I'm An American...


I posted this the day before Election Day, but who knew I needed to wait until after the election to come across this magnificent graphic to complement it?

I usually don't do things like this, so, deep breath...

It's almost Election Day, and if it's not too late, or if you haven't yet decided, I have some thoughts for you. Our Presidential race is a close one. It is an important one. Especially to somebody like me, and here's why I'm voting for Barack Obama.

If Mitt Romney is elected and actually does some of the things he says he will, people like me will lose our much-needed Social Security or Disability benefits.  People with cancer or any other pre-existing conditions, like myself, may not be able to get affordable insurance.  Many of our parents' retirement dreams could be shattered.  The list goes on, and you all know someone who could be detrimentally affected by Mitt Romney's bold statements about the 47%.   I'm in that 47%, and I don't know what I'll do if our government decides to pull the rug out from under government services that I've paid into, and currently depend on, all because some rich, heartless, powertripping Republican says he'll "never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Please consider how your vote effects the country as a whole, including your friends and families.  It's really important.

But it's not over, just because the guy I voted for is still going to serve as our President for four more years.  A lot of people are very upset that their guy didn't win, and I have some thoughts on that, too.

Enough is enough with all this US vs. THEM nitter-natter!    WE didn't WIN, and THEY didn't LOSE.  We're all Americans, and Barack Obama is our great country's President.  That is an undisputable fact, whether you like it or not.

So - what's better for our country, our economy, our families, and the entire world, for that matter?

Continue all the polarizing, partisan bickering, which only serves to make America less functional, not to mention that our behavior resembles that of pouty schoolchildren?  Or how about we work together, like the adults and proud Americans we are, and get behind the guy who's trying to help us?

(He does ride a Unicorn and shoot rainbows out his wrists - how bad can he be?)

*I can't take credit for the image, if you know who deserves it, please let me know!

Our President Rides a Unicorn!

What Did You Do Today?


I woke Saturday morning, made myself some tea, and went out on my deck to admire the baby fruits ripening on their vines in my container garden.  At least that's were they were yesterday... but they were GONE!  Cucumbers and tomatoes absconded, drooping leaves, broken stems.  So sad!

I initially suspected the turkeys, they usually mow my flowers and herbs this time of year, but it was a little too clean.  Fruit was carefully picked off the plants, and not a trace of waste.  Something with hands was at work...

So I got busy on crafting a proper raccoon deterrent.  I'm going to leave the following note, in case they can read:

(Not-so-)Dear Thieves,

I'll see your vegetable-vandalizing and plant-pummelling and raise you one super-raccoon-blocking, thief-thwarting, plant protecting, Girlbert's-own-hands-crafted Garden Guard!

I'm not afraid to use the hose, if I catch you, either!



Guarded Garden

A Public Service Announcement From Girlbert


Despite all my best efforts to stay unexposed and rested up, the chemo and radiation have supressed my immune system enough that I have a pretty good chest cold.  No worries (or temperature, which can be a biggie for a person in my condition), though, I seem to be clearing it out, and should be over it in no time at all.  Longer than the average person, obviously, but I'm on the up and up.

But my docs want me wearing a mask on my face in public, (the better to cover the steroid fat-face and acne, I say!), hand sanitizer in my back pocket, and be really cautious.  As in, do you really need to go into CostCo today?  Probably not...

But we did have some health and banking-related errands to do yesterday, so I got to get out of the car and go into some places.  And you wouldn't believe the looks!  One of my favorite stops was to the bank for a deposit, and walking in wearing my hat, sunglasses and mask - you should have seen all the teller's faces!  They asked, "Can I help you?" through some very intense looks and gritted teeth...fun!  
"Just need to make a deposit," I said, taking my sunglasses OFF (sheesh) and digging through my purse.  They remained ready to push that button.

I did notice that every other person I came across did a double take, but I'd have done the same (and probably have), in the past, never thinking there are people out there with compromised immune systems that have to be really careful during cold and flu season, not to mention this swine flu thing.

But here's the cake:
Toward the end of our afternoon errands (we'd already deposited Mom at the airport, so SAD to see her go - such a good time with her!), we decided to pull over at a coffeehouse on State Street and let me run in and get a couple of cups of hot tea, Boyfriend staying in the car.  So I pulled my mask on, hopped out and opened the coffeehouse door to THE. DIRTIEST. LOOK. EVER.  The dirty look was shot by a customer who'd turned from the counter to watch me step inside.  I smiled through my mask, he was probably unable to see it.  He turned away, finished paying, the woman he was with standing off to my other side, waiting for their order.  Then he turned back to me.  


