Monday, August 29, 2005

Hurricane Katrina--why do all of the bad ones have female names?

Well, we have power for a little while so I'm going to try and type a bit. My mother, step-dad, brother, sister-in-law, and brand spanking new niece left New Orleans on Saturday morning. The traffic was light and it only took them an hour and a half to get out here. We were able to find a hotel room for them but only for one night. The German, VanGoghGirl, and I hung out with them at the hotel until bedtime and then we came home to get some sleep. Around midnight, I talked to my youngest brother and his girlfriend and they told me they had plans to leave the next morning. I called my oldest brother around 1:30 a.m. and asked him what he was going to do. He said that he was still trying to figure all of that out because transportation was sort of a problem for him, his girlfriend, and their two kids. The problem? His girlfriend's car doesn't have air conditioning. She figured that since it was the middle of the night it wouldn't be all that bad and that it was better to just go and be hot than to stay and perhaps lose their lives. I told him that The German would be glad to come and get him but he decided to be obstinate. He insisted that he wasn't leaving until after he washed their laundry and took care of some things. The German said that he was just going to leave to get them and bring them back here while the roads were pretty clear. I called and told my brother that he had already left and got chewed out about it. He told me that he wasn't leaving yet so I might as well tell The German to come back home. I was pretty upset because this control freak was willing to make the rest of his family pay the price for his obstinacy. I called up my bio-dad and told him about it and he called my brother and also got my uncle (his twin) to call him. Bio-dad says that my brother probably won't speak to him for awhile but at least he'll be alive and able to have time to get over it as long as he's out of danger. Bio-dad has his faults but he's extremely practical-minded and knows how to win an argument with my brother (and almost anyone else for that matter).

Yesterday (Sunday), my mother and her crew wound up having to stay here because the nearest available hotel room was in Ft. Worth, Texas which is nine hours away from here. The hotels are full of Floridians who came out this way to avoid the storm back when it was expected to hit them the hardest. Despite the lack of hotels rooms, things went fairly smooth. The contraflow plan kept the cars moving on the highway for everyone who didn't wait until mandatory evacuation order was issued. Of course, my brother wasn't one of them. He didn't leave until the order came through and so he got stuck in the throngs trying to get out of the city. If he hadn't had his family with him, I'd have said it served him right for not leaving when he could.

The winds started kicking up by the afternoon and by evening it was raining. We wound up having to take a trip to Wal-Mart to get some more supplies. The lines were unbelievable. I even saw one of my old buddies from New Orleans who had come to my city for shelter.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Funeral History

I've been thinking a lot about funerals. I feel like I've definitely been to more than my share of them in the past. The first one I went to where I actually understood what was going on was when my best friend's grandmother died. My mother had been best friends with her mother since they were in fourth grade. Me and my best friend were born only two weeks apart from each other and had been best friends since birth. Her grandmother was hit by an eighteen-wheeler truck while standing at the bus stop waiting to go to work. My mother had to take care of all the arrangements for the funeral because her friend was too torn up to do it. As a matter of fact, her friend didn't even go to the funeral because she couldn't bear to see her mother in a coffin. Me and my best friend were about eight years old.

Next came my maternal grandfather. What I most remember about him was the way his kisses were always prickly from his five O'clock shadow. He would often tell me that one day he was going to take me to visit Yellowstone National Park. Thanks to his die-hard cigarette habit, he died of lung cancer that eventually spread to his throat and killed him. My grandmother found his body on the floor in the living room when she came in from work one evening. He really loved science so it was no great surprise when we found out (after he had died) that he had already arranged to have his body donated to a local university. So, instead of a full-fledged funeral, we all got together at my grandmother's house, read a few verses from the Bible and said a little prayer. I was around twelve years old.

