Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Am I ordinary?
  • I tickle adults
  • I wear underwear to bed
  • I look in people’s windows
  • I save leftover salad
  • I believe the tabloids
  • I’ve called a number written on a bathroom wall
  • I believe my horoscope
  • My longest relationship is six months
  • I break up over email
  • I take my dog to restaurants
  • I feed my dog human food
  • I’m writing a screenplay
  • I tell people what my therapist says
  • I watch game shows
  • I think my life would make a really great movie

am I ordinary?

The Beverly Center – for a life less ordinary

If you live in Los Angeles, you’ve probably seen these ads. They are for the Beverly Center and they are ubiquitous.

First off, the answer is most likely "yes, you are ordinary" and you don’t need a hip ad campaign to tell you. The other answer is most likely, "no, you aren’t ordinary" and you don’t need a hip ad campaign to tell you that either.

I think one of the most ordinary fears is to fear being ordinary. If we weren’t somehow ordinary we would be the crazy person on Hollywood Blvd. with the tinfoil helmet blocking cranial satellite interference. Or we could be Bill Clinton, but really, you don’t think Bill does a few ordinary things throughout his day?

I know that not one of us is like anyone else and the endeavor to take my own special place in this world is one of my driving forces. I want people to recognize me for being unique. I want to believe that I have something to offer in this world that only I can offer, even if that is just a perspective. I want to believe that the way my life has been shaped, through joy and trauma and even ordinary days, has made me a distinctive individual.

Unfortunately, the "creative marketing agency" that the Beverly Center has hired is capitalizing on our need to have someone notice our extraordinariness in order to get us to shop at Louis Vuitton. I’m not a fan of the Beverly Center.

As it says in their ads, "separate and distinct from the wallpaper of faded fads and mass-merchandised looks, and counter to the social norms that guide the everyday behavior of the rank and file, is beverly center.
the lack of sameness is evident the moment you walk in. style and singularity hang from every rack, live under every glass counter and adorn every mannequin. and for that matter, it’s evident in beverly center’s trendsetting customers, who often transform the mall into an eight-story catwalk."

Of course 5 of those eight stories is a parking lot, but who am I to judge?

(p.s. Really want to do something out of the ordinary - become a long-term volunteer for a charity organization or, vote.)

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Everybody Wants Stuff
You know how everybody wants stuff? I know, totally stupid question but it’s a set up, see, and I need to ask it to get to my point; which is the stuff I want. There’s the actual material tangible stuff that I can touch and say, this thing-a-ma-jig is mine. I can etch it with my name and sell it off if I’m so inclined. These are things like:
  • A house with a craft room
  • Matching mission-style bedroom furniture
  • A new Audi A4 in "Brilliant Black"
  • An Ashford Joy double treadle wheel
  • An unlimited supply of Noro Silk Garden (ok, this one’s a little silly, but hey…)

Then there’s the stuff I want that is not so tangible. I’m not talking unreasonable things, like I want to win the lottery or suddenly become the queen of West Hollywood. There are certain things that I think are realistic and that I am working towards but I don’t quite have a grasp on them yet. Other things I have no control over but I really, really want them and had to add them to this list.

  • To wake up in the morning and be happy with who I am
  • To feel like I can do whatever my heart desires (within limits)
  • To enjoy spending an hour on the elliptical machine
  • To not be so freakin’ self conscious in the gym changing room
  • A democratic President and Congress
  • My sister’s baby to be healthy and happy always
  • My friends’ babies to be happy and healthy always
  • A vaccine against HIV that is at least 80% effective.

What do you want?

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Friday, May 26, 2006
Stop me if you've heard this one...
So, Uccellina and I were talking last night at WeHo Stitch n’ Bitch about the state of sexuality in the world today and I realized that I haven’t told one of my favorite stories ever.
In 1992, I started working at AIDS Project Los Angeles. I was still in school at the time and I had been director of the Women’s Center at said campus. In addition I was one of the founders of SQUISH (Strong Queers United In Stopping Heterosexism). I cannot describe how stoned we were when we came up with that name. We had a perfectly lovely Lesbian and Gay Alliance (LAGA)…but we needed something a little more confrontational. After all, it was 1990 and we were at war with our governor.

