Sex. It drives us, makes us who we are. I write it and I have a lot of opinions about it. And about other things--everything from movies to politics to education. In fact, after several months absence I've come to realize that I am no sex-pert and that my opinions and passions are far too varied to limit myself to only sexual issues. So....since this is my blog, I figure I should be able to voice my opinions about whatever I please.
If that makes me a be it!

So read, comment, ask questions, rant and rave...but most of all enjoy and open your mind to possibilities!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hair today....gone tomorrow....back the next day

This past weekend had its ups and downs. The ups included...
  • a great family pizza and movie night watching the latest PREDATORS movie which was, surprisingly good considering the genre.
  • the satisfaction of FINALLY getting out to Zumba class on a Saturday morning. Something that the universe has been conspiring to prevent me from doing for weeks.
  • a very fun date night with my sweetie, which included seeing the movie BURLESQUE (fun movie with lots of hot bods) followed by an evening of pool in which I gave my hubby a sound thrashing. That does not happen often...and I thoroughloy enjoyed the feeling.
The only downs were...
  • that my oldest, The Wizz, didn't come home from college for the weekend.
  • and finding another little bald spot on my scalp. It's right above my left ear, which makes it more visible than I like.
Did you eyebrows shoot up a bit? Well, yeah...mine, too. Although it isn't nearly as traumatic as it used to be. And this is what I want to talk about experience with Telogen Effluvium and Alopecia Areata.

It will be two years ago this coming January when very abruptly, and unexpectedly, I started to notice that I was losing copious amounts of hair. It felt like handfuls came out in the shower, and then while brushing out my hair. The sink was a nightmare of lost strands...and I immediately experienced a faint sense of panic. But surely it was an aberration. A one-time thing. Or merely my imagination! In a few days everything would be back to normal. Well, it wasn't. The sink continued to fill up and look like a rats nest from hell. I checked websites. How much hair loss is normal? They told me that up to 150 strands per day was considered "normal". So, just to be sure I wasn't crazy...I counted. Yes, people. That is exactly how obsessive I felt about this. I counted the hair that I shed during comb-out and came up with a shocking 350. Sometimes more.

Needless to say I saw my doctor. Only to be kindly dismissed and told this was "normal" and it would pass.

NORMAL? Were they insane? Surely they have no idea of the scope of this problem. So, when I finally discovered my first bald patch...about the size of an egg on the side of my head--and thankfully easily hidden--I called again. This time I got a slightly elevated level of concern, and a referral to a dermatologist--in 5 months. Up until that time there was nothing I could do...but wait and try to keep my sanity--and my ego--intact.

During those months I came the closest I have ever come to full-fledged depression. It was horrific. I couldn't get away from it! Everywhere I went the evidence continued to haunt me. Hair seemed to practically drip off me, and I was continually sweeping it up off the floor. I began to notice that my part was getting wider. I didn't want to go out. I cringed whenever anyone touched my head. And yes...I subscribed to female hairloss forums and websites. (It is far more common than we know) I was in the midst of checking into wig options when I came across the simple article that finally gave me hope.

This article informed me that my general hair loss was termed Telogen Effluvium, and that it afflicted up to 30% of the population at one time or another in their lives. It said that it usually resulted from some sort of physical or emotional trauma. Anything from childbirth, to a death in the family to a high fever. But that in up to 30% of cases--like mine--there was no discernible cause. What really comforted me was the simple knowledge that it usually lasts 4-6 months and that a sufferer can lose up to SEVENTY PER CENT of their hair! But that in 90% of all comes back.

The mechanics of it are simple. During this trauma or time of stress, the hair goes into a state of stasis. It simply stops growing for a time, and no new hair is generated. Suddenly, about 3 months later, everything kicks back into gear, and the hair loss that I was experiencing is actually due to the new hairs coming in underneath and pushing out all those old, dying follicles.

I was strangely uplifted. There was hope. Somehow my doctor's assurance that this was common came off as too dismissive and made me think she couldn't possibly understand the severity. This article acknowledged the severity...and yet gave me hope. I felt much better...and within less than a month after that the hair loss abruptly....stopped. I was down to shedding less than 15 hairs during and after my shower.

