Category Archives: Women’s Issues

The Girl Effect

When you have a 12-year-old and watch this video, it really pulls at your heart and hits you in the gut –  especially the parts where she’s running from the creepy hands that are chasing her.

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Back To The Blog

I haven’t posted in 2 months and haven’t blogged regularly in the past year (21 posts in 12 months is lousy) for a lot of reasons.  This time last year I was diagnosed with MS so I was spending my web time researching rather than writing.  I was also in the throws of a yoga teacher training program and then my husband was laid off and I needed to get my speech certification back, pronto, which lead to a month of online continuing education credits which took me into the craziness of the holiday season which then lead me to a 2 month long job search which then lead me back to work.

First off, KUDOS to all of the full time, “I-have-a-career-not-a-job” working mothers out there.  You rock.  You’re way more woman that I’ll ever be.  Could I do it? Absolutely.  Would I want to do it?  Absolutely not.  I’ve never once been a career type of girl.  I like jobs that end when you leave and health care can fit that bill since you can’t take your patients home with you, but the paperwork piece does linger. Honestly, my biggest time suck these last 6 months has been creating forms.

Forms for speech, language, cognitive, voice and swallowing problems.  Forms to assess speech, language, cognitive, voice and swallowing problems.  Forms to document said assessments.  Forms to document progress or explain my reasons for discharge.  Forms that can be read by a doctor, another speech therapist and an insurance claims adjuster.  Forms that comply to all of the asinine medicare standards.  Forms that I can fill out while I’m also assessing a patient and speaking to the spouse.  Forms that ensure payment.  Forms. Forms. Forms.

Fucking forms.

I started working at a place that didn’t have an establish adult outpatient program, so there were no speech forms to use.  I work for a company that doesn’t have separate PT, OT and Speech departments, so I didn’t have a speech boss to look over my forms (which would’ve saved me a TON of time).  My boss’ background is in physical therapy, so I couldn’t ask her about speech specific forms or the lack thereof.  My co-worker is a pediatric speech therapist that types up narrative reports, so it didn’t seem helpful to ask her and frankly, it’s not her job to oversee the creation of the forms that I need.   The hospital speech therapists use an electronic documentation system, as does the home health therapist, so basically I was on my own.  In retrospect, it was the best way to re-familiar myself with my field even though it did cost me about a month of my life that I’ll never get back (or get paid for).

Another reason my blogging took a dive was because sometime this summer a co-worker said, “Hey I found your blog online”.

Fuck!!!!!!!!!!!! :0

I was worried because as you might remember, I say fuck a lot.  I’ve said it 3 times in this post alone.  What will my co-workers think of me?  And what about my patients?  Can they handle my potty mouth?  Should they?  Most importantly, since I tend to use my blog to bitch about things in my life one could deduce that I would bitch about work.   I wasn’t sure how that was going to affect my blogging, or my ability to stay employed (YIKES!).  Therefore, I thought it best to wait until I was acclimated to my new life as a working woman before pulling out my keyboard as I’m much calmer now that all the forms are finished and I’ve adjusted to the gig.

The other reason for my blogging decrease was out of fear that my focus would narrow too much.  I didn’t want this place to turn into a full time Multiple Sclerosis blog.  Or a yoga blog.  Or a speech therapy / health care blog.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that – I just don’t want to reinvent the wheel as there are already tons of amazing blogs on the web that address all of the above brilliantly.

Suffice it to say, I feel as though I’ve officially transformed from Linda-stay-at-home-mom, to Linda-working-mom while carefully pulling these new aspects of my reality into the fold.  Facets such as MS patient; Yoga teacher/studio coordinator;  and Speech therapist have been carefully blended with mom, wife, friend, daughter and sister and now finally, blogger.

Looking back, I’m relieved that I didn’t write about this past year as it unfolded.  I’m glad I chose to simply experience it as it happened and allow myself the luxury of processing it.  Needless to say I have lots to tell you and who knows, I might even be able to do it without all of the cussing.