With what, the swine flu?  Like I'm just walking around with the swine flu?  'Cause I heard they all can't get out of bed, or are in the hospital.

 "Actually, I'm a cancer patient, and the chemo and radiation is suppressing my immune system, so I'm wearing this (pointing to my mask) to prevent myself from being exposed to anyone else who might be carrying something."  Like yourself, sir.

"Humph," he frowned and walked past me.  

My eyes followed, and the woman he was with looked  ABSOLUTELY. MORTIFIED.

I turned back to the counter, and all the teenage coffee shop workers behind the counter were significantly wide-eyed with disbelief at what they had just witnessed.  In unison, "What can we get you started?"

"A cup of chamomile, and a cup of jasmine tea, please."  

That was some yummy tea.

Moral Support

Job Opening


Despite my very best efforts to keep myself relaxed and low-key, last week was harried at best, CRAZY-STRESSFUL at worst.  Try not to worry, I'm getting enough sleep.  Whenever it gets to be too much, I take a deep breath, move away from the pile of applications, forms, bills, and financial documents (Do I get to get out my divorce decree AGAIN?  Yippee!) that is consuming my life, and take a nap.  Right after a good cry.

So to keep my list of obligations as short as possible, I'm going to be posting pretty lightly for a while.  (As if you haven't already figured that out!)  Please feel free to submit all your raw food recipes so that we can keep the masses happily fed with yummy health food until I can get back to cruising the net for raw food resources and recipes to make and photograph.  (This is me asking for help...Anyone?  Anyone?)

And if any of you are experts at organizing paperwork regarding financially complicated divorces, untangling yourself from financially complicated divorces, sweet-talking county and state medical financial aid representatives, consolidating large amounts of unsecured debt, speaking fluent social-security-disabilitese, or otherwise know how to SAVE ME FROM THE FINANCIAL DISASTER THAT IS MY LIFE, feel free to apply for the unpaid position that is available through the Contact page of this website.  Good luck - I'm sure it will look like a mob-scene with all the emails crowding my inbox at any moment...

No woe-is-me comments.  I'm asking for help, if anyone has it to give, but I'm still laughing.  This will all work itself out.  Someday...

Recovering From My Not-So-Best-Week-Ever


Yeah, so this is the part where my brother emails me, "What's going on? You never post anymore!"

It's been over a week, I know. Pardon me for wanting to do nothing but curl up and hide away from the world. I've had to dig pretty deep to find direction this week. But after much kicking and screaming, and SO MUCH CRYING, I've recovered myself, intact. We've recovered US, intact. Life has meaning again.

(More on the screaming, CRYING, etc., later.  As in, tomorrow.)

My entire week has been dotted with attempts to start blog posts like this:

  • I started my day with smiles, yoga, and juice. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? Followed by blah, blah, blah, about me. And my sad life.
  • My head is throbbing. I'm dizzy. I have little or no energy. I'm discouraged, because just last week, things were looking so much better. Now I spend most of the day fighting with Boyfriend, fighting with myself. Really makes you want stick around for the end, huh?
  • I'm struggling to stay physically conscious, much less mentally present, today. Equally uplifting...

But I didn't finish them, because I don't want people coming to this blog to feel sorry for me. I want Girlbert to teach others how to overcome obstacles and do great things. I want Girbert to help me overcome the biggest obstacle of my life. Not to revel in the obstacle, but to get past it. I want to BE GREAT.  I've mentioned before that one of my goals is to shock my doctors. I want them to look at me with disbelief when my tumor gets better or goes away. I want to be one of those head-scratching-medical-wonders I've been reading about. I'm no longer content just being the girl with the brain tumor. I'm going to be the girl who kicked that brain tumor's ASS.

The hat was a surprise gift (I can't believe someone actually got me one!)  from my childhood (many EONS ago...) friend, Kari. You can get your own, in any number of colors, on Jackie Farry's website. If you want to learn more about Jackie Farry, her hats, the amazing Kris Carr, or how to kick cancer's ASS, rent Crazy Sexy Cancer TODAY. If you know ANYONE who has struggled with or is struggling with cancer, point him/her toward Crazy Sexy Cancer TODAY. That movie changed my life, so by passing it on, maybe I can help someone else be GREAT, too.

Be GREAT. Tell me how you're doing it.

Oops, I guess I'm not PG anymore - THANKS, Kari!

