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10:42am 21/06/2012
  Here is an autobiographical story I wrote. I submitted it to one fairly major blog on a whim, not sure what else to do with it, or whether it is any good. Names and minor details changed to protect the innocent, but all the actual details went down exactly as described.

“I can’t believe my boyfriend got stabbed.”

Neither could we - after all, we were eighth graders standing around the schoolyard of a magnet school in a middle class town, not hardened criminals in a project somewhere (our stereotype of the type of people whose boyfriends got stabbed).

I should probably back up a little bit. My friend Marissa, an Indian girl from a “good family,” was talking about her first boyfriend Dave who was a freshman at a nearby Catholic school. It was known for being a little rough and tumble, as it was on the border of our town and the next city over which was known for being both lower income and higher crime. Dave had gotten caught up in a scuffle and in trying to defend a friend, had been stabbed in the calf with a pocket knife. He wasn’t seriously injured but the fact remained that he got STABBED, as we said over and over to each other, somewhat enjoying the drama of it while also in shock that something so violent could happen in our serene suburban lives.

Our otherwise extremely boring social circle had been disrupted quite a bit when my father moved out and went to live in a gated condo community that happened to have a number of boys around my age, who happened to play pick up games of baseball in the yard our balcony overlooked. And I just happened to enjoy wearing short shorts and talking on the cordless phone while sitting on said balcony during those games. Eventually one of them said hi to me and the rest is history (I learned later they thought I wasn’t wearing any pants at all).

At their urging I would invite all my single girlfriends over (which meant, all my girlfriends) and they would mingle and pair up. Marissa and Dave hit it off - he was boyishly gorgeous, with mocha skin and a baseball player’s build, and an impish grin that would charm any girl. Marissa was the quiet type of girl who had no idea how gorgeous she was - with her perfect mahogany skin, almond shaped eyes, and thick black hair down to the small of her back she was any guys dream, but thought of herself as plain. In addition to being stunning she was also the type of scholar athlete who was team captain of two different teams while getting all A’s and juggling three extracurriculars, all of which was barely good enough for her perfectionist immigrant parents who would complain if she got 98 out of 100 on a test, not understanding or caring that an A was an A. I was a similar overachiever, minus the parental pressure thankfully. Of course socially the both of us were considered total nerds, having committed every form of social suicide known to man through such grandiose pursuits as Quiz Bowl Team Captain.

In an attempt to correct course I decided it was time to show off my newly acquired co-ed social circle, and I invited the few “popular” girls from school who were willing to be seen talking to me to a party at my dad’s condo, with the explicit promise there would be cute boys there. One such girl was Mercedes, a girl who was forever precariously situated on the outskirts of the popular cheerleader clique.

Mercedes was a girl forever trying very hard. With a cherubic face she attempted to correct with contouring blush and a gum smacking, fast talking demeanor, Mercedes was damn intimidating for an 8th grader. She was the type of girl who has 2 or 3 older sisters whose phone conversations about boys and sex she’d been listening in on for years, and thus was a lot more street savvy than the rest of us. She would challenge me in particular to prove my cool, casually asking me if I had a lighter for her cigarette, as if all grammar school girls kept one in between our Lisa Frank pencil cases and trapper keepers.

I invited Mercedes to the party, particularly emphasizing the presence of cute boys. She pointedly asked if there would be somewhere she could smoke - addictions are a bitch, you know - and I assured her there was a terrace she could sneak out to. When she showed up an hour late my face lit up - maybe she would tell the other cool girls how neat my party was, and I would finally be something other than the leper of the 8th grade! She greeted me with an air kiss on each cheek, accepted a diet coke to drink, and surveyed the room. I pointed out who was who, which boys were single, and when I got to Dave and Marissa she was canoodling on his lap while he looked up at her with that signature smirk. They were freakin adorable together.

Mercedes’ eyes all but rolled back into her head. “Yeah, he’s pretty cute” she admitted. “But if he’s so cool, why is he dating her?” she asked acidly.

I looked at her blankly. I didn’t know how to respond to her obvious contempt. “Because Marissa is gorgeous and brilliant? Because debate team is going to nationals mostly because she rocks? Because she isn’t an asshole like you?”