Dear Arianna

Dear Arianna Huffington,

I’m confused.  I’ve visited your blog portal, The Huffington Post, almost daily for a few years now.  I like your progressive spin on things, but I’ve got to tell you, my patience is running thin.   I went to your “About Us” page to investigate what you claim to be, only to find that there was nothing concrete listed about your “mission” if you will.  Thus, per Wikipedia…

The Huffington Post, is a liberal/progressive news website and aggregated blog founded by Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer, and Jonah Peretti, featuring various news sources and columnists.[4] The site offers coverage of politics, media, business, entertainment, living, style, the green movement, world news, and comedy, and is a top destination for news, blogs, and original content. The Huffington Post was launched on May 9, 2005, as a commentary outlet and alternative to conservative news websites like the Drudge Report.[5]

Here’s the thing.  Your Entertainment Section sucks.  Specifically your need to show me the nipples of every starlet, a close up of any body part you deem imperfect, or just body parts in general in lieu of actual entertainment reporting. Today I have the option of looking at pictures of a Real Housewife snuggling with her lover, read about Hugh Hefner’s viagra sex, look at Jessica Biel in lingerie while reading about the 6 day diet she was on or be linked to fuzzy pictures taken with a telephoto lens of George Clooney attending the wedding of Emily Blunt and John Krasinski.  And that’s just a few of my options before 8:00AM.  Imagine what other non-news worthy garbage you’ll be posting by noon.

Who runs this department?  How old is he?  I picture a pack of middle school boys sitting around a conference table deciding on content between burp contests and lighting their farts on fire.  And when they move on to armpit farts and get yelled at by the folks in the Ad Department next door, they get revenge by camouflaging the word “blow job” or  “eat me” in their coughs.  Aren’t you breaking child labor laws with these employees?

GROW UP!

Honestly, if I wasn’t too tired to care, I’d write an intelligent commentary and take the 2 or 3 hours I would need to clarify my thoughts on all of this.  Instead, I’ll link you to this wonderful article that I found online by Amanda Hess and let her speak for me.

Sadly, you would think that I could simply avoid the Entertainment Section of your blog and be fine.  But it’s only a matter of time before all parts of your portal get ruined too.  Already on the Food Page there’s an article about a nude Mario Batali painting, a picture of Dita Von Teese provocatively pouring water down her decolletage for a Perrier Ad and videos of “The Most Bizarre Fast Food Commercials”  (shocking that they didn’t say EVER – see below).

The Living Section is pretty porn-free at this point, but it makes me nervous.  What does “living” mean?  Are we talking health and wellness?  New age living tips and ideas?  Fitness?  Medical information? By being so vague, I fear you’ll be less scrupulous.  I like a little science mixed in with my health news, not alternative wellness mascarading as mainstream health.  Let me be clear – I’m teaching 2 yoga classes today so I’m not against alternative wellness.  I just want my health information balanced and unbiased and at this point I don’t fully trust that you have the same standards that I do.  In the end I believe that you’ll figure out a way to sexualize the ADA Food Pyramid or start showing me celebrity x-rays and ultimately chose blog traffic over unbiased blog content, but to be fair, the jury is still out on that one.  I actually saw quite a few M.D.’s after the names of bloggers when I lurked around the Living Section this morning.

Your Comedy Section is by far, the most annoying.  You used to post clips from The Daily Show or give us political satire, reposting articles from The Onion.  Now it’s just headline after headline of “The (Insert whatever you want here) Ever” nonsense.  For example:  The Craziest Old People, EVER.  The Most Insane Preacher, EVER.  Comedian Nails Heckler With The Best Comeback, EVER.

Ever?  Really?  There was never anything better in the history of comedy?  If you keep claiming to have the BEST EVER, soon you’re not going to have anything else to write about.  It’s already happening in fact. On today’s page you enticed me with Anti-Violence Barbecue Leads To Most Ironic Headline Ever that is only a 1/2 page down from the One-Armed Man’s Arrest Leads To Amazingly Ironic Headline.  Goly Gee Ariana which one should I click on?

How about this icon, on the top left hand corner of my iMac? 

I think  Diego Báez, guest blogger at The Undomestic Goddess summed it up best:

The Huffington Post no longer purports to even resemble a viable News source. What began as an interesting foray into unexplored territory somewhere between the Big 5 Nightly and everyone-qua-eyewitness has devolved into a spiraling pit of irreverence and irrelevance, tending too often toward the latter. And if there’s something wrong with any of the above, what right does a “News”/Entertainment/Time-wasting portal have to post material that raises (or should raise) important questions about media and body image, the Male Gaze and representation generally, without ever seeking to resolve them? The product HuffPo offers is all of this together: images, issues, and the conspicuous lack of dialogue about either of the aforementioned. Is there something wrong with a company turning a profit off said product?

See you Ariana.  Send me an email when you’re worried more about content.  You still have time to stay relevant before you make the list: “Biggest Blog Portal Fails, EVER”

Fondly,
Linda Pruce

(Author’s note:  I didn’t link to the specific Huffington Post articles I mentioned on purpose.  I’m not going to add to their traffic numbers.  But feel free to head over there and browse around yourself.  You can easily arrive at the main home page, but clicking here.

Take a Breath, Ladies.