A month after that I started to notice all the fine new hairs coming in. There was a veritable fringe of it all the way around my head...and in the two bald spots that I had noticed. Life was good again. My ego was saved.

And then about 6 months later, as I was putting up my hair in a pony tail I noticed...ACK!....another bald spot. But...this couldn't BE! I thought it was all over! I hadn't noticed any excessive loss. What was going on?

But more reading revealed that this--Alopecia Areata--again, is a very common problem, and is probably one I will have to deal with for the rest of my life. In the last year I have had small bald spots appear...and fill and there. Every new one is a small trauma, and one that I watch closely for changes, but I'm heartened by the knowledge that it will be temporary...and according to my hairdresser it is far more common than we suspect. Many women have them and don't even realize it because they are hidden far beneath their tresses.

So, that is my story. It is one that I felt it important to share, because I think far too many women deal with this pain in silence and ignorance. Yes there are cases that result in permanent and very traumatic hair loss, but those are the exception rather than the rule. While it was happening I tried to comfort myself with the fact that this was a minor problem! I was experiencing no pain, and there was no threat to my health. The only threat was to my physical appearance, and even that could easily be fixed with falls or wigs or whatever. And yet none of this comforted me. A woman's self image and ego is tied up very closely with her hair, and some of the websites I visited described this trauma as being on a level almost equivalent to experiencing a death in the family.

So, be aware and take heart. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing or has ever experienced this phenomenon, chances are good that it will be transient, and life will return to normal soon. Talk about it. Read up on it. And feel free to speak to your doctor. There are treatments for those cases that become more serious, but hopefully it won't be necessary.

And try to are worth far more than what you spend on hair care products.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The three E's: errands, enigmas and education

I thoroughly enjoy taking the Enigma--my 15-year-old son--to his orthodontist appointment. Or taking him shopping for shoes. Or, like today, out to the accessory store to pick out a gift for the girl whose birthday party he's attending on the weekend. Not that I particularly like sitting in waiting rooms, or pawing through racks and racks of cheap jewelry--well okay, I do kinda like that--but the point isn't the errand or appointment much as the journey we must make to get there.

Because, invariably, these journeys involve long car rides together, with lots of empty minutes to fill as we both stare out across the asphalt that is whizzing beneath our tires. With all my sons I have found these trips to be some of the most fun and productive times for communicating and getting to know what's going on in their lives. Even more so with my at times closed, and often enigmatic, second born--ie. the Enigma.

Today we had barely gotten into the car when I heard, "So what do you wanna talk about?" My heart soared. But before we eased into the more personal topic of his friendships, frustrations and desires, we started with a slightly less personal topic--labour unions. And, surprisingly, that is what I want to talk about here today.

No, I'm not going to educate you on something I'm sure you all know about...the pros and cons of unions. Nor am I going to lament the reasons why I and many of my colleagues were heartbroken when a union vote went south at our hospital a few weeks ago...although I did talk to the Enigma about all that. What shocked me, however, about this encounter was the fact that when I mentioned the recent union vote to my son his first question was, "What's a union?"

I was, momentarily, taken aback. He'd never heard of a union? REALLY? Of course I don't begrudge for one moment the task of educating my son in matters of every day living. And I have done so repeatedly over the years. I vividly recall conversations with my children, explaining to them how a credit card works. What's the difference between a credit card and a debit card? What is a mortgage? What's the difference between that and a regular loan? Not to mention the discussions we've had about sex, sexual freedom and religion. It is my job as a parent to prepare my children for life as a responsible adult, but...isn't that also the job of the school system?

A few weeks ago I was quite chagrined to see a test that String Bean (third-born son who is 13 years old, 6 feet tall and all of 120 pounds) had brought home from literature class. He'd done very poorly on identifying all the literary devices that were illustrated in various passages. Literary devices that I, a published author, had trouble identifying. In fact, several of them, I had never heard of. At the time I was saddened to see that the school system is still bent and determined to dissect and analyze and generally suck all the life and enjoyment out of so much of literature, but question is....

