Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cornel West on the Michael Baisden Show



"Time is real. We're not here that long. We make the move from womb to tomb. You have loving attachments and vocational projects and you hope that God can use you before you become the culinary delight of terrestrial worms"

This line occurs at 7 minutes and 10 seconds into the interview. I don't why this line resonated with me so much but I just had to call The German in to hear it too.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Los Besitos



Mon Petite Acadienne giving kisses to her cousin, VanGoghGirl, during a visit with their grand-mère.


Isn't this just precious? I use this photo as the background on my computer desktop.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Excuse My French!

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?



Wow! Could that be true? I've always thought I used cuss words rather sparingly here. I wonder what words were considered cussing. In theory, I'm not against the use of any word but I do think there is a such thing as overdoing it. Anyway, this all reminds me of an episode of Spongebob Squarepants that happens to be my absolute favorite. It's called "Spongebob Sailor Mouth".

Family Members Fighting in the Wars

Antiprincess just found out that her brother, who is an American Marine fighting in overseas, will be coming back home in about 200 days. I can't wait to hear her tell us all that he's made it back safe and sound to his family and friends.

There has never been one war in American history that someone in my family wasn't serving in the military and thus participating in. My step-brother was lucky. Right before the Afghan war started, it was time for him to decide if he wanted to re-enlist. He could see the writing on the wall and he managed to get out just weeks before the stop-loss went into effect. Another relative is in the National Guard and he's been stationed in Afghanistan a couple of times since the war began. Hopefully he won't have to go back overseas any time soon.

It's a really hard thing because, back in the day, I used to be really proud to have had so many relatives who'd served. Now, my feelings are mixed. On the one hand, I want nothing to do with this war. However, I still feel a sense of admiration for the soldiers who have fought in wars. Does that make sense?

I just pray that none of the soldiers I know wind up killing anyone. I know that might be unrealistic but, I just have to hope, ya' know? I have made up my mind not to ask any of them if they killed anyone while they were fighting overseas because, in a way, I don't want to know. I'm afraid that it might change how I see them. I don't know what I'll say if/when any of them do tell me that they did.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Melting Pot

While blog-hopping tonight, I came across this post by a knitting enthusiast who's sweetheart took her to the same restaurant (chain) where The German and I had a special moment. I wrote this comment on her blog and I decided to post it here because it made me happy to look at it afterwards.

My boyfriend of several years told me about The Melting Pot and said he wanted to take me. We had a lovely time feeding each other les petits morceaux in the secluded corner of the restaurant. Afterwards, he took me for a moonlit walk down by the Mississippi River where we sat down to watch the water slowly move the giant ships down to the gulf. He got on one knee and asked me to marry him that night. We've been together for seven years now and I'll never forget that night.

LULZ Courtesy of The Online Radical Feminist Posse

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


Here are some quotes that have surfaced over the past few weeks that are sure to generate many, many laughs. I swear, I could write for hours about the white privilege, class privilege, bigotry, and illogical conclusions contained in each one of these comments. Feel free to add any more that you've read lately. It's Hump day, which always brings out the most evol of all my porny, sex-positive, sarcastic inclinations. So, enjoy the butthurt --or not. I don't particularly care because I'm laughing which is all that matters right about now.

Butthurt Radical Feminists=Epic Lulz

------------------------------------------------------

Heart aka CrunchyGranolaDyke aka Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff

who brags about receiving millions of dollars in a lawsuit a few years ago but still hits up her readers for money every couple of months. She's also the same person who pretended to be a lesbian on the Michigan Women's Music Festival forums until it was discovered that she's been married to the father of her two youngest kids for close to a decade now.
"I would not expect any committed, woman-centered, feminist with an established internet presence to make herself available for debates with others on the internet who have demonstrated that they are willing to play fast and loose with the truth, who lie outright, who are malicious and hateful, who seem unstable or unbalanced, or who have dedicated themselves to harming the reputations, credibility or lives of committed feminist women."

