new year, hopefully more blogging.

dykedigest

oh it’s been over a year and a few months since i last wrote in this blog. i’m not really sure why i even keep it around, except that every great once in a while, i have a thought that i feel like expounding on and i’d like a place to do it. and, well, this is that place. the annual domain registration renewal came due a few weeks ago and i had to once again ask myself, should i just let it go? (the domain, that is.) but alas, i kept it. and here i am.

i just reread the last blog entry i made and it made me think of this new lesbian herstory archive/performance project that is getting underway here in new orleans. this seems as good a topic as any to write about right now, to try to get back in the habit of writing in this blog.

i’m not sure if the project has an official name yet, but the gals behind it are having a fundraising party to launch their kickstarter for the project, and they are calling it “HIGH DYKE.” the facebook event page for the party says the following (in case you are too lazy to click the link or just generally oppose visiting facebook):

HIGH DYKE: Kickstarter Launch for Queer Oral History Performance Project

Charlene’s. Pinstripes and Lace. Vicky’s. Les Pierres. Brady’s. These bars were once gathering spots for lesbians in New Orleans but they no longer exist. We are collecting stories of these spaces – where everything from political organizing to murder took place – and creating an archive and an original performance. Join us on Saturday February 8th as we launch our Kickstarter campaign for the project and celebrate carnival season in queer fashion. 

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8TH
10PM – 2AM 
2734 URSULINES
$5-20 sliding scale cover
DANCING!
“LAVENDER MENACE” COCKTAIL!
MORE DANCING! 
KING CAKE!
EVEN MORE DANCING!

now, i’m not involved with this project in any way, really. i’ve known about it for a while, and i’ve talked about it with my friend sara, who is one of the main gals involved (i don’t know the other two gals), but i’m a little young for the demographic they are hoping to get stories from. see, they are focusing their attention mostly on the lesbian bars of the 70s and 80s, and well, that predates my time in new orleans. i didn’t move to new orleans until 1990, though i did quickly become a regular at charlene’s bar and eventually worked there as a dj while my then-girlfriend charlotte was a bartender and manager.

so i’ve sure heard lots of stories from gals i knew then and many who are still my family of friends now. the dyke bars of my bar days in the 90s and 00s were charlene’s, rubyfruit jungle, san mone, kim’s 940 and even that fat city spot that seemed to change names every year or so (none of which i can recall right now). but i heard enough tales about pino’s and the other side, both popular lesbian spots of the 80s, to feel like i was a regular. (i think i actually did go to pino’s a few times before it closed, unless i’m making that up.) so it is with great interest that i follow this project and hope to help the gals doing it connect with women who were part of the women’s nightlife scene back in the day, as we say.

a lesbian herstory book or blog has been an idea of mine for a while now which i think i might have actually been thinking about when i wrote that last blog post. i got really excited about the idea about a year ago and then, well, life happened and i got distracted and then nothing happened other than me writing a livejournal post saying i wanted to do it. and also talking to my friend sara – same sara as above – about it. but i never acted on it. i think i was overwhelmed by the idea. but i still think it’s a good idea, and maybe this HIGH DYKE project will provide some inspiration and a kick in the ass.

i have no interest in doing any kind of performance piece around it; just much more interested in collecting stories and possibly weaving a (non-fiction) narrative from it about the herstory of women’s community in this town. and not just bar life, though i acknowledge the bars played such an integral role in creating a space for community to happen – up until the 1990s, really, when most of the dyke bars started going out of business. but i want to know about the hippie dykes and their communes, the women’s bands and folksingers, the women’s coffeehouse scene, and so much more – all the other pieces parts that connected women to other women culturally, politically, socially. i so want to hear those stories too.

but for now, i’m excited to see what sara and friends will come up with via this HIGH DYKE project. when i have more information about their kickstarter project, i’ll pass it on. in the mean time, maybe i’ll see you at the party on the 8th!

(the pic at the top of this post is the masthead from a dyke zine from the 80s, dyke digest, that some women i am friends/acquaintances with wrote. i luckily ended up with a few copies – wish i could get my hands on more!)

tripping down memory lane…

on friday night, i went to zeitgeist to see the documentary united in anger: a history of act up by jim hubbard.

the film is largely an archival repository of video of various meetings, actions and demonstrations from the original new york chapter, as well as scores of interviews with many former members – a large portion of which are now dead. it is an end result of a larger project started in 2001 by the filmmaker and sarah schulman, the film’s producer, called the act up oral history project. the film does a great job of offering a timeline of events from the beginning of the aids crisis through now, and points out the various successes and achievements of act-up’s direct action methods, which are numerous and have not gotten the historical props they deserve.

director jim hubbard was in attendance, and afterwards a question and answer and panel discussion occurred moderated by journalist/activist extraordinaire jordan flaherty and featuring members of breakOUT!, a local organization fighting the criminalization of lgbtq youth who are directly impacted by the criminal/juvenile justice systems of new orleans. sadly, i had to leave right after the film to go work, so i missed out on what i’m sure was some lively and interesting discourse. (the dog walker/pet sitter’s schedule is sometimes very inconvenient.) if someone reading this witnessed this discussion and wants to write a recap – or can link to one elsewhere online – please do so in the comments.

i have many thoughts about the experience of seeing this film.

first, my personal history with act up is actually minimal, in that i did attend several marches/demonstrations that took place in nashville, tn in the time i was in college (1985-1989) hosted by the nashville chapter of act up (which i will note was not listed in the credits as one of the cities with an active act up chapter, and i can personally vouch for the fact that there was one, at least in the late 80s). but i was never an organizer and i never even attended a meeting there. when i moved to new orleans in 1990, i also participated in a few actions that the local act up chapter here initiated, and while i did go to a few meetings and many of my friends were involved, i was not a core organizer and really was on the periphery of what that group did in new orleans. (i do remember acting as diva – those who signed up to video/photograph a demonstration for the safety and legal aid of those participating – for an action where act up new orleans shut down traffic during rush hour in the cbd in front of city hall and many members were arrested… though i can’t remember what that action was about specifically. it was the biggest and most successful demo i think act up new orleans executed and i remember being so excited to be there witnessing and documenting it.)

the greater role act up had in my life was as inspiration and education. i say with all honesty that the activists and journalists who were involved with and writing about aids and queer activism in new york city in the late 1980s when i was in college  were largely responsible for forming my political identity and who i would become as an activist and a journalist for the next two decades. though i wasn’t living in new york at the time, i visited there often on my breaks from school (one of my best friends was living on the lower east side), hoping to one day move there, and i read the village voice and outweek voraciously. (as a side note, i am only now discovering that the entire 105 issues of outweek are archived online at the link above – i donated my copies of the magazine to the lgbt community center of new orleans years and years ago. this makes me really happy!) writers like michelangelo signorile, sarah pettit (rip), donna minkowitz, larry kramer, sarah schulman, and jim fouratt, to name just a few, were my inspirations, role models and (s)heroes.