Anyway, the point is, I thought my credentials as a feminist were fairly secure. I was wrong!!! Oh, how wrong I was. Apparently working with gay men somehow puts one’s prior evidence of feminism into question. How? You ask.

I tell.

It wasn’t the first time that a lesbian had said to me that I should be working with/for women and not gay men, however, it was the best and the only one I remember so clearly. I was at a coffeehouse in West Hollywood, sipping my cappuccino with two older dykes and one 19 year old gay man and I was excited about having received a promotion at APLA. And then she said it.

"You’re such a male-coddling fembot."

She said wha!!!!????

No seriously, a male-coddling fembot. Now at the time I was 21 and not so quick on my feet with a comeback. So I can’t remember my response. Frankly, I was probably all like, "Fuck you." But that’s totally not the point. The point is, I have embraced my male-coddling fembot ways. Hell, I married a gay man and make him dinner. If that’s not male-coddling - well, I guess it’s more Michael-coddling but whatever.

Anyway, this is part of the reason that I don’t particularly identify well as a lesbian. I mean, I say I’m a lesbian and I have slept with a lot more girls than boys (Girls ? – Boys 0) but the label somehow doesn’t fit. I mean if one is constantly being questioned by the so-called community, does one really want to identify with it? Can one? If my lesbian credentials are constantly being called into question, what is the point of fighting to be part of the "community." Because I sleep with girls? Is that enough of a reason? What if I have been abstaining for a number of years due to other issues (see: body image, bulimia, rape, etc.) do I need to identify as something or can I just be Faith? I mean, at least with Judaism, no one asks with disdain if I am really Jewish.

I understand the side of the dogmatics. Women’s sexuality is more fluid than men’s – or at least more acceptably fluid. Men who sleep with men must be highly sexually attracted to a man to brave the male culture with gay sex on your conscience. It’s easy to see where a guy who is "just curious" but mostly sexually attracted to women would consider the risk unacceptable.

Primarily heterosexual women, on the other hand have a culture where to kiss or have sex with another girl, especially during college, (and especially while drinking) can be undertaken for curiosity sake and in some cases has the added benefit of turning on men, the primary focus of desire. Women who identify as lesbians, who have "made a choice" have to defend against this fluidity to protect their own identity.

My advice, as if anyone asked for it?? Give it up. Be who you are, love who you want, have sex with people indiscriminately (as long as it’s safely). Try women if you want. Try men if you want. Stick with one or the other if that appeals to you. Have sex with no one. Have a big group sex scene. Pee on someone. Make a video. Stop judging what other people are doing unless they’re doing it with you and it’s creeping you out.


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Thursday, May 25, 2006
A Jewish atheist? How queer!
Allison, in her comment on the Purification post asked a good question; how can I be both a Jew and an atheist?

I was born and raised in the Jewish community, in which, there is a language (or 3 - Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino), a culture (or 8) and especially a learning process. I learned some things as a child in the Jewish education system that remain with me to this day.

Tikkun olam - the concept of repairing the world. Everyone has an obligation do their part even if that was just to plant a tree. It was explained to me in the concept of social justice. I cannot even explain how much that has affected my life. It is with me every day and keeps me satisfied in my career.

Lashon harah - the idea that spreading gossip, specifically true gossip, is wrong. I learned as a girl that lashon harah is like killing three people because it destroys the reputation of the victim, damages the perceptions of the listener, and diminishes the standing of the speaker. This concept makes me a lot less likely to gossip.

Gemilut hasadim (which we always said was Gimme loot, Hasadim!!!) which is acts of kindness.

Het (pronounce hate, ironically) literally means something that goes astray. It is a term used in archery to indicate that the arrow has missed its target. It is also the Hebrew word for sin. We believe that human beings are not basically sinful. We believe that one needs to atone to the person we have gone astray against and if that happens to be God, then you need to make your peace with God, if that is another human though, it does no good to atone in any other way than trying to get right with that person.

These, and a few others, were really important concepts to me (and y'all know about the food thing. Love me some Jew food).

