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Take me to Toxic Town*

Today I had another appointment with the endocrinologist to discuss the treatment failure and the next step to keeping me functional. No wait, forget functional; I'd like to be well again. You know, healthy, with energy and a mind. In general, as a rule, rather than as a rare exception.

See, here's the perplexing thing: my body is acting like it has tumors.

But it doesn't.

We tried treating me as if I did have the tumors and that stopped the symptoms but created a new ball of problems. So we stopped treatment.

My main question is why? My next question is how do we fix it?

The doctor visit today was confusing because there really wasn't time to have an actual conversation; it was, instead, a simple exchange of information. He'd been lecturing all morning and was running late, so I felt like I was spinning in a tornado.

However, he proposed a new theory, the first time I've heard a doctor mention this although as I've slugged my way through the syrupy thick bayou that is medical investigation and diagnosis, I've come to my own hypothesis, which interestingly matches this new one.

New hypothesis: I'm being poisoned.

That's what I said: I'm potentially being poisoned by Houston, aka Toxic Town.

Today this endocrinologist paused and said, "Where is it that you live?" I told him and he said, "Ah yes, south, by the bay. Hydrocarbons."

I paused silently for a second waiting for the musical swell to die down, and said, "What?"

He said, "Oh well there are some mutagenic carcinogenic toxins floating around your area."

I was silent. Dumbstruck you could say.

"It could be a problem," he said, hurriedly continuing, "But then again, maybe not. Not everyone down there is sick."

Ummm. Actually. I know a number of people who are, in varying ways. In fact, it was a conversation with a friend of mine last week that solidified my suspicion into a theory. I casually mentioned that my symptoms all began after moving here, and I wondered whether the environment had a hand in it. I meant the high amount of allergens. My friend took it differently, "Funny you mention that," she said, "I've even contacted the EPA to check on pollutants and chemicals. The guy I spoke to suggested I move."

(Remember my Language Arts life? Take note of that quote from my friend. That constitutes both foreshadowing and motif.)

I started thinking. I've often worried a bit and complained about the effects of the chemical plants to the north of us, and about the chemicals they spray our neighborhood with (saying they are "safe" bwahahaha, and any risk is worth the benefit, BWAHAHAHAHAHA) to kill mosquitoes and prevent wider spread outbreaks of West Nile virus.

And slowly this thought formed in my head: inexplicable endocrine malfunction with symptoms that would typically indicate a tumor, but no tumor...hmmm...toxic chemicals + sensitive system = endocrine malfunction.


Today I headed to the doctor, driving along a route that has toxic chemical plants on the right and a protected wildlife refuge and wetland on the left (toxic company bribe to locals). Through the trees I saw a huge flame. This isn't rare, but it is unusual. What in the world? I thought.

I recalled driving down a similar street with my friend J, on the way to Galveston (about the same distance as Houston to me, maybe a little closer or faster to get to). We were both perplexed by a large flame we saw in the distance, "Oh," she said as we drove past it, "It's one of those gas valves or something, I'm not sure, but they do that now and again, I don't know why." Later, she was diagnosed with lupus, and is the person who referred me to her endocrinologist. She lives in my neighborhood.


It's probably just one of those flames, like that time, I reassured myself. And as I drove past, I noted the usual chemical company guys in their chemical company trucks wearing their chemical company jumpsuits and hard hats working around the large pipeline from which the huge flame erupted (think: much, much larger than Olympic bowl).

Then I got to the doctor and he mentioned hydrocarbons.

He asked where my husband's office was. I told him, and he said (as if my husband's office site is what matters most? is the only thing that matters? never mind the fact that the kids are deeply integrated and involved in our local community through schools, activities, and so forth, and my entire support network is here), "Okay, good so if it is this you can easily move."

Easily move? Isn't that an oxymoron? (Note appropriate integration of other literary term.)

There are apparently tests to do for this, blood tests, that check to see if the pollutant has bonded to your cells.

Let me say that again so it can send a shiver of horror down your spine, too: carcinogenic, mutagenic pollutants bonded to MY cells in MY body.

