Support whatever group you like, but I don’t have to help you do it.

This year we want to have professional photos taken of L for the holidays, like we did two years ago. We loved our photographer, who is extremely talented. She and her husband run the business.  I figured we would just use them again this year. (I can’t upload any of the photos – she has them protected, as any smart photographer would.)

I go on her website to get her phone number and begin looking around in the “Giving Back” section.  I first spend 10 minutes weeping while viewing photos from an “Operation: Smile” photo essay this woman did in Hondouras.  Incredible before and after photos. I was really moved.  Then I clicked on something called “DPRC” with a little “uh-oh” in my mind. Afterall, I do live in Texas. This could be anything.

DPRC isn’t just anything: it is an anti-abortion clinic that talks women into giving birth through what I consider misinformation. The website uses language like “post-abortion syndrome” and “sexual purity.” They claim to talk about birth control but I don’t know what or how.  They also have a statistic about STDs on the front page which was at first encouraging, since most abstinence only groups don’t like to even mention STDs, but if they are using it to further abstinence and not education, then that is bothersome for me. (I admit, I didn’t research it too closely. I picked up on the rhetoric quickly enough.) It goes against all my hard work this summer on those articles for The Democratic Blog of Collin County. It goes against my personal moral belief system.

Here’s the except from the photographer’s blog (I am purposely not giving her name or web address):

“We were honored to photograph some of the women who have sought the helpful guidance of the Dallas Pregnancy Resource Center during their time of need. It was a blessing to meet and photograph these strong ladies again after their precious babies arrived. Click here to visit the Dallas Pregnancy Resource Center website and see the great work they are doing. On March 29, 2007, Angie’s images of these women and babies were displayed during a “Concert for Life” at the Lakewood Theater starring Christian artist Nichole Nordeman and benefitting the DPRC.”

Clearly, this photographer is anti-abortion and strongly Christian.  I am about as Pro-Choice as anyone can get and feel that Evangelical Christianity is hurting our country.  I am not against this photographer choosing to support this group as a matter of Freedom of Speech. My issue is, I don’t want to give her my money. But I really want beautiful photos of my child.

I shared my conflict with my husband who, without much thought, said, “We aren’t doing business with them not matter how good she is.” (If you know my husband well, then you know that is a kid-friendly version.)

This is the issue, I guess.  The photos of L the first time around were the most incredible photos I have seen.  I want that again – for the cards but also for posterity.  But can I hand over a LOT of money to someone who is going to use her resources to benefit a group I think is doing harm? Can I let go of what I want in order to stand up for what I believe?

Of course I can. I might not like it, but I can. And I must. Because no matter how beautiful my child looks in our holiday cards, if I can’t look myself in the mirror because of it, then it isn’t the right thing to do.

Thomas Jefferson Didn’t Want The Government In Our Religion. It Is A Fact. Glen Beck Can Suck It.

You know, I’m really sick of Conservatives trying to own the Founding Fathers.  GOP leaders and their followers speak as though each one of them are descendants of our great nation’s creators, like they are infused with their DNA. At the same time, they quote them erroneously and with out apology or correction: The Founding Fathers established this country based on Christian principles! The Founding Fathers intended Christianity to infuse every part of public life! The Founding Fathers peferred abstinence in schools!

I just read a letter written by Thomas Jefferson, one he wrote WHILE HE WAS PRESIDENT stating clearly that the Constitution doesn’t allow the government to get involve in religious matters to protect religion.  And when I say “clearly,” I mean it.  I normally don’t understand letters from the 1800’s but this one I get.  Read it yourself.

Letter to Rev. Samuel Miller

Jefferson’s letter to Rev. Samuel Miller, from Washington, January 23, 1808.

ir, — I have duly received your favor of the 18th and am thankful to you for having written it, because it is more agreeable to prevent than to refuse what I do not think myself authorized to comply with. I consider the government of the U S. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise, of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the U.S. Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority. But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting & prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the U.S. an authority over religious exercises which the Constitution has directly precluded them from. It must be meant too that this recommendation is to carry some authority, and to be sanctioned by some penalty on those who disregard it; not indeed of fine and imprisonment, but of some degree of proscription perhaps in public opinion. And does the change in the nature of the penalty make the recommendation the less a law of conduct for those to whom it is directed? I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct it’s exercises, it’s discipline, or it’s doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting & prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, & the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the constitution has deposited it.