The most important concept to me growing up, and almost all Jews who grew up in the community feel this way to some degree, Hitler would not have cared if you didn't believe in God. Hitler would not have cared if your mother was not Jewish (officially making you not a Jew since it is traditionally matrilineal) therefore, you are a Jew.

I don't happen to believe in a God. I believe that people can do good or bad in a God's name but I don't believe that there is anything out there to be answerable to, or a heaven to be working toward. I do good things or bad things because I am human and usually I do good because I want to, not because of any punishment or reward I might get.


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Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Remember when I said I didn't have enough to do. I was blogging every day. I was reading everyone else's blog...

OK, I am so freakin' busy at work! Tomorrow is another deadline so I promise that I will give a post my full attention on Thursday but until then, I'm afraid just a short update.

All is well in Faith-land. It's all about high resolution anoscopy around here.

Also, Annika has a baby - welcome Sam!!!


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Thursday, May 18, 2006
It's not the easiest thing to be an atheist. Honestly, I wish some days that I wasn't. It has occurred to me more and more now that I work in the Kosher Canyon (which I would put on Pico and Olympic between Fairfax and Roxbury) that the loss of my faith separates me (not entirely, but mostly) from this community of which I was once a part.

Yesterday I stopped at Office Depot, just 4 or 5 blocks from my office. Across the street is Mikvat Esther, a place I visited when I was about 11 or 12 years old. Too young to use the mikvah but old enough to be awed by it.

A mikvah is a place where women go to cleanse themselves before their wedding, after childbirth, after coming in contact with the dead and 7 days after the last day of their period. It is essentially a ritual bath to rid you of loss (of childhood, of mourning, of a potential life).

The water is a collection (mikvah) of tap water and rain or well water that has not been carried by human hands. There is a woman there (the mikvah lady) to make sure that she is completely clean and has no knots in her hair before she steps in the bath - even checking under her nails for a speck of dirt.

It seems ancient and superstitious, and it is, but it is a practice that Jewish women have been engaging in since before the common era (that would be before Christ (B.C.) for anyone who goes by that calendar). Anyway, I can remember the smell of the mikvah. I can remember thinking that someday, I too would take my ritual bath with all of the other women who come here.

I never have used a mikvah. The idea of ritual cleansing after my period is not something I'm all that hip on, especially since I think that your period doesn't technically put you in contact with death, despite the lost opportunity for life. But there are some things that I do wish, in some way, I could purify in myself - and so in this way, I think a mikvah, despite being a bit (!) ritualistic, is somehow attractive to me.


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Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Where did I come from?
So, a couple of weeks ago, Sara and I went to the California Poppy Festival (by the way, pathetic lack of poppies this year due to rainfall, climate, etc.). It is held in Lancaster every year and though I've been to see the poppies, in years where they have covered the entire valley, I've never been to the festival. So we went.

We saw many "arts" and "crafts" at the festival. Unfortunately, many of them looked like this. If you are going to be a grandma or grandpa. DON'T DO THIS!!! People will barf on your lawn. Your children will roll their eyes in to the back of their heads until they stay there! Your grandchildren will cover their cheeks on their way in your front door!

My mother is going to be a grandmother for the first time with the birth of my sister and brother-in-law's new baby who we are calling Ace for the time being. These signs immediately reminded me of my mother and I took a picture to show my sister.

If you know me, you know my mother is a bit nuts. My mother thinks that if a piece of jewelry is good, well then, 25 pieces of jewelry (and I'm not kidding folks) is way better. My mother also has a bit of a shopping problem. She thinks that if she hasn't been shopping, it's a major problem (har).

So when my sister told her that she was pregnant, she went out (at 9:30 p.m. people) to Borders to buy every baby item in the store. THEN (!) she went home, went online and bought every baby-related USC item there is to own. She has also purchased a gigantic ceramic piggy bank as a college fund (did I tell you about my mom's pig fetish?), grandma and grandpa t-shirts and though she has threatened to buy mommy, daddy and auntie t-shirts, we have managed to fend off that splurge (maybe an auntie mug? No, mom! No auntie mugs!).

Anyway, my mom has her faults (and don't we all?) and obviously my rebellion involved solid colors, low drama and simple jewelry (wooo! hooo!).


