Monday, October 31, 2016

unmentionables - part 1

After listening the presidental debates, then touching on similar things in an ethics course I’m taking and furhtermore talking to a coworker about their elderly parents, I realized yet again that there are a few things we never talk about. Things I don’t really even talk about with my friends either. Maybe not only things as salary increase development over years, politics and ethics like abortions, death penalty but in this context I was thinking about bodily functions.

Everyone who has had a baby seemingly are talking about bowel movements and food intake, sleep patterns and such all the time. When you care for an elderly parent or grandparent, the bowel movements come back up on the table since a lot of medications do affect BMs. There are diaper weighing for both young and old. Or you can watch american commercials since there are a lot of "opioid constipation" and related medications for that. Similar thought on periods, it seems like not being about the talking part (especially not with males). There was the collective gasp when the female swimmer in the Olympics stated “I swam slower today since I was in pain, I got my period yesterday”. Since “talking about periods in context of female sports” is not super common, unless of course you mean (over)training and losing body fat can lead to you losing your period (often discussed in gymnasts). I personally felt a little odd wanting to talk about periods when I was starting my long distance training a few years back since I was not too hot on running with a pad, nor a tampon… plus the fact that my body sometimes felt horrid running (hello achy nipples during PMS) but didn't expand on it since I didn't find a good space to talk about it. Maybe something to take up here later on?

Coming back to bowel movements, or like I like to call it: “the pooping”. It didn’t really occur to me that what I grew up with (a fairly liberal view on body in general) that is was odd to have an idea that you should keep notice of how often you poop, or if everything looked ok, and that this was an important fact in how you were feeling in general. Or that your family made comments about it and noted when you went to the toilet (or not). This was especially obvious in the summer times when my family went on vacation. We’d go hiking in the mountains, sometimes where there were no toilets but rather you dug a hole in the dirt, or we went to the summer house where we had an old school outhouse. Same thing happened in winter times with longer ski trips where you are out all day (sometimes days) with less access to toilets and you don’t want to take off the warm clothes to expose the booty. All instances made it on the “have you pooped today/before we leave” discussions prevalent. It was another one of those things that came up in scout/military training since especially when you are out walking with teams and with backpacks, you can’t afford someone getting sick due to not having regular BM. And trust me, if you ‘hold it in’ for a few days, you probably will experience cramping and sometimes fever and illness. Not a pleasant experience, for you or the people around you.

Part of why I think about this now? With my current job I’ve read up on cancer, a lot of cancer stats that I didn’t know before. (I’m not sure that I want to know all this either tbh, hello hypochondriac.)  Colon cancer is an interesting thing, 3rd most common cancer and comparing international stats and incidences. And in the USA, the variance between states is pretty high

The highest incidence of that type of cancer is in Korea (45/100,000), although looking at the state stats you can easily see that the southern states beat that with an average of 42-49/100,000 (yey for USA being so large and diverse that their overall average* is lower than you would think, depending on which state you live in.)

One of the ‘obvious’ but not evidence based ideas is that obese people have a larger incidence of colorectal cancer. It’s also been linked to sedentary lifestyle, and less fibers. You see where I am going with this? After having had the opportunity to listen to a bunch of people who have been ill through my volunteering, where people have opened up about their own and their relative’s ailments, I’d very very tempted to say that a lot of it seemed to be linked to how they were pooping, and how the poop looked. Not that they seem to have thought about it too much. (Again, I’m damaged from my upbringing where all of this was discussed – also in terms of outdoors long distance skiing.)

There is a lot to be said about being open about "what poop should look like", "how many times do you go" and note what a healthy bowel movement looks like for you. (they are not the same for everyone, although I would argue that if you eat average fiber and mixed foods, going to the toilet about once every 24-48 hours seem like a regular thing to do.) I also think this is one of the things that if your whole family has somewhat of a non-regular bm, how would you know what's "normal"? I've met people, through my volunteering, who think having diarrhea/very loose stool is normal since "they've never had anything else". And others who need to take laxatives all the time to be able to even go to the toilet. All of them make me sad since I really think this is an important issue and something that indicates that your body isn't all in balance.

My point with this blog post? (I became a little unfocused here in the end...) That there are a few "unmentionables" that I would've like to talk about and I wonder why I haven't talked about even with my close friends. After all, a lot of these things are something that we all do, every day or at least every month, and it affect our lives.

Next time, maybe periods when running/training for a race? Or erectile dysfuncion/lack of interest for sexual intimacy? Or less bodily functions as retirement benefits, the thoughts on taking care of your elderly parents or dealing with anxiety/lack of positive thoughts?

*I’ve had this conversation as in trying to link the disease averages etc with life style and cultural things, which is much easier to do in Europe (we have different countries) although looking at the USA there are some quite striking ‘cultural’ differences between states (sweet tea is an obvious food choice to symbolize it).

Monday, October 10, 2016

sometimes I feel like a cleaner & a fixer

There's a part of my job that I'm a little ambivalent about. It's the feeling that I sometimes resemble a fixer (or cleaner) more than a project manager. I am not brought in on the front end, where I can guide and be of assistance, but rather in the end when things haven't really worked out as they were supposed to. I'm then brought in to "fix it". I can, and I will most often, take this as a compliment. They trust me to clean up the mess and fix and show how to make it.

