Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hypochondria

From http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002216/:

"Hypochondria is a belief that physical symptoms are signs of a serious illness, even when there is no medical evidence to support the presence of an illness."


When I was younger, a lot of my friends believed I was a hypochondriac. What I remember from that is withdrawing emotionally from the people around me even further because my body was hurting, I was getting weird rashes, I felt sick, had chronic headaches and Kaiser wasn't giving me answers or even the slightest bit of actual help and I felt like even my friends didn't believe in me. Recent discussions with an old friend have reminded me of the wild and random possibilities I was coming up with on my own. No wonder they thought I was a hypochondriac, I'm thinking now. He says they didn't love me any less for it.

Later, after my first child was born, I knew an amazingly high level of health that I hadn't known before. I could even eat ice cream without my lactose intolerance becoming an issue. I got really good at yoga, was eating really well, had another baby... Second baby's pregnancy brought back the lactose intolerance with a vengeance. Second baby was high needs, very colicky, screamed on a schedule, threw up consistently. I kept up my health, did yoga, ate carefully as I was breastfeeding the high needs baby. After a while my confidence in my health grew: I purchased running shoes, started bouldering at a local rock gym, considered yoga teacher training... I had high aspirations.

Then my health faltered and the sporadic episodes of muscle weakness, absence seizures, digestive issues, rashes, etc became more and more frequent. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditis by one doctor. A neurologist became convinced that I had Multiple Sclerosis and it all came down to a $2500 test while I was uninsured that I still haven't had done. I was begging & borrowing money from anyone who could help me get medical care. My lactose intolerance keeps increasing. A couple years ago I did an allergen-elimination diet and discovered my gluten-intolerance. (It has made a WORLD of difference to be gluten-free!!) Over the years I have had many people suggest many possibilities. When I bring these things up to the doctors, most often I get that familiar "you're a hypochondriac" glare. I hate that. It causes me to emotionally withdraw and be angry at myself, even now.

When I look back now at photos and videos of myself, I see my sickness. But now I can see what was going on a lot better. Food intolerances, too much caffeine and really bad eating habits on a vegetarian diet were causing a lot of my problems. The bloating, acne, digestive issues, candida rashes and fatigue were all heavily related to my diet. Most medical doctors do not pay attention to diet and exercise habits. At least, not so much in 1995. I am seeing more diet and exercise awareness among doctors now. I'm even seeing natural therapies and supplements being used more frequently by doctors in dealing with these sorts of issues as well as in the mental health field. The chronic headaches? I had strabismus my entire life and it was not corrected until I got my first pair of pie wedge glasses at 18. Later, an ophthalmologist helped me see the progression of the strabismus in a series of childhood photos of myself. The first noticeable point is about my 2nd grade year. He also performed a successful surgery on my eyes at Oakland Children's Hospital in January of 2002. Now, 10 years after that surgery, the strabismus is coming back. Fun.

Recently my health has gone downhill fast. I was hospitalized last May when my right leg muscle weakness and pain included my ankle and foot muscles becoming unresponsive. They could be moved, I had sensation, I just couldn't control my ankle or foot. While I was in the hospital I experienced a weird domino effect where the longer I was there, denied access to my kids, lacking outside air, suffering not just terrible but extremely inadequate hospital "food", the more pain meds I needed and the more desperate and pathetic I became. I watched a major car accident happen on the street below, I curled up in the enormous hospital bed and cried. The doctors decided somehow that my problems were entirely psychiatric despite evidence on the full spine MRI that I do in fact have spinal stenosis, spinal arthritis and that the muscle weakness and control issues were coming from some sort of inflammation in my lumbar spine area that was/is constricting the nerves at the base of my spinal cord. (I found this out later.) My psychiatric problems were only from the treatment I was getting there. They discharged me early, canceling other tests, leaving me to go home without any real follow up support for months. Damn, you know, I really do wish I was making this up. I've even considered trying the antidepressants.

