same category as buildings and works of art. We are nothing more than objects for him to admire, but not if we're fat and ugly.

As far as sexual assault goes, he's within the "boys will be boys" ideology. He tweeted the following about sexual assaults in the military:

"What did they expect would happen when they put men and women together?" 

Um, maybe that rape is vile and illegal and should not be an option? 

He think women need to rely on sexual appeal in business, that female journalists need to be hot, that we're tricksters and gold diggers... I could go on and on about what a giant douchebag misogynist Trump is, but I fear it would take an entire blog.

I don't know how any woman can consider voting for Trump. He will strip our rights away. He would reverse Roe v Wade, shut down Planned Parenthood, and forget about equality in the workplace, insurance covered birth control, paid maternity leave and anything else that would empower us. Anyone sporting a vagina is not on his list of priorities, and truly, seems to not even be human to The Donald.

He wants to build the Great Wall of 'Merica. He wants to keep Mexicans out. This country was built on the backs of immigrants. None of us are native to this land aside from those who were here before the white man came. Those from Mexico do the jobs no one wants to do and they're damn good at them. They're hard workers. Many of them pay taxes. He thinks all immigrants are thieves, rapists and thugs. Can you say, stereotyping? Profiling? Racism? I knew that you could.

He believes we don't have a gun problem, we have a mental health problem. I say we have a problem with both. Our country has too many guns. But Trump believes guns save lives and we should have no limits. He believes gun ownership makes our country safer. Tell that to all the victims of mass shootings. He believes gun violence is inevitable, so regulating them would be futile. Are you fucking kidding me? The statistics and facts are out there. Less guns, less gun death. Period.

And the newest Trumpism, he wants to get rid of the First Amendment. WTF? He wants to take away our freedom of speech, our freedom of religion,  the freedom of press and peaceable assembly. He wants to punish people for speaking or writing opinions or truths. He wants to take away the rights of our faiths, beliefs, and the way we worship. He is a true Nazi.

How can his followers not see how dangerous he is for our country? He is a hate monger. If he's elected we will be at war in the blink of an eye. He's like a child that can't wait to blow some shit up. I honestly would not be surprised if we ended up in a civil war during a Trump presidency. 

He wants make America great again. Which time period was that exactly? Before gay people had the right to marry? The years we sent our troops overseas to die for needless wars? Before women could decide what they could do with their own bodies?  When Japanese Americans were thrown into prison camps and Italians had curfews? When women belonged in the home, having babies, making sure dinner was on the table and a martini was waiting for hubby when he came home from a long day at work? Before women and blacks had the right to vote? When we still owned slaves? Are these the great times of which Trump speaks?

This country has had moments of greatness. The Separation of Church and State, as that's really when religious freedom really began. The signing of the Declaration of Independence. The Ratification of the Constitution. The Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves. Immigration at the turn of the century when we became a melting pot. Women's Suffrage. The Civil Right Act of 1964. When Armstrong walked on the moon. Desegregation. Affirmative Action. Americans with Disabilities Act. Electing the first black president. These are the moments that has made our country the greatest - When we come together to work for a better America.

What Trump is already doing and will continue to do is tear us apart. He is a loud bully, sexist, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic racist. He will be cancerous to society as we know it. A Trump presidency will destroy us and it may take a long time for America to recover, if ever.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

More of the battle

I was going to write about the joke of a presidential election happening, or the idiocy of blocking a nomination of a supreme court justice, the building of a methanol plant here in my city, or maybe even the new emoticon buttons on our facebook posts, but I've had some people tell me they have enjoyed being educated about CFS and I should continue to write about it. So here I go...

The view from my back door today.
Today would have been a beautiful day to walk to work, but basically, CFS and insomnia (could be CFS related insomnia, but who knows) has kicked my ass this week. I pushed really hard last week and now I'm paying the price. Last night I tried a little "herbal" help for my sleep. Yes, I mean weed. Not just any weed, but weed designed specifically to help you sleep. Don't judge, it's legal here. It made me tired. I fell asleep. Then I woke at 2 am and stayed awake until almost 6 am. When I woke up again at 9ish, I feel like I got hit in the head with a baseball bat, I have enormous bags under my eyes and they sting, and my entire body aches, especially my back and elbow (the joint pain is excruciatingly painful).

A friend told me that retail weed is weak and that I should try medical weed before the government ruins it for everyone (they've closed a bunch of MM stores, I assume they will continue to do so or start regulating their weed). So, anyway, the sleepy time weed didn't work.

Many people on my Facebook page gave me ideas for how to sleep better. I appreciate the support, I do, but none of it is anything I haven't tried before, with the exception of meditation and Zzzzzquil. A friend invited me to her meditation/yoga class next week, and I'm considering going though I hate yoga. And I think I'll go to the drug store for some good old fashioned Zquil. May try xanax as well since I have some.

Having CFS comes with a lot of other crap. Insomnia is one of them. Restless leg syndrome is another, which also is cause for a lack of sleep. Pain of course. And for some reason, I get itchy, especially my back and feet. No idea why. I've switched body wash, laundry detergent and fabric softeners to dye and fragrance free, but it doesn't seem to alleviate the problem.

