“PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God”

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I wanted to share some quotes from the latest PostSecret book, which I got for Christmas. Some of these are here because I appreciated them, some of them are because I thought some of you would appreciate them. Some of them are touching, some of them are heart-breaking, some of them are funny, some of them are sweet. Personally, I feel like they are best appreciated if you take a separate moment for each one to savor it, i.e. don’t just skim them if you’ve the time.
(All are formatted as closely to the actual as possible, except to correct for “shouting” where it looks like it’s intended to function as “small caps.”)

“I found this inside a magazine on an airplane.  As soon as I arrived home, I took the ring I’ve had in my pocket for two years out and proposed to my girlfriend in the middle of the airport. SHE SAID YES.”
Taped to the postcard is a corner of notebook paper that reads: “This is your moment. The right time is NOW!”

“Sometimes I am envious of women unburdened by the freedom to be anything they want to be when they grow up.”

“I’m scared I will be killed in the line of duty… And NO ONE will tell my son how much I loved him!!!”

“I feel bad for killing ants at the bakery I work at[;] sometimes I tear up when I spray them.”

“I lied. I don’t hate the dining room chair beacuse of the ants. It’s because when I was four mom + Dad tied me to it + beat me.”

“See happy families doesn’t make me sad anymore, now that I’ve joined yours.”

“I divorced you to be with someone else even though I said I didn’t but now I would give 10 years of my life to go back to being your wife

“I woke up this morning and all I wanted to do was call you and ask you to fly across the ocean and be my lover.
I didn’t.”

“Je t’ai quitté parce qu’elle habite 1km plus près que toi.” (”I left you because she lives a kilometer nearer than you.”)

“i resolve to be brave and strong and proud of my life”

“I laid in your bed when everyone was downstairs and I went to your room to get a hoodie. I just wanted to see what it might have been like if I had said ‘yes.’ Since May 30, I’ve been in love with you.”

“I interpret for the deaf and when I go into stores I pretend to be deaf to see if people talk s@#t!!”

“I make you believe that I am racist… so you wouldn’t suspect that I had sex with your best friend.”

“if i died today, would there be anything you wish you had said to me?”

“My Daughter HATES! Women who have had abortions! I HAD ONE”

“The only reason I didn’t kill myself in high-school, was because my art teacher cared!”

“I’m afraid there will be nothing outstanding or interesting to say about me in my obituary.”

“Sometimes when my dad tells me stories I’ve already heard, I can’t help but think about how much I’ll miss hearing them when he’s gone. I love you, Dad.”

(On a picture of worn-out children’s shoes:) “It’s not God who doesn’t care, it’s us.”

“I had my dream wedding with the wrong person”

“I hope when I die it’s with a machete in one hand, battle axe in the other, and taking down as many ~ZOMBIES~ as I can.”

“I use a bracelet of Jesus to hide my cutting scars.”

“I judge my co-workers on how they treat our disabled colleague.”

“I know you will see this. And I hope that you will get that feeling in the pit of your stomach knowing that this postcard is meant for you. I love you.

“I haven’t taken my medication and I know I should but it felt so AMAZING just to cry at a movie. The tears came and I feel like I can do anything.”

“My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer last summer. Today is her Birthday. I found two Birthday cards I wanted to give her but I couldn’t make up my mind, so I stuck them in a drawer until it got closer to her Birthday. I pulled them out today, and started sobbing because I couldn’t make up my mind which to give to her. I kept thinking, what if this is the last Birthday card I ever give to her? Which do I choose?
I finally made a decision.
If she makes it to her next Birthday, I don’t want to give her the other card I cried over, and if she doesn’t, I don’t want to come across it next year, so I’m sending it to Post Secret. Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.”

“My son laughs at boys who knot their ties improperly. He can’t imagine not having a father to learn from. that will always separate us.”

(on a memorial service program from Japan 1965) “I had the key to open the door and let them out from the fire, but I forgot. They died. When I found it, I threw the key in the rice paddy on the ride back to base.”

(On a Zoloft ad:) “With out it I am immobilized by anxiety… with it I am immobilized by apathy!”

“i make stupid faces on my photo IDs so that i’ll always have something in my pocket to make someone laugh
it almost always works”

“I’m not making friends in college because I spend Friday nights on Facebook remembering friends from home.”