I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.  But just for fun, I’m going to chime in on the controversy stemming from the new mammography recommendations released by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

Again, let me remind you that I’m not a doctor.  Therefore, silly me.  I waited until I actually spoke to mine before getting all that upset about these new recommendations.  Why?  Because a recommendation is just that, a recommendation, not a mandate.  I also have no history of breast cancer in my family.  In fact, I have very little cancer history at all in my family so to be fair, this particular recommendation doesn’t push any specific buttons with me.  Had I watched my mom die from breast cancer, I’m guessing my feelings would be quite different.

So if you’re reading this and you have in fact watched a person die or almost die from breast cancer, I’m asking you to put that aside for a moment and really listen to what I’m trying to say here.

I like statistics.  I think they’re groovy.  I like how they’re exact and objective.  I like how science uses them to figure out things.  Note I said “uses them”.  The scientific method is straightforward and repeatable as is the method in which results of research are reported.  Open any scientific journal and you’ll see the following:

  • Abstract (A concise summary of the experiment.)
  • Introduction (Why did you do the experiment in the first place?)
  • Methods (Independent and dependent variables.)
  • Results (Tables, data and charts.)
  • Discussion (Comparing current results to older results and/or discussing factors that varied in the design of the experiment.)
  • Conclusions (A brief summary of what was done, what was found, and what is suggest as a follow up to either replicate the findings or expand on them)

Then a journal publishes the findings and lastly the readers (that are usually folks interested and schooled in the field being studied) become “consumers of the information”.  In other words they have to look for any flaws in the scientific method that was used.  Remember, the scientist’s job is to report the facts.  The reader’s job is to determine if they’ll apply the findings to their day to day jobs or ignore them all together.  This determination is based on the statistical significance of the findings (i.e., the probability that something is true or unlikely to change) and the sampling used in the first place (i.e., if you’re doing research on a teaching technique for all grade school students K-5th grade, but only sampled girls in kindergarten when you did the experiment, your results will be skewed.)

Are you confused?  Bored?  Annoyed?  I hope the hell so because the medical folks that read medical journals are the ones that are supposed to decide what they think about the scientific studies published as well as any other different data streams reported on in their field.  Not you.  Not me.  And certainly not bloggers, commentators, or celebrities.  For example, when The View‘s, Elisabeth Hasselbeck called the new guidelines “gender genocide” you need to stop and take a breath before you jump on that bandwagon.  In her defense her mom is a breast cancer survivor.  I get that this is a hot button issue for her, but I don’t get how you go from a recommendation based on statistical analysis to gender genocide.  That’s ludicrous.

When I first saw the new findings regarding mammograms on the Internet, I thought I had read the heading wrong.  Then I clicked on the articles, surfed around a bit and frankly my conclusion was, “Great.  This will force the medical community to create a better screening tool.”

I’ve only had one mammogram and it hurt like shit.  Anyone that’s had one has to admit that this test, as great as it is, is only as good as the density of boobs getting tested.  Or the tech giving the test.  Or one’s ability to withstand the pain needed to have the test administered properly.

That doesn’t mean it’s a bad test, just that there are a lot of variables at play here.  Screening someone for breast cancer isn’t like screening for heart disease via a blood draw that measures the cholesterol levels in your blood or slapping electrodes on one’s skin.  Thus results like the ones reported by the task force should be welcomed because they will force science to take it up a notch and create a better test that’s more accurate and results in more lives saved.  And in the mean time, doctors will keep doing their job and patients will ask better questions and the system will keep rolling along as it has been until something better comes along.   It’s a win-win situation.  How could that possibly be a bad thing?

So that’s part one of my beef.  Tune into tomorrow for part two.  Oh yes, there’s more.

What’s There To Debate – It’s Rape!

Thank you John Stewart for making my life so easy.  I mean, why take the time to write something when he already wrote it, fact checked it, delivered it to a live audience, and provided cool graphics?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I found the previous story very disturbing and when you add to it, the bizarre outrage over the detainment of Roman Polanski by some, it makes you wonder what the hell is going on?

A lot of commentaries were published once Polanski was jailed, some for, some against and some to fill in the blanks for those of us not in the know back in ’77 (my favorite being one written by Megan Carpentier.)

Now I get that back in the 70’s, rape laws as well as society’s view of women in general were very different from today.  I get that at one point in history a man was allowed to do whatever he wanted to a woman sexually and before rape shield laws went into affect, a woman’s past sexual history was allowed to be as on trial as her alleged rapist.  I get that a plea deal was made (as inconceivable as that seems after reading some of the grand jury transcripts from the case) but as a mother, I also get why you’d be okay with a plea deal to save your child from the trauma of the press coverage that would have come with a trial.