I need to address some issues with doctors, unfortunately, I have to switch some doctors around because of my health insurance. I also have been doing research and finding what may help those who suffer from CFS with insomnia.

These sleepless bouts have been going on for about 3 years. I'll go sleepless for a few months, then have one day that my body revolts and I can't get out of bed all day, then it starts over again. Hopefully that "bed in" day will be on a day I don't have to work, but with my luck, I probably can't count on it.

So tonight, I follow some of the guidelines I've found and maybe take some Zquil. Hopefully I can get more than the 2 hours and 54 minutes I got last night (according to my Fitbit).

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Insomnia and other pesky ailments

I know you're probably tired of me talking about CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), but like I said in a previous blog, people don't get it. They don't understand it. They don't know how debilitating it can be. It causes things like insomnia. I have suffered insomnia for about three years now. Something I didn't know was connected with CFS. According to my FitBit, I never get more than four hours of restful sleep a night. Last night, I woke at 1:30 am and was up until 6 am. I did finally go back to sleep, but have no idea how this giant break in my sleep will affect my day.

Also, a follow up from last weeks blogs in which I walked to work...I've been paying for it. My entire body aches, I'm so exhausted, I've been having dizzy spells...I didn't walk to work yesterday, because I had some things I needed to bring there that would have been too burdensome to carry. This morning I needed to sleep as long as possible, so I won't be walking today either. I hope to get back to it tomorrow. I'm serious about fighting back. It may have put me out for a few days, but I'm going to get right back to it when I feel my body can handle it.

Luckily I have a job that is fun and doesn't take much physical effort. I can only handle  5 to 6 hours a day, especially when using my brain a lot. When I was trying to find a job, I was worried I wouldn't be able to find one that fit my needs. I was afraid I'd have to go on disability, which felt wrong because I'm perfectly capable of working, I just can't work a full time job. I even had to fight to get unemployment because I was only looking for part time jobs. I had to get a letter from  my doctor and have a hearing with a judge. Thankfully she understood. I'm glad to have a job in which I only work 6 hours a day,

I worry though, because come April, I'll have to work 5 days a week. I know that sounds lazy, but the struggle is real. However, I did work 5 days a week before for 5 hours a day and I did okay. I usually had to take a nap as soon as I went home. This job is different because my hours are noon to 6. There is no nap time. If I had my choice, I'd get up early and get things done, then go to work. But the reality is, working those hours, I need to sleep as late as possible to help me make it through the day.

I know it probably sounds pathetic to a normal person, but I can't reiterate how real it is. I used to be a person always on the go, always getting things done. I had endless energy and could write, clean, cook, exercise, take care of the kids, do the grocery shopping, help with I'm lucky to get one of those things in during the day. So believe me, it's frustrating. I wanted a curable diagnosis so I could get back to being my normal self. But what my doctor said is this,

"You have to come to the realization that you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. You need to learn how to live with it. You need to learn how to love yourself with it."

I'm still learning.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

To Kill A Mockingbird and our never ending battle with racism

As probably every teenager on the face of the planet, I was forced to read books for English class that I didn't enjoy. However, when I read To Kill a Mockingbird, it immediately became my favorite book and remains in that top spot to this day.

I think perhaps it was the first time I really thought about social injustice. I know racism and all kinds of bigotry were present, but I mean, I was still a kid. I didn't notice things like that really. It would be nice to stay blissfully ignorant, but the fact is, we can't. As far as we've come since Harper Lee wrote about good and evil, injustice and social profiling before it had a label, we still have a long way to go.

The unfairness that befell people like Tom Robinson, though maybe not as overtly (or maybe so, depending on who you ask), still exists today. People are judged by the color of their skin, the god they choose to worship, who they choose to love. While all those may not be mockingbirds, complete innocents, they are still enduring great injustice through intolerance and prejudice.

Let's talk about black history month for example. Many people ask, why do we need it? And, why is there no white history month.I will quote my own self from my Facebook profile to explain the whys.

Today Black History Month begins. I know some people question its importance, including some African Americans. I may not be able to express why with the right words, but I'm going to try to explain its importance and significance.

For centuries schools have taught history. However, many of the achievements and contributions made by African Americans have been omitted, so really, our history lessons were whitewashed (also the reason, no, we don't need a White History Month). Just like whites, African Americans have contributed greatly to art, science, politics and sports, among numerous other components of American culture. We should know about these contributions. We should learn about them. We should care about them.

Blacks have, and continue to, endure hardships we can't even fathom. They have overcome many obstacles and injustices and have triumphed. There are works of art, events, inventions, and progress that would never have been possible if it wasn't for the contributions of African Americans.

I think it's our responsibility as Americans to learn more about our prolific history, not the whitewashed one we were taught in school, but the one in which a diverse people made and continue to make notable and innovative achievements and contributions, allowing us to become the strongest nation in the world.

So, that's why.

