Monday, October 6, 2008

I have it. Do you have it too?

In the last six weeks or so, I've suffered from a somewhat unexplained illness.

The first symptoms were confounding. I'd turn on the TV, and suddenly images of James Garner would flood into my head. Playing cards. Wearing a thin, strappy tie and a cowboy hat, ever-so-tipped-back on his head. And then, even odder... newer seeming pictures, mental pictures of Jodie Foster in parlor dress, and Mel Gibson in a vest and jacket. And HORSIES! There were all kinds of HORSIES!

I stepped away. The symptoms subsided. I thought I was cured. But the TV. I couldn't escape the TV.

The next week or two, when I'd watch, another strange set of symptoms began to plague me. It reminded me of being on a small boat in very choppy waters. My eyes were seeing one thing, but my auditory system was sending me different signals indeed. I was seeing a clear picture of the future, but getting signals of something much, much different than that.

First, I felt flush. Then, I felt as though my tummy were churning ever so slightly. I wanted it to go away. I thought, "Oh, I could just lie down, and maybe this will get better." And strangely, if I moved away from my TV, it got a bit better.

But I'd get back up. I'd see the TV. And the full need to ralph would overcome me.

Motion sickness, I thought! Something on TV is giving me Motion Sickness! But I looked it up. And while it described the whole "what you see" vs. "auditory system signals" pretty reliably, the rest of it didn't fit. Maybe, just maybe, I had a very specialized type of this sickness. But then, others I knew started complaining of the same thing! Oh! It just got cold here and the heat at work just kicked on! I must have Legionnellosis.

Nope. Didn't fit those symptoms, either.

Then, one definitive night... I had symptoms that made me know I had to figure it out. An itching, a ringing, a pain, a sensation of permanent damage to my auditory system. I'll never forget the night... Oct. 2. Maybe it was tinnitus from the ballgame I'd just attended. No. It wasn't loud enough there, sadly, to cause this feeling.

And then, I stopped in my tracks. After carefully looking through my diagnosis journal, I realized what I have.

I have Maverickitis.

It's a condition embodied by feelings of ear pain, nausea, vomiting, general malaise, bouts of anger and frustration, and an overwhelming need to shake others into some state of recognition that repeated uses of a word, phrase, set of phrases, or canned retorts to non-asked questions are irrelevant and insulting. It is caused from a disruptive, and often repititious auditory signal that bears no relationship to what the active mind can actually see in front of it. The pained repetition and clear disconnect from what I could CLEARLY see, left me, well, quite needing of a good couple of good face-plants to the porcelain goddess.. It's menacing. And I really don't want it to get worse.

It's a relatively new disease, and research is in its infancy. But early research has lead me to understand that the only currently known cure is political participation.

What? What could I do to stop this pain? This agony? This affliction brought about from causes that I DO NOT DESERVE?!?!??!

Luckily, the Internet was there to help me in my hour of need.

I found one site,, that provided me with that sense of relief of a warm blankie on a cold night. It made me feel better, and I embraced it. But I also knew there had to be more I could do to bring about more lasting relief.

And then I found the site that enabled me to fight this disease for now, and hopefully well into the future! While there, I realized there are others with this terrible affliction, but that there is something we can do! I can make phone calls! I can visit swing states! I can donate! I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!!

Please. I know many of you are suffering from Maverickitis, too. It doesn't have to be something you live with the rest of your lives. There is a cure. Be strong. You, too, can find peace. See what you can do to overcome your affliction at

A woman in recovery

P.S. If you have it, too... Please post. We can all help each other through this trying time...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Elite is not a four-letter word

I'm not sure how many people this blog will ever reach. At the very least, I hope it reaches each and every person who has ever felt good about themselves -- about their skills -- and then felt like crap because the people around them decided to diss them because of it.

I am one of those people. You, if you're reading this, are probably one of those people. None of us are alone.

