Learn Your Body: Ovarian Cysts

painBy Virginia Ta

For most women, the thought of ovarian cysts is frightening and perhaps even far away in their realm of reality. However, after dealing with my own health issues as of recently, I was prompted to do a little research to figure out what ovarian cysts were really about and if I should be as scared as I was.

What are they?

Ovarian cysts are most common among women in their childbearing years, as cyst-like structures normally form cystsduring a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle when a follicle forms inside the ovary. It’s during ovulation that the mature follicle usually ruptures, then releasing an egg. However, if the process does not fully complete its cycle, then a functional cyst will form. Functional cysts are not considered harmful and generally do not require any treatment since more than half of the cases dealing with functional cysts usually will disappear on their own within 3 months.

Along with functional cysts, there are also dermoid cysts, cystadenoma cysts, endometrioma cysts, and polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can result in multiple ovarian cysts.

Detection and Treatment

Not all cysts will cause symptoms, however if feelings of pelvic pain, pain during sex, problems urinating, and abnormal bleeding occur, it could be a sign of ovarian cysts. If signs of shock are present, meaning weakness, fainting, or dizziness, fever, and clammy hands occur, a doctor should be contacted immediately.

After a pelvic exam, doctors will usually recommend the “wait and see” method, since there is a chance that the cysts will clear up on their own. At that time, your doctor may also schedule you to undergo a pelvic sonogram, much like the kind administered on pregnant women.

Depending on those results, your doctor may decide to surgically remove your cysts. This is can be done through a procedure called laparoscopy, which allows the doctor to drain any fluids or take a sample of the cyst, or through a procedure called laparotomy, which is done to remove cysts that are at risk of bursting or spilling.

After examining the cysts under a microscope, doctors can then determine whether the cyst is cancerous or not and whether further treatment needs to be done.

Prevention and Staying Healthy

Functional cysts cannot be prevented as long as a woman is ovulating. However, there are a few things that can be done to help a woman’s overall health:

– Using oral contraceptives reduces ovarian cancer by three quarters since it controls the length of time of ovulation.

– Cut down on beef, other red meat, and cheeses.

– Eat more green vegetables.

Schedule regular gynecological visits to get a pelvic exam.

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December 1, 2008 at 10:46 pm Leave a comment

Style Station: Dissecting Denim For All Body Types

denim2By Virginia Ta

Oh, denim. How I love thee. What else in my closet can be dressed up or down as easily (besides your longtime companion, the t-shirt) and still make perfect style sense? Of course I know as simple as you seem, you’re a complex article of clothing that most people don’t take the time to figure out and therefore, often misjudge you. I get it. But because I love you so much, I think it’s only right that we show the world who you are. You are, after all, an American staple (the rumors are true).

Petite and Short Figures

Petite figured femmes, the main goal is always to elongate the frame. Search for shorter inseams, meaning the length from the crotch to the bottom of the pant leg, and pay attention to the details. Take notice to where the knee breaks in the jean, which is where the knee ends and the calf begins. If it doesn’t match with your own anatomy, move on to the next pair. Another imperative detail to take note to is where the pockets fall. Make sure that the back pocket squares are placed over the derriere, never under. Having them sit too low in the back will only cut into your leg length. In terms of fit, petite frames should stick with straighter, slimmer cuts for a more long and lean look. Wearing denim with heels can also help lengthen the leg, however if doing so, make sure that the jeans end right at floor-length for maximum leg length.

Recommended Brands: AG, Citizens of Humanity, Diesel, Urban Outfitters BDG.

Tall Figures

For lengthy ladies, balance is key. Stick with higher rises, meaning the length from the crotch to the waistband. A higher rise will help balance out the long torso to leg length ratio. If you have longer legs, also look for longer inseams. Not all denim is made equal! Plenty of designer denim lines now have a range with longer inseams to help cater to your specific anatomy, meaning that you’ll be able to wear heels with your jeans without looking like you accidentally shrunk your pants in the dryer.

Recommended Brands: Rock & Republic, Seven For All Mankind, Cheap Mondays.