What I don’t get is why he was allowed to leave the country to finish the movie he was working on and why he ran in the first place?  He had a plea deal in place and was going to avoid jail time.  Why run?  Why didn’t he think that the judge would honor it?

Perhaps it was because while out of the country wrapping his flick, the judge read reports and saw pictures of Polanski with his new underage lover, a 15-year-old Natasha Kinski.  Kinski has never denied their relationship, in fact she is quoted as saying, “[On Roman Polanski, who directed her in Tess (1979): As a director, he was 10 times more wonderful than as a lover.”

Ouch.  I guess when you’re not drugged you have higher standards.

As of this morning’s writing, Polanski is temporarily out of jail and receiving medical attention, Franken’s law passed and per the latest figures via a special report on women by Maria Shriver, women now make up 50% of the workforce.  In fact 80% of the recent job losses we’ve experienced have happened to men and increasingly wives are earning more than their husbands. So perhaps moving forward as women gain more control, less time will be wasted on debating rape or justifying sexual deviance due to someone’s creative genius.  But until that happens, God love all of the many men out there that don’t fall for such antiquated thinking.

And thank you Chris Rock for as usual, cutting right through the bullshit and putting it all into perspective:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

GL Follow Up

I’ve been watching Guiding Light all week now, building up to Friday’s finale.  I keep wondering who’s coming back and how they’re going to bury Alan Spauling without his son Alan Michael showing up, while also trying to figure out who the hell all of these young people are!

In soap opera land, kids age in dog years so if you haven’t watch a show in a decade, your brain can’t piece together who’s who.  It also takes a while to remember that soap opera land is the most incestuous, bizarre, parallel universe that exists.  A place where you marry your high school sweetheart, then divorce, then marry your ex-father-in-law, then kill ex-father-in-law now current husband, only to go on the lamb where you fall madly in love with a stranger-bad-boy-type, only to return to fictional soap opera town where it is revealed that your new lover is actually your step-brother right before you find out that you’re pregnant so you quickly jump into bed with your first husband’s best friend, framing him for the pregnancy and saving your child from the stigma, until years later when your toddler (who is suddenly a senior in high school) gets cancer and needs a bone marrow transplant from the ex-lover-step-brother that you paid to leave town and now need to track down.

Honestly, I don’t miss that type of story telling.

But here’s what has been fabulous about this week.  When a viewer falls in love with a character and watches him or her daily for 20 years, they will justify the character’s poor behavior and love them anyway.  And although younger soap actors age inappropriately so as to get placed into sexual, grownup story lines, adult characters are allowed to age normally.  I believe this also ties into the “I’ve known you so long, I’ll love you no matter what mentality” such that soap stars aren’t held to the same insane beauty standards as other actors.

Because of this I’ve spent the past two weeks watching actors that look the age of the characters they’re playing.  In fact, every actor over 50 looks exactly like what you’d expect a man or women over 50 to look like.  They’ve gotten gray, put on some weight, and have wrinkles.  Instead of being distracted by their smooth yet non-moving faces, I find comfort in their features and enjoy watching these old friends be themselves on screen.

Vintage Reva & Josh

Vintage Reva & Josh

Current Reva & Josh

Current Reva & Josh

Vintage Billy & Vanessa

Vintage Billy & Vanessa

Current Billy & Vanessa

Current Billy & Vanessa

I wish I could see more people like this on all the shows that I love to watch.  It’s just more interesting and frankly, more believable.

PTA Tips

In about a week I will officially be done volunteering for this school year.  I’ve been the parent in charge of the Parkway Elementary Safety Patrol and Spirit Week, co-in charge of the 5th Grade Fun Day, co-in charge of the Challenge 24 Math Team, helped with teacher appreciation and will pitch in next week for Field Day.  Besides all that I’ve been a somewhat active member of the West Frederick Middle School PTSA (helping with the family giving drive, restaurant nights as well as membership and publications for new students), a parental volunteer for the spring drama performance of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, pitched in items for the 8th grade formal and will help out next week at the 8th grade picnic.   

I’ve definitely hit the PTA wall this year.  I’ve been volunteering in some capacity since 1998, when my eldest entered her “Time For Two’s” Preschool class and usually I pace myself pretty well.  But this year, I’m not sure what happened.  I didn’t anticipate begin in charge of certain activities and the ones I knew I would be running, were more work than I expected.  I survived.  I’ll be fine, but I feel the need to lay out some tips for other mom’s out there to help them avoid splattering like a bug against the PTA windshield of life.

