Sunday, April 29, 2007

Faux News and the Ham Steak Story

This is what happens when idiots listen to other idiots. The "Fox & Friends" crew found a story on a website that they went on to report as fact. Unfortunately for them, the source they used turned out to be a parody site but this wasn't learned until after they had aired the story. It's really funny because it shows just how sloppy these people are when it comes to reporting.

Fox News Sinks To New Low, Repeatedly Reports Parody Story As Actual News

Bad Days and End of Life Care

I'm really disappointed that I didn't participate in the Take Back The Blog day yesterday. Yesterday was one of the worst days I've had in a long time. I was only lucid for about a total of thirty minutes. The German took care of me. I do remember him taking my temperature a few times and trying to get me to eat something. I just couldn't bring myself to eat. I understand now about why most cancer deaths are because of malnutrition. Sometimes you'd just rather rest and what's going on around you just becomes less important. I wonder if it's going to be like this more and more towards the end.

At one point, I woke up and got up from my bed and walked to the living room where he was. I startled him. I got on the sofa with him and went back to sleep. At some point yesterday, he brought me back into my bed room. I didn't wake up again until 7:00 a.m. this morning. I feel really awful right now. I just ate a rice cake and a granola bar. Maybe that will stop me from feeling so shaky. I've learned to pay attention to the other stuff that my body does in order to try and tell if I might need to eat. I wonder why I just don't feel hungry some days. The German keeps lots of my favorite foods around the house all of the time in the hopes that I might be tempted to eat even if I'm not feeling hungry.

Yesterday he kept offering to make me tomato soup which is one of my absolute favorite foods. It doesn't require a lot of chewing so when I'm sick it's one of my favorites to choose. Yesterday, he told me all of the good stuff that he'd put in my soup if I'd eat. I feel like crying today thinking about it. He tries so hard. It's not fair for him to have to go through all of this at our age.

I've told him that when I get really sick that I want to be put in a nursing home or hospice. The only thing that makes me kind of wish that I could die at home is that I'd like to be able to spend as much time as possible with VanGoghGirl. But there are a lot of reasons why I think it will be best for me to go into a hospice. The German isn't the kind of person who knows when he needs to take a break. He just keeps going until he can't force his body to keep going any further. He was asleep with the thermometer in his hand, when I woke up this morning. I accidentally woke him up and he immediately started rubbing my back. I don't think he even realized that he had fallen asleep. If I tried to die at home, his health would suffer too much. He wouldn't spend enough time taking care of himself. If he did that, then how would he be able to take care of VanGoghGirl by himself?

If I was in a hospice, he could come and see me and bring VanGoghGirl without having to be responsible for all of my day to day needs. I think he deserves that. So does she. They'd never rest comfortably here if all day long they constantly had to pass by the bedroom where I died. That's just creepy, I think. I want home to be a place where they can feel comfortable and happy and associate with the good times we've had together. I think that when the time comes, going into a hospice will be the sacrifice I make for them and I think that it will make me feel good to be able to do something for them after all they've done for me.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Alarming, To Say The Least

You scored as Martin Heidegger. You are Martin Heidegger. You are a very wordy person that believes we classify objects by their function, and that community is essential. Once we are in a community, then it is possible for us to differentiate ourselves. You also might have sympathetic feelings towards Nazis.

Martin Heidegger


Not An Existentialist


Albert Camus


Soren Kierkegaard


Jean-Paul Sartre


Friedrich Nietzsche


Which Existentialist Philosopher Are You?
created with

Oh, cheese louise, that last suggestion is definitely not good! Fortunately, this is just a stupid internet quiz.

Courtesy of i am Jack's non-blog

The Jig Is Up!

Well this does explain a lot, doesn't it? ;) I'm sure some might think so, at least. Ah well, I'm still more progressive than The German!

I am:
"You're probably one of those people who still thinks that having an affair is not an impeachable offense."

Are You A Republican?

Options For Dealing With Online Bullies

Amber Rhea asks a very important question on her blog in regards to some recent incidents on the internet where certain people have been engaging in threatening behavior--not those who are just plain disagreeable or mean. She's talking about the totally unstable and violently threatening people. She asks, what do we do when we encounter these idiots, especially when they've decided to make us the focus of their insanity? What about when these people have the power to actually affect your life in tangible ways? Should they still be ignored? Read the post here:


I thought about it and, well, there are a few different schools of thought about this, I think.

1. You can go the Abraham & Isaac sacrificial lamb route.

In the Bible, Abraham is told to do something that most of us would put in the totally insane category. He was commanded to stab his son Isaac to death and then burn his body on top of a pyre. And you know what? Abraham said, "Okay". He took Isaac out to the neighboring area, gathered some wood, and built a pyre, then he tied up his sons arms and legs and put him on top. He stood over the pyre with his knife over Isaac and was just about to stab his son to death when he suddenly received another command from God. God decides that since Abraham has shown that he was willing to go along with what God commanded, Isaac would be spared and a ram would die in his place.

Now, I'm not saying that God is crazy. I'm saying that what Abraham was told to do definitely sounded crazy. I don't think I'm being blasphemous saying that. I mean, I think that's precisely the point of this story being told in the Bible. I think that anyone who was told to gut and char their only child would find it at least a bit objectionable. Abraham--and Isaac too because it was his body on the altar--showed he was willing to sacrifice what was most dear to him and it paid off in the end.

We can do the same thing when people demand that we do what they say. They may not be God but they may have some sort of power to harm us to some extent. We can capitulate, just give in to whatever it is they would have us do. We can hope and pray that unconditional obedience will cause them to show us some mercy. Hey, you never know! It just might work. They may decide that having conquered you, they will then move on and find someone else to bully.

However, there's the possibility that, instead of being satisfied with your act of obeisance, they now have a new list of demands for you to meet. At the point, you're back at square one. Well, actually, you're probably worse off than at first because the unstable idiot may react even more threateningly if you try to resist them then because they see that you can be motivated to give in if they foam at the mouth enough.

