Monday, August 24, 2009

Pluto - Keep it a Planet

The Planets

As children, most of us grew up with the belief that there are nine planets in our solar system. I was taught a very cute mnemonic device (My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pickles) to remember the names of the planets in the correct order (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) . Millions of solar system models have been made -- giving easy A's to kids around the world. Every primary science textbook and hard-bound encyclopedia shows these 9 planets surrounding our resplendent sun.

But in 2006, the dillweeds at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) voted that Pluto was not a planet. Only 4% of its members voted. In what other galaxy can only 4% of eligible voting members pass such a momentous decision. The world would be in utter ruin if only 4% of any given governing body could vote and pass their agenda. Granted, we'd all probably have a public health care option in the United States if this were the case, but there's a lot of bad stuff that could happen. (Don't want to speculate more on that scary possibility - i.e., a heck of a lot of reactionary bombs bursting in air scenarios.) But I digress.

According to A. Pawlowski at CNN, the Debate over the classification of Pluto as a Planet rages on. Kudos! There has been an online petition created so that we can all voice our opinions on the subject (which of course should be like my opinion).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Karaoke Bar - A poem

While souls sing of
Their dreams once forgotten
Eyes flash across the throngs
And alight on desire
Music cascades down
Mounds of flesh
And pools in the thighs
Parted in dance
Smiles are illuminated
By the red lights overhead
Flaws erased by the darkness
And the burning of spirits
The echo of billiards
Landing in pockets
Empty of tithing money
Reverberates in the lulls
Hymns to the gods of leisure
While discordant voices
Sing away the night
Not mother's lullaby
But comforting nonetheless

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Did I Ever Say I Giggled Like A Loon?

Kitty Foreman

There was a character on the show, "That 70's Show," named Kitty Foreman [Debra Jo Rupp]. I will just assume you don't know who she is. She was the "matriarch" that watched over a group of teens that hung out with her son. Whenever she was happy, nervous, worried, extremely uncomfortable, or speechless, she would let out a high-pitched laugh. I can't help but relate her laughs to my bouts of laughter. I can't quite convey how it happens. I find the weirdest things funny. I find the placement of newspaper articles funny, I find color choices funny, I find bad jokes funny.

At my old job, I went out to lunch with five of my coworkers, and there were some really funny comments made. I laughed and giggled really loudly. While they all smiled and laughed briefly, I noticed that they did not find it as funny as I did. Instead of shutting up or fading off gracefully, I kept right on laughing till I turned red and was slightly gasping for breath. Granted, I am a weird enough character that they were pretty equanimous with my excessive laughing. Even so, I felt strange and out of place when it was done. I felt like a freak next to them.

Sometimes people will say, "Vanessa, you're funny" during a conversation or when I'm telling a story. They say it at times when I'm not trying to be funny and it's a bit unnerving because I'm not sure what they find amusing. During phone calls it's slightly different, a few friends ask why I just laughed or if I was laughing at them, and I try hard to explain that sometimes I just laugh and giggle to fill the silence. Sometimes they understand, but it has been the root of some hurt feelings.

Last night, while watching Rat Race with my sons, sister and her daughter, I laughed till I snorted and made the same high-pitched hyenaesque laugh that only happens when I find something EXTREMELY funny. I was with family, so it was okay. But my laughter actually made my sister laugh harder. *sighs*

It could be worse. When I was in high school I didn't laugh or smile at all. Perhaps do to my shyness, but mainly because I was depressed and withdrawn. I had no friends, and I did not have a chance to share my humorous and fun-loving side. But I enjoy myself at karaoke and have made a lot of very nice acquaintances at least. I'm pleased to call a lot of them my friends. I sometimes think they will find out one day that I am fraud. They will realize I'm really this shy awkward person and stop saying hi. I feel like they know I don't truly belong but they can't quite put their finger on why.

Then again, I think way too much on these things. They probably don't give a rat's ass what I do. They probably just think I am funny and "cute," and leave it at that.