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Tuesday, May 16, 2006
On letting go...
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain

The safe harbor is what I know. I know where the rocks are that I might trip over. I know where the shoreline begins and ends. I know the stars and their position in the sky. I have planned and planned for my life in the safe harbor so that I am calm in any crisis.

If I leave my harbor and catch the trade winds in my sails, what will happen to me? Will I possibly sink or will I soar? If I sink, will anyone be there to help me back to shore? And if I get back to shore, will I be too humiliated to ever sail again?

The risk of doing something I have never done before is unbelievably scary. So scary, in fact, that sometimes I don't even know that there is risk out there, so involved am I in staying safe.

I used to take risks like nobody's business. I moved 10,000 miles away. I got involved in protests where I was tear gassed and I had hair ripped out of the back of my head. I wore steel-tipped boots so no one would fuck with me. What the hell happened to her? She seems to have gotten lost. I would like to bring her back. I would like for my first instinct again to be that which isn't the safe option. The option that will make sure that no one gets mad at me. I want to think first, what do I want - a question I have forgotten to ask in many ways - and when I do remember to ask it, the answer is often, "I don't know."

So perhaps I will soar and I won't need anyone to come to my rescue. Perhaps I will learn new stars and find new harbors.


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Friday, May 12, 2006
Ready for the Weekend?
I'm ready for the weekend...however, this weekend's a little bit busy.

Tomorrow morning (Saturday) I have to be at the L.A. Coliseum for the Revlon Run/Walk at .... 5:30 a.m.!! I'm a volunteer - every year for the last 7 years I've done crisis management (or Command Center as they call it - no crises, just situations). Essentially I sit in a big conference room all day with the LAPD, the L.A. Sheriff's Dept., the fire department, the Department of Transportation, the coliseum management and various other representatives. We take care of things like, lost kids, people having seizures, more lost kids, the street sweeper not showing up from the dept. of sanitation, lost kids, a fire in the bleachers and more people fainting of dehydration. It's really fun. I love it which is why I get up the day before Mother's Day every year to do this.

I should be outta there by 2p.m. and I race home to shower, nap before my mom's 60th birthday sock hop. Seriously. She's rented out Cafe '50s and bought piles of candy from her youth.

Sunday is Mother's day so back with La Famiglia for brunch.

I need a nap already.
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Thursday, May 11, 2006
Word to the muthas
This shout out is to Annika, Shannon, Allison, Sara, and x – you know who you are. These are the soon to be hot mamas currently in my life, pregnant for the first time – unless Annika has given birth since her last post.

It is also to Jill, Kristin, Kathie, Terry (congratulations hon!!!), Jef, Carmella, Heather, the mamas and papa/mama in my life that are raising little people already.

You all are amazing. I have heard stories of morning sickness and midwives, c-sections and acid reflux. Pumping, not pumping, sodium issues, fruit issues, sugar issues, and husband issues. Crazy birth mothers, crazy nutritionists and wonderful judges. I’m not sick of it yet.

I have heard an unbelievable number of stories of mothers-in-law, friends and utter strangers insisting, nay, demanding that you must use this pump, sign up for this class, make this sacrifice, else you are a neglectful mother.

In susceptible moments some of you have internalized one or two of these messages; believing that you will be the worst mother on earth. You have also, in brilliant moments of self-knowledge, blown these people off as full of bullshit. As my brother-in-law likes to say, babies are born every day to women on crack. None of you (as far as I know) is on crack - so blue cheese be damned, I think you're all doing pretty fuckin' well.

Some of your babies have only just started to look less like blobs of protoplasm and more like little human blobs. Some of you don’t quite yet want to acknowledge that. Some of you have babies causing holy terror in your home and haven’t quite acknowledged it yet. It's ok. Denial is a great thing. It keeps you from becoming one of the crazies yourself.

I’ll never be pregnant, by choice first and by biology second. I'm an incredibly honored auntie and, I can’t imagine ever being tired of listening to you all. You’re making lungs and feet and personalities in there.
How can anything beat that?
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Tuesday, May 09, 2006
You have got to be kidding...Nope, not kidding.
I am sitting at my desk at work. I have one 79 page protocol sitting in front of me for an anti-HIV drug that will be used for people in whom all other therapies have failed. This is, unfortunately, a lot of people.