A lot of people who are plagued with autoimmune disorders experience the same kinds of things and progressions that I have been through. My mom is one of them. In fact, the thyroid problems run in my family. It's hard, because a lot of people don't understand autoimmune disease still. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease. So is Multiple Sclerosis. Often when a person has one, like Diabetes, they have or are susceptible to having others.

So, here's my advice:

Do you have a friend who you feel may be a hypochondriac? Take some time to listen to them. Find out what's actually going on, what they are doing about it and find ways to help. Support your friend's efforts to improve their diet, exercise, find doctors who listen, and take care of their well-being. Educate yourself. Be open-minded. And, if you aren't a doctor, remember you aren't a doctor. (Also, don't assume your friend has what you have, and don't get aggressive with an unofficial diagnosis if you aren't a doctor.)

Do you feel sick? Sluggish, tired, headaches, migraines, digestive problems, unexplained rashes, chronic yeast infections? Talk to your doctor about diet related issues. See a gastroenterologist if you can. Don't go gluten-free first if you can get a celiac test. If they won't listen or help, try the allergy elimination diet. Get help from a naturopathic doctor if you can. Educate yourself. Exercise if you can. Yoga is really a great starting point in improving your physical health. If you have spinal stenosis or some sort of spine issue, please don't start a yoga practice without guidance from a physical therapist, however.

Your health is highly effected by your mood levels, depression, stress, anxiety, etc. When my life is going well, I naturally feel better and more capable of handling what life hands me. When I feel trapped, uncared for, scared, etc, my pain increases and I feel a lot worse. Scientists have done studies on body chemistry to support why this happens. It's no mystery that my emotional state was likely to make my physical state worse while I was hospitalized. Step back for a moment and really look inside yourself. Are you happy with this life you are living? What can you change? What needs to be changed? Do you need more fresh air? Do you need to pursue the career that really calls to you? Are you in a relationship that doesn't feel right? Are you being honest with yourself? Sometimes when a doctor tells you "It's just stress. reduce stress." what they don't know they're really trying to say is "What is your body trying to tell you? Take some time for you and figure this out."

Right now I am transitioning to a new team of doctors following my move to Oakland. So far I have been impressed with the compassion and level of care I am receiving at this new clinic. They've taken me seriously, performed tests that should have been done routinely over the last 5 years, educated me on what is going on with me and what warning signs to look for and have referred me to very good outside specialists. And I'm only on Medi-Cal. I'm not used to being treated well by Medi-Cal doctors. Only one of my kids' pediatricians has caused me to be a bit skeptical and the waits for services can sometimes be long. They recently have helped me cope with new symptoms very quickly and thoroughly and they are incredibly patient with my usually slow and awkward walking. I'm not a hypochondriac and I can't wait to get closer to that amazing level of health that I once was at. At least being able to do yoga again would be amazing. I also have a therapist for the first time in my life, also amazingly covered by Medi-Cal, who really helps me look at my life positively, find solutions, and supports me in my journey even when I am telling her all the stuff I am scared to tell anyone else.

So, if you're sick, keep trying to get the level of care you deserve, it is out there. Explore all avenues of help. Confront unsupportive friends. Work on your diet, exercise, emotional & mental health and be your own advocate. Don't be afraid to stick up for yourself.

Also, I forgive my friends for the hypochondria label. I get where they were coming from.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chai Spice Marmalade - A Tutorial

If you are unfamiliar with canning, please visit the Bell Canning & Preserving website or the USDA Home Canning website.

1. First thing I do is really, really clean my stove and counter space. Then I get my jars boiling.


2. Next, I start gathering my citrus and prepping it. I peel the oranges & lemons that don't have nice skin. The nicest skinned pieces of citrus get scrubbed and then I cut off each end.


The peeled fruit goes into the pot.


I use a vegetable peeler to carefully peel strips of the skin. Nice long coils are good. Use a sharp knife to slice them a bit thinner.


