Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Kudos From the Lovely Nicole

"Damn! For a white woman, you sure do make some good salsa!"

Well... er... um... thanks!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I Laughed til I Peed... Almost

Go here.

Watch this.


That's What I Needed

From Dawn to me this morning...

"Did you know how much you are loved here? Seriously. When you were gone, everyone was just a little sadder... they all kept asking me where you were and if you were okay and when you were coming back. Even J and D (my bosses) were concerned about you.

"Things around here are not the same when you are gone. I hope you know that."

That makes me smile.

My boss told me Wednesday that things are a bit "shinier, brighter and happier" now that I am back.

It's nice to be loved and appreciated.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Getting Help

This is going to be a hard post, but I think it is important to do it. It will also explain my absence for the past two weeks.

I have been stressed - who hasn't been? I guess I didn't realize the extent of it until recently.

On Tuesday the 9th, I went shopping at Wal-Mart. I had my list in my hand, the typical items I needed to get. I drove to the store, walked in, and looked at my list. Suddenly, I couldn't read English. I remember looking over the words and not comprehending what they meant.

The next thing I remember, I am at the checkout with a full basket and receiving my receipt.

As anyone would do, I panicked. How in the world could I not remember an entire shopping trip? What was going on? What's the matter with me?

I walked to my car and called my Mom, who then called Lindi. Lindi came and picked me up and took me home. I took one of my anxiety pills and laid down. I remember thinking that my mattress was the only safe place in the world, and if I stepped off of it, someone would be hurt. I stayed in bed the rest of the night.

My family wanted to take me to the hospital. I refused. "I don't want to be locked up in the psych ward!" I knew that's what would happen based on my recent temperament and the thoughts I'd been having for the last year or so.

I have been on an anti-depressant for the last couple of years, in one form or another. A lot of women have to do so as they get older and their chemicals and hormones shift. I was on such a low dose, it never really bothered me. When I left the U to work for eBay, I was without my meds for 3 months, and when I started taking them again, they didn't seem to be working anymore. I figured, hey, I would call a doctor, get some counseling and it would all work out.

The day after my shopping episode, I got up, got dressed and went to work. I arrived, sat at my computer and then broke down crying. My good friend Dawn saw me and took me into HR. She knew I needed to get some help and I needed to get my job squared away before I could. HR was amazing. They told me that I should get myself taken care of, and handed me a phone number. My instructions? Call this number, then leave and seek help. The phone number was to a confidential third party company who administers all of eBay's FMLA and medical leave. Since I haven't worked here a year yet, I knew I didn't qualify for FMLA, but eBay also has a separate Medical Leave for those who do not qualify for FMLA, that works the same and also pays out 80% of your pay while on approved leave. I literally made one phone call, left work, drove home, packed a bag and went up to the University Neuropsychiatric Institute - UNI for short.

There is where the adventure started.

I met with an intake nurse who evaluated my symptoms and admitted me into the hospital. I was escorted to the North Ward, which is for acute patients. Lindi was amazing, and so strong. She said goodbye to me, not really even knowing what was going on, but loving me enough to help me seek treatment.

North was comprised of extremely suicidal patients, sociopathic patients and schizophrenic patients - basically "acute" patients. It was rather scary. I knew I wasn't as outwardly sick as some of the others in the ward, but I needed help just as much.

In North, everything was controlled. We were searched, our bags were gone through, our necklaces and shoelaces were removed (not necessarily for our protection, but for everyone). Our smoke breaks were monitored and controlled - even our caffeine consumption as well.

I checked in at 2pm and didn't see a Dr until the next morning, Thursday. I actually had a full treatment team comprised of a Psychiatrist, a Social Worker/Counselor and a Med Student. The Dr changed some mediation around for me and gave me cafeteria priviledges so I could choose my own food and didn't have to eat what was brought to the ward, thank Gawd.

The therapy in North was, well, rather decompressing. Art therapy (which I learned a great love for pastel chalking), Music Therapy, Pet Therapy (you all know how I love animals) and the like. I wrote poetry, did Art, yoga stretching and reading. No real counseling, but it was good to bring me back down a bit.

On Friday afternoon, I was transferred to the Open Adult Ward, where I could come and go as I pleased, only having to check in every 30 minutes with the staff. There were much more counseling type therapies available to me, and I met some amazing women who also shared a history of depression. We clicked immediately.

Lindi visited me almost everyday, which was a welcome distraction from all the pain and emotion I was dealing with. I could call whenever I needed to, which helped. I reached out to very few people, so I apologize if you were not one of those who I called. Mental Health has such a stigma, that it was truly difficult for me to tell people until I got it under control.

My father came to visit me and brought me treats, including a box of twinkies, with has special significance for he and I. My parents visited two more times, once on Mother's Day and then the day after, bringing me my own art supplies, flowers and comforting items. They were so wonderful. My parents had seen my depression escalating for years and knew my voluntary hospitalization was a step in the right direction.

I was released on Wednesday the 17th and came home, and stayed home for another week, easing myself back into the world again. I was allowed to return to work yesterday.