“My great-aunt died three weeks ago.
She was the last person alive who had known my late mother as a girl.
I’m terrified I will think of something I want to know about my mother, and now there’s no one to ask.”

“I already knew your secret. Everything is going to be alright.”

“For 16 weeks I prayed and begged for my baby to live. God either didn’t hear, couldn’t be bothered, or doesn’t exist. I don’t care which anymore. January 4 – My baby, God, and my heart – all died.”

“You asked me to pray that God would bless your boyfriend
+ I do
even though I want to marry you”

“I hate how the things I miss most are the little things I never noticed before.”

“i only pray to god when im in extreme pain. sometimes im afraid he wont help me because im being selfish…but hes always there. thanks.”

“I’d rather this cancer kill him than face the overwhelming sadness that our 14 year marriage is failing.”

“Caring for cancer patients has stopped my suicidal ideations”

“I never feared death—until I became a mom.”

“Until about three years ago, I couldn’t understand what kind of a person my father had to be to cheat on my mom. I still don’t understand what kind of person it takes.
I just know I’m one of them.”

“I wanted him so badly that I slept with him, knowing he was going home to you. Now that I know he would cheat, I don’t want him anymore. I’m sorry.”

“The problem with my kind of loneliness is that other people don’t seem to cure it.”

(On a postcard with a razor taped to it, and arrows pointing at it:) “I don’t need this anymore”

“I didn’t report my rape. Because I knew it would hard to prosecute. (and if I tried and failed everyone would know, but would think I was a liar)”

“Today I realized I am allowed to be HAPPY.”

(The postcard is a picture of a guy holding a notepad with the following words written on it:) “Please Don’t Kill Yourself Tonight”

“Call me. dad died.”

“For the past two years I’ve liked the person I’m becoming less and less
…I’m changing that

“Just because I don’t believe in religion doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in FAITH.”

(Written on a bag that has “For motion sickness and refuse” printed on it:) “I know why you always get up to go to the restroom when we go out to eat… I just don’t know how to help you.”

“Since life is so short, I feel like I need to be active all the time. I feel guilty for taking time to RELAX

“I was afraid if they found out I had cheated on their father they would never forgive me…
…turns out that the secrets they were keeping about him are a million times worse.”

“I don’t care if I see God in heaven. I only care if I see YOU

“I’m just waiting for someone I can tell all my secrets to. that way, I can stop spending all my money on STAMPS

And reprinted on the back cover (it also appears in the book): “I’m a Christian who is falling in LOVE with someone who doesn’t believe in god….
I think its a beautiful love story.”

First Post!

So I guess I’ve decided to name this blog “SHM”, which stands for “Somatic Hypermutation” (and not “Simple Harmonic Motion” — sorry for all the fans of The Other SHM). Here comes the stream-of-consciousness word vomit of the why: Somatic mutations aren’t passed on — they take effect locally and don’t bother anything else in the body or future generations. Somatic hypermutation, more specifically, is one of the two processes that comprise affinity maturation, which is what happens when your body is reacting to an antigen that it has seen before. It’s called affinity maturation because your body is creating a bunch of new antibodies (well, antibody-producing cells, actually) that are all slightly different but still mostly attuned to recognize the particular antigen (somatic hypermutation), and then selecting for the ones that have a higher affinity for the antigen (clonal selection). Thus, affinity maturation is part of the immunological process that allows your body to “remember” antigens, and this blog, so far as I can tell at the moment, is going to serve as a memory dumping site bank for my random thought processes that I never seem to be able to remember once they’ve concluded themselves.

It’s kind of silly, actually — I’ll have some minor epiphany at the end of a thought process, and then forget that I’d ever thought about it until someday, maybe, when I start thinking about it again. Considering how many random thought processes I have about various topics, my remembering these minor epiphanies happens less often than I might like, because they’re not accessible to me when I’m trying to randomly brainstorm things, as, for example, for writing blog posts…uh oh. I think I see a problem here…. I guess I’d better hope that my longer trains-of-thought happen when I’m in front of a computer, although they rarely do, and this is exactly why I have this problem…. *shifty eyes*

Anyway, so I think I’ve kind of veered off-topic, except not, because the post was originally about the blog and the rationale for naming, wasn’t it? While I’m at this whole word-vomiting thing, though, I think I will ramble a little more about immunology.

