Wednesday, March 14, 2012

To Tan or Not to Tan; well now that's the question

“There’s a fine line between getting a tan and looking like you rolled in Doritos”
One of the main things I look forward to every summer is lying by the pool in the sun and working on my tan. I like being tan. Not Snooki tan but not Kristen Stewart white either. Mostly because during the summer it is so hot and I like to wear the smallest amount of clothing possible. I’ve heard all about spray tans, I’ve tried the gradual tanning lotions and I know that it’s “so unhealthy” but I love a nice honey kissed tan and all my freckles. This is where people reading this will either go ‘yup, I love not blinding people when I wear shorts’ or ‘do you have any idea what you’re skin could look like in 20 years?!’ I say this because most people are on one side of the fence or the other when it comes to tanning.
I don’t think that getting a little sun is totally bad. Saying that the sun can cause cancer, so we should avoid it all together is like saying you can drown in water, so you should stay away from it completely. Your main choices are tanning beds or stand up tanning booths (my personal preference), lying out in the sun (also a big fave), spray on tans or gradual tanning lotions. However, there is also a new method. It’s done at dermatologists offices. Professionals apply a controlled amount of UV rays in a procedure called phototherapy sessions. Psoriasis patients pay around $85 per session with an average of 35 sessions per year. If tanning salons went out of business, dermatologists would gain $5 billion dollars in phototherapy sessions.
In the 1800s tan skin was related to the lower class that had to do manual labor out in the sun. This meant that pale skin was a sign of wealth and status. This began to change when the Industrial Revolution came about. Factories moved the working class inside and the wealthy were able to take vacations to Florida where they would lay in the sun all day. This is when American went from idolizing peaches and cream to worshipping the golden brown goddess. Even doctors said that the sun was healthy for people, sort of a dose of vitamin D. This was so strongly believed that mothers were even advised to leave their babies out in the sun for a certain amount of time each day. While it is important to still have a diet healthy with vitamin D, such as cheese and eggs, the amount of UV one gets on an average daily basis, while walking the dog for example, is usually enough for the human body.
Despite the aggressive anti-sun propaganda brought on by the American Academy of Dermatology, an estimated 28 million Americans still flock to tanning salons each year. Sun screen is proclaimed to be the main necessity in protecting ourselves from the risk of melanoma, and is in fact a multi-billion dollar a year industry controlled by a hand full of people. It also blocks 99% of the necessary vitamin D that is provided by the sun. This is why many people do what is called a “base-tan”. It is a layer of tanned skin that acts as a sort of natural sun block. It allows the skin to absorb UVA and UVB rays, along with all its healthy vitamins, while protecting the cells from burning. This is of course not to say that if you have a base tan you can walk around outside for hours and be burn free. It just helps a bit.
The average human should have about 40-60 ng/ml of Vitamin D in their blood. Anything less than 40 is considered deficient. Indoor tanners average 42-49 ng, non tanners are at 22-25 and dermatologists are the most deficient of all with only 13-14 ng found in their blood count. 77% of Americans are believed to be deficient in necessary vitamin d, which has been linked to 105 different diseases, including heart disease, diabetes some forms of cancer. Vitamin D deficiency contributes to nearly 400,000 premature deaths and adds $100 billion burden to our health care system.
So what is the advised amount of sun everyone should get? Well it depends largely on your skin type, are you Anglo-super white? Be very careful with the amount of rays you soak up. Sun block is good if you’re going to be spending extended amounts of time out in the sun. Are you darker? Still be wise with the amount of time you spend under the light. In the end, it doesn’t matter if doctors or officials tell you that you should get sun or that you should avoid it, people are free to do what they want and so when it comes to tanning, I say to each their own.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What's in a Surname?