so it was with great interest and a lot of nostalgia that i watched united in anger on friday night. though i was not physically present for any of the actions or meetings depicted in the film, i vividly remember reading about many of them and following the trials and tribulations of act up new york, eventually using all this education as a blueprint for co-founding a queer nation chapter in new orleans (spurred by daring misfit robert brunet, who i’d met at a gulf war demonstration on decatur street in late 1990 or early 1991 and who would eventually become a good friend and co-conspirator) and later a lesbian avengers chapter, with my then-partner charlotte bahm and many of our friends.

maybe it’s part of my midlife crisis, but my former activist life seems to be cropping up quite a bit lately in my head and life. in september, i, along with many of my friends, were asked to march as guests of honor in the dykeadence contingent of the southern decadence parade, as an “honoring our foremothers” kind of tribute to our work with the dyke march here in new orleans and other lgbt activism. that sparked a bit of dyke march nostalgia for me, which got me realizing that so many different queer/lesbian activist/cultural things have happened in this town and haven’t really been properly documented or archived. (though i acknowledge there’s a trove of information available about the queer history of new orleans via the amistad research center housed in tulane’s howard tilton library, as well as in the newcomb institute’s archives, to which i have also donated over the years.)

but no extensive queer history of new orleans book or film or other project has happened, as far as i know. and the few books, articles, etc. i have come across never mention any of the activist things i have been involved with over the years, and are almost exclusively about gay male life in new orleans and not about lesbian life/herstory.

speaking of which, i am currently reading a book about the gay history of new orleans focused on the bar cafe lafitte’s in exile, which i’m finding fascinating and is giving me all kinds of ideas. but i will save my review on that book for another blog post after i have finished reading it. and you will be hearing more about the ideas in my head about documenting queer/lesbian life in new orleans, as i am still formulating them.

all this is to say… the movie i saw on friday night got the wheels in my brain turning even more than they already were. it was a very well done film and i highly recommend it to anyone with interest in that time period or aids activism in general. it was hard to watch, frankly, being reminded about just how many lives we have lost since hiv/aids first reared its ugly head… but it is a very important documentation of our queer history. i’m so glad i got to see it. kudos as always to zeitgeist for bringing it and the filmmaker here.

rising tide 7 is this coming weekend!

if you’ve been wondering what the hell this rising tide thing is that i keep tweeting and facebooking about incessantly, lemme try to explain – at least how i understand and have experienced it. (official rising tide history page here.)

as those who lived through it will remember, in the days and weeks and months immediately following hurricane katrina and the ensuing federal flood, many of us learned rather quickly that information coming directly from everyday citizens on the ground was more trustworthy and relevant than what the majority of the mainstream media was telling us. (the heroic coverage of the staff of the times-picayune and a few of the local tv/radio stations notwithstanding.) so we turned to the internet – bloggers and others who used various sites (for me it was the new orleans livejournal community) to document what they were seeing, hearing, doing and learning about conditions on the ground in new orleans. the internet became a lifeline for so many, and drew folks together that would have never otherwise crossed paths. (i will forever be grateful to that guy who rode katrina out in a building in the cbd with a generator and liveblogged the whole thing on livejournal – i can’t remember his online name now – but he was amazing. that was some gripping writing, lemme tell ya.)

as the weeks and months dragged on to years and folks started making their way back home, the numbers of blogs only grew, each with its own voice, perspective, story. the new orleans blogosphere experienced an explosion. some were still stuck far away, trying to get back home; some were back home trying to make sense of the mess they’d returned to; many were gutting and rebuilding; some were grappling with survivor guilt on the sliver by the river; some got involved with neighborhood organizations, schools, city planning groups, etc. to help steer the direction of the city’s rebuilding and future. most were documenting the “new normal” living in nola and used their blogs as a way to share information and effect change. (i will offer the caveat that some of these blogs most likely existed well before the events of august 29, 2005, but i and many others only became aware of them in the wake of the storm/flood.)

one of the things that happened via a group of some of these bloggers (who were also the organizers of the new orleans geek dinner) was this idea for the rising tide conference, to try to bring together those interested in the power of the internet/nascent social media to effect positive change in rebuilding of the city. to inspire more citizen activism, to pull folks in to get them talking, sharing ideas, and getting involved.

seven years later, rising tide is still basically hoping to do the same thing: draw folks in; blow their minds with brilliant speakers who run the gamut from academics to grassroots activists to politicians to culture-makers and more; get their synapses firing all while offering them a great networking opportunity; and hopefully inspire more folks to get involved in shaping the future of our city. (and, widening the circle even further, starting last year, the entire day’s programming on the main stage was and will be this year live-streamed on the web, so folks who can’t make it down to xavier can still tune in and be involved online via social media.)

now, i could go on and on about the amazing lineup of panelists and keynote speakers on the schedule this year, but really, you can read their bios and do some googling yourself to see how impressive they are. instead, i would like to underscore what a wonderfully fun and entertaining day it is, during which coffee and pastries for breakfast and a yummy taco bar from juan’s flying burrito for lunch is included. also, there is a great kickoff party the night before, friday night, at the big top, at which the tbc brass band will play – and the party is free! you don’t have to be registered for the conference to go, though we will certainly try to convince you to register while you are there. (rsvp at the above link for the party, please!)

for me, the most valuable thing i gained from going to rising tide 4, 5, and 6 (and their respective opening parties) was a whole lot of new friends and acquaintances who are all really interesting and amazing people who do wonderful things for this city via their jobs, blogs, and/or various civic/community engagements. and i learned a LOT about my city and how it is run, how to be more critical of government and politicians, and discovered so many nonprofit and community  agencies and organizations who are doing incredible work on behalf of the citizens of new orleans. and i came to really appreciate the transformative power of social media to motivate, educate and bring people together – which i kinda already knew, but got to see in real live action.

oh, and i drank a LOT of beer. :-)

not bad for $20, huh? (i always register early – i think it even went down to $18 this year if you signed up when registration opened months ago. or if you’re a student it still is $18.) but even at $28, which is what you’ll pay right now until the day of the conference, or even $38 on the day of – it’s still a ridiculous bargain. (and just to be clear, ain’t nobody making any money off of rising tide – the organizers are all volunteer and the group is nonprofit. we just try to break even, cover our costs, and leave a little seed money in the coffers for next year and possibly for throughout-the-year additional programming as it comes up.)

so. take another look at the website with all the info about this year. if you still need some convincing, look back over the history of what this group has presented in the past six years – you can even watch the video archives of all the main stage panels from last year, from our live webcast! oh, and did i mention? we even have really cool merch – snappy tshirts and art print posters (pictured above) with this year’s “zombie paperboy” graphic theme. (you can order merch and pre-register all from one convenient URL via eventbrite.) also, some of the finest vendors of all kinds of cool stuff will be hawking their wares – including octavia books, which will have titles from our keynote speakers and some of our panelists – in the main hallway outside the conference room, for whenever you need to stretch your legs and lighten your wallets.

