I had a WikiLeak once…

February 21, 2011

I had a WikiLeak once…

Seriously I did. But antibiotics cleared it right up.

And thanks to my fifth senior year at twenty-three, with whom I thought was an innocent freshman gave me mono to boot.

Ergo, the cliché slogans of “No glove – no love,” “She smokes – she pokes” or “Wrap the rascal” have more importance than ever for healthy quarter life sexuality.

Whether straight, gay, lesbian, bi, curious, trans, furries, pre-op, monogamous, player and whatever they come up next during Queer Eskimo Awareness Week…we have all got to take a responsible role with our bodies.

There is something like a new hepatitis being reported every week by the CDC. I think we are up to something like Q-4 on the alphabet. Roll into the Petri dish, super-bug staph, bizarre genital warts, good old HIV and about a 100 other mood killers and it is a wonder we can shake hands without a Level IV bio HAZMAT suit.

Heck, the outbreak of bed bugs on college campuses and Disney resorts tells you something is amiss.

So what is a Q-lifer to do? The old school days of condoms are just a memory. The Ring, dental damns and blood testing are fast becoming norms. Not being gross here…that is just the reality we live in. Your fist kiss these days might land you with a mouth full of acne.

And yep it is scary. But there are ways to deal with it and keep a normal, again, healthy libido, romantic and maturing QL lifestyle.

Here are some hints from my former Human Sexuality 102-304 course. She was a TA in the class. And yes, I dated her. She taught be so, so many things. But I ended up with a B-. Go figure on that. Well, now she is a MD of internal medicine in Baltimore. Dr. Tracy Connick helped me out with some good advice.

Condoms are still the best choice.

Float around the idea of what sex is really about before you actually do it. Ergo, think with your brain and not your nethers.

If committed to taking the next step in your relationship, get a STD blood panel. You owe it to yourself and others to get tested. It also makes a deep statement about your care and concern for you partner.

If you have a condition or not, you are accountable. And these days that means more than morally. In some cases, if you transmit a disease, you can be prosecuted in a court of law or have your pants sued off this time.

In your twenties you still feel bullet proof. You are not. It does not just happen to someone else. Odds are one in three of your friends have some sort of venereal disease.

Never put yourself or others in a pressure situation. Just say no is still a staple, but even in more innocent circumstances; never push sex on yourself or a partner.

It is okay to take your time. It is alright to ask about past partners or the health of another. It is fun to let loose. It is up to you about how cool it might be to hook up or wear a chastity ring. It is NOT, ever cool to take yours or others’ emotional and physical well beings at risk.

Be smart. Practice safe sex. But don’t freak out that a peck goodnight or some club rave mug down is going to give you Ebola. Use good judgment.

Get informed. Again, don’t go all hypochondriac or OCD. Relationships, random or committed are stressful enough. But knowledge is power.

Stay healthy. See your doctor regularly. Have good hygiene. Prevention is key. And for heaven’s sake wash your hands.

I liked the last one best. Mom’s advice about soap and water was right. And thank goodness that was the only thing she ever spoke about doing the nasty.

I also thought the whole knowledge, be informed was kinda cool. Sort of like those cartoon G.I. Joe public service advice segments. “And knowing is half the battle. GO JOE !”

So there it is in a nutshell. No pun intended. Weird times we live and love in, but we can get through the QL and further on with just a little caution and a whole lot of care for ourselves and others.

Stress: an emotional, intellectual, or physical reaction to change or demands.

July 2, 2010

Stress. Some use it as a crutch, some as a windmill to flail against, others as a rallying cry, there are those who are motivated by it…but most of us simply just do not like it. Quarter lifer stress can be harmful…and chronic unrelieved stress can cause headaches, backaches, loss of appetite, fatigue, depression and potentially serious physical problems. And seriously bum out those around you. I know…my girlfriend is doing her PhD dissertation and she is so wound tight! As Ferris Bueller once said, “If you took a lump of coal and stuck it up…” Okay she might read this article. I will stop there.