Slim or Straight Figures

For the slim and straight set, there’s a wide array of denim made specifically for you. No shape? Forget that. Create the illusion of curves by seeking denim that has a little stretch in its fabric. Not only will this ensure a better fit, meaning no more baggy-butt-syndrome, but the close-fitting fabric will also help play up the assets you do have. Boot cut and flare shaped denim will also further emphasize a curvier look, however, whatever cut you choose, make sure you stick with stretch. Lastly, make sure your back pockets sit higher on your derriere for extra perk points.

Recommended Brands: True Religion, Citizens of Humanity, Joe’s Jeans.

Full and Curvy Figures

Full figured and curvy ladies, fight the gap! Say goodbye to gaping at the waist by searching for jeans that are both roomy in the hips and derriere, but fitted in the waist. Easier said than done, you say? Look for stretch, stretch, and stretch. Denim with a good amount of stretch will hug your body in all the right places while also conforming to your curves. Also, choose straighter cuts to help streamline and balance your figure. Peg legs and other tapered cuts will only make you look wider than you are. Just remember that the ankle should be the same width as the knee.

Recommended Brands: Paige, Citizens For All Humanity, Miss Sixty.

December 1, 2008 at 1:06 pm Leave a comment

Dear Girl in the Next Stall (G.I.N.S.)

Advice you didn’t ask for.  From the girl in the next stall.

Dear Abby Girl in the Next Stall:

I am a 27-year-old woman who gained some weight after I recently quit smoking. Now my co-workers and people I hardly know keep asking me if I’m pregnant.  All the weight I’ve gained is in my stomach. I do look pregnant. (I have two daughters, so obviously, I have seen myself in that state.)

How should I respond to these people without coming off as mean and angry?

— UN-EXPECTING IN SCHENECTADY

Dear UN-EXPECTING IN SCHENCTADY:

OMG.  This has happened to me before.  I was working at a grocery store.  I had just come back from lunch and I was brushing crumbs off tummy of the ugly, oversized blue sweatshirt I had to wear as part of my uniform while I was waiting for a customer to count his change.  He asked me, “Oh, are you expecting?  When are you due?”  I gasped in horror and said, “No I’m not expecting” in a very sassy the customer is NOT always right  kind of way.  He felt horrible and gave me a dollar tip.  Then I went home and did a lot of stomach crunches.

So, respond to people who ask you impertinent questions with sass.  It is your greatest weapon.  Make them feel foolish for even assuming such a thing about your mostly sexy body.  Stomach crunches are your second greatest weapon.

–The Girl in the Next Stall

December 1, 2008 at 12:27 am Leave a comment

Just Say No?

justsaynoBy Danika Stegeman

Saying No Is Only Part of Assertiveness

“Ah, man. Now I have to walk all the way to Kellen’s house. It’s like six blocks. Chris could’ve just driven me. I better get that jacket I left in your apartment or I’ll get cold on the way.”

My brother Mike’s footsteps echoed in front of mine as we trudged up the steps to his apartment. I took out my rage—about not having received what was actually a five-block ride—on the fake plastic flowers at the top of the stairway.

“These flowers are stupid. Are they supposed to create ambience or something? They remind me of graveyard flowers.”

As he opened his apartment door, Mike shook his head and laughed.

“Damn it, Danika. You always do this. You should’ve just told Chris you wanted a ride when he asked you. That’s what I would’ve done. He’s our brother. I’m sure he would be happy to drive you an extra six blocks.”

“No way. I shouldn’t have to tell him I want a ride six blocks because he’s our brother. He should just know. Plus, I’d feel bad.”

He laughed at me again as he yanked my jacket loose from a heap of outdated City Pages and Old Style beer cans.

“Isn’t this the exact s*** you’re supposed to be avoiding so you can write that article?”

“Pssh. No. I’m supposed to say ‘no’ to stuff so I can be more assertive. I did say ‘no’ to Chris. I said ‘no it is okay I do not need a ride.’”

The scene above illustrates a pattern that has developed in my life: Step 1: someone asks me what I want. Step 2: I try to decide what the other person wants and often lie about what I want to be “nice.” Step 3: I feel rage and take my displaced rage out on other persons or objects. Step 4: I decide once again that there is no chance for communication among people in our post-post-modern world.

