Thursday, August 28, 2008

What Makes Us Higher Beings?

The following is an excerpt from "Honesty for Better Clarity" from a blog called Superconscious, to which Guest Blogger Mary also referred:

"Did you know that each of the emotions of fear, lust, anger and pleasure can easily be found in the brain with an electrode touching a small specific section of the brain's limbic system? Some brain experiments with monkeys and human mental patients in the 60's uncovered this fact very well. On the other hand, the higher brain emotions of unconditional love, compassion, happiness and courage cannot be found in the limbic system or any other small area of the brain?! Why? Well, fear, lust, anger and pleasure are the emotions we share in common with all animals that have a limbic system.

"What makes humans different is the large cerebrum on top of the small limbic system. When you experience love, compassion, happiness and courage, brain scans reveal a wide area in the cerebral cortex lights up. In other words, a larger network of cells in the higher brain centers are used to experience these higher emotions. Most people have great difficulty with experiencing these higher brain emotions, because their whole life revolves around limbic system reacting instead of conscious acting. When you practice consciously using more of your brain, instead of less, you begin utilizing more of your God-given potential and honesty is easier to express as well."

Monday, August 25, 2008


After years of heavy medications to get through the world full of A--Holes and Evil Bosses, now that PMS is no longer an issue, I am trying to slowly wean myself off of SSRI antidepressants. I am down to 75mg from 225mg and doing pretty well as far as withdrawal symptoms go. After convincing my doctor that diet pills do not pep me up but rather mellow me out, we addressed the issue of ADD, and I now have an Rx for methylphenedate (Ritalin). I don't take it every day. I have it in my bag as my emergency kit, for melt-down moments and unpleasant confrontational situations. I haven't had to use it very often, but knowing it is there is the only way I can feel safe about reducing the other and still function at work.

As I have reduced the dosage of my meds, I have felt my creativity return, my ability to write, multitask and think on multiple levels. My resolution for 2008 was to nurture that creative side, as I am a whole-brained person who prefers the right but works in a left-brained field. I've been able to become involved with some marketing aspects of the business that allow me to flex those creative abilities, and I love that.

During my cancer treatment, I was very mellow and laid back. I attribute it not only to being in chemotherapy and being sick and exhausted, and the meds, but to the cessation of estrogen production. I was kind and soft-spoken and pleasant to be around. Who the heck was that chick??

I enjoyed feeling that way. I enjoyed not getting riled or opinionated or argumentative, but it felt like being a person I had never before been. After chemo, despite meds and menopause, I did not have that same mellowness. I miss it. Perhaps it was partially the calm and protection of all the prayers being offered in my behalf.

But having learned more about the symptoms with which I struggle and how many of them relate to side effects of the meds, I have determined to get off the meds.

And now I watch these "traits" surfacing again. I can become strongly opinionated, highly argumentative ("I'm not bossy; my ideas are just better"), arrogant ("I can be nice; can you be smart?") and obsessed with the world being right and fair. (and no, I didn't say those things, but they make great t-shirts.)

Which begs the question: deep down under it all, is it ADD, or simply OPD? Obnoxious Personality Disorder, such as afflicted Julia Duffy's character on NEWHART. Or was it Designing Women. Which is the real me?

And who is the "me" I would like to be? I'd like to be mellow, affable and pleasant. But I'd also like to be creative and alert, and more healthy. I don't want to suppress parts of me to please the masses any longer.

Stay tuned as I follow the path to ... the real me? And please still be my friend if I get REALLY competitive at Pictionary and word games...


For anyone who can relate to any of what I have mentioned, I recommend the following websites:


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Idea for Wacky Reality / Game Show...

"I Survived an LDS Singles Dance"

Winners will be judged on emotional state, level of self-esteem, hope for the future of dating after 40, and last but not least: how much their feet hurt.