How is it that the school system has all this time to teach kids about literary devices and historical facts that teach very little if anything in the way of critical thinking, and have little or no relevance to their every day lives...and yet they have no time to teach them simple, basic skills of living in our twenty-first century society?

Certainly theoretical math is an essential skill, but so is the mechanics of debt and loan. Credit cards and mortgages. Things like what you should look for when renting an apartment or buying a condo. What about insurance? What are the pros and cons of using an insurance agent, and what are the advantages of term vs. full life insurance? What does an employer expect from a good employee? And what are your rights as an employee according to the federal and provincial laws? What are all the deductions for on your pay stub? What are all the taxes for? What does it mean to belong to a labour union? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Certainly history is important. We can't truly understand where we are until we know where we've come from. But what about teaching kids how to look at the world around them right now!? My kids should understand the basic reasons and the political context of the war in Afghanistan. The issues at work  in the Middle East. And NATO and European economies. This is current day, relevant information that is all but ignored in classrooms. And I would love to see our kids learn how to read and watch the media and understand what they're seeing.

These are basic life skills!!

My children are fortunate to have parents who take the time to discuss these things with them. Our children are free to see our pay stubs. They know what we earn and what we spend our money on. And we discuss things as they come up personally or in the news, but many many parents do NOT take the time to talk about these things. So you will often have kids graduating highschool who still don't know enough to check their pay stubs to make sure they're not getting ripped off. Or who have no idea what that "union dues" deduction is for. How our health care is paid for, and what our tax dollar gets us.

Well, okay...sometimes as an adult even I ask THAT question, but...perhaps you see my point.

In my opinion our school system is falling down on the job. Yes, they are teaching our children some valuable skills, but they're missing the boat on so many others. The thing that I've pinpointed this issue what do I do about it?? Perhaps a letter to my Member of Parliament and local school board is in order.

It wouldn't be the first time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Strap-ons and White Nights

A few weeks ago I was in Toronto at a “girl’s night out” party with eight other, wild’n crazy women…in an ENORMOUS sports bar full of men. Umm…k…that fact may not be exactly relevant to this blog, but it was sure relevant to us! As it so happened my college-age son was at another party of his own in another section of Toronto. It was all spookily convenient, as I needed some company for my late-night drive home, and he wanted to attend the party, but still wanted to come home for part of the weekend. It all worked out beautifully.

So keeping that in mind that we were both in rather…uh…lubricated situations…at the midway point of the evening, I got the following text from my boy: “The guys here wanna know…if a guy likes taking it in the ass from a strap-on does that make him gay, str8, or what?

My first reaction was of incredulous hilarity…and of course I immediately shared his text with the class. lol
Our first reaction was looking for some clarification. i.e. who is wearing the strap-on? Is it a man or a woman? Of course a few minutes later we realized how ludicrous that statement was. I mean…why would a guy wear a strap-on? Right? Err…anyway… Our final response was basically that it didn’t matter. That being partial to anal play of any kind had no real bearing on the given person’s sexuality. He might be gay, might be straight, or might be bi. The strap-on thing wasn’t relevant.

But for me, that wasn’t really the point of the incident. The point was that my son was perfectly comfortable asking me that question…and he was comfortable doing so in front of his peers. For me…that was a coup! Of course it was a rather objective question…he wasn’t asking my advice on his own personal and intimate sex life…and I’m not sure I would ever expect that. However the fact that he was comfortable approaching me at all about such a thing, to me says that I have done my job well. That sex is not scary or taboo. It can be discussed openly and frankly, and with humour. And to me…that is a very healthy attitude.

For the record he told me later that one of the girls at his party declared her love for me.

I have that effect on people.

Just as an aside, the night of this party was also the night of Nuit Blanche aka White Nights in Toronto. It’s an outdoor festival of art and light that the city hosts every year…and it’s fascinating. One of these years I’ll actually take the time to experience it properly…instead of rushing past all the exhibits as I run to make the subway in time!

Monday, November 8, 2010

On Annie Hall and "praying away the gay"'re right. That's just weird. The two topics listed in the title of this blog entry are not, in any way related. At least…I don’t think so.

