Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

My Photo
Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Interesting NPR Piece on Kids and Junk Food

It was a short news piece by Michelle Trudeau about two recent studies published in the American Journal of Public Health. One covers the nutritional content of foods advertised to kids on television. The other covers the geographical distribution of fast food restaurants in neighborhoods with schools.

The piece aired nationally as a segment of All Things Considered on Friday, 8/26, but you can hear it by going to and typing "junk food" in the search box. It should be the first story on the list, titled "Kids Have Easy Access to Junk Food."

I think the first researcher has a sexy voice. :-)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Veruca Salt's House?

How Much Do You Love your Child?

Enough to buy him or her LA PETITE MAISON CUSTOM PLAYHOUSE for $30,000.00?

According to FAO Schwarz, if you are a truly committed parent you will "Move up to what may be the most luxurious playhouse in the world. Imagine what your child’s dream house can be, developed with the guidance of a professional children's interior designer. The discriminating craftsmanship and intricate architectural detailing is superior to that found in most adult homes, with standard features like 8' ceilings, recessed lighting, bay windows, and drywalled interiors, plus options such as electricity, heating and air-conditioning, miniature kitchen with running water, custom child-sized furnishings, a miniature media room, garage, and a grand staircase. We’ll help you bring your child’s dream house to life. Playhouse is built on-site."

Something about this saddens me. Maybe it's the phrase "superior to that found in most adult homes." I look at this playhouse and think about all the homeless people out there who would give anything to live in it.

It's not the cost that bothers me. Thirty grand is tremendously expensive for a child's gift, but people spend that kind of money times 10 when they choose to send their kids to private schools or buy them cars or pay their medical bills or buy a bigger home with more space for the whole family to live and play. I think what gets me is the idea of turning a home into a plaything when so many families have no home at all. The very idea of this playhouse mocks those living in poverty.

I don't think you spoil a child by investing money in her. I think you spoil her by encouraging her to believe that she deserves more than others. I understand that parents love their kids and want to make them happy (heaven knows if my parents bought this playhouse it would have made ME happy), but I sincerely hope that the kids whose parents have lined FAO Schwarz execs' pockets by purchasing this "toy" are exposed at some point in their short childhoods to the way the other half -- excuse me, the other 99% -- lives. Having spent 5 years teaching very spoiled children at the University of Michigan, I understand why business schools across the country have adopted Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel & Dimed as part of their curriculum. Someone needs to let these kids know that they are no better than anyone else, because many of them have made it to age 21 without ever having entertained that thought. It's a pity.

Speaking of kids: the amnio went fine. Now I'm just nervously awaiting the results. My deepest thanks to all of you who emailed, called, and posted your support on my blog. {{{{{hugs}}}}}

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Japanese Colon Blow

"An Attitude of Gratitude"

Not my favorite platitude.

Much too cutesy and 12-steppy.

But, like all 12-step platitudes (e.g., one day at a time, it works if you work it), there's a big hard kernel of truth that threatens to break your teeth if you try to ignore it.

I have worked with and studied under several research psychologists who specialize in the adaptive function of positive emotions. You can read about their work in the September 2005 issue of Real Simple (p. 249). Like it or not, cultivating an attitude of gratitude is good for you in every imaginable way: medically, spiritually, creatively, relationally. The research bears this out, so who am I to argue?

Sigh. Enough kvetching then. Today, instead of focusing on my fears and troubles, I'm going to describe something for which I'm truly grateful:


Oh my lord, these are a diabetic's dream. I tried them for the first time this morning and am pleased to give them a glowing review. They're translucent white rubbery noodles composed completely of soluble fiber, so they don't raise your blood glucose. I made up half a pound this morning and tossed them with cilantro, scallions, chopped peanuts, a shredded chicken breast, and peanut sauce (made with unsweetened PB, of course). The result was a big ol' bowl of food, enough for two people, but it was so good I couldn't stop eating it. I haven't had a WHOLE BOWL OF NOODLES in front of me in months. Whee!

Then came Judgment Minute. That's the minute when my watch beeps, telling me it's been an hour since I started eating so now it's time to test my blood glucose.

Glucose meters are designed to maximize anxiety because they actually have a countdown feature. The screen blinks: 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... then up comes THE NUMBER. Whether THE NUMBER makes you feel good or bad depends on THE RANGE you've been given by your clinic. My own fasting range is supposed to be between 70 and 90, and my one-hour post-meal range is 70-120. I've had a few >120s due to failed "experiments" (note to self: 1/2 hour on the treadmill does not cancel the effects of a giant frosted scone). I fully expected this draw to be too high. I mean, I get that the noodles are all fiber, but given the sheer volume, I figured I'd get nailed anyway.