But this isn't a blog to talk about how much smarter we are than everyone else. It's a blog to talk about how we, either JUST ONE DAY or EVERY DAY felt like crap because people around us didn't appreciate that we were good at SOMETHING.

Pride and humilty-in-the-face-of-challenge are things that probably 95% of Americans feel.

"I totally rocked my SATs!" --> good for college, but your high school classmates yelled "nerd!"

"Really, I took this photo because it showed a sad man in his happy surroundings, and I loved the message that said about the world" --> art geek.

"Most people will never understand the true benefit of a race-car engine that emits just the proper exhaust at the right place over the manifold to understand the beauty of engineering, racing, adrenaline, and power!" --> Car geek.

I bet there's not a single person who is reading a blog on the internet that doesn't think, "hey wait... I AM good at that." And I also bet there's not a single person who is reading a blog on the internet (maybe even the same blog) who thinks... "you just don't get it." "I might not be book smart, but I KNOW this stuff." or "If you think raising 2 kids on $30K a year isn't an amazing skill than you're crazy!"

I want this blog to be a celebration of what we all do well.

I will admit a bit of an idealistic bias in starting this. I've heard for a long time that Obama is an elitist. And then I thought... You know what? He DOES know more than a lot of people about a lot of things. And then I thought... So does McCain... why isn't HE labelled an elitist?

And then I realized... somehow... knowing what you are talking about is either a really GOOD thing or a really BAD thing... and to be honest... I can't understand why each is what it's labelled to be.

So I've started this blog. And this blog will mostly be about comments, but I hope most about contributions people send me, about why being good at what you do... why being an expert ISN'T BAD. In fact... it's good. I remember how horrible it was to be 12 and actually understand "fire" enough to talk authortatively about it. My dad was a firefighter for decades, and my science projects were about fire. To this day, when I talk with authority on the subject, even my best of friends roll their eyes with a "Yeah, we know."

At the same time, I've taught them a lot.

And I think there are countless americans who know a LOT about what they know about who SHOULD feel proud to espouse their knowledge. You don't need to be a PhD... You don't even need to have graduated the 8th grade. I want this blog to be about the every day person, who might be smart about even JUST ONE THING... to post and feel proud about their knowledge.

What is my goal? My goal is to let every American know AND PARTICIPATE IN the beauty that is a collected experience and understanding. And to know... It's not bad, dorky, stupid, ugly, embarrasing, or humiliating... to know SOMETHING about SOMETHING.

You can be an expert in a science. Or you can be a master of household engineering. Or you could be the biggest expert in why the Packers might have been better off trading Brett Favre 5 years ago. The title of expert isn't picky. In fact, it can change every day. It just needs people passionate enough to be willing to hold the title and bear the wrath of the challengers who say otherwise.

What I am tired of is this overarching thought in America that somehow being "good" at something means you're an elitist. That somehow, by glimpsing a path toward the American Dream, you're vilified for wanting to attain it. That "smart" means you're either a kiss-ass or a dork. What about smart meaning "I can do this... even if i'm not an expert in this matter... I maybe, just maybe CAN."

And most of us, in our lives, have realized there is something we CAN be and ARE good at. Does that make us elitists? Well, if we listen to those jerks in grade school or junior high who made fun of us, I suppose. But now that we're all grown-ups... does it make us "elite"?

No. It makes us good, strong, smart, caring, understanding, and in a position, in each of our lives, to not just succeed but excell. And if we know more than the guy next to us... maybe it sounds elite...

Good at what you love might get you a title of "elite" among those who don't get what you do. But who was the last person YOU knew who wished they were "just a little LESS good at what they do"?

Really? Can't think of one?

My fellow americans... kick ass... be good at what you do. Be proud of it, embrace it, make it who you are. But for f***'s sake... stop making "good at it" a bad thing. Reclaim the pride you deserve. Be happy with being good. And kick a whole buncha ass.