Back to the topic at hand; stress. Take relieving it seriously! Or working with it that is. Certain stress balls, can be unwound for positive motivation and attainment of goals.

Your choice. If you would like to tear your co-worker a new USB port, bury that little seed of doubtful anger until you can release it as a full blown Xanax addiction or handle things in…GET THIS…a mature, grown up manner…well again, up to you.

As a ¼ life type, I do not have to lecture on how ya face many changes and challenges. You may experience problems with your roommates, significant others, demanding social load, pursuing a boss’s dream of a perfect TPS coversheet and face tough competition making minimum credit card payments.

In adjusting to the stressful situations and the independent lifestyle of an up and coming 20-something, keep in mind three important anti-stressful concepts:

Cooperation
Change
Consequences

Cooperation
Taking advantage of the cooperation, the partnership with your life and its resources which can be found on campus, with family and friends, in the cubicle farm, doctor/therapist’s couch, church, meditation, the gym, a walk in the park…is another uber important factor in controlling stress. NO matter the kind of stress, its levels, already past consequences, the good or bad changes already wrought…you are never really alone. Cooperate with those who care, those entities of support and yourself to reduce, relax and render stress harmless…or at least livable levels…with or without developing an OCD complex.

Change
It is important to remember one thing everyday of your life. Change is inevitable and a good thing. The first visible, in your face sign (literally) occurs every morning when you wake up and look in the mirror. Things change. And that ill advised, final Jaeger bomb from last night, definitely brought change.

If you are sad or happy at the recent changes in your life…don’t give up and do not get too comfortable. Give it s day or two and you will be surprised at just what might happen. With each passing sunrise to sunset, some of the hard new edges of the unfamiliar or soft cushions of the familiar quarter life will slightly or majorly, big time alter. Many changes are under your control. Regardless of such, the ability to adapt to change provides a great opportunity to learn skills for coping with that above mentioned original problem…stress. Sum up…change is constant…deal with it.

Consequences
Every decision you make will have certain repercussions. We can thank Newton for summing it up. For every action there is an equally, easily just as awesome or fucked up reaction. Okay…maybe not a direct quote. Just remember even though the decisions you make will be up to you, the results aren’t always as easily controlled. Whenever you find yourself facing a decision, think it through. Carefully consider the options and the consequences before you move forward, and a new independent, less stress life will be more manageable. The decision is yours…and so are the results…good or bad.

Okay…I have to say the following. Ya know…beginning of the year, resolutions, getting healthy, rerun marathons of The Biggest Loser, vows to stop being a Facebook potato…

Effective stress management includes healthy diet and exercise habits. Exercising gives you a break from the mental and emotional strain one experiences while helping to reduce physical tension. It will also increase your stamina and your overall physical well being. In addition minimize such behaviors as overeating, excessive drinking, smoking, or using mood-altering drugs — all of which are detrimental to your health. Whew…that took a lot of effort to say…because I so often do not follow my own advice.

Finally, don’t overwork yourself; all work and no play can cause you to feel stressed out, irritable and less motivated. Schedule time for rest, social activities, recreation and relaxation.

Don’t let your quarter years “stress” you out. Recognize situations that may cause stress, develop effective ways to manage’em and seek help if you need it. Cooperate with the change so the consequences benefit you and those you care about.

Take two Quil and call me in the morning

March 30, 2010

Like many quarterlifers, and a disputed number of Americans, I went for many years without having health insurance. A few times a week I would think to myself “Boy, I hope I don’t break a leg/get cancer/lose an eye because I’ll be financially ruined.” It was only for a second, those few times a week, but it was constantly present.

Why didn’t I just go out and get health insurance? We’ll it wasn’t really that easy. I was on my parent’s plan through my first graduate program. As long as I was enrolled, they were willing to cover me even though I was past their “dependent” insurance age. Every semester I sauntered down to the registrars office to get a letter claiming I was enrolled and in good standing.

