Sunday, March 25, 2012

This and That

I'm just getting back from a week of touring the Midwest. It was fantastic to see everyone!! But now I have lots of random things to say, so I'm going to go with a list of quick updates.

1) The staples come out tomorrow!  Yes!!

2) Oh, right.  Unless I visited you on le Grande Tour, you didn't know about that. When hiking, never mind the mountain lions.  Forget hungry bears just getting up from their winter naps.  It's the rocks that are out to get you.  And generally speaking, it's best to stay on your feet.  If you are unsure about your footing, you could always sit.  But I would generally recommend that you avoid using your noggin for descent.

3) The doctor's reaction was kind of funny.  See, with having a health background, my main concern was a concussion.  I had pretty much ruled that out by the time I got to my car (and I was right; never had so much as a headache), so the cut was far more of an annoyance than really a concern.  I knew it would need treatment, but I don't freak out much by a little blood.  I cleaned up before I went to the doctor (because I had to stop by my house to look up the closest urgent care clinic, anyway), and it had pretty much stopped bleeding, and I guess they thought I was a little too laid back?  Anyway, the doctor acted surprised when she actually saw it.  "Oh, you really did cut yourself, huh?"  Uh, yeah.  Why, did you think I wanted to pay the co-pay for the fun of it?

4) When it first happened, I was feeling a little sorry for myself, and I decided I wasn't going to tell anyone what a klutz I was.  Yeah, that lasted.

5) But I'm really, really excited to get the staples out!!!

6) So, why is it when people find out that I'm driving a long distance, someone invariably feels the need to ask, "Are you driving all that way by yourself?!" Yes.  Yes, I am.  I am single.  There is no one to drive with me.  If I want to go places, I have to go by myself.  That is just the way it is.

7) I had a great time seeing my family and friends.  As an added bonus, I got to fit in a blogger meet up with this lovely lady, who just happens to be on my route home!  Mass, brunch at IHOP and a fantastic visit.  What could be better? :)

8) I wasn't ready to leave any of the places that I was visiting, but I am SO ready to get back to my normal eating routine.  I like to snack a lot, and I try to have some good healthy snacks available to that end. Instead, I would get really hungry and over eat at meal times.  Not to mention that eating is about the only thing that keeps me awake when I drive.  I don't even want to think about what I consumed in the car!

9) So I should be good and ready for a long hike next weekend, right? We'll see how my workouts go this week. If I'm too sluggish, I may have to drop out of the hike, but hopefully not.

10) The Jayhawks made it to the Final Four!!!  I'm so excited.  As an added bonus, it means that UNC will go another year without collected another title.  I like Roy Williams, so no offense to him, but I do NOT like UNC, and would just as soon that they don't win any more titles any time soon.

11) I think that's it.  Hope everyone had a great weekend!  I can't believe we're almost to the beginning of April and the end of Lent already!

12) Oh, and one more thing, the new word verification really does stink, doesn't it?  I took it off my comment form; as long as I don't start getting a lot of spam, I'll leave it off.  I hate when I only have a short comment to leave and the wv takes longer than writing out my comment!

Friday, March 16, 2012

7 Quick Takes on the "Archaic" Discussion of Birth Control

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 163)
I was speaking to someone the other day who was reminiscing about the 60's.  Then she started to laugh about how we're back to the same discussion* about birth control that we were then.  She shook her head, unable to imagine that anyone in their right mind would still be concerned about this or see it as an "issue".  Of course women should all have birth control, what an archaic idea that there should be a question!  She laughed.  It was a little awkward pause in the conversation when I didn't laugh.  I was at work and couldn't really comment.  I didn't ignore her, but I just made little sounds and kept my mouth shut.  I saw brief confusion in her eyes as to why I wasn't responding, but I don't know that she made the connection that I disagreed with her.  In her eyes, I am an educated, professional woman.  That should automatically mean that I should be grateful for the benefits of birth control in my life, right?

