When referring to benzene in groundwater, it is typically measured in milligrams per liter, or parts per million. The best way to explain that, is to imagine one drop of benzene in a million drops of water. That ratio would be represented as 1 mg/l or 1 ppm.
Now, in California the maximum contaminant level for benzene in groundwater is 0.001 mg/l. What that means is that a single drop of benzene in a million drops of water is above the MCL. In fact, one drop of benzene in a billion drops of water is above the MCL.
So, if a tanker truck were to spill gasoline on the ground, and that gasoline contains benzene, and that benzene migrates to the soil and then, groundwater ... and that groundwater flows to a river or reservoir ... any living organism in contact with that water will be exposed to a known carcinogen. When that happens, an elevated potential exists that the organism will either perish or grow more or less body parts.
People have long known that a single bad apple can spoil an entire bushel. But they might not know that some chemicals are so carcinogenic, even in very small, teeny tiny quantities, they can easily contaminate billions of gallons of water.
Five and a half years ago, in my first blog post, I wrote,
[This] blog is like an empty house. There's lots of decorating and filling of this space that I need to do ... and I'm excited to do it. Charlie told me that this [blog] is really art, because the stuff that I'm posting on this blog are my creations (in the form of thoughts and pictures). I like that description, Jen the artist. Since I'll be opening this up for people to explore ... I can imagine what an artist must feel like when sharing their art with the world. A dose of hesitation - a pinch of excitement - and a big scoop of hope that those that see your "work" will enjoy it as much as you do.
Five and a half years later, and after much soul searching, I've come to the decision that it's time to put up some drapes and a lock on the door to my blog house. Because over the years, while I have tried to painstakingly decorate this space, I've been "visited" by some carcinogens that have totally contaminated the reservoir that is my soul.
Yes, I've had a glass of wine. Actually, it's been two.
Why do you ask?
Today, I walked around with that sick feeling in my stomach because I thought about this blog and how it's become such a part of me. I've shared, on this space, intimate stories about myself and my family. I've written about my joys and my concerns pertaining to wifehood, motherhood and careerhood. I've written about my philosophies pertaining to life.
I've written about incredibly happy times and incredibly sad times. I've captured some wonderful memories and put photographs to stories that I would otherwise soon forget. But I've preserved them, here, so that I might always remember and hopefully, share with my children one day. Along the way, I've met so many wonderful people that I'll most likely never meet in person. They've shared with me, as I've tried to share with others, gentle advice and touching - often times hilarious - stories from their own lives.
Of course, I've been lucky enough to meet a few of these wonderful people in person. They've approached me in book stores and clothing stores and at the zoo and at 3-Day breast cancer walks and on airplanes. These absolute strangers who hesitantly introduce themselves and then whisper that they read my blog every single day. And when I don't write, they feel like something's missing. This little blog, that started out as a platform for my family living 3,000-miles cross-country, has expanded in to a repository of my inner-most thoughts that for the past five and a half years, has drawn an average of a million visitors per year.
The fact is, this past year has nearly killed me and my doctor believes that I'm in the midst of a 15-month nervous breakdown. At this point in my life, what seems like an onslaught of negative and sarcastic comments are far too much for me to handle. Sure, I could turn the comments off, but then I receive them in the form of e-mails. And I could delete the comments (and e-mails), but once they seep in to my mind, they pull whatever energy I have remaining for REAL LIFE in to what feels like a constant battle of defending my choices and parenting style.
Since I returned to work full-time last month, I've been back to working 60+ hours a week. The rest of my waking hours are spent caring for four children, my husband and our home. That which was plaguing me turned out not to be lupus, but rather, a rare and debilitating auto-immune disease. Between all of that, there is very little left for me. So to sit down at night during what is supposed to be my peaceful time and receive feedback from the peanut gallery that I'm raising ignorant wimps who are bully targets, and we're encouraging obesity, and I'm tampering with my children's self image and privacy by writing about them at all, and so on and so forth, after a while ... the egomaniac that I purportedly portray myself as being, takes pause.
Why the hell am I doing this again?
Why am I opening myself up and allowing this kind of poison in to my life? But perhaps, more importantly, why am I sharing such private details about my family on the INTERNET without any restriction? If I had more hours in the day, or perhaps more stamina, maybe things would be different. But these days, it's a challenge to put one foot in front of the other. And all the while, random people are walking in the open door and taking a huge shit smack dab in the middle of our living room. Quite frankly, I just don't have the energy to clean it up anymore.
So with that: be happy, be safe.
And everyday, try your best to be kind.