A week before I was “forced” by my brother to walk 5 blocks in a smelly jacket, I’d decided to derail my unhealthy pattern and become more assertive. For a week, I said ‘no’ to every request someone made of me. Being unable to say ‘no’ had been the most frequent cause of my feelings of rage. This version of inassertiveness had recently gotten me into a variety of irksome situations, both short-term and long-term. What I found was that simply saying no to things, while it helped me work toward being assertive, was no cure-all.

When I interviewed assertiveness trainer Karen Kataline to help equip myself with the tools to say ‘no,’ she told me as much: “Saying no is only part of assertiveness. It can mean asking for what you want. Ultimately, what it means is being authentic, being real, and knowing how to do that without having a toxic relationship.” As I continued my experiment, I found that saying yes to things I genuinely wanted was often as difficult for me to do as saying no to things I did not. I also found that I had represented my desires to people close to me so falsely in the past, I had a lot of digging to do to get out of messes I’d already created.

A Molehill Turns into a Mountain

For some months I have been working as a temp in a law library. The job was only supposed to last 3 months, but has dragged on for nearly 6. Each week the thought of having to return to the job makes me cranky. During ‘no’ week I made a second stand. I’d tried to quit once before, about 5 months in, but one of my supervisors, (we’ll call him “Schmandy” to protect his identity) talked me in to staying.

“You can make your own hours,” he said. “You’ve done such a good job that we want to keep you on. We have these extra projects I don’t have time for and would rather keep it in the family by having you work on them than hire somebody else. And couldn’t you use the extra cash?”

I reluctantly agreed, only to feel more rage and regret a week later.

“I thought you quit that place,” my friend Ethan said.

“I tried,” I said. “but they wouldn’t let me leave!”

“They can’t just keep you there. It’s a job.”

Apparently they could keep me there. After my second, ‘no’ week stand, my other supervisor, Schmomas, told me they would find a replacement if I would just stay until they’d found someone new. I agreed, feeling good about my assertiveness. They never found a replacement and I am still working there.

At first, I was baffled by the inability of these people to understand me when I said “no, I do not want to keep working at your temporary never-ending job.” After looking over Kataline’s responses to my interview questions, I realized that I had built a mountain from a molehill by A) not quitting after the initial 3 months, when I first wanted to leave the job and B) not standing by my first ‘no’ when Schmandy manipulated me. Don’t get me wrong—it is also partly the library’s fault. They should have let me quit. But by not standing by my desire to quit, I have enabled a situation that has dragged on unnecessarily, to my detriment and theirs, because now I feel rage and they have a crappier worker.

“A great many misunderstandings result because of not being straightforward about what you want and don’t want. It builds resentment because you are saying yes to something you want to say no to. A molehill turns into a mountain,” Kataline warned. I know this and I know the root of my problem here. So why am I still working at this job?

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus?

A quick search on LexisNexis reveals hundreds of articles written in the last decade about how and why women have more trouble being assertive than men do. Girls are called ‘bossy’ while leadership qualities are praised in young boys, androgynous women are more likely to be sexually harassed in the workplace, some women dye their hair blond to make themselves feel more empowered, and so on. All of these studies hinge on the same assumption, an assumption that Kataline also adheres to: “Women by nature are nurturers and they want to please people. Sometimes they do so at their own detriment.”

As a woman growing up amid feminism’s third wave and a student of biological anthropology, I am skeptical of such blanket assumptions about women being nurturers by nature and their resultant desires to be likable. If I had a penis, would Schmandy and Schmomas have ignored my repeated requests to leave my job? Yes, I think they still would have. If I had testicles, would I have failed to leave the job by now? Maybe not. My advice-giving friend Ethan has testicles, and he assures me he would have simply said, “See ya” and left two months ago. But it is easier to say such things than to do them.

I will acknowledge that greater inassertiveness in women than in men may be culturally driven. Men have been in positions of power for most of our existence as a species. It is difficult to break social patterns, but over time they change. A great deal of change has already occurred since my own mother was a girl in the sixties who had to wear a skirt to school rather than pants. I cannot vouch for studies, but change, at any rate, must be enacted by individuals. I am cleaning my things from my desk at work tomorrow.