I am aware that the practice of my predecessors may be quoted. But I have ever believed that the example of state executives led to the assumption of that authority by the general government, without due examination, which would have discovered that what might be a right in a state government, was a violation of that right when assumed by another. Be this as it may, every one must act according to the dictates of his own reason, & mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the U S. and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.

I again express my satisfaction that you have been so good as to give me an opportunity of explaining myself in a private letter, in which I could give my reasons more in detail than might have been done in a public answer: and I pray you to accept the assurances of my high esteem & respect.

( Thomas Jefferson, letter to letter to Rev. Samuel Miller, from Washington, January 23, 1808; Merrill D. Peterson, ed., Thomas Jefferson: Writings, New York: Library of America, 1994, pp. 1186-1187. )

So there we have it. The Founding Fathers didn’t want religion anywhere near their government, on purpose. So Glen Beck, you think you understand Thomas Jefferson. As someone who has read (admittedly only) one of Jefferson’ letters, I feel safe to say, you don’t know Thomas Jefferson. And you can suck it.

In Defense of My Child’s Education Part 1

Noah Adams interviewed Barbara Cargill on All Things Considered yesterday about the President’s speech to school children.  As Media Matters points out (audio and transcript here),  Ms. Cargill is on the State Board of Education in Texas and she is very conservative. So conservative in fact that she asks people who are nominated to serve on a board to rewrite curriculum if they consider themselves Conservative. When Ms. Cargill decries the President as someone who perhaps tampering with curriculum, one might laugh at her contradiction.  Apparently, Noah Adams didn’t get the joke.  He never questioned her about this irony, nor her repeated, and sometimes successful, attempts to put religion in Texas curriculum.

Because I live in Texas and fear for my child’s education, giving a woman like this a national platform to insinuate that her authority is more important than President Obama’s is infuriating.  Here is the letter I sent to NPR.  (If you find typos, don’t bother pointing them out. I already sent the note anyway and I’ll only be embarrassed.)

I am very disappointed in Noah Adam’s interview with Barbara Cargill. Ms. Cargill acted personally insulted that the President would “insert” his “agenda” into public schools, presumably over her authority. Ms. Cargill is part of a group of State School Board Members who continuously, and sometimes successfully, attempt to insert personal views of faith and politics in our public schools. Yet, Mr. Adams neglected to ask her about these efforts and let Ms. Cargill act as though the President is not important enough to make things a little inconvenient for a day. The hubris with which Ms. Cargill speaks is endemic of Texas conservative idealogues. They wax patriotic about our country’s values but at the moment they give no value to the Office of the President. That you gave this woman a platform to shout her rancor without doing your homework is irresponsible.

I know, I got a little dramatic. But people around the country don’t know what it is like to live in Texas and worry that your kid is going to come home and talk about God in a way that we don’t believe or tell me that some Great Creator designed the Earth and that evolution is against God. And if you think all it takes is saying, “Honey, that isn’t true,” try contradicting your kid’s teacher about anything – sometimes a child believes their teacher in spite of the parents, like a defense against parents always being right.

Perhaps I am just screaming into the void. But I get so mad, I’ve got to scream somewhere.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Since I knew the day was coming when my only child, L, would go to Kindergarten,  I decided to make this summer special.  Given that she would be home a lot and her fun was in my hands, I needed a goal to be sure she didn’t spend each day in front of the television.  With public school close at hand, and anticipating the big change it would bring, I wanted to create a summer that created connection and love, a kind of “you and me” celebration.  She might not remember much of it since L is only 5, but I wanted to remember.

The summer got off on a rocky beginning.  Our first week out of preschool brought a move to a new house and a change in schedule – both of us home, all day long, with just each other.  L desperately wanted to be back in class with her friends and I desperately wanted my 6 hour break.  Neither of us got what we wanted.  Camps didn’t begin for week. Mostly, we fought.