Hot Button


Last night over dinner with friends, gay adoption became the topic of discussion.  Because the gay couple across the street had just adopted a baby.  I was startled to realize that in lieu of expressing happiness for the couple and their new baby, one of my friends declared, "That's so wrong."  I shook my head and my other friend concluded, "I just think it's confusing for the children."  Not prepared to debate such an issue with friends, I didn't have my thoughts collected, much less take the opportunity to share them.

I guess this is why I have a blog.

 What I should have said was, "That's such a uneducated, bullshit card to play."

Because if we're going to play that game, what's NOT wrong about Jon and Kate?  And how CONFUSING are Kevin and Britney?  Could these be shining examples of family situations, just because they're heterosexual?  Seriously?

The child of the homosexual couple is going to be JUST FINE because he'll grow up in a loving family with parents who love and want him.  Children are naturally more accepting and malleable than their adult counterparts give them credit for, anyway.  Gay rights and gay families are only confusing to a child because a parent or teacher or other such shining example of adulthood makes it that way.  What's WRONG is you teaching your children NOT about love and acceptance, but judgement, by YOUR OWN EXAMPLE.

That homosexual couple has put so much thought and effort into adopting that baby.  You can bet that they had to dig deep to get past a lot of judgement and hate to get to that place.  And they're certainly in a much more evolved place than the average couple getting pregnant, because THEY HAVE TO BE.  That child is far more likely to grow up more accepting and less judgemental because his parents will be forced to educate him about differences between people, whether it be sexual, cultural or racial.

There are plenty of children who grow up in heterosexual households, with multiple or unique family situations as the result of divorce or whatever, who have far more confusing family lives.  Just because a child is the product of a heterosexual family doesn't mean he's exempt from confusion about sexuality, because it's actually quite the opposite.  Better that he learn the reality that homosexuality (gasp!) and gay marriage and adoption (the HORROR!) actually exist, at a young age.  It breaks my heart that I have family that chooses not to educate their children about homosexuality, instead to pretend as though it doesn't exist.  How confusing is that?

I had a friend tell me a long time ago, during an exchange about whether or not we were going to have children, now that we were both married, "I guess we'll have a kid - that's what people do, after they get married."  Now that's WRONG, and I don't even believe in WRONG.  (I believe that everyone does the best they can, given the cards they are dealt.) Another friend once told me, "Not everyone can have a driver's license, but anyone can have kids."  Now I'm confused...

Just my thoughts.  Feel free to express yours in the comments.

This Should Shake Things Up A Bit


I spent a few hours yesterday at the Santa Barbara Zoo and it got me thinking.  The purpose of my zoo visit was to see California Condor display, and boy, did I ever feel like one lucky bird-nerd to get to see and learn about those guys.  The four young adult condors seemed happy playing, hanging out and occasionally, flying around their pen.  

But many of the animals were in their pens or cages alone, sometimes pacing or appearing distressed or bored.  The red-tailed hawks were tethered to their perches across the cage from one another.  The Asian elephant seemed sad and lonely.  Same with the gorilla.  And the big cats.

Just what is the quality of life of all of these animals?  Of course there's the argument that if they weren't in the zoo, they would be dead.  I know, like WILD animals or something.  Survival of the fittest.  And I do understand that that many of the wild animals were brought to the zoo or captivity because they'd been orphaned or injured, and were "saved" by humans to live out their existence peacefully and safely in the zoo, as "rehabilitated wildlife".

Is there such a thing?  I struggled to see any shred of happiness or dignity in the eyes of the two bald eagles perching on the bottom of their cages, wings too damaged to fly.  The purpose of such a bird's existence is to hunt, find a mate, and soar.  With the clouds.  These animals are being kept alive, even made to suffer, because their species is endangered.  

Here we are, at my point.  Humans have a fascinating attachment to LIFE, don't they?  We spend all of our existence clutching to it, existence itself, our sole purpose in life being to STAY alive.  Really?  I'd like to think that the whole purpose of my life is to be happy, to learn and to live my life to the fullest extent possible.  To soar.  Not to merely exist in this body, on this planet.  The thing I am most afraid of is not dying, but suffering, and being unable to do anything about it for myself.