"I’m moderating this thread strictly and won’t allow it to be pissed upon in any way, shape or form. At RE’s the male pornhounds — including a fairly scary hardcore sm pornographer — are there full force; some of the threads about this over there are about 90 percent men."
---------------------------------------------------------------

Samantha Berg

the self-proclaimed "radical feminist" who ditched her appearance at Monday's William & Mary debate about sex work because Jill Brenneman and Renegade Evolution (an actual sex worker) was going to be on the panel. That sort of chicanery simply can't be allowed, I guess. And why, oh why, is it whenever these white "radical feminists" want to bolster their claims, they have to try to prove just how hip and cool they are by mentioning how much black people love them?
"The trash talk began within hours of being surreptitiously offered the spot on the panel, and that sort of smug pugnaciousness and disrespectful engagement was instrumental in prompting John to cancel his appearance on the panel and he suggested to me that I do the same. I believe we were right to cancel. I refuse to pose for the pornographically spiteful scene being painted."
"Little story: Heading home from presenting at a prostitution conference I was in the airport shuttle with a middle-aged black social worker with her name tag still pinned to her blouse. I’m a young, white, tattoo-bearing woman and at the time I think my hair was blue. We exchanged delicate pleasantries and danced around how we talked about the conference until she sat up earnestly and cut to the chase, “So, are you for or against?” When I replied, “Against,” she slouched down and sighed and we grooved on the same anti-prostitution track until we got to the airport."
------------------------------------------------------------

rmott62

who's apparently very concerned about the kind of consensual sex that other folks are having.
"The constant attacks made on radical feminists for daring to say that the sex is highly damaging is scary. This is not a false fear. The mental abuse done by these attacks has silenced radical feminist bloggers."
-----------------------------------------------------

Pisaquari classics

Clearly the debate's organizers should have realized what sweet little delicate flowers these radical feminists are and been more focused on making sure they didn't have to deal with actually debating anyone at the debate. I have one question though. Just how do they manage not to crumble in the wind as they step outside of their door each day? I mean, if hearing about other people's lives renders her completely incapable of speaking freely, how does she survive morning traffic jams? For that matter, how would she survive walking down the street with all those non-radical non-feminist people that she'd surely encounter along the way? My advice would be that if being around people whose experiences contradict your theories makes you this upset, it might be best to stay at home in bed with the covers over your head.
"Sam would have been at the organizer’s mercy for how the debate was orchestrated and thus should have had her situation as a radical feminist, as well as someone making extra sacrifices (i.e. distance traveled, feeling indebted to friends lending financial resources), waaaay better considered and respected."
"I am not comfortable being my radical feminist self amongst transpersons. Reading transperson accounts online and in books does not help it either–in fact, it heightens my inability to speak freely. How can I, a gender abolitionist, feel comfortable speaking out against gender and its manifestations in the company of a transperson? How can I, a gender abolitionist, feel comfortable talking about my frustrations and hardships with the idea that what our bodies are born has anything to do with how we should express ourselves, in the company of a transperson?"
-----------------------------------------------

Satsuma

whose screeds decrying the evil that is heterosexuality recently led to a big catfight on Heart's blog. Ironically, this time she also manages to proclaim gay men as teh enemy, too. Her claim about gay men and mass murder--that's just stupid, by the way. It is a bit surprising (not!) that this liberated, radical lesbian would have such a Victorian obsession with how proper ladies and gentlemen are supposed to behave. I guess it's just a coincidence that her moral code is based entirely around white, Western mores.

"Our culture, and by this I mean womanist culture, or feminist spaces or whatever, have become very vulgar. I’ve noticed how vulgar language has become in the U.S. Language itself is filled with “pornified” words, and drug referenced words."

"Young women think it’s hip and cool to be so vulgar that I just had to quit leading lesbian drop-in groups entirely, for the first time in about 25 years."

"You wouldn’t believe the sleaze that gay men buy into either, so men do this to other men, not just women. Gay men engaged in consensual mass murder “the AIDS epidemic” and could care less about the results. Their entire urban culture have become one vulgar sexual scene."