We don't know yet, and I feel sick to think this is it, and sick to think they won't find evidence of it. I've been hesitant to be very specific when talking about my problem because I haven't felt like we've been on the mark. Until now. It's like my arrow just found the target. I feel freed up to talk about this now.

I came home and Googled hydrocarbons and endocrine system.

Here's what I found:

An endocrine disruptor is a synthetic chemical that when absorbed into the body either mimics or blocks hormones and disrupts the body's normal functions. This disruption can happen through altering normal hormone levels, halting or stimulating the production of hormones, or changing the way hormones travel through the body, thus affecting the functions that these hormones control. Chemicals that are known human endocrine disruptors include diethylstilbesterol (the drug DES), dioxin, PCBs, DDT, and some other pesticides. Many chemicals, particularly pesticides and plasticizers, are suspected endocrine disruptors based on limited animal studies.

Exposure to endocrine disruptors can occur through direct contact with pesticides and other chemicals or through ingestion of contaminated water, food, or air. Chemicals suspected of acting as endocrine disruptors are found in insecticides, herbicides, fumigants and fungicides that are used in agriculture as well as in the home. Industrial workers can be exposed to chemicals such as detergents, resins, and plasticizers with endocrine disrupting properties. Endocrine disruptors enter the air or water as a byproduct of many chemical and manufacturing processes and when plastics and other materials are burned. Further, studies have found that endocrine disruptors can leach out of plastics, including the type of plastic used to make hospital intravenous bags. Many endocrine disruptors are persistent in the environment and accumulate in fat, so the greatest exposures come from eating fatty foods and fish from contaminated water.

Source: NRDC

Did you read all of that? If not, please do. It might make a difference to you.

It made a difference to me because (a) when the wind begins to flow from the north, it brings with it the horrible harsh smell of burning plastics from the company slightly north and east of my town. It's so foul that even though the weather is finally nice (read: cooler and dryer) I often stay indoors with the kids because the air makes my sinuses burn and eyes water, and (b) polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (the hydrocarbons my doctor referred to) are listed as endocrine disruptors.

To learn more about PAHs, read the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) (part of the CDC) article about PAHs.

The ATSDR lead me to the EPA, which it said had a list of the 1408 most hazardous sites in the US. I decided to enter my zip code in the handy dandy EPA envirocheck form.

When I read reports from the ATSDR, EPA and NOAA, all contained information about PAHs released into air and water in my area, with one right in my town.

I can be affected simply by breathing and by eating locally grown foods (a Green goal).

Read on:

What happens to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) when they enter the environment?

* PAHs enter the air mostly as releases from volcanoes, forest fires, burning coal, and automobile exhaust.
* PAHs can occur in air attached to dust particles.
* Some PAH particles can readily evaporate into the air from soil or surface waters.
* PAHs can break down by reacting with sunlight and other chemicals in the air, over a period of days to weeks.
* PAHs enter water through discharges from industrial and wastewater treatment plants.
* Most PAHs do not dissolve easily in water. They stick to solid particles and settle to the bottoms of lakes or rivers.
* Microorganisms can break down PAHs in soil or water after a period of weeks to months.
* In soils, PAHs are most likely to stick tightly to particles; certain PAHs move through soil to contaminate underground water.
* PAH contents of plants and animals may be much higher than PAH contents of soil or water in which they live.

How might I be exposed to PAHs?

* Breathing air containing PAHs in the workplace of coking, coal-tar, and asphalt production plants; smokehouses; and municipal trash incineration facilities.
* Breathing air containing PAHs from cigarette smoke, wood smoke, vehicle exhausts, asphalt roads, or agricultural burn smoke.
* Coming in contact with air, water, or soil near hazardous waste sites.
* Eating grilled or charred meats; contaminated cereals, flour, bread, vegetables, fruits, meats; and processed or pickled foods.
* Drinking contaminated water or cow's milk.
* Nursing infants of mothers living near hazardous waste sites may be exposed to PAHs through their mother's milk.

Source: ATSDR

Note that last bullet point. Persistence. My poor, constantly sick, respiratory challenged, allergy-laden Persistence, who is on anti-histamines despite AAP recommendation against it for children 2 years of age and younger. She cleared up her phlegmy asthmatic ways as soon as we left the area. Within one week of being back, her symptoms returned.