The only problem might be that I get frustrated since I know that I could've avoided the mess, thus the clean up, from the start. "If only they've given me".... like a few hours on the project planning and the scope. Ah well, it is what it is.

It has gotten me pause though, when I gotten time to think about it. This fixer business and the coordination idea. That I don't have power per se, but operate on "someone knows I'm useful and need me". That I get things to accomplish (and succeed) but not necessarily power and title to do it. The reflection on my childhood and the background where I was always a fixer, most of the time cleaning up and rewriting stuff that happened. Nothing bad survived the morning after, it was gone when afternoon came knocking. The secrets, hidden dreams that never got squashed since they were always adjusted and taken care of. The careful narrative of shiny, not the dimmed and dull, and if it wasn't right there was a price to pay.

I'm not writing it as a lamentation, just trying to explain that this is something that has popped up in my mind lately. It's like the half joke "if you want a keeper of secrets, get yourself a child of an alcoholic". They are, for better or worse, excellent in having a facade. Getting everything to move and shiny. And take on a lot of responsibility that most often isn't theirs to own.

Of course, I wouldn't have stumbled on this very blog post unless I went into my little mind to soul search just another time in the middle of the night. I have this one trait that I am both proud of and at the same time scared of. I think I mis-wired something as a child, but I can't be sure so I'm always reassessing and contemplating which switch I want to trigger for the future. You see, I'm loyal to a fault. I've always wanted to see myself as a loyal friend. You know the one who doesn't give up "because people can change". Or "I'm the one who sees their inner beauty". Or "they're not like that with me". Yeah. Right. You can see the fallacy quite easy. Not only that I'm getting myself in a better light, but also the illusion.

It's hard though. Realizing you have raised someone to a pedestal they don't fit on. And the fact that you yourself shouldn't give people too much unrealistic hope. Because in reality, people just do what is best for themselves. There are seldom heroes. And unless you are family, and most of the time not even then, they seldom do something for you if it cost them something. Nothing personal doll, just life. Better make adjustments to expectations and get on with it.

(disclaimer; i'm actually quite happy with my life at the moment. However, these smaller nightly thoughts of melancholia - lack of better term - are quite precious to me. It's like they are me, clarity and no barriers, getting the writing better. I don't know though, maybe happy blogpost is better?)

assimilation, integration - my thoughts as an immigrant

It's interesting, the talk about assimilation and integration back in Europe and also to some extent in the USA. I had a post about a lot of conservative idea of women before, this is a more of a general post.

As an immigrant in the USA I have a few thoughts on the topic. Granted, I moved "sort of by choice" (there weren't any jobs in my home country and I never expected to stay for this long), so I'm not a refugee. However, when it comes to the discussion about "feeling like a member of my new country" etc, I think my feelings and thoughts are valid since I'm not a full fledged member of the new country disavowing my old country.

First of all, let me state that I do think one of the key things for moving to another country (volunteering or refugee status regardless) is a language thing. I don't think you can ever integrate or assimilate without language. You need the language to share the feelings and thoughts and all the other things with your newfound fellow country people. The language, books and some other things are pivotal to understand and relate to your new people.

Do I view myself as an American? Nope. This was more than clear to me after an awkward conversation with someone whom I love a lot saying to me that I should root for USA in the World Cup of Hockey "since it's my country over a decade" and I'm just blatantly laughing in his face saying "no way, I'm a swede". I'd root for Canada before USA in hockey. Why? Because the idea of rooting for USA in hockey is to me, just not there. I wouldn't call it blasphemy but it's extremely awkward and not my choice. Plus I lived in Canada first, even though it wasn't for a decade, but that's not the point. Mainly, it's the idea that I'm not a real American since I'm not as boasting and encompassing the American spirit*.

Do I view myself as an half American - loyal to the American values? Yep. Absolutely. A lot of the core American values, I share. What do I don't share? I'm not a clear hard core Christian. I'm going to church on a regular basis but on an American faith basis poll, I'd probably fit as a "liberal christian who believes in pro-choice". Not to mention my feminist point of view on a lot of life choices and world views.

I'm also not an American citizen. Let's be clear about this. I'm having a permanent residence card. When I talk about assimilation and integration, there is a lot of sub-context. You can decide if that is influencing, giving my views more or less value or just making it plain subjective. I think I might move home to my native Scandinavian country in my life - in my mind, I haven't left my native country forever. I am not giving up my citizenship, but could tentatively add the American on my present one. Am I proud of living in the USA? Yep. Definitely. Do I love aspects of the country. Yes I do. Do I want to give up my native birth-country? Never. Sorry but I wouldn't do it**.

What have I done and what do I think you need to do to assimilate/integrate into another country where you live?