2. You can Osamma bin Ladin it.

When 9/11 happened, a lot of Americans just couldn't understand why someone would carry out an act like that, killing thousands of people. After all, the people in the World Trade Center towers weren't military folks. They were civilians just trying to go to work, feed their families, and live their lives. I know I was stunned and frightened and angry all at the same time but I wasn't surprised.

I was working for the navy not long after the Oklahoma City bombing. I was a really young woman and besides my boss, everyone else in the department was in the military and had been for many years. One officer in particular took me under his wing and really taught me a lot about what was going on in the world. At that time, the government had caught McVeigh and was well on its way towards prosecuting him. I was telling him how devastated I was when I saw the Alfred P. Murrah building on television that day because I was holding my young baby and all I could think about was that this was the world she had to look forward to.

I'll never forget how he leaned forward in his chair and told me that the people in this country were going to have to get used to dealing with stuff like that because we'd be seeing a lot more of that sort of thing in the near future because it was already a fact of life in the rest of the world, so it was only a matter of time before the same was true in the USA. It really made me shiver when he said it because I knew he was right.

The world is full of folks who know that they aren't nearly as powerful as the governments around them. As long as those governments engage in acts that some person or group perceives as having caused harm to them or their loved ones, a percentage of those disgruntled folks will figure that since they can't live in peace, the offending party should also have to live in fear too.

Now, this tactic is a fairly effective way of getting the attention of those who certainly don't want to get caught in the crossfire, people like those who lost loved ones on 9/11 and those who value peace and justice. It may even cause some folks to think more about the repercussions of their actions when it comes to supporting those who are viewed as the powerful offending party. Beyond that, though, there are no guarantees that it will change the powerful party's behavior.

Similarly, when you encounter an internet jerk (who does wield some power) acting like they're completely unhinged, you can call their bluff and give them a better idea of what it feels like to be on the receiving end of batshit crazy. In other words, give them a taste of their own medicine. Oftentimes you'll find out that a lot of people who seem to be off their rocker are actually just opportunistic poseurs who just act like they're crazy when they think they can get away with behavior that most of us would find unacceptable or unethical.

There are some potential drawbacks to exercising this option. If they actually are insane, then they'll probably continue to behave, well, insane and you might wind up feeling guilty about taking action against them. So, if you're going to go this route, it helps if you are bona fide crazy too. That way, if worse comes to worst, you can use the same excuse as they gave for engaging in the original threatening behavior towards you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wayne Brady Makes Bryan Gumble Look Like Malcolm X

Wayne Brady makes Bryan Gumble look like Malcolm X.
-Paul Mooney

You know, just when I think that the wacky world of "rad feminists" couldn't get any more bizarre, they go and prove me wrong. What could make the transphobic screeds on The Margins, the cultural imperialist wannabeism of ChasingMoksha, and the unbridled hypocrisy of FeministNation look like the epitome of rationality? Nothing, you say? Well you're wrong!

It seems the Dworkinite mob has decided that blackmail is now a legitimate form of persuasion.

The latest?

This is absolutely disgusting. You know, if this wasn't a clear case of internet stalking, I'd be tempted to thank the so-called "radical feminists" on this post. You have done more than anyone else could have in showing exactly what rad-fems like you mean when you say you "love women", "support women", et cetera. You prove that despite your claims to be feminists, you are nothing more than wannabe stand-ins for the same sort of men that you complain about.
Ren can do what she will but I, for one, have no intentions on giving you people a free pass. If you want to go digging with someone do it with me. I guarantee, I have a lot more time and funds to play this game with any asshole who thinks it's an ethical means of achieving some goal.

Saudi Woman Kicks Butt In Debate Over Women's Rights

Saudi newscaster Buthayna Nasser engages in a debate with a cleric named Nasser Al-Huneini about whether women should be allowed to be seen on television. She is a sight to behold. Her arguments were rational and well articulated and, above all else, gutsy. You should definitely see this. It will make you proud to be a woman and it challenges the notion that all Muslim women are too afraid to express their feelings about issues or too cowardly to stand up to those who would try to use religion to oppress them.

Beer O'Clock In The Morning

It's 8:35 in the morning and The German just came into the office with a beer in his hand. Well, not just any beer; It was my favorite beer--Oscar's Chocolate Oatmeal beer. It was open and he was sipping on it. Drinking beer this early would be pretty unusual for me. Seeing him with it made me very nervous. After all, this is the same guy who drinks alcohol maybe two or three times a year. I asked him about it and he said he saw it in the fridge and decided that since he didn't have any job he had to go to today and wasn't going to be operating any heavy machinery around the house, he'd have a beer. I mentioned the fact that it is still breakfast time and he said something to the effect that when you're unemployed, there's really no big difference between eight o'clock in the morning and eight in the evening.

I think he's a bit down because this case is still dragging along and his employer still won't let him come back to work. He went back part-time for awhile but that didn't work out so well. His head and back injuries are still affecting him a lot. He's not unemployed. They are still paying him his usual salary and even gave him his vacation time pay but he just isn't actually going to work. It's really killing him because he's worked ever since he was a teenager. Plus, he thinks that VanGoghGirl and I might be tired of having him around so much.

The truth is, she really enjoys having him here to do her homework with her instead of having to do it with me. I like having him here because we actually get to spend some time together alone. That rarely happened before this happened. He'd be working five days a week, leaving before VanGoghGirl went to school in the morning and not getting back until long after dinner time. Often he had to go in on the weekends too.

The problem is, he subscribes to the idea that a man is supposed to work really hard. To him, making enough money to support your family isn't enough. He takes great pride in his "good German work ethic". I always appreciated that he was willing to do whatever it would take to take care of me and VanGoghGirl. Most of the other partners I had in the past were basically lazy, spoiled brats living off of the allowances their parents gave them. However, I don't have any desire to see him injure himself even further in an attempt to prove that he is willing to provide for us.

