Sunday, April 22, 2007

Wiki Link

Does your organization or group want it's own Wiki? The program our year of Literacy*AmeriCorps is using is called PB Wiki, introduced to us by our technoguru, Mark. It's pretty cool to be able to post and change things collaboratively. We put up upcoming events, reviews, lesson plans, committee info, etc. I just wish it had more storage available for free, but it is very easy to use. Check it out:

Recent Happenings...

1: FLUX (Braddock, April 14th)

FLUX was held on April 14th in Braddock, PA. This was a big art event-- it had both visual art and performance art. Everyone got to help James Simon with a sculpture of a sheep. There were also bands and djs. There was even a guy juggling fire and a giant creature that looked like a cross between a hamster and Shamu.

2: Balkan Beat Box and Golem Concert

I had bought my brother tickets to this concert for his birthday. It was at the Rex Theatre in the Southside of Pittsburgh. It was a great energetic concert. I am hoping to find someone who took photos online so I can post some, as it was crazy. When Balkan Beat Box were on, they came from the balcony and four of them were wearing snare drums, two had saxaphones, all were wearing masks. They marched through the crowd and formed a circle, and the audience formed a circle around them, then we followed them to the edge of the stage as they came forward. They had everyone jumping and dancing all night!

3: Earth Day

My AmeriCorps did a service project at Frick Park for Earth Day. We planted trees and pulled up garlic mustard, which is an invasive plant that the native animals don't eat. After that a bunch of us went to a GPLC/AmeriCorps event at Barnes & Noble and Vijay's band, Chaibaba played Puerto Rican music. A fun day, but very exhausting. I probably shouldn't have even attempted to walk to the park from my apt when I missed the bus, but I almost made it without having to be picked up! I slept from around 4 pm when I got home until my phone rang at 10:30, then I ate something and went back to bed for the night!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Under my Radar: Bill Richardson

Let me preface this by saying that as recently as August 2006 I was reading the NY Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Guardian EVERY DAY and watching CNN near constantly. So I got a little burned out and pulled away from the world for a bit. And I can't afford cable and the local news doesn't talk much about anything beyond a 10 mile radius. So that's not a very good excuse. There is such a thing as NPR and the Internet, and I should have stayed aware, but I will try to remedy that now.
Anyways, in my previous one political post, I discussed three candidates for the Democratic nomination- Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Rudy Gulianni. Of those three, I identified the most with Obama. This has not changed. However, there is a fourth possibility that I did not consider: Bill Richardson, the current Governor of New Mexico. This man is more than qualified. I mean, he's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize four times. I like that he takes stronger stances on the issues. I am waiting to make a more final judgement until I learn more about his record in New Mexico and his past relationship with the Pueblos there.
So far: a conversation with Bill Richardson on Indian Country Today.
Stay tuned,


Monday, April 2, 2007

Book: Touch and Go Joe

This is a book written by an adolescent with OCD in Brittain. Although Joe had different phsyical manifestations of OCD, I can completely relate with the similar thought processes he goes through. Different compulsions, but the same logic (or lack of) behind them. I also related to the ideas he brings up about how people would perceive him when they started to notice his new behavior. The parts about his first times seeking help were also very approachable. It was a quick read and I was glad to see a book from the perspective of someone who actually has battled with OCD. Most of the OCD books I've seen have been written from a psychiatrist's/psychologist's/researcher's perspective. I hope to one day add my own book to the "patient" perspective category.

  • Title: Touch and Go Joe: An Adolescent's Experience of OCD
  • Author: Joe Wells
  • Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • Date 1st Published: May 2006
  • Length: 128 pages

In Memory of My Grandma (d. 2006)

I want to post a poem to now that my Grandma actually helped me a bit with. I was having trouble describing the particular sound of the tug boat horns we always heard on the river, and went to her with advice. Later, in the hospital, I told her I thought I found the right words, but she never got to hear the whole poem. This is a poem that, on the surface, seems to be more about boats and the Ohio River. However, in reality, and on a somewhat deeper level, this is completely a poem about the world’s best Grandma, and the powerful effect she had on her grandchildren, who were blessed to have her. By the end of the poem, the sound of the river boat horns seems to be equated with Grandma’s welcome voice calling us in to her home from out playing. This poem is emotionally true. Factually, the poem is more of a combination of many, many, many wonderful events all smushed together to form one scene. The line breaks are not showing as written, so I am putting a forward slash at the end of each line as intended. The first time I read this poem publicly was the exact day in December 06 my Grandma was admitted to the emergency room. This also happened to be the day of my last Craft of Poetry class, and a public reading in the art gallery at school. I was torn up reading it then.