I think I ended up saying something lame like “Because he likes her, and she is really cool when you get to know her.” And even lamer, I stayed friends with Mercedes, still craving her approval, not getting that I didn’t need it. Probably because she was and still is smarter than me, Marissa dumped Dave (he wasn’t smart enough to avoid a knife fight after all) and avoided Mercedes for the rest of our 8th grade year. We went to different high schools and I didn’t keep in touch with her much, other than through the grapevine.

These days, fifteen years later, social media tells me that Mercedes still lives in my home town and is a single mom. I can’t tell much else and I’m not sure I want to know. Marissa has had it rough in that her dad passed away when she was in college. Despite that, she made it to med school, and is now Dr. Marissa. I am on my way to becoming a doctor as well, although not a “real” one - I’m in a Ph.D. program doing research.

I would like to say that this is some sort of redemption story about how nerdiness pays off, or a guide to grammar school dating (“Rule #1: if he gets in a knife fight, break up with him” - something tells me that would not make it into Teen magazine) but really I see it as a reminder that women are bitchy at every stage of the game, and the sooner you learn to ignore it and just “do you” as they say, the better. At least, you might end up being a real doctor instead of a fake one.
08:25pm 09/12/2011
  I'm still alive. Grad school is kicking my ass this semester. I took too heavy a courseload and it's kind of a mess. The point of my program is to produce published research and spending too much time on classes detracts from that. Lesson learned - I'm taking a lighter load next semester.

I designed and ran an fMRI study on my own for the first time. Let me tell you, data analysis is way more fun when it's YOUR data! It's like opening presents on Christmas. Well, if it turns out well that is. So far mine seems to - if it does that means my thesis project might just be viable.

I go back and forth between feeling like it's crazy that I have another 3 1/2 years until I finish, and feeling like 3 1/2 years is not nearly enough time to earn the title of Doctor. We're interviewing faculty candidates right now, and because of the economy there are a ton of highly highly qualified people out there who have done multiple post docs (the psych equivalent to a residency) and have one or even two dozen publications. My last boss at Brown had 25 first author publications after ten years in the field. I told my adviser I was intimidated by the bar set by the candidates and he was like "You saw that all of them mentioned as a 'future direction' using the analysis methods we developed in the lab. Well, you already know more about those methods than they do. It's the next big thing and you're in the lab where the idea originated." That made me feel better, because that's exactly why I picked this lab - to be on the bleeding edge.

Speaking of which I also turned in a draft of my first paper. It will be the first application of the aforementioned method in a clinical sample. I would love if when I'm graduating, that method has blown up, and I can say "Yep, I published the first paper on it."

So all in all this is a crazy thing to do with one's life but I'm a crazy person, so it kind of suits me.
04:10pm 31/03/2011
  I haven't quite been avoiding the NYC steampunk scene, but I haven't been seeking it out either.

My sense, at least from The Tubes, is that steampunk is starting to share more and more demographics with anime and gaming. My interests lean more historical than fantasy, so this crossover didn't appeal to me. However, I do like many bands that have adopted the steampunk label, and the aesthetic is fun, so when I saw one of my favorite guerrilla marching bands (Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band) on the lineup for a NYC steampunk event I decided to look into it.

And I am still a little bit worried.

From the website of the production outfit behind the event:

The “Steampunk For Everyone” idea was originally created “to respond to the fact that it’s rather hard to find Steampunks of color, or queer Steampunks, and we’d love to have more of both.” But it also means that we want to create a Steampunk where everyone feels welcome – where we don’t say, “You can’t be part of this, that’s Gothic/Renfaire/Rocky Horror/geeky/fantasy, not Steampunk!” Instead, we want to say,
“Hey, come on in, the aether’s nice and warm!”

Ok, fine. Inclusion good, exclusion bad, I get it. But we went through this with the goth scene - broaden your definition of goth enough and your local goth night ends up becoming a rave complete with techno music, glow sticks, and bad drugs. If enough goths/rennies/geeks/etc. overrun your steampunk event to the point where it no longer appeals to your core constituency, then inclusion has gone too far.

Also, what kind of problems have they had if they need a disclaimer that all people with fringe interests are welcome? Are steampunk people actively discriminating against Renfaire geeks who show up at events? Or are the Renfaire geeks insisting on including historical elements from before the steam powered era, therefore destroying the whole point of steampunk?