"Pornography has always horrified me. Sexual excess and the degradation of women horrified me. Heck, women with make-up pastered on their faces with breast implants horrify me."
--------------------------------------------------------
Lara

This comment was regarding her feelings about the Sex Workers' Art Show that she attended. One might wonder why someone who went to a performance with that name would expect for the artists to represent the views of people who have only discussed sex work instead of actually experiencing it.
"What an insult to radical feminists who have worked really damned hard doing research and discussing with thought and seriousness the effects sex working has on women, men, and society as a whole."
-------------------------------------------------------

Laurelin


In a multi-blog discussion about whether it's appropriate for bloggers to decide for themselves whether or not to allow my fellow Louisianian blogger, Anthony Kennerson, to comment on feminist issues, she had this stuff to say. I found the first quote really funny because if you substitute "male entitlement" with "the attitudes of privileged white women" it describes that entire thread and those who posted on it to the letter. The second quote shows just how deeply entrenched her sense of privilege really is. If you disagree with her, then you clearly have no right to speak. Am I the only one who sees nothing new about a room full of white women complaining about an uppity person of color who dares to think that they have a right to free speech and reiterating how appalled they are by the fact that some of their fellow white women simply don't see things the same way? Anthony, how dare you make fun of these porcelain goddesses! Why, don't you know that the idea of a big black buck daring to comment on their affairs is just more than they can bear?
"Male entitlement is amazing to me. I’m always surprised by how far it goes, and literally how much such chaps think is owed them, how we should all listen to their dumbass opinion."
"They know they have no right to say what they are saying. Don’t expect them to listen to feminist thought; they will shout us down at every opportunity, while claiming the friendship of those of whom they approve. Watch how they shout down women on their blogs who do not fit their image of sexy, agreeable, polite. Pro-feminists, if they are to be worthy of the name, have to listen to things they may find upsetting. They must accept criticism from feminists, listen to all women’s truths, no matter how inconvienient for their desires and masculinities."
"pretending you find radical feminists’ arguments ‘funny’ in order to show your contempt is just as nasty as calling us all bitches, or whatever. if you can’t be civil, shut your mouth."
"Another thing: RK is joining in on a thread on a pro-porn blog which is basically making fun of our concerns here- with several of the more infamous cowardly pornsick liberal males."
---------------------------------------------------

Maggie Hays

Hey Maggie, we're on ur blogz, stealin' ur quotes! Maybe she should find out how many of her fellow rad fems ask for "copyright permissions" before they paste a quote on their blogs.

We haven’t ever done nothing to this guy and his pro-porny friends apart from being anti-porn radfems, which seem to be enough for this pro-porner and his friends to steal too large quotes from our posts without even asking for copyright permissions, stalking us online and stupidly trash us on their blogs.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Why I *Heart* Little Light and Why Witchy-Who Doesn't Represent Women of Color

Over at Lisa Harney's "Questioning Transphobia" blog, a discussion has been going on regarding Witchy-Woo (from "Well I'll Go To The Foot Of My Stairs...") and her latest "anonymousing" around the internets. As I've been sitting here, I was thinking about whether I actually wanted to link to Witchy-Woo's blog. On the one hand, I don't think her writing is anything more than tripe and I have no desire to be associated with anything she supports but, on the other hand, I think that if I'm going to talk about someone, those who read it should have the opportunity to go and examine things for themselves.

While that's not what this post is primarily about, it is one of the many differences between me and Witchy-Woo's merry band of bigots. I think that people are intelligent enough to decide whether or not my conclusions are valid. Therefore, I don't need to beat around the bush and treat the internet like some big Harry Potter chapter book.

I mean, what's up with talking about someone, showing that you're keeping up with their every word and action, but then acting like you are afraid to name who you're talking about? What does she think will happen? What, is Voldemort going to pop out and grab your ass if you use Renegade Revolution's name? It's really quite bizarre.

