Happiness is an empty fruit basket filled with cat.

March 8, 2012

May You Live in Interesting Times

It’s an election year, things are heating up on TV, the campaign route, and on Facebook, so it must be time for me to pontificate.

I feel we are out of control as a nation.  I also feel that President Obama is doing the best he can, but that doesn’t mean I agree with everything he says or does.  And I feel that both the conservatives and the liberals are often mean and bullying in their criticisms of each other.  I see a lot of humor being used as democrats express themselves concerning the GOP and the current crop of presidential hopefuls - mostly because I love Colbert and Jon Stewart.  But the conservatives tend to not have a sense of humor about these things and they fight back in a mean way.  I think if we all took a good look at ourselves, we would find some humor in our behavior and in the behavior of our politicians and policies.  Without humor, we really just have anger and tears left, and I’d rather have humor.

As to the HHS mandate concerning birth control and abortion, here are my thoughts:

Women and men should pay for contraception out-of-pocket if it is not medically necessary.  At what point in time did we begin to think that insurance was supposed to pay for these electives? 

I have a health ailment that requires I take daily medication or I will die a slow death.  Guess what – insurance no longer pays for this medication – and it is medically necessary.  Why aren’t they paying for it?  Because the insurance companies want me to use a different brand of medication.  Unfortunately, the other brands do not work as well for me, so I am forced to pay out-of-pocket for medication that I need to live.  So, quite frankly, women and men can pay for their own contraception. 

Many of my friends in the world of cancer have had to deal with insurance denials for medications and treatments that they need in order to continue battling cancer.  CANCER.  So, yeah, pay for your own contraception.  That’s what we all did a few decades ago.  Quite frankly, it’s fairly easy to not get pregnant.  It’s not as easy to fight cancer. 

Here’s a resounding 'get over it' to all those who feel their rights as women are compromised if insurance won’t pay for contraception.  You are not entitled.  You are not being denied contraception.  You just have to pay out-of-pocket for it.  Big deal.

Abortion.  I am far from an expert on this touchy subject.  I’m pro-choice for political reasons, but anti-abortion for personal reasons.  A few weeks ago, I set out to understand the Catholic perspective so I could better comprehend their anger at the HHS mandate.  Unfortunately, my Catholic friend became more than a little annoyed at me for all the questions I was asking so I had to stop questioning her.  What I found on the internet was a lot of wackiness that made me think people had really lost touch with reality.  (Well, my version of reality, that is)  So, since my one Catholic contact wasn’t able to continue helping me, I had to turn to Jewish teachings online.  I found this amazing essay: 


I have to say, this essay really helped me to understand a few differences between Catholics and Jews.  In particular, I loved the explanation of the different ideas of souls and Baptism.  I was also happy to learn that “Pro-life” means “pro-mother” in Judaism.  The essay goes on to explain that when a Jewish mother’s life is in danger, an abortion is mandated.  So, if all abortion is made illegal, that is a violation of Jewish religious rights. 

With all that being said, if an abortion is not medically necessary, then insurance should not pay for it - this is an elective procedure.  I think that as long as we maintain our right to choose, we’ve succeeded.  But don’t ask others to pay for your abortion.  You are not entitled.  So, another resounding 'get over it' is called for here.

Should Catholic institutions be forced to provide insurance that pays for contraception and abortions?  This I’m a bit fuzzy on.  On the one hand, I agree that they should.  On the other hand, I agree they should not.  I’m out of hands, and really don’t have a leg to stand on where this topic is concerned.  But I know that two of my Catholic friends are very upset by this, and when something is upsetting my friends, then I’m upset for them, too.

Much of what I’ve read on the internet comes from Catholic publications which are pushing the fact that the birth control pill contributes to breast cancer.  But so does alcohol consumption and being overweight, if you didn’t know.  Unless you never drink alcohol and you have a perfect BMI, I really don’t think you can use breast cancer as an argument against using The Pill.  The Pill also protects against ovarian and endometrial cancer, which is far more difficult to detect than breast cancer.  Let’s move on…

Does abortion contribute to breast cancer?  Notice that I am using the word “contribute” as opposed to “cause.”  Here’s a fact that not too many people know:  many of the women I know who are under the age of 40 and developed breast cancer, developed breast cancer while they were pregnant, or soon after giving birth.  It makes just as much sense for me to conclude that pregnancy causes breast cancer as it does to conclude that women who have had an abortion may get breast cancer.  We have no idea if those women who aborted their babies would have gone on to develop breast cancer if they had given birth, or if they had never gotten pregnant in the first place.

I find publications that push the abortion and breast cancer angle to be opportunistic and exploitive, and I believe they are praying on the fears of women. 