Then I got this in my email inbox this morning:

My name is Amy Kaufmann. My husband and I own and operate OrthoPets. We make custom made Orthotics and Prosthetics for Animals. We like to take new charity cases every few months. Our latest case we took on was Andre. Andre is from Alaska, and last March, Andre was caught in a snare (trap) in Alaska. In order for him to survive, he chewed off his own front and back paw. He was nursed back to health by the Alaskan Dog and Puppy Rescue. This rescue contacted us a year ago to see if we could make him a set of prosthetics. Andre came to Denver in April and is doing great with his new prosthetics. Now, we are just trying to find him a home. He is a needy dog, and needs to be around someone that has alot of time on their hands. He has been living with me (my husband, 2 year old son, and 2 Italian Greyhounds). He has also spent time with two of my employees. They both have dogs and kids at their house, and he has done great. He spends his days at our clinic, where we have owners and dogs coming in and out. For the most part, he does very well. He does have a BIG bark, but we have never experienced any signs of aggression. My 8 pound IG bosses him around! He does have some issues, and I would be happy to go over them with you. I know that every dog has their [sic] own issues!
We have tried to place in a
[sic] three different homes, and so far, we do not have a match. I am now writing to see if maybe any of you might have any leads for us or contacts. We just can not keep him any longer. We like to take on cases like this, and help out as many dogs as we can, but because Andre has been with us for so long, and we have been paying all his expenses (over $4000), we want to be able to help other dogs, not just Andre. The Alaskan rescue does not want him to come back because there is so much snow in Alaska, which would be hard for a dog with two prosthetics to get around. Please let me know if you might have any leads. We are in touch with the Denver Dumb Friend's league, who is willing to take him in as a special needs dog, and help with adoption as well.

Oh, boy does this open up a can of worms with me.  Obviously the dog has some kind of will to live, to have chewed off his own feet to save the rest of himself and stay in his body, but his implied neuroses make him a whole other special needs case altogether.  If you'd like to help, please contact Amy through the OrthoPets website.

My friend Jenny often quotes this line from the book The Little Prince - "We are responsible forever, for what we have tamed."  This brings me back to our pets.  Responsibility has nothing to do with keeping your pet alive.  It means providing your pet with a quality of life.  All creatures deserve that.  Plant or animal.  Wild animals (normally) get to choose, domesticated animals are dependent upon humans.  So don't just water your plants, admire them.  And don't just feed your cat, spend time with her.  Don't just provide your dog with "the best medical care", try to understand what he would really choose, if he had his own voice in the matter.  Before you write me off as wackadoo, I don't mean to say that you have to talk to a psychic about whether Rover wants a purple bandaid or a green one.  Trust that you know your pet well enough, and really think about what it would be like to be in his paws.  Be his voice.  And remember that he loves you, too.

This is a topic I have have given much thought, with my own cats and horses.  Several years ago, my old lesson horse Reggie colicked so severely that I had to take him to a large animal hospital for more comprehensive treatment.  He ended up staying at the hospital for three days, for observation, fluids and treatment.  Upon his arrival, the veterinarian asked me, "Is he a surgical candidate?"

That horse is worth his weight in GOLD.  I could never replace him as far as my riding program was concerned, but even more importantly, as my teacher and friend.  But the chances of a full recovery for intestinal surgery for an equine of any age is only about 50%.  Reggie was twenty-four years old.  I couldn't put him through that.  And he knew it.

I replied, "No," knowing full well that the entire hospital staff was judging me for not agonizing over what would appear to be a cold, heartless answer.

He recovered, the incident inspired a much needed dietary change, and he is still with us today, at the ripe old age of twenty-nine.  In fact, I half expect him to outlive me.  Lucky for me, But it's not really about me, is it?

So Andre the famous two-legged dog has been rescued, flown from Alaska to Denver, rehabilitated, fitted with prosthetics, and had three homes willing to adopt him.  But they didn't work out.  The media and animal advocate groups are making a point of out of the fact that pets are getting caught in illegal snares and traps meant for wild animals with his story.  Countless dollars have been spent, much time has been sacrificed to maintain his existence on this planet.  But I hope, with all my heart, that he's happy, and not just being kept alive for the sake of a good story.  Because merely existing, with no one to love, no one to understand you, that's not worth existing at all.  If he finds that love, finds that someone, now that would make him a lucky dog.

Tell me if there's another way to look at it or if I have it all wrong.  Certainly.  Somebody. Has. An. Opinion. About. This.  Use your words!

Andre the two-legged dog

Leaving Myself Wide Open


A friend recently referred me to this broadcast about spirituality and healing on NPR. The discussion involves whether spirituality is a valid method of healing and whether it can be proven.  Several case studies are presented, the most profound being a woman, despite being diagnosed with the HIV virus over 15 years ago, remains healthy and clear of AIDS.  She has never pursued conventional medication, relying only on prayer and meditation to keep herself healthy.  Confounding?  Not really. 

