Sunday, September 12, 2010

FAQs: General

I’ve been a blogger for some years now, as well as being active on message boards, support groups, Myspace, Facebook and Twitter. And as a result, I find myself answering some of the same questions over and over again.

So I’m putting out a personal Frequently Answered Questions list; two, actually: one in general, and one for multiple
sclerosis and trigeminal neuralgia.

The latter will undoubtedly be the longer of the two, as I am very often asked about MS in general and my MS specifically. It requires a lot of long answers, important details and weblinks. It’s one of the most rewarding aspects of the Zen Pretzel Trick: people who are new to MS, or love someone who is, seeking help about this often misunderstood disease and turning to me for it. I am always more than happy to answer those questions, knowing all too well the sense of urgency and the feelings of confusion and panic that are the hallmarks of the newly-diagnosed. I am forever grateful to those wonderful web folk who helped
me out during my tumultuous first year, and I feel a deep sense of obligation to pay it forward. It’s occurred to me on several occasions that having an FAQ list would be so much more helpful than my making a number of emails and hoping I got all the information in them.

And because that FAQ is destined to be the longer, more detailed one…I’m starting with the general questions first. If you have a question for me you don’t see on here, leave a comment and I’ll be sure to add it to the list. I will also add to the list as needed. Note: some of the questions here aren’t really ones I’ve been asked before; they’re just added for fun. What can I say, I’m bored.