Then I take all that fruit, cut it in quarters and throw it into a blender or food processor. If you don't have one of those, just slice the fruit into thin slices. Then put it in the pot. (Take seeds out of citrus before putting into blender or the pot.)


I deseeded the fruit over a bowl so I could catch the juice. Then I empty the bowl into the pot through a strainer that catches all the seeds.


I ended up with 5 lbs of citrus. (I used a postal scale to measure it.)Add about 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, stir frequently.

3. After about 10 minutes of simmer I add about 5 cups of sugar.


(watch for seeds as you simmer, sometimes you miss a few)

Adjust the heat to keep at a simmer and stir often. This is probably going to simmer for about an hour. Next add the chai spices. First I add a cinnamon stick and emptied 10 cardamom pods into the pot. I let that simmer a bit more and then added 1 tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp ginger powder, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. You can substitute whatever chai spice mixture you prefer.

4. You'll know the marmalade is done by using the gel test method.

SHEET TEST
Dip a cold metal spoon into the boiling soft spread. Lift the spoon and hold it horizontally with edge down so that the syrup runs off the edge. As the mixture cooks, the drops will become heavier and will drop off the spoon separately but two at a time. When the two drops join together and “sheet” off the spoon, the gel stage has been reached.



5. Next take your hot jars out one by one, use a canning funnel and fill the jars, leaving about a 1/2 inch of head space, wipe the rim with a wet cloth (I use a paper towel). Put the lid on and screw the ring down finger tight, place back into the water. After you've filled all of the jars and put them back in the pot of water, bring water to a boil and let boil for about 10 minutes. (When I lived at Stone City, I added 5 minutes to this time due to elevation. Check for recommended adjustments for higher elevations if needed.)


6. I lay out a towel on the counter and take my jars out of the pot of water and place them carefully on the towel. Keep them upright as you take them out and leave the bit of water on the top, it will most likely evaporate off the hot jars. If the room is drafty, cover the jars lightly with a dishtowel. Wait 24 hours before you check for a good seal.


I ended up with almost 5 full pint jars of marmalade. That one that wasn't totally full is going to be used right away...



(If you use this tutorial and have any questions or comments about any part of this process, don't hesitate to contact me. I had a hard time translating the process to written words and may have missed a detail you need. I also may can differently than you or someone you know, that happens.)

Want more canning tutorials? See my first one for Jalapeno Jelly too!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

And Then Knitting Began...

I learned how to knit in 1997 while I was working at the Renaissance Faire in Blackpoint Forest. While Duffie worked security at night, I would sit nearby trying to learn from a book using whatever light I could get. I ended up royally screwing up that first project, a very simple rib knit stocking cap or 'beanie' that turned out to look more like a Rastafarian dready hippie hat, yet I wore it religiously anyways. You can see me wearing it HERE, though it doesn't show very well. (I think that link will only work if you're my friend on Facebook, sorry.) If you knew me then, you most likely saw me wearing it.

Later, back in Fresno, I met Meg at Ancient Pathways. (A store that is no longer a store.) She fixed a few of the problems I developed in my knitting from reading the left-hander's side of the knitting instruction book in the dark. Then I moved to Humboldt County, specifically Arcata, in the summer of the year 2000. My knitting got going, I improved, and even learned spinning and weaving as well.

Then knitting became very popular for a while and suddenly I was "cool"!!!

Now I write my own patterns, modify on the fly, rewrite the flaws I find in other people's patterns and hope to some day write about knitting and publish patterns (some day could start tomorrow).

So, this is basically an introduction to a blog post I am working on, which will include video (!!), about two new knitting skills I just learned.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Video Killed The Blog Star?

In the summer of 1995, I was 18 and I'd just graduated from high school. I got a video camera as a graduation present and wanted to be a filmmaker.

Now going through this footage and making a series of short videos has distracted me from blogging. So I will share the videos here on my blog for those of you who aren't seeing my Facebook link posts.

Tower Kids 1: Going on a walk with my friends Jonathan, Rick & Leah. Destination was the Fresno Center for Nonviolence where the LGBTQ youth group met.



