Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fleas and other bugs, how lovely

Since moving back up to Northern Idaho my cat, Yoda, has had some skin problems. We took him to the vet they asked if he had fleas, we said no, and they checked him for them. He was given antibiotics, got better and a couple of months later the problem returned and we took him back to the vet, same treatment.

Well, as it turns out my girlfriend's mother's new cat has the same bumps. So we took her to the vet and lo and behold they found a flea. I was so PISSED! Mostly because my cats have never had fleas and fleas are such a pain in the ass to get rid of. Since my cats have never had them and no problem occurred until we moved up here, we concluded that it was the apartment. It seems that my girlfriend's parents were in such a hurry to move into this apartment that they didn't have the bedrooms shampooed and the previous tenant had a dog and a cat. We suspect that said previous animals had fleas and the fleas were still in the carpet when they moved in. Thus when we moved in and there were fresh kitties around to feed off of, they started to thrive again.

So, tomorrow, we are going to bomb the house, shampoo the carpets, wash all the clothes and bedding, and spray the furniture and places the furniture covers. We've already put a flea treatment on all of the cats tonight. 

Granted we live on the ground level, but we clean, I, especially, clean and disinfect just about everything I can. I am a bit of a germ-a-phobe. However flies still get into the house. Carpenter ants manage to get in, beetles, an occasional spider, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't see an earwig. *shudders* I hate bugs! We even had a centipede in the bathroom! So, with the fleas and all these other bugs thinking my home is their home, I'm not doing so well. I found an animal safe, I guess, 'organic' bug repellent for homes somewhere and will be trying it out very soon. If it actually works, then I will post the information.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Are you a Pagan, Wiccan, or a Witch? What's the difference?

About a week or so ago my girlfriend, her best friend, best friend's little brother, and I were in the car trying to find a suitable place to park and get into the north fork of the Coeur d'Alene river to swim. My girlfriend and I had just come from another friend's house, a friend who I met via Witch Vox- a social networking and informational site for those of the Pagan, Wiccan, Witch persuasion or for people just seeking understanding and knowledge of the aforementioned things.  Anyway, my girlfriend was telling her best friend how pretty this other friend had decorated her house, that this other friend was a Witch or a Wiccan, she didn't know which or something to that effect. Her best friend jumped on her rudely stating that we had better find out because there is a difference.

How critical, how annoying, and how frustrating! My reply was that I met this other friend on a website and I couldn't remember if she'd told me what she was and that it didn't matter to me. I said that it is personal information and if said other friend wishes to impart that information on to me then she can and will do so when she feels it's necessary. Until then it doesn't matter and I'm not going to push to ask.

Well that made for a short and awkward silence. But it shut my girlfriend's friend up and my girlfriend got to finish describing how pretty our other friend's house is. However, while my girlfriend was regaling her best friend in all the neatness of this trinket or that picture, I got to thinking. I have never really, truly known the difference myself and I have actually read a little and done some research into Witchcraft/Paganism for a school paper and because I was simply curious. So I've been doing some research the last couple of days (when not dealing with some rather unfortunate turns of events) and this is what I have come up with, as I understand it. I could be wrong so don't quote me.

According to the word Pagan has several different meanings. 1. One of a person or community observing a polytheistic religion, as  the ancient Romans and Greeks. 2. a person who is not Christian, Jew, or Muslim. There are two other definitions but they hardly apply as far as religion is concerned.

The word Witch means: 1. a person, now especially a woman, who professes or is supposed to practice  magic, especially black magic or the black art; sorceress. Compare warlock. 2. has nothing to do with religion either. 3. a person who uses a divining rod; dowser.  And further down the page: a Wiccan priest or priestess.  

The word Wicca means: witchcraft, especially benevolent, nature-oriented practices derived from pre-Christian religions. Or the cult or practice of witchcraft.

Those definitions aren't entirely true. In fact the term or label Pagan is actually an umbrella term, kind of like Christian is for those of the Christian faith, i.e. Protestant, Catholic, Lutheran, Quaker ect...
However, you can call a Wiccan a Pagan, but you can't call all Pagans Wicca and there is a reason for this.
Wicca was founded or rather 'brought to the public' by Gerald Gardner and as Jamie at Witchfulthinking writes, "is a dualistic religion which believes that all Gods are one God, and all Goddesses are one Goddess." She goes on to explain more differences but the point is: "Wicca is a specific body of ritual and liturgy with its own system of symbolism and ethics."

