Mean Girl to the Rescue!

How'm I gonna save the world when the world ain't ready?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ode to Arabella

I recently got called out by Mignon on taking too long of a hiatus between blog posts, so I'm shaking the dust off my keyboard to bring you an ode to Arabella in photographic essay form.

Arabella and I are friends in real life, though we met online, and she has quickly become a close friend because we have so much in common. She has a sweet, generous nature (though she is FAR less mean than I), and she recently proved it to me by sending me a care package.

Inside was a nice letter ("Happy Summer!" proclaims the envelope), a book about a drag queen and his crack whore boyfriend (fascinating stuff, and a good read), some cute worry dolls, a gorgeous eyeshadow duo in a compact, fancy tea bags (how I love tea!), and cool postcards with a bitchy, Anne Taintor-style '50s theme. I am all about the reimagined, bitchy '50s.

The best part was the cool blue clutch bag that she made for me with her own two hands. There really is nothing like a handmade gift. It's something I can never provide for myself (I am craft-impaired; a knitting class I took ended in tears of rage and frustration), and Arabella is just so damn GOOD at it. She assures me that there are plenty of tears of rage when she sews, too, but I never see that part, so I'll imagine her in a rocking chair in a sunny room, sewing while humming to herself.

Thanks for being such a good friend, A. And anyone who hasn't been over to her blog should pop on by and congratulate her on her good news!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Anyone else get one of these?

Dear Mean Girl,

My name is Cynthia Bane, and I am an assistant professor of psychology at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa ( This summer, two undergraduate psychology majors, Nicole Erspamer and Lia Kampman, and I are conducting research on female weblog authors and their online and "real life" friendships. We hope that you will consider participating in the study.

The study consists of a survey that takes 30-40 minutes to complete. In addition, if you were to decide to participate in the study, we would examine entries from your weblog to analyze how frequently you post entries, how many comments you receive, and the topics you discuss in your weblog. All of your survey responses and the results of our content analysis of your weblog would be confidential. Even if you do not regularly post entries on your blog, we welcome you to participate; we are interested in the opinions of a variety of bloggers.

If you choose to participate, you will be entered in a drawing for one of five $20.00 gift certificates.

If you are interested in finding out more about the study, please direct your web browser to the following link:

If you have any questions about the study, please respond to this e-mail message or contact me at the e-mail address listed below.

If you know of other women weblog authors who are between the ages of 22 and 45 who might like to participate in this study, please feel free to forward this e-mail message to them.

Cynthia MH Bane, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Department of Social Sciences
Wartburg College
Waverly, IA 50677

Phone: 319-352-8313

I am an old hand at surveys. But if I'm going to invest 40 minutes of my time, I think I want more than just a shot at a gift certificate. Still, I can't say I'm not intrigued. If you've received one of these missives, do tell, and let me know if you're going to participate. I'm strongly considering it just for life experience.

Irony does not live here

My husband just IM'd me this little gem.

When referring to the killing of her child she said: "I am totally psyched for this abortion!"

This person doesn't understand that The Onion isn't for real. (Shakes head sadly) Luckily, his comments aren't moderated, and three hundred some people have now schooled him on the error of his ways:

I'm pro life, but sweet Jesus you're an idiot. For your next post, how about a passionate speech on the need to immediately free Prince Albert from the can?

Read it and freak

As I may have mentioned, my mom is a breast cancer survivor - she's been cancer-free coming up on 15 years in January. I am always amazed at her resilience and at how brave she was, having her breast removed and reconstructed all in one long, arduous procedure. I know she worried about dying, and worried that she would never feel the same about herself ever again.

There was no prior history of breast cancer in my family (we're all big heart disease freaks instead), but the doctors seemed to think that one reason why the tumor began to grow with any speed was on account of the hormone-replacement therapy my mother was on to combat severe hot flashes and other menopausal nastiness. HRT has since been linked to cancer. Despite this connection, you still see Philly's own Patti LaBelle in TV commercials shilling Prempro, although she says she no longer endorses the drug. Guess they got her bound in a contract. I wonder if she still cashes their checks?

