18 November 2018


Oh well. So much for NaBloPoMo.

Today I am attempting to clean up my desk and my house and the OMG piles of paper everywhere.

And, because sometimes I roll that way, I'm listing weird shite on eBay, like a petticoat from Laura Ashley that I wore in high school. It was meant to be worn peeking out from under one of those Victorian-meets-prairie cotton flannel dresses.

And it has now been kicking around my house, unworn, for far too long.

Last year, I fell into a headline trap and bought a pair of those Rothy's shoes. I so liked the idea of them, but I just didn't like the way they fit me.

Them? They're going on eBay too.

How about you? Are you a throw it away person, a give it to Goodwill person, a hold onto it until someone needs it person, or a let's put it on eBay person?

16 November 2018

Because, Science

November isn’t just NaBloPoMo, it’s also Lung Cancer Awareness Month; as a result, my sister has been posting about lung cancer on Facebook every day.

Here’s what she wrote there on Tuesday:

LCAM, Day 13.

I am an atheist. Some would call me a nonbeliever, but that’s incorrect. I believe in a lot of things, just not in a god. You know what I really, really believe in? Science. 
I have spent the past month, leading up to the past three days, immersed in the science of medical research. It has humbled me beyond all comprehension - the funding applications I was charged with reviewing contained the densest, hardest reading I have ever done. Truth be told, I did not understand most of the science. But the scientists and researchers do - and I am in awe of their work.
I am alive today - my awesome cancer friends are alive today - not because of prayers or divine intervention or miracles. Because of science.

Science spelled out with DNA, a magnet, a test tube, a shell, nitrogen, the crescent moon, and leaves.

[What she's been participating in is the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, as a consumer reviewer. She's awesome and I'm proud of her.]

15 November 2018

Scent Memory

Odors are powerful. One whiff and your brain whirs, oh yes, I remember that.

I grew up on Long Island, and, as a result, I have traveled through Penn Station often. We would take the train in and out of Manhattan, on visits to museums or expeditions to Broadway shows. Later, I’d change trains at Penn for Amtrak, to get back and forth to college. Summers, I commuted - a daily passenger.
Penn Station then and now always smells to me like donuts. Sweet, oily, distinct. Stale beer and indifferent popcorn, occasional piss, late night vomit - they layer grace notes into the donut aroma. But a whiff of that particular donut small will always jolt me back to hours spent waiting at or traversing through Penn.

For years now, I’ve commuted daily through Grand Central Terminal. It’s a palace, a wonder, a temple, especially as compared to Penn Station. Penn is low-ceilinged, subterranean, warren-like; GCT soars, replete with daylight in the main upstairs hall. GCT has never smelled specific to me. Yes, it's briny in the Oyster Bar and smells of solvents near the shoeshine and there are pockets of coffee, onion bagels, diesel fuel, flowers. But there’s no one smell that says “I am in Grand Central”.

The powers that be are building a whole new station under GCT - the Long Island Rail Road will one day stop there, 14 stories underground, providing “East Side Access” (because Penn Station is so far away). It’s supposed to be open and running four years from now.

Recently, one of the stands in the lower level food hall changed hands. I can’t remember what was there before, but now it’s a fancy-pants donut shop. The result, for me, is that now, willy-nilly, GCT smells like Penn Station. It's like the Doughnut Plant is a harbinger of the arrival of the Long Island Rail Road.

14 November 2018

Be Prepared

I, curmudgeon, am usually exasperated by tourists and strollers and tourists with strollers at rush hour? OMG.

This morning, the downtown express was unusually uncrowded, and the family of four tourists plus two strollers wasn't in the way.

And the father? He caught my eye, because attached to his baseball cap he had two hair elastics and one barrette.

It warmed the cockles of my cold black heart to see how well prepared he was for the inevitable hair emergency that was going to befall his three-year-old daughter.

Kudos, stranger!

[I did find myself singing Be Prepared to myself. Because, curmudgeon.]

13 November 2018

Words from the girl, and other matters of importance

"This womanhood stuff is disgusting!" (pause) "But maybe my tits will get bigger."

Wielding a bowl and a pair of chopsticks: "This is the best way to eat hot Cheetos, because you don't get red dust on your hands."

"Japan is attacking!" Me, blank look. "You know, white underpants, red blood...?"

* * * * * * *

I don't know about your house, but in ours, there are two female people and one male person. This results in rather too many conversations at the dinner table about matters of the uterus, many attempts to make Daddy squeamish, and long groans at how awful it all is. The final straw - for my husband, anyway - might have been the Diva cup discussion over breakfast.

We have also had conversations about how lucky we are here in these United States, where most of us have easy access to sanitary pads and tampons, and where menstrual cups and period underpants exist, and where we have high tech apps that predict just when to expect to have the painters in.

That said, there are plenty of women and girls in the US who have have trouble getting menstrual supplies. Schools do not always recognize that teen-aged girls may need pads or tampons, because their cycles may be erratic and their period arrives when they're unprepared, or because they haven't the money to buy the goods. Prisons and jails often fail to supply adequate quantities of pads. Shelters may not have supplies available.

Happily, New York City passed a landmark law "to ensure access to menstrual products in public schools, shelters and corrections facilities." And Free the Tampons "believes that every bathroom outside the home should provide freely accessible items that people who menstruate need for their periods. We think menstruators shouldn't have to worry about an unexpected physical need becoming an overwhelming emotional ordeal." And just last week, Nevada became the tenth state to lift the "tampon tax" - meaning that there's no state sales tax on tampons and sanitary pads.

Women and girls are not so lucky in other parts of the world.

In Kenya though, ZanaAfrica supplies pads to girls who need them.

And in India, Arunachalam Muruganantham, the Indian sanitary pad revolutionary invented a simple machine that enables village women to produce their own pads for sale.

What is important about our dinner table conversations is that we are having them. There is no shame in a bodily function like menstruation; and failure to discuss only leads to misinformation and stigma, and - in fact - is a human rights concern for girls and women.

Remember: human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights.

12 November 2018

The Birds And The Bees

The astute reader may have surmised that I am cleaning out my drafts folder. What better project than #NaBloPoMo?!

If you have children, and are in need of literature with which to guide them vis-à-vis the birds and the bees, I would like to heartily recommend the following three books by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley.

Ages 4-8
It's Not the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends

Ages 7-10
It's So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families

Age 10+
It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health

They are funny, dispassionate, and inclusive.

11 November 2018

On the Inanity of Plastic Bags

I am amused by the shite I have found in my drafts folder.

How about this?

The plastic bag songs

Katy Perry
Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?

"Drive By"
Oh I swear to you
I'll be there for you
This is not a drive by
Just a shy guy looking for a two-ply
Hefty bag to hold my love

Right. Apparently I was briefly obsessed with pop songs referencing plastic bags. There are a lot of them! Why do I care? Because it's inane? Because it is inane!

I do like that the internet is like one enormous concordance. You want songs about "plastic bags"? We got 'em. Prefer "hefty bags"? We got them too.

Honestly, though, do you ever feel like a plastic bag, looking for a hefty bag to hold your love?