Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I got an interview at one of the hospitals that I used to work at on tuesday!!!!! OMG. And, I got an email from one of my replacements (it takes two to three people to adequately replace me at a hospital, apparently) at my old department in the same hospital saying that she's transferring and has talked with the boss about getting me back in there. Yay. Yay. Yay. No more temping! Benefits, vacation time, and a living wage! Soooooooo excited.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Forwarding emails: an exercise in stupidity

Sometimes I hate my job. Just now, I received a forwarded email from the most liberal coworker of the liberal office in A2. Srsly. It's almost cliche. All the floor space in the break room is taken up by different recycling containers, for example.

Anyone wanna guess what the email was about? Oh, noez, the dreaded deadly Swine Flu From "Mexland, and coming here all the time courtesy of our nonexistent Border Security " [sic]. I need to get out of here. For my own sanity.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The New Haven fire dept case

The partner/asshole asked me yesterday what I thought about the case. What I think is that the test is pretty much the same as literacy tests administered to keep the "wrong sorts" of people from voting. Seriously, my AP Gov class was barely edged out into second place in the state at a Constitutional competition, and this test is unfunnily hard. I don't even remember how long money can be allocated to the armed forces for.

Literacy tests, and the promotional test utilized and then thrown out by the city of New Haven apply a veneer of earned privilege over racism. I don't understand how the argument can be made that the test should stand, on a logical level. When a test question in undergrad was missed by a majority (usually between 50 to 75%) of the class, my professors consistently threw that question out because it was their failing as a teacher. Clearly, either the question was poorly worded, or they didn't teach the point well enough. If no one got promoted as a result of the test being thrown out, then what is the problem here?

It seems to me that Mr. White Firefighter and Ms. I was only admitted to UM Dearborn or Flint, not the A2 campus should get together and make lots of little stormfront babies. Nothing would make Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh happier.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A lesson from bloglandia

"Tells it like it is" and "being honest", in the context of talking about a beloved source of entertainment is code for "possibly may be bigoted and un-feminist, but I'm not going to call it an unfeminist guilty pleasure. Stop being so damned PC! I'll believe the dominant cultural narrative if I want!"

Not revolutionary or earth-shattering, I know. Just wanted to put it down to remember later.

On a separate note, the recent rash of idiocy about the parthenogenic ants makes me kind of want to redirect this into a mostly science-from-a-feminist-perspective blog.

Monday, April 20, 2009

IUD weirdness

I've been trying to track my cycle since getting off of hormones and getting the (free! paragard) IUD inserted. Now, I know that each woman's IUD experience is highly personalized and varies widely, but mine seems surprisingly easy so far. Just waiting for the other shoe to drop, I guess.

I was due to start on last friday the 17th, but I had a very light flow-high discharge on the 14th, which seemed to signal the beginning of the end. I'd been under a lot of stress last week, fitful sleeping, inability to focus for long, etc. I finally got good news rather than bad re: stressful situation on friday, and have been waiting ever since for aunt flo to come back for a while. No luck. Even walking the dog for a few miles over the weekend didn't help. I know that IUDs can thin the endometrial tissue over time, but it's only been 4 months, not the usual 6 months of hemorrhaging and heating pad hell. Am I lucky? Destined for an even worse cramp-fest next week? Bleh.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Seedlings, I haz them

My seeds have sprouted!

I bought a bunch of seeds from seed savers, and after counting, it appears I got over 150 morning glory seeds instead of the 100 that I ordered. Friends & coworkers have stepped up provide good homes to most of them.

I also haz IUD cramps, zits, and massive salty cravings.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The bad and the ugly

There are two women in my life I'm concerned about at the moment.

My younger (step) sister has battled anorexia, bulimia, abusive relationships, and drug addiction since leaving our parents' house at 17 to live with her mother. Why she left, and why she finds herself in the types of situations she has have a lot of messy family business-type reasons behind them, revolving around issues of self-worth, lack of control, and love. I'm out of the loop most of the time with my mother, and informing me of anything almost always seems like an afterthought. So I didn't hear until after it had all happened and no one knew where she had gone that she accused her stepfather of molesting or raping her (my mother could barely get the phrase "sexually abused" out, so I wasn't going to push it).

The cops came and kicked him out of the house, but he was back the next day accusing her of lying, and he and her mother kicked her out. Apparently she broke up with her boyfriend (which is a whole nother kettle of fish I'm not even gonna get into), and no one knows where she is staying or has heard from her. It's things like this that make me wish I was closer to Grand Rapids so that I could give her a safe haven. If you're at all left of the political spectrum and know west michigan, you'd realize how truly fucked up that statement is.