I have a number of allergies, and it’s gotten to the point where I’m tired of just avoiding them and want to try getting rid of them (there are some other reasons and complicating factors, but anyway). I’ve been testing myself for allergies by exposing myself and checking for known reactions, but sometimes it’s hard to tell whether the things I notice are psychosomatic (stress aggravates allergy symptoms, after all) or whether they’re actually physically triggered. I mean, ideally I won’t eat more than the minimum to be sure that it’s an allergic reaction, but it’s kind of hard. Also, it’s somewhat cost-inefficient to obtain food for testing (that is, if I end up not being able to eat it because I am allergic, it’s a waste to just throw the rest away), so I try to do it as the opportunity arises to take part in the eating of $food.

So this plan of getting rid of allergies pretty much involves an elimination diet. I am not convinced that it will work, but I think that it is worth a try, maybe? I’m told that one of the CMEs our freshman year went on an elimination diet for some amount of time (O(1 year), maybe?), and afterwards she could eat anything again. So here’s my reasoning: allergic reactions are generally IgE-mediated. Pharma companies do make anti-IgE antibodies that cause them to be targeted for destruction, but this is generally inadvisable as a course of action for treating food allergies, and IgE antibodies are not terribly well-understood either; they seem to play a role in cancer detection (although the data supporting that theory is inconclusive). The drug is also rather expensive, and your body will just keep producing those antibodies anyway.

From a different angle, then: the half-life of IgE antibodies is approximately 2 days for unbound antibodies and up to several weeks for bound antibodies. Allergens present in the body stimulate T cells, B cells, mast cells, and basophils. T cells and B cells aren’t involved in the acute response, but basically, the T cells stimulate naive B cells to secret antibodies, and then other T cells signal the B cells to switch isotypes and produce IgG, IgA, or IgE antibodies instead of IgD or IgM antibodies, resulting in mature B cells that just churn out antibodies (and daughter B cells that do the same, of course). Mast cells and basophils, which are what actually cause imflammation and other acute reactions, get coated in the IgE antibodies that become bound when the allergen/antigen enters the body. Where am I going with this? Essentially, the idea is to eliminate the cells that play a role in producing the allergic response by not stimulating their proliferation until they die out.

Will it work? I don’t know. The human body has been known to produce antibodies that react to antigens last encountered more than thirty years prior, but not all antibodies hang around that long. And since allergies are so poorly understood…I really just don’t know.

The other possibilities that are out there involve building insensitivity to the antigens, which start off exposing you to small amounts of allergen and increasing the dosage with time to reduce the symptoms of the allergic reaction(s). (It’s  like in Le Comte de Monte Cristo / The Count of Monte Cristo, when M. d’Avrigny gives M. Nortier — who in turn gives Valentine — slowly increasing amounts of poison and the recipient’s system slowly builds resistance, except that was resistance to a toxin/poison, and this is immunotherapy to effect reduced sensitivity.) Sublingual immunotherapy is more widely administered in Europe than in the U.S., but it’s gaining popularity here and seems promising. The other option is allergy injections, which require a long-term commitment and are also not recommended for food allergies; they are generally used to treat pollen/dust/etc allergies, but given that there is a possible connection between food and pollen allergies, it’s certainly worth a try. One of the major concerns with injections, however, is the reason for the long-term commitment: pollen allergies vary by region, so different formulations are used in different areas depending on the local flora. Thus, changing environments that require a different formulation will render the former injection course less effective, and adjustments have to be made, etc etc, that just make it too complicated a problem to deal with unless absolutely necessary; hence, the long-term commitment requirement.

More research is necessary; more testing is necessary; I certainly would rather have a wider set of options open to me while I am on my elimination diet, if at all possible, so eliminating various foods as allergen suspects is tedious, frustrating, painful to some degree, but hopefully useful in the end.

[Edit:] I think that with this skin, writing out “Somatic Hypermutation” doesn’t look as bizarrely unbalanced, so the name of the blog is hereby officially changed! (At least until it lives up to its name, changes its skin, and wants a balanced title again ^_^)

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