Lucky for me, I was approved for Short-Term Disability/Medical Leave for eBay, so it was like I was never gone. Everyone was so happy to have me back, and I am happy to be back. I made cupcakes for everyone at work to show them my appreciation for their well wishes.

I am glad I got treatment, even though I am not at 100%. I am tired, drained and holding on as best as I can, but I am hopeful. I will succeed!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Is the L WORD for real?

The subject of lesbians came up among some straight friends recently, as it usually does around me.

"Are lesbians really like those girls on the L Word?"

I cocked my head ever so slightly to the side and chuckled. How are we supposed to be?

First of all, I must say this - I came up with "The Chart" YEARS before the L word. Of course, I didn't call it the chart, but I came up with my own version of how our community is so incestuous at times. Sitting down to dinner while Lindi and I were dating, I was meeting a bunch of her friends for the first time - keeping in mind, of course, I didn't know a single person at the table, I decided to break the ice.

"I bet I am connected to everyone at this table simply by the women we have slept with."

You could have heard a pin drop. Suddenly, everyone was talking and laughing.

22 women - all connected, 7 minutes.

I guess, in a lot of ways, we are the girls on the L word. There is usually the proverbial "married" couple, the ones who have been together forever, solid, stable. The Wild Child; the Vixen; the insecure, newly out friend; the Drama Queen; the obligatory straight-side contribution or two.

I think, however, it is so dangerous to pigeon hole us all into some sort of category.

I think for the most part we are ALL the L word ladies, rolled into one. There are times I am a Carmen, a Shane, a Bette, an Alice - all of them. I remember when I was Dana - not so very long ago.

It's comforting to know that I can change. And that I don't have to be labeled to be appreciated.

Cakes and Such

I have always wanted to try fondant cake decorating. I have never had a class or anything so I thought I would just research it on the internet, buy some supplies and go.

First off, the supplies are endless, and expensive, but a great investment. The internet had TONS of information for me, to make it all a little easier, not to mention a fabulous cake supply store who answered all my questions.

I followed the directions and gave myself 3 days to create the masterpieces – the first day was for shaping the fondant accents, the second day was actually baking the cakes and storing them overnight for the best results and the third was putting it all together. I didn’t quite like the instructions on how to make fondant roses, so I ended up doing my own things, which turned out better than planned. I decorated with edible pearls as well.

I made two 9” round cakes for my friends for their birthdays. Dawn’s cake was in light blue with yellow roses and April’s was purple with pink roses. Here is how they turned out.

Out of those two cakes, I was asked to make wedding cakes for two co-workers in a few months.

I was proud of myself, but wanted to do a little better. So I researched and went back to the cake supply store for more direction. I found some adhesive that was clear, sprayable paint, luster dust, which adds a pearlesque quality to the fondant and some better tools.

I then surprised Chet yesterday with his own creation. My first double tiered, stacked, filled fondant creation!

The picture doesn’t do it justice – the pearl strings are higher (and cut off). The edible pearls run the length of the ribbon and the luster dust made it simply beautiful. I forgot the ruffle at the bottom of the cake – my bad.

All in all – pretty pleased! Shane and I were talking about taking a class – I want to get some tips and tricks of the trade.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Immigration Nation

So… the whole immigration debate has finally landed on my front doorstep. Why you ask? Well, because Lindi manages a McDonald’s. I worked both days of the Latino Labor strike for Lindi.

Everyone seems to want to know my opinion about illegal immigration. Surely I must side with our Latino brothers and sisters in the fight! I guess my answer is yes – to a point.

I believe that anyone who want to legally immigrate to this country should do so. I believe that there is vast opportunity here for all cultures, and Lord knows, I love the different cultures and traditions. I embrace my Mexican and Latino friends and are welcomed into their homes as family.

However, this does not mean I am for illegal immigration.

The reasons are simple. My great-grandparents immigrated legally, faced hardships, paid their taxes and became citizens. They paid into the government that welcomed them and earned the right to be Americans. Many of my friends legally immigrated to the US from Mexico, Chile, Guatamala and Panama, facing the same issues. Some of my friends are not US citizens but work here legally, and work hard they do.

I do not believe anyone who walks or runs across the border, regardless of the nationality, has the right to be called a US Citizen. I do not believe that they should be entitled to one single solitary red cent in Governmental aid. I think that if they want the right to be called US Citizens, they need to pay into the system through their income taxes like the rest of us have to.

I would certainly not expect to have a silver platter handed to me if I enter another country, illegally. “Oh, now that I am in France, I am a French citizen… give me healthcare and welfare…”

It simply does not work that way.

I see hospitals going bankrupt. I see US children going without in school because of the requirement to educate all children – regardless of whether or not they are legal – and regardless of whether or not their family pays into the system to educate them.

Illegal immigrants have not shown their devotion to this country simply by not registering with our government.

The one thing I do not agree with is calling them Felons. They are not criminals. HOWEVER – I feel that if a person is caught in this country illegally, they should not be allowed to immigrate legally for five years as a penalty. And they certainly do not have the right to any benefits in the meantime.

They aren’t US Citizens. When will people understand that? If they want to become US Citizens, immigrate legally, register with our Government, pay taxes like everyone else does. It’s really that simple.