Then there was my friend Clarence a.k.a. Clay. I was fifteen and he was sixteen. He was shot to death at a birthday party after trying to help break up a fight that had erupted there. The sad thing is that his friends who were actually doing the fighting didn't get hit at all even though they were the ones the shooter had aimed at. After the funeral, I (along with the other twenty or so kids who had skipped school together that day) went to his parent's house and did our best to comfort his family. That was the first funeral that I went to on my own. My mother never would have agreed to me going to Clay's funeral. It took years for the police to catch the guy who killed Clay. They claimed they couldn't find him but the thug never even left the city. One day, Clay's mother saw the boy walking through the mall shopping with his friends. She called the police and they finally picked him up after having that one basically handed to them on a silver platter.

My beloved maternal grandmother came after that. For most of my life, my grandmother worked in the housekeeping department of a fancy downtown hospital, the Dauphine Orleans. She would often receive foreign coins in her tips and she always saved them for me. The hotel where she worked used to have them put these little piroulines on the bed pillows. The staff also had to stock those little Andes chocolate mints in the rooms too. My grandmother always had plenty of these left in her pockets and gave them to us to munch on when we came to visit. A few years after my grandfather died, she came and lived with us. Once she set the house on fire because she fell asleep with a cigarette in her hand but fortunately, no one in the house got burned. It was diabetes that killed her. First she had one foot cut off. Then they amputated the other. Then they cut off her legs up to her knees. Then she died. I was sixteen. I almost got into a big argument with the guy who officiated the services at the funeral. His mother had been friends with my grandmother. So, the jackass proceeded to spend the entire service talking about how nice his mother was to my grandmother when she was alive. I really wanted to tell him that with the way things looked, he wouldn't have long to wait until it was time to talk about his mother at a funeral. My mother stopped me.

Shortly after graduating from high school, another one of my close friends from that period died. Karl Brooks and his girlfriend had gotten a place together. One day after work, Karl went into a little corner store to pick up some diapers for his girlfriend's baby. When he stepped outside, someone asked him if he had any change to spare and Karl said he didn't. A moment later, Karl stopped to use a pay phone. While standing at the phone stand, the same person walked up and saw him. The people who witnessed the incident say that the guy got pissed off at seeing Karl putting money in the phone and yelled, "I thought you said you didn't have any money!" before shooting him several times. I got to see many of my old high school buddies at Karl's funeral. One of our friends had been pregnant with twins for Karl while they were in high school but her mother had forced her to have an abortion. She was there too. A few years later, Karl's mother went on one of the afternoon talk shows and told his story hoping that this would help the police to find the killer. It didn't.

When I was twenty, yet another one of my high school pals was killed. His name was Fred Beasley. He was sitting on the porch of the house that he shared with his girlfriend and some unknown person came up and shot him in the head. He was known throughout the neighborhood as a stay-out-of-trouble kind of guy. He wasn't a drug dealer. He worked. He paid his own bills. It was completely unexplainable. His was the worst funeral that I have ever been to. Fred's family and his girlfriend were mad and fussing about the fact that the mother of his daughter arrived late. The pastor did everything he could to try and recruit new members during the funeral by calling for everyone who knew they weren't "saved" to come up so that they could be baptized after the funeral. The organ player and the singer did their best to choose songs that would get the family hysterical with grief. Despite how much I liked Fred, I was really sorry that I went to his funeral and I swore I was not attending another high school buddy's funeral EVER.

A couple of years ago, I went to the funeral for my step-sister's baby. My step-sister was living in Germany at the time where her soldier husband was stationed and she went into labor too early. She was only about six months pregnant. The doctors were unable to stop her labor from progressing and she gave birth. The baby only lived for a couple of hours. They flew back to the U.S.A. to have the baby buried here. There was no funeral, only a gravesite prayer. My step-sister's husband wouldn't let anyone else handle the coffin. He carried the it from the hearse to the grave himself. Unfortunately, none of us ever got to know the baby or make any memories with him.

I think it's kind of sad that none of the deaths I've had to deal with personally were simply from old age. They all seem like lives that were cut short prematurely. I wonder if that's because of the way my friends and family died or if it's just that all deaths feel like that.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Life is Funny

This morning I decided to google "mandala" images. And I came across some really breathtaking photos on this one site. Then I visited the link to their blog and fell in love with these one-panel stories they had posted on their. I was going through them all when I saw this one and, although it might seem silly, I really felt like I could relate to it.

