Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Peace and happyness to all who wander through this blog.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


My life long friend (we went to high school together and despite the 4,000 miles between us in the last 27 years we are still in touch!) just sent me a CD from her son's girlfriend. And it is really cool. The young woman has a great voice, and the musicians who accompany her did wonderful arrangements. She wrote the six songs on the album herself. The violin player is great and the last song is a tribute to her mother and her death. She passed away two years ago. It is a great first album and I hope she is successful and can sell a lot of them. It is not for sale in the US, but in Quebec. Anyway, I was delighted to see her progress as I have known her for some time now. I just love to see what these "kids" are turning out to be. Now that I am passed the hardship of launching my own daugther, some of you may remembers how hard that was, I just love seeing folks I have known as children grow up and become part of the world and contributing to it either through music, art, activism, or any talent they may have.

I have been working hard to get ready for classes which start next week. I will have 3 courses, 5 sections, about 180 students. Whew! That will be a lot of work, but I think I will enjoy it. I am however, somewhat disenchanted with the book for one of my classes which has some very sexist comments (That women "nag" for one) and some antiquated view of the family. Anything other than the "nuclear" family of the husband, wife and kids is relegated to a chapter called "variations." I think I will use that for critical discussion and critical thinking in my students. I hope it works.

I had a very disturbing session with one patient I saw today. He was very confused, youngish looking gentleman, who must have been an absolut doll when he was well. He spent the few minutes I was visiting making statements (or attempting to do so) that I looked fine, and went from laughing and being cheerful to utter despair and crying. Poor guy was so confused, and when I responded and told him he was kind or that it was nice he felt happy, he would try to speak and express himself only to mix up words so that he did not make sense. It made me really sad and confused myself. I just do not like seeing patients at facilities. I know the staff does as much as they can, but it is really disheartening to witness. At least, for the most part, he was happy for my visit and I reflected those positive feelings back to him. Thankfully, my last visit was with a lovely lady who was coherent and cheerful and very happy to have a new air bed which makes her much more comfortable. I usually am not so distraught by the patients and can usually see a glimpse of who they were which helps in spending time with them, but for some reason, the abyss of this man's mind was frightening to me. I hope I never experience that. To be so remote from the world, have so much to say and not be able to do so, he seemed frustrated by it at times and at others felt that all was ok. For once I am at a lost to shake that one out of my system. Cyber puppy shake!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The price of being "overweight"

I put the term in parenthesis, because I feel it is used as judgement of folks, particularly women, who do not fit the stereotype of American "beauty." Two beautiful friends of mine have experienced prejudice most of their lives due to their weight and this issue is close to my heart. Folks come in all size and shape, and health is not solely related to weight. Corporate america is taking it one step further in attacking folks whose weight deviate from certain norms by charging them health care penalties. I read in the paper today that workers who meet overweight criteria will be charged a fat fine. In addition to obesity, other factors that may warrant the fine ($30 every two weeks) would be high blood pressure and high cholesterol, maybe diabetes too. One of the person surveyed stated that she thougth it was a good idea and that her weight is fine. What happens when other health concerns make the list? Should I pay more because I have asthma that requires a lot of maintenance medication? Yes, we all have a certain amount of control over our health status, but there are other factors that need to be examined as well. What if an employee has a very stressful position within the company which leads to high blood pressure? What about genetic predisposition to these conditions? Should they be included in the equation? Or do we need to get a Gattaca-like society where health status dictate our social status.

If you have not noticed, I'm a little steamed by that. Americans don't want socialism because it is too controlling, but resort to such pernicious strategies to exert control over those who do not meet the societal norm. Makes me crazy!

Monday, July 23, 2007

I did it!

I have to admit, I'm pretty proud of myself. I completed my first triathlon yesterday. I say my first, because now that I did one, I want to do more. I had a better time than I expected at 2:28:31. I thought I would take three hours. The wind was helpful on the bike ride pushing us in on the return trip and not too hard on the first leg. I mostly walked rather than ran, but still did run some. What can I say, a runner I am not. The swim was great but tough because I hurt myself on Friday at my last training swim . . . getting out of the pool! I bruised my left rib so breathing throughout the event was painful, particularly when swiming. But I did it. It was great! Now I want to do another one as soon as my rib heals!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Busy Summer

