Baby Boomers and STDs

boomers_rect-460x307Baby Boomer or not, this you’ve got to read:

In 2011, the most recent numbers available, the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified more than 12,000 cases of gonorrhea, about 2,600 cases of syphilis and more than 22,000 cases of chlamydia in people ages 45 to 64.

This sure isn’t the world I grew up in where not only was the word sex forbidden, and I mean as in speaking it, but so were any unfortunate consequences which could only be spoken of in hushed tones, behind hands cupped in morbid secrecy. I mean, this was the era when I thought the nuns who populated my primary school never went to the bathroom! As in never, ever!

Well, things have changed, and it’s for the good except now we have to get the age-old sexually-transmitted diseases under control. Somehow, though, I think they will remain around to haunt us until the sun sets on time.

picture courtesy Don’t trust the boomers, Salon

Is Red Red and Is Bipolar Bipolar?

I have bipolar disorder (Note the distinction between I am ‘having’ bipolar disorder instead of I ‘am’ bipolar). I am thinking of writing about it, as in a book. After all, aren’t all we writers just a little bit ‘off?’

However, as I ponder this potential work,  I cringe and here’s why:  I do not want to write from the woe is me, life is so horrific standpoint. Because it’s not. Oh perhaps at one point it was, but isn’t that true for everyone?  I mean, what’s the difference between severe PMS mood swings and bipolar mood swings?

I am not denying this diagnosis of mine, which was made just 8 years ago, and I do not mean to demean those who truly struggle on a day-to-day basis with the horrendous symptoms of some forms of this disorder. Rather, I think there are a ton of us who fall into some chasm between the limited categories of bipolar in the DSM book. As a consequence, some of us don’t so much struggle with symptoms as we do with the wondering, ‘do I really have bipolar disorder or am I just on the edge of  what the DSM defines as ‘normal?’  In fact, I object to the word ‘disorder.’ Why not syndrome?  It’s like when I was a kid and one day I questioned the names of colors and what people actually saw. For what we all call red, did we all see the same color? Or did some people see ‘purple’ or ‘green.’ Is there any way to know? Likewise with bipolar disorder. Perhaps those of us thusly classified are the true normal?

Okay, so there’s bipolar I, bipolar II and bipolar ‘not otherwise specified,’ or NOS, and this is what my doc has diagnosed me as. Here is the definition put out by the National Institute of Mental Health:

Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS) is diagnosed when a person has symptoms of the illness that do not meet diagnostic criteria for either bipolar I or II. The symptoms may not last long enough, or the person may have too few symptoms, to be diagnosed with bipolar I or II. However, the symptoms are clearly out of the person’s normal range of behavior.

So I then wonder, what’s the difference between this and ADHD? Or having an ‘edgy’ personality? Or simply reacting to a life with ups and downs, such as the severe economic depression we are now emerging from(?)

Anyway, back to the book. As I ponder it further, the drama – is it any more than anyone else experiences in their lives? The pain–how can we measure the comparative value of pain?  The difficulty of navigating this life of ours – isn’t it difficult for all at some level or another?

So I ponder this book for those in the middle, those who wonder, question and hide their  bipolar because of shame, embarrassment and doubt. And for those who on a daily basis say, “Do I or don’t I?”

A Pen in the Hand

StaplesHave you noticed that the pen selection in Staples, Office Max and Office Depot is dwindling? Likewise, leaving is the wide assortment of paper-based notebooks? I love pens, I love paper. As a true gourmet of pen styles, types, and inks, as well as an expert in paper thickness, color, and size, I am beginning a period of mourning for not only the imminent end of these tools, but more important, the end of an era where a person interacted directly with her words.

Oh sure, you could say the same is true with a person typing away on a keyboard – she is interacting with words, right? Wrong. She is interacting with an intermediary that is steps away from having her words on the paper. She is missing the touch, the feel, the smell, the Zen of putting a pen to the paper, and perfecting the swirls and flourishes of handwriting.

Believe it or not, I love my laptop, adore my Kindle and can’t live without my Smart phone. In this world, there is a place for each of these things – an intrinsic, necessary and vital place – in education, business, government, and play. What I don’t love is the disappearance of life’s graces and refinements, those things, those practices, that make us truly purposeful. Consider: a thank you note written by hand on sweet-smelling stationary, not a cryptic note sent by impersonal email; a poem penned under a shade tree on a sultry summer day, not typed away inside on the laptop; a recipe, hand-printed on an old-fashioned recipe card decorated with red and white gingham borders, not one printed from the computer .

006My point is not to condemn technology, nor is it to say everything we write should be done by hand. The monks from many moons ago taught us that copying the Bible by hand was not an efficient, cost-effective way to go. Rather, my point is to make a case for the pen in hand, to teach kids penmanship, to encourage the Zen of writing, and to preserve some priceless, irreplaceable measures of humanity.