Here's the background story:

Renegade Revolution (aka "Ren") has been invited to speak at a debate about porn and sex work over at The College of William & Mary. She and Jill Brenneman will be debating Samantha Berg and John Foubert. For those who aren't familiar with any of these people, Renegade Revolution is a sex worker who has a blog where she writes about her experiences and discusses issues concerning the lives of other sex workers. Jill Brenneman is the coordinator and director of the Sex Workers Outreach Project Program (SWOP-East). Samantha Berg is the co-founder of the Anti-Porn Activist Network and owner of the Genderberg website where she argues against the legalization and de-stigmatization of sex work. John Foubert is a professor who recently fought to ban the Sex Workers' Art Show from appearing on campus because he believes that viewing nudity causes men to rape women. Yeah, I'm not even exaggerating, unfortunately. Check it out for yourself.

Anyway, when Berg found out that Ren was going to be one of the panelists, she tried to get the event organizers to uninvite her. She claimed that Ren had threatened her and her posse a while back ago. Ren does a good job of explaining what nonsense that is here. Meanwhile, Witchy-Woo decides to burst forth with (self)righteous indignation and talk about how she can't believe that someone would actually want to have Ren on a panel. After all, why should a sex worker who writes about and advocates on behalf of other sex workers actually be included in a discussion about sex work? Surely, those who have never spent a day in their life as sex workers would be qualified to speak about what it means to be a part of it, right? I mean, doesn't this person sound like she's the sort of person that is qualified to speak on behalf of all women?
"I’m told that I type the way I talk (or vice versa) so what you see is always what you get any way you look at it. I make people laugh, I make them think, I’m challenging and honest."


Yeah, except for the fact that she's not challenging. Her views are the same ol' soup warmed over twice. Women who disagree with her views don't know what's good for them. She knows how to save us all, as long as we shut up and do exactly as she says. What's challenging about that? What's so different about yet another white, Western woman trying to dictate what constitutes proper behavior for the rest of the world? What's challenging about claiming that women--who want to make choices for themselves and live as they please according to the dictates of their own conscience--should silence themselves and follow yet another white woman wannabe savior for the good of all humankind? After all, for hundreds of years now, we've seen how beneficial (not!) it has been for the rest of us when white women and men were allowed to make decisions for us.

And what does she call her post? "On Professionalism". That's funny. To me she just looks like another professional bullshitter trying to define right and wrong for other women. Exactly how is that any different from all the other kinds of anti-choice advocates that radical feminists are supposedly against? I have news for Witchy-Woo: You ARE the patriarchy.

Then there's this gem of a comment with regards to those who choose to engage in sex work:
"They negate the lives of those suffering for the choices they make and then have the audacity to promote themselves as the ‘one true voice’ in the well of silence centred in the poverty of those they argue they represent."

Evidently it never occurred to this very white, very Western woman living in a country that is responsible for the permanent silencing (i.e. murders) of millions of women around the world, that, before she starts looking overseas, it might be a good idea for her to figure out her own culture's very substantial role in contributing to the suffering of women around the world. Of course, it's much easier to address what those "fallen women" are doing instead of addressing the many unearned privileges that she revels in on her blog.

The funny thing is, she's not even content to just write about being the savior of all mankind on her own blog. When that doesn't get her the attention that the little megalomaniac wants, she periodically starts trolling other people's blogs and leaving anonymous comments or using sockpuppets that don't link back to her blog. Unfortunately, the fool hasn't figured out that everyone knows it's her doing it. It's the same IP address every time. Does she really think that no one notices this stuff? To show you the full extent of her delusions of grandeur, check out the comments she left on the Questioning Transphobia blog.
'Transwomen' are usually male and white. It is wholly offensive of any white male person to lump his self in with black women and prostituted women, and to appropriate the language of civil rights - 'marginalized' - in order to increase the sexual excitement he derives from inhabiting those identities. But then, neither black women, prostituted women or prostituted black women would expect white males to understand this.

Once again, please explain to me what makes this very white, very Western woman qualified to speak on my behalf, to claim that she knows what's offensive to me and every other woman of color, to claim that sex workers or women of color actually agree with her claims about we expect her white brethren to understand in the first place? Talk about appropriation! What does she think she's doing when she pretends to speak for women like me when she has never spent a single day of her life as a woman of color? And does she really think she's being any different from her white brethren when she acts as the self-appointed spokesperson for women who wish to have nothing to do with the likes of her or what she stands for? Which one of her minions gave her the impression that she had the authority to decide who women of color and women who are sex workers will ally ourselves with?