Friday, August 14, 2009

At War Forever and Ever - A poem

We wrestle on the bed
For a few moments
Tongues invading and retreating
Arms twisting

We attack and surrender
Willingly disarmed
Hips thrusting and accepting
Legs entwined

I would give up my territory
If you only wanted it forever

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pregnancy and Preeclampsia - My Story

I had preeclampsia and eclampsia during both my pregnancies. A friend of mine shared a story about her pregnancy with preeclampsia. I wanted to share mine. This is's description of what preeclampsia is.

"Preeclampsia is a disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period and affects both the mother and the unborn baby. Affecting at least 5-8% of all pregnancies, it is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. Swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision are important symptoms; however, some women with rapidly advancing disease report few symptoms.

Typically, preeclampsia occurs after 20 weeks gestation (in the late 2nd or 3rd trimesters or middle to late pregnancy), though it can occur earlier. Proper prenatal care is essential to diagnose and manage preeclampsia. Preeclampsia, Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH) and toxemia are closely related conditions. HELLP Syndrome and eclampsia are other manifestations of the same syndrome. It is important to note that research shows that more women die from preeclampsia than eclampsia and one is not necessarily more serious than the other.

Preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are a leading global cause of maternal and infant illness and death. By conservative estimates, these disorders are responsible for 76,000 deaths each year."


I got pregnant in 1999. I had a normal pregnancy and was gaining a "normal" amount of weight. All my blood tests were turning out normal. I keep saying normal because everything that followed wasn't normal.

In the last two months of pregnancy, my feet started swelling. I was told that swollen feet are normal during pregnancy. But the swelling would not go down by the next morning. It is hard to describe the feeling of looking down at your feet and having no ankles. This swelling is called edema. I was swollen around my stomach and my arms. I was told that is normal. (bah!) I was gaining 6-10 lbs a week when previously I had been gaining 0-.5lbs a week -- all water weight. When the nurse checked my blood pressure on one of my weekly visits, she noticed my blood pressure was getting high. I was tested for protein in my urine, which is a symptom of preeclampsia. When that came back positive, I was told I had preeclampsia. I was 37 weeks along. I was instructed to have my labor induced. After going home to get some clothes, I went to the hospital.

I was given pitocin to induce my labor. I was in so much pain. They gave me an IUD, which is like a "lite" version of an epidural. Random memories of that day include a woman in another room was screaming her head off. I remember apologizing to everyone. As if it were my fault that I was delivering my baby early. I didn't want to cause a fuss or scream, and I kept trying to cover my privates. My ex was tired and was given a cot to sleep next to my bed. Strange to be thinking these things.

I had a beautiful boy. He was small. They had used a pump to help me delivery on his head, so it was all cone-looking. I remember thinking how fragile he was. I was so tired and sore. I never really processed the fact that I had preeclampsia. I read later on that it could have been deadly to both me and Micael.

My second pregnancy came on very quickly. Again, everything was "normal." Then, at about 34 weeks, my feet started swelling feet again. My blood pressure was supposedly normal and I was told I was fine.

My ob/gyn's exact words were: "Preeclampsia doesn't usually occur in second pregnancies."

I told my ob/gyn that I wasn't feel good and that I was having a lot of headaches. She said I was fine. At 36 weeks, I woke up and my vision was blurred and I only had my peripheral vision. I called the doctor and she told me to come in. She said I probably had a cold and gave me a prescription for Robitussin. She said me to get blood work too, but again I was told I was "fine, and preeclampsia doesn't usually occur in second pregnancies."

The pharmacy was two blocks away. While sitting there waiting for my prescription, my I lost my tunnel vision. My father-in-law and sister-in-law, who accompanied me to the ob/gyn, said that I started having seizures. I don't remember most things after that. I was sent to a hospital in another city because it had a neo-natal intensive care unit.

