Wednesday, September 30

Invisible Girls book review & debate on RH reality check

RH Reality check recently posted a really great book review of Dr. Patti Feureisen’s revised second edition of “Invisible Girls: The Truth About Sexual Abuse.” Since I don’t want to repeat the review word for word, I highly recommend you check out the post by Brittany Shoot.
What I will say is that the post is interesting not only due to the subject matter –sexual violence and the more subtle sexual abuse that occurs in so many contexts–but also the reaction to the review. Some of the comments at the bottom of the page are downright virulent. One reader in particular seems to feel that books that expose sexual violence as pervasive and damaging to young girls and women are simply an offshoot of ’whiny feminism.’

Another commenter on the post wrote a rather convoluted attack on comprehensive sexual education. His post included this paragraph:
“Honestly, if these stats are true (and not just another case of gross exaggeration re: sexual abuse appearing on this site) I really need to reconsider my support of comprehensive sex ed for young people. It’s no wonder parents want to lock up their girls..The message of education in hopes of healthy sexual teen relationships strikes me as absurd in light of these stats. With comprehensive sex ed aren’t you just giving girls a false sense of security and setting them up for abuse?”

While I’m not sure I understand how he has linked comprehensive sexual education with an increased risk of sexual abuse and/or assault, this is exactly the kind of situation that I find both frustrating and frightening. In my mind, accurate and comprehensive sexual education should equip both young men and women with the knowledge and power to make informed sexual decisions. Preventing sexual abuse and assault should be a component of this education, but is really a much larger cultural/societal issue. We should not confuse teaching healthy sexuality to teens with reshaping our cultural norms as they relate to sexual violence and the position of women.

I’m going to register @ RH Reality check so that I can comment that effect at the bottom of the article. Allowing confused people to connect these issues makes it more difficult to clearly advocate for the continuation of comprehensive sexual education and the ending of sexual abuse and violence.

I hope you will do the same and take some time to comment here, @ RH reality check, or at the Alliance blog (where I cross-posted)!

Friday, September 25

5 things I learned from TLC's "I Didn't Know I was Pregnant"

1. If you are a UK citizen, YOU WILL become pregnant at least once and not realize it until you are mid-delivery. You will then be very droll about the entire situation when recounting it for TLC.

2. You can get pregnant even if you have had 1 ovary removed. Oh wait, I already knew that. Apparently most of America, however, does not understand this important concept. Missing 1 out of your 2 ovaries does not guarantee sterility.

3. Neonatologists and or OB/Gyns do not like being on camera. They are all VERY SERIOUS and have a hard time figuring out how to look directly at the lens when they are delivering their information.

4. You can drink, smoke, and generally abuse your body while pregnant and everything will turn out 100% OK. You will then repeat that you would have never ever done any of those things if you had known about the pregnancy at least 5 times during the broadcast. The serious doctor(see above) will also point out repeatedly that serious complications can occur if you do these things.

5. Using the rhythm method is a solid plan when you have irregular menstrual cycles and no desire to become pregnant. When you then do not have a period for several months in a row, you will NOT consider pregnancy as a possibility and will give birth in the bathroom of the fast food restaurant where you work.

Thursday, September 24

Reproductive quandaries thanks to IVF. Big news?

This past week has been IVF mix-up mania on
They have now run a slightly different version of the exact same story every single day this week.
I realize that it's a slow news week what with the flooding in Atlanta, the ongoing health care debates and the ongoing financial crisis.
Clearly a single case of IVF mix up is well worth the in depth coverage it has been receiving.

Apparently a woman in Ohio is 35 weeks pregnant with a baby that is not her own. Her IVF clinic implanted her with someone else's embryo, and she and her husband decided to carry the fetus to term and then give him to his biological family.

All of this makes for a wonderful premise for an episode of L&O. Perhaps in a ripped from the headlines version they can have the two families fight over the fetus/infant once it's born. Or the biological family could try and kidnap the pregnant woman. Oh wait, I think L&O has actually already done several episodes just like that.

