Why Sleep is Important

By Persephone

I’m taking a test today.  It’s an endorsement test in Social Studies so that I can eventually teach this subject after finishing my Master’s.  Having already taken such tests before (and passed them), I tried something different from my usual methodology this time around.  Usually, I study for weeks, then I pull a borderline all-nighter the night before the test, staying up late studying and getting up extremely early.  This generally results in my taking the test with a headache and feeling very groggy, as my normal state is quite sleep deprived before the all nighter.  It’s a pretty dumb process.  I might have already taken and passed all my basic skills exams, English Language Arts endorsement test, and a different Social Studies exam (don’t ask why I have to take a different one now…my school is weird), but this is still a pretty dumb method.

So, yesterday I tried something different.  I’ve been studying for this test for weeks, so that step in my process didn’t change.  However, I spent all day yesterday studying and napping.  I wasn’t kidding when I said my normal state was pretty sleep deprived.  I slept for an extra three hours at least yesterday, and this is not normal for me.  As a result, I feel much more refreshed and a hell of a lot less groggy.  When I started studying after my naps, I was able to retain a great deal more information.

This does make me wonder why I don’t do such things more often.  It seems obvious, right?  More sleep means you’ll be able to concentrate more and focus.  Yet, I’m always trying desperately to keep up with my schoolwork and working at schools on top of reading news, playing in a band, working out most days, and writing for this blog.  When you add in my helping raise my sister’s kids, it’s a wonder I have time for any sleep at all.

I guess I don’t need to wonder why I don’t nap more often.  However, I think I need to make the time.  This touches right on the subject of those individuals who are spending all their time working, attending school, protesting, or other high-stress and time-consuming activities.  No matter how sucked into these activities you might be, you have to take care of you first.

Just saying.

 

Some Words Are Just NOT Okay

By Persephone

There’s a word that I frequently hear whenever I’m teaching.  I always put a stop to it, asking the student not to use it again, and then we move on.  I’m consistent with this practice, so it hasn’t been a huge problem with my students.  If they ask why, I simply explain that I think it’s hate speech and that there are simply no good reasons to call anyone or anything by that title.

I’m talking, of course, of the word “retard.”  I remember being called this word myself many times as a teenager.  It was a relatively common insult, and I was just different enough to be called this with significant frequency.

My main problem with this word is…it just isn’t kind.  It isn’t kind to whoever you are calling that, and it seriously isn’t kind to anyone who historically falls into that category.  Anyone who is born or develops intellectual delays in their lifetime already have to face serious hardships.  These hardships include a lack of dependence, a struggle to conform socially, and a lack of career choices.  Please don’t add onto this by mocking individuals who literally can’t help how they are.  When you belittle people who already got dealt a shit deal at birth, you’re not making yourself seem smarter in comparison.  Believe me.

I only say all this because I’m tired of adults saying this word, too.  Teenagers, I can tell to stop.  I tell adults to stop, too (like I said, I’m a consistent person).  They’re just less likely to listen.

I Get a Lot of Questions About This…

By Persephone

As a member of the gay community, it’s amazing just what kind of random questions I’ve received over the years.  Well, it’s not that amazing.  I’ve always lived in very rural communities with very closeted (as in, nonexistent) gay communities, so I somehow have become a spokesperson for our minority.

Meh.  I’d prefer they ask questions than ignored their curiosity or went straight to condemnation.  I consider this progress.

Having said this, I find it interesting which questions crop up more often than not.  I get it when guys ask, “Just what is it you lesbians do?”  The answer: whatever we want.  We aren’t limited by anything but our wants and needs.  And women have a lot of imagination.  Although it reduces lesbianism to nothing more than questions about sex, this is an obvious question to ask me, so I can deal.  You also get a lot of follow-up questions about penetration and sex toys, but I won’t divulge too far into such topics at this time.

More than anything else, though, people are extremely curious about the transgendered community, and this I struggle with.  While they’re a part of the gay community, it’s not like I’ve met dozens and dozens of transgendered individuals.  I’ve met several, and everyone is different.  Just like everyone else.  The transgendered community only make up 0.6% of the American population, but they seem to puzzle conservatives more than any other group.  It’s weird, how fascinated my neighbors are about this topic.  Not as weird as how obsessed Republicans are with transgendered people’s bathroom habits, but what is?

So, here’s what I know about members of the transgendered community, and I admit it isn’t a lot.  While I’m a lesbian, I’ve always loved being a woman, and I don’t see this changing.  As a result, I haven’t read up as much about gender identity as I have about sexual orientation, which are two very different things.