so what are you waiting for? yes, yes, you can just show up on the 22nd and pay at the door if you don’t mind spending the extra $10. we’re happy to take your money. but it does help us know how many to expect if you register early, and it saves you enough to buy a beer or two (or a book or some other fabulous merch).

so spread the word. and bring a friend. you won’t regret it, i promise you. (oh, and bring a sweater or jacket, cuz xavier’s air conditioning in the student center is downright frigid!)

i hope i see you there!

on michfest 2012.

one of many beautiful signs at the community center

as i sit down to try to write out a blog post (or two. or three!) on the sights and sounds of michfest 2012, i’m a little overwhelmed. i don’t really know where to start.

the round robin at the day stage

i’ve spent the greater part of the last several days since i’ve been home from working short crew immersed in the music i heard (and some i didn’t, as i wasn’t able to catch all the sets), pouring over artists’ websites, facebook pages and even myspace pages, listening to previews on itunes, amazon.com and spotify, and eventually buying about $50 worth of downloads from various artists. through this process, i even managed to make a mix cd of some of my favorite songs from the artists i liked; it doesn’t feature every artist who played this year, but it’s a good sampling, and ranges from folk to pop to rap to electronic to hard and punk rock. (if you like what you hear, buy their music – support indie artists!)

krudas cubensi on day stage

i wish i did this every year. i guess back in the days when i was a music journalist for a living (i know it’s been less than 2 years since i quit doing that, but it feels like a lifetime ago), i usually managed to get someone (curve or the advocate, mostly) to pay me to do a quickie “review” of michfest, but the word counts were usually so restrictive i could barely even fit in all the names of the bands/artists, much less say anything intelligible about their performances. i don’t think i’ve ever really sat with the music of fest as much as i have this weekend. having done so, i continue to be blown away by the programming prowess of one lisa vogel, michfest producer extraordinaire. this year’s musical programming really was exceptional. stellar, even. i only wish there’d been more women there to experience it.

the media tent

but of course, the music isn’t all that goes on at michfest, and isn’t the only component to my own personal experience of fest. working takes up a big part of my time while i am there – 8-10 hours a day, in fact – and for me, work is the media tent (pictured above): producing the film program and running tech for the workshops that need a/v. (which this year largely meant powerpoint presentations, although we did also host a wildly popular karaoke intensive, presided over by dr. reverend jimmy bulldagger and tammy gaye maker!) thankfully, it seems my film programming went over fairly well and everything ran smoothly in my area. my sub-crew (shout out to bone, pooh and kari!) rocked it out fairly effortlessly, despite some early-in-the-week stresses with the new-to-me fancy rental projector.

calling the four directions during opening ceremonies

beyond the musical lineup and work, there is of course socializing – at meals, parties, dances, the stages, workshops, the crafts market, and yes, even work. consensus seemed to be that it was a low-key year, with a mellow overall vibe i’m sure aided by the relatively low attendance numbers. the weather was largely cooperative, save for a few days in a row of rain accompanied by cooler temperatures; it was otherwise sunny and not too hot most days of fest, making for an easy camping experience for festival attendees. i made a few new friends, reconnected with one very important old friend (love you e!), and generally had a lovely time getting to spend quality time with those friends who are my festival family. i didn’t fall in love or really even lust (no one was more surprised at this fact than me), but i did share some very sweet moments of deep connection with a few.

the controversial red shirts

however, i would be remiss to not mention the elephant in the room: the deep divide the festival community continues to experience over the trans issue. despite camp trans not managing to get their shit together this year to have a presence across the street from fest, the controversy raged on and the gang-like color war of the last two years re-emerged during opening ceremonies, as huge quantities of red shirts with the words “big up the female” – a quote from the “amazon women” song sung during opening ceremonies, adopted by the supporters of the “womyn born womyn” policy of fest, aka “the intention” – were given out to hundreds of women, resulting in a sea of red in the night stage bowl wednesday night.

i have to say, personally, i was taken aback by this show of red, a color usually associated with anger. it felt angry and defensive. stuck and stubborn. it in no way felt like part of any kind of dialogue. regardless of how i feel personally about the issue, it made my heart hurt for our community that the controversy has devolved to this point, and it definitely all but killed the level of woo i usually feel during opening ceremonies. i did get up and sing and dance along to the “amazon women” song, but i was largely just going through the motions, hoping i would catch the woo. but sadly, i never really did. i did hug and kiss my family of friends and wish them a happy new year, as we do, but inside, my heart was conflicted and sad.

i am not someone who takes a stance in this debate, and you can have your opinions about that or call me out if you wish – but i do truly see where both sides are coming from and i find it impossible to align myself with a “side.” i do feel the plight of trans women and believe they are women too; i personally in no way feel threatened by trans women attending fest. as is often stated during this debate, trans women have always been part of fest, attended fest, even worked fest… and it has never made me personally feel unsafe or taken away from my experience. if the policy changed, i would support it. i would still attend/work fest. and i would welcome our trans sisters. i’m not going to be sporting a “trans women belong here” shirt, but i could not look a trans woman in the eye and tell her she was not welcome on women’s land.

posted on the love note board in workerville, fliers for workshops in support of the womyn born womyn policy and the ongoing “wanted” butch/masculine woman photo project

but i also do understand where those who back the “womyn born womyn” policy are coming from, and i am a product of the group-think that came up with that concept. i have enjoyed it and relished it, learned from it and thrived in it. i have become the woman i am because of it. and i understand the continued need for that space that celebrates our shared experience of girlhood. that having been born female, raised as a girl child and having lived adulthood as a woman in this world is a unique experience, uniquely affected by patriarchy. (which is not to say that trans women have not also been horribly affected by patriarchy, but it’s a different experience.) i understand and have seen the emotional and too often physical wounds patriarchy has inflicted on many womyn born womyn. and i have read in horror too many incidents of butch or masculine-presenting women who were born women and still identify as women, who come to fest as the one place they can be themselves and be seen as women, be harassed and questioned about their gender on the land. that is unacceptable.

it is a complicated issue and i find myself agreeing with arguments on both sides. i do think nedra johnson perhaps said it best: i don’t have her exact words, but it was something to the effect of, perhaps those of you who support trans inclusion, don’t feel threatened by it, could consider yourselves more healed… that those of us who still need this womyn born womyn only space still very much need it to continue our healing. i hear that. and how can i argue with that? (nedra, if you read this, please feel free to correct me if i have misstated what you said – i’m going on memory alone, but your words did resonate with me.)

and so i remain conflicted, unable to choose a “side” or a stance. and frankly, i think the vast majority of women, particularly workers, feel similarly. i think we feel caught between the herstory of why festival was begun in the first place, that celebration and need for women-only space (and herstorically, it has been womyn-born-womyn space, for the most part)… and the evolution of the way we think about gender and sexuality, about femaleness, the reality we live in now where both are thought of much more fluidly than in the past, and where it is much more accessible than in the past for someone to alter their body physically to make it fit what they feel inside. it’s more than just being caught in between 2nd wave and 3rd wave feminism, but it is in part just that. ultimately, i find it impossible to cast judgement in either direction without diminishing someone’s humanity.