Ultimately, I think CNN is simply using this family to provide some rather overwrought headlines. There's nothing better than a little family drama mixed in with science gone wrong.

And actually, I think CNN is focusing in on the least interesting aspect of the situation.

The pregnant woman (& husband) already have three healthy children. The only reason they went back to the IVF clinic was because they still had 5 frozen embryos and it was against their religious beliefs to destroy them, or to leave them unused.

While I firmly believe that families should be given absolute control over their reproductive choices, I have to wonder about these types of situations.

There are already entire organizations that recruit women to impregnate themselves with 'leftover' embryos.
In many situations they don't even expect these women to parents any children produced. They just want to prevent embryos from being destroyed.
Given the number of already born children who are currently living in poverty/abusive/bad situations both in the US and abroad, I'm wary of both individuals and organizations who seem to value embryo preservation far more than the protection of already produced children.
Or in this case, the health of the woman/fetuses involved. This particular mother became deathly ill when pregnant with her second child, and due to complications delivered both her second and third child prematurely. While no one in this family has suffered long-term effects, I imagine there is a rather high level of risk involved for both the woman (now 39) and this fourth potential child.

I realize that I can't espouse to support reproductive choice and then say that this woman should/should not have tried for a fourth child despite the health concerns.
If she and her family wanted more children, they are well within their rights to try.
While it's unusual and upsetting that an embryo mix-up occurred, from my perspective the rest of the situation is far more troubling & thought provoking.
I wish that CNN would either delve more fully into the more interesting aspects of this situation or leave this personal family store entirely alone.

Wednesday, September 23

I think that my Bank of America drama would make a lovely episode of a sitcom

This is getting ridiculous.

I closed my bank of America accounts several weeks ago.
Somehow I magically paid for something with my checkcard almost 3 weeks after everything was shut down.
I hope the sarcasm is evident in the sentence above.

Anyway, this $12 transaction then resulted in a nasty note from BOA saying that if I did not immediately transfer money to cover this cost, I would be charged a $35 overdraft fee.

So they want me to do what?
Re-open my closed account?
Pay for a transaction that could not have occurred?
Pay an overdraft fee on the closed account that could not have had a transaction?


When I tried calling the number on the note, the service repeatedly hung up on me because I could not type in my account number.
It is very difficult to type in an account number for an account that no longer exists..but I don’t think the automated system cared.

After 3 attempts (and 20 minutes on hold last night when an associate hung up on me by accident) I finally got someone in credit card services to transfer me internally to the correct department.

Oh, and it turns out that they have no idea why I received the note.

No charge or overdraft fee is noted.

When bumper stickers just don't seem that funny...


As I was walking to work this morning I noticed a van idling near the curb.
It had a large bumper sticker plastered across the back. It said:
"Driver does not carry cash. He's married"

It took me almost a minute to figure out that the bumper sticker was a joke.
My initial thought was actually more along the lines of "well that's an unusual way to prevent a carjacking or mugging. I guess you won't want to steal from/hurt a married man? That's kind of sweet. Yet strange."

Then I realized it was a in..henpecked married men are forced to give up all of their cash to their wives.

Which doesn't seem that funny to me.
Or that offensive.
Just silly.

But when I thought about it a little more, I realized that the bumper sticker that said almost the exact same thing but about a woman would actually be pointing to a rather scary situation.

If you saw a bumper sticker that said "Driver does not carry cash. She's married" there would be no punchline.
Instead, you would probably expect to find a hotline number for domestic violence on the same sticker.
It no longer seems like a joke, and begins to sound more like a PSA against partner abuse and economic control.

I guess over-thinking silly bumper stickers comes with the territory when you spend most of your professional work day thinking about reproductive and social justice..but I'm not sure that's a bad thing.

Perhaps more thinking and less subtly disturbing bumper stickers would be better for the world.