  People's fates are simplified by their names.  ~Elias Canetti

When my ex-husband and I married, I adopted his last name but paperwork technicalities kept it from being legal. After our separation, it was very easy to revert back using my maiden name socially. I decided then that I would never change it for a few reasons. 1) If my last name isn’t going to be the same as my sons’ then it should stay the way it is 2) I’ve had my name for over 26 years now 3) I like being a Faulkner (I’m actually the only Ms. Faulkner in the whole family) A few years ago, I was engaged and though the dress was bought and plans made, we still had one big snag; I didn’t want to change my last name after we were married. About an hour after I explained this to my fiancĂ©, I received a call from his mother, wondering what I had against their last name.
In my case, retaining my maiden name over the years is due to various reasons and it got me wondering why other women kept their birth names and who did the tradition of taking a spouse’s name come about in the first place? First, I learned that there is a word for keeping your maiden name, its called abstention. A very famous suffragist named Lucy Stone spoke out for women’s rights to retain their maiden name across the US and women who choose this path have often been referred to as ‘lucy stoners’.
As it turns out, there are actually many different paths taken, as far as deciding on a surname after the wedding. Of course we all know about the wife taking her husband’s last name, or not taking the last name (let’s hear it for the lucystoners), but sometimes a woman will hyphenate her last name and her husband’s last name, with either name listed first. The husband might also hyphenate his name so that they, and their children, can all share the same family name(s). In more rare cases, both spouses will come up with a new name by combining both of their names (Ms. Smith and Mr. Ford will become the Smithfords). In some cases, both spouses will retain their own name and their children will be assigned the last name of a separate, neutral party. One thing becoming more common lately is for the woman to retain her maiden name as a middle name (Hilary Rodham Clinton)
All of my research seems to take the tradition all the way back to biblical days, where it was done to secure the family name, to show solidarity between the husband and wife and to prevent any confusion as to who was married and who was not. But in the U.S., it all comes down to something called coverture. Coverture is a doctrine abided by common law and under this stature a woman had no legal rights on her own. Her name had no power and she did not have the right to create contracts or own property without her husband and his name. In fact the husband retained the legal rights for the couple. And though coverture faded away from the legal system in the 1960s and 70s, some states still forbade a woman to take out a line of credit in her own name without a male family member or husband with her. Although the laws have changed, for many the stigma still remains.
Interesting multi-cultural facts: Up until the 1700s, women in Scotland were expected to take their family name with them after marriage. In Japan, the woman will take her husband’s family name to show that she is part of his family but can still be socially referred to by her maiden name. French law mandates that men and women have equal rights and therefore both shall go through their lives with the name listed on their birth certificate. Icelandic women do not change their name after marriage because regardless of who she marries, she will always be her father’s daughter. For a change though, in Malaysia a man takes his wife’s last name and once he has adopted her family’s surname it is unacceptable to ever divorce her.
Reasons women take their husband’s last name
·         Both spouses and children will have the same family name
·         Religious or cultural reasons
·         Financial  and legal reasons
·         To show love and devotion to her husband
·         70% of Americans agree that a woman should adopt her husband’s name
Reasons women keep their family name
·         Tradition; either cultural or within the family
·         To avoid embarrassing situations that the name change could cause (Callie O’Malley anyone?)
·         Professional degree or career already based on maiden name; to be prevent loss of credit or recognition
·         Feministic standing, where she will remain her own person and not property

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Alcoholics, remain not anonymous!

There are better things in life than alcohol, but alcohol makes up for not having them.  – Terry Pratchett