and so i also feel a responsibility to try to be one of those who tries to help those on both sides hear each other, see each other, understand each other. it kills me to see us warring like this with each other.

but i don’t know what the answer is.

my biggest fear is that this split will be a contributing factor to the ultimate demise of this place we’ve called home for 37 years now… that i personally have called home for 19 years of my adult life. economic times are tough right now, for everyone, and for all festivals and music productions, much less those having an internal political split that largely falls on generational lines. this year’s attendance was the lowest yet, and the worker to camper ratio as it stands now is unsustainable; next year will mean big cuts. again. is a festival for 2000 (instead of 6-8000 or even 4000) still worth doing? i say yes, but it might not look exactly the same as it has all these years. i feel like we’ve trimmed down as far as we can on crew and infrastructure while keeping the offerings of fest almost exactly the same; in order to have a next year, things might have to look a little different. i’m ok with that, but then, what next? how far can we trim down, how low can the attendance go, before there’s nothing left?

i don’t want michfest to end. i want us as a community to figure it out. work out our differences, somehow come to some sort of compromise, solution, understanding, answer, as we have done in the past with similarly politically hot issues like racism and s/m – though what that is, in terms of this issue, i don’t know. but most of all, i want us to be dialoguing about it, with open hearts, with love, and not anger and defensiveness and knee-jerk reactions. i feel like if we can collectively get back to that place, that best-self place that we all know from experience is what michfest teaches and allows us to be, that we can figure it out. with love and open hearts, anything is possible. i have to believe, sisters.

“where there’s love there’s a way”

whew. (deep breath.)

more soon on the music and movies of michfest 2012.

 

sunday morning thoughts

some weekends, i really wish i hadn’t taken on a pet sit. it is a very rare occasion since i began this business that i get a weekend day – any day, really – that i can “sleep in,” whatever that means. when i can have that feeling of total relaxation, that i don’t have some creature waiting on me to arrive to be fed or to be let out to pee, or even to just pat them on the head and make their tail wag.

that thought crossed my mind for a second this morning as i was waking up, well before my usual work wake up time of 7am. the reality is, at my age, i seem to no longer be able to sleep past 7am unless i’ve gone on a bender the night before, or stayed awake all night with insomnia or hopefully something more fun. but still, even though my body usually wakes up with the sun, there is a difference between waking up and realizing i have to get out of bed and start my morning routine because i have to attend to an animal somewhere in this town, and feeling like, oh, i can just roll over, drift off again, or fart around reading the internet on my phone, or even better yet, pick out a netflick or tv show i’ve wanted to catch up on and zone out in bed for a few hours knowing i have nowhere to be. the latter very rarely happens; but when it does, i savor it.

this morning i did have two creatures waiting on me. so i reluctantly got up, made and proceeded to eat my granola and soy milk, drank my iced coffee with almond milk, threw on some clothes (it is the weekend after all, i can shower later), and hopped on the scooter for the four and half mile ride out to the pet sit… which is actually quite a lovely ride, particularly on a lazy sunday morning with very little traffic and no rain.

this is the neighborhood where this weekend’s dog clients live:

almost seven years after the federal flood, it is so hard to drive around lakeview and not be transported back in time. it’s hard to see in this wide shot (click the pic for a larger view), but at the end of this road is the historical marker for the 17th street canal floodwall breach, that accurately attributes blame to the army corps of engineers for faulty design. that wall is what burst open, sending a tidal wave of water into this neighborhood and eventually much of city. there used to be houses there. there used to be houses on both sides of this street where there are still, seven years later, only empty lots. much of this part of lakeview still looks like this: deserted, decimated. even the blocks where folks have rebuilt, there are many many empty lots peppering the landscape of newly constructed, jacked-up 10-feet-off-the-ground houses. and there are still, seven years later, plenty of houses that look virtually untouched (though they may be gutted inside), their walls still sporting water stains, looking like a bomb hit it. and the streets are horribly potholed, sunken, broken up and cracked nearly everywhere, except for the short stretch of fleur de lis drive that got repaved. (why did they only do half of it?)

my dog clients live right down the street from this corner, and we walk past this historical marker every time i visit. it is surreal and sobering and strangely serene, all at the same time. i don’t know how these folks who live out here do it, honestly. not just in terms of fearing it could happen again, but just in having to see that every day, be triggered by that every day, all the memories of before, during, and immediately after august 29th, 2005. i couldn’t do it… though i have to admire their resiliency and determination.

thankfully, for me, my two pit bull charges for the weekend do a pretty good job of getting my mind off all these weightier subjects. maggie and buster are probably two of the happiest, most easy going dogs i’ve had as clients, and also two of the most photogenic. here’s a few instagrams to prove it:

   

and a few more:

            

so yeah. ridiculously cute. and so sweet. i didn’t get maggie’s full story, but buster was from a fighting ring. he’s got some physical issues, but oh my god, i don’t think i’ve ever met a dog who just wanted to love and be loved more. what a sweetheart. and maggie… well it took her a day or two to really trust me, but by today, she was really coming out of her shell, being playful (she likes to chase the ball and play tug of war with her rope toy) and bouncy and just a doll. so sweet. they have already become some of my favorite clients.

i had a whole ‘nother stream of thought about dogs and their love and need to be loved and my human need to love and feel loved which has occupied a good chunk of my morning… but, well, in the end, it got a little too convoluted to make for good reading. i tried cutting and pasting it over to my livejournal for a more private audience… but i lost my train of thought and, well, i’m over it.

sigh. but the gist of it is, as it turns out, i’m glad i took this pet sit this weekend. glad i got up early and rode out to lakeview on a quiet sunday morning. glad i spent some time pondering weighty thoughts and personal growth, and even more glad i spent some time throwing the tennis ball for maggie, and hugging on buster on the couch.

so grateful for this work i do. most days, i don’t really think about it; it’s just work. an endless schedule of details: appointments and dogs and picking up poop and rain avoidance and scooter maneuvering and the occasional cat or guinea pig or turtle or fish. but on some days, like today, it’s more than that. it’s therapy. it soothes my soul, engages my brain in self reflection, and ultimately, yes, helps me be a better person. (hokey as that may sound, it is true.)

that’s a pretty good reason to get up and out of bed early on a sunday morning.