So in other words, if you are Wicca, or talking about someone who is Wicca, then you or they had better be practicing the way a Wiccan is supposed to or else you're or they aren't really Wicca. Also,  Not all Pagans believe, worship, or practice Wicca.

Pagan is a little bit more tricky to explain, as I am discovering. Pagan originally meant someone who was from a rural area but as Christianity came about, it meant people who (as I have seen mentioned in many places) fled to the hills to keep their own religious practices and not convert or be forced to convert to Christianity. Jamie wrote: "At minimum, Paganism is a earth-centered spirituality- that is, Pagans believe the earth is a sacred place."  That said/quoted, what most people think of as 'Pagan' doesn't mean that they can be defined as 'Pagan' just because they do not believe, ascribe, or practice Christianity, Jewish, or Muslim religions. And as far as Witches and Wiccans are concerned 'Pagan' isn't quite the right terminology, it's actually a shortening from 'Neo-Pagan'. Relax, 'Neo' only means new.

Now, when it comes to Witch, first and foremost, I have never encountered or spoken to anyone in person or via the Internet who believes in and or practices 'black' or 'dark' magic/arts. That's not to say there aren't  any people out in the world who don't or people who don't play with negative energies. And a lot of Wicca or Witches will say they don't believe in black magic or the devil. Jamie wrote: "Witches are folk healers and mediators who practice folk magic." 

Well, 'folk' typically is in reference to a particular people or region or culture of people and their practices. Ever heard the term 'folk music'?  I don't necessarily believe you can say a Witch is a person who is a folk healer, mediator, or a practitioner of folk magic. Not all Witches are from the particular culture of which ever type of label they have donned or even practicing in that region. However, they may have adopted or adapted to the particular set of rules or ideas of the type of Witchcraft they have decided to become. 

All of that being said, there are so many different types of Witches. There are the Strega, Egyptian, Solitary, Pow-wow, Pictish, Green, Kitchen, Celtic, British Traditional, Caledonii Traditional, and Wicca. The list really goes on and on and there are even Witches who practice a mix of a few to many and take on the label of eclectic. It's really easy to get lost in all the nomenclature and semantics especially since most of this stuff is 'new' and only been around for a few decades and new facets are popping up all the time. But at the end of the day, as I understand it, as I have been made to believe by what I have read, a Wiccan is a type of Witch but a Witch nonetheless and both those terms fall under the 'umbrella' of Neo-pagan.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Weight Pandemic: Part Two: Personal Experience

In part one of 'The Weight Pandemic' I wrote about society placing so much emphases on weight and how you can never go anywhere without seeing or hearing something about weight. I wrote about how people are judged by weight, and how there is an unreasonable expectation to be grossly thin. I also wrote about how some of my own friends are passing judgement on others. In this part I am going to talk about my experiences and those of one of my Cousins. 

I'm the girl on the left with the long, dark hair. Twelve years ago I wore a size 12, I was a sophomore in high school. I think I looked pretty, happy, and relaxed. Which I think is really awesome considering how depressed and upset I had been while shopping for a dress for this event. I might have been a size 12 but I could never find a dress to fit me right. Granted we didn't have much time to find a dress and were on a budget but those things combined with my body shape made it nigh impossible to find a dress. I am pear shaped. My hips are wide and my shoulders are narrow. When buying dresses and shirts, I have to buy to fit my hips and alter them at the shoulders so things don't look frumpy, weird, and don't fall off at the top. I remember being frustrated, angry, and so upset to see a dress I really liked, find one in my size only to go the the fitting room and not have it fit. I also remember feeling so guilty for dragging my parents from store to store in an effort to find something, anything! I knew they were getting frustrated so after three or four hours of shopping I settled on the one in the picture. It wasn't a  bad dress, it was far more affordable than some of the others I had been looking at and I think it might have even been on clearance. It was pretty and comfortable, my mom picked it out, and I wore it more than once.
This is me now. I wear a size 32 in pants. I still think I look pretty but that doesn't seem to matter because I am, by definition 'morbidly obese'. I have even been told so by an official. As you can imagine that really hurts. How did I become so grotesquely huge in twelve years? It doesn't matter and the story of the how or why isn't important. Just know it was never intentional, I never did this to myself on purpose and I have been struggling with it the whole time. I've tried diets. I've tried smaller portions of food. I've tried diet pills and exercise (nothing extensive, I didn't have time for it, but walks and parking father away from the store doors, little things like that). I've tried all sorts of combinations. 