The last couple of months have been nuts! I am currently training for a Triathlon, yes, I am not kidding you, a triathlon! It is a short distance, but any distance does not seem short to me! The swim is 1/2 mile, the bike ride is 15 miles and the "run" ( I will most likely walk most of it) is 3 miles. The bike ride is probably my most comfortable event. I do like to ride my bike and have done some decentrides in my days, so with a little training I feel ready for that one. Especially since the course is a little hilly, but no great hills or climbs. The worst part of the bike ride is it can get windy, and the return trip would be against the wind if it is windy. So I'm hoping it's not a very windy day. The swim is my next favorite event. Although I am very slow, about a 1/2 hour for the 1/2 mile,(most folks get it done in 20 minutes) I do love the water and feel comfortable in it. In the last few months, I have learned to relax in the water and just keep swimming and pacing myself when I get tired. At first I could barely do 3 width of the pool and now I do 36 comfortably. I had a setback there when I actually learned to swim (that is, learn how to have a good stroke, where to keep my feet instead of letting them get down and drag) I found it much harder at first and even became much slower and I was very discouraged, but this week I finally got back to a decent speed and apparently I look good in the water! The run, ahh the run. Well as I said, I will mostly walk. First, because after the swim and the bike ride, my lungs will be done. And second, I still can't run 3 miles straight, even when that is the only thing I do. My lungs just quit after about 20 minutes to 1/2 hour, even at the slowest pace that I can get myself to go to. And then when I run that slow, my legs hurt, I probably can walk as fast as that slow run and it does not get me so out of breath. Go figure! Also, the middle leg of the course is all uphill, and even experienced runners say that it sucks, so I'm walking. My friend's brother who has completed several triathlon and an Ironman in New Zealand said that as long as we cross the finish line running, we should look good! Anyway, I'm very excited and scared at the same time! And maybe if I train all year, next year I actually can run the run!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Spacing Out

Such a long time without writing. Well, the semester is done and it does not look like I will have a class this summer, so far only 4 students! I'll have some work though through my old job and the new one. Always something. I had a lovely visit from my cousin this last week. It was hilarious how, for not having spent time together for the last 30 or so years, we have so much in common. It was great to reconnect with her and get to know one of her daughters. I did recognized my mother, my daughter and myself in her and that was almost surreal in a way. We are about the same size, our hair is very similar, and we have very similar habits. Her daughter and the Kid were laughing at us. It was so great to speak my own language for a whole week!

The Kid is in Fiji, enjoying herself I hope and sweating, at least that is what she told me! She called really quickly to let us know she arrived fine. She should have a great experience, but I will miss seeing her for some time.

We are gearing up for our music festival next week-end. I can't wait, it's always so fun and relaxing too. Although I just had a week off this week. A friend commented a while ago "why don't we work two weeks and have the rest off?" I could sign up for that program. I am currently reading a book with a society where there is no money. People work at their specialty and also do some "community" work, like cleaning and such at regular interval. If they don't work for some time, they still are cared for, but most find some area of interest and work regularly. I love Utopias, don't you?

I spent most of the morning setting up, or I should say resetting, our wireless router so we can use more than one computer at a time, and after speaking with this nice technician, finally got it going. Yeah! So now I can write in bed! Maybe that will encourage me to blog more before going to sleep. We will see.

Friday, April 27, 2007


I am an emotional wreck. I have attended a two day seminar on racism, and it was incredibly painful. I am welling up as I write. We came so close to each others, and shared such pain, and supressed feelings. I have not felt so touched in so long, I was disarmed by it. For so long, I have felt invisible, unheard, because I am part of a multitude of nondescript people. All white, all the same, all inconsequentials. I know part of my ancestry is Montagnais, a tribe of Native Canadian (First Nation as it is know in Canada) or at least I believe that is the correct tribe, yet I know nothing of that culture, of that language, me who loves languages so. Also, as I stated today, through tears, I look nothing like that people, I look so white, so "american," and I hate that. My white skin, my redish hair, I look Irish,and I don't feel Irish. I long for my difference, for my identity. I look at my sister, with her long nose, dark straight hair, dark skin, stong brow, how native she looks, how beautiful; and she tries so hard to erase all of that, dies her hair, plucks her brow, uses lots of make up to mask her beauty. I wish I had my mom's skin which darkened, even in the winter from hanging the laundry. If you know the winter in Montreal, you know that she could not have exposed much skin for much time to gain a tan, but she did. I heard one woman say how she was told as a child that she was ugly because she looked "India." I so wish I did look "something," anything but the blandness I have.
Also, several women in the group were Jewish, and one of the men present made a derogatory commend about Jewish women, and I remembered how my mother used to call me "ma petite juive," unfortunately not as a term of endearment, but as an indication that I had been devious, sly. I don't know if she meant to be racist, but she was. And that hurts. When I think of all the beautiful jewish women I know in my life, that I love and appreciate, I wonder if she rolls in her grave that I love them? That I love the Italians that I played with as a child, in our racist neighborhood, that I love the black friends that I have, the Mexican women and men I know, would she have a problem with that? And it makes me wonder, how do we go on knowing all of that hatred is there so obvious, in your face, everyday. I am sheltered from it, because I am white, and until I open my mouth, most folks will not know I come form outside the US. And even after I do, I am excused for my "weirdness," many times, because I "look" white even when I don't feel white, or american. I don't have answers, just feelings, rising up to the surface, bringing pain and tears, and questions. I am glad I went, and met others who share painful feelings. I have attended many eye opening trainings, but maybe not so many heart opening ones.