And just because I like to promote vegetarianism –

“Pro-life” should mean “pro-all life.”  Not just the life you choose to fight for.  If you determine yourself to be “pro-life” then I would hope you are doing your best to not eat meat, fish, or fowl.  If you are picking and choosing which life is worth saving, then I strongly suggest you take another look at yourself and what you stand for before pointing fingers at others.  Murder is murder, whether it is the murder of a cow so you can purchase a cheap hamburger at the drive-thru window, or the murder of an unborn child. 

Each of us has our burdens, and none of us is perfect (especially me).  But when I made my decision on abortion, I also made my decision on eating animals.  I’ve been thwarted a bit here and there by situations outside my control, but I am always striving to improve.  I hope you are, too.

October 15, 2011

Inconsiderate People

Most of us can agree on the fact that the economy is horrible right now. We can also agree that a poor economy means we often have to do things we don't want to do. For me, that 'thing' is to rent out my spare rooms.

I've been mostly lucky with roommates over the years. A few have been duds, but for the most part, their checks didn't bounce and they were good to my cats. And there was a plethora of good people to choose from.

Things were pretty good until now. I have never experienced so many inconsiderate people in my life. I'm a bit gobsmacked, actually, by the craptastic human beings I have encountered in the last few months.

I have one roommate who has lived here for three years, thank goodness. She has her quirks, but she puts up with my quirks, too. (And after three years, the cats still avoid her, which is kind of puzzling.) The other room has been empty since the beginning of August.

Since August, I have interviewed quite a few potential roommates. A few have even come to the house to see the room. What astounds me is that none of these people have had the courage or common decency to tell me that they are not going to take the room. One woman promised me that she would call that evening to tell me her decision - haven't heard from her. And yesterday, a man told me he was very interested in the room, picked up the background check forms, and I haven't heard from him since. He was supposed to tell me by this morning what his decision was, but he is not returning e-mails, texts, or phone calls. And don't get me started on the sheer number of people who made an appointment to come see the house and simply never showed up. Nevermind the fact that I cleaned the house for them and rearrange my schedule in order to be home at the appointed time. One evening, I even left work early in order to be home to accommodate someone who never showed up and never called to say he wasn't coming.

If you are looking for a place to live, please try to be courteous. Be a decent human being and let the homeowner know if you are going to take the room. It's okay to say right then and there that you aren't interested because then we can at least move on to the next person. We aren't renting out rooms because we enjoy it. It's a necessity and our time is valuable, so don't waste it and don't cause us to lose another potential roommate because of your cowardness.

September 28, 2011

Guest Blogger: The Importance of Fitness in Cancer Recovery

Guest blogger - David Haas! David is very passionate about the damage that cancer and its treatment can do to a person, and he asked if he could post an article he wrote on my blog. Though I do not want my blog to be all about cancer, since we are going into the dreaded month of Pinktober, why not?

From David:

The Importance of Fitness in Cancer Recovery

A diagnosis of cancer can be one of the most frightening things a person ever has to deal with. However, with the tremendous strides made in cancer research, it is far from the what it may have been in the past. In fact, many forms of cancer are completely curable if caught early, and many others are manageable using modern drugs and treatment methods that minimize side effects. One often neglected aspect of cancer treatment is fitness. A growing body of evidence suggests the importance of fitness in cancer recovery.


If you're feeling weak from cancer treatment, whether it is routine treatment for a common cancer like breast cancer or specialized treatment for a rare cancer such as mesothelioma, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. However, it's important to remember that mind, body, and spirit are interconnected. What benefits one, benefits all. A regular, safe, and reasonable expenditure of energy now, can pay off in the form of sustained energy for recovery later.

Whether you've just been diagnosed, have begun treatment, or are recovering from cancer, exercise can be very beneficial to you. Its many benefits include: helping you feel in charge of your life again; increasing your energy level and reducing fatigue; reducing nausea resulting from chemotherapy; increasing flexibility, strength, and heart and lung function; improving your mood. Exercise may consist of walking, running, yoga, dancing, aerobics, and cycling.


If you are undergoing certain forms of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation, your body may be taking as much of a hit as the cancer itself. Proper nutrition is vital until more targeted therapies are available.

It may help to think of chemotherapy and radiation treatment as a boxing match. It temporarily knocks you out along with the cancer. That's why it's important that you get off the canvas first so that you (and your immune system) can get back in the fight. Ultimately, it's your body's own immune system that will deliver the knockout blow to the cancer.

By: David Haas

September 4, 2011

Best Facebook Game EVER!


I wrote a blog post about how insulting those FB games are when they use the guise of raising awareness for breast cancer. Seriously. How does making people think you are pregnant promote awareness for breast cancer? You can read the post here.

While I vented and spouted off about it in my blog, my friend Sally actually did something about it. She's that amazing.

You can join the cause here.

