Thursday, December 20, 2007
I have been terribly, horribly remiss. I have exactly 15 hours left of work until we are off for winter holiday. I have about 24 hours worth of work to finish before then.

Then I have a week off and so many posts. I have a list of posts I have been planning. I swear. Please come back next week. I'll be here (and I'll be a year older as my b-day is Sunday!)

Stumble It!

Monday, December 17, 2007
Eight crazy nights
That's the time between right now and that other big holiday coming up. Actually, it's really the only big holiday at this time of year.

Hanukkah, just in case you're wondering, is actually a bitty little holiday on the Jewish calendar generally marked by eating enough oil to have your pores secreting generously for the 8 nights of the celebration. All the hubbub, ruckus and frippery...It's just so Chana and Isaac aren't jealous of Christina and Juan. If it wasn't around Christmas time, as many Jews would celebrate Hanukkah as they do Purim (a more significant holiday) or Shavuot (also more significant). Which is: not many.

Anyway, more about me.

I never feel more Jewy than at this time of the year. I'm all for a good "Happy Holidays!" and will play along (my apologies to soldiers in the War on the War on Christmas) but people start asking all kinds of questions and eventually I get to the point where I have to say something.

For instance the receptionist at my therapist office asked me if I had put up my tree yet. Knowing how much I love to entertain, someone else asked me if I make Christmas dinner at my house.

"Actually, I don't celebrate Christmas, I'm Jewish."

The response, inevitably is, "Ohhhh. You're Jewwwwwish." It sounds like they're in mourning for me. "I'm so sorry you won't be celebrating this super-fun holiday of gingerbread and popcorn garlands. It's so sad for you." As they subtly search for the horns hidden underneath my Jewfro.

It really was never a big deal for me, not celebrating Christmas or Easter. I had a friend who was Christian (as in church going every Sunday, CCD, crucifix in every room, no saying "Oh my God!!!" because it took the lord's name in vain-Christian) when I was little. Christmas and Easter were, in my mind, very linked to Jesus and since my family didn't believe in Jesus (which has always struck me as an odd statement. I mean, it's not like he was the tooth fairy or a dragon) we didn't do those holidays.

Of course my mom, who loves herself a little ongepotchket
(ong´e·potch·ket) excessively and unaesthetically decorated [Yiddish]
would put up every blue, silver and white streamer she could find along with cardboard and foil dreidles and felt hanukkiahs (they're actually not menorahs - menorahs have 7 candles, hanukkiahs, those used at Hanukkah, have 9 candles) that my sister and I made in Jew School. In fact, my felt hanukkiah was up just last week.

I, on the other hand am a little more...shall we say subtle in my expression of my Jewish heritage. I have a mezuzah (a little parchment scroll) on my front doorpost which advertises my that this home will not be putting up flickering light displays come December. There is not much that displays atheism, so I don't really go there.

My point is, as a Jews are a little more than 1% of the general population (of course if you live in California or New York, it's quite a bit more). If you count the atheists, agnostic/secularists, Hindi, Muslim, Baha'i, Native, Sikh, Buddhist, and other non-Christian religious callings, I'm in with about 15-20% of the general population with my non-Christmas celebrating self.

It's ok. We're fine. I promise. But you may want to check on the guy who came to our front door last Sunday morning. Michael told him we were Jewish homosexual atheists. He seemed a little frightened. I don't think he'll be back.


Stumble It!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Intellectual Crystal Meth
I love the people I work with. No disclaimers or codicils.

I am ever so frustrated with the entity I report to.

I was in Boston to attend a conference, Public Responsibility in Medicine & Research (PRIM&R), discussing the ethics of research. I learned quite a bit including the following:

  • Our ethics system, primarily overseen by the FDA, but locally by institutional review boards (IRBs), are both paternalistic and do not have nearly enough oversight of the actual research occurring
  • Many of the rules do more to stifle research than protect subjects
  • There are people out there having real ethics debates about these issues rather than using the most conservative definition of the rulebook because it is there (and it will keep us free of any liability) despite having the authority to interpret most of the very vague guidelines.
I loved the conference.

I love ethics debates.