It's hard to tell but usually it goes both ways. The historical purists get annoyed at people wearing Renfaire costumes to a Victorian themed event. The Renfaire people complain that "history is history" and act as if encouraging a Victorian theme is some sort of personal affront to them. It ends up being a bunch of nonsense.

And after 10+ years in various club "scenes" I have no time left for nonsense.

I should probably go once in case I am completely wrong about the whole thing but it's hard to muster enthusiasm to participate in any scene with enough drama to apparently merit a disclaimer.
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We're engaged :)   
10:09am 28/02/2011
  For all of you who still read this - Delsin and I got engaged :).

more picsCollapse )
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Nightlife review: NYC   
02:22pm 04/01/2011
  After almost 6 months of life in the "sixth borough" I have some thoughts on the nightlife scene in New York City as it applies to weirdos like myself. A big part of why I moved here was to enjoy the cultural resources of the city while I am still young and unencumbered enough to care, so here are my thoughts in no particular order:

Goth stuff: it's there but in much smaller venues than 10 years ago. There are still good events with good music; in fact there's less techno horribleness than I remember. Everything is a lot more low key these days. There don't seem to be as many big bands touring, like Siouxsie or the Cure. That's pretty much all I can say as I've only been to maybe 2 goth events since I moved.

Vintage stuff: Ironically the venue that used to be the home of NYC's biggest goth night, Albion/Batcave, now hosts vintage events regularly. Funny how the zeitgeist evolves.

So there are 5? 6? major production teams in the city for vintage events. Each event has a slightly different flavor, so I will describe each of them in a "Cliff's Notes" as well as extended review:

Dances of ViceCollapse )

Dov short version:

Pros: Creative and eclectic themes, excellent eye candy, strong media coverage, solid entertainment bookings. Loyal following that remains reasonably friendly.

Cons: Rotating venues means some hits and some misses. Not the place for you if the "see and be seen" aspect bothers you, or if you don't like potentially being photographed or recorded for TV.

Wit's End: Haven't been yet. Going at the end of the month. This is the more strictly 20s-40s spinoff of Dances of Vice. It's at a bar in midtown so I fear cramped space and $15 well drinks but that's always solved by bringing a flask and leaving early if need be.
Micheal AranellaCollapse )

Pro: creative locations, excellent acts, draws an extremely well dressed but friendly crowd. Good press and photographer coverage. Throws the hands down biggest event of the year.

Cons: Bars seem understaffed at all events.

The SalonCollapse )

Pro: Well staffed bars with tasty, reasonably priced cocktails; good bands; multi-room venue provided a variety of settings.

Con: Not the ideal venue or entertainment lineup for the dance crowd. Vibe was a bit more conservative and low key than we're used to, and seeing men in tuxes next to men in jeans was disconcerting and threatened the mood. Overly crowded dance floors.

Shanghai MermaidCollapse )

Pro: awesome once you get inside.

Con: fear of dying.

Those are my impressions in a nutshell!
Speakeasy - a true story   
01:41pm 30/09/2010
  We met someone on the train who was going to the same place so we walked there together. The scenery along the way involved lots of broken glass, trash, barbed wire fences, barred windows, and other signs that we were not in Kansas anymore. Of course, the only way you can hide a 300 capacity secret venue is to do it in an area where the cops are more preoccupied with drug busts and murders and such. So we didn't expect it to be the upper east side, but regardless, it was unsettling. We were all in vintage cocktail attire so we hustled along to avoid becoming an easy mark for someone. We walked up to the venue entrance which was a metal pull-down style door like they close up retail shops with, situated between a warehouse space and an apartment building. It had an actual door built into it and a peep hole. The door guy was arguing with a drunk guy who apparently lived in one of the buildings nearby. As we're standing there, the arguing escalates to pushing, the guy's female friend is telling him to back off, but he's doing the “you disrespected me” macho thing.

We are standing there awkwardly watching the shoving match when the guy reaches down to pull something out of his cargo shorts. The bouncer immediately runs to the door, opens it and runs inside, slams it shut and locks it.

So now we are locked outside with the probably armed angry dude. We look at each other and start quietly discussing whether we should call the police, leave, stay there and try to get inside...? There are no cabs going by for us to jump into. No one is sure what to do. I remember thinking that witnessing one club shooting (outside club hell in 07) is plenty for a lifetime and I really don't want a repeat.