I have been harassed by an employer about my weight. He used to come up behind me (this was when I only wore a size 20 in jeans) and tell me that I was too slow and that he was going to whip me into shape. He gave me tasks around the store he never gave anyone else, things like cleaning door tracts, cleaning grills, and having me switch between stations so I ran back and forth all the time and never got a break. When I needed to go to the doctor I would make my appointment in advance and  ask for that day off and he would schedule me in so I was forced to find someone to switch shifts with me. Another manager had to fight him to approve the raises I was due for passing all my certifications. I ended up quitting because of him. 

I have gone in to apply for jobs and been told that they were out of applications but then seen someone walk out of the store not but a few minutes after me with one. I've gone to interviews and see the change in potential employer's faces when they see me and look me over physically. I can tell the difference in someone who is interested in me as a possible employee and someone just going through the motions until they can get me out of their office. Walking down the street I see the way others look at me, I see them lean into their friends and whisper. I've even heard people say really mean things and been called rude names. And you know what, it really does effect me no matter how much I try not to let it. 

My Grandfather told me I have to get the weight off, that I used to be such a pretty girl. I understand that he is worried about my health, but that really hurt. My Grandmother has been lecturing me about my weight since I was 9, before I was even fat or out of shape. My Uncle D took me on a 23 mile bike ride when I was a teenager and then swimming for two hours afterwards and he's always been subtlety pushing fitness on me since I was little. 

All of these things, the judgement of others, people 'trying to be helpful', the lectures, the constant weight focus of society, has not helped improve the way I look at myself much less my depression (thought being fat isn't the only reason I have severe depression). In fact, while I might find another large or heavy person beautiful, I hate myself. I've thought of cutting my stomach open and sucking the fat out with the vacuum hose. I've entertained the idea of cutting myself open and scraping the fat out with a spoon and cutting off the excess skin and sewing myself back up. I've thought about starving myself. I've thought about eating and throwing up my food afterward. All of which if I did would land me in the hospital and then the psych ward. 

One of my cousins has always been heavy and always struggled with her weight. One set of her Grandparents gave her sister and brother treats but forced her to eat nothing but healthy food. She was never given treats. She was picked on in Girl Scouts and school. In high school she couldn't fit in the desks and her teachers, being vicious, refused to let her sit at tables so she could learn. Things got so bad that after her mother dropped her off at school in the mornings she would walk home. What was the point of being there if she wasn't even going to be able to sit in class to learn because of bigoted teachers? So she ended up being home schooled. She and I have commiserated enough about our weight and how we feel, and how others have treated us that I know she's thought about doing the same things to herself as I have. 

What I find interesting is that there is all this pressure from the outside world, from society, and from our own peers (even if they don't realize that judging a stranger is like a slap in the face to you) and they can't figure out why people take drastic measures and hurt themselves. Really? What the hell do you expect? After awhile of hearing nothing but 'helpful advice', lectures, insults and hateful things, being judged, turned away from jobs or opportunities it begins to wear on a person. And then they want to call us who have thoughts like my cousin and I do, crazy and tell us we need mental help. 

There is enough scientific evidence out there for everyone in the world to know that not all people are the same. There are different body types, my metabolism might be slower or faster compared to a friend's, my bone structure isn't the same as my cousin's or even my mother's, and genetics play a crucial roll in everyone's physical make up. So with that knowledge why are people still setting standards for weight and passing judgments and hurting each other. Why do they insist on trying to force people to be something that's utterly impossible?    