Tell the Truth to Yourself First

I did not clean my things from my desk the next day, as I asserted to myself I would when I wrote the paragraph above. I cleaned it out a week later and then emailed Schmandy and Schmomas to quit for the third and last time and to tell them that I had left adequate instructions for my replacement in a binder. I felt good about these parting terms, and this time, my employers listened. I realized that I am not the kind of person to make dramatic gestures like saying “I quit, you jerks” and storming out the library doors, with one last glance of malice. I needed to quit like me, not like Ethan, not like any imaginary assertive man or woman I might have in my head.

I am a conscientious worker and person (which is one of the reasons my supervisors at the library said they wanted me to stay). In spite of any feelings I had about the people I worked for, I cared about the job I had done. I wanted to leave with a certainty that the job would continue to be done well. I also communicate better in writing than I do verbally. This is a strength I wish I had recognized and used the first time I quit. What I have found, sappily enough, is that assertiveness and breaking my problematic patterns boils down to the old adage “to thine own self be true.”

Not coincidentally, “tell the truth to yourself first” is the first of Kataline’s six principles of intelligent truth telling. I cannot reveal all six principles here out of respect for Kataline’s program, but I can assert that this first principle was by far the most important for me to understand. (If you are interested in learning more about saying ‘no’ and assertiveness, please visit Kataline’s website—I found her answers to my questions extremely enlightening and helpful).

For each exchange among people, there must be compromise and consequence. If I say ‘no’ (or yes) it means something for the other party. My employers need to find a new cataloguer and consider that the position may not be “temporary” after all. My brother has to drive me further and arrive home 10 minutes later. As I have continued to be assertive after my week of saying ‘no,’ I have realized that being certain that I stand behind my ‘no’ (or yes) makes the difference between whether I feel rage and regret or not.

Each day, the consequences for my exchanges are composed less and less of frustration and displaced rage. Living with consequences I have earned through honesty is far more enriching than living with those I used to earn through deception.

November 30, 2008 at 10:39 pm Leave a comment

“Maybe Everything Good Is Based in Some Kind of Truth” – A Review of Mister Lonely

misterlonely2By Danika Stegeman

Harmony Korine’s Mister Lonely was released on DVD in the U.S. on November 18th, 2008. I rented a copy from a Blockbuster in Minneapolis two weeks beforehand. Strange and unsettling, I know. An appropriate circumstance for renting of one of Korine’s films.

Gummo (1997) and julien donkey-boy (1999), the two other films Korine wrote and directed, are strange and unsettling. Both boast disturbing images like adolescent boys huffing glue, cross-dressing, and hunting for dead cats or Werner Herzog wearing a gas mask while high on cough medicine. The films’ narratives, like their images, are highly fragmented. They are not Hollywood fare. Few who are not film afficianados or fans of Korine have likely not seen them all the way through. I probably would not have seen them if my brothers were not weirdos who forced me to watch them with an eye for the complexity, humor, and truth they hold.

Diego Luna as Michael Jackson and director Harmony Korine.

Diego Luna as Michael Jackson and director Harmony Korine.

Mister Lonely, is a film no one but Korine could have made, but it is an easier pill to swallow. Late 1990’s Korine is to aspirin tablet as late 2000’s Korine is to gelcap: all the goodness is still there but the act of consumption is subtler and more pleasant. The film consists of two intertwined narratives; one tells the story of a lonely Michael Jackson impersonator (played by Diego Luna) who stumbles on love and friendship among other impersonators in a commune. The other tells the unrelated story of a troupe of nuns in South America who skydive without parachutes and land miraculously unharmed. The real miracle of the film is that both narratives are clear in themselves and are complicated but made more resonant by being told side-by-side. Korine has managed in Mister Lonely to make a work that other human beings can feel and understand without compromising the complexity required to make the work intelligent and true.

The emotionally complexity typically embodied in Korine’s characters is not lost either. The most striking example is the Charlie Chaplin impersonator (played by Denis Lavant) who is cruel, ambitious, petty, lazy, and compassionate at once. In an interview with Alex Moore in the Aug./Sept. 2008 issue of Death + Taxes (which I must also credit for the title of this review), Korine had this to say about the tension between disparate emotions in his films:

“Most people don’t want to go there, but there’s something great about being confused, about emotions in the abstract. Like, looking at something and feeling ten different ways about it: Loving it and feeling guilty about it; hating it, but desiring it.”