Another guy in a vintage suit approaches and we wave him over and explain we're locked out, there's a situation. At this point we are slightly less stunned so we all shake hands and introduce ourselves. I remember thinking how funny it is how we cling to our societal rituals, how shaking hands made us feel immediately more civilized.

The drunk guy is yelling for them to send out the promoter, "Ophelia." Ophelia storms out, obviously annoyed, in a corset, flamenco skirt, and wearing a foot tall feather in her hair. She immediately gets in the guys face and demands he treat her with respect, raising her voice and pointing. I'm thinking, he has a weapon of some sort yet this woman is totally fearless, I hope she knows him. It seemed like she did because he kept saying "I know, I know Ophelia - you're my friend. But your bouncer disrespected me."

She starts to walk around the block with him, presumably to try to deescalate the argument. Two staff members had come out with her, a guy and a girl, and the girl hisses to the guy "Go with her! Make sure she's ok!" She then turns to us with a fake customer service smile and says, "Sorry about that. Would you like to come inside?" We all nod nervously, almost in sync. She says something about how sometimes there are "issues" because it's an underground club. At this point we all just want a door between us and psycho dude.

The door is still locked so she shines a flashlight into the peephole to signal them to let her in. Now it's starting to feel like we're actually going to a speakeasy instead of being in a future episode of Law and Order.

We walk in, and the place is a multi-room warehouse space that has been decorated with lots of antique rugs, art, and furniture. The main room has a stage with a professional lighting and sound system and dozens of cocktail tables. There are several hundred guests, a live band, and dancers. Being several rooms removed from the street ruckus we finally relax a bit, feeling much safer now that the worst was apparently past.

We bought ourselves two drinks apiece to calm our nerves and proceeded to enjoy the rest of the evening.
12:46pm 05/09/2010
  If you're wondering why so long since my last update - in the past 5 weeks I ran a festival stage, moved across 3 states, got situated in a new apartment, adopted a kitty (!), and started grad school. Busy is an understatement :).

But things are good! Delsin got a job right before we moved, he's the IT director for a nonprofit in NYC, and he's really happy with it. I started grad school last week. I have a tentative project/schedule worked out in the lab, and it is pretty obvious that I have a LOT to learn, but that's the whole point. I have one traditional class with tests and homework and such, and then 3 more informal classes. I have even made a few new potential friends on campus and in my neighborhood.

Oh and did I mention, we got a kitty?!! His name is Samberton and he is part Russian Blue and part tabby. The rescue we adopted him from raved about what a good cat he is and they were right! He is incredibly well tempered - friendly, loves people and attention, constantly purring. He is also really even tempered for a kitten - he doesn't mind car travel, was really calm at his vet visit (even with the barking dogs in the waiting room - just looked at them like "bish pls"), and we are even leash training him and he's doing really well with it. He does have kitten level energy and rambunctiousness - he will get in trouble on purpose for attention and then sulk when we aren't happy about it. He is still a klutz and falls off of something every day - he gets embarrassed and licks himself and sulks. The sulking is sad, but also adorable! He is our "alarm kitty" and wakes us up every morning at 6:30 to feed him. He will jump on the bed, run laps around the periphery of it, and then come purr loudly in your ear and lick you. If you ignore him he will lick your hair and then chew on it. He likes to groom his humans :).

So that's life as it currently stands :).
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11:21am 20/04/2010
  This morning was interesting. I was about to leave for work when I hear a knock on the door. I answer to find a burley construction worker looking dude, who tells me he is from Wells Fargo and he is here to change the locks on the property. He was disarmingly nice and polite so I answered his questions about whether the building was occupied and gave him my name and phone number. He cheerfully told me that he would mark the property as "occupied," and wrote it on the work order he had on a clipboard, which did indeed say "Wells Fargo" on the top and had my landlord's name listed on it as well. He said he would not need to change the locks today since the property is occupied, and then he left.

So this all happened in under a minute before I'd had my coffee, so it didn't hit me until afterward WHY a guy from a mortgage company would be there with a work order to change the locks. I think my landlord may be in default on his mortgage and it may be in foreclosure.