On that thread, the ever fabulous Little Light chimed in and totally schooled little miss second-coming of Christ
Hi Brown trans woman here.
Bring it. Because I'm not backing off from my sisters, and I'm not going to get condescended to as "one of the good ones," and I haven't had any "sexual excitement" since September besides.
Keep kicking, keep lying about us, keep on hating.

It's not our job to swallow it for you. And it's not our job to accept that we're unacceptable. You want to shame us, do some homework and do it competently, you childish bigot.

In the end, it boils down to this:
Witchy/Punk could NEVER speak on behalf of women of color. Her whiteness blinds her too much. When it comes down to it, that's what this is all about. How dare we define womanhood in terms that don't center those of white, Western, cis-gendered, non-disabled folks like her! I mean, imagine the audacity of us cheeky, ungrateful women of color thinking that we can create and maintain alliances with whomever we please!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Getting My Wisdom Teeth Removed

At 1:00p.m. I'm going to the dentist to get at least one of my wisdom teeth removed. My mouth just doesn't have room for them. I don't know if she'll want to do just one tooth today or whether she plans on taking care of them all on this visit. I decided that I didn't want to be sedated for the procedure. I know some people really prefer to be asleep but I'd rather be awake so that I can hear what's going on. Maybe it's just curiosity or maybe it's so that I can hear it just in case someone says "Oops! That wasn't supposed to happen".

Anyway, I don't know if I'm going to be in a lot of pain afterwards. I figure it won't be anything worse than other procedures I've experienced. However, I have read that the closer the injured area is to the brain, the more painful it tends to be because fewer of the body's pain signals get lost before reaching their destination. I guess we'll see.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week

Today wraps up National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week. I know, it's terrible that I'm just posting about this. It's been a really rough week around here but I can't let this pass without acknowledging it and passing out some information about this often ignored group.

With regards to cancer, the young adult category generally applies to those between the ages of 18 and 39 years old. Despite the fact that, in the USA, there are 70,000 young adults diagnosed with cancer every year, our specific needs are often neglected or overlooked.

When I was diagnosed, I was a young mother in my early twenties pursuing a college education. Having to juggle all of those responsibilities that I already had and deal with the rigors of cancer treatment posed problems that wouldn't have existed if I was in another stage of my life.

Before cancer, I'd always planned to have at least one more child while VanGoghGirl was young so that she could grow up with a sibling. From very young and even now that years have past, she's never stopped expressing how much she wished she had a brother or sister like all of her cousins have. Even though I'm not in active treatment, my doctors all agree that it would be extremely unwise for me to attempt to have another baby. My spine might not be able to support the extra weight. Then there's also the possibility that, at any time, I may have to go back into active treatment. For me, that would mean surgery and being pregnant would certainly complicate what is already an extremely dangerous procedure. All of that is on top of the fact that I have lupus, which carries its own set of challenges that can be exacerbated by pregnancy.

Insurance companies often allow young adult students who are in college to still be covered as dependents under their parent's plan. That's a good thing because most of us couldn't afford to buy coverage on our own while living on a student budget. My university was great because our tuition included free access to the doctor's office located on campus so, even if you didn't have coverage, you could get all of your basic health care taken care of. We even had a pharmacy on campus where you could get your prescriptions filled at prices that were a bit lower than what you'd find at the big chain stores. However, many campuses don't have this sort of set up, so many college students have to rely on whatever coverage they could get through their parents.

Other problems arise when a college student has to quit school in order to continue treatments for their cancer. They may have to go out of town for radiation or surgeries. They may have nausea, diarrhea, or fatigue that makes it an impossibility for them to be in class on a regular basis. So what happens when a young adult college student has to drop out of school?