If she really wanted to know, I could have told her that birth control has no place in my life, and I'm so thankful that it doesn't.

Reasons that I am grateful that my parents and I are in the 2% of Catholics that do not now and have never used birth control:

1) I'm alive.

My older brother and I are Irish twins.  I always took great delight in the 4 days that we were the "same age" growing up.  I don't think my parents planned on having their second child only 361 days after their first, but lucky for me they didn't jump into birth control right after the birth of my brother.  If they had spaced their second one as (probably) planned, I wouldn't be here.

2) My younger brother exists.

I was 18 years old when my younger brother was born.  My older brother was already in college. We did have 3 younger sisters (the youngest of whom was only 4), but you might guess that my brother wasn't planned by my parents. But if you tell me that my younger brother was an accident, I will come through the screen and punch you in the face.  He was certainly a surprise for my parents, but he was no accident.  Our family would not be complete without him.  I thank God that He knew this, and I thank God and my parents that my parents left it up to Him.

3) I have not been taking birth control for an extended period.

I have heard bad things about taking BC for more than 4 years.  In an oh-so-brief search of drug side effects and reactions, I could not find anything specific referring to this, nor could I find anything that seemed to show that the one form of BC I looked up caused any increased risk of cancer.  Nonetheless, if they've stopped using artificial hormones so much for menopausal women because of the possible risks (like increased risk of cancer), it seems like a problem I would like to stay away from.  Furthermore, any time you take a drug over an extended period, you are increasing your risk of side effects.  Now, granted, NSAIDs (like ibuprofen and such) have just as scary a list as BC does. But I also try to avoid taking NSAIDs more than necessary.

I am not arguing that it should never be taken for any reason.  There are medical reasons for these drugs.  Just as I take NSAIDs when needed but with caution, I would expect the same to apply for BC. I have no desire to jump on the scare tactic bandwagon.  However, I know many people that avoid taking unnecessary medications (as well as meat with hormones) to avoid excessive side effects.  I am the same way, and BC is definitely one that I am happy to have skipped.

4) Increased risk of blood clots.

Now, I know this kind of falls under the previous one, but in my case it's different.  There is something that is called Factor V Leiden that increases your risk of blood clots.  I have never been tested for it, but I may have it.  It has been found in my family, and one of my cousins nearly died during pregnancy due to complications of it.  If I do have this, I would be at an even greater risk than the general population of having a blood clot as a result of the combination of the two.   We did not realize this risk until I was 25, which means that if I had started at 18 taking BC, I could have been taking it for 7 years with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or pulmonary embolism.

5) Increased risk of STI's.

Taking birth control implies that you want to have sex without getting pregnant.  Taking it implies on some level that you assume you are going to have sex (again, unless you are taking it for medical reasons), and in the current hook up culture that typically means with multiple partners.  Seeing as how I have been single for so long, that would probably increase my number if I were to fall in line with the current expected behaviors.

6) I understand sex (or at least can define it).

Well, yes.  You could argue that as a single person I don't have the best understanding. Oh, wait, let me clarify: as a single person not living out the hook up culture.  But hear me out. I remember being dumbfounded one day when a friend of mine told me that she and her friends had had a discussion where they were trying to define sex.  They couldn't.  You see, there are a lot of different things that they qualified as sex because they didn't consider the reproductive aspect of sex to be a defining part of it.

7) My happiness is not dependent on sex.

It seems to me that part of the problem with the assumption that all women need to have easy access to birth control is that we should all be able to have sex whenever and with whomever without worry.  Apparently because this is supposed to make us happier, but having observed friends, I would have to say I'm happier without the pressure to "put out" and "perform well".  This doesn't seem to be as much of an issue with my friends who are in established relationships (whether married or not).  I know that there are times as a single person that I have questioned my worth.  Based on the feelings I had then, I guarantee you I would have turned to sex for answers and self worth.  According to discussions that I have had with friends, I would have found brokenness instead.  Instead, I was forced to dig deeper and as a result, found healing.