Prick. Dab. Insert tab.

5... 4... 3... 2... 1...


Thank you Jesus, Moses, Buddha, Mohammed, Zeus, and Ra for shirataki noodles. I'm groovin' with an attitude of gratitude.

In case you're interested, shirataki noodles can be bought at many Asian foods stores, or online at That's where I got them. Since they're the white, rubbery type of noodle, they're really best with Asian-style sauces. I think they'd be weird with tomato sauce or cheese, but that's just me. They also smell faintly gnarly when you first open the package, sort of like Thai fish sauce (shudder). If you rinse them well the smell goes away, and they have no flavor of their own. They don't even need to be cooked, just heated through. Also, they don't bulk up when you heat them in water because they're already waterlogged, but they do continue to expand once digested, so beware: you will feel full after even a modest serving. A dieter's dream! (Assuming you don't throw 1000 calories of peanut butter on them, as I did.)

Back to the attitude of gratitude. Today it's shirataki noodles. On Tuesday, as I go in for my amnio, it'll be the fact that I was able to become pregnant in the first place, that I have access to comprehensive and competent medical care, and that I have a loving and supportive partner with me the whole way. And, on top of it all, I'll be thinking about how grateful I am to have all these amazing women who've posted on my blog, emailed me, and called me to offer support, share their stories, send positive vibes, reassure me, and pray for me. Who could ask for anything more? I am grateful indeed.


My Album Cover

Everyone needs a photo that would make a good album cover. This one is mine. It's got all the ingredients of the quintessential album cover: ambiguous situation, grave and/or outrageous facial expressions, cockeyed camera angle, arrangement that keeps the eye moving -- here, in a clockwise spiral.

We were on an escalator in the Empire State Building. I have no idea what the guy in the background has in those boxes. Maybe stuff to throw off the top of the building.

What you can't see from the picture, the touch that makes it perfect for an album cover, is that one of my pupils is dilated while the other is not. Very David Bowie.

Coming soon to stores near you. I just need to (a) name my band and (b) write and record some music.

Monday, August 15, 2005

I believe you, kid

Validation and Invalidation

As I age I find that I'm increasingly able to identify broad themes in my life and relationships. Years ago I was able to identify peace as a quality I want and must have in my home life. Peace, stability, consistency. I chose a partner who offers those things, and consequently, my home is peaceful, a safe place to come back to. Hostile, unpredictable people are not invited in or welcomed back. This rule will continue to hold, in all likelihood more firmly, once there is a child in the house.

I believe that choosing a life partner is a lot like choosing a "parent" for your second childhood. If you choose someone who is unreliable, cruel, and emotionally chaotic, you are setting yourself up to relive a childhood with an unreliable, cruel, and chaotic parent. If you choose someone who is reasonable, gentle, and consistent, you are guaranteeing yourself a much more humane and nurturing "second childhood."

Anyway, peace has been an issue for me for a while. But recently I've come to acknowledge another issue, especially in my relationships. It concerns validation and invalidation. I've spent most of my life in relationships with people who invalidate my experiences. I've been told, "No, what I did was just fine, YOU are too sensitive." I've been told, "Stop crying, that didn't hurt." I've been told, "It's not broken, we're not seeing the doctor." I've been told, "You had it coming." I've been told that what I remember was wrong, that my anger or sadness were inappropriate or unfounded, that what I say happened could not have happened.

I spent 15 years in close friendship with a woman whose invalidation specialty was "That's nothing, you should hear what happened to ME." That relationship ended when I called her on it. We had an unspoken agreement that my job was to validate her, and her job was... to be validated. I grew tired of it.

When I posted about my dietary frustrations on this blog, a former perfume acquaintance posted that her dietary situation was much worse and at least I could look forward to an end to my troubles. I wondered why her post made me so angry until I realized that it was a classic example of invalidation, of the "That's nothing, you should hear what happened to ME" type. But did I call her on it? No. I fell right back into the validator role: "Yes, you do have such a difficult diet to follow." Sigh.

Much of the invalidation I've experienced has come from family. I know I'm not alone in this. As the youngest child and only girl, I was not spoiled -- quite the contrary. I was constantly told that I was wrong, that my observations were ignorant, that I would change my tune once I experienced "the real world." The only two people in my family who ever validated me were my oldest brother and my dad. It is mainly on this basis that I still feel affection for them, in spite of other ways they've hurt and disappointed me. But I was deeply hurt recently when I told my dad that my asthma may have come from years of second-hand smoke exposure (I grew up with four 2-pack-a-day smokers in the house), and he replied that he never believed my asthma diagnosis. As if asthma sufferers don't have symptoms! I couldn't breathe, for heaven's sake. But yet, somehow my physicians and I were "wrong." I wasn't sure why his reaction hurt me so much until I was able to give it a label -- invalidation. I'd expected him, of all people, to validate me. But since he was one of the smokers, perhaps he didn't want to believe that he'd contributed to my illness.