My friend S., who has been passed from emotional abuser to physical abuser and back again continuously since childhood, starting with her mother (who is emotionally disturbed after suffering a closed head injury, but that's no excuse) to her ex-husband to her current and former boyfriends, is starting a relationship that's setting off so many red flags of abuse potential. She's in therapy to work through her deep-seated issues about setting boundaries and coping, and it's a little shocking that this behavior isn't setting off Danger! Danger! signals for her therapist too. Maybe the therapist doesn't know.

Anyway, this guy is completely infatuated, wants to see her all the time, is moving way too fast e.g. telling her he's in love after one weekend, wanting to buy her a ring and get married in a year after 3 weeks... I've talked to her about setting boundaries, as has her therapist. I encourage and am wildly proud of S. when she does set boundaries. I've told her that this guy is sending up massive red flags for me. I don't know what else there is to do, except sit back and idly watch as she descends into another abusive relationship.

There is no good here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Natural Hair

So I'm trying to transition to natural hair - that means no chemical treatments like color (my weakness) or straighteners/relaxers - for both personal and political reasons. And, it's giving me fits.

My hair has always been a source of vanity and pain for me. I was bald (though a tough little baldy) for all intents and purposes until about 18 months old. By age 3, I had a big poofy 'fro, and by 4, my curls had grown down my back because I wouldn't let my mother touch them. She doesn't know the first thing about caring for curly hair after having stick straight hair her whole life. I've been told that I cried and cried and cried when she tried to brush my hair (starting at the top, no doubt).

For much of my childhood and adolescence, I didn't know what the fuck to do with the stuff growing out of my head. It was fuzzy, voluminous, and no one around me had hair like mine. Middle and high school were fraught with maximum embarrassment potential. It was the late 90s, and straight hair was very in. Curls were only acceptable if they were big and loose, perfectly spiraled, and straight off of a curling iron.

Mine were never loose enough, so I weighed them down as well as used a lot of braids, buns, and ponytails so that no one could see it. There was an entire year in high school (1999-2000) where I straightened my hair with a big barrel curling iron at least once a week. It was bad. My senior photos are straightened. People who haven't seen me since high school will always remember me with straightened hair, and that sucks.

Fast forward to after a feminist, body acceptance, having to deal head-on with the racism at UT Austin awakening. I stopped hating my hair for being curly, stopped trying to straighten it as often. Over the last few years, I've fallen in love with my curls. Ironic, since they began loosening and becoming wavier. There were sections that wouldn't curl at all, and that pissed me off to no end. Frizzy and straight hair?? Fuck that. Things sort of came to a head about 4 months ago with the texture changes and the frizz. My hair felt like straw coated in kerosene. It looked like shit, and it wouldn't even curl. Something was very wrong.

I'd stumbled across Lorraine Massey's book Curly Girl when it first came out, but her regimen sounded hard, and the routine I was doing was working alright, so I put it out of mind. I started looking to the internet for solutions. NaturallyCurly was one of my first (and most comprehensive) stops, followed by afrobella and a whole slew of other natural hair blogs aimed at curly hair. I can't remember being so thankful for my background in organic chemistry. Seriously, there's a lot to digest about the science of hair and beauty products. It turns out that Massey's Curly Girl regimen is actually sound science. The proof speaks for itself. And, it couldn't hurt.

Around January, I couldn't wait for mail order stuff to arrive, I had to go find something at the stores. I had been using Trader Joe's nourish spa shampoo & conditioner, which was alright ingredient-wise, even though it contained parabens and sulfonates. But obviously it wasn't working with my particular hair type. After many, many trips scouring aisles for anything with an acceptable ingredients list, I finally broke down and went to Whole Paycheck (Whole Foods) when my friend from Grand Rapids came to visit and wanted to go. Nature's Gate shampoo & conditioner were on sale, and the ingredients were alright in the conditioner. Found Giovanni organics, and picked up some conditioner from them too.

So maybe now would be a good point to back up and go back to the chemistry behind natural hair. Things like dyeing and straightening (by heat or chemicals) alters the chemical structure of the hair shaft, which can affect the hair's texture permanently in a variety of ways. Heat treatments like blowdrying, hot combs, curling irons, and blow dryers break the disulfide bridges between the proteins in hair that form curls and kinks. Do I even really need to go into why dyeing and chemically straightening the hair (often lye-based) is damaging and alters the chemical structure of hair?

Now on to the more pernicious stuff. Hair products, like all other personal care products, are targeted and formulated for the default white consumer. You know, women with "good hair." Products for POC are 'niche' markets, and forget about getting anything to work with hair that isn't coded white or black. It's like other minorities don't even exist. Not that it's a big surprise, considering the rest of the beauty industry. Where was I? There are several ingredients found in virtually all commercial hair products that are really incredibly bad for curly and kinky hair. Hello, white supremacy and false dichotomies!