Mine did too. I felt so much better in so many ways on our vacation. I got tired still but not the all-consuming, I can't function fatigue. I still took my herbs and vitamins, trying to maintain the careful balance of functional body.

I kept thinking the allergies were a symptom, rather than a cause, of the problems I experience. Further research shows this to be true.

For me, I think it is a matter of predisposition. For some reason, I think I have always been predisposed to a sensitivity to these chemicals.

I have always been very sensitive to smoke, any smoke, but especially cigarette smoke. It makes me rabidly against smoking and a strong advocate for the smoke-free zoning going on. In college I went to smoke-filled clubs frequently. Such prolonged exposure lead to a brief hospitalization stay for me due a serious lung reaction. It cut back my socialization seriously. Ever since, I've done my best to avoid smoky places and am thrilled with the new smoke free rules. However, a month ago, I went to a town that didn't have it and agreed to go to a bar to watch a football game with friends. Even before half time I was wheezing, and it took me hours to stop hacking and grunting and choking like I had some form of emphysema. I knew cigarette smoke bothered me but this was the most extreme reaction I'd had since college.

I've had other lung issues in addition to immune and autoimmune and endocrine system issues since moving here. I contracted a form of pneumonia that took three types of antibiotics and about three months to knock off.

Something about my body type and chemistry potentially renders me susceptible to PAHs. This prolonged exposure to higher levels just might be more than my body can handle.

It seems a reasonable answer.

I can only hope we find the proof and answers.

My area isn't unique for PAH and other problematic hazardous materials. Texas is a leader, but so are Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania. Not to mention California (life could be worse for me, I could live in Los Angeles). The 1,408 sites the EPA listed are the National Priority List for sites to clean up due to the major hazards they pose to human health and the environment. The areas involved contain carcinogens.

You know what I'm talking about. You've heard of the Superfund. Go here to see if your area is on the list.

There are eighteen (18!) NPL Superfund sites near me. That's nearly half of the total in Texas (42).

In fact, one violator is within a couple of miles of me. It gets a special spot on the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) at the EPA.

Creeped out? Scared? Skeevy?

I am.

This is where I live. Where I am raising my kids.

It might be a problem for you and your area, too.

Why this is opens a big can of worms. It involves our economy, and our system of government. And is another post entirely.

In a few weeks I'll hopefully know one way or another, but to tell the truth, in one small way it doesn't even matter what the blood tests show. In my mind, I am already convinced this environment is a problem.

Note: I know I have barely scratched the surface of this issue, don't half understand of it, and the reports are awfully confusing to decipher. I need an expert. But I can tell a problem is here.

* Note: I sarcastically named this Toxic Town, not realizing that USA Today just printed an article about Port Arthur, naming it Toxic Town. You should read that. It's charming. Lure in money now, never mind we kill off all our residents later. It is so sickeningly indicative of how we think now.

FTR, Port Arthur is the area where the hurricane hit. It's also the area where my husband is building new schools. The high school his firm is working on is the high school that got a huge settlement after a tragically high number of its students became ill from (and died of) terrible cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma. My friend's mother was affected.

The comments to this article distress me almost more than anything. "Just move," and "get your handouts elsewhere" make me sick.

P.S. If your area is clean, will you let me know? So far it looks like Idaho and Nevada are possibles for safe locations. We're compiling a list. I prefer seasons, if I must move. And nice people.

Some light bedtime reading for you:

Public Health Statement for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

ToxFAQs™ for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) (from ATSDR-DHS)

Endocrine Disruptors (Wikipedia)

Endocrine Disruptors (NRDC)

Brio Refining
(An NOAA PDF about one of the NPL Superfund sites)

"POTENTIAL PAH RELEASE FROM CONTAMINATED SEDIMENT IN GALVESTON BAY-HOUSTON SHIP CHANNEL" (article by Chunlong Zhang, Gabriel Zheng, Gregory Holston, and George Lambert University of Houston-Clear Lake, Houston, Texas 77058) (and I wish I understood this better...I'd like to reach one of the authors)

Toxics Release Inventory Program (US EPA)

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
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Wow, Julia. This is all very, very frightening.