I’m basically a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) that works here and there. Therefore, I expect to do more than a working mom when it comes to school volunteerism.  I figure I’m doing your part at the school so that when I need an accountant or a physical examination, you’ll be there for me.  Because of this, I will NEVER throw a working mom under the PTA bus.  But let me tell you a little secret.  The working moms that are volunteering a lot at school, they’ll not only throw you under the bus, they’ll be the one driving it when it runs you over.  They keep score.  And because they’re taking off work, damn it, to help out, they’re curious why the hell you can’t also?  I’m not kidding. So to all the working moms out there, do something – anything – to keep the other working mom volunteers from becoming snipers on the roofs of schools with loaded shot guns:

  • Respond to emails.  Even if you can’t help, hit “reply” and say that you can’t help because you have to work and thank them for all that they do for your kid.  Like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, “They wont be ignored”.  
  • Send in some cash.  When you see the SAHM in the grocery store buying cupcakes for the class party, give her five bucks because you may think that she’s turning in a receipt and getting reimbursed – trust me – she’s not.  Help her out.
  • See if there’s anything you can do at home in the evenings or on the weekends.  Sometimes the help needed is to research the best moon bounce deal.  You can do that online at night.  Maybe the next time you run to Costco, you can pick up some stuff for the picnic.  You’re going to be there anyway – kill two birds with one stone.  
  • Be specific.  You’re busy.  We get that.  So say exactly what you can and can’t do and trust that the other PTA moms will respect that.  Helping out even one time, helps out a lot.  In fact, if everyone did a little, a lot would get done and no one would snap.    
  • If you don’t have the guts to set up your parameters and enforce those boundaries with the other PTA moms – grow a pair.  It’s the PTA for Christ sake, not the Mafia.  You can say no.  No one is going to break your knee caps.  But avoiding everyone and every request for help because you don’t want to get sucked in to a situation you don’t have time for is a lame-ass excuse.  You’re an adult.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.
  • If you really can’t help it’s not a problem.  Besides work, we realize that you actually have a life and other responsibilities and instead of volunteering at school you might very well be swinging a hammer at Habitat For Humanity or manning the 24 hour suicide hotline on your days off.  Just don’t bitch about about the school volunteers and don’t expect the ones actually doing the work to do things your way.  

Now, a few tips for the many SAHM’s that volunteer a lot for the PTA.  I don’t mean to break ranks and criticize from within, but some of you are little nutty and need some feedback.  Understand that this comes from a place of love.  

  • You chose to quit your job and stay at home.  Using the PTA as your pseudo power base to make you feel productive and important is not appropriate.  You’re there to help parents, teachers and students, not to fill the hole created when you stopped earning a paycheck.  If you need outside recognition to function properly, consider getting a part-time job where you will be paid and expected to boss people around. 
  • Decide if you’re a worker bee or a leader-type and then do what’s recuired in that role.  Don’t be a leader then micro-manage the shit out of everyone because you can’t delegate.  Likewise, don’t be a worker bee that insists on doing everything your way because you can’t follow a simple direction.
  • Decide what’s most important to you and stick with that.  If you’re a health nut, don’t sign up to oversee the candy fundraiser and then spend weeks trying to find an organic, gluten and dairy free candy bar that doesn’t taste like ass.  You will drive your committee crazy.  Instead, offer to write a few paragraphs each month in the PTA newsletter about healthy eating or bake vegan cupcakes for the next Valentine’s party. This isn’t rocket science.  Do what you like.  Like what you do.
  • Knock if off with the “reply all”.  Emails get sent out to large lists of PTA people.  Unless you’re told to hit reply all and keep everyone in the loop – just hit reply!  Don’t stuff my in box with your bitching, moaning, suggestions and/or excuses.  I don’t need to know.  I don’t want to know.  I don’t have to know.  
  • Your willingness to help out your child is wonderful.  Your compulsion to do everything for your child is a problem.  When you help out with the dance, stay focused on the punch bowl and the balloon arch.  Signing up  so you can spy on your kid, review the DJ’s song lists, suggest dress code changes and ensure that only healthy snacks are donated, is not appropriate. Your kid is one of a diverse mix of races, ethnicities, intelligence, and socioeconomic status.  Add to that the different rates of maturation, raging hormones, personality quirks and basic trends and you start to realize that school activities need to reach an extremely broad range of children.  Everything can’t perfectly fit the needs of your child.  Suck it up and roll with it. Trust that your child might actually benefit and that change may do him or her some good.

Clearly, I could blog about this for weeks.  I know for certain, I haven’t covered all PTA tips in this one post.  Please feel free, dear reader, to fill in the blanks as you see fit.