When I made the quarterlife decision to change paths, I lost that health care coverage under my parent’s plan. So I applied as an individual and was promptly rejected because of my height to weight ratio. Nothing makes you feel more like a loser than some form letter telling you you’re too fat for insurance. So I tried again, and with various other companies. No luck. So I went about my life praying I didn’t get sick or hurt.

And like so many others without health insurance, I got really good at the drugstore health plan. DayQuil and NyQuil for those times when I had a cold or flu, multi-vitamins to make sure I was staving off any viruses that like the weak, off-brand Zyrtec for allergy season, Mucinex for the after effects of allergy season, Delsym for the cough, and Ibuprofen for the headaches caused by cold/flu/allergy season. When I did get sick, I’d factor in a large bottle of orange juice and as much sleep as my schedule would allow.

This happened during a time when I was employed in a full time position. I’ve never had insurance through work. I’ve either worked at small companies or as a part time/seasonal college peon. I don’t necessarily think that a company should be forced to provide you health care, but there ought to be an affordable and effective alternative for those of use left out in the no-benefits rain. Oh wait, I think I remember hearing something about that in the news.

Currently, I’m considered a “casual” employee at my current retail position which continues my history of no benefits. So not much has changed really. I did find a provider to give me emergency coverage so that if I were to break a leg/get cancer/lose an eye I’d at least have a fighting chance at economic survival. Although, knowing the insurance industry, my coverage is probably as good at protecting me as any other safety blanket is at warding off boogey men.

I still have my corner drugstore health care plan and it gets me through the times when people with real insurance get to see a doctor. Plus, the premiums are low and the wait time is minimal.