I need some time to digest all this information. In the meantime, I hope you do get some answers.

- Heidi
Suz said…
This is scary...and I need to figure out if my area is "clean." It would be fun to have you as a neighbor!
blimey! it sounds really scary and also very likely. the increase in ME and MS and other similar diseases seems to be linked to chemicals too. i hope you get the information you need - i think i would have to move just for peace of mind...
Snoskred said…
You know, Australia is great.. ;) Where I live there are no nasty factories or anything bad. I live on the doorstep of a protected marine park surrounded by national park. I've never felt so well.

I think your theory is spot on. If moving will fix it, then do it. What is more important? Your health, of course. But would moving somewhere not too far away that your support system is still available (within say 45mins to an hours drive) be an option? Is there country, like real country, within a short drive?

Kyla said…
Oh. My. God. Julie!

This is horrible. Totally terrifying. Our little corner of the map is just totally covered! Ugh.

I'll be waiting anxiously on your results!
Gina Pintar said…
We have been poisoning our air, water and earth for a long time. Our earth is fighting back.

Not surprised to hear this. This theory has been around for awhile in the autism community. Environmental triggers. Why not everyone? Some are more succeptiable to it than others.

M's recent genetic SNP test showed us why he is more succeptaible and how to correct it using vitamins and suppliments.

I LOL at easy move. I remember the last move. Would not want a repeat of that!

Hugs. I am actually glad that the autism theories are making it into mainstream medicine. I think this will help a lot more people with chronic issues.
Anonymous said…
Holy Shit! How can you keep the panic at bay? Probably the fury offsets it, right?

It's a lot for me to absorb and consider rationally. I just want to scoop you up.
Gina Pintar said…
PS. Don't think about coming here. 1 in 94 can't be good for you either.

This is a huge problem and issue. I am tired of big corporations being allowed to lie to all of us about safety for their own profit.

Speaking of lies for profit, have you seen the numbers about the injuries from Gardisil? See this blog post from 10/22 "GARDASIL, Show your Doc, Talk to your Doc!"
Unknown said…
Oh, it's horrible. I don't know what to say - what you must be feeling about your health, about your little girls, about your home and life there - and having it leave!
Oh, and it's awful for anyone to comment "just move" - not everyone has that option, the intricate planning and all the money it takes to move your whole family somewhere - not to mention the luck of finding work. Ugh, it's maddening, when really it ought to be cleaned up.
New England, for the most part, seems relatively clean and we have seasons!
Magpie said…
Julie, that is one of the most horrifying posts I've read in a long time. Damn. I feel for you.

I'd suggest you come to my town, but we're a frighteningly short distance from a nuclear power plant - which I don't like to think about.

Have you read Silent Spring? It foreshadows all of what you've just written...50 years ago.
ALM said…
I am overwhelmed. For you. For all of us.
Unknown said…
OMG Julie, I'm so sorry. We are not on the list.

I can't believe this and sadly I can. I just am shocked and overwhelmed.

I'll be thinking about you.
MARY G said…
Two quick reactions:
3.) what kim said, in spades.
2.) Yikes! I will need some time to read and digest all this. You are amazing.
PunditMom said…
I've been to Houston and Port Arthur -- I totally believe it. My guess is that for most of us there are toxis floating around that impact our health, even if we can't see the stacks.

I hope your test results are OK.
Anonymous said…

You might also look into "environmental poisoning"--there are folks who have become so sensitized to all the chemicals we live with that they have to live in homes without carpeting, built of wood that hasn't been treated, etc.

Where in Nevada would you be thinking of? Water is an issue there, just something to think about.

While it's scary, it would also be nice to have something to point to and say, "Yes. This is it. This is why I've been so sick for so long."
Mayberry said…
I agree with punditmom -- it's scary to think about all the stuff we don't even know about yet!