Despite a slight bout of stomach-knotting mini panic attack as we arrived, it wasn't as bad as anticipated. It was one of those "smaller" dances, shunned by the cool folks at The Singles Ward. That alone takes away many of the factors that make one take oaths against attendance. For example, try as I might, I couldn't pick a Barbie out of the crowd, and the ratio of men to women was, oddly enough, very near even. There was even a point, during songs that required rhythm and dance moves, when a small group of MEN actually stood together at The Edge. Much to their credit, however, everyone chose up partners when slow songs were played.

But lest you think I have completely caved and been reconverted, let's just look at a few of the finer details, shall we?

I actually danced four times. Once was the requisite "Electric Slide". WAY too much like exercise. I had to rest after that.

The first dance was with a rather small man who turned out to be 67 years old. I had always been conditioned to believe that sitting in the chairs along the dance floor, rather than standing on display, meant that you do not wish to be asked to dance. I was apparently wrong.

Point #1: I resent being lumped socially into a group that includes folks older than my mother.

He asked where I lived and how long I'd lived there, shared that he'd have been married 31 years, the length of time he's lived in town, had his dear wife not passed. He admired my earrings. He asked if I owned my own home. He said I was a very beautiful woman.

Upon comparison of notes with my friends, dancing with this gentleman follows the same conversational lines no matter who you are or how many times he's danced with you previously.

Second dance was with someone I met at the Social Gathering at my Dear New Friend's house. He's a very animated and adventurous dancer, and it was quite enjoyable.

As I looked around I saw several faces I recognized from the dances I used to attend 7 or 8 years ago.

Point #2: the group has not changed or evolved, it's just getting older.

As am I, as my feet and legs and respiratory rate let me know after the "Electric Slide".

Point #3: someone with actual dance ability should choose the music.

Loosely translated: play some disco! If the entire crowd can be persuaded onto the dance floor for the milk-toast rhythms of "The Electric Slide", how excited might they be over some BeeGees and the Hustle!!?? The REAL Hustle, not the hustle-wannabe-electric-slide.

The music mix varied from "Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me" to some country-sounding contemporary Christian piece to which the masses slow-danced. There were a couple of selections bordering on rap, which I am sure everyone in the room is too old for and could do without. There was some Rock, to which my 2nd dance partner did a respectable Air Guitar. There was FAR too much Country sappy-slow-song-crap, to which more than a few couples did not actually "dance" but rather stand in an extended hug, feet not moving, but swaying occasionally, ever so slightly, so as to make it even more difficult to distinguish between dancing and merely mashing. I was not sure if one couple was holding one another up or publicly enjoying a little extended full-body contact which would be inappropriate were they alone.

There was, of course, also the Usual Cast of Characters:

The Ballroom Dance Couple:
No matter the tune, they can waltz to it. Country, rock, pop, anything. It's almost as if they are oblivious to the music and would continue dancing were it to stop. Unfortunately for those of us who have long-enjoyed mocking this couple, the recent popularity of dance shows on TV have made it OK to ballroom to all types of music. Hmmf. Now I'm left just admiring their skill set.

The Fancy Two-Step Couple:
50's, both tall and slender, no doubt skilled, but why is it that Country dancing looks so darn STIFF? I think the Viennese Waltz has more funk.

This guy looks like he's on a pass from the Assisted Living Home, breathing with his mouth hanging open, hunched over, feet barely moving...and dancing with the youngest woman in the room. What the H#!! ? Creepy. Just creepy. (see Point #1)

The Handicappers:
I hesitate to expound, lest I be seen as intolerant and cruel. To these mentally and physically challenged Brothers and Sisters, bless their hearts, I tip my hat. Some have been faithfully attending these events for over 30 years. Social highlight I suppose, but, and here comes the part for which I'll receive letters, it gives the event somewhat a feel of The Center on a Saturday night, leaving a slight aroma of pathetic-ness by association.

The Stomper:
Not a rhythmic bone is his body. When certain ethnic groups first accused certain other ethnic groups of the inability to boogy, they were looking at The Stomper. I think hitting each beat that hard is the only way he can find it.