But here goes.  Less than one in one hundred people are born in a body that feels biologically different than their emotional gender.  That’s it.  That’s all there is to it.  This, I get.  If I had been born male, I can’t imagine not fighting and doing whatever it took to become female.  A woman is what I am, and losing the genetic lottery wouldn’t change that.  We are very fortunate to live in a time where hormone therapy, counseling, and surgery can help people achieve their real gender.  And, let me tell you, if someone undergoes all the social stigma of hormone therapy, the degradation of therapeutic questioning of their gender identities, and the very real physical pain and financial strain of surgery, then they have earned the right to be whichever gender they wish.

And after all this work, transgendered individuals might not turn out to be straight.  Like I said, gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same thing.  You could easily be a transgendered woman who is attracted to other women.  You could just as easily be a transgendered male who is attracted to women.  The point of all these trials and tribulations comes down to this at the end of the day: you are who are, and you like who you like.  While most of the population seems to like the opposite gender and refuse to question their own gender identity, this isn’t true for all of us.

We hurt no one (unless that’s what we’re into), so why do so many politicians care?  The collective gay community only makes up 4% of the population.  Anything we do in our personal lives will make very little impact on the rest of our country.  However, any decisions that politicians and other policymakers pass over the gay community only impact us.  That’s why we fight.  That’s why we work so hard to be pillars of our community.  In my case, I’m a gay community of one in my town in central Washington.  I’m fully aware that if I screw up, everyone around me will lump all gay people into the same category as me.

But no pressure.

 

 

Multidiversity in Action

By Persephone

I’m too tired tonight to write a whole lot…I’ve been studying like crazy all day, and my brain’s dead.  Having said that, I’d like to at least discuss a few observations I made earlier today.

While out with my family, we went out to lunch at a Chinese buffet.  It was just something fast with lots of options to choose from, as my sister’s kids are pretty picky.  While there, I noticed the other consumers.  About 80 to 90% of all the restaurant’s patrons were Hispanic.  Other the two servers of Asian descent, everyone else in the building was white.  It was a smorgasbord of national origins, and we were all feasting on highly Americanized Chinese cuisine that had very little to do with actual Chinese food.

This observation proved Americans tend not to notice irony even when it’s staring them in the face.  I really do love this country sometimes.  We can be so clueless, but this lack of awareness demonstrates just how far we’ve come in regards to race relations, too.  We are all simply Americans, and we were all hungry for some fried chicken swimming in soy sauce.  For some reason.

Winter Blues

By Persephone

I’ve said it before, but I feel like I need to say it again.  After hours of shoveling today and hours of shoveling to look forward to tomorrow, I feel I’m entitled.

I hate snow.

Yes, I know intellectually that it’s good for the coming fire season and for the water table.  Yes, I know it’s necessary for the crops.  Even so, I hate it.  It’s so heavy and messy and intrusive.  I’m just so tired of dealing with it.

What gets me through is the current drought map of California.  All the snow that I’ve been receiving in central Washington (and there’s a lot, even by our standards) has also been hitting California in the form of rain.  There are parts of that state that aren’t actually on the drought map anymore.  So all this freaking precipitation that we’ve been getting slammed with serves a purpose.

Which makes me grateful that we get so much snow.  But I hate it anyway.

Why is It so Hard to Give Up on a Dream?

20170104_1955101By Persephone

Practically from the time I could crawl, I’ve wanted to be a writer.  I don’t know, but there was something unbelievably enticing about creating stories and putting them to paper.  This is a desire that continued on through all my formative years (including the teenage, closeted ones), and well into adulthood.  Here, I’m in my thirties, and I still can’t shake this stupid habit of mine.

Why do I find wanting to be a writer stupid?  Well, really, any creative career is mostly luck with a bit of talent thrown in.  Even if you’re an exceptional artist or writer, if you don’t have an audience, such things just don’t matter.  They really don’t.  This is one of the many reasons I’m encouraging my nieces and nephews to enter into math and science–which they’re already predisposed towards, mind you, so it isn’t as if I’m pushing them towards subjects they dislike.  Creative outlets do not actually create simple careers, and they’re almost impossible to get jumpstarted.