Wednesday, September 16

Danish tourism video stirs outrage..yet I'm more puzzled/resigned than outraged

Online news forums are buzzing about a recent YouTube video outed by the NYTimes as being posted by the tourism board of Denmark .

The video shows an attractive blond woman feeding 'her' young child a bottle, while asking everyone watching to help her find the father. She tells viewers that she conceived after a drunken one night stand, and would like to find the man.

It's pretty easy to figure out what the Danish tourism board was hoping to accomplish: selling their country as one with beautiful free-spirited women ready and willing to engage in drunken sex acts with strangers.

So yeah, I'm not surprised that a lot of people (including many Danish women) are outraged at the demeaning and rather disgusting idea not so subtly promoted by the video.

I just can't work myself up to outrage.
Just somewhat saddened resignation.

We live in a world where PETA thinks that it's more important to protest on behalf of animals than treat human beings (yes PETA, women are human beings too) with respect.

Vegas ads send the same message, and they don't inspire a lot of outrage.
It just isn't that surprising that some brilliant ad exec in Denmark thought that selling the idea of casual sex would increase tourism.

So yeah, not a lot of outrage left for this pathetic excuse at promotion.
Although I do hope that the women of Denmark find a way to show their tourism board that while they may engage in casual sex (if they so choose), they are certainly not about to become country sponsored prostitutes because it would be useful for the Danish economy.

Perhaps they should start burning bras and protesting in the streets.
Nothing like a little in your face feminism to scare off exactly the kind of tourists who would be interested in a visit after seeing this ad..

Restaurant Review: Poke Sushi

B and I met some friends here for dinner on a Saturday night.

Things I enjoyed:

1. Love that it's BYOB. You can bring 1 bottle for 1-3 people or 2 bottles for 4-6 people. If you bring more, they charge you $20. We had 5 people and 2 bottles, so it was perfect.

2. Edamame to start, then miso soup. Thank you for having miso soup with some flavor. And by flavor, I do not mean overwhelming saltiness. Nice bits of tofu & seaweed too.

3. The the volcano roll (fried calamari, with spicy sauce and avocado). Really reasonably priced and pretty tasty. I obviously ordered a sushi that did not involve fresh fish, but the others said theirs was good. Next time I might skip the miso soup and order 2 rolls.

Things I did not like:

1. Started to get reaaaaally packed around 7:30. So come early or be prepared to wait!

2. We told the waitress we needed another minute or two..and she gave us like 10+. I know she was busy, but kind of a long time to abandon your table when they're starving but a little slow!

3. It's really far away from Brooklyn!! Ok, not really that far..but sure seems that way.

But worth the shlep and potential wait it if you need a BYOB sushi fix in a pretty nice sit-down setting

Overall: 4 stars

Tuesday, September 15

Runway pictures & accesseries breakdown!

AKA the last (I think!) Psoriasis Runway Post..

Before I post a few pictures of my custom-designed outfit, my accessories and Tim Gunn (!), I just wanted to include my written response to a reporter about the experience.


How do you think participating in Addressing Psoriasis™ will change your life or your perspective on style or psoriasis?

I think that participating in the campaign broke down the final barrier in the way that I relate to having psoriasis. Although I've never been ashamed of the condition, I've always considered it something private and managed it in a way that helped redirect attention to other parts of my life/body. While I'm happy that I managed to maintain a sense of personal style despite the condition, I don't think I realized how important it can be to really share my experience with others. Since participating in the campaign I've found myself blogging, talking, and generally being more open about living with psoriasis. In return I've received so much support from family, friends, and even strangers who felt like they were also kind of suffering in silence. Now that I've taken that first step in reaching out, I'm going to continue!

And now for some pictures!

From far left:

Post runway with Stacy!

My earrings (Olivia Clare Designs)

Bracelet (

With Tim Gunn

Shoes (Vegan line from Steve Madden)

Sexual Assault Reporting & Victim's Rights

The recent arrest of Phillip Garrido for the kidnapping and sexual assault of Jaycee Dugard raises interesting questions about sexual assault in the media, and the rights of a victim in the public eye.