 

quick scooter addendum/update

lucky bitches! my new scoot, my old scoot (now dix's scoot), and julie's new-to-her scoot.

yes, i know it’s been a while since i wrote that “review” of my new scooter, back in mid-april. and here we are with june knocking on the door.

since then i have put 1500+ miles on the new scoot! that’s what’ll happen when you use a vehicle for your mobile dog walking business AND your personal vehicle, though honestly, most of them are work miles. 30-40/day, sometimes more if i’m dog-sitting somewhere crosstown. (which i’ve been doing quite a bit of lately.) but she is still going strong. no problems so far with her (knock on wood). about ready to go in for an oil change and a once-over by the guys at f/x. and she still doesn’t have a name; nothing has struck me yet.

but here’s a few added thoughts after riding her full-time for over a month:

my posture is so very different on this scooter than the old one. not sure it’s better or worse; just more upright. and the reason i know this is because after riding it for a few weeks, i started noticing all my core muscles (particularly those in my lower abdomen, around my surgery area), were really sore. it’s better now as i am getting used to it, but it was a weird sensation. also, i had the occasion to ride the old scooter one last time back from the shop before turning it over to my pal dix, her new owner, and i was astounded at how hard it was for me to ride the old scooter having gotten used to the new one already. the old one is just so much lower to the ground; on the new one, i feel tall!

i figured out the turn signal thing. it took my friend julie showing me on her new-to-her yamaha vino that the switch can be pushed in to turn it off. i had no idea. i felt like such an idiot! and i actually DID read the owner’s manual yet somehow missed that. my old scoot only had a left-right switch with a middle off position. but the new scoot’s turn signal switch is really weird – i think honda could have designed this better, more intuitively – and i just didn’t realize you could push the damned thing in to turn off the signal. so now it is much better. though i still kinda hate it.

last weekend, i rode a passenger for the first time, and wow, that was harder than i thought it was gonna be! i guess i will just need to practice that more. i still don’t have a second helmet (my passenger wore julie’s extra helmet), so it won’t be a regular thing, but i need to learn how to balance myself and my passenger a little better before i’d want to drive very far like that. it was a little scary. i didn’t realize how much muscle would be involved in trying to maintain balance. also, might have been a little easier without the basket on the back so the passenger had a little more seat room.

i think i might break down and buy a topcase. i attached my old basket to the back rack via zipties (even going so far as to get stainless steel zipties, thinking they would be more heavy duty), but the rack on the back of my scooter is made of aluminum or some such metal and is oddly shaped, so even the steel zipties have been coming loose and busting. it’s still on there currently but i worry if i put something heavy back there they will all just bust and i will lose my cargo. so next time i’m feeling flush, a topcase is high on my list.

though, the enormous underseat storage really is almost enough for most grocery runs. i am not usually a big grocery run kinda gal – i can’t think that far ahead and prefer to go to the store every day or other day to get the few things i most need – so i’ve rarely even used the basket since i put it on there. so i dunno. maybe i don’t even need to have anything back there. as mentioned above, it would make passenger seating a little easier, for sure, as the basket does cramp the space a little.

and lastly, though i know this will be no surprise to anyone: i sure do like going fast. i’ve only managed to go 50+ a few times – it’s hard to have the opportunity on most city streets – but the few times i have, it’s been really fun! yay for being able to now. i think i have decided, though, that 35-40 really is the optimal speed for a scooter that size.

ok. i think that’s it for now about the scooter. until i come up with a name, at which time i will update you with that earth-shattering news. thanks for indulging me.

new scoot!

ok, so those of you who are connected to me via facebook and twitter are probably already sick of hearing about my new scooter. but, whatever. you can skip this post if you like. i just gotta rave…

so yeah. i bought a new scooter. it’s a 2010 honda elite 110. a 108cc, 8.9 horsepower, liquid cooled, fuel-injected engine. which goes 52mph before the restrictor kicks in. it’s red, which wasn’t my first choice (it also was made in all black, my preference), but i’m learning to love the red. it is eye-catching. and highly visible on the road, which is good.

i bought it used. it had 2 owners before me. a guy who only put a few miles on it after buying it new, before he sold it. and a woman, carol (who i met at the scooter rally a few weeks back), who put the rest of the 1200 or so miles on it in a little under a year, though it seems she drove it more for pleasure than as a commuter. she took really great care of it, as it still looks brand spanking new. i am aspiring to keep it looking new for as long as possible, despite the fact that i will be doubling its mileage in just a couple of months.

i still haven’t come up with a name for her yet. i guess it will come to me eventually.

she is really different than the metro, in so many ways. she rides really differently. the seat is cushier, and the suspension is impressive. hitting those potholes doesn’t jiggle me nearly as much as on the metro. i’m sure the slightly larger front wheel (12″ in front, 10″ in back, like the metro’s tires) helps absorb some of the impact. but she’s just such a bigger overall machine. the first time i sat on her, i was a little nervous. the metro is so small – it’s like the difference between riding a kids’ banana seat bike vs. an adult 10 speed or mountain bike. just better overall performance, and built more impressively.

and, yes, she goes 52mph. today, for the first time since i’ve had her, i hit 50. i opened the throttle the whole way for just a minute, climbing up the overpass on airline highway from carrollton. it was a little scary, but also not, cuz i could keep up with traffic and felt sturdier on the larger bike, not like i was gonna get run over. (i have never obviously ridden over that on the little bike – i wouldn’t dare.) but i maintained 40-45mph most of the way out airline hwy to the dmv (to register her), and it felt great. i have ridden motorcycles before – not terribly successfully, but i’ve done it – and the elite feels less cumbersome and obviously easier due to its automatic transmission, but still has the power to make you feel like you are riding a motorcycle. its pickup is truly amazing. i can smoke just about any vehicle out the gate from a stop light, leaving them in my dust. it goes from 0 to 30 really fast.

other random observations and things i like about it:

it’s got a really great, bright, wide headlight… something the metro was sorely lacking. i can actually SEE the road in the dark now.

it’s super aerodynamic. when going faster than 35, i can just feel myself cutting through the air, due to its streamlined body. i’m not as much a fan of the sportier look (over classic, retro styling), but i can see where it has its performance advantages.

also, it feels more proportional to my size. i always felt kinda ridiculous on the metro, cuz it’s such a small scoot. i mean, i reveled in that ridiculousness. i embraced my dorkiness. but the elite fits me better. i don’t feel so ginormous. in fact, i feel kind of like a badass on it.

it’s a bit of a gimmick, but i like the little anti-theft plate that goes over the keyhole. (it’s just a little piece of metal that you slide back and forth with the funny shaped piece on the end of the key.) since it doesn’t have a centerstand lock like the metro, this added bit of security makes me feel a little better about leaving it parked on sidewalks and streets all over town all day.

that underseat storage – o.m.g.! i was quite addicted to the large trunk on the metro, so it was something i was looking for in a new scoot, to have at least as much storage space. but damn, this is like twice as much! i put my helmet and all my dog-walking supplies in there and there’s still space for a small cooler for me to pack a lunch or drinks or whatever. or a second helmet would fit too. and i went grocery shopping yesterday on it and fit $50 worth (2 large reusable bags) of groceries under the seat, no problem. (there’s also a hook above the glove compartment, to hang another bag of groceries. and a lot of folks install a top case on the rear rack, for more storage. i might eventually do that.)