Rico Suave:
Latin guy, white pants, sports coat, ladies' man. 'Nuff said.

The Polygamist Dancers:
Yes, just like it sounds, several women, one token man. D'oh! I was part of this group!! Personally I prefer the All Girl Dance Review which boldly claims "We do not need a man to shake our booties", but I can hang with the mixed crowd too, if it makes others more comfortable, because when the three girls in a row start chair-dancing and the beat has grabbed hold, you just gotta dance.

Has anything changed in the past 10 years? As I looked around the room, from the refreshment table to the middle-aged dancers to the lines of chairs defining the dance floor, I realized that one thing had changed: Me.

No longer does the opinion of this collection determine my level of content with self. No longer does being asked to dance signify my worth in the universe. I really could just be there with friends and have a good time, not to mention much-needed physical activity, without feeling judged, picked over and rejected.

10 years ago I wanted to say that I didn't care what others thought of me, but it was a facade. I did care. I still needed the validation of a dance invitation. I still thought I might actually "meet" someone, and I still hoped for "dating". 10 years ago I left dances feeling lower and more negatively about myself than I did when I arrived.

What has changed? Acceptance of reality? Of self-as-is? Menopause? All of the above? I had to admit to my companions at the end of the night, that while it wasn't a Bootie Bustin' Boogie Fest, neither was it as bad as I thought it would be.

Might I be tempted to return? Tempted...not really. Talked into it again by the girls?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oath, Schmoath...

I have been pursuaded, call it peer pressure, call it the excitement of a fellow Leo's birthday, to attend the "dance" with the girls. I think what sealed it was the birthday girl agreeing to wear a tiara and feather boa.

I have put a lot of thought and effort into looking like I have not put a lot of thought and effort into how I look. I changed my shirt once and my jewelery three times. I did rat my hair. (It will be hot, and it will fall if I don't.) I did put lipstick on. But I'm wearing a plain white tee-shirt with no necklaces. Brown MaryJane-style CROCS. (which were chosen because I can stand in them longer than most of my other shoes) I hope I look like I don't care. That's the look I was going for.

I shall be taking notes. I'm sure there will be interesting blog fodder there.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I am Orange Today...

Loud and Messy, like Finger Paints.

-Dell commercial

"That Old Time Rock-n-Roll" is NOT a dance tune.

After nearly 3 yrs of near social reclusiveness; closer to 7 years of shunning the LDS singles scene, I finally let a friend (a fairly new, but I say dear, friend) talk me into accepting an invitation to a casual gathering, where I actually participated in "social interaction" with LDS Singles.

I think I did fairly well, for a first venture after so long. I tried to curb my competitve nature when it comes to "games", and go with the not-really-following-any-rules flow of the Pictionary game, though either some of them just weren't trying very hard, or I am really good at Pictionary.

Well, actually, I am really good at Pictionary.

But, I must not have been too obnoxious because I was thereafter inviting to go bowling, and to another upcoming event. The people in this little group are of all ages and circumstance, and I found them to be pleasant and non-judgemental, and all-importantly, funny, and since I am in serious need of "social interaction", I think I should venture further.

One of the Group members RSVP'd in the negative to the upcoming event, citing prior commitment to DJ a dance. LDS Single Adult Dance. *cough*dances are evil* The suggestion was then put forth to attend said dance after the dinner out and festivities in, celebrating the birthday of one group member who is a Leo by the skin of her teeth and must therefore be totally awesome. (Either that or we'll hate each other on sight.)

Ha. Attend a dance. Not likely. Not only do I have an un-testimony of the single adult program, but I think I may have also taken an oath against singles dances. I cannot think of a more terrifying social scenario than walking alone into a cultural hall full of LDS singles with music playing.

Let's set the scene:

Lights; dim but not dark. Disco ball; probably (and probably the only good thing), crepe paper decorations; maybe. Good music; unlikely. Chairs line the walls. DJ booth/table up front or on the stage. The cool people are already dancing near the DJ. Women line the invisible boundry of the dance floor, feeling uncomfortable and on display, out-numbering the men at least 5:1.