After that first week, though, we got a kind of rythm. No rushing. No appointments. L began to understand that summer was a time to relax. I guess I did, too. Gymnastics “camp” – 5 hours of playtime – began and though they rarely taught her any actual gymnastics, it took up time. And though I HATE putting on a swimsuit, I swallowed my trepidation and took L to our gym’s pool. A lot. Like most kids, L loves swimming and this brought her much joy.  I’d pack snacks and a lunch (most times, although sometimes I had to mooch off friends – in the beginning I just couldn’t get it together) and feel like a “real mom.” I didn’t get in the water much and encouraged L, instead, to make friends.  Sometimes we met Macaroni-and-Glue there with her girlie.  The fun L had in the water made exposing my dimpled thighs worthwhile.

dance camp recital

Dance Camp Recital

Dance Camp was also in June. Only 3 hours in the middle of the day, perhaps not the best set up. But L was with her close friend, V, and anytime she can bond with a friend I am happy.. I just love knowing that my child makes friends.  And she picks the nicest ones! Dance camp ended with a performance with girls getting to wear some kind of costume. My child picked a dress up dress I bought at resale.

June made way for July, the month of French Camp. The Dallas International School offers French, Spanish and Chinese classes for kids in the summer. (In the winter, they are a full day private school.) I like French better than Spanish so I got my husband to agree to putting L in a French class. Plus I know French (a little) and thought it would be easier to reinforce what L learned.  Ends up we didn’t use too much of it. L learned her numbers and few things here and there but mostly it was just fun. Not that I have a problem with that. She was exposed to another language and to another culture, which I am thrilled about. Plus she learned this great little song that gets stuck in my head with her voice singing, and how great is that?

Besides the camps, L and I had “Science Wednesday” which I created as a way to get/keep her interested in science. At first I got ideas off the internet but when I almost destroyed our stove top I decided to buy a science kit for her age.  No actual explosions but lots of fizzing and colors. Pretty sure she didn’t retain any of the information but she sure did have fun.  Here’s a photo of the first round of “change flower colors with food coloring” but had to be redone because this version didn’t work. (Here’s how to do it right.)experiment

Hula Hoop

L teaching Alex how to hoola hoop

August brought down time and lots of gymnastic camp until we left town for 3 weeks. Everyone should leave North Texas for August because, quite frankly, it is too hot for human survival. First stop was Detroit, my parents’ house. L hadn’t seen her Nana since before her open-heart surgery. (By the way, Nana is doing so much better since she began exercising and looks like her old self. Well, she doesn’t look old, really, but you know what I mean.) Papa, a dentist, put a filling in one of Lillian’s baby teeth, but L was a real trooper.  Midway through our visit, my sister and her kids came in, too.  L played with her cousins as much as they would play with her – they are 9, 14, and 18. The cousins were very patient and loving.

The day after we returned from Detroit, we left for Wyoming.  J’s dad and step-mom own a house in Jackson Hole and we visit most summers.  J fly fishes as much as possible while I spend the week worried about L getting bored. This trip was better than most, since she is 5 and can both entertain herself better and could do more things.  Also, J’s dad is always willing to play a game with her, especially chess, which she loves.

Three things happened that really surprised me:

1. L figured out how to paddle her own canoe and kayak.  Not that we let her go it alone on String Lake (Teton National Park). J or Grandpa held a rope while she was in a boat. But she actually managed to paddle herself around a bit. The coordination was pretty surprising.

2. L pet a couple of dogs.  She’s been terrified of them ever since a horrible experience with an acquaintance’s dog.  Well, in Wyoming, dogs are used to being around people unlike in the suburbs where dogs are locked up indoors and when humans show up they jump like mad. J took L to an outdoor supply store where she met Paco The Wonder Dog, a super mellow dog who  eventually L put a little fly box on its head. She then pet it. A breakthrough.

riding backwards

Yeah, she's riding backwards!