The lack of a family history of breast cancer is starting to make sense now that bisphenol-A, in low doses in childhood has been linked to breast cancer later in life. That means juice in shatterproof plastic bottles, tomatoes in cans lined with BPA (to extend shelf life) and your kids' plastic toys. A legislative effort to nix some of these chemicals from children's toys failed last week after industry scientists argued there was no cause for concern.

Also, those life-saving mammograms? Dose you with radiation and can cause more harm than help, especially with the program of early detection that's been pushed so hard. I remembered reading something about AstraZeneca piloting an "Early Detection is Your Best Prevention" program (a phrase that doesn't even make sense, because how can you prevent cancer when it's already been detected?) while also manufacturing cancer-causing pesticides. Gee, I wonder who's profiting from encouraging women to have an annual mammogram from age 40 in order to detect their cancer early? Astrazeneca also bankrolled Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1984, a PR coup that's still going strong. AZ's cancer drug, Tamoxifen (which my mother took for five years) is the bestselling cancer drug in the world, though they've ceased to manufacture it under its brand name, Novaldex, as of last month. It is still widely available as a generic.

What can you do? To get started, you can go here (warning, PDF), scroll down to the second page, and read the six ways to reduce your exposure to carcinogens. You might not be able to undo what you were exposed to in your childhood, but you can fight the good fight in your adult life, if nothing else. And it certainly doesn't hurt to perform monthly (or even semi-regular) self-exams - after all, 40% of breast cancer is detected by women or their partners. Making these a regular habit and avoiding mammograms until after 50 should help keep you and your breasts out of radiation's reach.

Monday, July 10, 2006

In which I see the light at the end of the tunnel

My husband and I, we fight a little. This past week, we fought a lot. But by Friday, the smoke had started to clear.

Friday afternoon phone conversation. I had the afternoon off, while Booby worked till his usual time.

Him: So, what have you done all afternoon?
Me: Read, gardened, went to the Reading Terminal Market. [Pause.] Plotted your death.
Him (laughing): THAT'S a blog post!

I married Fred Astaire

Booby mentioned to me recently that I had neglected an important piece of information in this post about how I'm his beard or he's my merkin, that being this quote:

"I think if I had it all to do over again, I'd learn to tap dance."

There you have it.


  • For anyone wanting to try that Colcannon recipe, here it is:

    4 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
    1 (11/2-lb.) cabbage, thinly sliced
    1 1/4 C. water
    1 C. milk
    1 bunch green onions, chopped
    3/4 C. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    chopped fresh chives or green onion tops
    salt and pepper, to taste

    Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until tender. Drain. Return potatoes to pot and mash coarsely. Set aside.Combine cabbage and water in large, heavy skillet. Boil until almost all liquid evaporates, tossing cabbage frequently, about 15 minutes. Mix cabbage into mashed potatoes.Combine milk, green onions and 1/2 cup butter in heavy, medium-size saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring to melt butter. Pour over potato mixture and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mound mashed potatoes in bowl. Make a well in center. Place remaining 1/4 cup butter in well. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

The eye of the needle

This weekend, I started using Follistim as part of my ongoing infertility treatment. It's the next logical step in my therapy, but I can't say I was thrilled with the idea of jamming a needle into my thigh (or belly fat - I am spoiled for choice here). My favorite phlebotomist, D, ran me through the steps at my last appointment ("Oh, it's easy. You just put it in, dial to this number like this, and zap!"). The drug is administered using an epi-pen, which can be dialed to the correct dosage advised by your friendly fertility specialist. My doctor keeps telling me I'm a "cheap date," so I didn't need much, and I got her assurance that the sample pack she gifted me with would be sufficient to do the job.