You see, I have an bone tumor on one of my ribs. Whenever I have to get another scan done to my ribs, I dress up, fix my hair as nicely as I can, and wear my prettiest earrings. It always makes the x-ray technicians smile because I tell them that I got all dolled up because I like to look nice whenever I'm getting my picture taken. Using my time before the scans to dress up helps me not to focus too much on whatever they might see. It helps to keep my day funny regardless of any news I might receive once the doctors take a look at the results.

This picture also reminds me of when I was first diagnosed. I went to the doctor on campus because I had a cold. While I was there, I told him about a back pain that I'd been having for a long time off and on. I figured it was from carrying so many books around campus. Well, he did an x-ray because, since I have lupus, he worried that it might be a fluid build-up around my lungs or even TB since college campuses can be a breeding ground for it. Well, to make a very long story short. It was actually cancer. Now, how's that for life being funny? Sometimes you go in with a cold and you come out with prescriptions. Sometimes you go in with a cold and you come out with cancer. Yet, despite all of that, life is still a wonderfully funny place.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Entrer le Bébé


A wonderful "package" arrived yesterday. My niece entered the world surrounded by the families of both her mother and her father. My mother, step-father, sister-in-law, and brother had gone to the hospital on Tuesday night after a day's worth of on-again-off-again contractions. Not much happened that night but they decided to stay under the doctor's supervision just in case they got stronger. By the morning, she was in full-fledged labor.

The German and I decided to let VanGoghGirl miss school and come along for the trip. When we got to the hospital there was already a pretty good crowd of folks waiting as well. My sister-in-law's mother, nanny, grandmother and aunt had come from Des Allemands to be there for the big moment. My sister-in-law's best friend arrived shortly after us along with her boyfriend. I had met her friend at the baby shower a few weeks ago. I was really happy to see so many people come from all over the area to be there with my brother and his wife.

Me and VanGoghGirl went to see the lady of the hour and I must say she was the most beautiful woman in labor that I had ever seen. I just know that I wasn't that serene when my daughter was making her grand entrance. Of course, the fact that I was almost completely dilated by the time I got to the hospital might have something to do with that. Anyways, my brother was standing next to his wife looking like he was in shock. He was absolutely sentimental with me and my daughter telling us how happy he was that we were going to be here for the delivery.

Well, thanks to the miracle of epidural shots, my sister-in-law didn't even feel most of her labor. The gorgeous mommy only had to push twice and suddenly she was there--the baby. How lucky is that? I'm really glad that she had a positive experience with her first delivery. While she was in labor, the baby went into distress for awhile and the doctors told her that if things didn't improve that they might have to perform a Cesarean Section. However, they were able to get the baby's heartbeat under control and she was able to have a vaginal delivery.

When we came in after the delivery, my sister-in-law was holding the baby and my brother was standing next to her looking like the cat that swallowed the canary. The baby was absolutely angelic! She had a pretty little thin layer of straight black hair on her head. Her face was the only part of her body that had any color. Her whole face was blush-colored from crying. I can't say I blame her, though. Who'd want to be thrust into such unfamiliar environs after spending all your life in a nice cushy mommy-tummy? Heck, if I could go back to being that carefree I would even now!

Her arms and hands were fairly blue. It reminded me of VanGoghGirl. When my baby was born, if she'd have been any more pale she'd have been see-through. My niece already looks like her parents. She has her father's eyes and her mother's eyes. When I looked over at VanGoghGirl she was crying and smiling at the same time. She just kept saying that she'd never seen anything that beautiful before in her life. Seeing her amazement really made me slow down and take in the whole scene a bit more too.

My youngest brother and his girlfriend arrived about a half hour after the birth. My oldest brother is a teacher now so he couldn't just leave work but he got on the phone and congratulated the new mommy and daddy. We stayed with them for a couple of hours and I even got to hold the baby. I had said to myself that I wasn't going to be disappointed if they really didn't want everyone holding the baby just yet. However, my brother saw me looking as my mother held the baby and asked me if I wanted to hold her too. I can't believe how much he has matured. I feel like I'm going to have to get to know him all over again. I think I'm going to have to get past looking at him as just my little brother. He's working full-time with a wife and a child now. That's really awesome if you compare it to his younger days. I can't wait to see where life will take him next.

