November 26, 1998
Don't Get Me Started (Spring 1998)
I have more than a few pet peeves where the English language is concerned. Most of them involve TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms). Take a look at these TLAs: ATM, PIN, SAT, HIV. They may look fine in print, but think about the way we SAY these TLAs: "A.T.M. Machine," "PIN Number," "S.A.T. Test," and "H.I.V. Virus."
Answer me this: what the Hell is the M for in ATM? The N in PIN? Why do we feel the need to repeat ourselves? It couldn't possibly be for clarity! What, we want to distinguish the Automated Teller Machine from the Automated Teller MUPPET? Come on!
Then there are words that don't exist... and I hear these all the time. My top three least favorite are "conversate" (as opposed to "converse"), "supposebly" (instead of "supposedly"), and the worst of all: "a whole nother." What they Hell is "nother"? Yes, "whole" can go between words like "a" and "new," but not INSIDE a word like "another." Sorry, that's just wrong. I thought this was a new phenomenon until I saw the re-released "Star Wars" in which Luke Skywalker himself says "a whole nother." Sigh....
Now, I understand the importance of creating words and phrases in our cultural communications. I love using expressions with my friends that we know are truly our own. But let's get this stuff straight:
Y'all is the proper spelling, not ya'll.
The apostrophe in decades goes before the number, not before the "s," like '80s, not 80's (that's possessive).
Its is possessive, it's means it is.
Your is possessive, you're means you are.
Their is possessive, they're means they are. See there?
For, four, fore; two, to, too... oh, I could go on and on. But I won't. Instead, I'll just continue my quest to correct grammar worldwide. I should be busy for quite some time.
November 19, 1998
Don't You Dare Take Away My Redux (Spring 1998)
When I heard that Phen-Fen and Redux were being pulled from pharmacy shelves, I panicked. Could my druggist still be in the dark about this news? Could I convince him to dispense all of the refills left on my prescription?
I hadn't taken either Redux or the Phen-Fen combination in months, but I still felt that my one chance at losing weight was being taken away. How could my thin self ever emerge without drugs to help me along?
Considering that Redux only helped me briefly in my first round with it and Phen-Fen made me feel insanely hyper and out of control, I'm not sure what made me clutch the remaining pills as if someone was coming over to take them from me. Why had I kept them this long anyway?
When your body feels too big for you, you grasp at any promise for achieving the size, the life, you feel that you deserve. I remember when I first heard that a weight loss drug was being developed. I took an article to my doctor, begging for the prescription, even though the drug hadn't been named yet.
At first, I felt disappointed that I didn't weigh enough to take the new drugs. I wasn't clinically obese. Yet. Eventually, I was. Now, I thought, NOW, I could begin to lose weight.
No pill, no diet, no exercise program, nothing that comes from outside of us can EVER cure our emotional obesity. Now, I do not suggest that physical fitness cannot affect our weight. There is, however, a difference between physical and emotional weight. My emotions are what sent me into a panic over the news on the dangers of these weight-loss pills: if I have no safety net, how can I eat what I want?
These are not issues of someone with a weight problem. These are the issues of an emotional attachment to weight. No prescription drug can ever dissolve THAT cellulite.
November 12, 1998
EX-cellent Fashions (Spring 1998)
There is something I pull out of my closet every winter with a smile. And I wear it with pride. It's my leather bomber jacket. Actually, it's not really my jacket. It's an ex-boyfriend's.
I didn't take it from him. He gave it to me. He'd moved to Boston where the jacket wasn't warm enough. It's perfect for Southern winters.
His Zippo is still in the right-hand flap pocket. He used it to light cigarettes during my trip to visit him in Beantown. We were both in college and had both picked up vices. His was smoking. Mine was drinking. Eventually, we'd both cheat on one another, but that's not what this is about.
There's something wonderful about putting on a piece of clothing that belonged to someone you once loved. You may be a totally different person now, but wearing a lover's jacket is an embrace from a memory. You once were someone else and you were in love. The positive attachments to the look, the smell, the feel of his jacket erase all painful remnants of our relationship, at least for a moment.
I took an inventory of ex-lovers' trophies that I've accumulated over the years and found myself swept away by the memories of this one's strong arms, that one's poetry, the kisses, the passion....
There's one rule I always follow in my collecting: don't tell a new love that you're wearing clothes that belonged to an old love. That's just asking for trouble. He says, "Cool jacket," and you smile, knowing he's not the only one who thought that.
And when he tells you that you look beautiful in his flannel pajamas, smile again, knowing your collection is about to grow once more.
November 5, 1998
Getting Tested (Spring 1998)
I've done it twice. Signed up for the low-cost HIV testing and accompanying counseling. The counseling is mainly to educate the "patient." Are you aware of the ways in which HIV is contracted? Do you always practice safe sex? Do you know the sexual history of all of your sexual partners? Here, have some literature. Here, take some condoms. Now, why do YOU think you need to be tested? What will YOU do if the test comes back positive?
The first time I was tested, I'd been taking a Journalism class on the portrayal of HIV and AIDS by the media in the 1980s. I'd never had protected sex and I was beginning to wonder why I thought I was immune to HIV. My boyfriend at the time found it bizarre that I wanted to start using condoms months into our sexual relationship. I guess I was just hoping to make up for past indiscretion.
Getting tested was nerve-racking. Yes, I was well-educated about HIV and AIDS. Yes, I knew what to do to reduce the risks. No, I was not following common sense rules. Why, I do not know. So, I committed to myself, that if my HIV test came back positive, I would become a spokesperson for monogamous, heterosexual, female contraction of HIV, spreading the proverbial word. Despite this commitment, I was, of course, relieved when my test came back negative.
I swore that I would never have unprotected sex again, since it was such a joy to KNOW that I was, in fact, HIV negative.
Another commitment down the tubes.
"Girl, what is your problem?" I asked myself in the waiting room for my second HIV test. It was five years later, I was single, and I, this time, wanted to feel the rush of knowing I'd tempted fate yet again, only to remain HIV negative, through several unprotected encounters.
Do I like taking risks? Do I feel rebellious doing something that I know is stupid? Do I get a buzz just from being tested? Or is it that I trust my partners when they tell me not to worry? That I get off on having unprotected sex (more than having protected sex)? Great questions. But I do not have the guts to discover the answers.