3. L rode a horse.  Not like she sat on it and someone pulled it around. She brushed Jake, cleaned his hooves, and walked him to an arena. Her instructor, Terry, put her on and then taught L how to control the horse. L managed to get Jake to back up and turn right and left.  The lesson was over an hour. I am not a rider and am actually afraid of horses, but even with my lack of knowledge I could see how this experience gave L confidence.  I mean, here’s a 50 lb. kid directing a 300 lb. animal! L absolutely loved it and asked to do it again and again. Here she is riding backwards while Terry’s granddaughter leads Jake around the arena:

We returned on the Sunday before school began, the official end of summer vacation. We didn’t do everything I wanted. I wanted to take L to a museum in Dallas. I wanted to drive to Louisiana because we live so close and I have never been. I wanted to take her swimming more and figure out how to get that darn backyard water slide to work despite our (new) slanted backyard. Even with those few regrets, I believe I gave L a great time. She played with friends, saw lots of family, ate plenty of icecream and popsicles, and created a few memories, I hope. And for me? I got to enjoy my child’s beautiful face as it lit up with joy, watch her run on various beaches, listen as her laugh rang out through the Teton canyons and kiss her goodnight as she snuggled up to her stuffed animals, exhausted from all the fun.

It was, in all, a perfect summer.

Artists in the Mountains

(I wrote this a couple of days ago but I’m too lazy to change the tense.)

I’m in Wilson, WY with my family visiting my father-in-law.  He lives in Jackson Hole.  It is absolutely serene here.  When we return, I’ll post some pictures.

Over the weekend, Jackson had an art fair.  I found some work that I really loved and that I would love to purchase some day.  For a change of pace on my blog, the following is a list of websites to the work I was drawn to. It might not be your style, but artists need publicity.  And for the 6 of your reading this, you might find someone to admire.

Sweetland Pottery:  I loved this man’s pottery.  I couldn’t believe how exact he got the colors on his work. I bought a mug for my husband (J used to throw pottery himself but nothing this good). (If you click on the link and view his gallery, mug looks like the blue tea-pot.) I hope to purchase some platters for display.

Cyndylove Designs: My FIL purchased a dress for my daughter’s first day at school.  It is so sweet and young, but with bright colors.  She’ll be able to wear it all winter long with the addition of tights and a long-sleeved shirt. (The dress is not on the site.) According to the woman at the booth (I assumed she was Cyndy), the clothing is all hand-designed. The winter clothing looked warm and cozy but too warm for North Dallas.

Kathy Sigle: Apparently Ms. Sigle works in watercolors but looking at her work I could have sworn it was sketching, the work was so exact. Many artists had art of animals indigineous to Jackson Hole at the show, making the subjects a dime a dozen. I looked for artists who captured the animals “personalities,” if that is possible. I thought this woman’s art surprassed most others.  I hope some day to buy a few smaller paintings of fishing flies for my husband.

Leif Holland: Formerly a chef, Mr. Holland makes the most interesting art.  I’ll try to explain as a non-artist: he takes pieces of nature (twigs or grass) and delicately sets them in a box frame.  This creates an incredible juxtaposition of nature and modern-looking architecture.  The frames do not have glass – the viewer is compelled to touch the display but of course I didn’t.  I spoke to Mr. Holland who was interesting, friendly and courteous.  My husband and I have a hard time bringing both of our tastes together (let’s just say he’s a little bit country and I’m a little bit rock ‘n’ roll) and Mr. Holland’s work does a great job of doing it.  I have my heart set on a set of tree limbs covered in moss.

Caroline Christie: Apparently, I like leaves.  This artist is the first of two “leaf artists” I gravitated to.  I don’t know what her medium is, I assume watercolors. Very vibrant, rich colors of…leaves.

Leaf, Botanical Art: This art was interesting.  Owen Mortensen finds thousands of leaves, dries them and then assembles them on canvas.  There ends up being quite a bit of white space, but the art is peaceful and delicate.  He gives 1% of his profit to environmental causes and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council.  That’s putting his money where is art is.

David Stine: This guy’s woodworking is outrageous. He finds a tree (from family forests he stewards himself, according to his website), mills the board and creates the piece all by hand.  It is like having a piece of the forest in your kitchen. The colors are gorgeous – he gets the most out of every tree.  His work is custom, and his website doesn’t have prices so you know the work is expensive.  But this is the kind of thing you hand down to your kids. And a girl can dream, right?