Unfortunately, Dr. H was mistaken, and today I'm 50 units short of my dosage. Fortunately, I administer my dosage at the same time each evening at her behest, so I was able to call in, have her phone in my scrip, and pick it up at the nearby pharmacy, which specializes in obscure fertility drugs. My insurance doesn't cover these drugs (surprise!), so they put me on some kind of discount program that (according to them) saves me 30%. Booby checked last night online and the MSRP was a little bit shy of $1,200. My price today? A mere $412 and change. Now that's value! An added bonus is that this pharmacy also carries some of my favorite nostalgia food: Peggy Lawton cookies in Butter Crunch flavor. I paid sixty cents to be gastronomically transported back to my parochial high school cafeteria, which is also a pretty good value, considering my lack of a Way-Back Machine.

Oh, and for anyone who's curious, the needle in the epi-pen is long(ish), but not painful. I had to remove myself from the company of my squeamish husband in order to get the job done, because in his presence I was saying things like, "Wow, this needle is a lot bigger than I thought," and waching the light glint off the tip. Once by myself in the bathroom, I had no trouble sticking a hunk of metal (in truth, the needle is really very fine) into my thigh (the belly just seemed too ... vulnerable), and felt next to nothing. It was slightly more painful coming out, but completely manageable.

One more shot to go, and then I reward myself. Or perhaps I just won't mentally castigate myself for buying, among other things, a pair of glittery slippers from Old Navy on Friday for a pittance of $5.99 on sale (I got mine in blue, though).

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Green-eyed bitch

I have long had a struggle with jealousy. I'm not sure when it started, or why. I don't have a huge history of being cheated on by boyfriends (though it has happened occasionally, to be sure). I just have a really hyperactive imagination. In the Catholic tradition of blaming folk for sins ruminated on, but not necessarily acted on, I worry, endlessly, about the possibility of my loved one entertaining lewd thoughts about someone other than me.

I have a distinct memory of a boyfriend admitting to kissing a female coworker at an apres-work happy hour. It happened before he and I started dating, and he even went about setting the female office mate in question with a close friend. But the thought of this kiss tortured me. I wasn't sure if I desperately wished I had never been told of it, or if I would rather know every gory detail. If someone had offered me a Zapruder-style film of the event, I would've watched it until my eyes bled. I was afraid to ask for more information, and so I worried myself sick (sometimes literally) thinking about it. It didn't help matters when, after he and I broke up, he dated her for a time. It really didn't help when I found out about it after he and I went out on a tentative get-back-together date, and we had to change plans to hang out at his apartment after he pulled his car in only to discover her car parked in the lot. Coming back from that relationship cliff was pretty tough, and I never felt completely trusting around him again.

Early on in my relationship with Booby, there was a woman he knew, a stringy blonde, who seemed to crop up everywhere. She worked in the same building as he did, and would ask him to lunch. She was friends with some of the same people from his callow youth and had plenty of hilarious stories to share with him from those times. She had dated the ex of a female friend of his, and in doing so had temporarily ensnarled herself in a sort of hipster soap opera drama. Booby would go to hang out with guy friends and then I would find out later that she had been there, too. I heard her name for what felt like every day for several months. She "really, really couldn't wait to meet [me]," but when she did, she gave me a perfunctory "hello," and then snubbed me. We would go out to meet friends and suddenly boop! she would stride through the door, the only other female in the group, but no one's girlfriend. I felt left out and ill-at-ease, even though I trusted Booby more than I'd ever trusted anyone. I got pretty upset about it. I felt like history was going to repeat itself, and I would eventually run into my ex-Booby on the street and he would tell me all about how he was moving into a great, hip rowhome in an edgy neighborhood with Stringy Blonde and their two dogs with bandanas tied around their adorable, scruffy necks.