Neko-chan and I have talked about this a lot. We saw a shirt on a website that she thinks I should get him.

It says "Karoshi: Be careful not to work too hard". It's funny but it's also a serious warning too. Karoshi is a term that basically means "death from over-working". This is a serious epidemic in Japan. It's not unheard of to have people literally dying from strokes and heart attacks in their early thirties. Many people work over 80 hours a week and don't even receive pay for their overtime hours. Even working over 100 hours a week is not unusual for some professions.

This morning, I mentioned how many hours he used to work most of the time and how it was almost non-stop during certain times of the year. I told him that I hope he can start learning to enjoy being at home right now and understand that his time spent here is valued just as much as we valued the time he spent working outside the home...and then I drank the rest of his beer. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Miss Jennifer Holliday Performance

I just found out that my mother has a Youtube account. Of course, I went and checked to make sure she hadn't posted any videos of my step-dad in his tighty-whities doing the electric slide. Hey, with the way those two carry on with each other, I wouldn't be all that surprised if I found out they did have some amateur "erotica" locked up in the safe at home! Anyway, my nosiness only resulted in me finding the one video that she had saved to her favorites list--a recording of Jennifer Holliday performing "And I'm Telling You" at the 1982 Tony Awards.

Normally, I don't care for this genre of music but I make an absolute exception for Miss Holliday. This woman's performance is incomparable to any other renditions of this song. What I wouldn't give to have been in the audience that night! I'm going to have this song in my head all night long.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Thoughtless Attitudes Towards Relatives With Disabilities

I found this post via Arthritic Young Thing:

#uck "Suck it up"

Dammit! It's people like her sister-in-law that make it impossible for me to keep up with my "No Swearing in 2007" resolution. I just got so angry reading that post. I wish that all my health problems could just be solved through positive thinking.

I grew up with health problems. I got chicken pox twice; I was covered in head to toe sores both times. I was always fatigued. My hair would periodically just fall out like a cat shedding its fur. I was constantly anemic. I was allergic to almost every brand of soap known to mankind. I had chronic chest pain. And you know what? I got called lazy damned near every day of my life. I just wanted attention, they said. I was acting out, being a "drama queen", probably just imitating the characters I read about in books, looking for excuses not to have to go to church.

I spent my entire childhood being called a faker. And do you know what happened when I finally did get diagnosed with lupus and the rheumatologist looked back at my records and saw that I'd had obviously been suffering with it since I was a child? They acted like it was my fault they had treated me that way--my fault.

I thought maybe they just didn't understand that I really had no control over what had been wrong with me all that time so I printed out this big packet of information all about lupus and I gave it to my mother and asked her to read it. Do you know what she did with it? She used it as a blotter to put her coffee mug on top of without messing up the finish on her night stand next to her bed. It sat there for months until it was too gross looking for her to use any more, then she threw it away.

My family's attitude towards my disabilities has improved a lot since then but I still haven't forgotten how heartbroken I was with their earlier behavior. Being chronically ill is isolating enough without having to deal with family members who think that we're actually interested in hearing their idiotic theories about how we should be able to live our life.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Have You Seen Michael Patrick Vaughn?

The absolutely brilliant blogger Kevin Andre Smith over at Slant Truth is in dire need of help right now. His brother is missing. The family thinks that he may be on the West Coast, perhaps in or near the California area. His name is Michael Patrick Vaughn.
You can find out more about him on Kevin's site right here. Meanwhile, here's a photo of him. Please study it. Someone out there has seen him. It just might be you, so please--I'm really seriously begging here--take a look at this photo and if the person in it looks even the least bit familiar, contact Kevin and let him know. Even an unlikely lead is better than no lead at all.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I Just Told You. She's My Sister

One of my sisters is Japanese. I'm really sensitive when it comes to discussing her and how she came to be my sister. I usually refuse to talk about that with people. I used to do it. We'd go some place together and, I swear, people would act like they just couldn't control their rudeness. I used to indulge their curiosity when people would ask us who we are to each other. However, I'm at the point where I just don't feel like I should have to do it. Frankly, it's none of their business. Once we say we are sisters, that should be the end of it. In fact, telling a random stranger that much is going above and beyond what they are entitled to know.

Today is different though. I'm choosing to discuss my relationship with her. Neko-Chan (her pseudonym on my blog) was born in Japan. She has a family there--a mother, a father, and a couple of siblings and nephews. They are amazing people. Neko-Chan was raised in a temple. Her father is a Buddhist monk. Her mother is one of the premiere sado (tea ceremony) teachers in Japan.

After leaving Japan, she traveled across the globe all by herself. She even spent some time working in Mother Teresa's hospice in India. She came to the United States several years ago. Not long after that, she became involved with someone from my family. She came extremely close to marrying that person. However, for many reasons, it didn't happen. Still, by that time, she was a member of our family.

I'm sure that some people will read this and say, "Oh, they're not really sisters. They're just friends", but they'd be wrong. We--my parents, my siblings, my cousins--are Neko-Chan's family, too. If that's hard for someone to understand, perhaps they should examine what really makes someone family.

My mother married my step-father when I was a teenager. He already had eight children from his first marriage. Most of them moved into our house with him after he married my mother. Over the years, I developed relationships with them and, slowly, his daughters became my sisters.

I think the majority of people here would have no issues with the concept of me calling them my sisters. Why is that? Is it because they are Black? Is it because we've lived together, gone through life's ups and downs together, cared for and sacrificed for each other? I'd rather think that it's because of the latter but I don't think I can fool myself into believing that any more.