I remember waking up in the ambulance. Shifting in and out of consciousness. I felt them use the scissors on my maternity dress to take off my clothes. I remember thinking, "I really liked that dress." It was white with bright blue flowers on it and thin straps. I remembering thinking: What was happening to me? Where was I going? I should have been in my local hospital. I was being driven a full 45 minutes away. I opened my eyes to see an oxygen mask being applied, and the fear at seeing such a strange thing and having these people, whether they were men or women I am not sure, touching me and putting stuff on me was a scary experience.

I slipped in and out of consciousness, but I gave birth naturally a few hours later. I am so thankful I survived and that my baby survived. We were in the hospital for two weeks. He was there a week longer than I was. He was put on an apnea monitor for three months because his breathing would stop.

My post-birth ob/gyn visit revealed that my ob/gyn would not have been able to deliver my baby in the hospital in my home town anyway because they took away her right to deliver babies there. I felt and still feel so betrayed that this information was never given to me. I feel so angry that my son could have died because "preeclampsia" was not supposed to happen again, at least according to her. She was patently false. If you have preeclampsia during your pregnancy, you will most likely get it again.

Please, check out your ob/gyn/midwives, etc. If you feel bad, don't let them say nothing is wrong. It's not normal to exhibit these symptoms. Even swelling feet. If the swelling does not go down while you sleep and they are elevated, that is NOT normal. If your vision is affected and your head hurts more than usual, it is not normal.

My sons are now 8 and 9 years old, and I am grateful we all survived these experiences.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Hands


"Here," she said, "in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don't love your eyes; they'd just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face 'cause they don't love that either. You got to love it, You! ... This is flesh I'm talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved." -- Toni Morrison

"The fragrance always remains in the hand that gives the rose." -- Heda Bejar

"The hand is the cutting edge of the mind." -- Jacob Bronowski

"You can't shake hands with a clenched fist." -- Indira Gandhi

"Hold a true friend with both hands." -- Nigerian Proverb

"The ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree but hold hands." -- Alexander Penney

I am watching my hands move over the keys of my keyboard. They are following the almost instantaneous commands from my brain to press the appropriate key. They are forming these very words with the speed that I have acquired through constant typing, legal dictation, and of course, chatting with my beloved friends. My hands are not incredibly beautiful; I do not have a manicure; there are scars from when I used to cut myself; finger marks from when my sister used to pinch me till I bled; and I have a touch of eczema on the top of my hands, which is slowly disappearing, but despite these imperfections, I love my hands. I love the callous that is on the middle finger of my right hand. They are expressive, and it is not a true conversation with me if my hands are not waving around, accentuating a point with an air chop.

I have said in another journal that I believe the hands are some of the most attractive parts of the body for me. They convey so many things about a person-- whether they work a lot with their hands, their strength (conversely their weakness), their level of nervousness, their sensitivity, how hygenic they are, and myriad more things. When meeting someone for the first time, their handshake is such a vital part of the exchange and how we perceive them whether we are aware of it or not. Hank Hill, from the cartoon series King of the Hill, once lost all faith in his political candidate because when he shook his hand, it was limp and clammy.

What do we do with hands? With these hands I can draw and write; I apply pressure to a wound; I check my children's temperature; I cook meals; I check bath water; and I tie the errant shoe lace. My hands are very important to how I share my emotions with other people. What can be perceived with just one touch is incredible. Being a tactile person, I love the feel of different textures and fabrics. Whether I am caressing the skin of my lover or petting my guinea pigs, the information I receive from the tips of my fingers are invaluable to how I perceive the situation. They are a gift.

I could probably write a lot more, but I think this adequately describes my love of hands.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Star-Crossed - A Poem

In concentric circles we moved
Never touching in our self-centered orbits
The inertial gaze of our eyes focused on opposing wants
Oblivious of the other's existence

Then the Fates erred in cruel neglect
Crossed our lines and thrust our destinies together
We were never meant to travel life as one
Our stars were far too volatile to share this gravity

Inexorably and inevitably we clashed
As the Titans against the Olympians
Our Golden Age was headed for the end
And we were helpless to stymie the fall

In supernova splendor our joining had been heralded
The universe reeled when our auras entwined
But just as awesome was our implosion
And the black hole that left our union in tatters