I hope you liked the artists featured here. I am no expert of art but at least I know what draws me in.  I think most of us are like that, right?

Total Eclipse of Logic, Apparently

This is why I love Youtube.  It is kind of long but it is worth watching the whole thing.

My Grandmother is Dying. Maybe

My Grandma Selma has a brain tumor. She had it operated on once but they couldn’t get it all.  Now the tumor is paralyzing her on one side.  She can’t make full sentences easily, so mostly she responds with “yes” or “no.”

But I wouldn’t know because we don’t talk and we probably won’t before she dies.

I know this sounds interminably sad but it isn’t. I am telling you the end of this story (possibly) but I have lived the whole thing. I am not angry at my grandmother for cutting off communication, at least not now. At first I was really mad because I thought it meant something about my child and her family experience.

But my dad’s family has never been our family. I have fought this for years. I wanted it to be different. I wanted to have a relationship with them and say, “I triumphed over the past!” For a while, I did.  But even if I can let go of the past – or get beyond it since I wasn’t involved in the family fighting directly – that doesn’t mean that others can. My dad’s sister just couldn’t stop putting her feelings about my dad onto his kids and that caused tension. Eventually, it killed my relationship with my grandmother.

My grandmother has this philosophy that people who do well need to be cut down and people who don’t do well need a LOT of building up. And excuses about why they fail.  In this scenario: Dad has done well for himself, his sisters have not.  My grandmother, then, brags and brags about how hard her daughters work and how wonderful her other great grandchildren are while I am sitting there with one of her great grandchildren (on the did well side). After years of this strange philosophy, I got tired of it. Visiting her was only for her, and even then I wasn’t sure why I was going. If she thought her other great grandkids were better than mine, why was I there?

So I stopped visiting. I felt badly but my dad was okay with it. He understood that my grandmother wasn’t the loving kind and had heard her go on and on about his sister’s family while she never even asked about his. He got it.

Then, during a visit to me and my brother in California, my dad came to his mother’s to pick her up and bring her by to see 4 of his grandchildren. Grandma Selma answered the door and promptly told my dad that she never wanted to see nor speak to his children (that would be me, my brother and my sister) again because they never came to visit her. But she would talk to him; that was okay.  My dad replied, “Well, mother, that is your choice. But I came to town to see my grandchildren and that is where I am going right now.  I will see you another time.”  She was pretty floored, apparently.

This is why I love my dad – he stuck up for us.  It wasn’t my grandmother’s idea, I know. It was my aunt’s, who holds a grudge with my dad. And perhaps the tumor makes Selma unstable so she was easily swayed. But honestly, Grandma Selma only has two modes: communicating and cutting off communication.

Like I said: I was mad at first because I thought she was taking something away from my daughter. But Selma was never interested in her so we are really breaking even. My kid doesn’t know that this woman exists. I feel badly for my dad, who only wanted his mother to say, “You are a great son, a wonderful husband, and the best father.” Because he is all of those things. And I feel badly for my grandmother who can’t be the Matriarch she thinks she deserves to be.

Oh. And why is she “maybe” dying? Well, she is definitely in a bad place.  It all depends on when she decides to stop eating and let herself die. My aunts are, of course, heartbroken. My dad is more open about it (she’s 95 years old) but he doesn’t live with her and doesn’t have to watch her die. It is a sad situation all around.

I think about writing her a letter but my motivation isn’t clear. It wouldn’t be a nasty one because I’m not mad.  What would it say? “Hi, Grandma. Too bad you missed my kid’s life. And now you are dying. It is really a shame.”  Besides, I have no guarantee that my aunt would give it to her. Likely she’d throw it out unopened.

The word “grandmother” has an aura around it, an assumption of unconditional love and unrelenting generosity. But that is a myth. Grandmothers are people with personalities. Once we realize that, then we can stop blaming them for not living up to the myth. Grandma Selma has the right to be whatever kind of grandmother she wants to be, or at least the kind she is capable of.