I am sitting at my desk at work. My little e-mail icon lights up. I love when my icon lights up. It means someone is thinking of me. Whatever. Anyway, I open the email. It is a link to a Washington Post article. I may be sick all over my 79 page protocol.

Here’s the gist of things. Yesterday was the beginning of the National STD Prevention Conference sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Today at 3 p.m. EST there was to be a panel entitled "Are Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs a Threat to Public Health?" It included three panelists who were going to be discussing their peer-reviewed scientific studies on how abstinence-only programs are not working.

But then…Congressman Mark Souder (R-Ind) decided that the panel was not balanced. Now, I don’t know about y’all but I have been to a few scientific conferences over the years. Nothing requires a panel to be "balanced." As long as the work meets scientific standards and is peer-reviewed and someone will agree to moderate it and the conference organizers choose to include it in the program, well, we have ourselves a session. Balanced is not part of the equation. If you don’t agree, come protest. Challenge the researchers on their scientific methods. Do your own goddamn study and present the findings next year.

But no. Mr. Souder decided that the panel needed to be changed to include abstinence only advocates. Never mind that their work had not been subject to rigorous peer review. No matter that they hadn’t even registered for the conference. They were in. And one of the original panelists was out. AND the title of the panel was changed to be "Public Health Strategies of Abstinence Programs for Youth," AND the original moderator is no longer moderating!
Here's who was in. One Dr. Patricia Sulak, founder of Worth the Wait (which includes a fun game in the 8th grade curriculum of "STD, STD who's got the STD" and one Dr. Eric Walsh whose bio for the "Disturbing Voices HIV/AIDS Conference (!)" includes the statement "Dr. Walsh seeks to serve the Lord through medical missions and the preaching of the Gospel in all the world."

This is ridiculous. The Republicans and other right-wing fanatics are full of so much chutzpah that they are actually willing to interfere in how science is presented. Of course, since Bush has been in office, granting by the National Institutes of Health has changed significantly. And forget about grants involving rectal microbicides (otherwise known as promotion of butt sex). Ain’t gonna happen.

And frankly, as I’m sitting at my desk, working to try to do something good, something to help someone, some high school kid that took a chastity pledge is having sex for the very first time and doesn’t know that condoms are available for free down the block at Planned Parenthood.
Write to Congressman Souder. Please.

Some facts from Slate Magazine and the Washington Post


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Jews and food
Crazy Aunt Purl inspired my writing today. I thought I'd write about food. Specifically Jews and food. I know from listening to others that food serves various purposes in their cultures. Southern folks, Indian folks, Catholics, especially Italian Catholics. I've heard only one story about a culture wherein food was not a central theme and that would be Charlie's family. Maybe it's a WASPy Northwestern thing. I don't know but it's really weird.

Anyway, Jews and food. Jews feed problems. Sad? Eat. Frustrated? Eat. Moving? Eat. And here's a broom to go with it, so also after you eat, clean. Solley's deli in Northridge is Valley Jewish funeral food. Almost every Jewish shiva (like a wake but with the mirrors covered - also, lasts 7 days) I've ever attended has been catered by Solley's. When I say catered what I mean is humongous plates of roast beef, turkey and tongue, rye bread, mustard and pickles. Then everyone brings lots of sweets. There is rugalah for days. If you freeze some of it, you might have enough for the next funeral.

We also feed success. Getting married? Eat. Having a baby? Eat. Child having a baby? Eat, but not too much because there's going to be pictures taken and it would be a shanda if you looked... well, you know.

Jews do not always have the best food. Gefilte fish is one example of this. It is the ultimate expression of "parts is parts." I am also not a fan of the constipation-inducing matzah, the borscht, or the Manischewitz.

I am, however very proud, and perhaps too fond of a few of our foods.