Well, typically, insurance coverage for dependents ends when the person makes 18 years old, unless they are a student. In those cases, coverage as a dependent will extend until they make 24 years old. That means, often times, young adults who have to drop out of school lose their health insurance coverage. In Louisiana, we have the megalithic Charity Hospital (now known as Medical Center of Louisiana) where indigent people can get care for free, but if you live in a state that doesn't have anything like this, you may wind up having your treatment delayed while you fight to get the Social Security system to recognize your disability status and provide you with Medicare coverage.

Having cancer is often compared with being in a race, a race for your life. From the time you are diagnosed, the clock starts ticking. The window of time for certain treatments can be very short. As your cancer grows, you may no longer be a good candidate for the sort of treatments that may be able to eliminate your disease altogether. The further along you are, the more dangerous and invasive and less effective the treatment options may be. So, any delay in treatment can make the difference between life and death. That's a very difficult thing for me to write because I know people who were/are affected by this very situation.

I was blessed in that the only oncologist in the state who could care for my kind of cancer was determined that there would be no delays in my treatment even if it meant he wouldn't get paid for treating me. My surgery was going to require a team of doctors, including a cardiologist (in case they had to stop my heart and cut off part of my aorta and replace it with a synthetic piece), an anesthesiologist (to keep me unconscious in case it became a marathon procedure), and a surgical oncologist (to actually de-bulk the tumor within the appropriate margins). It couldn't be performed at Tulane Hospital because the private hospital wasn't willing to eat the enormous cost of such a procedure like this, so the oncologist was doing the best he could to find doctors who could do the surgery and had surgical privileges over at Charity Hospital where the procedure would have to take place.

Fortunately, before it was time for the surgery, I got coverage and I was able to have my procedure done at the private hospital that had better facilities and equipment than the free hospital has. However, young adults with cancer should not have to wait for treatment because of the way that insurance companies and the government's Social Security program choose to operate. Let's face it, most of us aren't going to have benevolent doctors who'll be able to come to our rescue and save us from the life-threatening affects of delayed treatment.

Being the parent of a young child was difficult too. Earlier today, I wrote about how The German's family helped out when it was time for me to have my second surgery, but that doesn't describe our entire experience. How do you explain to a child that they'll have to quit the soccer team or stop their ballet lessons because you just don't have the energy to bring her back and forth every week? How do you get the teachers to understand why your child is missing so much school?

In Louisiana, we have mandatory reporting laws. If your child misses more than a certain number of days, then the school automatically contacts the city's Truancy Department and they meet with the family in order to decide whether or not to refer the case to the Louisiana Department of Social Services (i.e. the child protection agency that can take your kids and put them in state's custody if you are deemed neglectful or abusive).

The German and I met with an agent from the school system's truancy department before VanGoghGirl had reached the number of absences that trigger the mandatory reporting. She was really a great person. She gave me her phone number at work and she said that, if I needed to, I could call her and she'd come and pick up VanGoghGirl and take her to school on those days where The German simply couldn't leave me at home alone at all and I was unable to get up and go with him to take her to school.

Again, I was blessed because I had The German at home and, on those mornings when I could function without him for the hour or so, he was able to take her back and forth to school each day. If I had been a single parent, she'd have missed a lot more school. There was no way I could even walk to the living room and back sometimes, let alone get dressed, get in the car, drive down the highways back and forth, five days a week, with my back healing from surgeries and radiation. What about those young adult parents with cancer who don't have a caretaker available to help them 24 hours a day? What about those young adult parents with cancer who don't have anyone who can be a tutor, chauffeur, dietitian/personal chef, maid, and primary breadwinner all rolled into one?

These are just a few examples of what we face as young adults with cancer. You can find more information about this issue in the sites below. If you are a young adult with cancer, there are also some links to online communities aimed at those of us in this category. Please, check them out and, if you are a blogger, please consider writing about this issue.




Planet Cancer--When No One Else Thinks It's Funny, We're Here.
If you have cancer and you're not a member of this community, you have no idea how much you're missing! Seriously, if nothing else, you'll die laughing. ;)

Seventy K--Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Advocacy
For over two decades there has been little or no improvement in survival for this age group. By signing this bill, you are supporting the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Bill of Rights to be established as a standard for care to meet the needs of this under-served population.