Photo by Gage Skidmore 
And let's talk about the 2016 Oscars. It's really not just about black, but about diversity. Every actor and actress nominee is pretty much the whitest people you could choose. I'm not saying they don't deserve their nods. To be honest, I've not seen many movies this year (okay, I've seen one and it wasn't Oscar worthy) but many of them have actors of color that have been overlooked when others related to the movie have received nominations. Such as:

Creed: Sylvester Stallone is nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but no Best Actor nom for the talented Michael B. Jordan?

Straight Outta Compton:  White people nominated for writing, but no nod to actor Jason Mitchell, whose performance was critically acclaimed.

The Hateful Eight: Jennifer Jason Leigh is nominated for Best Supporting Actress. No nomination for Samuel Jackson.

A couple others passed over...Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation and Will Smith for Concussion. And that's just the actors. Director of Creed, Ryan Coogler and director of Straight Outta Compton,  F. Gary Gray were also overlooked for Oscar nominations.

It's really a sad statement that 56 years after To Kill a Mockingbird, racial inequality and discrimination still exists. It's too bad, that just as Scout and Jem had to witness  the injustices in a dominantly white society, we still have to endure the ugly face of prejudice. And that this mindset, though it may be diluted from generation to generation, is still passed on. Racism is not innate, it's learned behavior. What I wouldn't give to live in a world that sees each other through the eyes of children. They don't notice color, at least not when they're very young. They see beyond the color of skin into the heart of a person.

And as I said, it's not just about color. It's about religion, sex, sexual orientation, social class...we should view each other as Mockingbirds, worthy of respect and admiration. We should embrace our differences, not judge them. Instead of knocking each other down, we should be lifting each other up.

I know society has come a long way since the era to TKAM, but it's still not good enough. We need more Finches in the world. Those who lend a voice to those who can't speak for themselves. Those who understand that people shouldn't be judged because they are different in some ways. Inside we are all flesh, blood, muscle...the things that make us all human. The things about us that are the same. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Another Day in Paradise

9:34 am
Skeptical Megan is skeptical. My body is feeling the affects of my last two days of pushing hard. I
woke in the middle of the night and stayed awake for a couple of hours. It was hard to get out of bed this morning. My back, both my knees and my elbow hurt. It's a beautiful day, and I'd really like to walk to work today, but I'm afraid if I do, I woke be able to function properly the next few days. It's another long workday with my shift then a two hour event following.

I have an hour to make up my mind...more later.

12:57 pm
I opted for walking. the day was too beautiful to waste. If I'm going to skip the walk, I'd rather do it on a gray, rainy day. Plus, I get to admire the view. There's a walking/biking path on part of the route to the wine shop. It's shorter that walking the busy commercial street.

I lightened my load today by leaving my computer at home. I put the files I might need at the shop on my external hard drive and packed that instead. Also, I opted for tennis shoes instead of Uggs. I love my Uggs and they're comfortable, but not for walking 2 miles. I packed a pair of Mary Janes to change into. Once again also packed hair product, makeup and deodorant.

At just under a mile in, again, my middle aged hips screamed. I ignored them, knowing they would be numb after a little more walking. Everything else felt pretty good, especially my feet.

People gave me funny looks as I trudged my way to work. I supposed maybe I looked a little funny, flowy pink and white blouse, black skirt and tights, cross trainers on my feet, backpack slung over my shoulders, elbow brace in place. My hair (which all of a sudden seems very long) flew out behind me in the light PNW breeze. I forgot to bring a hair band for my walk to keep it out of my face and to keep my neck from sweating too much.

I actually got a honk and a kissy sound from a passing driver. People actually still do stuff like that? Cat call and such? It was flattering, even if I totally ignored him.

My mail carrier friend, Jason drove by and waved. Nice to see a friendly face on my journey.

I know I'm close to the shop when the sidewalk flattens out. I'm glad I decided to walk. In the shop I stood in front of the fan for a few moments, patted my face with a paper towel, grabbed a glass of ice water and changed my shoes. Close to 6,000 steps before work again.

It's kind of gross, walking to work and getting kind of sweaty and stuff. But I think my pack would be too heavy were I to bring a complete change of clothes with me. For now, I'll just opt for the paper towel pat down.

I'm a bit fearful about how I'll feel tomorrow. The good thing is it's Sunday, and I don't have to do anything if I don't want to.

Living with CFS is difficult sometimes, as I've mentioned before. Every day is different. I think the hardest part is the lack of understanding by others. I've had people ask me if I want to do this or that, and I'm like, "I can't because of my medical condition." Usually I get laughed at. I don't look sick. But I never feel fully rested. My body urges me to slow down, or stop even. I'm lucky, because I am able to work, while many who suffer are wheelchair bound or bedridden all the time. Don't get me wrong, I've had days when I couldn't get out of bed, but mine happen mostly when I overexert myself mentally or physically, or I'm dealing with a large amount of stress.

Right now my elbow hurts and I'm a little tired, but I will continue to fight this. I want to work in my yard again, plant flowers, mow my own lawn, keep my house clean, cook. All things that are hard for me to do because of CFS. And I want to get to a place where I feel whole and happy again.

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend. Hey! If you ever see me on my route to work, honk or wave. It will inspire me to keep going.

My Dad. He's awesome.

John Messina, Personal Injury Attorney

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