I wish her peace during this time and trust that she will be surrounded by those who love her and have cared for her.

Silliness Personified

Like Craig Ferguson, love They Might Be Giants.

This is My Michael Jackson Post

That's me in my MJ-like leather jacket.

That's me in my MJ-like leather jacket.

My mind can’t help but be full of Michael Jackson. His death is everywhere I hang out – mostly the internet. I’ve been reading other people’s comments on Twitter – the good, the bad and the tasteless.  And I have formed a few of my own opinions about the whole ordeal.

First: I am not mourning Michael Jackson’s death.  I was surprised by it, certainly. I feel sad for his family. But I am not emotionally effected by his passing.

Second: I am not mourning the death of Michael Jackson’s music.  His music rode the waves of fame and martyrdom over the years.  How else can his high record sales numbers be explained?  His “hit” songs were not that great, and today, pop hits are made by The Suits anyway. Doesn’t mean the songs are any good.  Jackson’s best musical years were way behind him and they were way behind me, too.

Third: Michael Jackson’s contributions to black history were hidden because of Jackson himself. Hearing that he broke down racial barriers was a surprise to me and I don’t think it is because I am unaware of recent historical African American breakthroughs. I imagine that the press touted Jackson’s contribution to breaking down racial barriers through the years, but over time talk about his important moments was overshadowed by his strange activity.

Fame’s everlasting question “But what have you done lately?” gets answered one way or another.  A smart celebrity (ie: Angelina Jolie) learns that question quickly and manages the answer. Jackson wasn’t one of those celebrities. Or perhaps he wanted it both ways – he wanted to do whatever he wanted, act however he wanted but with total forgiveness by his fans and the press.  The more his sanity was questioned, the more he blasted against the reality of fame. Meanwhile, he allowed the media and the general public to answer the question, “What have you done lately?” with the term “Wacko-Jacko.”

Fourth: I feel sad for his kids and I believe that they think he was the best dad. But he wasn’t a great father because he didn’t take care of himself.  His death was clearly due to self-induced starvation coupled with high levels of prescription medication. His death wasn’t an accident, like falling off a ladder. He didn’t have his kids in mind with these choices and I find that inexcusible. He is not martyr.

Fifth: I have respect for Jackson the Artist but none for Jackson the Person. I am good with those two worlds being separate. I will never know an famous Artist as a Person. Normally, I have respect for one while knowing the other is out of my orbit. Sometimes, I have respect for both because the Person becomes known through philanthropic activity, for example. With all I learned about Jackson the Person (multiple plastic surgeries, whitening his skin, multiple and brief marriages, close relationships with young boys, owning a pet chimp, wearing masks in public, hanging his baby over a balcony, and the list goes on) the less I respected him.

I believe he had a difficult life. His father seems to be a real ass. Being a child star is difficult – adults putting all of their dreams into him, not knowing who was telling the truth, world adulation with no one else who can relate (no wonder his best friend was Diana Ross) – and I don’t blame him for that difficulty. But as an adult, he knew what a normal reaction to all the stress was and what was absurd. Outside of the box is one thing – outside of reality is another.

Ultimately, I believe (and mind you I am not a professional, um, anything) that Michael Jackson didn’t know who he was. He was lost – all that talent but not able to connect at a human level with anyone because he couldn’t connect with himself. That is why I think he had these “close” relationships with boys (I use quotes because how emotionally close could he be with an 8 year old? And I am not accusing him of being a pedophile since he was acquitted of the charges). He was trying to get to know himself as a child  since that part of his life disappeared with his rising fame. And if he could know himself as a child, maybe he would know himself as a man.  That never came to pass, and now he is dead.

After saying all this, I could say that I’m ready to move on.

Only, I moved on from Michael Jackson a long time ago.

Since When Are Strawberries the Enemy?

Forbidden Fruit

Forbidden Fruit

A lot has changed since we last met.  We moved into our new house, a home we finally own. We are done unpacking and are now in the “putting away/hanging pictures” stage. My daughter ended preschool and is on summer vacation. She hasn’t been out of school for this long in over a year, and we have 2.5 more months before Kindergarten. I am both excited to spend time with her as well as looking forward to her weeks of camp.