Korine creates this tension better than any contemporary filmmaker. In Mister Lonely the tension is at it’s most subtle and therefore most powerful. One feels that the nuns are foolish and is yet awed at their faith. Michael appears both fragile and remarkably self-aware and stable at once.

Because I was not distracted by an obfuscated narrative or by wincingly disturbing images, I was able for the first time to appreciate the acting and directing skills in Korine’s film. I was also able to remark on the beautiful cinematography and editing in the film. There is one scene that shows the Little Red Riding Hood impersonator (played by Rachel Korine—Harmony’s wife) walking alone along a railroad track under a clear plastic umbrella. Focusing on one character idling along while singing to him or herself is classic Korine. The beauty of such moments is magnified in Mister Lonely because it is easier to take them for themselves, rather than as respite from the turmoil of the rest of the film.

Mister Lonely should garner Korine recognition as a serious and important force in film. He is often regarded as an eccentric, artsy, shock-monger and relegated to the (albeit praised and cult-followed) margin. Maybe he ought to stay there so he stays himself. Maybe we need more genuine films like Korine’s to reach the public and fewer poser films like Rachel Getting Married in our independent theaters. Mister Lonely is Korine, grown into a more seamlessly stitched skin. I consider it one of the best films of the year and recommend it to anyone, weirdo or not.

November 30, 2008 at 10:35 pm Leave a comment

Guilty Pleasures

gossipretroBy Sarah Klenakis

Having trouble getting through work without the campaign drama to fill your days? My friends, perhaps it’s time for you to take a leap into the all-consuming world of celebrity gossip. While you were fretting over the Dow’s meltdown and weighing the merits of Joe the Plumber vs. Joe Six-Pack, fifteen celebrity babies were born. Unsure of what Lauren Conrad is famous for? Can’t tell the difference between Miley and Jamie Lynn? Do you even know who they are? Well then, how exactly can you call yourself an American? Lucky for you, there are more celebrity gossip sites to catch you up on the real celebrities than puppies wanting to be adopted by the Obamas. Here are a few of the better (or at least bigger) ones to get you started (Let’s just hope your employer hasn’t blocked them!):

Perez Hilton: Celebrity Juice, Not From Concentrate

The self-described “Queen of All Media” posts everything from mug shots of stupid criminals to the latest celebrity crotch shot. He has strong opinions and pet crushes so if you are a fan of Chace Crawford, stay tuned. If you love Jennifer Aniston, be prepared to find him drawing all over her face and calling her “Maniston.” Perez’s real name is Mario Lavandeira Jr. He’s become a celebrity through his doodles on paparazzi pictures. You are practically guaranteed to love hating him—and to ask yourself why you didn’t think to start this blog first.

TMZ

Unlike Perez, which is basically a one-man show, TMZ boasts a staff of “reporters” always on guard for the next paparazzi shot. Many of them can be seen on a half-hour weeknight show, called TMZ, as they pitch the day’s stories for posting. With the support of Time Warner, TMZ often is able to obtain the “best” videos and photos first—including Alec Baldwin’s infamous voicemail to his daughter and video of Michael Richard’s offensive stand-up, which sent his already fledging career to crash and burn. The place for you if you like confrontational paparazzi.

The Superficial: Because You’re Ugly

Part of recently launched Celebuzz (a site containing numerous celebrity-centered blogs), The Superficial is the Perez Hilton for the straight cynic. “Our goal is to make fun of as many people as possible,” the site boasts. And do they ever with posts titled “Britney Spears is a great mom” and “Amy Winehouse redefines sexy.”

Defamer

Defamer does a good job of compiling “best of” clips. Their contributors are a bit more skilled in the writing department, but don’t lack in sarcasm. Defamer is part of the larger Gawker Media Network, which boasts “Gawker Stalker,” a celebrity-sighting map of New York City and Jezebel, one of our favorites here at Powder Room.

If you’re an old pro at surfing these sites, here are a few others you might not yet know (it’s no secret though, that they all pretty much report the same info). But I’m sure that won’t stop you if you’ve already drunk the Kool-Aid:

Celebitchy

Celebrity Babies

Celebuzz

Gawker

Celebslam

Dlisted

Egotastic

Celebrity Gossip

The Gossip Girls

I Don’t Like You In That Way

Just Jared

Popsugar

What Would Tyler Durden Do?