There have been signs he's been having financial trouble - he owns a construction company, and construction is one of the hardest hit industries right now. We used to send our rent to their office, but they closed it and have us send rent to a P.O. box instead. And recently the dumpster the landlord provides has not been picked up, and we found out it's because he can't afford it, so we now have to do regular curbside trash pickup.

So...all signs point to foreclosure. Obviously this had me panicking a little bit! Thankfully I did some research, and because of legislation passed last year, renters in foreclosed properties do have rights. We are entitled to notice if the property is going to be sold at auction, and once it is sold, we have 90 days before the new owners can start eviction proceedings. If we got notice of sale today, that would give us until mid July before we'd have to move. I can't find any sale announcement for the property anywhere so presumably it hasn't been scheduled, and it seems like it takes 2 weeks to a month to schedule a sale, so hopefully we have that long plus the 90 days.

I guess in a bizarre way, if this sort of thing was going to happen, at least it's happening now since we planned on moving at the end of July anyway. I am hoping we can at least stay until July 31st as planned.

Anyone on my friends list who rents - google "your address + foreclosure" at least once a month and see if your property is for sale! That's what renter's rights websites suggest and after my experience this morning I definitely recommend it.
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03:16pm 16/04/2010
  Rutgers Newark it is :). I'm, like, going to get my doctorate. They think I'm, like, smart or something.  
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10:52am 27/11/2009
  One thing that continues to amaze me is how marketing seems to drive the entire hygiene industry, rather than research or even logic for that matter. Marketing trends that actually make no sense at all:

1. The idea that lather = clean. You know what makes shampoo and soap lather? Sulphates, aka salts, which have the nice side effect of stripping hair and skin of all oils, completely drying it out. This can lead to overproduction of oil, which of course you then strip back out with some nice lather...rinse lather repeat lather repeat et infinitim.

2. The overuse of silicone in everything. I'm not talking about fake boobs - I'm talking about how dimethicone is found in what seems like 90% of all hair products. It's a great smoothing product, but it also prevents moisture from being absorbed into the hair. The best analogy is putting a fresh coat of paint on top of a peeling coat of paint over and over. It might look good at first but over time, it just worsens split ends and hair condition. But the initial ridiculously silky feel you get with something like Pantene ropes people into thinking it's good for their hair.

3. "Oil free" as a marketing gimmick for skin products. From what I can tell, this came from an old research study that mistakenly said that mineral oil causes pimples. However I recently learned that not only does oil not clog pores, it actually helps dissolve oil in pores ("like dissolves like"). This is why women used mineral oil based cold cream for decades to get soft, clear skin. The key is leaving the oil on long enough to dissolve skin oil, and then steaming it off so that it doesn't leave a greasy layer behind. But again, somehow the idea of clean = stripping the skin seems to persist.

The thing is, good luck finding a shampoo and conditioner without sulfates or dimethicone. I have found literally three out of the dozens of brands that exist at the drug store (Burt's Bees, Naked Naturals, and Mane 'N Tail conditioner). It's easier to find them at specialty stores like Sally's Beauty.

As for oil cleaning, I definitely use it on areas where I get blackheads or whiteheads and it really does dissolve them away. Rather than needing to do at home steaming and extractions a few times a week, I can do it a few times a month. You can use cold cream or an oil blend (olive oil base plus castor oil, orange oil, or jojoba). Right now I use Burt's Bees orange oil cleaner because I had a sample lying around. I am still loyal to my benzoyl peroxide face wash, toner, and cream for breakouts, but I have very treatment resistant acne. For those who have run of the mill clogged pores, oil cleansing is apparently a very effective anti-acne regimen, as counter intuitive as it may seem.

I guess it just amazed me that solely due to marketing we are being sold crap that is bad for us when there are cheaper and better alternatives out there. I wonder if any company will ever try to market oil cleansing again and if it will come back in vogue. Loreal is pushing a sulfate free shampoo right now but it's still chock full of dimethicone. Maybe it's a secret plot by hair dressers to encourage silicone use and the resulting split ends so people will get more frequent hair cuts.

I really wish being an informed consumer wasn't so much damn work.
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11:00am 30/10/2009
  I secretly want to be a fashion blogger. I read about 2 dozen fashion blogs and find them fun and inspiring, and part of me wants to start one, but I don't actually have the time or motivation. So instead I will subject you to my ramblings, yay!