Tower Kids 2: A video collage of the Tower District, including hanging out at Java Cafe, Tower Drug, and the incredibly cool blue house I lived in with my mom & brother that has since burned down.



No One's Watching: More video collage of the Tower kids. This song makes me think of that time period and the questioning, challenging, discovery and self-consciousness of youth.



Tower Kids 3: More video collage of that summer. I think my editing skills are improving. I got a lot of happy accidents and perfect moments working on this one. (And I have always wanted to use this song for these videos!)



I'm learning a lot as I go through this process about video editing. I do need a new way to get the videos off the camera and on to my laptop. Right now I am pulling them off the camera by recording the video into a file on a desktop PC and then burning them to disc and converting them using a program called handbrake on my mac laptop. I figured out that the sound and video quality is going down significantly in the recording process on the PC, so I am looking for a new method. What I need is a way to plug the camera via USB into one of my mac laptops somehow. I found a cord that theoretically fit to connect them but my laptop didn't recognize the device. Maybe someone out there in Blogger reading land has some advice for me...

I am also reconnecting with people I have lost touch with since then. After 14 years of losing touch because of a falling out/misunderstanding/accident of youthful stupidity, I now only have two more weeks of wait till I see someone again who was one of my best friends: so close, so adored. I kind of want to dance around my house with happiness and giddy glee. Often seen with a serious (or maybe worried?) look on his face, but he was also extremely silly and I found a bit of footage of him getting a bit crazy off some caffeine. The sound quality is not great, like I said, but this still makes me laugh (and yes that is me laughing in the video)...



(I'm hoping he'll forgive me for posting this all over the internet!)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Speed Bumps of Transition

Friday evening I sat on a bench near Pizza Hut and watched the world go by until the bus arrived. Clutching my Clipper card, I carefully hobbled up the steps into the bus and sat myself down near the door in those seats with the blue and white graphic label. The rest of the people on the bus were seated all the way near the back and held an interesting and lively conversation littered with expletives. As I exited at the BART station, the bus driver yelled at people to get out of my way. I did a sort of quick limp run through the gates and to the escalator up to the platform and stopped just as the train pulled in. Sinking into a regular seat, I killed the time working on my knitting. This time my knitting is a lacy handwarmer/ mitt type thing in a variegated orange cotton, but I was unknitting rather than knitting in order to find the 2 stitches that disappeared from the 32 I should have had on my needles.

Off at Ashby, I crossed the street one way and then the other as I attempted to regain my directional bearing. The walk wasn't very long and I arrived at the pub before my companion. Lucky, I claimed an entire table and settled in for the show. All I needed was some food, but pub food isn't friendly to the gluten-free diet and I ordered cheese-covered french fries. My body is sure to take this out on me later, I thought to myself, but I so love the lactose-y goodness of the cheddar cheese even as it embeded itself into the paper liner of the plastic red basket my fries were served in.

My company for the evening finally arrived and after we gossiped and caught up on each other's lives a bit, the first band came on stage. I immediately had to resist the urge to get up and dance as what appeared to be a Rastafarian Leprechaun in chic hobo attire began to sing and dance around the stage wildly. How can you not smile and laugh out loud at such a wonderful sight?! And the music was great! Who'dda thunk they only had two rehearsals EVER before this show? Crazy! A hippie punk guy who was obviously friends with the band danced around the floor and every muscle in my body longed to jump up and join him. The headlining band came on next, a Celtic rock band I've been a fan of since before I was old enough to see a band play in a bar. And then it hit me a little bit harder. I have NEVER been to a Tempest show and NOT spent most of the time dancing till my sides ached. And here I was, stuck in my chair. I did try a few times to get up and dance, but all I could manage is nothing compared to what used to be normal for me. Each time my body ached more and more. So I opened myself up to this new experience: watching the dancers rather than being one. Another piece in this transition fell into place. I gained a new appreciation for the band, noticed things I never had before and still had an amazing time.