While I'm always pleased to see this topic up for discussion in mainstream media, I've always found it intriguing that there is so much research done to prove the validity of spirituality.  Because if it resonates with you, it works for you, and you don't need any proof.  I KNOW what works for and makes sense to me, because the "proof is in the pudding," as they say.  And the people who need scientific evidence will remain skeptical, possibly at the risk of losing sight of what makes sense to them anyway.

This quote from the article sums it up nicely, "It's good to be open-minded, but not so open-minded that your brains fall out."  Really?  Could there be any such thing?  Putting a limit on open-mindedness doesn't sound open-minded at all.

I'm wide open to all of it.  Maybe my tumor will fall out with my brains.



I couldn't believe it the first time around. I couldn't believe there could be so many either misinformed or hateful Californians.  And here we are again.

Boyfriend and I put our names on the mailing list for the Courage Campaign last fall, after Californians voted fo pass Proposition 8 with 52.24% of the vote.  After attending a screening of Milk in December which was followed by a candlight vigil and  conversation with gay rights activists, we were moved to do something

So I began sharing the story of Harvey Milk, encouraging friends, family, everyone to see the movie, to learn about this important, but overlooked, piece of American history, and to understand the how important it is to stand up for everyone's human rights.  I told people, "The thing is, once you know someone who is gay, if you have a family member who is gay, gay rights becomes human rights, and it's a no-brainer.  We're all human."  But my own brother doesn't have the same rights as I do, and I can't imagine how that is possible for one second.

Boyfriend was compelled to write down his thoughts all those months ago.   I'll share them with you now:

"Watching the movie Milk made me realize a number of things.  It made me realize that bigotry is as alive today as it was a century ago.  It made me realize the amount of courage being openly gay requires, to say nothing of taking a stand on an issue or seeking office.  It starkly demonstrated the difference between being open with strangers and being open with your family or others whose opinions matter so much more.

Bigotry does not stand on Reason.  Bigotry stands on dogma or certainty in the unprovable.   Bigotry stands on the fact that one's neighbors believe the same way.  Unfortunately, it stands on the fear of speaking out in the face of near universal hostility, a hostility itself born of fear.

It is easy, being straight, to disregard gay rights as a fringe issue.  But in the end, it's no different than what Reverend Martin Niemoeller's words so starkly spoke of in Nazi Germany: β€œ... Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up.”  We have freedom only when everyone has freedom.

America is one of the very few places (and times) in all of world history where personal and religious freedom allow a person to practice or state one's beliefs openly.  "Love that or leave it" as Mr. Milk was quoted as saying in the movie.  Undermine that and none of us have freedom.

What the Milk movie made me realize is just how important personal courage is in fighting bigotry.  Personal courage is the willingness to stand alone, to stand up in the face of near universal disapproval from both strangers as well as the ones we love.

The personal courage of early believers in Christianity to die for their faith didn't lead to extermination; it led to mass conversion.  To me this is the most important thing for the gay rights movement to (re-)learn today.  Let the Declaration of Independence stand on Reason.  Let the courts stand on Reason.  And let how you believe stand on Reason.  But convince others with personal courage."

So while the California State Supreme Court's decision to uphold Proposition 8  was extremely disappointing, I'm not giving up hope.  Life is not worth living without hope.  I'm with Harvey Milk.

Share your thoughts and stories of personal courage here.

Why I HATE Home Depot


Me, upon entering the Home Depot, to the first orange-apron-clad college student I see: "Do you have any tub mats?"

Home Depot employee #1, scrunching his face in what can only be interpreted as, Are you speaking English?: "We have welcome mats on aisle 7."

Me: "Don't you sell bath products, accessories, like shower, curtains, here?"

HDE #1:  "Hey, Brian, do we have any bath mats here?"

HDE #2, with another look that says, I need a translator: "We have front door mats on aisle 7."

I paused, pondering the Alice-in-Wonderland-ness of the moment.  Really?

At least I was only 10 feet inside the store.  Normally this type of interaction wouldn't manifest itself until I had wandered aimlessly around the store for a good fifteen minutes, usually in search of the ever-elusive Home Depot Employee.  At least I could figure out that they didn't have what I was looking for quickly, without any unnecessary walking or obligitory purchases.  Whew.

Upon exiting the store, Boyfriend offered, "Maybe they have a guy named Matt somewhere in there."



This reminds me of a similar experience with Verizon Wireless:

Verizon Wireless customer service representative: "Have I answered all of your questions today?"

Me: "No, not at all."

Verizon Wireless customer service representative: "Okay, thanks, and have a wonderful day."

Don't they record all those calls for quality assurance these days?

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