Colleen's guide to not looking boring OR crazyCollapse )
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Ok, I admit it, I really like Lady Gaga.   
10:00pm 04/08/2009
  After careful speculation I've decided: I am a Lady Gaga fan. Here's why.

I'm pretty sure her whole music "career" is an elaborate joke/performance art. Why? Because she was a successful songwriter before she had her own hits. She has written for Britney Spears among others. I think she eventually realized, "hey, I can fucking sing better than these pop bitches, why aren't I a pop star?" She knows that she's not conventionally facially attractive, hence the elaborate fashion. She's said in interviews that she is riding the edge of bankruptcy in order to fund her performances, so I think she's young and aware that her window of fame is fleeting and doing it for fun, not money. She also gives completely pretentious nonsense interviews in a fake voice. I think she really wants to see how ridiculous she can act and still have people buy her songs because they're so damn catchy. I think she is actually very smart and talented. If you don't believe me, check this out:

She also sings live while performing:

Also, I am all about this crazy movie style music video. The outfit at the end is very Death Cult.

So, she may be contrived and overexposed, but I think she is laughing at everyone and I get the joke.

Oh, also, my aspiring actor cousin was an extra in her Rolling Stone photo shoot so she also gets point for getting him a leg up. Here's the pic, he's in the background on the right. TRUFAX, apparently super famous photog Dave LaChapelle (who did the shoot) has a thing for my cousin's body. LOL

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12:37am 27/06/2009
  I feel as though the Michael Jackson I'd like to remember died a long time ago. Whatever husk of a damaged man was walking around since then is now also dead. Perversely I feel like maybe it was a merciful end - what sort of future did he have? He seemed to be falling apart in so many ways for the last decade or more. His life was a very strange combination of incredible talent and psychological disturbance. As a student of psychology he has got to be one of the most baffling, intriguing, and sad figures out there - the most extreme example of what early life stress can lead to later in life. He gave us some of the best pop music and choreography in modern history but I wonder if he was ever happy. In some ways I feel like he was put out of his misery. It is sad to lose an icon but he has not been the Jackson 5 MJ or Thriller MJ for a very long time now.  
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12:01am 30/04/2009
  Please, VH1, give these Swedish girly boy 80s reincarnations their own show. PLEASE. Because I am mesmerized by their hair and how I am not really sure if there are three of them or if they just rapidly shapeshift around the room.

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03:23pm 23/04/2009
  I knew those bastards were screwing me! Bank of America was sued for being shady about overdraft fees and is now paying out 35 mil in a class action lawsuit. I had an instance where a transaction completely dropped off my statement, so I thought that a bill hadn't been paid, so I paid it again and ended up overdrawing and getting hit with tons of fees. I was in school at the time and couldn't afford it at all, and it was really not cool to have all my food money disappear because of their shitty system. They tried to say that it was normal for transactions to disappear from statements temporarily, but it had never done it before and hasn't since, and that is one of the things they were sued over. So I will happily claim my $78 from those bastards! You should do so too if you have an account with them and were ever charged an overdraft fee.

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Should Malingerers Get Disability?   
01:31pm 23/04/2009
  A number of influences have led me to the topic of malingering. My coworker has a chapter in a book on how to test for it, which I've been reading. I have known at least one malingerer personally. And I have recently encountered one on these grand old interwebs.

To define malingering, it's basically faking sick for personal gain. Gain could be anything from a payout from a lawsuit to sympathy from other people. The key thing is that while there may be nothing *physically* wrong with the malingerer, there may be something *psychologically* wrong that drives them to the behavior in the first place. I find that the ones motivated by sympathy and attention tend to be the real psych cases, as opposed to people like the slimy car salesman who filed an injury claim after he scraped my car - he's just a greedy jerk.

Anyhow, malingerers often claim they are unable to work. Physically they probably can. But the drama they create surrounding their health issues can certainly affect their employability. Employers can't easily verify claims of doctors visits or health problems without access to health records, and often malingerers are experts at gaining sympathy, so when someone says they have cancer but there's something fishy about the whole thing, most people put those doubts aside. If malingerers do get caught, they usually get a psych diagnoses which qualifies them for disability.