In all my years of being a sister, I never had the experience of someone challenging me when I said that my step-father's children from his first marriage were my siblings, not even when they were well aware of the fact that we did not have the same biological mother or father. However, when it comes to Neko-Chan, I can't even count how many jerks have felt like it was perfectly acceptable for them to insist that she is not my sister. Salespeople have done it when we're shopping together. Various people have done it when they happened to see pictures of our family together. Guys at dance clubs...don't even get me started on how loose-lipped and rude men feel free to be towards us in social situations.

It happens everywhere and I'm fed up with it. I used to be able to tolerate it better. I'd just laugh it off and we'd go about our business. However, their comments are not as harmless as they might want to believe. They really do affect me and my sister's relationship. It HURTS. I can't even describe what it's like to have to try and undo the emotional damage their comments cause. Now when people do that in front of me or when I hear about someone doing it to her when I'm not around, I just feel so furious.

Maybe I'm just feeling needlessly riled-up, but lately I've been thinking about what it means when someone--someone who may be an acquaintance or a total stranger--insists on trying to redefine my relationship with my sister and force us to accept their conclusions. What does it mean when someone simply refuses to accept that a Black girl and a Japanese girl can be and are sisters?

I don't have an answer for that question yet. It bothers me to no end that I can't quite figure it out. Whatever it is, it leaves me feeling very angry and frustrated. Maybe I can't analyze it clearly because when I try to think about it, I can't get past the fact that she's my sister and I feel like anyone else would feel when their sister is being hurt. At this point, I don't know if even care about why someone would try to force us to adopt their narrow (and probably bigoted) views about who should be allowed to define and limit the extent to which two people can love each other and share each other's lives. Really, I just don't even care.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

University of Illinois at Chicago Looking for Online Community Users To Answer Quick Survey

This is a really quick survey. It only took me about five minutes to complete it. It's all yes/no, agree/disagree questions, so you don't have to worry about having to write out any answers. Please consider participating. The folks in this department are really cool people and you'd be helping out a grad student with their research.

Attention Online Community Users!

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Department of Communication are conducting research on personality traits of online community users.

If you a member of any online community (e.g. Facebook or the Well), it would be greatly appreciated if you could complete an online survey on this important topic. Alternatively, if you are NOT a member of online communities but know of anyone who is and who may be interested in participating, we would also appreciate you sharing this information with them.

The online survey can be accessed at:

Responses will be held in strictest confidence and will not be linked with participants' email addresses or other identifiers in any way. Email addresses will not be given to any third parties and results will be reported only in aggregate form.

You may contact Dr. James A. Danowski from the University of Illinois at Chicago's Department of Communication at with any questions you may have.

Please forward this message on to as many people as you can who may have interest.

Thank You Very Much

**If you are under 18, please do not participate in this survey. **

The Trouble With My Weight

Let's face the truth right from the beginning, shall we? I wish that I was thinner. I just hit the big 3-0 and my body does not look like it did when I was only 20. At 20 years old, I was 115 pounds. Mind you, this was after I had VanGoghGirl. Before my pregnancy, I usually hovered between 107 and 110 pounds.

When my mother married my step-father, he was convinced that I had anorexia nervosa because of how thin I was. It took years of watching me for him to be convinced otherwise. That's okay, though, because I appreciate his concern. Looking back on things, I think it was a reasonable suspicion for him to have and if I did have an eating disorder, then I know he'd have been the first to recognize it and made sure I got help right away. That's the benefits of having a dad who already had six daughters before he even met you. I have never met a man from his generation who was more comfortable with discussing the functions of the female body and how to keep one's "plumbing" in good working order.

I was used to people remarking about my weight because I'd been ├╝ber-skinny my entire life. Mostly the remarks fell into two categories. Women who mentioned it tended to make comments regarding how lucky I was to be so thin without having to diet or how they wish they had my body type. Men of color, would almost invariably tell me that I would look even better if I had "a little more meat" on my bones.

When I got to be about 25 years old, I finally started to gain some weight. At 125 pounds, I was curvier but still slim enough to be happy with how I looked. So, I should have been satisfied, right? Unfortunately, things are not that simple for me. On the surface, this may look like a clear-cut case of body image issues, the extent to which I've bought into society's unreal expectations regarding what a woman is supposed to look like. I'm sure that's probably a factor in this but it still wouldn't account for everything.

While I'm living in a society filled with lots of women who are obsessed with being thin, I'm also living in a body that has lupus. One symptom of this disease is a loss of appetite. This isn't a problem for many of those lupies who are on corticosteroids like prednisone because they tend to increase your appetite to the extent that a lot of users have to go on diets to because of all the weight they gain.

As a child, I was always a picky eater. If the choice was between eating something I didn't like or going to bed without dinner, I gladly chose the latter. The exception was breakfast. I simply had to eat something in the morning. My mother had convinced me that horrible things happen to those who do not eat breakfast before they start their day (Edit: She was right!) . I guess that was her way of making sure that I didn't go the entire day without eating at all. Looking back on things, I think that my ambivalence towards food was probably related to the fact that I had lupus back then even though I hadn't yet been diagnosed.

When I first started seeing my rheumatologist, he put me on prednisone to help with my flare-up but I didn't experience any of the weight gain that's commonly associated with it even though I took the drug for several years. In fact, the weight gain I experienced when I was about 25 only occurred after I was diagnosed with cancer.

During the period when I was receiving radiation treatments (also known as "the sunburn from hell"), I was given a liquid nutritional supplement (e.g. Boost, Ensure) to drink every day. Because my throat and esophagus were getting irradiated too, it hurt to swallow anything, even saliva. At first, I used an over the counter antiseptic spray to numb the pain but it didn't help much. I began to loathe eating because it was so painful that it brought tears to my eyes.

The German became my very own superhero and it was through his efforts that I even managed to gain weight during this period. He created all sorts of shakes and smoothies and crepes containing the nutritional supplement. And he insisted that I ate every single day. He kept me alive.