I know there are many different experiences out there. This is mine. For the sake of my life, my health and my happiness, I am glad that I have never used birth control.

Head over to Jen's for more (quicker) Quick Takes!
Have a fantastic weekend!

*It's really not the same discussion.  Then it was about whether it is right or wrong.  Now it is about whether those that believe it is wrong according to their religion should be forced to provide it anyway. It's about freedom of religion and not freedom to have birth control.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Praying for You

Those are easy words to say, and I say or type them a lot.  But I try to make sure that they are true.  In trying to make them more true, I'm writing down my prayer intentions as I go so that I can say them specifically during Evening prayer, if not also Morning prayer.

This Lent, I decided to take a little break from the blogging prayer buddies (even though I love it and fully intend to participate the next time). That doesn't mean that I am without a prayer buddy and it doesn't mean that I am not praying specifically for anyone.

I may have mentioned that I feel like I'm in the middle of a baby boom right now among friends. Which is awesome. And sometimes tough.  And there was yet another announcement today. And suddenly the fear is back that I will never get a turn. And there's fear about the next time I see them all together.  It will be fantastic, but I'm also scared, because I've been in those gatherings before where it has hurt like a... Well, we won't go there. It's Lent and I'd better watch my language.

So I'm offering it up right now for everyone that I know that's been struggling with IF, or wants to get married and have kids but is waiting for singleness.  Babies are awesome, and I'm praying that this baby boom spreads like crazy!  (Okay, but singles, I'm praying you meet someone and get married first.) I'm praying for you, and I mean that. I am taking names, I am writing you down, and I am going to literally carry you all (okay, at least your names and intentions) up the hill with me tomorrow.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Scarlet and the Black

So one of the things that I decided for Lent was to not watch as much TV.  Since I didn't want to give it up entirely, especially on Sundays when I'm home most of the day, I decided that I would try to set aside some of my normal types of shows and movies and instead watch some things that would maybe help me to learn something.  So I've watched some documentaries (and enjoyed them, because I'm a nerd like that) and I've watched a couple of movies. They just so happened to be oldies, but they're so good!

Can I just say that I can't stand the "Christian movie" genre.  It may be totally unfair, but it makes me want to puke.  Those who know me know several of those movies that I absolutely cannot stand. The morals and the values that they are trying to teach are a good thing to some degree, but the whole thing is completely sappy and most of the acting is awful. And I dislike the implication that some of them have that following God means that in the end it works out just the way they want it to.

I would far rather have something real than some story made up on the premise that there is a message that we want to spread and so we'll make a nifty little story about it.  Life is far to interesting to have to rely on poorly told made up stories.  Find the good ones and tell those.  The good stories have the message without preaching it.  And they don't have to be marketed as "Christian movies". They can just be marketed as really good movies.  For example, The Blindside? Hello! Fantastic movie, fantastic story, fantastic acting. And, oh, yeah, there was a really good message underlying it that lots of people saw because it was really good.

The movie I watched last week was Chariots of Fire. I'm sure you've at least heard the music for it before, even if you didn't know what it was from.  Another fantastic movie, and it was about an Olympic athlete who stood up for his principles, even when it meant he wouldn't compete in the Olympic games that he'd trained for (because the pre-lims were on a Sunday and he wanted to honor the Lord's Day) and another that was trying to beat prejudice. That movie was so good that it won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1983, as well as three other Academy Awards.

Then today I watched The Scarlet and the Black. I don't know exactly how old it was, but it was based on the true story of Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty who helped to save thousands of people in Rome when the Gestapo was there.  It's older, but again, great acting.  Christopher Plummer and Gregory Peck are the two main actors. Probably the only movie where the wrap up scroll on the screen made me tear up.  Can't tell you why, but it was really good.

Okay, I probably didn't need the "Christian movie" rant, sorry about that. Good movies, though, if you're looking for something different to watch and if you like older stuff.

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Mixture of Feelings

I feel odd and unsettled tonight.  Maybe I just need to go to bed. And I will soon, but I have to wait until at least 8.  I won't go to sleep that early, but then I can go to bed a read for a while until I'm actually ready to sleep.

So far this winter (at least the part after Christmas) has really been fun.  Lots of really fun stuff to do and really fun people to do it with.  It has been too long since I've laughed until I've run out of breath, but when you're drunk on endorphins and the outdoors, it's hard for it not to happen, especially when someone's floundering helplessly in the snow.  (Hey, that someone is me sometimes, I'm not just rudely laughing at others.)

I don't think so much about being single when I'm out hiking and climbing and skiing.  Those are times to simply be in the moment, and I love it. However, different things grab me at different times. I never know what it's going to be.  When two close friends told me they were pregnant in the last couple of months, I was only happy.  Do you know what a blessing it is to only feel happy with an announcement like that?  I really want to be happy for everyone, but I never know how the emotions will fall. I was happy for them, but the announcement of the recent birth of my cousin's baby was hard to hear. I hate that!  The birth of a child is such a beautiful thing, I hate when there's anything other than joy. But it is what it is.  Sometimes I hear someone's pregnant, or someone a decade younger than me is getting married, and it doesn't bother me.  Other times it does. I never know.

Or sometimes it can be the most random things. My mom is absolutely baffled by the fact that I don't have so much as a table to eat from.

Mom: "Well, what do you use for a table then?"
Me: "Nothing."
Mom: "Don't you have at least a breakfast bar or something?"
Me (getting a little irritated): "No."
Mom: "Well, [a friend of hers] is adding a bar in their remodel so they'll have seating for everyone."

At this point, I have no idea what to say to her.  It's such a random and mundane scrap of conversation, but it breaks my heart because there is no "everyone" that I have to worry about seating.

Blast! I hate being that pathetic!

On the other hand, when I do eat meals with other people, it's often a sandwich on the side of (or top of) the mountain, sometimes while sitting in a snowbank.  Do you know how comfortable the snow is to sit in?  It's quite nice, actually.  Not to mention that anything tastes good there, even if it's just a pb sandwich (not even pb&j, because I never have any j on hand).

I guess that leads to the mixture in feelings.  On the one hand, I feel like my life is awesome and fun.  On the other hand, it can get a little pathetic at times.  On one hand, I never, ever planned on being single and still renting and still not quite feeling like an adult at my age.  On the other hand, I also never thought I'd be a person that skis or climbs or goes out in places where you check road, weather and avalanche conditions before you go out, either, and I love that part of the equation. It leaves me feeling odd and unsettled.

You know, as I sit here, I feel that maybe the most unsettled of all is how I feel about my relationship with God in this moment.  It just feels distant right now.  It's not that mighty struggle that sometimes happens, or that amazing closeness.  I don't think it's Him.  I think it's me.  I'm not sure what to do about it.  I keep praying and reading the Bible and going to Mass, but I don't feel that I'm all there sometimes.  Maybe that's what it's really all about.

Well, there you have my messy stream of consciousness in writing.  That's just sort of how this day has been and parts of this week have been.  I don't really expect my momentary melancholy to last long, though.  I think a little sleep and some more time outside tomorrow will really help me out (though my companions for this week are not NEARLY as fun as the ones I was with last week).  Also, good food.  I have a wicked craving for some mac'n'cheese that the natural food store sells with smoked gouda cheese. The nice thing about cross country skiing tomorrow? I can go pick some up and not think about the calories tomorrow night!

Okay, it's after 8. My bed is calling and I'm going to answer. (Why is the call of the bed so much easier to answer than the call of the alarm clock? Hmm, maybe because the bed invites, and the alarm clock demands. As a tip, if you demand anything of me, I'm likely to say no.  It's just how I roll.)