I’ve written three full-length novels and countless short stories, but I’ve never managed to get a thing published.  Am I that bad of a writer?  Quite possibly.  Is the system stacked against new writers?  Absolutely.  Most publishers won’t look at “unsolicited” manuscripts (as in, submitted by a literary agent), and most literary agents won’t accept unpublished authors as clients.  It’s a bugger to get started.  These are hurdles I’ve been leaping through for more than a decade now, and that’s intermixed with working multiple part-time jobs at a time to make ends meet, taking care of my family, and going to school off and on.  Finding the motivation to write grows more and more difficult as the days roll on by.

In November, my master’s program ran a writing competition for some scholarship money.  Within two days, I’d written a short story about a mermaid and submitted it.  Unsurprisingly, they didn’t select it as a finalist.  Undeterred, I submitted the story to a magazine.  Again, I was rejected.  I should have just let it go.  Yet, this morning, I paid to submit it to the Writer’s Digest annual short story contest.  I didn’t give up.  If they don’t take it either, though, I’ll be posting it on this website and resigning myself to never getting this story published.  Such is life.

Looking back at my many trials and tribulations over this career, I really should have given up years ago.  I’ve spent so any hours on top of money I didn’t have for contests and postage fees and classes.  I’ve never earned a dime for anything I’ve written.  Eventually, I should get a clue, but apparently not anytime soon.  I still love to come up with characters and figure out their stories.  It’s a sickness.

Whenever I doubt myself about writing, I just look at a cross stitched picture that I made years ago.  A friend of mine suggested I put together a motivational line, and I decided to make it extra fancy before putting it over my desk.  It reads like this: “Remember this above all else!  You write not for the entertainment of others nor the possible prestige.  In truth, you do not write for the sake of your own self-worth.  Such paltry reasons could not sustain a lifetime career.  No, you write to give your characters a voice.  No one else could do them the justice that you can.  So…GET ON WITH IT!”

Words to live by.  In my case, they are.

Our Annual Renewal…or Rebirth…Whatever

By Persephone

Every year, we go through the same old scenario: welcoming the new year.  This isn’t just an American thing.  It occurs around the globe, although I’m sure such celebrations can trace their origins back to Western civilization.  But that doesn’t really matter.

The point is..there’s a desire in modern society to start over.  When one year ends, we are led to believe (mostly thought self-delusion) that this year will include some truly remarkable new beginnings.  No matter how shitty previous years might have proven to be, this year has the potential to really change your life.

Yeah.  There’s not a chance in hell that such high expectations will actually come to fruition.  Considering how lousy 2016 was and how lousy our new Congress and president are shaping up to be–even this early in the game–we’re sort of screwed right now.  Plus, our experiences never measure up to our hopes and dreams.  It’s true!  People like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King (let’s face it: those are writers have some truly enviable careers) are the very rare exceptions.  For the rest of us mere mortals, we have to settle for more realistic goals.

Having said that, there’s something enticing about a fresh start.  It gives us a sense of optimism that would otherwise never survive the darker times.  Over this last year, we saw many things that could have disturbed, depressed, or downright devastated us.  I know I experienced all three such debilitating emotions.  Yet, I’m still standing.  Self-delusion at least serves me well in this.  For, without hope for a better future, most of us would just get through our days numb and without feeling…anything.  Instead, we grow passionate, argumentative, caring, angry, opinionated, and happy throughout our days, despite all the shit that gets thrown at us.  We might feel numb when one of the worst examples of humanity are elected, or when we get dumped, or when we have to file for bankruptcy, or when we get fired, but this lack of emotion never lasts.

Humans are social, emotional creatures, and this means we look forward towards better times.  In order to live in better times, we have to set a strong foundation.  With this new beginning, let’s try just that.

That’s Not How Flatlining Works!

Image result for flatline

By Persephone

I binge-watched Netflix’s Jessica Jones series last night, and there was one scene that really bugged me.  It was in the back of an ambulance, and Jessica’s friend Trish went from a normal (if rapid) heart rate straight into a flat line.  There was no transition.  You don’t have to understand this reference to know one thing.  That is not how “flatlining” works.

I say this because I’m a certified EMT…something I don’t mention much, because it sounds like bragging.  However, none of you know who I am anyway, so let’s ignore my hubris for now.  I’m bringing this up because this is such a commonly used gimmick in both film and television: this flat line on the cardiac monitor.  It seems to symbolize an immediate death, indicating that CPR is needed and needed now.

In reality, when there’s a flat line on the screen, the patient is actually in a state called asystole.  This is the last stage of cardiac arrest.  Meaning: kiss your ass goodbye.  This is what occurs when there’s no longer any electronic or mechanical activity taking place in the heart anymore.  You can’t shock or compress the chest of a person with asystole and expect anything other than death to result.  They’re gone.