Dear Julie, I hope you find both answers and solutions.
Liv said…
If it's your health or your location, I choose your location. Yes, moving is hard. Being there for your kids is a no brainer. You might also contact the EPA and see if you live near any SuperFund sites.
Bon said…
sweet merciful, Julie.

we have seasons up here, but my little farm-so-many-potatoes-we're-eroding-ourselves province is also full of pesticides and thus high on asthma and allergies, alas. but we'd love to have you!

good luck with this. and please keep informing us.
S said…

Come live near me. Though I live in a bad state, there is only one site anywhere near my town.

I hope you have answers ASAP.

That is so frightening -- and so enraging.
T with Honey said…
It is a very painful thought but moving may be your only option to a healthier body.

I developed allergies while my immune system was trashed after a car accident. Cigarette smoke was the most severe. I needed an inhaler just in case I was exposed to it because I would stop breathing similar to but worse than an asthma attack. I lived in PA at the time.
When I finished college I moved to New England and my allergies started to clear up. But I would notice that every time I visited home they would flare up again.
I would love to move back there and live closer to my family but I'm certain that my daughter's health is not in as much danger from environmental pollutants where we live now.

Many of our innovations from the past 20+ years were rushed to the market without proper study and concern for environmental impact from manufacturing, usage and disposal of those products.
painted maypole said…
yikes, Julie. so scary. but if it means you can get well...

The area where I live - the "Northshore", north of New Orleans - is supposed to have some of the best Ozone around.
Kathy Gillen said…
Thanks for all the research. I'm impressed that your doctor actually admitted to an environmental reaction. Most of them don't want to admit anything we inhale or ingest has anything to do with our health. The tide seems to be changing. You may consult a really good holistic, not a flake. Some are very educated and understand how your body reacts to these chemicals. They may offer another alternative to moving.
Anonymous said…
Holy. shit.

Sorry about the profanity but I just couldn't help it. I know you've been following my fatigue-laden illnesses as well and when I went to my doctor last week she told me it might just be a bi-product of where I live since so many of us develope Houston-Athsma.

I'm just sick over this.
Anonymous said…
Holy sh*t Julie, I am in shock. I can't believe you have been living with this threat! I hope you get the answers soon and can act on what you find.

It is so scary that this is happening in so many places. But what bothers me most is that if these toxic plants and such are identified as they are, why are they still functioning and causing deadly harm???

I can't wrap my head around it. I am going to see if we live near a place. Thanks for the links and insight!

I hope you are better soon, real soon!!!
Tere said…
WOW, Julie, this is incredible! I'm so sorry you're going through all this, but this new theory may be a strong lead for you.

I just hope you get better - you're a trooper and your research is amazing, a real service to the rest of us.

I'd tell you to come to Miami, but I'm not yet 100% sure on its cleanliness; and for sure, the PEOPLE here are toxic!!
Christine said…
we are not on that list, thank god. but we still live in a very evil toxic area. kodak and many other chemical using dangerous plants are in my vicinity. and in my small town, just a block away, is a dead and scary little place where some houses were torn down because of chemical contamination from a local cleaning products plant. dude, erin brokavich came here to help people fight these guys! the whole thing really helped us determine where NOT to by a home when we moved here. But still. i worry. it was the first thing i thought of after i had my miscarriage 4 years ago. and i still worry, a lot.

i hope you get some answers about all this Julie.

heels said…
We appear to be clean out here in my neck of the California foothills, but who knows anymore... If it gets too bad I can just pack up my family and disappear into the trees.
Lawyer Mama said…
Pardon me, but I'm about to do some heavy swearing.

Holy. fucking. shit.

OMG, Julie! I am beyond scared for you! Well, maybe at least it's an answer, but OMG! I looked at the Superfund sites. Yep. About 3 miles from me as the crow flies. Lovely. I can't say I'm all that surprised considering the number of military installations around here, but I'll now be reading through those reports carefully now.

(((HUGS))) I hope you get some answers, sweetie.
Sukhaloka said…
Oh my god.
Leaving the philosophising for my own blog, all I'll say is this. Get Your Act Together And Move ... NOW Hard, not impossible. Good in the long run.
Just. Do. It.