When I was in school (oh, so many years ago), I was a religious studies major (human sexuality minor - go figure). We called science based fields of study "scantron majors" since most tests had answers that could be filled in on a scantron sheet (are these even used anymore?). We, on the other hand, wrote essays, took oral exams and immersed ourselves in hot debates in class about religion and its influence on social dimensions bleeding out into the quad long after classes ended. I was very earnest.

The conference brought me back to that and also sparked my latent inquisitiveness about the way things work and why. Despite one full (very scary) day of didactic hot air, the rest was engaging and, dare I say

Also, as far as Boston goes - I loved it. It was beautiful and really, really freakin' cold. The skin cells on my face froze. That has never happened before! What an odd feeling.

Anyway, blah, blah, blah, academic blustering. Now on with the holiday fun!


Stumble It!

Monday, December 10, 2007
Things I learned
Dear ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere:

I know. You thought I'd come back and post a bazillion photos of my fabulous time. Tell you all how wonderful and healing the whole thing was and share some embarrassing and unexpected moments. I will. No worries. But first I have to share something I learned.

I am smooshy.

That's right, you read it here first. I'm smooshy.

Last night I went to my parents for our annual Hanukkah festivities which involves the obstacle course of grandmas and dogs and piles of stuff (not to mention one very drunk and amusing grandpa).

We took family photos.

Now - I have learned that for me, looking at photos of myself triggers some very bad thoughts ("You are so ugly, lazy, stupid, what the hell is wrong with you, etc. etc."). This is because I am just a little bit crazy (what with the bulimia and the nervous breakdown and such). A few weeks ago I saw some photos of myself and...let's just say, it wasn't a good reaction. My therapist suggested that maybe I should lay off the looking at photos.

I did not disagree.

This morning I got a family photo in my email from last night's event (surprise attachments!!! Yay!). At first, it triggered the same old stuff. Then I looked again and I realized...I look smooshy. Which, in my crazy head, is somehow better than all the other things I tell myself. Smooshy isn't so bad. You can be smart and smooshy, right? Nobody hates a smooshy person, right?

Our culture lays a ton of shit on us about how we should all have a body mass index of 20. When Dr. Gupta of CNN reported last week about a new study showing how 25 or 30 extra pounds is not going to cause an early death (JAMA 2007;298(17):2028-2037) I thought the morning anchor was going to pop a stitch. Perhaps it was in her script, but she seemed genuinely surprised.

Our culture not only tells us that people with a BMI of more than 25 are unhealthy, it also tells us that they are creatures to be pitied at best, despised, shunned and deserving of an early death at worst.
  • People do, in fact HATE fat people. Look around the blogosphere - see how many times you come across the phrase "shoving twinkies into their faces" in reference to fat people
  • Discriminate against fat people.
    • One study found that found that 16% of employers admitted they wouldn't hire an obese woman under any conditions. Another 44% reported they would only hire them under certain circumstances.
    • 28% of teachers in one study said that becoming obese is the worst thing that can happen to a person; in the same study 24% of nurses said that they are "repulsed" by obese persons
  • Openly abuse fat people. Ask the guy who yelled at me calling me a fat bitch when I took a parking space (that was rightfully mine).
  • Think it's fucking hysterical to make fat jokes.
  • Think that people who have some excess fat on their body are "really, kinda gross" (heard it with my own ears).
Also, what that may or may not have to do with above referenced nervous breakdown.

Now, I know that fat (the molecule) is necessary for human life. The word has taken on some connotations though, that are none too pleasant. Hearing the word makes me cringe. I also know that has a lot more to do with the environment in which I grew up than the word itself or the actual molecule itself. I also know I have to get over it.

Also, just as an aside, I'm not writing this as an attempt to hear compliments. I don't need to know how "not fat" you think I am. This is real. Fat discrimination exists.

Let's call this a step in the right direction, shall we?

As for me, from now on - until I decide I am something else - I am smooshy.

Labels: ,

Stumble It!

Thursday, December 06, 2007
No place like home
I'm back. Whew! It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks but I'll be back to posting tomorrow. I took about 500 photos (not an exaggeration) while I was gone and I'll post the best of them in a Flickr account when I have a chance to look at them. Which I haven't.

A lot happened over the last two weeks and I have a lot to tell you all. There was snow and sex in bathrooms (not me and not Larry Craig either) and book writing and ethics debates and so much more....

See y'all tomorrow!
Stumble It!