When a patient has a heart attack and their heart is actually failing, you would start compressions during a state called ventricular fibrillation (V-fib).  On a cardiac monitor, this is not a flat line.  It’s actually a series of squiggly lines, like so:

Image result for v fib

The heart is a powerful muscle that is designed to last a lifetime.  It doesn’t generally go from working straight into no electrical activity whatsoever.  There are steps it has to go through first.  With V-fib, the heart isn’t beating (which is why the patient has no pulse), but it is still jerking and sparking.  There’s still some life to it.  With asystole, there’s no coming back.

Also, in the show, it really bugged me that the ambulance kept moving when Trish went into cardiac arrest.  They didn’t even bother starting CPR.  This would never happen in real life.  On an ambulance, when someone’s heart stops, the paramedics and EMTs alike pull over, call for backup, and start compressions.  All the studies show that this is the only way to possibly bring back a patient like that.  The patient has to be on a hard, still surface.  It might not seem as dramatic as a quick transfer to the hospital via ambulance, but it’s their only chance.

So, seriously, Hollywood.   When you decide to throw in all these high-drama scenes involving medicine, would you consult someone who actually knows what the hell they’re doing for once?

Flatlining picture from Niccolls and Dimes

V-fib picture from LITFL

Winter Blows

https://i0.wp.com/weknowyourdreams.com/images/winter/winter-08.jpg

By Persephone

I live in a very cold area of this country.  Last week, a bunch of snow got dumped onto our laps, then during the last couple of days, the temperature drifted down into the single digits every night.  So, we’ve got lots of ice and snow on top of frigid, unbearable temperatures.

Brrr.  I hate the snow.  I’m also not a big fan of the cold.  I’m sorry, but if the air is so freaking cold that the inside of your nose freezes with every sniff, that’s just too much for me to handle.

More than anything, though, I hate working when it’s this bloody freezing.  This is weather that should convince anyone to curl under a comforter and read a book or simply sleep all day.  While I’ve never entertained such a luxury, it’s still the dream, isn’t it?  Instead, business goes on as unusual.  I still have to drag myself up early in the morning, do a little schoolwork, guzzle coffee like an addict receiving her latest shipment of crack, then get the kids up.  Then, I’m off to work in the bitter cold.  This just sucks.

Yet, everyone tells me that we’ll be receiving subzero temperatures within the next day or two.  Winter blows.

Photo from weknowyourdreams.com

Blue-Footed Booby–Somehow, They’re a Thing…

Image result for blue footed booby

By Persephone

The blue-footed booby is a rather unusual bird.  The origin of its name is strange enough: booby actually stems from the Spanish word bobo, which means “stupid.”  If you ask me, most birds (except for ravens—they’re just cool) are pretty dumb, so this comes as no surprise.  Two hummingbirds have actually gotten themselves trapped near the ceiling of my back porch even with a door standing wide open.  It took hours to lure them back outside.

Like I said: dumb.

As for the blue-footed portion of their name, well, they’ve actually got bright blue feet.  Secret’s in the name, am I right?  If it wasn’t for those same bright blue feet, most of us wouldn’t have ever heard of them.  Oddly enough, this turns out to be a byproduct of their mating rituals.  The brighter the feet, the younger and more virile the male.  Females’ feet are already a bit darker and duller, but the same rules apply.  When it comes to deciding upon a new mate, the female watches as males wave their feet in their faces.  Who would have thought that blue feet could have a purpose, much less such a specific one?  Weird.

There is more to the blue-footed booby than their feet, however.  For instance, about half their population resides on the Galapagos Islands, so you know they’re strange.  Also, they lay more than one egg each mating season, which is unusual for a booby.  They give most of their resources to the first hatchling, though, so apparently the younger offspring is only there to ensure survival.  I bet that makes for a cheerful Mother’s Day card.  “Thanks, Mom, for feeding me when my big brother was full, and for just standing there when he did his best to peck me to death.  Love, Bob.”

All these facts aside, I should probably admit that this is my favorite animal.  Not for the reasons one might think—there are tons of other species out there that are smarter (this includes ravens, tigers, and dolphins), prettier (peacocks and owls obviously), stranger (the platypus pretty much wiped the floor with this category), and cuter (red pandas, kittens, and really anything fluffy are cued here).  Nope, I love this animal simply because I love saying its name.

I dare you to say blue-footed booby without cracking a smile.  Seriously—do it.

You can’t, can you?

And that’s why I love the blue-footed booby.

Photo from factzoo