I must start with challah. Challah is pronounced with a gutteral ch. Yes, it's like getting phlegm out of your throat but there's actually a polite and not gross way of pronouncing it. One day I'll show you if you remember to ask. Anyway, back to challah. Best with raisins. I promise. Do not, ever, get challah at Pavilions, Ralphs or any other supermarket. It is gross dried-out eggbread with a deceiving egg-brushed top that may look like challah. But it isn't. Go to a bakery on Pico somewhere between La Cienega and Doheny. Schwartz' Bakery is reopening. Go there.

Brisket. Meat cooked for a billion hours wrapped in tinfoil until it is falling apart. Makes good sandwiches the next day. Also makes for full-on coronary events. Just so you know.

Sufganiot. Essentially, they're spherical jelly donuts. It's pronounced "soof-gah-knee-oat". Eaten at chanukkah when you're supposed to eat fried food to remember the oil lasting for eight days instead of one. Good excuse to eat jelly donuts.

Latkes. Jewish hashbrowns. Fried potato pancakes eaten at chanukkah to remember the oil lasting again. Usually eaten with loads of sour cream. December. A good time for gallstones.

Hamentaschen. Haman's ears. Purim is a great holiday. It's like Super Bowl for the Jews. We're supposed to get so drunk that we don't know the difference between the good guy (Mordechai) and the bad guy (Haman). We Jews have a big thing for these cookies filled with jam. Make sure it's not prune though. Apricot is best. I'm not a poppy seed fan, but some people really like the poppy seed ones. I'm not sure what's wrong with them.

Charoset. Again with the "ch" sound! Apples, dates, raisins, currants, figs, honey, cinnamon and red wine. Anyway, this is like a fruit salad with wine. Yum.

Kugel. You know it has to be good if it involves corn flakes on top. This is like a sweet lasagna. Also, good with raisins. Hmmm. We do like our raisins.

Knishes. OK, could we eat more carbs? This is starch with a starchy center! No really, I'm not even kidding here. It's mushed potatoes wrapped in bread. Maybe put a little mustard on it. Damn, we eat a lot of carbs!

OK, now I want to hear from you.


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Monday, May 08, 2006
I've gotta wear shades...
The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become. - Charles Dubois
I've been thinking about what I want. Not in the new Jordana Paige bag/a cute pair of earrings/a new desk (yes, still with the new desk) kind of way.
Rather in the long term, life goals kind of way. The whole drifting through the next 35 years sounds like something I would end up regretting.
I like plans. I love lists. So I did a little exercise for myself and I thought I'd share it with y'all.

It's hard for me to share. I said this on Thursday night and Monkeygurl was pretty surprised. She knows me from Stitch n' Bitch WeHo and I do a lot of sharing there. Actually, I'm kind of a blabbermouth. Not generally about the big stuff though, about mostly superficial crap like how much I love alpaca. It's hard for me to share big stuff because sometimes you get hurt and sometimes you hurt others. Telling the world you love alpaca is pretty safe though. Ever since I started the NSA, I've been working on the sharing stuff. Because even though sharing can hurt, not sharing, I found, makes for one very depressed, catatonic, medicated Faith.
Anyway, a lot of this is just dreaming. I don't know how anything is going to work out. No one does but can it hurt to dream?

In 2016 my niephew (like that? - maybe nephiece?) will be 10 years old. In the middle of 4th grade.
I will be 45. Where do I want to be in 10 years?
I'd like to:
  1. have a master's degree
  2. be able to look at myself in the mirror and see something I like
  3. still be working at "mama UCLA" building up my retirement
  4. be fully ensconced in recovery from my eating disorder
  5. have BBQs in my backyard where my peeps can come, grab a beer and a rib and chill on my adirondack chairs.
  6. be able to knit a cabled sweater, which I can't currently do and am not too afraid to admit
  7. have run a half marathon (because a full marathon? really necessary?)
  8. be published, with my name on the front cover
  9. take a road trip without a plan
  10. attend a writer's retreat
  11. take a dance class with Michael
  12. get the rest of my back tattooed
  13. take up painting regardless of how hideously unartistic I am (at least in that way)

I am working on some of these things. I'm not quite ready to work on others but if I want all of these things in 10 years (selfish little girl), I better get crackin'.

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations. - Anais Nin


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Friday, May 05, 2006
Albert Einstein wrote: The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious - the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.