The men, with all this opportunity to "dance" at the dance (yes, it is a verb as well) surrounding them, are, of course, slyly waiting in an unspoken queue to dance with the one woman with bleached blonde hair, a boob job and a low cut top.

The other women sometimes take up arms and dance with one another in small groups. Very European. Or very 1940's War-time-and-all-the-men-are-over-seas.

70's Saturday Night on KOOL-FM in the privacy of one's own homes would be vastly superior to submitting oneself to this repeated rejection.

There are several theories as to why, at a ratio of 5:1, men are waiting in line to dance with Barbie.

1. Single LDS men over 35 are the most judgemental sub-group of males on the planet.

2. Divorced single LDS men are of the mentality that they now deserve the most beautiful woman in the room, and nothing less. Regardless of love handles, male-pattern baldness, or all the reasons their first (and/or second) wives divorced them, nothing but top-o-the-line will do for them now. (see 1.)

3. To the LDS male, asking a woman to dance is akin to a marriage proposal. Before the LDS male will ask a woman to dance, or accept an invitation from a woman to dance, he must be sure that she is, at first glance, marriage material. (see 1.) To speak to her or dance with her a second time, he must have had personal revelation that she could be the next "one". This is, in a nutshell, the law that governs the sub-group.

Any protestations of "shyness" to excuse ignoring all those other women are easily negated by the Barbie-Line.

Women lining the dance floor. The cool people dancing. The men lined up to dance with the Hot Chick. This seems a little familiar...checking long-term memory...oh yes; JUNIOR HIGH.

The Group into which I am venturing seems to be mysteriously capable, on the whole, of "hanging out"; an oddity in Mormondom, I must say. I proceed warily, as if entering a cold lake, one toe at a time.

Perhaps things have changed in the LDS singles world since last I checked, or perhaps stumbling upon this tiny band is like discovering Shangri-La, hidden amidst the misty mountains; out of time, out of space...singular unto itself.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Furry Funerals and Birthday Blues

I am currently acting as "hospice" for a rat that belonged to my best friend's daughter. The rat had a sizeable tumor, but not debilitating, under her arm. She now has an additional tumor at the base of her tail, and both have grown HUGE. There is more tumor than rat. But she's still eating and drinking, and seems to be in good spirits and happy with her cage mate.

I have had many rats as pets. I love them. But their final days are awful. They get sick. They get respiratory infection, stop eating, stop drinking, become dehydrated and skinny. Sometimes they go quickly, on their own. Sometimes they linger, miserably. I have taken two rats to the vet to be euthanized.

That is the decision I am now facing. Surely it's time. She looks like Jaba the Hut. I am not exagerating. Yet, she still takes food eagerly. Her cage mate will be so sad. And she will be so sad to go to the vet alone. My friend's 6 yr old daughter is preparing for the funeral. According to my friend, she "has a kind of morbid streak about death, and might really enjoying taking a peek at the corpse".

Why can't they go peacefully or mysteriously like miniature hamsters?? We had two Robo Hamsters. (I know; Robo-Hamster!!) They were so cute, and fun to watch, especially for the cats. One day I said, "Hey, I can only see one hamster", and wondered at the last time I'd seen them together. With a feeling of foreboding, I captured the one, and set to cleaning the cage, carefully searching through the litter. Sure enough, I find a partially-decomposed hamster carcass in one corner, buried in the recycled paper litter.

The discovery raised many questions. Did he sense his own demise, like an elephant, and go off alone to expire beneath the fluffiness? Or was his exit from mortality hastened, with the corpse hidden deep in the white hamster cage "earth" to conceal evidence? In the case of the latter, the suspect list is certainly short.

Some weeks later, I realized I hadn't heard the wheel in a while. I then realized the cage door was open, and no hamster was to be found. I'm sure I know which cat opened it. The one who was addicted to "hamster t.v.", spending hours a day sitting by the cage, watching the action. The question in this scenario is easy...was he eaten? I found no remains, no fur, no thrown-up bones anywhere in the house, yet if he escaped with his life, it seems unlikely, in a house of 6 felines and a dog, that he could still be holed up and alive.