The Weight Pandemic: Part one: Judgments of friends

I am just down right disgusted with how society is placing so much emphases on weight and appearance. How people aren't good enough, pretty enough, and not worth anything if they are fat. It's cruel, demeaning, and shameful and not to mention there is this unreasonable expectation to be atrociously thin that people are hurting and killing themselves. In fact weight and judging people by their weight has become such an obsession it infects almost every aspect of our lives. You can't go anywhere without seeing or hearing something about weight. Check outlines in stores are littered with 'weight loss secrets and miracle diets', 'how to lose the weight fast', and 'look how much this celebrity gained', ect... You hear about the 'Obesity Epidemic' our nation is suffering from on the news and internet. There are programs on TV that talk about miracle drugs, how people lost weight, and infomercials for exercise equipment. Ads for Lapban, liposuction, and stomach stapling. And all the time everyone is judging everyone by their weight. Hell even my own friends do it.

The other day, when it was so blisteringly hot, I was out along the Coeur d'Alene River with my Girlfriend, her best friend, and her friend's little brother. My back was hurting that day and I would have much rather stayed at home had I not also been heat sick. So we found a place along the river and waded in which was a really good thing. It cooled all of us down especially me and the water was so cold it even helped to ease my back a little. I found a good rock to sit on and still be half in the water as well as help keep an eye on the little brother. 

While we were there my girlfriend's best friend made a rather uncouth and rude comment about another girl walking around the area. She said that the girl shouldn't have been wearing a bikini. When I asked what girl and why, she said the girl was out of sight and because she looked to be about 200lbs. I didn't say anything but I was really pissed and pretty much thought that was one of the shittiest things I have ever heard her say in public. Especially for someone who claims not to judge people on what they look like, wear, ect... And especially for someone who supposedly used to be fat and got picked on all the time in school. 

Now I have never seen a picture of this friend where she was the least bit fat and I've seen several family photos of her and her sister at their high school graduation party a couple of years ago. She has some very interesting eating habits. She swears she doesn't have a problem but when she buys a small bag of trail mix comprised of dried fruits and nuts and talks about how she really needs this bag of trail mix because it has nutrients she needs that she's not getting but she can't eat the whole bag (never mind that it's a really small bag). I get a little frustrated. And she is always making comments about food mostly about how she can't eat this or can't eat that or she wants this but shouldn't eat it. That is if she eats at all. She's decided to become vegetarian, which I respect. She really wanted to be vegan but loved cheese too much. Now all of a sudden she's lactose intolerant? I know problems can develop but I really believe that this lactose intolerance is a 'mind over body I am convincing myself that I can't have dairy so I can really be vegan' kind of thing (except she still eats dairy). And she was bitching about how she hasn't exercised enough lately and that she's gaining weight. Hon, you wear a size 5, gaining a few pounds for the sake of eating right won't fracking kill you.

Another friend of mine, one who, like me, fits under the 'obesity epidemic' posted a video link on facebook about a woman who was entered in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the world's largest woman. The video was about the woman saying that having sex was helping her lose weight. Note, she said 'helping'. Well this friend wanted to know how that was possible since she was so fat and what could this woman do but lay there. 

A bunch of her Trolls jumped on the post and wrote so many horrible, snide, and rude comments about this woman. Even my friend, who is fat too, wrote mean things. There was a comment about how the woman was lying that she couldn't possibly be having sex because she was too fat and if she tried she would die from overexertion. That she's mentally ill. Someone even said that she was a selfish woman and there are people who need to eat and could have used the food she consumed to get so fat and as punishment she should have to do farm work to produce the amount of food she'd consumed to get down to a weight where she isn't a 'giant glutton'. The same person also asked how many leopards died to make her shirt.   

So I watched the video and then went looking for other articles and information about this woman. There was nothing I read or saw where this woman ever stated that she attributed all her weight loss to sex. She does pool therapy. She has changed how she eats. And yes, she has sex with her ex-husband. She said they do a lot of foreplay. She is on the bottom when they have sex, but she is still burning calories. When I took this information and added it the long list of comments and commended the woman for her bravery and courage in coming out publicly about her weight and trying to help herself (she actually contacted the Guinness Book of World Records to see if she was the Largest woman in the hopes that it would shame her into taking action), people kind of shut up. And then my friend, tried to make herself not look like a judgmental ass but kind of failed by stating that she still agreed with some of the things one of her extremely rude Troll/friends wrote. 