Now each time I dance, it's a conscious decision to attempt something that will most likely hurt me and make it harder for me to walk tomorrow. Each stepping stone (or speed bump) on this transition path feels like the unthinkable loss for a moment. Sometimes I get angry. Sometimes I get sad. But then I allow myself to let it go. (Whether I actually manage to let go all the way or not is a different story.) I can't change everything, but I can change some things. That is what I need to focus on. Stay positive, enough of this sucks that my attitude shouldn't.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hurricane

I didn't blog yesterday because I got bit by a stomach flu bug and went to bed very early after an entire day of barely being awake.

Tonight I am very sleepy, it's 11pm and I need to be up by 7am, but I feel this need to blog *something* because I am trying for a blog a day.

So, here's what I've got...

June 2004. This is when I experienced my first episode of walking issues. For two weeks my legs were unexplainably weak, and then I was fine. I bought the stress-cause explanation. This explanation is always followed by a "so-get-over-it" attitude and the advice given by the doctor is generally "reduce stress" and is never followed with directions for how to accomplish this, as if it were the simplest concept ever.

Since that summer the episodes have grown in intensity, frequency and duration. Some symptoms change, some don't, some evolve. Somehow the doctors have narrowed things down to a neurological condition possibly involving autoimmunity and/or inflammation. Since 2004, neurology has matured and information has changed rapidly. I occasionally entertain the idea of going back to school to study neurology, because clearly this science needs more people involved, but I have already done enough student loan damage to my life. (Trust me, the math classes involved don't scare me.)

I suffered a flare up last spring that sent me to the hospital in May. As this flare up started to subside, around October, a new one hit. Imagine a town hit by a hurricane, not leveled but damaged, starting to rebuild, almost done, when it is hit yet again. I'm in this second hurricane now. Because I have been dealing with this issue for so long, getting a new neurologist here in Oakland is taking a long time.

It's now 2012, just in case you forgot, so that's 7.5 years, if you didn't do the math, that I've been waiting for a diagnosis. My mystery problem has changed how I live my life in many ways. Reducing stress is now a requirement, as stress tends to cause flare ups. But it still isn't an easy task as I usually realize too late that I've jumped into another puddle of the stuff. Some day neurology will mature to the point of solving my mystery.

In the mean time, I keep reading up on the latest news in neurology, some of which I get from this blog: Wheelchair Kamikaze. Sometimes, though, I just read his blog because I like how he writes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dreamers & Storytellers

When you were 18, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?

My adult life began with a video camera. I received it as a gift when I graduated from high school. It was something I really, really wanted. After 18 years of quietly watching the people around me, I wanted to tell their stories, and mine too. I wanted to make films.

I also wanted to study marine biology, continue making art, be a mom and deliver babies at home as a midwife. As one of my friends has pointed out, I wanted to be over-worked and exhausted... but I'm ambitious.

Unfortunately, I was "ambitious" but lost. I've been watching the raw footage I collected that first year with my video camera. I went to the local city college and joined the theater there, spent a lot of time just hanging out with my friends drinking too much coffee and really didn't think about much beyond the moment in front of me. But, I managed to capture many moments that happened in front of me within a youth subculture in the mid 90s. That's kind of fun to think about, you know?

The main stars of my videos tended to be my girlfriend (Tracy), my best friends (Jonathan & Janise), and the rest of the "Tower Rats" (not this kind), a bunch of misfit youth who spent their days drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes in Fresno's artsy Tower District, who I spent all of my free time with. They were artists, musicians, poets and amazing people who were just as lost as me, give or take a bit, but talented and underappreciated all around. I loved them.

Fast forward 17 years to now. Almost divorced with two kids and an undiagnosed disability that is slowly testing my sanity, I am still ambitious. I have a full homestead that includes 11 animals in the middle of urban Oakland's Fruitvale district. I am working on my doula certification, looking into grad school for a degree in art therapy, raising two very different high maintenance kids, testing the waters as a writer through this blog experiment, working as a self-employed seamstress, knitting like crazy and offering lessons and then I pick up these tapes again and start watching them... I start setting up the means to finally edit them and upload them to the internet... and I am reconnecting to a lot of those people again (thanks Facebook)... and I remember why I wanted to make films.