Lauryl and laureth sulfates are industrial strength detergents(surfactants) that strip the hair shaft and scalp of its natural oils. Anyone with curly/kinky hair can intuitively tell you that dry hair is unhappy hair. You may as well wash your hair with dish soap if you're going to use lauryl and laureth salts. That new "sulfate-free" shampoo & conditioner line from L'Oreal *is* sulfate-free. And it also contains lauryl and laureth salts. That's sort of like substituting DDT for carbon tetrachloride, and calling it carcinogen-free. Technically, yes. Is it a worthwhile change, though? Not really. So why do people even buy laureth/lauryl products anyway? Because we've been indoctrinated since the 60s and 70s to believe that lather + squeak = clean. In reality-land, lather + squeaky hair = incredibly dry, damaged curly hair.

The other side to the industrial detergent coin is silicones. Silicones coat the hair shaft, making it appear shiny and feel soft. What's the problem, then? Well, you can't remove them from hair without the use of above industrial detergents. They become sticky and attract dust, dirt, and anything else to stick to your hair. Like glue. Plus, they're more obnoxious than the detergents because they're disguised in the ingredients list. They could be called amiodimethicones, dimethicones, siloxanes, and cyclomethicones. If you use products with silicones, you must at least occasionally wash them out using harsh detergents.

There are other chemicals that are commonly found in curly hair products that can be good or bad for some people's hair. Protein (which I need), and glycerin (which I don't). I think there's been enough chemistry talk today, but if anyone wants more information, I'm more than happy to point to links or make another post.

So around the middle of february, I started conditioner washing (co-washing) with nature's gate and then using the other stuff to condition. My stuff from Oyin Handmade arrived around that time, and I started shampooing once a week to remove any build up, and began using aloe vera gel to keep my hair from 'fro-ing out into a triangle. The results have been pretty decent.

Other important things to keep in mind:
1. Do NOT brush your hair unless it's with a wide-toothed comb, wet, and loaded with conditioner. It'd be best if you only finger-combed your hair, in reality. I just don't have enough time or hot water for that, so wide-toothed comb it is.

2. Do what works for your hair. Lauryl/laureth sulfates and silicone-laden products worked for me for a while. Or maybe my curl was just so tight that it couldn't help but to curl despite the stuff I put on my head. If conventional shampoo & conditioner works for you, then I'm happy for you. If you need to wash more or less often, or need heavier deep conditioner treatments or can't afford the stuff I use, then you shouldn't. Do what works for you. Discover the many shine and softness inducing properties of olive oil, shea butter, honey, eggs, and aloe vera.

3. Experiment, experiment, experiment.

All of my decisions, though, were based on lots of research on curltalk and other natural curly hair blogs. (Do ya see what I'm sayin here? There aren't many curly hair blogs that cater to other ethnicities. That's why I <3 love <3 curl talk, where there are lots of beautifully tressed italians, spaniards, lebanese, greek, syrian, persian, mexican, latina, brazilian, mixed, african american, and white curlies supporting each other.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The last few days, Michigan has been plunged back into winter. And so goes my mood. Didn't help that today I had a spectacularly bad lunch hour after a full pop got spilled all over me, soaking my winter coat, sweater, shirt, pants, etc. Had to go home and change, then go back to work and stay late. It had better start warming up soon, because I'm out of a winter coat now. Fuck.

On a good note, my morning glories are sprouting like mad!

Edit: Also, why do I completely forget to eat when I'm depressed and worried, but emotionally eat when I'm depressed and bored? Seriously, I've skipped breakfast and dinner for the last few days, and probably only ate lunch because I eat with my coworkers.

Monday, April 6, 2009


I'm trying to get a food and flower garden going at my mom's (as a mother's day gift), and was wondering if there are any ethical ways I could get dirt other than digging it up out of my own yard. I rent, so that is not an option. For the record, I first got the idea in my head that commercially available dirt could come from mountaintop removal from bfp's blog, and it deeply scares me, not least of all because I'd like to move to Appalachia to be closer to my Appalachian darling partner. Soon. I don't want to be an unwitting accomplice to damaging his home* any more than I want to unwittingly contribute to the destruction of my beloved Michigan.

Also, more experienced gardeners (I'm looking at you here, Trish and Eve_L), I have a gardening question. I bought some beans (and so did my mother, actually). I was wondering how I could maximize their nitrogen fixation benefits. Should they go in the middle of the garden? Scattered amongst the other plants? Along the edges? Any suggestions at all would be greatly appreciated.

*Seriously. Even if he didn't have other ties holding him to the area, you should hear him talk about it. It's as if no one would willingly leave the county - the only acceptable reasons for exodus are education, jobs, or being kicked out.