Jaycee Dugard was allegedly kidnapped by Phillip Garrido and his wife when she was 11 years. She was rescued after 18 years of living in captivity, and was recently reunited with her family. After her rescue, it was also found that Jaycee had given birth to two daughters with Garrido.

Jaycee spent 18 years living with a man who likely assaulted her repeatedly, and must now face public scrutiny as both a kidnapped child returned to her family as well as a sexual assault victim. Although the names of her daughters have not been released, it seems unlikely that they will remain anonymous for long given the media scrutiny on their mother.

Jaycee's situation presents an interesting and troubling situation from a survivor perspective. Although her family was understandably overjoyed to be reunited with their long-lost child, the very public nature of her return has allowed the media to report details of her kidnapping and sexual assault with little regard for her status as a victim. Jaycee's young daughters will also face a public record that label their father as a kidnapper and rapist.

The question then remains, does the public interest in Jaycee's return negate her rights as a survivor?
Should the media have reported the likely sexual assault, as well as the paternity of her children?
Is the loss of Jaycee's privacy in this traumatic situation more important than the right of the press to report information?

Tuesday, September 8

Psoriasis thoughts post-runway..i.e. the last post without any pictures of the outfit/experience!

It seems crazy that the entire Address Psoriasis runway experience already occurred over a week ago.

I've been emailing,chatting, and meeting with my designer, Stacy, for months.
I participated in multiple conference calls, several interviews with reporters and had the chance to wave on the Today show.
I met the other winners, had a chance to interact with Tim Gunn, and walked the runway in front of a room full of media contacts and guests.

What an experience!

When I entered the contest last spring, I really did not think that I would be selected as one of the winners.
For one thing, I can't remember a time when I didn't have Eczema or Psoriasis.
I've also been pretty successful over the years at managing or hiding the condition. I covered my fingers in band aids in kindergarten, and had friends 'check' my neck and scalp for flare ups whenever I pulled my hair into a ponytail.
I still get frustrated when I see a flare advancing across my forehead in red angry patches, but mostly I just ignore the entire situation.

Being forced to talk about Psoriasis all summer and meet other people in similar situations kind of made ignoring it impossible!

It really has been exciting and humbling.

Overall, I'm glad this experience has forced me to stop ignoring the Psoriasis.
Yes, it's irritating to deal with an auto immune disorder with such visible skin symptoms..but I have it, and isn't going away.
All of the other contestants live with their Psoriasis, and have amazingly full lives: partners, friends, great jobs, babies, & grand babies!

I think if nothing else, I'm going to move forward and just be a little more forgiving of myself. If there's nothing I can do about a flare up, then there's no point in getting upset or feeling embarrassed.
A little more self-care and a little less self-doubt has got to be a good thing!

Feeling happy (thus far) with my new Citi account

Ooh..blogger just deleted my entire post!

Try 2:

Feeling happy with Citi thus far, despite a rather large snafu with my account.

I deposited my paycheck on Friday and noticed on Sunday that it had yet to show up in my account (as pending or cleared).

I didn't start to get really nervous about the status of the money,however, until this morning due to the weekend and Monday holiday.

When I called this morning to talk to a customer service rep, I was told that there was definitely something wrong with my transaction as it didn't seem to exist!
I started to panic a little (entire paycheck missing=bad), but the rep was really nice and told me:

1. They would resolve this in (at most) 48 hours
2. I could call back and check on the status 24 hours a day until it is resolved
3. She would recommend that they extend a credit to my account for a portion of the check

Number 3 made me feel really happy. Not that I necessarily NEED the money right this second, but the concession on their end made me feel a little more valued as a customer.

When I had the paycheck issues with BOA, their response was a total 180. Instead of offering to resolve the problem quickly, they told me I might have to wait up to several weeks. They were unwilling to offer me ANY portion of my held paycheck, and seemed totally unsympathetic to my distress over the situation.