Vital Options
A great clearinghouse for links specifically aimed at young adults with cancer

I'm Too Young For This: A Place for Young Adults Affected by Cancer
Another great online community for and about us

mAsskickers--Your online destination for information and inspiration
They have many videos on cancer that you can access through YouTube

SleepWalking

"Bottle, Barbies, & Boys" has a great post up right now where Johnina discusses her experiences as a sleepwalker and the mother of sleepwalking kids. It is both scary and entertaining.

My youngest sister used to actually climb the stairs in her sleep, too. For some reason she only tended to go into two rooms, mine or my parents. We could always tell when she'd gone into my parent's room because she'd stand over them and talk and my mom would wake up screaming at the top of her lungs. Eventually, my parents put a front door type of lock on their bedroom door just to make sure that they could, uhh..."cuddle", in peace without a sleeping kid creeping in and babbling incoherently.

The Kindness Factor

Dr. Wendy Harpham MD is a cancer survivor and the creator of the Healthy Survivorship blog. She's written a post called "An Act of Kindness" where she describes an incident in the supermarket with a random stranger.

I have been the recipient of so many acts of kindness that I don't think I could even list them all here but here are a few that came to mind this morning.

1. My awesome Muslim neighbors downstairs who served as emergency babysitters on several occasions when I wasn't home in time to meet VanGoghGirl as she got off of the school bus. They have fed her, entertained her, educated her, kept a wary eye open when she was outside playing with the other kids. When my neighbor found out that VanGoghGirl could recognize and speak some Arabic, he gave her a gift that she treasures to this day: a beautiful, red hardback copy of the Qu'ran that featured the verses in Arabic on one side and the English translation of the words alongside it on the page. She could barely hold the heavy book at the time but it instantly became one of her favorite books.

2. My partner's two younger sisters who, though they have no children, volunteered to care for VanGoghGirl while I went into the hospital for my second surgery. I didn't even know them at the time. The German and I had been trying to figure out how we would handle the situation because we didn't want VanGoghGirl to miss school for an entire week. His sisters heard what was going on and they instantly swooped in and volunteered for the job. We dropped VanGoghGirl off at their house in the wee hours of the morning and, for an entire week, combed her hair, fed her, brought her back and forth to school, and put her to bed on time. What made this really touching to me was that they understood that if my surgery did not go well, they might have had to care for her for an even longer period of time. Still, they handled it so well that my daughter came away from it thinking that she'd been on vacation. She didn't want to leave afterwards!

3. The orthopedic oncologist over at Tulane Hospital who saw me as his patient at his private practice for three months for free. He was the only orth-oncologist in the city and my current doctors now tell me that the quality of care that I received from the beginning is what has probably played a big role in my positive outcome. That scares me in a way because I always think about those who didn't/don't receive the care that I did even though they need it too.

4. The pastor and co-worker at The German's job who, without ever meeting me, started having the people at his congregation pray for my healing at their weekly meetings.

The good in this world can never be completely extinguished, no matter how much evil there is that exists alongside of it. Feel free to tell me about some kindnesses that you have been the recipient of over the years.

Friday, April 11, 2008

My Gummy Tumor Mascot



My cousin, Muffin, found some discounted gummy candy at the store on the day after Easter. She left the container on my desk so that we could all share them. The gummies were shaped like little chickadees sitting inside of a broken eggshell.

After grabbing a handful of gummy chicks, I looked down to see what flavors I had. That's when I found the poor little red gummy chick in the photo. If you look at it closely, you'll see that it has a little cloudy spot right in its center. To me, it looked like a little gummy tumor.

I held it up to the light and it seems as if the candy piece must have had an air bubble in it that popped at some point, leaving the poor chickadee a bit gnarled where its breast would have been.