However, for those motivated by sympathy and attention, I wonder what would happen if as part of their therapy they were put in a work environment where everyone knew in advance they were a malingerer. Their coworkers, friends, and family would all be instructed to refuse to discuss any health related matters with them. A nurse could monitor them on a daily basis to verify that they weren't actually sick. I wonder if, with enough consistency, taking away the reward for playing the "sick role" would change the behavior. According to my coworker, there is research showing that workman's' comp injuries do not tend to improve while claims are pending, but as soon as claims are settled, people rapidly get better. I wonder if this sort of approach would work for psych cases.

The problem is that malingering is tricky to prove, and malingerers are often experienced at working the system. They see multiple doctors and tell them each a different story, they research the conditions they claim to have so that their front is more convincing, and they play the pity card as hard as they can whenever someone gets suspicious and starts asking questions.

But in the case of people who are not as adept, such as my own malingering acquaintance (who had a new diagnosis every week), or the person on the internet (who has a documented history of inconsistencies on various forums), should they really be getting government disability like any other person with a medical issue? My thoughts are no, they should be getting tailored therapy and maybe even a psych hospitalization to put them in a controlled setting. But the issue still stands of separating the wheat from the chaff, and avoiding penalizing actual sick people for the misguided actions of others. I just have to wonder how much the disability system rewards this type of behavior and may even encourage it in people who are not physically or mentally ill, but simply desperate.
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My Meme, let me show you it   
02:33pm 02/04/2009
  I just made this one up but I'm actually interested in people's answers to this. Fess up!

music you listened to in grammar school

Five albums you liked then and can still rep now:

1. No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom
2. TLC, CrazySexyCool
3. Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
4. Notorious BIG, Life After Death
5. Ace of Base, The Sign (c'mon, no one did cheesy early 90's house like AoB!)

Half of those were on cassette because it was cheaper than CDs. And yes, I listened to rap and R&B then, but at least my taste was respectable!

Five albums you are ashamed that you liked then:

1. The Dangerous Minds soundtrack (I was 10 and liked "gangsta's paradise" but found the cursing in other songs to be embarrassing)
2. Madonna, Ray of Light (SO not her best album)
3. Family Values Tour 1999 (featuring rammstein, ice cube, and...limp bizkit. and korn. yep.)
4. Orgy, Candyass - Ok, this one is not SO terrible, but the fact that I thought I was a badass for owning it is.
5. Mariah Carey, Daydream and Butterfly (ok, these are not bad as cheesy guilty pleasure albums...but I took them 100% seriously as artistic masterpieces at the time. Stop laughing, I was like 10.)

I probably made a few people feel old with this one, sorry :). But please, fess up to your own potentially hilarious childhood musical tastes!
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01:12pm 02/03/2009
  I updated my Henna Flickr account with some new work. I've been trying my hand at some more traditional/bridal type designs. I also did some large scale pieces for the fashion show earlier this month; hopefully there will be photos of that work soon as well.

I'll also be presenting a workshop at the Northeast Henna and Bellydance Gathering later this month. The topic will be SCIENCE: SRS BIZZNISS! Or something like that ;).
Old Habits Die Hard   
02:53pm 04/01/2009
  I am a brunette with a redhead's brain, I've decided.

Yesterday at the drugstore I decided to pick up a demi permanent haircolor to brighten my hair. I've been meaning to just redye it with permanent dye, but the professional beauty supply store has been closed the last two times I went, and my hair was starting to look A Hot Mess.

I grabbed a box of Natural Instinct Cinnaberry. Only today as I was throwing away the box did I realize something.

The first time I actually dyed my hair it was using the exact same product. That was 10 freaking years ago.

Yep, the packaging has changed, but it's the same brand and color. I've been a fake redhead for a decade - longer if you count my experiments with sun-in in 6th grade which brought me to an orangey auburn. Aside from my "rainbow phase" in which I literally had every hair color in the rainbow (not all at once thankfully), I've been a fake redhead for almost half my life.

This astonishingly deep revelation was brought to you by overcaffeination.
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RIP Angie 1982-2008   
08:32pm 28/12/2008
  Angela Watson, a friend of mine and many, passed away on Dec. 21st in a motorcycle accident. She was only 26 years old. Her fiance Brady was critically injured and is in intensive care. Please if you knew Angie take a moment to remember her today. Her passing is a reminder that life is fleeting.

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Angie and Brady at Sanctuary, Fall 2008:

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