Good luck.
Ally said…
Oh man, this is scary. I am glad you are finally finding some answers, but I sure wish this wasn't it. "Easily move?" Oxymoron is right.

But if you'd consider Seattle (which isn't 100% clean per that site, but looks pretty good comparatively), there's a house for sale 2 doors north of me. I'd love to be your neighbor!
Anonymous said…
Sweet Baby Jesus! I've got a strange thyroid, but it's hereditary. I can't imagine what would happen if it was environmental. I hope you can find the help you need.
Anonymous said…
Move down where I am :) We're positively medieval when it comes to some things; now, our air's not perfect, but it sounds better than that! How frightening for you.

I don't even know what advice I could offer! Good Luck with xx
flutter said…
ok I am kind of fucking freaking out right now
Maisy said…
Modern technology is great in so many ways, but I can't help but think we were better off as subsistence farmers...

I hope you are able to work through the maze and find you health again.

I know Snoskred is touting Australia as a clean place, but I know of a town not too far from her which has an industrial emphasis and there are lots and lots of people with health problems of a serious nature.

Anonymous said…
HOLY SH*T! Are you KIDDING ME? And, "You can easily move." Yeah. Because this is just the right market for putting a house up for sale.

(As a side note, reading: "It could be worse. We could live in L.A." did NOTHING to allay my fears about air quality there and make me more comfortable with the fact that the company wants us to move there next. Any suggestions about how to figure out which neighborhoods are safer than others? I clicked on that map you linked to, but I got really confused...)
Anonymous said…
I was born and raised on the ship channel as well as all my family going back over 70 years. Not one of us has ever had any of the problems you speak cancers or anything. I swam in ditches and floods as a kid, and even grew food in the backyard garden for years. We were so close to the refineries that the sky was a yellow glow from the flare gas all night long. Most of the neighbors around me there from the 60's and 70's are all o.k. as well. I wonder if yours has to do with genetics?
Julie Pippert said…
Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for commenting with your experience.

Let me ask you a question because there are two possible interpretations of the conclusion your comment implies.

Do you mean:

1. Because you and your family anecdotally have no illnesses or problems there must not be any toxins?


2. Because you and your family anecdotally have no illnesses or problems the emissions must not actually affect people?

The effect of PAHs on the human body, environment, plants and animals isn't really in dispute. There are hard scientific facts. Even Western medicine accepts it.

Your genetics point is relevant. As I said in my post, clearly something about me predisposes me to be more affected (that's why I shared my past history with PAH illness, which, at the time, I was unaware was PAH illness).

My husband and elder daughter do not seem as affected and me and my younger daughter are. He is native to here. I am a foreign body.

So sure, genetics are a factor.

But to be clear, genetics are not the cause. My genetics are not in fault or error that they can't handle toxic pollutants.

The companies that emit these things are at fault and in error.

The government that allows it is at fault and in error.

Our complacency about it is at fault and in error.

And you might be surprised what you or your neighbors have experienced as a result of effects from PAHs. It's not always cancer.

So far (from my lips to God's ears) I don't have cancer.

I had no idea before Monday that pollutants could be the cause of my endocrine system problems.

I only thought of them as really bad as in causing cancers, such as in Port Neches, Groves, and Port Arthur where major class action lawsuits were filed after so many got sick with varying cancers (see, not all the same cancer, even) and died. I thought it caused asthma.

I had no idea it could interrupt your immune system, autoimmune system, endocrine system.

It can affect your eyes (vision, cataracts,, etc.).

Your liver.

Your kidneys.

Your GI tract.

Skin cancer.

Bladder cancer or problems.

Nausea and vomiting.

Do your eyes get red or irritated sometimes? Have you always figured that to be allergies? It might be a reaction to PAH exposure.

Without knowing you or your family I can't say but I'd ask you to read some of the literature and see what you think.

Thanks for coming by!
Anonymous said…
Wow. Scary. It's so Erin Brocovich. Doesn't it just make you want to run around shouting from the rooftops, telling everyone to PAY MORE ATTENTION TO THE WORLD AROUND THEM?