I am writing on a break from an enormous protocol I received yesterday morning. It is an experimental drug trial that hopefully might prevent HIV from infecting other cells. The science of this trial is truly beautiful. since I came back to UCLA, I am awed by the beauty of a few of our trials. Which makes my job incredibly fulfilling.

My job involves taking a protocol written by either an individual scientist or a drug company. I read it and translate it for approval by the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB meets twice a month to make sure that research on humans at UCLA is not doing anyone more harm than good, both physically and psychologically. I also write an informed consent which tells the person signing up for this experiment what is going to happen to them during the trial so that they can say either "Sure, sign me up." or "Nope, that doesn't sound good to me. What are my other options?"

Anyone who signs up for a clinical trial is a part of the scientific process. There may be the most brilliant scientist in the world and without human subjects, she would never be able to help a soul.

Some trials fail. We need to know this to move on to (hopefully) something more successful.

In this vein, there is a very fabulous woman who just happens to be a knitter, a blogger and a research trial subject who was on CNN this morning. She is involved in a human trial for NASA. You can go to her blog Stardust Holiday to check out what she's doing. Go on with your bad self, Erin, go on!

There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California. -Edward Abbey


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Thursday, May 04, 2006
Off my thread for Secret Pal 8
Alright - Thanks to Gwen (that's not a saying, Gwen gave me the info) I've signed up for SP8. It's a knitting thang and if you're not a knitter, which a whole bunch of you aren't, you could just skip this post or, you could find out some freaky things about me and knitting. Anyway, this post is required so here I go.

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? I absolutely love Unikat by Skakel - it's their really pretty brown/blue colorway. Ultimately, I'm completely obsessed with alpaca. Not only are they really freakin' cute, but they're hypoallergenic as well! I'm not a fan of funky, novelty yarn. Just me, not a judgment of others.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? I store my hooks in a festive pencil holder. Needles in a big ziploc bag. Since I only use circs, it seems to work for me.

3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I've been knitting for about 7 years, crocheting for 28. I'm an advanced crocheter, beginner/intermediate knitter.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? Yes. Amazon.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.) I'm not a big scent fan but I love mint for bath products.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? MARSHMALLOWS....mmmm.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? This is going to be kind of a long one. I sew, I spin, I love doing almost any craft I can get my hands on, though I do not quilt or scrapbook at all and I haven't gotten into needlepoint. I do love subversive cross stitch though I've never learned how.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? I love me some 80's hair bands, also pretty much anything that was played on KROQ in the 80's. It's bad. Yes, everything plays MP3s.

9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand? Love fall colors. Love greens (not kelly). Love pinks. Don't particularly like white or shades thereof.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? Hmm my family situation. Long, long story which you'll have to read in my first blog post but I am married. No pets - terribly allergic.
11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? Scarves and hats. No mittens - not cold enough in SoCal. No ponchos.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? I love hats!

13. What are you knitting right now? I'm crocheting right now - can't say what. It's a present.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Absolutely as long as they're useful. I'm not a big fan of the tchotchke (otherwise known as knick knack).

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? Circular aluminum. Always.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? Winder - and I love it. When I move I'll get a swift. Currently I don't have room for one.

17. How did you learn to knit? A friend taught me to knit - grandma taught me to crochet. Stitch n' Bitch taught me everything else I ever needed to know.

18. How old is your oldest UFO? Yeesh, probably not as old as some others, but I'm embarrassed to say, more than 3 years.

19. What is your favorite holiday? This is a hard question. I love holidays. Hallowe'en would probably be my favorite though.

20. Is there anything that you collect? Isn't yarn enough?

21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? I've got everything I can think of. I don't have any subscriptions, I just end up a picking up Vogue Knitting or Interweave when I'm around a bookstore, which is pretty often.

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? I'd love to be a better knitter all around. My technique sucks, frankly. Someday, I'm going to have to take an intermediate knitting class because I fear that is the only way I'll learn.

23. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? No. And that's a very personal question!!! Actually, I have no idea what my foot measurements are.

24. When is your birthday? December 23.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006
This morning I went to Whole Foods on my way to work to pick up lunch.