So while I'm not exactly thrilled that I'm waiting yet again for a paycheck issue to be resolved, at least I feel like they're actually doing their best to fix the situation.

Guess we'll see if I'm this calm in 24-28 hours!

Friday, September 4

Restaurant Review: Butter

B and I debated for ages after we left dinner during NYC restaurant week!

Here's our reasoning:

1. Service: 3.5

The staff was pleasant, but just not what you would expect at the type of upscale restaurant that Butter would like to bread plate and had to ask. Server forgot the lemon I asked for, and never remembered (despite a pleasant reminder). Again, didn't ask if we needed anything the entire meal. The only time he came to check on us was right at the end. I don't need someone to hover, but an occasional check in is appreciated. Not sure if they thought we'd be bad tippers because we came during restaurant week..but I hope that's not their usual attitude.

2. Food: 4

The charcuterie plate was filled with deliciousness. The chicken liver was especially amazing. The first course squid was also tasty.B ordered the short ribs and I had the duck. I forgot how much I LOVE lentils. Yum. I could have literally dumped anything in the duck confit sauce and just devoured it. A little salty towards the end, but just so savory and good. It would have been a 5..except dessert was 'eh.' The chocolate sour cream cake was just OK. A little dry and nothing special. Same for the beignets. They were tasty. Nothing more.

Ambiance: 3

Kind of a personal thing I guess..but we were a little underwhelmed. Looked like they hired the same guy who did Craft and then added a little random tree background. Too pretentious for us!

Overall: 3.5

ps. Does anyone watch Chopped? Fun fact: Alex Guarnaschelli is one of the judges..and the chef/owner of Butter!

Thursday, September 3

So what is Psoriasis?


I'm not going to copy and paste from WebMD or google, because some dry facts about the disease just don't seem that interesting. If you want the technical definition, feel free to look it up!

Anyway, what I will say is this: Psoriasis is an auto immune disorder. One of the most common problems with psoriasis is that the body overproduces skin cells, so you (often) end up with patches of red/ flaking skin. A percentage of people with psoriasis also end up with psoriatic arthritis due to the immune interaction with joints.

So far I'm pretty lucky. My psoriasis is mostly contained to my head, shoulders, forehead, and back. I occasionally have 'flare ups' on my arms but they're not usually as bad. Since most of my 'problem' areas are normally covered by clothing (or the hair on my head), most people don't even realize that I have psoriasis.

It can be pretty frustrating, mostly because it's a chronic condition with no cure.
I definitely get annoyed when scalp flare ups end up looking like uncontrolled dandruff, but thanks goodness for curls! Most of the time you can't even tell when I'm having problems thanks to my hair volume.

Anyway, the address psoriasis campaign was created/funded by a drug company in order to raise awareness about the disease. They wanted to showcase how you can still have confidence and personal style despite living with a chronic condition that can (potentially) limit your clothing choices and confidence.

Although I don't often talk about living with psoriasis, I entered their contest because it's definitely a part of my daily life. It was really exciting to be selected as a winner & participate in the fashion show (hosted by TIM GUNN).

As part of the prize package all of the winner (and a guest) got to fly to NY, stay in a hotel, and walk the runway in a custom designed outfit. B and I also got to meet Tim Gunn!

B and I didn't have to fly to NY, but it was exciting to get the rest of the prize! I've been collaborating/ meeting with my designer Stacy all summer and was SO happy to walk down the runway in the outfit she created.

Anyway, that's the psoriasis overview and contest background.

Next up: NY activities with the other address psoriasis contest winners and runway details!

Psoriasis runway fun now back to blogging!

Wow, what a week!

As many of you know, I just finished participating in a fashion show for the address psoriasis campaign.

Now that I'm back @ work/home I'm going to start blogging about the experience.
I used twitter to chat about my feelings pre-runway and during the lunch but I'm also excited to really talk about psoriasis and the event now that I have a little more time/access to a computer!

To start, here's the video the campaign produced! I walk 2nd to last..