1) learn the language
2) learn the history of the country
3) get to know some of the native people and talk to them.... hang out....

in reality, I can say what I think is acceptable for me and what I'm doing:
1) celebrate 4th of July - it's a BBQ or a festivity, but it's important as a historic moment
2) try to observe Thanksgiving - it's an important family holiday where you hang out with people, eat and be social
3) Armed Forces - it's a huge thing, need to be supportive of the people from all over the country who signed up and give their lives for the ideals of the country.
4) If possible, sports is an important thing in american (south at least). Pick a team and hang out during at Saturday (college football) or Sunday (NFL football) or any other time when baseball or hockey are playing. It'll go ways to make you feel and be viewed as an American.
5) know the anthem and can sign it - even if you don't keep your hand on the heart while it is playing (I don't since I'm not a citizen but I know the song)
6) read the classics of the country - Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Steinem, Plath, Kerouac, Haper Lee - that will give you an idea where a lot of the
7) if possible, root for USA in bigger sports arena - like Olympics or World cup or any other bigger sports part

but if I was forced to say ONE thing to keep me assimilated or integrated: language and history or the country. Without that, I don't see how it works.....

*American spirit = influenced with how I viewed  USA growing up and all the different aspects that was ascribed to the country. "boasting, vivacious, great, no excuses for themselves, loudmouths" etc whereas a lot of virtue was called for "humble, quiet leadership, responsibility, understatement" and other more British words in context.

**we could make this interesting with some the background of military stuff that i was involved in before leaving my country but hey.... water under the bridge.. i wouldn't give it up since my family/parents are still alive and I would go back to take care of them and that is contingent on my keeping my citizenship and being a native.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

having a p**** makes me being something in relation to a man

You know the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back? Yes, that hit this morning for me. (Although to my Swedish mind it was a drop that caused the cup to spill - proverbs lost in translation... )

I recently participated in a scientific symposium, realizing that maybe I needed to count the blessings and be happy that at least two of the speakers (ten) were POC and adding into the mix that four were non-native English speakers. Although, all were male which was part of why I have been mulling over my feelings for a bit of time.

More to stress me, was that there seemed to be fairly few female lab members as graduate students and postdocs*. But I could've missed them or been over pessimistically - as in "maybe I just thought they should be even nowadays". I didn't keep a tally on paper, mainly making a mental note at the acknowledgement slides, so it could've been exacerbated.  After all, there were a lot of diversity on the male side, and it left me wondering as I've mulled about before - can there only be "so many non-majority males" and then the left over diversity is either female, POC, 'immigrants' or some other non-conformity minority? (I'm not a diversity researcher, just a white, non-native English female PhD making observations that are quite possibly fairly subjective.)

It turns difficult a times though, considering I spent the day and evening talking to quite a few of the speakers and the organizers. They all seemed intellectual, very nice and very science driven. No "good old boys comments" and no leering towards the younger females standing around talking about science. I didn't get"let's shut out women from the lab" but at the same time, it was fairly clear that it was one of these subsections where you switch graduate students/postdocs and have a clear pedigree "he was a post doc of mine, now he's heading up the great lab over there". It's business as usual and I shouldn't be too surprised. The few female post docs who were mentioned were given similar excellent comments as the mentioned male ones so there is a good possibility that I'm too sensitive to the female ratio of the speakers/presence. You tell me.

As for this morning, and the drop that spilled the cup. The pussy comment and the debate. Maybe not so much the actual leaked video but the aftermath on TV/newspapers/twitter where commentators discuss how they feel about the presidential candidate using such a profane choice of words. I haven't gotten the feeling that people are as outraged of "the general view of women" that he has portrayed for quite some time, as shocked that he is using the p-word** being vulgar using profanity. Not to mention the sidebar conversation that he is expressing "a want to fuck married women", which is unmoral and bad (especially for a Christian conservative GOP point of view). The last part is surprising to me, seeing that it should be pretty obvious that he has done this before - cheating, divorce and remarrying - and been in interviews about it so really not that new, right? The focus, from what I gather, is not on "kiss them whenever I feel like it, since I'm a celebrity" but on the p-word and that it's so much more in your face when you use profanity.

The thing that really gets to me though, are the comments "as a father to girls this is offensive to me" and the narrative; "what if it was your daughter, wife, mother". The constant idea that gets repeated that we (in this case: men) need a relationship to a woman to understand that maybe it is simply not acceptable to say and act a special way. That it's the knowledge that women who belong to someone they respect (themselves, their best friend) could be treated this way and therefore it would be bad to behave like this towards them. The need to have an insight from relating to a "female who is related to you".

Not because it's an outrageous behaviour to start with. To set yourself above others and mistreat people (women), but because someone could do that to YOUR woman/women. The overall idea in the background that you have a right to mistreat/take advantage of people, which makes them weaker than you and therefore you are in your right to act however you want, is somehow alright and acceptable.

That is what I take issue with.

Since I won't solve this today, I might as well go for a long, nice jog in the lovely autumn weather outside. Maybe the sun and endorphins will wash away the brooding dark thoughts that cloud my mind?

*there seemed to be quite a few of female techs

**part of me wonders what had happened if he had used the c-word. From what I've seen, Americans are more sensitive to cunt. but maybe not in this context? Overall though, the idea is that these words are mainly negative in their connotation since they refer to "not being a strong man" <- all="" be.....="" div="" nbsp="" strive="" to="" we="" which="">