VanGoghGirl came up with a nickname for the baby already. It's Ladybug. She loves ladybugs. She has ladybug pillows and ladybug toys and she even paints them sometimes. So, when she told me that this was the nickname she wanted to give the baby, I could tell that she's really already in love with her cousin. Since we found out that the baby was going to be a girl, we've talked about all of the cool things she's going to teach her. Now she's really excited and can't wait until we can get started. I'm really looking forward to babysitting and spoiling Ladybug as much as I do VanGoghGirl.

I'm really glad that VanGoghGirl hasn't expressed any jealousy. My brothers were worried that she might feel like her place was threatened now that there would be a second female grandchild/niece/great-grandchild. I think that it helps that there is a big age difference between the two girls and no matter what, my daughter will be the oldest grandchild. She thinks that makes her responsible for teaching her cousins all of the stuff she's learned so far. It's a lot of fun to watch her with my oldest brother's two kids. I have to remind her that she can't expect them to just follow all of her directions perfectly the first time she's trying to teach them how to draw or write something. She forgets that she didn't learn things instantly either. I've also told her that now she'll have someone to help even things out because it will be two boys versus two girls when all of the grandchildren go to their Mimi's house. She definitely liked that idea.

We stayed at the hospital for a few hours after the birth and then we had to leave. VanGoghGirl's school was having Open House and we needed to go and meet her new teacher. By the end of the day we were all totally exhausted and I slept more soundly than I have in weeks.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Self-Loathing People

About a week ago an incident happened around here that really has me upset. As my daughter was walking from the bus stop, one of the girls asked her if the rolling bookbag she was dragging along was a Hilary Duff bag. Hilary Duff is one of the latest Disney-created teen sensations. She's had her own television show and music album and now she's branching off into a line of accessories for little girls called "Duff Stuff". So anyway, after my daughter tells the girl that it is a Duff Stuff bag, the girl asks her why she got a "white girl bookbag". Before my daughter could answer, the girls says "Oh yeah, that's right. It's because YOU'RE white!" Another girl in the group tries to defend my daughter and tells Miss Smartie Pants that VanGoghGirl is not white, just light-skinned. Unwilling to let it go at that, the mean girl says "Well, she acts like she thinks she's white!"

This really hurt my daughter's feelings. However, being the kind of person that she is, she still didn't want to believe that the girl was purposely being mean to her but it bothered her all the same. My first reaction upon hearing about this was to try to help her shake it off and just get her mind off of that and onto something more positive. The next day though, while she was at school, I got the opportunity to think about it some more. There was another incident that happened around here a few weeks ago.

VanGoghGirl doesn't have chemically relaxed hair. Before she was even born, I decided that I wasn't going to go that route with my child. I just don't believe in putting all of those harsh chemicals on a child's head. Besides that, I also think that natural African-American hair is beautiful. I have some friends who started out saying they'd keep their child's hair in it's natural state but went on to change their mind as the child's hair got a bit longer and it became more time-consuming to keep it looking nice. I think that's fine. It's a personal choice. I used to wear my hair natural but then I relaxed it and now I'm considering going natural again.

The thing is, I haven't felt the need or desire to relax my daughter's hair. Maybe I'm lucky. I'm not trying to brag but the majority of people in my family have really thick, gorgeous hair and VanGoghGirl's paternal family has really wavy hair that tends to stay healthy looking even after it's pretty long. So, my daughter happened to inherit a head that tends to have more good hair days than bad. Most of the time I braid it in five or six ponytails. Sometimes, The German's sister cornrows it for me and sometimes I even flat-iron it for a bit of variety.