            Everyone who knows me well knows that I have a huge issue with alcohol. I am not as reproving as I once was; I used to be very vocal to those around me who drank excessively, especially those drinking vodka. (I have a grave repugnance for vodka, because it was my mother’s drink of choice) As far back as I can remember, my mom was an avid alcoholic. I never drank from her cup because I never knew when it would be a vile liquid, and I knew that after my mom was drunk, she would be very lovable and sociable to me for about an hour before she lost interest in her drunken state and passed out. I’m not saying she was a bad person, she wasn’t the best mom but her intentions were never malicious. I never blamed her for her alcoholism and I tried to be sympathetic and accommodating. My husband and dad told her not to come around when she was drunk anymore but I could never say that to my mother; I knew life had not been kind to her and I enabled her drinking quite often. I always knew that one day, I would move my mom in with us and when she was with her daughter and grandsons, she would be able to quit drinking and begin to turn her life around.
When we were living in Alaska, my mom and I planned for her to come up from Bakersfield and visit for a few months. I had hopes that this would eventually become permanent and I would be able to save my mom from the crappy hand she had been dealt in life. She was supposed to catch a flight in September of 2007. Unfortunately, it never happened. I didn’t think twice when she got the stomach flu that February, and when my dad and sister took her to the hospital because she was so sick I believed my mom when she said that they were being overly dramatic. But just a couple weeks later, I was getting calls saying that she was incoherent, turning yellow, in unbelievable amounts of pain. End of February, the doctors told her that her alcoholism was quickly killing her. If she would quit drinking, they would do dialysis and give her enough time to see her children and grandchildren again. She left the hospital AMA and bought three pints of Potter’s Vodka at the corner store. After a pint and a half, she slipped into a coma as her organs began to systematically fail and her body shut down. My dad signed DNR papers, per my mother’s request and they sent her home on hospice care. Ten days later, she stopped breathing. I never saw her body, I never went to the funeral, and I have never been to her grave even to this day.
My mom’s death was avoidable. After 40 years of alcohol abuse, her body just couldn’t take anymore. This is hardly surprising though, since every woman in my family has had serious problems with alcoholism, and/or drugs and/or food. I drank as a teenager but as an adult my drinking habits seem to be mostly sociable and stress induced. I know what’s happening to the women in my family due to alcohol abuse but I wanted to know what the numbers look like as far as alcohol related deaths state and nation-wide. In California alone, 5,222 men and women on average die a year from chronic alcohol abuse. This means liver failure, sclerosis, lung failure, etc. 4,634 died from acute causes, such as alcohol poisoning or traffic related incidents. In total, 80,374 people die in the United States from alcohol abuse each year. These numbers are alarming because these are not just statistics; these are people. That is 80,000+ plus people with faces. 80,000 lives not fully lived. 80,000 people whose deaths are grieved by the parents, children and siblings they left behind.
Today I would just like to take a moment to plead with you, if you or someone you know has an alcohol addiction, please seek help. I know how hard it is to confront someone you love about their alcoholism, that’s why I didn’t do it, and now she’s dead. It is better to have them get mad at you for expressing your concern for them, than to wait until it is too late. There are many different options out there to help you quit drinking and I beg you to at least check them out.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Beginning

Be the Change – Perseverance 3:10
I am starting this blog after quite a bit of deliberation, research and nail biting. I spent over a month just trying to figure out what the title of my blog would be. I wanted it to be something very meaningful to me but not so personal that no one else would be able to relate. I also wanted it to describe all the things I wanted to cover in my blog. One of the first things I read in my research was that the title of the blog should be relative to the content. Then one day, it came to me in the shower. Perseverance 3:10. But that just wasn’t enough,  I knew that it wasn’t ready. Then a few days ago, the rest followed and the purpose of my blog became clear to me. Be the change. As in, be the change you want to see in the world. And that is what I plan to cover; the changes I want to make in the world. Now in order to change the rest of the world, I first have to make a few changes in my own little world. (but that’s for another blog)
Perseverance is defined as steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement. Ask anyone around me, I’ve seen plenty of discouragement and obstacles in my life, especially lately. But I continue down my path, because I have a purpose in this world, I have a course of action. It is also described in theology as a continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation. Grace has always been a magnanimous word to me. To me, it means strength and poise, to be a great lady. And finally, the most meaningful part of all, 3:10 is for March 10th. This is the day my mom died, five years ago. I saw my entire world come crashing down around me when she left us for what comes After. And every day since has been a mission to pick up the pieces and become the great woman that I know I am meant to be. So I will be the change; I will persevere; I will succeed where she failed, because in so many ways I am my mother’s daughter, and I will let only the best of her shine through me.
Mom, I miss you. I know that you’ll always be with me and I hope you know you’ll always be in my heart. You taught me a lot about life, even more so after your death, and even though I can’t tell you this in person, I know you hear it; I love you mom.  And this blog is for you…