It's kind of like "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie".

So, what do you do if your dreams require cloning yourself in order to achieve them?

What do you dream about? Are you living your dream? If not, why not? You may never get another chance than right now.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Spoons

Last night I couldn't sleep, so much swimming in my head. This recent flare up has been intense for me, coming in just on the tails of the last one which landed me in the hospital in San Jose for a few days, and amidst my life being in a swirl of dramas and rough times. I've had new symptoms arise that aren't easy for me to incorporate into my daily life or even talk about. My eyes are getting worse, not focusing very well and hurting all the time, and I believe the strabismus that I had surgery for 10 years ago is coming back. I want to close my eyes all the time but I don't want to miss a thing. I feel sort of like I have toothpicks painfully propping up my eyelids. I lay awake at night worrying and wondering what will happen next. So I stayed up last night looking up anything I could think of to find some indication of what my quality of life will be like with the possible diagnoses I've had presented to me over the years. I want to plan for the future. I don't want to fall behind on my dreams every time this happens.

One thing I found last night that really helped me is Christine Miserandino's Spoon Theory. I've read this before but it really helped me to read it again last night because this morning I woke up with not as many spoons as I'd like to have at the start of my day. And I had stuff to get done this morning. All day I felt like I was using them up too fast until finally I just cracked. I got very, very angry and all that was going on around me was normal mundane happenings of life in my house. But I got overwhelmed, overstimulated and just felt like I was a seething volcano finally giving into the pressure and exploding. I just suddenly wanted to be all alone, with no commitments and no responsibilities except soothing myself for a little while. I explained the spoon theory to Jamie and Maia to try to explain where I was coming from.

I find myself scoping out local hospitals. I want a plan of action just in case something happens and I end up in one again. I am scared that my household will not be able to function without me. I think way too much about what I can do to prep my family for losing me for a few days, just in case. I always want an emergency plan, a plan "b" just in case...

I found this list: 36 Easy things that you can do to make the life of your chronically ill friend a bit better. It's good food for thought, all the way through all of the comments even. It made me think about all the times my partner has said "what can I do to help?" and all the friends who have showed support and said to call if I ever needed anything. I have a hard time asking for help and faced with you holding your offer out to me, I will probably back down and say I am fine. But, really, here's my list...

1. Leaving my house means counting my spoons and hoping I have enough to make it home. Come visit me at my house or give me a ride to something we're both going to. Driving is hard for me and public transit can be tiring and lonely without a friend to take it with.

2. If I do go into the hospital again, there are some things you could do for me and/ or my family that would be amazing:
-Bring me some real food or coffee (seriously!)
-Bring pillows, the beds are horrific
-Visit and play a board game or something with me (just please don't visit and stare at me like you're terrified and go on and on about how you wish you could do something, please, just distract me...)
-Bring me new art supplies like colored pencils
-Take my dog for a walk
-Hang out with my kids, check in on them
-Feed my kids and Jamie a nice dinner (they are used to me cooking dinner for them)

3. Take me out dancing. Even if it hurts too much to dance, I like to watch others dance. Don't tell me I how awful my dancing is when the pain messes up my moves, just boogie with me.

4. Meet me for coffee, send me a card or something, help me feel less alone.

5. Go on a walk with me. I need the exercise and I am often scared to go on a walk alone.

There's probably more things that would be helpful, but 5 is a good enough list for now. You have other friends with chronic illness. Read that list of 36 things and think about what you other friend would like. :)

I want a diagnosis. I don't have one yet. I have theories. I might get better or I might get worse. But today I will make the best of the spoons I've got. And every day after I will do the same.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Productive

Saturday morning began with feelings of hopefulness. I had so many things to accomplish over the weekend and I excitedly made plans for my day over coffee. Yet I didn't plan for Jamie being sick in bed all day. I changed all my plans to work in the yard into getting work done inside on my friend's floor coverings that I've been commissioned to create. That went well until my back hurt and I had to stop for a while.