The latest development, however, is nothing short of a steamroller through my life, through my emotional well-being.  I have Interstitial Cystitis.  Basically, it is a condition where the mucus membrane of the bladder disintegrates, no longer protecting the lining of the bladder from the urine it holds. So, I feel like I have a Urinary Tract Infection all of the time but without the infection.

Here are two links: layperson friendly and technical.

I know what you want to know: what is the treatment? Well, no treatments work 100%. Or even 60%.  Medication works only 30% of the time, you have to take it for 4-6 months and it causes hair loss while you take it. There are other therapies but I am not in that much pain. I am annoyed and uncomfortable but I wouldn’t call it “pain,” like someone who is doubled over with an inflamed bladder and has to crawl to the bathroom. Thankfully, I am not like that and it might not get that bad.  It is bad enough, however, that it can’t be ignored.

The recommended way to stop an I.C. attack is through diet. The less acid in my bladder the less it hurts. Check out what I can’t eat (this is abridged for space):

  • Most fruits (except blueberries, pears and melon)
  • tomatoes and onions
  • Anything with vinegar (ie: salad dressings and marinades, condiments)
  • fruit juice, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, any drinks with bubbles
  • meat with nitrates, tofu
  • aged cheese, yogurt (I can eat string cheese, cottage cheese, American)
  • anything spicy
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol

If you followed me around all day, you would see that everything I eat is on this list, except for my beloved sweet potatoes and steamed vegetables.   At this point, I eat a lot of blueberries and am practically drowning in water.  The list might not seem so bad, but when I say it is everything I eat, I am not kidding. We practically live on chicken apple sausage.  My husband cooks with loads of spices. And I can eat a tomato like an apple (and often do…or did).

I am passionate about eating. I love strong flavors like gruyere cheese and meat grilled with spices and herbs. I drink wine, often. Olives! Pickles! Nectarines! Food is a way J and I experience life, especially when we don’t have family in town and rarely have a sitter.  In place of going out to fancy restaurants and dining ourselves into bankruptcy, my husband makes delicious meals accompanied by wine or beer. Every night is date night in our household.

The change in diet has brought on a lot of anxiety and sadness for me, and it isn’t only because of how much I love Jardine’s steak rub.

In college,  a therapist and a dietitian helped me work through compulsive eating. To give myself comfort from the never ending barrage of insults I threw at myself, I ate constantly. Especially at night. Especially peanut butter. (I stopped buying it but ended up eating my roommates’ jars. Yes, JARS.)  Eating was the only way I knew to fill the pit of my stomach that was always in knots from my constant questioning: Why am I so ugly? Why am I so stupid? Why am I so worthless?

Over the years, I have worked through the self-hatred and the eating has subsided. Mostly. I can normally talk myself out of the behavior and walk out of a store with nothing to gulp down by the handfuls. PMS often brings on some kind of crazy eating, but now I share my experience with my husband and I’m done.

However, I also need to feel that all food is accessible to me. I assume this is related to the compulsive eating somehow. Even when I diet for weightloss I can NEVER have a category of food off limits. Limited in intake? I can handle that. Off limits? I’ll eat even more. The feeling of punishment is simply too strong to overcome the “no-carb” diet. If I can’t eat a food that some skinnier, prettier woman can, then it proves what I always knew about me: I am stupid, ugly and worthless. So, I eat lots of healthy food and sometimes not so healthy food.

So I am completely boxed in here. I have no choice in what I can eat. At restaurants, I am one of those annoying people who has to ask what is in everything and ask the waitress to take things off (next time you are at a restaurant and about to order a salad, try taking off the bacon, tomatoes, onion and dressing and see if it is even worth buying anymore). I stare at strawberries in our fridge and want to cry. I miss juice. I miss yogurt. I miss eating what I want when I want.

This blog was never meant to be about anything in particular. I don’t intend for that to change. But having I.C. will definitely be a theme, as well as food and the psychology of eating. Because if there is one thing I am definitely no expert at, it’s how to maintain my sanity while being told what I can and can not eat.

Eat a strawberrty today, and think of me.