  • Hello. My name is Sally and I am 42 years old and have Stage IV (metastatic) breast cancer. As we approach October (or Pink-tober) and all of the Breast Cancer Awareness campaigns, facebook games, etc, I believe we can do something less about the pink and more about the green. I hope you will join me in spreading a real message about breast cancer to all of your friends. My goal is to raise $41,000 dollars, 1 dollar for every life lost to breast cancer this year in 31 days. How you ask? Just like the viral "awareness" games spread and forwarded around the world via social networking, I believe we can do the same thing and have a real impact in the fight against breast cancer. Did you know that 100% of breast cancer deaths are due to metastasis? Did you know that approximately 41,000 women and men die each and every year in America alone from metastatic breast cancer? Did you know that less than 2% of all money raised for breast cancer research is used to research metastatic breast cancer? Knowing these facts is awareness. Doing something about it is action.

Please go the link above and pledge a few dollars - $1 is all that's being asked. But forward the information to everyone you know. And if you've ever posted your bra size, where you put your purse, your shoe size, or thought it would be fun to make your FB friends think you are pregnant, then pledge to not do so ever again - and instead, tell people about this campaign.

As Sally said, "Knowing the facts is awareness. Doing something about it is action."

August 19, 2011

Pee'ing the Cat

How does that saying go? "No good deed goes unpunished." Yes, that's the one.

A few months ago, I had a home with three loving cats. They loved me, they loved each other, and life with my cats was mostly good. Life was so good, I decided to adopt a fourth cat.

Enter Spike. Gone were the good and carefree days! Gone were the days of all litter boxes in one location! Gone were the days of all cats sharing one food bowl!

Spike the 14-year-old, yet amazingly active, cat deserves to be treated like a king. He spent most of his life as a performing animal. As far as I know, this is his first home. Unfortunately, my other cats do not agree with my sentiments toward Spike.

But let me tell you how rewarding Spike Purrs are. Or, how happy it makes me when he cuddles up with me in bed for a few minutes before one of the other cats runs him off and the hissing show-down begins. And Spike loves to play, and he plays hard. Only, the other cats believe all 129 toys belong to them alone.

The Ringleader of Mean is Osho, my youngest cat. Apparently, he’s a litter box bully. I’ve instructed the vet to change Osho’s name on all the forms to Butthead.

Back when life was good – just a few months ago – all the litter boxes were in one bathroom. But now, thanks to Osho, they are spread out all over the house. My Cat-Space Clean-Up Time has trippled.

And here is where the story turns ugly. Spike quickly learned that when he scratches in the litter box, Osho comes running. Spike’s answer to this is to stop using the litter box. My bed makes a nice substitute. I really dislike sleeping on plastic…

Spike has found a few other creative places to pee. Suffice it to say that there can be nothing made of cloth left on the ground if you wish it to remain pee free. By the way, washing bed linens in vinegar helps with the smell a lot.

(As an aside, I came home one day to find that Osho had somehow managed to pee inside a garbage can with a lid. That incident is now referred to as Circus Pee’ing.)

Anyway, back to the matter at hand – Spike. The Spikers.

I have tried everything. I have three Feliway diffusers spread around the house. I tried positive reinforcement with the cats using cat treats. I was locking Spike up in the laundry room while I was away from the house until the roommates started to complain that they needed to do their laundry (And Spike now refuses to be locked up). I used tin foil as my bedspread (That didn’t work, either). I tried water pistols against Osho. I have even hissed at Osho when he misbehaves. (Which scares him, but doesn’t stop the behavior from happening again). I am, quite frankly, at my wit’s end.

The only solution I have found is this one…

Every morning and every evening and whenever I can in between, I pick Spike up, put him in his litter box, and stand guard until he is finished.

I am pee’ing the cat.

I have a few days coming up when I’ll be away for about 12 hours, and I’m not sure what to do. I think I will have no choice but to lock Spike up in the laundry room on those days. The Feliway runs out in a few weeks, too, and I cannot afford anymore. I feel the Feliway clock ticking. Tick tock tick tock; tick-tocking towards aggression.

And don’t think it’s just about the litter boxes. I now also bring Spike his water.

The only behavior being modified in this house is mine.

August 8, 2011

Scammers on Craigslist

I saw this on another person's blog:  http://www.rentingoutrooms.com/ and thought it was a great idea; so I'm going to do the same thing.

Whenever I encounter a scammer on Craigslist, I'm going to post their email address here so the google bots will pick it up.  If you are doing business on Craigslist and something or someone sounds too good to be true, google, google, google.