Well, on this day, my daughter was going out to play and didn't have many daylight hours left before she'd have to come back in again. So, I simply brushed and combed it and put it in some ponytails but I didn't braid them. She hadn't been outside for long when she came back inside. I asked her what happened and she said that one of the girls had told her, "I wouldn't let my child come outside with her hair looking like that." It was the same girl that went on to make the comments about my daughter supposedly thinking she's white. Uh, I just have to wonder what this girl thinks her hair would look like if her mother hadn't been frying it to pieces with curling irons since she was old enough to walk. My daughter's hair is healthy, shiny, long, and wavy compared to that girl's limp, broken-ended, and dull mess held together by a half-bottles' worth of hair spray. I know that might sound harsh but I'm sorry, this kid is old enough to know better. There's nobody forcing her to set out to hurt other's feelings. The sad thing is that my daughter thinks the girl is really pretty but evidently this girl doesn't feel beautiful at all. But that's no reason to try and make VanGoghGirl feel bad.

This girl had been one of the nicest girls in the neighborhood but all of a sudden she's really changed. She doesn't really live over here but her grandparents live right beneath me and we all get along just great. Her grandfather is a Muslim and we often sit and talk about race and politics and all the problems commonly faced by and caused by "our people" (blacks). He's extremely intelligent and he really loves trying to talk to the children in the neighborhood about respecting themselves and their elders. The mean girl even has a great mom. Last year her mom told her she could pick three girls and invite them to a slumber party. When the girl asked VanGoghGirl to be one of the girls, I wasn't surprised because they have played together for years.

Somewhere along the way, this girl seems to have developed some real self-hatred. VanGoghGirl doesn't carry all of the baggage about skin-color that so many blacks hold onto even in this day and age. I'd like to keep it that way but it seems that black people are making that really difficult. Of course, this is nothing new. People used to throw rocks at my mother and her sisters on their way home from school along with calling them the same "White girl!" name-calling crap that black people are so quick to dish out. The sad thing is that now, decades later, black people are still doing the same old thing.

How in the world can you teach a child to be proud of being an African-American when they see these same people behaving in a manner that no one should be proud of? I swear, no racism is worse than that which black people will experience at the hands of other blacks. The German and I were discussing this a couple of months ago after he read an article and shared it with me. A white social worker tried to attend the National Association of Black Social Workers annual convention but was refused entry. I'd think that black people would be glad that someone who works with a lot of black clients actually cared enough about them to try and gain some insight into their situation but no, not these jerks. As usual, we had to go and show that we can be just as discriminatory and ignorant as the sort of white people that "we" complain about. Good grief! Even David Duke lets black people attend his NAAWP rallies.

I was just going to put all of this stuff with my daughter behind me when I happened to tell The German's sister about it when she asked how VanGoghGirl has been doing. She really went ballistic! She felt like it was a much bigger deal than I initially did. She told me that I really need to tell that kid something because I have no idea how much those comments might have an effect on my daughter. She said, "That girl might have been having a good day and then hear that and go in her room and cry! That could totally upset her day and change how she looks at herself for a long time!"

I must admit that I felt rather sheepish after listening to her. I had tried to teach VanGoghGirl to just write such incidents off as signs of other's envy which are best ignored. I felt that all of the positive messages that we give her about body image would make her pretty immune to the stupid comments that people occasionally make. The German and I have spent hundreds of dollars on books and dolls that feature characters that look like her in the hopes that she'd see herself as having a place in this society where she could feel beautiful and valued. Now it seems that all of that won't have done a bit of good because just a little hatred goes a lot further than all the love in the world.

I think The German's sister recognized that before I did. If I had been thinking, I probably wouldn't have told her about what had been going on. After I did tell her, I could see that this was clearly a situation that she could relate to. The German has told me how he was picked on about the same sort of things and how those messages still affect him to this day. Him and his sister's anger have shown me what can result even when you have a mother that shielded you from a lot. If I don't do the best I can to help my daughter deal with this, she could grow up as maladjusted as a lot of other girls I know. Either they hate their body and repeatedly engage in relationships where they are abused or they see their body as the only thing in the world that will get them attention. As usual, I can see all of the problems but finding my way to the solution is going to take a lot of time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Medications