Fast forward to this last year. During this time, my weight just kind of crept up to around 155 pounds, sometimes a few pounds more or less. I know because they always weigh me when I go to the doctor. This was the heaviest I'd ever been in my life. When I was weighed on my last obstetrician visit before I had VanGoghGirl, I was only 145 pounds, so I was wondering whether it was something I should be concerned about. I'd never actually been on a diet before and I wasn't sure how to go about it if I should be on one, so I talked about it with my oncologist and my rheumatologist. They said that it was just fine and nothing to be worried about.

That was the state of things up until the past month. Now, I think I may need to go and talk to my doctors again. I don't get on the scale in my bathroom very often. Most of the time it just sits there taking up space. However, I tried on some jeans the other day that usually a pretty snug fit. This time, they were so loose that I had to put a belt on with them. When I put on the belt, I had to set it on the last notch and if I was willing to poke another hole in it, I could have made it even tighter. That really surprised me so I got on the scale that night and it turns out that I have lost A LOT of weight. The scale read 138 pounds.

I haven't even been thinking about my weight after my doctors told me it was fine. Now, I'm worried about why in the world I've lost that many pounds in one month. Looking back, I know I haven't exactly been eating more than usual but I certainly haven't made any real efforts to cut back either. I hope this isn't a sign that something awful is going on with my body. I just don't need that kind of news right now.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sudhir Venkatesh's New Book On "The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor"

Sudhir Venkatesh has just published a book that I'm very interested in reading. In this month's edition of Reason Magazine, Kerry Howley discusses "Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor". Howley seems to be using Venkatesh's book as proof that what poor people really need is to be allowed to engage in what he calls "ghetto capitalism" without the presence of a government that sets minimum wages and licensure requirements.

I don't agree with his conclusions. They go beyond what Venkatesh's book claims and in doing so, Howley's article transforms a fairly interesting book review into a pro-free-market editorial. What interests me is how Venkatesh documents the survival strategies used by the people of Maquis Park.

Last month, Brownfemipower spoke about people with disabilities growing up in economically disadvantaged areas and it made me think about my own experiences and those I witnessed during my stint as a pharmacy technician. Venkatesh spent eight years studying the Maquis park neighborhood but he was still an outsider looking in. I'm curious about how he interpreted what he witnessed and what he focused on the most. If anyone has read this book, I'd love to whether you enjoyed it or not.

Kicking And Screaming Into The New Version Of Blogger

Aargh! Well, I've finally made the switch to the new version of blogger. It wasn't that I really wanted to do it but I had become really aggravated with the fact that some days I couldn't even get to my dashboard to write posts because it kept bringing me to the "Switch To The New Blogger" page. I hate change. The first year I started blogging, I hated the template that I was using but I was too afraid to change it. I only ended up with my current template because my old one was all screwed up from me adding and deleting code from it.

It turns out that the switch really wasn't that bad. I thought that it would eliminate my ability to trick out the template as much as I was accustomed to doing but it seems that this is still an option. It just made it so that I didn't have to fool with the template every time I wanted to add some new widget to my page, which is rather nice.

I've been playing with it all day and I even managed to find a nice photo to put up there by the title of my blog. I've seen lots of other people with pictures up there and I always wanted one too but I didn't know how to do it. I know that sounds kind of silly seeing as how often I insert pictures throughout my posts. I couldn't find the right place to imbed the html image code. The new blogger version made it a lot easier to do because I don't have to sort through everything. Going through the template was a bit of a pain because there's just imbedded type in it that it becomes hard to make sure you don't place the code in a place that screws up the alignment of the sidebar or title box or footer.

I don't know if I'm going to stick with this photo or use one of the others that I've found. Who knows? Now that I've found a way to do it, I might switch it up from time to time just to keep from getting bored of looking at the same shot.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Real Middle East Peace Talks Now!

"There never was a good war or a bad peace"
Benjamin Franklin

This is a cause that has been very important to me for a very long time. The truth is, most people in the Middle East are sick of all the conflicts around them. Many of Palestinians and Israelis have lost family members and/or friends during the Intifada. Everyone should be able to send their kids to school each day without having to worry about whether they'll become a victim of the violence that is being perpetrated.

When I look at Jerusalem/Yerushalaim/Beyt al-Maqdis (the latter two are the Hebrew and Arabic names for this area), I see so much potential. It's rich history makes it one of the most significant and influential places that have ever existed. Imagine the consequences of peace in this city and the land around it. After thousands of years of fighting, achieving such peace would represent a monumental step forward for all of humanity. If we can end the fighting in this area, then I truly believe that it would motivate much of mankind to seek peace in the rest of the world too. We can be the generation that is known for averting the complete destruction of not just the Israeli and the Palestinian populations but also the entire world.

Does anyone doubt that the Palestinian/Israeli conflict could really destroy us all? If so, I urge to look to the past. The death of one man, Franz Ferdinand, the archduke of one relatively tiny nation sparked a conflict that grew into the first World War this planet had ever experienced. Do we really want to take a chance at letting this happen again? Isn't peace at least worth striving for?

Click on the picture below to learn more.

Set a date for real Middle East Peace Talks

Friday, April 13, 2007

VanGoghGirl Making A Stand Against Homophobia In Her Middle School

Note: This is a post about VanGoghGirl's first experience with a friend, a young pre-teen girl, coming out to her. Half of this post was written by my daughter and I'm really excited that she let me put it on my blog. I usually allow people to make comments that are critical of what I say but I just want to let everyone know ahead of time that I'm not going to tolerate any homophobic comments about this post. If you send one, don't even expect for it to show up on my blog. This is non-negotiable.

We still tuck VanGoghGirl in at night. I know some people would say that she's too old to need to be tucked in but my policy is that I will be tucking her in for as long as she lives with me. I know that she should be able to get to sleep without having me come and straighten out her covers but it really isn't about the blankets anymore. It's our time to talk.