There is nothing more devastating than to marshall the courage to confide in someone and have them invalidate your feelings and experiences. This is why I'm shy and hesitant to talk much to others about the deeper aspects of myself, and especially about my childhood experiences. I'm always playing the role of validator but find that only a few people in my life validate me in return. I take responsibility for this -- only now am I learning to distinguish validators from invalidators and to aim my relational investments accordingly. My friends Mindy and Maria are wonderful validators. I cherish them for that. My blogger friend Barbara is a great validator. My husband too. In fact, I've come to realize that the times I've been most deeply angry with him are the times when he's refused to validate my experiences. But now I have a language to talk to him about it, and we continue to move forward.

Why people invalidate is beyond me. I can only guess. Two possibilities come to mind, denial and competition. Denial: they don't want to believe that some mothers don't love their offspring and want to see them abused, that some clergy violate children, that some soldiers torture prisoners, that they themselves have damaged others with their behavior. Competition: they have identified themselves as the Supreme Victim and are not willing to acknowledge that their friends/partners/children have endured difficulties too, some more horrifying than their own. These are the only two I can think of now, though I'm sure there are more. One thing I am convinced of: the reason so many people have therapists these days is because their therapist's office is one of the few places where they get guaranteed validation. It's a shame that more of us don't learn to simply listen and validate our loved ones without forcing them to shell out thousands of bucks for a therapist. Trust follows directly from validation. How many people do you have in your life whom you trust without reservation? If you can count more than two, consider yourself lucky.

No clever end to this post -- just had to get it out there. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Robert Clergerie boot

I Want These Boots

These are too. much. fun. A boot designed to look like a sandal over a sock! *squeal*

I love Robert Clergerie shoes. I bought my first (okay, only) pair in the 1980s at a thrift store in the Detroit area. They cost me about $10. They were yellow suede. I remember my mother telling me that Clergerie shoes have a steel shank that runs from the front of the shoe all the way through the heel, so the heel will never break off. Quality!

And how can you not love a man whose name is pronounced row-BARE?

Thank you,, for selling Clergerie shoes, many of them at a discount. These particular boots are still out of my league, but I'll swoop in like a hawk the minute they're reduced. This is the beauty of Internet shopping.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

An "artist" at work

The Poop Artist

When I was six years old and a student in Mr. McDonald's first grade class, I had the supreme pleasure of being entrusted for the very first time with a position of honor and leadership. I was a Poop Monitor.

During recess we ran around the playground, which was located just outside the classroom door. The classroom had its own bathroom. If a student needed to go potty during recess, he or she simply went back inside and used the facilities.

One day the class filed back in from recess, our cheeks aflame from the snappy air and the pleasure of 20 minutes of free play, only to stop dead in our tracks with horror as we surveyed the scene: someone had smeared poop on the desks. Someone had actually come inside, pooped in the potty, retrieved the poop from its watery vessel, and smeared it on the desks.

And it wasn't random. There was an individualistic, artistic quality to the smearing not unlike that displayed by graffiti artists, each of whom has a distinctive tag. Had we all been poop smearers, Mr. McDonald could have recognized this particular artist's tag, much as he could recognize each child's handwriting. But, to my knowledge, we weren't all poop smearers. This was a mystery that needed solving.

Mr. McDonald started by interrogating the class. Not surprisingly, no one copped to the crime. Helplessly and somewhat naïvely, Mr. McDonald assumed it was a one-time occurrence and took no further action.

He couldn't have been more wrong.

It happened three or four more times, each more horrifying than the last. The culprit seemed to be eating a super-sized breakfast in an effort to supply him- or herself with more "medium," because more desks were smeared each time. Who was doing it? When would it end? How much poop could this kid produce?

Mr. McDonald finally decided, shrewdly, to enlist the help of his most obsequious, obedient, approval-hungry students.

K to the rescue.

My job was to stay inside for the entirety of recess and stand guard outside the bathroom door. I was thrilled to be chosen for this task. It never occurred to me that I was a stooge, sacrificing my recess. I had tasted power and I liked it. Recess schmecess. And I was good at my job: no poop was smeared under my watch. To my knowledge, no poop was smeared in that room again. Mission accomplished.