The Chemical Structure of Lortab

Today, I went to see the oncologist that treats me in this city. I actually have three doctors who take care of me and my cancer but I only have to see two of them frequently. The visit was okay. My orthopedic oncologist in the nearby city has decided to take a wait and see approach with me. My last x-rays were good, no signs of new cancer growth. So anyways, I spoke to my doctor today about getting off some of my medications. I am really feeling tethered by these drugs. On the one hand, I'm really happy that they are willing to give me the sort of meds that it takes to keep my pain fairly controlled. However, I just really wish that I could get off of most of it. My doctor said that the reality is that I'll probably always have to be on some sort of pain meds because of the procedures that I've had. He said that he didn't recommend me trying to get off of my meds all of a sudden and that he's comfortable with me taking the amount that I get now. That was reassuring. However, I want to be off of it if there are any other alternatives that we could try. So the doctor decided to start me on Mobic and increase the dosage of Neurontin in the hopes that over time this will allow me to get off of the medication that I really dislike by substituting it for other meds and then we could see how small a dosage I could use and still get pretty good pain relief. That's not exactly what I was hoping for but it sounds like a good plan to me. My goal is still to get off of the narcotic because I just don't want to take it anymore.

I used to work as a pharmacy technician. During that time, I saw umpteen people come through the pharmacy with altered prescriptions for narcotics. If a person goes to the dentist and comes up to the counter with a prescription for 100 Percocet, then you should definitely be suspicious. That actually happened once. The prescription had been written for 10, not 100. The person wasn't even smart enough to use the same color ink when they tried to add the extra zero to it.

That wasn't the only such incident, either. Only once did we have a situation where a certain doctor was prescribing narcotics willy-nilly. The pharmacist decided not to fill any more narcotic prescriptions from this particular physician because of all the addicts that were coming in with 100 tablet prescriptions from him. Eventually, he was investigated by the government and they put a stop to his ability to prescribe narcotics.

I really hate the fact that there are doctors who are prescribing carelessly or, worse yet, making money by illegally selling prescriptions to people who simply seek to abuse them. Still, as bad as that is, being a drug addict seems a lot worse than simply being a rogue doctor. I have a real fear of becoming like that one day. My doctors say that's pretty much impossible given the medication in question and my reason for taking it. As long as you take it when you're in pain, you won't get addicted to it, according to them. I guess my worry is irrational but I just can't shake it from my head.

Maybe it has to do with the drug abuse I've seen. One of my best friends from high school became addicted to crack cocaine while attending university. Another guy that I dated for awhile but finally settled down and became friends with was a frequent drug user. It didn't seem like that big a deal to me at the time because he seemed to have it so under control. He was a university student attending school on a scholarship. He maintained good grades and he had the body of an athlete. He never exhibited any of the ugly symptoms of drug abuse Unfortunately, he's now sitting in a state prison for a crime that he committed while he was high. As it stands, he will spend the next few years in jail for something that I know he wouldn't have done if he was sober. My friend from high school is now drug free, married, and the mother of three children but her drug use did leave her permanently altered mentally.

Personally, I don't understand why people even want to abuse Percocet and other narcotics. After my first and second surgery, I was prescribed Percocet for the pain. It tore up my stomach and it was months before I could take them without feeling really sick. If the pain hadn't been unbearable, I would have chucked that prescription down the porcelain throne in the bathroom. Eventually, I was able to switch to something a lot less potent. Then I reached this plateau where the pain stopped decreasing. Now I'm left with a good deal of pain every day. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the pain at all. Hey, you have to survive something in order to hurt from it. I'm thankful just to be here.

There are two main reasons why I really want to be off of the meds. The first one is that it makes me tired. I don't consider it really ideal when the only way to get rid of pain is to take a medication that will cause me to sleep through half of its effectiveness. I'm trying to finish up school so that I can move on to a few other things but being drowsy and medicated all of the time means that I can't do a lot of the things that others do. Driving is out of the question. Now, try being a non-driver while living in a semi-rural area where the closest bus stop is three miles away. I have great family. The German usually takes me where I need to go but in order for me to finish up in college, I need to be able to get back and forth to campus while he's out at work. We're still trying to figure out how to deal with this obstacle.