Sleepovers at Grandma’s House on the Ohio River

Lightning bugs lit the way for us cousins in our buttercup necklaces /
as we followed our Grandma’s welcome voice to the porch and indoors, /

where, before we could hear the stories behind the bleating of the river boat horn— /
my Grandma’s imaginary boyfriends’ echoed greetings— /

we washed off our dandelion makeup and dirt under fingernails, /
while Ivory soap smells bubbled in our noses, /

then settled into the big blue-room bed, with its blue walls and comforter, /
to play twenty-questions and giggle at ceiling tiles until we were shushed /

and drifted our way to dreams— /
times like that, it seemed summer would never end. /

Then we grew older. /

We drifted more and more apart. /

The flood forced relocation to a smaller house. /

The rising river ruined almost everything that had made our summer days. /

The carpet we had sat on cross-legged playing Atari when it rained. /

The box of toys like Evil Knievil motorcyclist and Indian brave. /

But sometimes, even though I’m away, alone in my apartment, I think I hear the welcome river boat greetings./

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Living With OCD

Out in the Open
I don't generally talk about this in a public Internet forum (okay, never), but I started to think maybe my experiences could benefit others in similar positions. I may one day put my story in a self-help-slash-memoir, which I have had the title for for the past 5 years, but have only ever written a rough outline. I do rather like the title though, as it expresses a sort of a personal mantra: Over Coming Difficulty.

My OCD History
I have been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder since I was around 7 or 8 years old, and showed symptoms well before that. Most people don't develop OCD until puberty...not me. By puberty, though, I had gotten most of the compulsive actions under control, and just had to deal with the obsessive intrusive thoughts.
I continue to struggle with the "bad thoughts," sometimes to a greater or lesser degree-- I have my ups and downs with it. I've had a hard time since 2001, which was a confluence of many stressful events in my life and was also when my medication (Prozac) I'd been on since a child stopped its effectiveness. Unfortunately, my OCD has also manifested itself in other ways the past couple of years. On and off ticks, such as blinking unneccessarily has happened on and off (mostly off right now). The worst is the symptoms that may be an indicator of trichotillomania : I pick at my fingers and scalp until they bleed. Yes, it is painful, and sometimes I don't even realize I'm doing it, but when I do, it is still sort of hard to stop. I have been wearing hats and other head-covering as a stop-gap measure until I figure something else out.

I have been running through the gamut of medicines since the Prozac ceased to be effective (I guess I just built up an immunitiy to it). These have included Celexa, Effexor, and more that I can't remember now but will do a write up on later as to the side effects and benefits. Currently, I am taking Cymbalta.
I am also looking into alternative medicines. The one that I am most intrigued by is Bach Flower Remedies. One of the flower essences, White Chestnut, holds promise:

Flower Remedy- White Chestnut
For those who cannot prevent thoughts, ideas, arguments which they do not
desire from entering their minds. Usually at such times when the interest of the
moment is not strong enough to keep the mind full. Thoughts which worry and
still remain, or if for a time thrown out, will return. They seem to circle
round and round and cause mental torture. The presence of such unpleasant
thoughts drives out peace and interferes with being able to think only of the
work or pleasure of the day”
- Dr Edward Bach

That's all for now. Next: A reading list, a medicine and therapy rundown.



Well, as a respsonsible citizen of the U. S. of A., I've been trying to decide who to cast my lot with in '08. I have arrived at my current choice through the process of elimination. This perhaps is not the ideal method, but I suppose it works as well as any.

I am choosing Barack Obama, not so much for being in agreement with him on the issues (he doesn't go far enough on some things in my mind), but because I disagree with this choice the least.

I am not choosing Rudy Guliani because nobody would have chose him prior to 2001. Doesn't anyone remember how we felt about him before the was The Mayor?

I am not choosing Hillary Clinton, because if she is our first woman president, I don't think we'll get another for a hundred years. And she is too wishy-washy on the issues, trying to please everyone instead of taking a solid stand on anything important.

So, there it is, my vote (as it stands now, my mind could be changed): Obama '08