Q: Why do you call yourself “Zen Angel”?
There are 3 Angels in my support group, so we gave out nicknames to make life easier.
Q: Where did you get the name for your blog?
The Zen Pretzel Trick is a pseudo-martial arts "move" that appears in one of the Star Wreck books by Leah Rewolinski, a Star Trek parody series. It involves a character based on Sulu, who can knock down a stack of pretzels with pure concentration and a sharp move alone. I am a Star Trek & a Star Wreck fan, and because of my MS, I know all about concentrating very hard before attempting to do things that may seem easy to others but take “tricks” for me to accomplish. Voila!
Q: Why are there no photos of you on the blog, or in your avatar?
I have a stalker, whom I have written about before on this blog (click here). Also, I prefer to be
able to tell people I’m sick first and let them get used to the idea before letting them see me. It lessens the shock and makes it easier for everyone involved.
Q: What should I do if your stalker contacts me?
Copy & paste the correspondence, and email me the file at I will then contact the proper authorities; I have a restraining order and it is illegal for him to try to use others to contact me or anyone in my household. If he continues to contact you and is menacing you, contact the authorities in your area.
Q: You write a lot of posts about Native Americans. Are you Native?
Yes. My father’s side is Eastern Cherokee. My mother’s side is Irish.
Q: What made you start this blog?
I began this blog as a way to vent and to educate others on MS and related issues. It’s also a great way to pass the time when you’re up all night in pain. I highly recommend it.
Q: Why haven’t you been updating your other blog, Bad Baby Names?
Ever since my MS went progressive, I have found myself in a situation where I don’t have as much Internet time as I used to, or as much healthy time to write and research as I once did. I am considering taking BBN to an actual website (not a blog) sometime this winter or next spring. It’s still an idea I am toying with.
Q: Why are there sometimes long absences between posts?
MS is a bitch.
Q: I’ve seen you refer to the “Arthurian” book you’re working on. What does “Arthurian” mean?
Anything related to the Matter of Britain, otherwise known as the King Arthur legends.
Q: I’ve seen a lot of photos of your tattoos. How many do you have?
14, presently. I never get tattoos in the summertime if I can help it (MS being a bigger bitch in the summer than in all the other seasons combined), so I get my “birthday ink” late. I plan to get 2 more in the next few months, as well as my usual Valentine’s and Mother’s Day tattoos.
Q: Who does your ink?
Mostly Sean at Captain Jack’s. I also occasionally use Mav Mess at Deluxe Ink. Both are here in Portland.
Q: Are you into piercing, too?
Not really. I have 6 earrings in my left ear & 2 in my right. I’ve also had my nose pierced for21 years. I might get a few more earrings done, but I’m not interested in any more body piercing.
Q: Are you single or looking?
Neither. I’m very married. This means I’m not interested in cyber sex, thanks anyway. I’ve never really seen the point of it, and I don’t want to have it explained to me, either. I am not interested.
Q: How many kids do you have? Do you want more?
I have three kids, and a tubal ligation.
Q: What is your religion? I’m confused because you seem to celebrate Chanukah and Christmas.
I am a Christian, my husband is Jewish. We celebrate both sets of holidays in our home.
Q: Are you a Democrat?
No. I’m an Independent, always have been. I take voting quite seriously. I look at it like hiring someone for a job: do they have the education, the experience, the skills? I have voted for Democrats, Republicans and even third parties like the Green Party. I have never voted anything but Democrat for President, however.
Q: Are you a liberal?
Yes. Although fiscally, I’m more of a moderate.
Q: Do you live on a reservation? Don’t you have to live on one?
No. I live in Portland. I can live anywhere I choose. (You’d be surprised how often I get this question.)
Q: Did the DMV thing really happen?
Yes, it did. And it didn’t seem at all funny while it was happening, I assure you.
Q: Will you help me find my Cherokee roots? I’m pretty sure my great-grandmother
was a Cherokee princess.
No, she wasn’t. There’s no such thing. Princes and princesses are a European concept, not a Native American one (read all about the myth of the Cherokee princess on this great site). That’s not to say you don’t have Native blood. The first thing you’ll want to do is find out Granny’s full name, including her maiden name, and check the Dawes Rolls. If you strike out there, I recommend finding a good geneologist. That’s not my profession, so I can’t help you out, but there are many good people who can. Good luck, and stop telling people your ancestor was a Cherokee princess. It irritates the hell out of Natives, and makes you look like a fool.
Q: Can you help me get benefits and free college and stuff?
If a complete stranger walked up to you tomorrow and said, “Hi, you don’t know me, but
my grandmother was an American. I just got here myself, and I’m not really sure I can prove Granny was an American, but everyone in my family swears she was a President‘s daughter. Can you help me get welfare, food stamps and Section 8?” What would your response be? Yeah, well, that’s how we feel, too.
Q: Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Yes. The kind that thinks a woman’s choice to stay home with her kids is just as valid and should be just as supported as her choice to join the workforce. And if she does the latter, she should get paid the same amount as her male counterparts.
Q: Did you ever find your missing friend, Danell Lewis?
No. It pains me more than I can ever hope to express, but I am still looking.
Q: Why do you home school?
It’s what works for our family. I am not one of those people who believes that public school
is bad or evil or what have you. I think public (and private) school works great for some families, and home schooling works great for others. It’s a matter of what is right for your kids, and what’s right for your kids isn’t always going to be what’s right for everyone’s kids.
Q: Do you have any pets?
We have one cat, Woody.
Q: What are your pet peeves?
People who use the words “retard” and “retarded” as insults. People who do not control their kids in public and allow them to completely act like little monsters with no consequences. People who believe that because their way works for them it must therefore be the only right way for every person on planet Earth.
Q: Why did you move to Portland?
Dayton sucks. This is my personal opinion, hate it if you must, but you won’t change my
mind on the issue. Ever since I was in junior high, I wanted to get out of Ohio. I went as far
as I could without hitting an ocean and never looked back. I LOVE it here. I never belonged in Dayton. I belong here. That is a precious thing, not to be taken lightly. I can’t imagine myself ever moving back.
Q: What is that icon you use on Facebook, the thing with the two circles?
That’s the Chalice Well, in Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury, England. Legend says the Holy Grail is located inside it. Legend also connects Glastonbury with the isle of Avalon, and thus with King Arthur. It is also said the Abbey was the site of the grave of Arthur and Guinevere. I have the Chalice Well tattooed on my arm (courtesy of Mav Mess of Deluxe Tattoo in SE Portland).
Q: What is “Tin God Syndrome”? I’ve seen it in several posts.
Tin God Syndrome is a term I use for medical professionals who believe they can do no wrong while actively doing everything they can wrong. There are various forms of it; look up the tag for it on my blog and you’ll see numerous accounts.
Q: What do you look like?
I'm 5'7, a bigger gal with brown eyes, long hair that is shaved around (a traditional mohawk) with bangs. The bangs are pink, the rest is black. I have brown eyes, pale skin, a nose ring & 14 tattoos. That about covers it.
Q: How can I reach you by email?
Q: Are you on Twitter?
Of course! You can find me @ZenAngelSinger. I give regular #MSUpdates there.
Anything I left out? Leave it in the comments!



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