I do hope you are able to figure everything out. I want you to be healthy again, too.
Anonymous said…
Coure delene Idaho has a lake that is superfund site, so I'd avoid that portion of Idaho.
bend oregon is clean, except for seasonal smoke from field burning and wildfires. Some people are highly allergic to pollen released from ponderosa and juniper trees (also seasonal).

The construction industry is big here, or it was before the RE crash. People are very friendly. It's quite cold in winter but you might like it.
Oh i forgot too mention that the snow in the cascades contains toxins which have floated here from china. I think no place is 'safe' only 'comparatively safe.'
This is so, so frightening...but not new to me. Have any of you read Having Faith by Sandra Steingraber? It's the story of her pregnancy and new motherhood combined with her knowledge of ecology and how toxic our entire environment is.
Move if you feel you must, but that book showed me that nowhere will be safe if we don't STOP THE PROBLEMS! It was really galvanizing.
I'm sorry to hear about your troubles. It's a really hard situation to be in. In some sense, we're all in it together. Thanks for giving this problem a personal face for a lot of people.
Unknown said…
I live in the Bloomington-Normal area of central Illinois. Our map is clean for a several county area. Bloomington-Normal is one of the best towns in the US, highly educated, highly techie, awesome economy, great place to raise kids. Home to State Farm, Country Companies, ISU, Illinois Weslyan University, Mishubishi, and those are just the biggest employers.
Unknown said…
I live in the Bloomington-Normal area of central Illinois. Our map is clean for a several county area. Bloomington-Normal is one of the best towns in the US, highly educated, highly techie, awesome economy, great place to raise kids. Home to State Farm, Country Companies, ISU, Illinois Weslyan University, Mishubishi, and those are just the biggest employers.

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After being confronted with written evidence, Julie admits that she is a total attention whore. In some things, in some ways, sometimes I look outward for validation of my worth and existence. I admit it. It's my weak spot, my vanity spot . If you say I am clever, comment on a post, offer me an award, mention me on your blog, reply to a comment I left on your blog, or in any way flatter me as a writer...I am hopelessly, slavishly devoted to you. I will probably even add you to my blogroll just so everyone can see the list of all the cool kids who actually like me . The girl, she knows she is vain in this regard , but after much vanity discussion and navel-gazing , she has decided to love herself anyway, as she is (ironically) and will keep searching for (1) internal validation and (2) her first person . Until I reach a better point of self-actualization, though, may I just say that this week you people have been better than prozac and chocolate (together, with a side of whi

In defense of vanity...I think

Do you have one of those issues where you argue with yourself? Where you just aren't sure what you actually think because there are so many messages and opinions on the topic around you? I have more than one like this. However, there is one topic that has been struggling to the top of my mind recently: vanity and perceived vanity. Can vanity be a good thing? Vanity has historically been truly reviled. Vanity is number seven of the Seven Deadly Sins. It's the doppleganger of number seven on the Seven Holy Virtues list: humility. There are many moralistic tales of how vanity makes you evil and brings about a spectacular downfall. Consider the lady who bathed in the blood of virgins to maintain her youth. Google Borgia+vanity and find plenty. The Brothers Grimm and Disney got in on the act too. The Disney message seems to be: the truly beautiful don't need to be vain. They are just naturally eye-catchingly gorgeous. And they are all gorgeous. Show me the Reubenesque Pr

Is your name yours? How your name affects your success...

Made by Andrea Micheloni Not too long ago I read What's in a name? by Veronica Mitchell. She'd read the NPR/USA Today article, Blame it on your name , that shared new research results: "a preference for our own names and initials — the 'name-letter effect' — can have some negative consequences." Veronica's post and that article got me thinking about names, and their importance. Changing to my husband’s name and shedding my maiden name was no love lost for me. By the time we married, I’d have gladly married any other name just for a change. My maiden name was a trial; I was sick of spelling it, pronouncing it, explaining it, and dealing with the thoughtless rude comments about it. My sister and I dreamed and planned for the day we could shed that name. So I wonder, sometimes, whether I adequately considered what a name change would actually mean. Heritage and genealogy matter to me and my maiden name reflected a great deal of familial history. Histo