I told my future husband of this fear. We fought about it. He told me I was silly, and he didn't like the constraint I was putting on him. I think maybe a lamp got broken. But he took care not to socialize with her since it upset me so much. She moved across the country or something, and that was that.

Now I find I'm having this problem in a more theoretical way. There is no Stringy Blonde popping up at odd intervals. All of my husband's colleagues are lovely and friendly. But lately, I worry, groundlessly. I know my husband would never, ever leave me. But I worry about what would happen if he wanted to.

I'm pretty sure these feelings directly correlate to my ingestion of medication meant to suppress ovulation through the use of hormones. Because of this treatment, I've had about a month's worth of PMS, symptoms rolling together week after week like rocks down a hill, injuring anyone who gets in their path. I have not been easy to live with, but I am trying not to allow my brain to make me sick with worry over things that won't ever happen, or even be considered as a possibility.

Search terms, part 157

Skateboard girls
Peed her pants on MTV: Was it Fergie? I'm pretty sure that's her thing.
Dressed up cats: I can provide those. Also, look here.
Gyno exam
Drunk girl:
I guess I should be happy it didn't say something about following drunk girls home. Someone I went to college with used to do that. Loohooooser.
"get these motherfucking snakes off this motherfucking plane": I still can't wait to see this.
Rescue Me Denis Leary misogyny: Ugh. Just ugh.
kretschmer's granola: I use the wheat germ in baked goods. Good stuff.
what does it mean to blow in a girls ear: All I know is, it drives my husband insane when I do that to him. Not in a good way. And not that he's a girl. Just a tap-dancin' fool.
where can I buy fingerless gloves in Upper Darby: Nowhere, but you used to be able to get them in Northeast Philly at Warrior. Which is now, apparently, strictly a piercing shop. Oh well.

In which I am virtuous

I ate a shit ton of crappy foods this holiday weekend (cake, beer, wine, more beer, water ice, a very juicy burger, fries, steak, etc.), and about 2 pieces of fruit. So today, I had to come back into the fold by eating:

  1. a Trader Joe's peanut butter granola bar
  2. homemade Colcannon, with fresh potatoes, fresh cabbage and butter
  3. a salad with 2 kinds of organic lettuce, organic raspberries, organic onion, a slightly underripe tomato from my garden (photos of the ripe ones coming soon!) and homemade vinaigrette
  4. a homemade brownie (not really "healthy," but at least lacking high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated whatever whatever)
  5. a big chunk of seedless watermelon

I've become a huge Trader Joe's fan in the past month. Their fruit isn't so great, but I have a couple of good sources for nice fruit in the city already, anyway. Where they do excel is in their selection of cheeses (mmm, delicious herbed chevre for a mere $2.99!), snacky things (I am fully addicted to their pita chips and honey sesame sticks), and packaged nuts (try the chili lime Thai peanuts or the Mediterranean almonds). They also have these great prepackaged Indian meals. I know, it sounds awful, and like processed food. But I checked the ingredients and it's on the up and up. We have thus far enjoyed Dal Makhani and Madras Lentils, both over rice with a little ear of corn and a salad. It comes in a boil-in foil bag, so it's great for when you don't want to cook. AND TJ's also has frozen naan, which is way better than the pita bread that seems to be ever-present in regular markets, but lacks the authenticity and bubbly crackliness of the naan you get in an Indian restaurant. Two minutes in a hot oven and you're ready to roll.

A walk in the park

Overheard touron conversation in the park in Philly's historic district this afternoon:

Little girl, age 8 or so, observing sparrow hopping on ground: Oh no! That little bird can't fly! We have to help it!

Parents, siblings: Oh, sure it can fly, Sophia! It's fine. Really. It's fine.

Father: And if it can't fly, then it'll learn, or ... somebody else will eat it.

Fine time to teach your kid about Nature, Red In Tooth And Claw, pops. Maybe next you can take her to snake-feeding time at the zoo.

I hope that little girl grows up to be a vet.