November 30, 2008 at 10:10 pm Leave a comment

Whatchamacallit in the Kitchen: What You Need To Get Cookin’

kitchen applianceBy Sarah Klenakis

Your first kitchen can be daunting—especially if you’ve spent the last four years eating out of the dining hall or pizza box. Or maybe you’re anxious to master the kitchen, but you’ve encountered one problem: you only have about two feet of counter space. Well, here are a few tips and items to help get you started:

What You Need Vs. What You’ll Want

Odds are you’ve probably already inherited your grandmother/mom/great aunt’s dishes. Before filling your cart with crockpots and gravy boats, think about what it is you need. Know your lifestyle—and if you don’t know it, give yourself a chance to get to know it. Will you realistically wake up early to make your lunch or just go out? Are you going to follow-through on those bimonthly dinners with friends? Are you a tea drinker or coffee fiend? You don’t want to find yourself with eight appliances you’ll never use and that take up precious counter space.

Get Yourself a Guide

Whether you use it every day or have it just for emergencies, having a good, basic cookbook can come in handy for all the terms you may not know (the difference between mincing and julienning). If you’re not ready to commit to a book, luckily there are plenty of online resources to help you out.

Recommendations: The Joy of Cooking, Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Websites: foodtv.com, epicurious.com

Try Things Out

You know that spice rack your mother got you that you only use the cinnamon out of? Give the rest a try! Don’t be afraid to try the recipe you saw on Rachael Ray last night either. Even if it takes you ninety minutes instead of thirty, you can be proud of your effort and know that as you will get better in the kitchen, and next time, it probably won’t take so long next time.

The Essentials: Shopping List

No matter your lifestyle, here’s a list of items you’ll likely use every week:

Colander: For draining pasta and veges.

Cutting Boards: You should have at least two cutting boards handy, since when you cook, you don’t want your raw meat to have contact with your vegetables.

Knives: You don’t need a set of fifteen, just a few good ones. Again, know your lifestyle (if you’re a vegetarian, it’s unlikely you’ll need six steak knives). You’ll want a good paring knife, a serrated knife for bread and tomatoes, and a larger Chef’s Knife for meat.

Pots and Pans: No longer for the banging of your childhood parades. At least two pots and two fry pans (two larger of each, two smaller of each) should be good to get you started. They often come in sets of ten or twelve.

Measuring Tools: Try these fun, colorful, and collapsible cups for your dry ingredients.

This Pyrex Measuring cup is great for exact measurements and to add liquids to your recipes.

Cork Screw: No explanation needed on why you need this!

Mixing Bowls: They usually come in sets of three or more. But you want at least two, since most baking recipes will want you to separate out wet and dry ingredients. These ones can also act as serving bowls.

Baking Pans: These will change with your baking habits. Cookies, cakes, pies, or breads, oh my!

Spatulas: These are always good for getting the last sauce out of the jar or for licking the brownie batter! I highly recommend the Williams-Sonoma Spoonula which you can find online or at most of their outlet stores.

Also will want a flat one for flipping pancakes and burgers.

Apron and Pot Holder: These are to save you from burning yourself and exorbitant dry cleaning bills for splatters.

Guilty Temptations

These are items you (probably) do not need! (But boy, do they look like fun!) If you find yourself spending more time in the kitchen, you might want to splurge on one of these—but remember to be practical. There are a lot of fun kitchen toys out there, but if you live in North Dakota and have never seen a mango, you don’t need a tool to specifically chop it.

Professional Multi Chopper

Garlic Press-Slicer—a nice addition to a practical item.

Pizza Chopper—when a knife just won’t do the job.

Vases—for when your boyfriend finally buys you flowers .

Pineapple Easy Slicer—this is just cool.

Espresso Machine—This is pretty extravagant, but if you are spending a lot of money at Starbucks, it might be worth the investment .

Waffle Maker—This is totally fun, but probably unnecessary.

Punch Fountain—For the party giver.

Storage Containers—These are great to keep food fresh and so you know what is where and what you have.

Pitcher—Good for entertaining…or just as an everyday water pitcher.

November 30, 2008 at 9:16 pm Leave a comment

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