During the day VanGoghGirl is at school and in the evening she has to get all of her homework finished, eat her dinner, and take her bath. It can be very hectic just trying to accomplish all of that each night. However, after she's had her snack and settled into bed, she can finally wind down and feel relaxed. That's why tucking her in is so important.

When I come in, I sit down on the bed and give her hugs and kisses and she gets to spend a few minutes talking. Sometimes she just wants to laugh and joke with me. Other times she'll tell me about what's going on with her at school. It's a great time to find out about whatever is on her mind.

A few nights ago, when I went to tuck her in, VanGoghGirl said she wanted to tell me about something but I had to pinky-promise her that I wouldn't be mad at her. The German comes from a very laid-back family and my own mother was, in her own way, very tolerant when it came to free speech in our home. Her father always encouraged them to say what was on their mind no matter what, even when they were mad. My mother tried to do the same but she did tend to lose her temper a lot. Our policy with VanGoghGirl is that it's more important for her to feel like she can tell us anything than it is for us to punish her for something she's done, so when she asked me to pinky-promise her I knew it had to be something big. That's pretty scary because, as a parent, my mind started racing wondering what sort of trouble she might have got herself into.

I was going to write about what VanGoghGirl told me but when I tried to do so, I couldn't quite express things the way she told it to me. Instead, I asked her to come and write about her experience herself so that it could be true to her feelings and recollection. I decided to leave it completely unaltered because I think it is more important for her to be able to write what she's feeling instead of worrying about her grammar and spelling being critiqued. She wrote it in the third-person perspective to match with the parts of my post above hers.

She told me the third day of Leap testing, while her and her friend Britt were laughing and joking One boy walked up to them and said "You guys act like you or gay or sumpten!" obviously VanGoghGirl didn't appreciate them using " Gay " as an insult, thats when she replied " I don't see what's so wrong with gay people they are just like every body else, and any body who thinks differently is just prejudice."thats when she looked over to the Teacher who was shaking her head with a squinched up face,almost like when you lick lemons.Thats when the Teacher said "No, their not prjudice. Gay people are just an abomination to god."

VanGoghGirl felt very bad after, since a few weeks before, her Emo friend and her were talking when some how they came to the topic of gay people. Thats when her Emo friend told her and the other girl who was talking with them that she wanted to tell them something but was not sure if she should tell them thats when VanGoghGirl told her it was o.k and so her Emo Friend told them that she was gay. VanGoghGirl and the other girl told Emo Friend it was alright and they would not like her any less becuase of it.Emo Friend said that she had not told her Aunt and Grandmother,whom she live with yet, since they were very old fashioned and would not accept that in their home. Before she had tried to tell her friends at church but they said "god hates homo so your gonna go to hell!" This made Emo friend feel like she could not tell any one.

A few weeks later in VanGoghGirls P.E. class a couple of boys were making fun of one of the other boys calling him gay or fruity. thats when the boy who was being teased, Kam, turned around and punch the other boy.VanGoghGirl turned around and told the other boys to stop messing with him and to stop usimg gay as an insult, because of coarse the other boy was not gay he just acted in way that the other kids were not used to.

I think the next time some kid calls another student gay they should know that there is nothing wrong with being gay there still human beings and they still have to deel with the same problems we do and even more.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Funny Cancer Cartoons

Man holding up his chest x-ray and being laughed at by his doctor
When I saw this cartoon, I immediately felt an incredible amount of empathy for the poor guy in the x-ray. There are a gazillion x-rays of this very same area in my medical files. Notice the doctor(?) off to the left, laughing hysterically. I can relate to that too. Just think what it's like when you go into the oncologist's office, feeling all stressed out and nervous about what they'll say, and everyone in the office is smiling and talking about their weekend and what they're having for lunch and generally just having a nice laid-back day, it can be really hard not to get a bit pissed that they have the luxury of being able to be there without having to deal with any potential bad news. Yeah, I know. It's sour grapes but so what!

Christmas tree shaped tumor on x-ray. Text reads: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, which is unusual for a tumor. This one made me almost choke with laughter when I read it. When we begin a discussion session in my cancer support group, we always start off by going around the circle introducing ourselves and telling about what kind of cancer we have or what stage we're in, et cetera. When people describe their tumor, it's common to hear them reference some kind of food:

"My tumor was the size of a grapefruit"

"I have an egg-shaped tumor in my leg"

"My skin looked like the surface of an orange after treatment"

It's just kind of odd, don't you think? I mean, you could describe it using any number of things but for some reason, food comparisons are the most popular amongst cancer-people. That's what made this cartoon even funnier to me. I mean, if cancers can remind people of really tasty foods, then I suppose resemblances to festive holiday icons is okay too!

My Disability And Fertility

I had VanGoghGirl over a decade ago. My pregnancy went extremely well. However, a few months after her birth, I experienced a terrible flare-up of my Lupus. At that time, I wasn't diagnosed. In fact, it wasn't until that flare-up that the doctors were able to definitively diagnose me after spending an entire childhood filled with episodes of unexplained symptoms.

My white blood cell count stayed low for months. My hair, which had grown out quite nicely during my pregnancy, began to shed. I was too fatigued to do anything other than breastfeed my new baby and take care of personal hygiene basics. I got thrush (i.e. oral Candida infection). Then I developed ulcers in the back of my throat that just wouldn't heal. At first the doctors thought I had herpes but upon being tested they found that I didn't.

Anyway, I was eventually diagnosed with lupus. When I made twenty-one, my rheumatologist told me that the best birthday present I could give myself would be getting my tubes tied. I was upset but I understood why he said that. I couldn't be on birth control pills because the estrogen exacerbates lupus. Like many other lupies (the nickname for people with lupus), I have all sorts of weird allergies. I'm mildly allergic to latex, so this combination of conditions are what caused my doctor to urge me to ensure that I wouldn't get pregnant again.