Oh! I just found this entire blog dedicated to outing Craigslist Scammers:

And another:

These people are running scams on Craigslist:


"davis sophia" davissophia1@hotmail.com










"Chrisette Middleton" settonrose@gmail.com

"Chrisette Middleton" bellunlimited@hotmail.com


"Erica Brown`" dr.direct03@gmail.com

"Becky susan" bbymills1@googlemail.com

"Elizabeth Scorfied" escorfied@live.com

"Katherine Holmes" kholmes112@hotmail.com



"Susan Appleberg"

"sarah williams"



Carol Ann Kemmi





"Erica White"


jane poman


jessica williams


Susan Jerry



victoria morgan

This guy claims to be a CEO of Craigslist and is giving away a free Macbook Pro:

Jim Buckmaster jinnycbji@hotmail.com





"michelle nicolas" happymichelle12@gmail.com

Sandra Arendse sarendsse@gmail.com


Christiana Newton






Susan Appleberg

Linda Scott

"jane poman"

"Sharon Pears"

"sarah williams"

August 1, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness FB Game? Who are we Kidding?

And what a day I had today!

Birthday, homework, work, Facebook, get spat upon by people claiming to care about breast cancer awareness, state my case, get unfriended by said people who claim to care about breast cancer awareness....and so on.

People are weird.

But, the whole thing did turn out to be quite the sociological experiment.  I am an anthropologist at heart.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, there are these insipid FB games going around that are supposed to raise awareness for breast cancer.  But for those of us who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, they can be pretty insulting.  And for those who have not been diagnosed, they seem to offer a non-challenging, albiet well-meaning, feel-good, "oh look at how wonderful I am," easy thing to do that doesn't cost them anything.

The first time around we were asked to post our bra color.  Um, really?  For a bunch of women who no longer have breasts, this can be kind of hurtful.

Then there was the one where we were supposed to say, "I like it on" and then list where we put our purses.  "I like it on the kitchen table."  Or some other stupid nonsense.  Mildly risque?  Because NOTHING says sexy better than mutilated bodies!

And now we're supposed to list our shoe size.  So, women's FB statuses will say "7 inches," etc.  Again, could be mildly suggestive.  And shoe size has EVERYTHING to do with whether or not you will survive cancer.  EVERYTHING

(Edited to add the new game) The latest game has women state their birth month number as weeks and then say they are craving their favorite candy.  So, mine would be "I'm 8 weeks and craving Reese's Peanut Butter Cups." This is supposed to make people think you are pregnant.  What, exactly does this have to do with breast cancer awareness???  Here's some awareness for you: young women undergoing cancer treatment often lose their fertility due to surgery and/or the side-effects of the treatments.  So after having their ability to ever have children taken away from them, you want them to now participate in this awful game that makes people assume these women are pregnant.  WTH?  Grow up, Facebookers!

(Back to the original post)
So, here's where the sociology experiment comes in.

My cancer chick friends like to post about these games and, oh how we laugh.  We post something in response about how these games do nothing to raise awareness and help no one and how they are often hurtful to those diagnosed with breast cancer - to trivialize the deaths of our friends, etc.  And after posting, wow!  Sit back and watch the fireworks go! 

You see, people support breast cancer awareness, just not actual people with breast cancer.

Today I posted what I thought was a well-worded, but strong (in order to get attention) response to the shoe size absurdity.  The result was a whole lot of people jumping to support the person who had posted the game, and not one single person saying, "Oh!  I had no idea."  Not asking for an apology, or anything, just trying to, I don't know...RAISE AWARENESS FOR ACTUAL BREAST CANCER

I was called bitter and angry (I'm not).  And then, the woman who posted the game unfriended me.  Because, apparently, it was all my fault (I assume).  How dare that breast cancer survivor tell us our breast cancer games are offensive!  The nerve!  We know better than those breast cancer survivors!

And don't think this was an isolated occurrence.  It has been the result for most of us who have posted a "please don't" response to these games.

So, here's the real deal - those games do not raise money for breast cancer research.  They do not save lives.  They don't do anything.

If you want to show your support for breast cancer awareness, donate money to charities that are helping actual people get mammograms/ultrasounds/MRIs.  Donate your TIME.  Clean a cancer patient's house, cook them some food, take the children for an afternoon.  But don't think that saying "7 inches" on your FB page is doing anyone any good.  One person said that "it's better than doing nothing." 

No, it isn't.

Here is exactly what I wrote that inspired the craziness:

As a breast cancer survivor connected to hundreds of other young
women diagnosed with breast cancer, I can tell you that we hate
these games.

Our lives are not games. Our friends have died.

These games do nothing to up awareness for breast cancer.

Instead of participating in these so-called games (that often
offend cancer survivors), please donate money to charities that
are out there working hard to help those diagnosed with cancer.
The Pink Daisy Project is a grass roots charity that helped me
when I could no longer pay my bills after (Edited for privacy) all because of cancer.

Don't trivialize our struggles by making them a game. Shoe size
has nothing to do with breast cancer awareness.

If you've read this far, then take a look at what this woman wrote. She's a much better writer than I am: