I’m sure you’ve mostly all heard about Angelina Jolie’s recent decision. Her mother died of breast cancer, so when she found out there is a genetic test that can see whether you will get it or not, she took it, and came out with an 87% probability. Then she got a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Some people are mad because not everyone can afford to take that test or do this. But should she not try to save her life because of that? her family was rich, and it didn’t save her from becoming motherless, but at least this will save her own (many) children from becoming motherless. She does tons to help others all the time. And anyway, don’t we all do things that others can’t afford every day? I know I do. Eating at all, not to mention as healthy as I do, is something that is an unreachable luxury to many people. Should I not eat because of that? No. So that first question aside of whether it was ethical for Angelina to have a medical procedure done on her own body, a lot of women are asking themselves, would they do the same thing? For me, it’s a no-brainer. Yes. My only thing would be cost. Cancer, breast cancer, runs in my family, and even if it did not, if that test was here, and I had it, and it came out to 87% well, that’s pretty much a yes that I’d get it, isn’t it? And not everyone dies of breast cancer. A lot of women, and men, because this is not only a women’s disease, get breast cancer and beat it. If it was 20% or something like that, I’d pause and have to consider. But here is this test, telling me I’ll probably get cancer, I’ll have to go through radiation and chemo, which are pretty bad in and of themselves, and I still might even die. Would I cut off my breasts? Yes! To a lot of women, their breasts are very important. They are a symbol of their womanhood, their motherhood, a big part of their identity. I’ve read how some women who have had to have a mastectomy feel like less of a woman. And everywhere you look, there’s people talking about and posting about how real women have curves, no one wants women to look like a little boy, etc. So I see why some women would be kind of trepidatious about losing their breasts. From a distance I see that, but I don’t personally understand it. To me, my breasts are just another part of my body, like an elbow. Wait, no, an elbow is pretty useful, a hinge on my arm. My breasts do nothing. Their one function is to feed a baby, and I have none. I’m not planning on one either, but if I did or was, I feel like the kid would rather have a mom and use a bottle than nurse on a breast then have their mom die. I am pretty flat chested, 30A. When I wear a bra, it’s because the shirt or dress I’m wearing would look better with the breast part filled out, so I wear padding, aka padded bra. Nothing else would make me wear those uncomfy contraptions. I’m already not a “real woman” since I don’t have curves anyway. Not only that, even though I am female, I don’t care about being a woman. It’s not a real part of my identity. I know I’m not a man, but I don’t focus on my womanness. It’s like my right handed-ness, just a random feature. I don’t agree that cutting off breasts takes away a person’s womanhood, but even if it did, I wouldn’t care. Who I am is not Woman. It’s Merredith. Cut off these breasts, and I’m still Merredith. Chop off my hair, a hand, whatever, I’m still Merredith. I don’t even know that I’d get breast implants put back in. Definitely not, if insurance didn’t cover it. I know I have a different perspective on this than most women would, given that I don’t feel I think in general like most women. It’s something to consider. Would you get this done, as a woman, or man, and why or why not? Do you think that your answer would change if you got the same test results, but were a male vs a female (or vice versa)? I’m curious to see if there would be a shift in perspective, based on gender, either way.
It’s just about that time again - time to cause more Chaos!! This saturday, May 18th, we have DJ Jalil Z with DJ Tristan Jaxx at BeatBox in SF, from 10pm to late, and it’s both Tristan and Cavin’s birthdays!
Last month, for April, we had DJ James Anthony. We’d tried to have him a couple months ago, but he was delayed due to a blizzard. Yucky east coast weather. But he made it this time!! I wondered if people would have energy for Chaos after the White Party the weekend before, but they did! Another great night.
Hope to see you this Saturday!
Photos by me, Cavin Knight, David Wong & Marques Daniels
This past Saturday I meant to spend some time catching up on some writing, but Friday I happened to notice something - the SF MOMA is closing until 2016! The last day it is open is Sunday, June 2nd, so if you’re in the area, hurry over. I knew I didn’t have time the other weekends, so it had to be NOW. I enjoy museums, and art, but modern, contemporary and ancient arts are my favorites. Ordinary classic type art bores me… lots of portraits of people, or religious things, still life, blah blah. Add the facts that this is free to me because of work, and super easy for me to get to, and it’s pretty much my favorite museum in the city. I dropped everything and headed to the museum on Saturday, and it was a beautiful, sunny day, so nicer to be out and about rather than inside writing anyway. The museum guards were particularly grumpy and ruley this time, scowling at everyone and making the experience less enjoyable, but I realized later, they may be upset about their imminent loss of employment. But still, make the most of it while it lasts, won’t you? I hate being glared at while I look at beautiful and thought stimulating things. The first exhibit I saw was Lebbeus Woods, Architect. This was super boring. I whizzed right through. I love looking at architecture on buildings, but not drawings. I’m sure some people will enjoy it. One of my favorite exhibits is, Don’t Be Shy, Don’t Hold Back: The Logan Collection at SFMOMA. 40 works ranging from the 60s to the 90s of a collection donated by a couple, most of the photos I took are from this collection. These are works that just grab your attention and make you wonder what the artist was thinking, or what you are thinking looking at it. My favorite types of modern and contemporary art are things that are just way out there like that. I always enjoy the Selected Histories exhibit, which has key moments and themes of art in the 20th century. Here are the artists I learned about in school, and although they rotate them a little bit, a lot is the same each time I go, yet I don’t mind seeing them over and over. There was a weird thing with a line, and a woman saying the line would take at least an hour and a half, and when you go in, you would see The Clock, a very special movie video and she couldn’t tell us more. Now I understood the tweets I’d seen from SFMOMA about waiting in line for the Clock and what people were doing while they waited. I could have waited…but I didn’t feel like standing in line so long, so I skipped it. ‘Is it on YouTube?’ one guy asked, from line, echoing a fleeting wondering I had. Nope. Oh well. Besides the Don’t Be Shy exhibit, my other favorites were the two photography exhibits - Picturing Modernity (which I’d seen before, but the selection changes) and especially Gary Winogrand. Gary took SO many photos between the 50s through the early 80s when he died, that he didn’t even ever develop most of them. His work wasn’t as appreciated in life as it was in death either. It took two years for a team to develop and go through his work, and over half of what was displayed was displayed for the very first time. And even with rooms and rooms of his photos, there STILL wasn’t nearly enough space to display them all. The photographs got me thinking, a lot. I LOVE taking photos. Right now, our society is the most documented and photographed its ever been. Most people have cameras in their phones. We’re posting photos on instagram, flickr, twitter, facebook, and just in our own computers. SO, so many photos… and of what? Most of the time, nothing especially earth-shattering. Would anyone care about these later on? Would my niece look at my photos when she’s grown and get a sense of who I am? But here are these photos, beginning on the first exhibit from the 1930s, of people, and you know what, they’re not doing anything important either, in most cases. These are photos that could be taken now, just of people going about their regular days. There’s people hanging out in clubs, waiting in airports, walking down the street… and yes, I am VERY interested. Not only me, imagine how many people have walked through these exhibits! I look at these people, and they could be people right now. They don’t look that different from the people I see in the streets now. Maybe the clothes are a little different, the cars, but that’s it. They’re doing things we’d do now. They’re there, living their lives. These young women out drinking and having fun, they’re old now, or maybe dead. Captured in a moment, they’re forever young, but in real life, time went on. And I got to thinking about my own photos and past, and future. I thought about some recent deaths. I thought about photos of my family members when they were younger, looking so happy and having their whole lives ahead of them. It just made me feel…morbid. Scared of dying, getting old, and also at the same time kind of reassured that no matter what, in fifty years when people look at our photos, even if the world has changed a lot, it, and the people, will still really be pretty much the same. It’s one big cycle. After all the photos, I was in such a pensive mood and anyway, the rest of the museum was already closed, so I headed up to the rooftop garden. The rooftop garden isn’t really a garden, it’s more a small concrete park with a couple plants and sculptures. They have a little Blue Bottle coffee stand up there and I know they’re famous around here, and looking for hours made me thirsty and my eyes hurt, so I stood in line FOREVER listening to the inane conversations of the people in front and behind me (I really, really wanted to yell - SHUT UP!!) interrupting my solitude, and finally got to try some of their famous New Orleans iced coffee, made with chicory. I can only drink iced coffee; I don’t like hot. I’m supposed to not be spending money, but since it was the last day I’ll be there for years, I figured a $5 splurge was ok. It was good, very new Orleans-y, based on the chicory coffee I tried at café du monde years ago. I found a sunny spot and read and read and read until it was closing time. A really nice, peaceful day, before I went home and cleaned. I’m proud of myself for being so artsy lately!! The weekend after next, I’ll be going to another museum, and hopefully I can take photos and write about that one here too!
Cinco de mayo is not a holiday holiday. My coworker who was vacationing in MX over that weekend told me they don’t even celebrate it there. But they do here in San Francisco. Why not, it seems like EVERY weekend is something to celebrate in SF. My best friend, Tristan, and his bf, my friend Cavin (aka the Part Time Roomies) were here this past weekend. Tristan was spinning on Sunday. Usually when Cavin is here, it’s for Chaos, and on Saturday, we’re getting ready, and on Sunday, we just eat brunch then they have to leave for the airport, so this time, I wanted to get some SF-ness in for Cavin, who is from SD and hardly ever gets a SF experience. I thought you guys reading would want to know what a SF weekend can be like too. Friday we were all tired from the week, and stayed in after the guys arrived, having a movie nite with our black bean plantain burritos from up the street. We all love those things!! Paranorman is a good movie, by the way. Saturday we woke up and made french toast with the yummy challah bread they sell here, and strawberries. We’d just finished a heat wave, so no more 80s degrees, but it wasn’t bad, and super sunny. After much debate, we ended up skipping a local bake sale we almost tried (sorry Irvin) and headed to the park (aka Dolores Park). It was medium packed, but we didn’t see anyone immediately that we knew, so we didn’t spend time on sun-bathing today, although that’s a very SF thing to do, they get plenty of that by their own pool in SD. There was a cute little cinco de mayo celebration on the other side of the park (even though it was actually cuatro de mayo) and we walked around there. They saw several SF weird things and people that I didn’t even notice, they’re so common to me LOL. Next, we headed over to the mission, to Dandelion Chocolate factory. I wanted to show them cacao smoothies, but they were out. We did a quick chocolate tasting (so hard to believe they don’t put added flavors in those chocolates, yet they taste so different!) and we ended up with iced lemon ginger chocolate drinks for me and Cavin and frozen hot chocolate for Tristan, with some yummy Marla’s chocolate chip cookies, while we watched the people in front of us make chocolate bars by hand. This was my second time there, and if you haven’t been to Dandelion and you live around here, make sure you go - it’s delicious! After we left, we stumbled upon an art gallery, which was doing a cool retrospective of some guy’s life works, as well as some other art. I loved the textural paintings. So, my second cultural weekend in a row! But you don’t need to go to a museum or gallery to see art in SF, especially the Mission, there are such interesting, great murals all around! Next we headed to the Lookout in castro, where our friend DJ Apg was spinning, and since it was May the Fourth, we saw Star Wars storm troopers walking below us. They came into the bar too, You know, May the Fourth be with you. SF is so nerdy LOL. Cavin had rented a car, so we took advantage of that to drive somewhere far for dinner, where we wouldn’t normally walk. After a long, car sick (for me) ride from getting lost on GPS, we found B Star Bar, which was delicious!! I really wish it were closer! I’ve been thinking about that food ever since! And then it was time to get ready for the night. We went out to see DJ Escape at Evolution at BeatBox. That was a fun throwback night, because I used to see him all the time back years ago when I lived in Boston! Sunday morning we slept in and just made it to brunch. We tried a new place, West of Pecos, a southwestern place in the mission, in honor of Cinco, which wasn’t bad, but with all the stellar places in SF, we probably won’t return. Soon it was time to get ready for the tdance, Everything at 1015 Folsom. Tristan was due to spin at midnite, but he ended up going on early at 11pm. I know how much work and effort he put into getting ready for that set, and it really showed. Great intro too! This video I made came out eh, not awesome like my Chaos videos, sorry. If you are sorry that you missed Tristan spinning, you can hear him in SD tomorrow (Saturday) nite at Pumpd at 1202, or next Saturday the 18th at Chaos at BeatBox, or listen to his last podcast here. By the time we got home, it was very late, and i was very tired. I plopped into bed and fell right asleep because the alarm for work comes way too fast, and then it was Monday work day. But a nice, fun SF type weekend with my chosen family!
(All photos by me, except the one I’m in, which is by Marques Daniels)
Blood Dreams by Kay Hooper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is #10 in the Bishop Special crimes units series and #1 in the sub blood trilogy. I love this series, it’s about an FBI unit that is made up of agents with special powers, psychic powers, and now there is also a civilian side, run by the same man, for people who don’t work well with all those rules. So, XMen, kinda, and Bishop is Professor Xavier. The people’s powers are starting to change and evolve, from using and pushing them so much, and being around other powerful people. And all this time, they’re fighting crimes and serial killers, and yes, supernatural serial killers. Dani is the main character of this book, and i did not like her. She’s very cold, shut off, just not a likeable person at all. Fortunately, older characters were included, and just the premise and the story of the killer they were tracking was engaging enough. The book had very large printing and the page size was small, so the page number is deceptive, because this book went by in two seconds. It would have maybe been better to just combine this book with at least the next in the trilogy, if not all three. I did have a hard time remembering some things from the past books, so I’ll make sure to read the next couple pretty soon. Great book, really great series. I hope that we really do have a branch of psychics working for the law enforcement, by the way. I’d think by now they would have covered that.
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I invented a couple of healthy desserty snacks! No refined sugar, no grains, but tasty, and easy too! The first one is a baked apple. i made this baked apple recipe, well, loosely. I didn’t measure anything, just stuck some flame raisins (my fav kind) with some coconut sugar, cinnamon and sliced almonds in the core hole, added a tiny dab of butter on top, put some water in the pan and baked it. At the end, I topped a dollop of greek yogurt on there. It tasted good and filled me up. Maybe next time, I’d use coconut oil instead of the butter, it might give it an exotic taste. Or leave that out entirely. Another dessert snack I made is a chocolate banana shake. That sounds very unhealthy, but it’s not. In the blender, I stuck a couple strawberries, for variety, some ice, a banana, and unsweetened chocolate almond milk. Chocolate is healthy for you, it’s the sugar that gets added that’s not. I drink the chocolate almond milk straight, because although it says unsweetened, it’s sweet to me. But adding the fruit in makes it so milk shakey! Blend it all up and enjoy, you get protein and fiber and antioxidants, yum.
Lastly, a super easy one - mango yogurt. Those little champagne mangoes are in season right now and all over the store. I cut up one, they’re smaller and extra sweet, added in some nonfat greek yogurt, and blended it with my immersion blender. I was expecting maybe a smoothie type thing, or a yogurt type thing, but it got the consistency and taste of a mango pudding. The key is to not put too much yogurt, just enough. It just Bams mango flavor into your mouth. So good! So fast! So easy!
I wrote this in February!! And forgot to publish it! No time like the present, make these for a tasty weekend breakfast! 2/23 - I made Johnny pancakes today! I went to get the recipe, then realized i usually look it up from the blog post i did, on my old blog, which doesn’t exist anymore…so I should write a new one so you all have the recipe. I think i’ll start reposting old posts randomly on weekends of old stuff so those don’t disapear from online world completely. anyway…kenyon’s cornmeal is made in Rhode Island, and is still ground on a real waterwheel. I’ve even visited there once! My family has always eaten this stuff, either as johnnycakes (a very traditional new england dish) or as johnny pancakes. Today, i made blueberry johnny pancakes, but I’m using some old photos i had from previous ones. You can see the difference between using butter or regular oil spray to grease the pan, and coconut oil. Coconut oil makes them cook up more chubby. Either that, or it’s me substituting 1/4 cup whole wheat flour for the 1/4 cup regular flour (i halved this recipe). Or both. Still tastes good either way!
Johnny Cornmeal Pancakes
1/2 cup sifted flour (i used whole wheat flour instead), 1 1/2 cup Kenyon’s cornmeal, 1 tsp salt, 3 tsp baking powder, 1 TBLSP brown sugar (i used coconut sugar instead), 2 eggs, beaten, 1 1/2 cups milk (i used soymilk), 4 TBLSP melted fat (told you this is an old family recipe…fat…I use butter)
Sift dry ingredients together and mix well. Combine beaten eggs, milk and fat. Add to dry ingredients. Pour batter on a hot griddle. Turn only once.
The museum is pretty large, three floors, with two floors filled with other, more usual exhibits. Those were great too, but by the end, we were just kind of passing everything by. The place was closing, and my eyes got over fatigued from looking at old things and reading plaques. There’s only so much information you can take in at once! This was my second visit here, the first was over a year ago, but i think that i got more looked at this time. The only thing i hate about this museum is that the people who work there are grumpy. Scowling, and not just in the manner of usual museum guards. Yelling at you when you walk in about your cell phone, even if you don’t even have it out and it’s stored away, or snapping at people who are still in the museum an hour, half hr, fifteen min, before closing. They have been pretty rude both visits, and I’m not the only one to notice. Oh well. Look at these beautiful pieces of art! I will definitely be back for more special exhibits!
This exhibit is happening through May 27th, and is about $20 so if you’re in the area, check it out! Otherwise, just look at my pics.
There are a few more photos that I took, go see them on Flickr here! And, if you ever want to go museum-ing with me, let me know, I get a plus one!
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a young adult book, the first in a trilogy, where a big event happens that wipes out all the new mechanical things, as well as most people, and also creates zombie-like beings too. Now a 17 year old girl is trying to survive. I don’t want to say too much and cause spoilers, but this is a great book. I love young adult books, for some reason. Here you have a girl living in a world of mostly old people, and fighting to survive. She’s not wimpy or vapid like in SOME bad young adult novels, she’s a fighter, like in the good ones. The first part of the book is good, then it gets a little slow, and then it gets great near the end. It’s really great, and then…it ends. Yes, it ends like it’s a chapter and not a book and I IMMEDIATELY looked at the library’s ebook collection, where i got this one, to try to take out the 2nd in the trilogy, which is out already, but THEY DON’T HAVE IT!! AAAH! LOL. I’ll have to get it soon. If you like end of the world, or action horrorish type things, read this book.
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It didn’t come as a surprise. On Friday, mum told me that nana was not going to get better, that they were focusing on palliative care, on Saturday, when she told me that nana was gone inside her body, it was just a shell. She sent me photos of nana, and she already looked dead. That still wasn’t a surprise. The past few months, nana’s been in the hospital so much…. But I’d expected that. Nana wouldn’t leave her bed, and before that, the couch, mostly, for years. Many, many years. There were a few exceptions, like my sister’s wedding a few years ago. But she’d mostly given up already. I knew it was coming, so I made sure to take advantage of what time I had. Phone calls, then in the past year or more, letters. Over the years, cards, with photos. Nana loved seeing photos of my life here in SF. She told me how proud she was of me for moving, but that she missed me. When I was little, my nana always baked me my favorite foods. If I was coming over, a cake with chocolate sauce would appear, from its hiding space on top of the fridge, or in the pantry. Auntie Jane would say we’re having chocolate covered grasshoppers, but I knew there was a cake. And her blueberry muffins, she always had those for me too. Back when I was young, my nana was a good cook. Once, when I was 8 or so, I went and stayed for a short vacation. Just me. I was the first grandchild, after all. Nana took me to cape cod, and we went to the doll museum. We had lunch at a little place on the cape, sandwiches and potato chips. I don’t like potato chips, I said. Nana told everyone, proudly, that I’m her granddaughter. After, we went to Ocean Spray cranberry world. We got to sample their new flavor, blueberry cranberry. I loved it! I gulped down a bunch, and back at the house, I gulped down two or so glasses of coffee milk. It was hot, it all curdled in my tummy and I threw up. Oops. Nana and grandpa took me to the beach, we stopped and got soft serve ice cream. Later on, in college, one day nana came up to visit me. We drove all around, and she showed me places she used to work at. Nana had her own drapery business, and would drive to all these nice homes in the area and sew them things. She was very talented, and smart to work for herself. We went out to lunch, a heavy, not that great Italian place that we had gotten lost looking for. But it was nice just to spend time with her. My whole freshman year, I’d go visit at her house on weekends. She and Auntie Jane would take me to the Joppa Grill. Yum, joppa sticks.. After college, I went and stayed with nana for a couple weeks. Nana always had so many stories. About when she was young, and worked in her uncle’s bakery, sewing things for the war, about her dad, who she loved so, so much (and almost never about her mom, who I pretty much know nothing about), about people she met in stores and on jobs, and their conversations, about when my mom and aunt and uncles were young, about my grandpa, and how he wouldn’t allow her to drive until she was already almost my age now. Nana grew up, met my grandpa, got married on Halloween when she was only, I believe, 19, had my uncle, then my mom a year later at 25, then moved out of the more city area to Stoughton ma in a little house she lived in the rest of her life. She sewed doll clothes from her home to help make ends meet, had my uncle, had my aunt, started her own business, went to block parties, out with her friends “the girls,” she went dancing and things when she was younger, and I’ve seen photos of her as a teen having fun, and older. She was that lady who quizzes the cashiers at stores, to do the math in their head (she was great at math). She was very hard to please, if you got her a gift, she’d find something to pick at on it, even if you made it by hand. One year, I got her a basketball book, because she loved watching basketball, and she FINALLY liked my gift. That was probably in college, and I got her basketball books for gifts the rest of her life. Nana and I got along well, but I know she was not always someone who was, in general, easy to get along with. She could knit you a hat in the space of a visit, she was on church committees, she loved to garden, a love passed on from her dad. She doted on her little brother, uncle George, who died back when I still lived in boston. Nana could hold a grudge. I think most of my stubbornness comes from her, like my middle name. My grandpa, her husband, came down with Alzheimers, and she had to take care of him until he died, when I was in high school. I loved my grandpa a lot, and it was so hard for me to watch him like that for years, but how much harder for her, to see her husband like that, and to take care of him day after day? All the things they’d planned to do, zapped out. She never recovered. After that is when she started getting stuck to her soaps, stuck to the sofa. A little more each year, things she used to do, gone. And what have I taken away from knowing nana? When she was my age, she was vibrant, full of life and feisty. I get the feeling that she and grandpa were also often at odds, as much as they loved each other. She hadn’t even had her fourth kid yet when she was my age. Did she think that life would end the way it did? No way! By the time I came along, her first grandkid, when she was 50, did she think this either? Nope. You don’t know what’s going to happen. All you can do is try and live life to its fullest. I exercise, I eat well, I try to always have fun, and live life. I’m trying to plan that I’ll be healthy and spry in mind and body til I die, but who knows? I could get alzheimers like grandpa. Something could make me give up like nana. I could just plain get sick. So tell your people you love them. Right now. And don’t get bogged down in things you have to do. Try to have fun. Things that bore me that nana loved, like knitting, sewing, basketball games and gardening, that were fun to her. Or things that are fun to me, like a good story, be that in a book or tv series, awesome music that rules my life by listening and dancing to it, my friends, really good food, my family and cat, or how my body feels as I work out. Nana told me that she loved me for doing this, so I’ll just keep thinking about her as I do them. RIP Reta Jane Nickerson, 3/28/28-4/30/13