Then again…

Okay...if you tried really hard you could find a link in the pathetic one-line reference in the movie to the possibility of Annie Hall being a lesbian. I found it to be one of the few surprising, and somewhat provocative—even if somewhat irritating—moments in the movie, by the way. The only other really good line being, in my opinion, when Jeff Goldblum's character, at a typically pompous self-important LA party, laments to his therapist over the phone that, "I've forgotten my mantra." Now THAT’s funny! (hence the picture)  But...perhaps I'm digressing a bit.

jeff-goldblum-annie-hallWhere was I?

Oh yes…Annie Hall. As you may have guessed already, I did not exactly fall in love with this movie. Contrary to popular opinion, apparently, I am one of the approximate 10% minority who thinks this movie was a total waste of time. Now, I went into it with a good attitude. Really I did! I’ve seen Woody Allen’s Sleeper a couple of times, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I found it to be cute and quirky, and even a reasonable commentary on some of our attitudes toward sex (wouldn’t you love an orgasmatron in your living room?) and social classes, and I found Allen’s self-deprecating style to be a good match with Keaton’s portrayal of a ditzy, futuristic social-rebel wannabe.

I’d heard good things about Annie Hall, and fully expected to enjoy it. So, as is my habit when I’m working night shifts at the hospital, and find myself with a lot of time on my hands (time which, I admit, would be better spent writing, but I find it really hard to concentrate at 3 a.m.) I take some old movies and a portable DVD player to help pass the time. Usually this helps the night to fly by! This time, however, if anything, it made the shift seem hours longer than its usual 8 hours. If I hadn’t been desperate for entertainment and had nothing else to do, I probably would have shut it off by the halfway point. I did, however, manage to finish. Barely.

Annie_hallI just didn’t get it. No…I got the humour. I got the jokes, and I certainly got the fact that Allen finds himself to be incredibly witty, relevant and hilarious….the trouble is, I didn’t. I found his character to be mildly detestable! And the same goes for his girlfriend, Annie Hall. Keaton portrayed the same “lovable” ditzy character from Sleeper, all over again….except without the goofy, amusing plot to help it along. Allen’s character was a self-deprecating, morbid, self-important psycho-analyst’s dream, who found an insipid sounding board for his inane banter in the form of Annie Hall. There wasn’t even any particularly witty dialogue…most of it was one-sided….more like a monologue, performed for an audience of one…that audience being Annie Hall. As one other reviewer remarked, she was a culmination of every bad stereotype of air-headed women in relationships.

One of those stereotypes being her reference to giving up on relationships with men and turning to women. An old take on an older idea that women, in particular, are capable of—and prone to—changing their sexual orientation to suit their mood. I won’t even comment on the ludicrousness of that statement….other than to draw your attention to yet another illustration of this common—and ignorant—misconception.


Find the article here:  “Praying away the gay.”

Yes, there are still right-wing religious retards out there who are trying to “cure” homosexuals of those pesky, unwanted, send-me-to-hell-type god-given desires….all the while preaching tolerance for these poor misfits of the spiritual world. Does anybody else see the problem here? We love you…even though you are, by very nature, an abomination to God. Is it any wonder some of these poor souls are sucked into the church’s manic need for conformity…and control?

So let me put it bluntly.

Homosexuality is not a “disease.” It cannot be “cured” and certainly not by any means deemed “scientific” by any reasonably rational human being. If you truly are a person—or a Christian—who believes in tolerance and loving your neighbour, and letting God be the one to decide whether a person is worthy of his redemption…then I suggest you leave the gays THE FUCK ALONE!!

They won’t contaminate you with their gay-germs if they happen to be sitting beside you on the prayer bench. The won’t recruit or sodomize your children. And in all likelihood, they’re probably some of the most sincere, and honestly kind and generous people in your diocese…or parish…or whatever the hell label is in vogue for your little clique this month. Mind you why anyone would want to hang around with a bunch of people who look on you with disdain and pity because they’re convinced you’ll never qualify be their neighbours in their exclusive little Executive Condo in the sky…is beyond me. However, if they do seek solace and spiritual comfort in such a setting then they deserve to be treated with love and respect.

Leave the bedroom in the bedroom…and let God worry about who’s stickin’ what in where and into whom. Why do you care?

And frankly….why does He?