Nevertheless, I refused to have the recommended procedure. I loved being a mom and I wanted VanGoghGirl to have a sibling, eventually. I did want to be responsible about it though so I just did the best with the situation I had. Around 1999, I had another big flare-up and had to take methotrexate (a chemotherapeutic drug) for a few months. I wasn't told that this drug can greatly increase the risk of miscarriages even after you've stopped taking it. I found out the hard way.

Okay, so then came the cancer and all of the treatments for that. I've had pieces of my ribs cut out. I've had my sternum cracked open so the doctors could access my tumor. I've had them dig into my spine in order to get as much of the tumor out as possible. As a result, the doctors are not sure that my spine could provide enough structural support for a pregnancy. At any rate, they have all agreed that, based on my condition now, I should give my body at least another year before I attempt to do anything major with it.

This issue has caused a rift between me and The German. I think he's traumatized by all he's seen me go through. It's understandable. It's enough to give anyone a permanent case of PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome).

When I was getting radiation, The German was the one who had to put the Aquaphor (side note: This is hands down the best product for dry, cracking irradiated skin. It's so good that my cancer center supplied jars of it to us free of charge just to make sure that everyone had it even if they couldn't afford to get it from the store.) on my back despite the fact that I moaned with pain every time he touched me. And afterwards he's the one who peeled the blackened, fried skin off of my back. The skin was coming off in layers and parts of it would still be attached to my flesh. If he didn't take a pair of fingernail clippers and snip off the dead pieces that were already lifted, then when I wore a shirt, the dead skin that stuck out would snag and pull/rip the the parts that were still a part of my flesh. It took many months for the last layers of dead skin to detach.

When they sent me home after my first surgery with two holes in my side where the tubes had been, they covered it with clear tape and gave me instructions to take it off in a week and a half. When the time came to do it, I didn't have enough strength in my arms to do it. The German saw me trying and offered to do it for me. Because the tape had held everything in, when he pulled the tape off, a week and a half's worth of blood and pus oozed out. I sobbed when I saw it coming from my body. I felt so humiliated and embarrassed because I had to get someone to do such a disgusting task for me. When I looked at The German, he was obviously trying his very best to keep his composure but I could tell that he was holding his breath and trying not to throw up. Who can blame him? I felt even worse when he became embarrassed because I had seen the expression on his face.

He has tried to be a true stoic throughout my entire cancer journey. After my second surgery, I had a big square container hooked up to my tubes to measure how much fluid was draining from my chest each day. Honestly, it was worse than having to walk around with a full bedpan for four days. Oh and while we're on the subject of bedpans, when I was in the hospital, I had a morphine drip. You may or may not know this but, morphine suppresses the urge to have bowel movements. They can't let you out of the hospital without seeing that your bowels are working as they should.

After five days of being in the hospital, I still hadn't had a, you know, #2. So a nurse gave me a dose of milk of magnesia which took effect rather quickly. The German stayed in the room and stood right next to me when I sat in the commode and proceeded to make the biggest, most god-awful diarrheic evacuation you could ever imagine. The German didn't even blink an eye. Having been raised a true southern girl, I was horrified to have him witness this but he was as gentlemanly as any man could be. He helped me back into my bed and was just about to go and empty it into the bathroom attached to my room when a nurse passing by came in and did it instead.

I know that non-disabled people (and perhaps some people with disabilities too) might be really grossed out by all of the details in this post but I really this is my life and I want to portray it as realistically as possible. It would be unfair to The German if I just said that he's not very enthusiastic about the idea of me getting pregnant. His reasons are valid. We've already had to go through so much more than the average couple our age. He is really afraid that trying to carry a baby would kill me. I wish I could say for sure that it wouldn't/won't.

Imus Gets The Gong

CBS also pulls plug on Imus

I'm really happy to see that CBS has decided to fire Don Imus for his remarks about the Rutger's girl's basketball team. Yesterday, I heard that MSNBC fired him. I figured that CBS would be next after hearing about all of the advertisers that had dropped their ads from running during his show. Once that happened, he was no longer profitable for them and keeping him only be a liability.

This guy was an ass. He's been making racist remarks on the air for years and it's time that his actions caught up with him.

Monday, April 09, 2007

An Asthma Attack While I Slept

I woke up around 6:00 a.m. unable to breathe, gasping for air. I had to fumble around for the lamp switch because I couldn't find my emergency inhaler on the nightstand in the dark. Fortunately, I was able to get to it and take a few puffs before I got too light-headed. This is the third time this year that I've woken up in the middle of the night having an asthma attack. It's really scaring me.

Unlike all the other times, last night no one heard me wheezing. When I woke up, everyone else was still fast asleep and stayed that way. VanGoghGirl was in the bed with me and The German was sleeping in the room adjacent to mine. I resisted the urge to wake up him up afterwards because then he would have been too worried to go back to sleep. Things are hard enough on him as it is. I can't begrudge him whatever rest he manages to get in between taking care of me. Unless he reads it here, I'm not going to tell him about last night.

I'm worried about why I'm having these sudden asthma attacks in my sleep. Despite having asthma my entire life, I never had an attack in my sleep until the past year. I've had times where I was sick with a cold or the flu and feeling wheezy in the evening so I used my pump before I went to bed but this is new. Each time, these attacks in my sleep occurred I didn't have any reason to believe that an attack might be coming on.

I'm really afraid. What if no one had woken up and I had passed out because I was unable to get to one of my inhalers? I keep one on my nightstand and another one on the counter in the bathroom connected to my bedroom. Perhaps I hadn't been gasping very loud; I don't know. I was too panicked to think about that at the time.

When my mother was in college, one of her professors had an asthma attack while in the classroom. By the time that the students got her inhaler out of her purse and my mother administered it, the professor's throat had closed up too much for it to do any good. She died in my mother's arms right there in the middle of class surrounded by students trying to help her.

Why is this happening? It could be because of the scar tissue in my chest. It may be diminishing the air capacity in my lungs. The German says it might be from turning onto my stomach while sleeping. I am terrified that it might be a sign that my cancer has metastisized into my lungs.