balance. for a bike that weighs 250+ pounds – fully 100 pounds more than the metro – and is longer and wider, it is incredibly well balanced. i keep thinking i might have to enter the slow race at the rally next year with this thing! (though i know i can’t ever beat a stretched out ruckus, but still.)

footpegs! yes, it’s kind of silly, but it’s nice, too, for my eventual passenger, that there are footpegs that flip out for usage and flip back flush against the body when not in use. it’s a nice touch.

and this is a small thing, but… i like the mirrors. not necessarily the look of them, though they suit the bike. but i like that they are wider than they are tall, and not circular. i can see more of the road behind me. and thankfully they stick out more away from the bike than on the metro, so i see less of my own shoulder and more of the cars behind me.

things i’m not crazy about but is not enough to make me love it any less:

i hate the fucking turn signal switch. first of all it’s not really easily in reach of my thumb (maybe i just have really short thumbs, but i gotta stretch!). and second of all, it’s super sensitive, so when switching it off, back to the center position, it’s very easy to overcorrect and end up switching the opposing turn signal on. it’s actually really hard to get it back to the middle position/off. it’s a stupid switch. i miss the simplicity of the switch on the metro.

i would have liked to have the control panel more backlit or at least in a lighter color so seeing it at night would be easier. (it’s black.) i also would have loved to have a trip meter. but nice that there’s a check engine light and a temperature gauge to better keep tabs on the engine.

it’s weird the way the right brake (front, disc) is super sensitive and the left brake (back, drum, and front linked) is not so much. it takes some getting used to, in order to brake smoothly, because you have to apply different amounts of pressure. but after a week, i’m getting the hang of it.

the glove compartment – eh. i find it pretty useless. not big enough to really put anything helpful in. (except, maybe, actual gloves?) do you really want to lock your wallet or anything valuable in there? i mean, yes, it does lock, but it’s kind of a flimsy lock that seems like it’d be easy to jimmy open. just seems very vulnerable. i wish it was big enough to put a drink in. what i really wish is that it was a basket like on the metro. that thing was SUPER useful – you could put anything in there. but it’s not. perhaps i’ll find uses for it eventually.

the helmet hooks. there’s 2 of them, which is nice, but they are actually under the seat. so what that means is, when you hang your helmet on it, the helmet bangs up on the side of the base of the seat, hard. i’m worried i’m going to scratch it all up. (on the metro, it was a protruding hook, out away from the seat, so the helmet hung more freely.) and with such a large underseat storage, i’m finding myself more inclined to just put the helmet back in the trunk instead of using the hook… but i guess we’ll see as i use the scoot more, if my needs change. obviously if i have a ton of stuff in the trunk, i will need to use the hook and just be careful not to scratch.

the seat itself. on the one hand, it’s so much more cushy than the metro’s seat, and wider, so my fat ass fits on it better. but since the scooter is able to carry a passenger, the seat is scooped to delineate between driver and passenger butts – the passenger rides slightly higher in back. i wish it was just a smooth level, so i could choose to sit further back on it more comfortably. i find myself doing it anyways, to give myself more leg room, but after a while i have to readjust cuz it’s funky on my butt for long periods of time, since i’m basically sitting on an incline. (i’ve seen discussions online where folks have opened up the seat and shaved the foam down so it’s smooth and then just restretched the leather across the seat. i might have to try that at some point.)

and while we’re talking about being able to carry a passenger… i love that i can ride 2-up on this thing and look forward to doing so. but i kinda hate that the official weight limit on the bike is 354 pounds. i’m a big girl, i weigh about 200 lbs, give or take a few depending on how many beers i’ve consumed in the past few days. that means my passenger needs to be lighter than me, considerably so. now, i’m pretty sure they make these limits knowing folks are going to go beyond them – and i will probably try to, as well – but really. if you’re going to make it a passenger scooter, couldn’t it have been made in such a way to at least ride 400lbs? that would be more reasonable, given the size of the average american.

oh, and i would have liked a kickstarter. granted, the automatic starter is impressive, thanks to the fuel injection. i will probably never need a kickstarter. but on the off chance that i would, it would be nice to have the option. the metro has one and i have used it numerous times when the automatic starter wasn’t cutting it. and there’s just something about the act of kick-starting your scooter, even if you don’t need to….

ok. enough of the critical review. this is all based on just one week of riding, so i’m sure some of this will be revised down the line after i get more used to the bike. or i’ll have additional entries to both the love and hate columns. but don’t get the wrong impression: just because i have a few gripes doesn’t mean i don’t still love the bike. i do love it. i think i chose the perfect bike for me, and i feel really lucky to have found carol’s bike that was so well taken care of and that she gave me such a great deal on. i feel really fortunate and grateful.

and i don’t think i’ve said this yet, but the best thing about it so far? it’s made getting up and going to work every morning REALLY fun again. with the metro, i was having a lot of stress about it’s performance and reliability, and frankly, my body was getting a bit beaten up riding it all over town 8 hours a day. but the elite – it’s just so fun. and easy. and comfy.

more pics coming soon!

*edited to add:

i added this little front chrome “grill” – they kinda look like eyes now – last night. was something i found on ebay that didn’t cost much. and i think it looks badass, even though it’s a tiny little detail. trying to do what i can to make her mine.

it’s been a minute.

um, hello world. it’s been 7 months since i wrote here last. damn. that’s a long time!

since then, all kinds of things have happened. i successfully recuperated from my hysterectomy, seemingly without any physical complication. i lost many of my dog-walking clients during my post-surgical downtime (6 weeks!), but then pretty quickly managed to pick up new ones once i got back in full swing. thanksgiving and christmas were both work days for me this year, which was fine by me. i made it through another cold and wet new orleans winter on the 49cc scooter, which rolled over 10,000 miles a few months ago. the saints did NOT win the superbowl. (boo!) i had a date, sort of. well it felt like a date  to me, but then, turns out, she wasn’t into me afterall. (oh well.) (we’re still friends.) mardi gras happened, though i did not eat nearly enough king cake this year. spring came way early. oh, and my father died at the end of february.

yeah. that was a big bummer, putting it mildly. and surprising, as though he was dealing with some health issues, no one thought that he was on death’s door. but i guess sometimes it’s just your time. and i think, emotionally, dad was ready to go. i miss him. a lot.

so yeah. i spent a week in louisville, dealing with the aftermath and seeing friends who are family, which was very comforting. and met probably the sweetest gay funeral home director ever. and my dad’s best friend and caretaker, also a sweet gay man. it was a bittersweet trip.

since then, i’ve been in a bit of a fog, which is only just now lifting. the weather has been alternately beautiful, full-on spring gorgeous, and nasty tropical storm craziness. business has been steadily picking up since the beginning of the year and right now is pretty consistently busy. (which is good.) i’ve been drinking a lot of beer. and hanging out with friends and having way more of a social life than i have in a long time. it’s nice feeling like i have a bit of a life, for a change. oh yeah, and i attended my first scooter rally, the big easy weekender, last month. it was fun.

and, through all of this, i’ve been working on trying to be a better person. and figuring out what the second half of my life is supposed to be about. (still not sure, but pondering.)

and these last two things are HUGE:

for the first time in almost 20 years, i not only filed my taxes on time but also paid them in full. did everything all legal and by the books, to the best of my knowledge. AND i paid my 1st quarter of 2012 estimated taxes at the same time. AND i got set up on a monthly installment plan to start paying off my back taxes owed. for the 1st time in a really long time, i am not running scared from the irs. (AND i have a savings account where i set aside $$ every month to accrue what i will owe for my quarterly estimated taxes for the rest of the year. so next year, paying my taxes should be a breeze!) only those closest to me can fully understand what a big fucking deal this is to me. (yes i know everyone else always pays their taxes and it’s no big deal, it’s what you’re supposed to do, but just take my word for what an enormous piece of personal growth it is for me, ok?)

and… i just bought a new scooter. the old one, the 49cc, though trusty all its life, lo these past 7 years, was just starting to show its age and the wear and tear i put on it using it for my daily work commute. reality is… 49cc scooters are not really meant to be driven like that. they have tiny little engines. i rode it hard. and though i kept up with the oil changes and other maintenance it needed, i probably could have babied the engine a little bit better had i had the money. but yeah, so it was getting to the point where i was going to have to start sinking a lot of $$ into it and, having come into a small chunk of change from the leftovers of my dad’s life insurance policy, i decided it would be a wise move for me to use that money not to fix up the old scooter which was probably just going to keep having more things that needed to be fixed, indefinitely… but rather to invest in a new scooter, something slightly larger w/a bigger engine that would hold up better under the duress of my daily schedule. (it was sadly not enough money to use to buy even a decent used car, so scooter it was.) i spent about a month researching and scouring craigslist and other online sources and had pretty much come down to one or two models of scooter i was interested in. and then the universe smiled upon me and hooked me up, unbeknownst to me, with someone i’d met at the scooter rally who was selling her scooter, one of the models i really wanted. and, well, i’ll save the rest for a separate post just about the scooter. but yeah. also really huge for me, cuz i have not ever in my life made a vehicle purchase completely on my own. i’ve bought a car with a partner, and i’ve shared cars and the scooter with partners before… and, well, my dad gave me two different cars when i was a teenager. (and my aunt gave me her old toyota camry when i got out of college.) but i’ve never researched and picked out my very own vehicle and paid for it in full and owned it outright and entirely by myself. it’s mine, all mine!

so there ya go. my last 7 months, in a nutshell. i’m gonna try to do better about using this blog to write longform more often. i like facebook and twitter for various reasons, but neither allows me to be my verbose self in the way that a blog does. and though i write a livejournal, it’s more or less private – i have a very small audience of mostly close friends there. and i write in it much more like it’s my diary. so hopefully i can figure out a way to use this blog that serves me and is also somewhat entertaining for you to read as well.

wish me luck!

so much time on my hands…

i guess it really is true that social networking sites like twitter, facebook and google+ really have taken the steam out of my blogging impulses. it’s just so much easier and faster to condense my thoughts into short little quips that can be quickly posted out to different networks of friends and associates, rather than taking the time to compose a long-form blog post here. i guess i could try to use my blog like i use social media, only have one or two line posts, but to me that’s not blogging. and would just be redundant with the aforementioned social media sites.

oh well. i guess i’ll just have to try to force myself to spend the time to write my thoughts out in longer form more often. but, well, here i am… with way too much time on my hands now due to 4-6 weeks of projected recuperation time from my hysterectomy. (i’m at 2 weeks post-op right now.) and yes, i’m finding myself spending the greater part of most days online playing around on social media sites. and watching movies on netflix. as well as the new crop of fall tv shows. i am going to be a pop culture expert by the time this recuperation is over!

but one thing i want to make myself do more of is listen to music. i did have this grand plan before surgery that i would take these weeks to start digitizing my cd collection so i could thin it out some, but, well, that hasn’t exactly started happening yet. maybe i’ll still get to it but i just haven’t been motivated. but i have been checking out online apps like spotify and google music, and have been listening to a goodly amount of new albums, both at home whilst laying about as well as on my daily walks. so lemme try to give some quick reviews in case anyone’s interested.

first, spotify. (screenshot above) i started fiddling with spotify months ago well before its integration with facebook had been launched. it has a free version that inserts really cheesy and annoying ads into your listening stream, in between every few songs, and then a paid version that is ad-free. spotify’s attraction is that they have a huge library of music that, once you join and download the software, you can access via streaming at any time, for free. it’s not every song or album ever made but it’s pretty extensive, offering you the ability to listen to music for free that you don’t actually own. it also integrates your itunes library so that you can sync your music library with your ipod, iphone or your android phone. the phone app is technically free, but apparently you can only access spotify’s free music library through it for a limited-time trial period; after that, you have to pay a premium price ($4.99/mo or $9.99/mo) in order to keep using it on your phone. (access to your own personally-owned music library continues to be free through the phone app.) my biggest complaint, though, is that i don’t find the navigation of the software all that intuitive – it’s actually kinda clunky – which frankly has made me not want to spent much time with it. the ads irritate me, too. now that it is integrated with facebook, i guess it’s kinda fun to be able to post to fb what you’re listening to all the time, and see what your friends are listening to, the whole sharing music thing, but i’m not sure that adds enough value to make it worth paying for. the jury’s still out on this one as to whether i’ll actually use it much.

mostly i abandoned spotify when i discovered google music, which offers you free storage for your itunes or other music library from your harddrive to the cloud. i think the limit is 20,000 songs at the moment, but i’m sure at some point you’ll be able to pay for more storage room. google music is still in beta testing, so there are bound to be changes and added features in the future. but for now, i really like the ability to have a backup of my own music collection – which it does automatically in the background of my computer’s normal activities – and the best part is that the music is then accessible to stream via my android phone (once you download the free google music app), turning my phone into my ipod. which is good because my ipod nano is on its last legs and now i won’t have to feel like i need to replace it. google music also offers a LOT of free music promotionally, both new and old, as i’m sure it’s hoping to eventually rival itunes and amazon as a way for folks to buy new music. but right now i’m enjoying all the free tunes that, once you add them, become a permanent part of your music library in the cloud as long as you want them. and there’s no audible ads, which is the best part to me. but it differs from spotify in that it is not offering the ability to listen to any song anytime – only the music you have paid for or otherwise accumulated (plus the various free promotional songs they offer). so for now, i’ll keep playing with google music and spotify both and see what my digital music needs really are.