So why have I had so many rats, when the "end" is so heartbreaking? They are so smart, with their own little personalities. They are definitely the "rodent of choice". And cute...oh they are so cute, especially as babies. Nearly irresistable as babies. (I have banned myself from the pet store that carries baby rats...lots of them...obviously as snake food, despite the disclaimer to the contrary...because I always feel the need to liberate a few of them.)

The cuteness factor translates to human offspring as well. Babies are so cute and sweet and cuddly. If they were born 14 yrs old, NO ONE would have another one and we'd be at zero population before the ozone hole could get any bigger.

Today was my birthday. As a single parent, I don't ask for much. I don't want to have money spent on me. I'm easy to please. I began dropping not-so-subtle hints two days ago that I would be so happy with just an extra chore done, or a special favor around the house. I called on my way home to ask my son what was for dinner. I'm happy with mac & cheese, so long as I don't have to cook it or clean up after. I stopped on my way home for the most essential item in life...toilet paper...and decided that spaghetti sounded good. I called to let him know that from the store, and asked if I had any special surprises waiting for me...

"Not yet..." Not yet? at 6:30 p.m.?? But I will by the end of the night, I am promised. Ok, we'll see. I come home and make the sauce. All he has to do is boil spaghetti and cook up the ground beef. The sauce simmers. I start water heating for the noodles. No sign of effort on his part to get up and cook my birthday dinner. What is winning over mom's birthday? World of Warcraft. Special place, hard to get to, need to do something, don't want to have to come back again. I cooked my own birthday dinner. Didn't get to eat until 7:45, for waiting for motivation to strike The Boy. 8:18 pm. No special chore done. Cooked my own birthday dinner. Served my own birthday dinner. Will now take my own empty birthday dinner plate to the sink. World of Warcraft still winning over the woman who gave him life.

Maybe when he's 18...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Great Customer Service!

Firstly, I witnessed today, first hand, a marvel of driving idiocy. An old lady, waiting to turn right at a light. I am opposite her, waiting to turn left. The light turns green and she juuuuuussst sits there. With her blinker on. She sits. So I, despite the fact that I have rightfully yielded to her the right-of-way, I make my left turn, as do two others behind me while she WAITS...

FINALLY, as the third left-turner makes his turn, INTO THE 2nd lane (good thing Granny wasn't going anywhere!), Granny turns behind him, into the FAR LANE! The two of them should have to go to driving school.

I went to A.J.'s Fine Foods today to get a salad at lunchtime. What a beautiful store. As I waited in line at the register, behind two chatty and obviously not-in-a-hurry people, an employee from the neighboring deli came and asked if he could weigh my salad for me. He put the sticker on my salad, got my drink at the Boulangerie fountain, and quickly stepped in behind the other clerk as soon as she finished ringing up talky-couple to expedite my purchasing experience. He was SO nice, so helpful, so aware of customer service. And I wasn't even some hot chick he was just chattin' up.

As I left the store I thought, WOW, people who shop here regularly (aka people with MONEY) sure get treated well!! And THEN I thought...why does customer service only exist these days in pricey establishments? I work as hard for the money I spent in Walmart as I do for the money I spent on my salad at A.J.'s. It seems there is a magic other world of courtesy and respect of which I, the working class, know not!! Why not?? I'm just saying!

I formally object.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


One of my top three major driving pet peeves. When making a turn, you are required to a) turn into the first available lane, and b) take responsibility for giving right of way if you choose NOT to take that first available lane.

Most people seem to think the first available lane is taboo apparently! Hey people! Think about the other drivers around you who might also want to make a turn. Ok, maybe I know the rule of first available lane because I have attended a defensive driving class or two, and somehow all the other rude and unsafe drivers out there have escaped tickets and driving class. But come on...