Whole Foods at Fairfax and 3rd is easily the cruisiest market in Los Angeles. Defamer must spend the entire day there looking for Andre 3000 but at 7:30 in the a.m. it is nearly empty but for a few people picking up lunch and a coffee. They do have a pretty decent hot breakfast now but that's another story for another day.

While I was grabbing my POM (because I love that stuff) I was nearly touched by a young woman wearing sunglasses that covered the upper half of her face. Now, people in L.A. do not bump up against each other, lean on one another, or come into any other bodily contact. Most of us do not ride subways and there is enough space that we tend to have a perma-bubble around our safe space.

This woman not only almost touched me, she almost shoved me out of the way.

Very un-L.A.

It was at this moment that I realized that I have begun to pick up on a trend of angry young women in big sunglasses. Let me describe. She is always beautiful. She can be white, black, Asian, Latina or a mix. She is thin. She is driving an SUV and she is in a freakin' hurry. She is 24 - 28 years old and has no time to be polite.

So I wonder, what is she angry about? Is she angry that in order to get into the Sunset Room she cannot have any of the caramel bread pudding that is steaming next to her? Is she angry that she just put 65 dollars worth of premium gasoline in her Navigator? Is she angry because she was just told that she is too short to work for Elite? Has her cellphone been dropping her calls to her agent?

Or, is that all just the surface shit that she thinks she's angry about?

Could it possibly be that she's never going to be perfect? Could it be that instead of spending her days enjoying her job and loving Los Angeles and the smell of night-blooming jasmine that permeates the evening every spring that she spends her days and nights making sure that she:

* remains under her "ideal body weight"
* has perfectly clear and glowing skin
* is wearing this seasons wardrobe including shoes and bags
* her boyfriend's not cheating on her

She has to buy Vanity Fair to make sure she knows what bag to carry and what wedding ring she'll want eventually. She can't garden because she'll ruin her manicure. She's got $35,000 worth of credit card debt and it's not getting any better. She can't bear watching CNN because she knows she should. She feels like an idiot (even though she's not) when she's in a room full of people talking about the war and she knows that if she opens her mouth she'll sound stupid so she just continues to act like she doesn't know anything. She thinks this is the only way to live and this must be pissing her off.

I don't hate this woman. She was so recently an 11 year old girl who was not angry. Don't be angry little girl. I want to let her know.


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Tuesday, May 02, 2006
The invisible woman
This is a concept that I have long pondered. Ultimately, I think we all feel a little bit invisible. You've seen that person. She is wearing too much jewelry. He is playing his music so loud that you are slowly going deaf in the next apartment. She can't stop talking about how fat she is. They might be a little annoying but if you look very closely they are saying:

"Please notice me. I'm terribly lonely and I don't know how to get attention in a socially acceptable way."

I sometimes think that if only people knew the real me...then what? What am I?

I found a blog today where the author, who is obviously a talented professor at Pasadena Community College, listed a bunch of his descriptive labels on his heading and I thought, I should let people know who I am like that!

On the other hand, I like keeping secrets. It's a problem of mine. It's not particularly conducive to blogging - especially if one undertakes blogging as an exercise in honesty after far too many years of keeping it all in. It feels so much safer to keep secrets somehow. Then I won't get caught. As we are still in the year of the No Shame Adventure (NSA - see blog entry August 9, 2005) here's me - at least as far as I'm willing to let it go on May 2, 2006. Perhaps there will be more later.

Faith: An ethical atheist Jewish democrat realist who who loves her gay husband and loves riding on the back of his motorcycle with the wind in her hair. An HIV research administrator and ENTJ Capricorn who crochets and sometimes knits (poorly) and loves hats. A lesbian migraine sufferer who believes that littering is a sign of the figurative apocalypse. A fire-eating chick with a barely passable sense of humor and a knack for being right and a desperate need to be heard. A rape survivor who loves to make things with her hands, who has reddish hair (that is only mine because I bought it that way) lived in the Middle East and taken a shower with a camel. A grateful tattooed sister of a wonderful little sister, who is going to be a wonderful mother.

I think that's enough for today.

What about you?


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