Dr. Paidlove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Flu

September 28, 2009

Recently, I was victim to a nation-wide epidemic: I came down with the Swine Flu. Before you reach for the anti-viral wipes to scour your eyeballs with lest reading this article gives you the dreaded Swine, let me share a few things I learned.
First off, our health care system sucks. I have health insurance through work, and supposedly this is a real benefit to me. I pay into the system bi-weekly and should, therefore, be able to see a doctor while I am ill. That’s what I was told at the informational meeting, anyway. However, it turns out that’s not really true. I guess because most of my ailments over the years had been minor: colds, rashes, the usual gambit of discomforts that could bloom into medical problems if not tended to, I hadn’t noticed that it had been nearly a decade since I’d seen my primary care physician. Always handed off to a nurse practitioner, I was getting care by proxy. I wasn’t even sure what my doctor looked like at this point – or if he even really continued to exist. Like some sort of Emerald City wizard, his orders and prescriptions came to me, but I never saw the man behind the curtain. So, it was a little bit shocking – though it shouldn’t have been – when my primary care physician told me it would be four days before I could see someone in his office even when I reported symptoms of fever, body ache, and vomiting. I remember in a delirium of daytime cold medicine and acetaminophen feeling the sore rub of getting jipped when my physician’s office recommended that I go to a walk-in clinic because I couldn’t be seen there. Not in the amount of time that was necessary to treat my illness. If my employers and I are going to pay such steep health care costs, then shouldn’t the benefit be that I don’t have to wait in line to see a doctor? Furthermore, shouldn’t I ever be able to see said doctor – in the flesh? Wasn’t this exact same scenario – long waits for care and sub-par service – what all of those ravenous anti-universal-state-health-care (though that’s not even what’s being proposed by the current administration) town hall attendees were so against?
The second eye-opening experience I had was in the actual walk-in clinic itself. Still ripe with fever, my breath had a warm pull to it that felt like illness. My forehead was coated with a thick layer of perspiration that bled into my eyebrows until they were too burdened with flop sweat and let a waterfall of stinging, biting moisture into my already irritated eyes. Constant body aches and chills and a dry nagging cough had me wrapping myself tighter and tighter into a contorted mess as I sat in the waiting room chair. My mailman could have diagnosed me at this point for the symptoms were so obviously all screaming in unison one word: flu. The nurse who weighed me and asked the standard repertoire of questions even looked me in the eye and said, “Oh, honey, that’s some flu you’ve got there.” So, everyone could see I had the flu. Everyone but one person: the doctor who saw me.
“I’ve seen the flu before, and this isn’t it,” were the first words out of his mouth. He proceeded to ask me if I watched a lot of television and if I had heard about the Swine Flu on television. I told him that of course I’d heard of it, and that several people I knew had recently come down with the flu. After some back-and-forth he finally agreed to do me the favor of testing me for the flu. Fifteen minutes later, my test results for H1N1 were positive and I was donning a medical face mask and prescription for Tamiflu. It was reassuring to learn that I wasn’t victim to media suggestion only and suffering from some sort of illness created in my mind, but it was also disheartening to learn that my walk-in clinic doctor was little more than a middle man between me and the care that I needed. I diagnosed myself. I ordered the test. He just granted permission and wrote the prescription for the medicine that I knew I needed.
The pharmacy was a whole different experience. Whereas I’d been getting less-than-optimal medical services up to this point, nothing really expedites the handling of your prescription like a face shrouded in a virtual poster reading, “you don’t want what I’ve got,” and a prescription that proves it. The exact words of the pharmacist upon handing her the prescription were, “Wait. Wait right here.” Less than three minutes later, and fifty dollars lighter, I had my pills and was out the door.
However, the final – and perhaps most shocking thing – that I learned while home sick with the Swine flu was this: it’s not that bad. I mean, it wasn’t exactly how I wanted to spend my Labor Day weekend, and I wasn’t thrilled about using up so much sick time the next week while it worked its way through to completion, but overall it was just a regular flu for me. I was miserable, but there were no horsemen of the apocalypse coming to my bedside warning of end times. In a way, it was almost like a vacation. A chronic non-sleeper, the flu forced my body to surrender – often – to unconsciousness. I caught up on some sleep that I’d been missing. Also, as a workaholic, I was actually shocked when after a few days of being too ill to concentrate on my occupation shifted from mortal dread to respite and calm. I actually started to think about things besides work. This produced an infectious desire for me to get out more, do more besides just set my proverbial nose to the grind stone once feeling better. What started out as a disheartening, cynic-producing journey through the health care system has ended with a most rested, rejuvenated me. For that, I guess I have the flu to thank.

Got a light?

August 6, 2009

Urban Outfitters (what is arguably the toy store for our generation) has started carrying bubble gum cigarettes. When I saw them next to the candy “grillz” and the “grow your own boyfriend”, I got excited. My experience with candy cigarettes was through our ice cream truck. My friends and I would buy an Astro Pop or a Snow Cone and a pack of cigarettes for later.

None of our parents ever freaked out. In fact my mom was with me when I saw them and we had a moment of gushing over this lost artifact. No one ever considered that “smoking” candy cigarettes would lead to a life of addiction. And they haven’t. File that correlation under Marilyn Manson makes kids shoot other kids and Global Warming is a natural occurrence; Bunk.

However, it did make me consider what we are addicted to. Sure, there is a large sector of our generation addicted to smoking. Most of us did our fair share of experimenting as teenagers or in college and it either stuck or didn’t. It’s unhealthy, we know the repercussions, and we’ve accepted or rejected them. But beyond a nicotine fix, what else are we medicating with?

At a point when things are the most confusing, the most challenging, and the most difficult- sometimes you just need something to make yourself feel better. Maybe that’s food, maybe it’s shopping (Etsy.com should be regulated by the FDA), maybe you jones for an imported beer, maybe you find solace in sex, or maybe it’s an illicit substance. Those things that make life a little more manageable sometimes take over and that’s all you want.