The second reason I want to be med-free (or at least free of the strongest one) is a bit different. I really hate explaining to people what medications I take. It's impossible to hide the fact that I take medication because I have to take them so frequently throughout the day. And I think people "mean well" when they ask me about what I take. However, when I answer their question, they act like I just said that I'm shooting up morphine or something. So, what is the name of this horrible drug? It's Lortab.

I think this reaction that I get is because of popular culture. In one of the areas where The German works, there is a mobile home community. Unfortunately it's not a nice one (We do have some mobile homes that obviously cost more than some of the regular homes). The police are always going into the community for drug busts because of the jerks that create Crystal Methamphetamine labs out there because it's a bit remote. Then there's all the songs that glorify the use of drugs. I used to enjoy all of those songs until I had VanGoghGirl and now I can't stand any of it.

Anyway, most people don't know a whole lot about Lortab but they do know that it's a narcotic and that's enough to induce a really surprised reaction. Explaining why I have to take it really didn't seem like a big deal at first but now that I'm a few years into my treatment, I'm really a bit tired of it all. I just want to be able to live my life without constantly wondering if I have enough of my medication in my pill box to get through the entire day's activities and then worrying that I might have forgotten the box altogether. Trying to get my medication filled at the local pharmacy is problematic too. My doctor had to write on the prescription that these were prescribed because I have cancer. However, they still give me the skeptical look when I come in with prescriptions. I guess that's karma at work for all the folks I gave the same look to. Fortunately, The German is pretty good about going down there and cause a ruckus until they get it all right.

Well, now that I've taken my meds, I'm starting to get tired. Maybe I'll update tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mi Familia


Me; VanGoghGirl; my cousin and his wife; another cousin, his wife and daughter; my brother and his girlfriend

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Race Relations in the Bayou

Alligator Bayou near Baton Rouge, Louisiana

As if my flat isn't in a rural enough area, I've had to traverse even deeper into some sparsely populated parts of Louisiana lately. One of my brothers and his wife are due to have their first baby in a few weeks. So, we had to go out to Des Allemands for the baby shower over the weekend. VanGoghGirl, my mom, and I have been looking forward to it for awhile. The German was not but I dragged him along anyway. I've been trying to get to the bottom of why he's so reluctant about going out there but he isn't making it easy.

I think that racism has a lot to do with it. He's told me about how growing up bi-racial wasn't very easy in this part of Louisiana. Imagine being raised by a mother who is very educated and a different color from you in a place where neither is common to see. The fact that she is so completely free from the petty hatred that is so common here probably made it worse because he got to see that being racist is a choice that people make. Even now he regularly comes home with stories of how he's been called various slurs when driving through the more homogeneous areas surrounding our city. I think that visiting Des Allemands bothers him because it reminds him of those places.

The German and I haven't actually had any bad experiences in Des Allemands the few times that we've visited. However, my pregnant sister-in-law is bi-racial as well and she's talked about how much prejudice she witnessed as a child. I don't think she ever really found herself the intended victim of racism but she says she felt it all the same whenever she saw it in action. I wonder what kept her from being the target of racism despite living in an area where it's so pervasive.

She really does look just like the rest of her Cajun family members despite the fact that she's half Puerto-Rican. But I'm not sure if that would have caused her to see more racism or less. People out there who looked at her wouldn't have known they were talking to someone who was half-Hispanic because, thanks to their Cajun heritage, almost everyone is a bit swarthy. So a racial slur isn't likely the first thing some one would use if they wanted to insult her. However, since she isn't readily identifiable as "bi-racial", those who didn't know about her Hispanic ancestry probably wouldn't realize that she might take personally the racism that she witnessed them inflict on others.

My sister-in-law has decided to name the baby "Jazmine-Marie". I'm really glad that everyone is so crazy about this baby already. Almost everyone in her family has accepted and welcomed my brother despite the ethnic differences between their family and ours. Jazmine-Marie's great-great-grandmother is really looking forward to meeting her and so am I.