What I want to know is who the hell cares how this woman loses weight as long as she is trying? And why are they so busy being invested in her when perhaps they should invest in themselves? And that goes for the skinny friend above. And just because you wouldn't wear a bikini at 200lbs, doesn't mean that that girl wasn't comfortable wearing one. Personally, I am uncomfortable when she runs around without a bra on but it's her prerogative and I'm certainly not going to make a rude comment about it or make her feel uncomfortable for not wearing one or judge her because she likes to let her tits flop around.  

Edit: The reason why I am using the word 'Pandemic' is because this is not just a problem within the United States of America. This is something that is going on World Wide. Just thought I should clear that up.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

On the subject of Sexist/Racist Barbie

The other day I was in one of the many retail stores (Target, Wal-mart, Hastings, Toys R Us) with my girlfriend, her cousin, and best friend. Lately there has been a 'doll hunt' going on to find affordable dolls that closely match RP characters, my guess is that they are going for Barbie dolls because the Japanese Ball Joint Dolls are very much out of any one's price range.

Anyway, I've listened to my girlfriend's best friend whine and rant about how they don't make enough African American dolls. I personally don't think they make enough Asian dolls but I'm not going to complain about it in the store because A) I never have any money anyway and if I did, buying a doll wouldn't be my first priority. And B) Mattel is making African American dolls and there have been a lot more on the shelves even in the last few years but she's buying them in stores in Northern Idaho.

Let me give you a short cultural dynamics lesson, where I grew up, I went to school with Hispanics, Asians, Blacks, and almost everything in between. Where she grew up, you were lucky to see a Black person or anyone who isn't White walking down the damned street. And the reason: there are still pockets of White Supremacy groups up in the Northwest. Hell, there's a member of the KKK (proudly and publicly announced) running for Mayor in a town not 2 hours from where I live. Do you really think the managers of said retail stores are going to order a bunch of black barbie dolls? No, they will order a few to fulfill the minute need or a request but they are going to do what is good for their store and supply the demanded needed. Oh look, that thing they teach in economics classes 'Supply and Demand'. 

As most people, who actually care, know, there is a debate about the makers of Barbie making Barbie unrealistic (really that's another blog all on its own which I may or may not write). Well I was reminded of another 'problem' with Barbie and reminded so by my own girlfriend. I have heard her best friend bitch about this too a time or two and that is that the makers of Barbie are apparently also sexist. What surprised me the most was that my girlfriend brought this package (the one on the right) over to me to look at (we didn't buy it). I looked and said "What?" to which she said, "Nothing, I just thought it was interesting," and she put it back on the shelf. If I had not just heard her and her best friend talking about how sexist the clothes were a few days prior, I would have thought nothing of it. And my guess as to what she thought was so interesting was, in fact, confirmed when I went on a hunt to find other 'I can be' career clothing for Barbie dolls. The above shown are Fire Woman and Police Woman outfits. I found Astronaut, Scuba diver, Musician, Karate, and Olympic outfits which I pointed out to her to prove that the outfits weren't just a sneaky backdoor kind of kinky thing (you know like stripper outfits). Yes, these outfits are going to be very effeminate, they are made and tailored to a FEMALE barbie. Not only that but they are made to look pretty. Whether or not they were originally designed to offend or not is really a moot point because they were designed, manufactured, placed on shelves, and are being purchased. If you don't like it, don't buy it. Really it's that simple. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bandersnatch! Zoom Zoom!

I haven't watched Alice in Wonderland recently, it's just that the word seems so in-your-face and somewhat dirty. I sometimes walk around saying it in my head for no reason at all. Kind of like when I randomly say 'Zoom Zoom' while driving.

I don't really have a point for this blog. I am exhausted but it's been awhile since I have been able to write anything. In fact I haven't written much of anything (except a few blog posts) since I found out my Uncle died... So for a month.

I actually need to go to bed because we have a birthday party tomorrow and we still need to make a sun to Spokane. ^.^