So is that what is happening with us? Are we falling into patterns of addiction instead of lives?  At a time when so many of us are searching for that next meaningful thing to do, we may turn to those things we crave to dull the growing pains (be honest- how many blogs have you read today). Addiction is incredibly easy today. Recently, I had to take my car in for some minor repairs and when it took longer than expected, they gave me a rental car. Twelve hours later with no GPS, no iPod, and no satellite radio, I was starting to twitch from withdrawal. I’m addicted to engineering my environment to reflect my mood. But without the crutch of my addictions, I was pushed outside my routine and into uncomfortable places.

I didn’t have any earth shattering experiences from being forced to listen to shock-jock radio, but I did see the benefit of breaking the addiction now and then. It’s easy to become complacent. When jobs and housing and relationships are so up in the air for quarterlifers its easy to turn to bubble gum cigarettes for a break from thinking about the next step. But maybe now and then we need to put the pack down and pick up something else. Who knows, you may just find a new addiction.

Bridge Over A Troubled Cervix

February 20, 2008

You know what I hate? Getting cancer. It’s really low on my list of things to do in my life. Because of that, on Tuesday, I will go to get my last HPV vaccine. This shot has been a great point of contention among political parties, schools, and parents. Being 27, I was fortunate to squeeze in under the age cutoff and have not had to deal with the social ramifications of being told that getting it will increase my promiscuity. In fact, waiting to get through the six-month series of three shots has actually reduced my promiscuity. Eighty percent of sexually –active adults have HPV, meaning that I was extraordinarily fortunate to get to my mid-twenties and still be STD free- especially since HPV can be transferred by contact alone (read “penetration not necessary”).

HPV, or the Human Papillomavirus infect your mucous membranes. While it expresses itself as warts, many strains of the virus have no showing signs at all. This is particularly scary when a few strains (about 13 of the hundreds) of this virus have been linked to [Read more]

My Bout With The Gut

February 20, 2008

Large GutThat’s right, dear readers. I have a gut.

Well, it’s a slight gut, and so I try to use the term very loosely. I can look down and see my feet just fine with no revolting-looking mass of fat obscuring the view. The funny thing is that I was skinny when was much younger, and so while growing up, even at my physical peak, I always had some “baby fat” around my stomach. At the time I didn’t give it much thought. When I became a teenager, however, that “baby fat” grew up into real fat.

I could easily get rid of the gut if I wanted to. It’s just that I never had a real issue with it. If anything, I’ve always been more embarrassed about my various moles and scattered strains of hair on my back than I have been about my handles of love. I can only suspect that my hair and slightly beige completion have somehow made my gut more aesthetically tolerable than your typical pale, pasty, beer gut variety. Never felt insecure about wearing tight T-shirts around the house; never had any apprehensions about going to the beach and walking around topless. Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t mind having a six-pack (what sane man wouldn’t), but I refuse to dedicate the time and work to get it; I’d rather use that energy for something else. That’s the choice I’ve made and I’m sticking to it: slight gut and all. [Read more]

A Half-Full Glass of Airborne

February 20, 2008

Half Full Glass of WaterI’m sick. I get to write this laying in bed, drinking tea, and watching old seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD. Regardless of this relaxing scenario, I’m torn on the whole sick issue. Feeling ill is one of the worst experiences ever. You aren’t yourself and nothing that you want to do can happen. I would rather be clear headed and focused on my homework. I would rather be running around eating fun and exciting breakfasts at my local greasy spoon or drinking my sugar free hazelnut soy extra-hot latte from the ‘Bux. However, my body has taken a leave of absence and requires that I lay around like deadly sin number 4.

So I ride the emotional roller coaster of illness; feeling momentarily joyous that I have an excuse to lay around and watch Buffy save the world over and over (sue me, she’s a kick ass role model) and experiment with my newest concoction of green pomegranate and raspberry sangria tea, and then facing the harsh reality that I have three classes worth of homework to do, some boning up on my new job training, food to buy for the week, music to study for my voice lesson, and, oh yeah, a blog post to write. [Read more]