i also still use itunes as my main music library on my computer, but have been using amazon mp3 to buy music more lately for some reason. wait, i know the reason – they seem to have more and better sales on new albums. like, for example, i just got the new trombone shorty album “for true” for $4.99 a few days ago. and with their free amazon cloud and mp3 player android app, i can listen to those purchases instantly on my phone too without having to upload them via google music to my library there. (really, it’s all about being able to listen to the music on my phone, now that i have a phone that can handle that task. it’s nice to only have one electronic device in one’s pocket when out walking around the park.)

i guess fans of spotify would say i could just listen to the album for free via that service… but i could only do so for free at home, not on my phone. (i’d have to pay the monthly fee to be able to do that on the phone, though it would also then give me the ability to listen to an unlimited amount of OTHER new music on my phone too, for the same price i just paid for one album.) but really, i’m old school. i know the trend with all these new apps now is for sharing and having access to files and not actually “owning” digital music, but if you’ve ever been to my house, you know i like owning music and having that level of access to things. even if it just means a burned cd version of a digital file i downloaded – i still like having that physical thing. it’s the dj in me. i know it’s old fashioned, but i’m not sure i’ll ever grow out of that completely. (though i would like to perhaps edit my physical collection down some to just the really important, sentimental things to make moving the next time around a little less horrible.)

ok, enough about music for now. but stay tuned as i hopefully get around to reviewing (i use that term loosely as this is more stream of consciousness babbling than actual journalistic criticism) some new albums i’ve been listening to, like the latest from the indigo girls, the shondes, trombone shorty and more.

 

and on to the next thing…

well, now that rising tide and the katrinaversary are over (and by the way, all the webcast videos from rising tide are now up on the site), things have calmed down a bit.

yes, we had a little excitement with tropical storm lee here this labor day weekend, but the only real result of it for me has been that i’ve spent a lot of time inside, listening to music and watching movies on netflix. it wasn’t much more than an intermittent rain and wind event. i did go to a fun birthday party on friday night, and then saturday managed to convince a friend to go thrift store shopping and to the hi hat for lunch, despite the storm… and then watched the lsu football game with @geekandahalf. much beer and tasty food was consumed both days, so then yesterday i did really nothing all day but dry out and be a sloth.

so now i have a fairly normal – though thankfully short – work week after today, and an upcoming weekend of much pet-sitting. but then, i hit the pause button for a month while i take care of some long overdue medical business.

bye bye uterus!

i can't find the origin of this photo to credit anyone but i hope they don't mind me using it

yes, i am finally getting my uterus removed. those of you who have known me for years will know how much i need this and what a relief it will be to finally have it over with. but for those who haven’t known me that long, here’s the TMI short story, which you should feel to skip over if you don’t want to hear it:

post-katrina, i started having ridiculously heavy periods and severe cramping, so i went to a gynecologist in louisville who eventually diagnosed me with uterine fibroids. (it is interesting to note that she felt it was a stress reaction due to katrina, as before k my symptoms were never this bad.)  we tried all kinds of hormonal interventions (various birth control pills, progesterone, etc.) to see if we could regulate my periods better, but none of them worked. they just made me feel hysterical, emotionally, and in most cases made the bleeding worse. western medicine’s general advice for women approaching menopause (that doc felt i was peri-menopausal, at like 39-40 yrs old) with fibroids is “wait and see” (this is actually one of the medical courses of action), as the closer you get to menopause, the less estrogen you are producing, which is theoretically and underlying cause the fibroids, too much estrogen, and so the fibroids shrink, causing you less problems. there were a few surgical options she discussed at the time, but she felt my uterus was not that enlarged, the fibroids were not that big, and so “waiting and seeing” might be the best course of action. (also, the public health system in louisville was apparently not as easy to navigate and she didn’t seem to know how to refer me into it or if i would be eligible. for whatever reasons, that seemed not an option at the time.)

so i’ve been “waiting and seeing” since like 2007, which really means, suffering as it slowly got worse. when i moved back down to new orleans in 2008, it took me a while to figure out how to get into the public health system here, since post-katrina everything was different and crazy. i finally got hooked up with the daughters of charity clinic in the bywater via artdocs, thank god, who put me through all the same tests and exams again and, surprise surprise, came to the same conclusion. why yes, you do have uterine fibroids. this time, however, a hysterectomy was their advice.

and, at least they were then able to refer me into the lsu/university hospital system. after much fretting, i qualified for the medically indigent program (since i was a starving artist at the time), and after another round of tests and exams, i had scheduled “elective” (i love that it’s elective, as if it’s like a facelift or something, not something i NEED medically in order to HAVE A FUCKING LIFE and stop losing pints of blood every month) surgery for may 19th. but after thinking about it for a few weeks, i came to the realization that i wasn’t prepared to do it then, really. i had no money in the bank, i had *just* started the dog walking biz and had barely gotten into a routine with it, and had no one as backup, and didn’t really have anyone lined up to take care of me after surgery when i would need it. i ended up having to cancel the surgery, and decided to wait til the summer was over, giving myself a chance to rectify all these issues and be better prepared.

and so, here we are. it’s the end of the summer. i have worked my ass off all summer, often working weeks at a time straight through, long hours, in order to save up about a month and a half’s worth of rent and bills to cover the time i’m down. i’ve got someone lined up to fill in for me to cover all the dogs while i can’t do it. and my ex is coming back to town for 10 days to help take care of me post-surgery til hopefully i can be up and moving around. so i think everything is good to go.

i had doctor appointments both thursday and friday this past week where they took a ton of blood from me for various testing, gave me a couple of gyn exams, a pap smear, and sent me over to the hospital for a chest xray and an EKG. all of which, apparently, say that i am really healthy, other than some slight anemia due to this very issue.

so surgery is scheduled for wednesday the 14th. i will spend most of the 12th dealing with admit paperwork at the hospital, and then have a fun-filled day of physical prep on the 13th, which i am *not* looking forward to. but it will be worth it, as i am more than happy to be saying goodbye to my leaky, malfunctioning angry uterus that i never really needed in the first place. the hope is to keep my ovaries, cuz i’m not done with them yet. i want my hormones! and they are going to try to do the surgery laparoscopically first, though they could always have to switch procedures once they start. but i will remain hopeful that it proceeds without complication and i have the smallest incisions possible, which means the shortest recuperation time. (four weeks is likely, though, at least.)

i have never had any kind of surgery before, save for my wisdom teeth being surgically removed when i was 16. i’ve never even broken a bone. and i have a severe dislike of hospitals, leftover trauma from the sickness and death from cancer of my mother when i was a child. (i spent way too much time in a hospital from ages 7-10.) so to say i am a little anxious is an understatement. but, again, it will all be worth it to have this horrible affliction dealt with finally. i will be so happy to not lose 8-10 days of my life every month anymore, and to hopefully eradicate my anemia once and for all.

so yeah. for the next month and a half, i might not be around online much. or, since i will not be able to do much physically, i might end up being around A LOT, since typing on a computer might be the only thing i can muster, after the pain meds clear my brain. i guess we’ll see.

but that’s what’s up with me for the foreseeable future. wish me luck!