I went on to become a bus safety, little league coach, class officer, sports team captain, support group facilitator, teacher. You might say I became as obsessed with authority as the Smearer was with scatological self-expression. And it all started with that little taste of power I got serving as a Poop Monitor. But whose obsession is more offensive? Twenty years ago I'd have said the Smearer's. Having since encountered countless people whose obsession with power and authority is even more acute than mine, though... I'm no longer sure.

To this day I wonder who the Smearer was, and what he or she is doing now. If there is any justice in this world, the person in question will have spent countless hours as an adult, cleaning toddler-smeared poop off his or her own walls. A narcissistic drive for authority may be offensive, but poop is just gross.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

No, that's not him

Puffed Up with Pride

One of my former doctoral students is the subject of the cover story of this week's Economist. The research paper summarized in the article is one I helped him revise and encouraged him to submit for publication. He's now my colleague because we hired him after he finished his PhD at the institution where I worked before I left for the job I hold now. It's great fun to see a former student (and a current colleague) get high-profile coverage.

Yikes. If I feel this puffed up with pride now, heaven help me when my own kid first accomplishes something. You POOPED? Wow, honey, that calls for a celebration!!! Then, too, I will probably play up my own marginally significant role in the whole thing: I fed her the carrots that led to that poop, you know.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Less carbs... and fewer fat!

For the Love of Typos

I have always taken great joy in spotting typographical, grammatical, spelling, and syntactical errors that create new meanings. As a professor I've been collecting them for years. Student papers are loaded with 'em. One of my favorites came from a paper discussing that segment of the public that consumes the greatest amounts of electronic media. The student wrote, "Meanwhile, the consumptive public just stays inside watching TV all day."

Well, I suppose they'd have to, with the quarantine and all.

Today I got a craving for misprints and revisited one of my favorite shrine-to-the-typo sites, The Anti-FAQs. Its purpose is to showcase eBay misprints. There are plenty of pictures of reflective objects revealing the nudity of their photographers, countless entries spelling bowl "bowel" and public "pubic," and other assorted errors that amaze and delight: pewter spelled "puter," plaque spelled "plague," tempera (the paint) spelled "tempura," hatful spelled "hateful," and so on.

But my all-time favorite, the one that brings tears to my eyes every time, is the following reference to an auction for a big tub of frosting-like doughnut dip:

"That is right, 24 lbs of pure heaven. This is a bucket of the sweet goodness in which they dip dognuts."

Do yourself a favor and visit the site now.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Caustic fantastic

Oops, I Did It Again

With a collection currently numbering 190, I had no business ordering another bottle of perfume unsniffed.

Today's delivery: Cèdre by Serge Lutens. By the way,, it's an accent grave over that e, not an accent aigu. You know, the kind that slopes downward: è, not é. Tsk, tsk. You're too klassy for such a mistake.

Serge does woods, amber, and spices like nobody else. So I took a chance. And now I'm sitting here, nasal passages aflame, wondering how I ended up with this so-sharp-you-could-poke-someone's-eye-out-with-it combination of tuberose and cinnamon. The effect is not unlike sticking one's nose in a bag of broken, dusty SweeTarts. And I was worried that the cedar would be too sharp. Dang.

Please, God, let it mellow with the drydown. *crosses fingers*

Back to Ambre Sultan for me. Sigh.

UPDATE: It did mellow somewhat with the drydown. By "drydown" I mean 2 hours time and a sweaty workout. This is going to be one of those spray-today-walk-through-the-mist-on-Tuesday scents. Oh well, at least the bottle will last.

I'll have #1, 2, 4, and 8, please

These Were a Few of My Favorite Things

Now that I'm no longer allowed to consume it, I can't stop thinking about food. Not all food, just the foods I used to love and assumed would always be a part of my life.

Take a look, open-mouthed with awe and pity, and what I cannot ingest FOR NINE MONTHS:

Blue cheese.
Pretty much any soft or unpasteurized cheese.
--even at Halloween.
French bread.
French fries.
French toast.
Corn chips.
Ice cream.
McDonald's fries.

Now here's a list of what I can eat, lucky me:

Fruit (one piece per meal, please).
Low-carb bread (one slice per meal, please, and not with the fruit; it's either/or, sister).
Low-starch veggies -- no carrots or spuds.
Teensy amounts of carbs like beans and brown rice. We're talking 1/3 cup. ONE-THIRD.

The above cartoon, courtesy of The Onion, was meant to inspire feelings of disgust, but it just makes me salivate.

I wonder if that Lardito comes with a side of Pintos 'n Cheese.