Sunday morning feels judgmental. The weekend is half over, what have you gotten done? Will you be able to make up for your slackiness today? Yet Sunday morning inspired an amazing amount of productive work. I put in a few hours work in the basement: sorting boxes, throwing out garbage, filling boxes for Goodwill, figuring out what could be unpacked and brought upstairs. I found the box of old 8mm tapes I'd hoped to find.

Then I headed to World Ground Cafe for the knitting group I have been running. I realized they serve beer. I ordered a chai. My friend Raina showed up with her needle felting. A lady who happened to walk by us gave me her email address so I could let her know when we'd be there knitting again. A new person showed up with an amazing and beautiful sweater project that is going to require hours of weaving in ends when she's done. I finished Tina's hat.

Next Sunday there will be Church of Craft. I hope.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Acceptance

Tonight I learned that watching Boys Don't Cry on Netflix and knitting this hat in black glittery mohair for my friend, Tina, are not activities I should be attempting simultaneously. The movie is so intense that I would randomly lose count of my stitches and have to go back through to figure out where I was and then I'd lose track of that count. This is strange for me because usually I need my knitting to get through any situation where I am a passive participant. Very few movies can screw up my knitting. The end of this knitting pattern, where all the decreases are, requires some close attention, but it's not like I've got complicated cables to pay attention to here.

Anyway, I am almost done with the hat and I can't decide if I'd rather finish the hat or finish the movie first. The movie is so intense and so sad when you watch the whole thing knowing the fate of the lead character, Brandon Teena. Without that knowledge, it's just a sweet and heartbreaking story of a lesbian attempting to live the normal life of a teen boy in the midwest. It is certainly a different flavor from Glee, which I've been watching nearly every night for the past month. The theme here is "acceptance".

Every other Wednesday evening I attend a support group for bisexual women in Berkeley. The common theme of conversation there is also acceptance. It's something I've always wanted, how 'bout you? We also talk a lot about the choices we can make about how to express our bisexuality. We can choose a monogamous partner of either gender or we can open ourselves up to the idea of having one of each or maybe even more than one of any gender (polyamory). The group has women in it who make many different choices at any given point in their lives and we also talk about acceptance of these forms of expression. It's interesting to hear about each person's struggle with this and relate it to different points in my own life.

Well, at the last meeting some of the women told me about Ships in the Night going on tonight and I thought "Well, I can't dance anymore but I'd love to watch others dance!" I was hoping they'd contact me about going together as I am a big chicken (read: socially awkward and introverted) and don't go to clubs by myself. So, instead of going out to watch other people dance tonight, I tried to watch Boys Don't Cry while knitting a glittery mohair hat for my glammy friend.

I am sad that I am not out with a group of women at a gay dance club, honestly. But I am also exhausted and may have spent the entire evening feeling sad that I can't dance any more. It's been a quiet day and Jamie has been sick in bed most of the day so I've been trying to keep myself busy getting some work done. I'm finding some acceptance just for how my day is going differently than I'd planned and hoped for.

My writing is probably a bit jumpy tonight, but I haven't blogged in quite a while and I really need more practice. This post contains many starting points for entire (and much more interesting) blog topics that I will hopefully get into at a later date. I am also kind of nervous about being entirely honest about my sexual orientation in public like this because I haven't ever been this openly honest about it. I have been mostly out as bi for nearly 20 years, but not everywhere. Much of my family and many recent acquaintances have been subject to me actively trying to keep this from them. Since the internet keeps nothing secret, I am a bit nervous. (How's that for those of you out there who feel like I am too 'in your face' about being who I am!)

But, I titled this blog post "Acceptance" in hopes that I would also find this in you, my readers.