I've decided to make the little gummy chick my official cancer mascot. Now I just have to think of a name for it. :)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

New York Times Exoticizes Asian Women of Color Sexuality

I honestly don't know how common it is for a black woman like me to have a sister who is Japanese. It doesn't seem to be very common here, at least. I wish I could interact with more women of color who aren't Asian but have an Asian family member. I'd love to hear how that experience has shaped their views on race and ethnicity. One thing I've noticed is how, the sexuality of women of color is always exoticized and I, in my experience, women who are Asian experience it uniquely and very acutely in this society.

On March 30th, the New York Times online posted an article called "Students of Virginity" about abstinence clubs at Harvard University. In it, the writer contrasts Janie Fredell, the leader of the True Love Revolution abstinence group, with Lena Chen, a student with a blog that she uses to discuss her experiences at Harvard. Chen's blog is provocatively titled "Sex and the Ivy: A Bleeding Heart Nympho's Guide to Harvard Life".

I have a real problem with the way that Randall Patterson wrote this article. First of all, do we need yet another commentary on the virtuosity of some white woman? I mean, I think it's wonderful that Janie Fredell is living her life according to the principles that make sense to her. I wish the same for myself and my daughter and every other woman and man on Earth. What I don't like is the very judgmental nature of her organization. Sexuality is a very personal thing. I don't think it's anyone's business to try and force their views (about it) on others. If I want to know what you think of my sex life, I'll ask, okay?

My biggest issue with this article is how Fredell is cast as this intellectual and intelligent woman with very nuanced views. Patterson explores how Fredell bases her abstinence stance on a combination of religious, philosophical, and feminist ideas. And how is Chen described?
PERHAPS NO ONE at Harvard represents the hookup culture better than Lena Chen, a student sex blogger...

Can it get any more one-dimensional that this depiction? Patterson doesn't just stop there, unfortunately. He goes on to say,
Chen’s viewpoint, as she explained it to me, was not complicated. “For me, being a strong woman means not being ashamed that I like to have sex,” she said. And “to say that I have to care about every person I have sex with is an unreasonable expectation. It feels good! It feels good!”

The story Fredell told me was rather more involved. I caught her at a very interesting moment, she said. In making life decisions, she said she always tried to answer the question, How can I be happy in the future? and two internships had lately revealed that she might not be happy as a lawyer. Fredell was now considering a career in psychology, perhaps specializing in early childhood development. The hours were better, she thought, and would leave more time for the work she also wanted to do — that of a wife and mother.

What about Chen's plans for the future? I mean, generally speaking, women don't go to Harvard just to find hot guys to have sex with. If Patterson is going to compare Fredell and Chen, why wouldn't he also ask her those questions? If you still don't think that Patterson was trying to depict Chen negatively, listen to how he describes the lunches that he had with each of the two women.
Chen was a small Asian woman in a miniskirt and stilettos who ate every crumb of everything, including a ginger cake with cream-cheese frosting and raspberry compote. Fredell, when the dessert menu came, paused at the prospect of a “chocolate explosion,” said, “I may as well — I mean, carpe diem, right?” And then reconsidered — she really wasn’t that hungry.

Notice there was no mention of Fredell's race, but, for some reason, Patterson thought that Chen's being a "small Asian woman" was relevant to the story. And what relevance in how much they ate? There is none...unless you're trying to portray Chen as reckless, greedy and foreign as opposed to the dainty but thoroughly modern madonna Fredell.

This article is a complete train wreck. It must be seen to be believed. You should also check out what Chen has to say about it here on her blog:

A Look Back And A Look Forward

Just Thinking About My City

You know, if you ever live in New Orleans for any extended period of time, you'll find out that this is a sort of haven for folks who just don't quite fit in anywhere else. Trust me! I have seen it all on the streets of New Orleans. I don't think there's any sort of person that I'd actually be surprised to meet here. There's the white people who look like they have some African heritage somewhere in their lineage. There's the people of color with skin so pale and hair so straight that you wouldn't know they weren't white unless they told you so.

There are vibrant artist communities, two large Asian communities (I had the experience of living near one and in the other for significant periods during my childhood), lesbian, gay, and transgendered populations...You name it and we've got it here! In school we celebrated Kwanzaa, Tet (Vietnamese New Year's Day), St. Joseph's Day, and Carnival Season.