Texas Futile Care Law

Reasons Why I Will Never, Ever, Ever Move To Texas
In other words, even if you, the patient, have made it clear that you wish to continue, the hospital can still override your decision and withdraw the treatment that you need to remain alive. Even if you are still cognizant enough to keep telling them that you want to keep fighting for your life, they can disregard what you are saying. All they need to do is give you or your guardian 10 days to find another place that will treat you and if one can't be found within that period of time,
I wonder how many patients who come from out of state to get treatment in Texas hospitals are aware of this. On the last three visits I've had with my local oncologist he was recommending that I go to MD Anderson the next time I need surgery for my cancer because they have a sarcoma center. I am now going to have to start looking at other hospitals because there is no way in hell I'm getting any sort of medical treatment in Texas until they change their laws.
For all you folks who already live in Texas, all I can do is advise you to get the hell out now while you still can.
I found out about this awful law via Blue over at the Gimp Parade. You should check out her post where she discusses several of the cases where this law has been applied.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Idle Machines Mean More Dangerous Surgeries

I received IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy) for my cancer prior to my last surgery. Back then, it was really new and I was the first person that the cancer center used it on in connection with a state of the art immobilization device. Together, the two machines enabled the oncologist to give me a higher dose of radiation than he would have otherwise been able to do because of my tumor's proximity to my heart. This, in turn, made it easier for my surgeons to differentiate between the cancerous tissue and the healthy tissue which, in a case like mine where the tumor is surrounded by vital organs, made it possible for me to survive a very dangerous procedure.

If they had not been able to tell where the tumor stopped and where the healthy tissue began, then they'd have had to take out a section of my aorta and replace it with what is basically a piece of tubing. That would have meant a lot longer stay in the hospital and a much longer recovery period. It would also likely cause me to have an exacerbation of my lupus symptoms for the rest of my life because the artificial section would almost certainly be attacked by my immune system from hell. The worsening of this co-existing condition would mean that I wouldn't be as qualified a candidate for further surgeries.

I know that this sounds like a really long cascade but I think it illustrates how even a single factor can mean the difference between a cancer patient living for several years (with a very good quality of life) and increased suffering with a much shorter life span. That is why this really pisses me off:

Radiotherapy Machines Lie Idle

Ode To The Bean: My Favorite Cheap Vegan Meal

Ktrion and L* are in the process of creating a postcolonial cookbook. On Ktrion's blog there is a recipe list and photo of their very own chile bean dish that's enough to make any meat-eater forget the fact that it's a vegetarian dish. Unfortunately, I happened to see her "You Should Blog More About Our Food" post at 4:30a.m. when it was just impossible for me to get in the kitchen and give it a try. I always seem to get my biggest cravings between three and five O'clock in the morning. Drats!

She also gives a nice shout out to the best of all beans, the small red bean, pointing out that it is the top food source of antioxidants. While it may hold the top spot in the antioxidant category, when it comes to taste, my number one personal favorite in the bean category goes to the kidney bean. And they place rather high in the other category too.

Total antioxidant capacity (TAC) per serving size
1. Small Red Bean (dried)
half cup
TAC: 13727
2. Wild blueberry
1 cup
TAC: 13427
3. Red kidney bean (dried)
Half cup
TAC: 13259
4. Pinto bean
Half cup
TAC: 11864
5. Blueberry (cultivated)
1 cup
TAC: 9019

Red beans, red beans, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

You know, the fact that red beans are inexpensive and very nutritious explains why they play such a significant role in Cajun/Creole cooking down here in Louisiana.

A pound of kidney beans, a bay leaf or two, a peeled whole onion, and a few dashes of salt, pepper, garlic powder/flakes and paprika (or substitute any seasoning blend you prefer) and you have a wonderfully tasty vegan meal that can feed an entire family of four for under five bucks. Of course, you could get jiggy with it and cut up a celery stalk and a bit of green onions and add a couple teaspoons of lemon juice if you have a few more bucks to spare. Put it all over a scoop of rice and you have a meal fit for a king.

Most people are used to eating red beans with sausage and I won't lie and say that it isn't my favorite way to enjoy it. However, if you need a filling meal and you don't have a lot of loot or you just don't care for the taste of flesh--cuz let's not kid ourselves here, that's what meat really is--then red beans are always a good choice.

Bean Facts:

1. Beans are an excellent, non-fat source of protein. Just one cup of beans provides as much as 16 grams of protein. Adults generally need to eat between 50-60 grams of protein a day.

2. Beans are loaded with complex carbohydrates - the nutrient that provides energy to the muscles and brain. Just one cup of beans can provide 15 percent of the carbohydrates needed daily.

3. Beans are one of the best sources of dietary fiber, containing both insoluble and soluble fiber. Studies link high fiber diets to reduced cholesterol levels and lowered cancer risks.

4. Beans contain an abundance of potassium, which may help reduce your risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Just one-half cup of cooked dry beans contains as much as 480 mg of potassium.

5. Dry beans are the best source of folate. Eating one cup of cooked dry beans provides, on average, 264 mcg of folate.

6. A recent study by Tulane University in New Orleans found that people who ate beans at least four times a week were 19 percent less prone to heart disease than those who ate beans once a week. The study also revealed that bean eaters lowered their overall risk of cardiovascular disease by nine percent.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and The German's mother (Martha Stewart ain't got nothing on Momma!) is treating the whole family to a nice feast that is sure to include a big pot of yummy red beans. Maybe I'll even take a few photos of the food just to rub it in for all you folks who won't be "eatin' good" like us this year. Hehehe!! Bon apetit!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

No More Yellowface Either, Please!

Jenn over at Reappropriate writes about racist Asian stereotypes in the media in her post "More Yellowface". In it, she mentions the latest Yellowbook commercial that features David Carradine reprising his classic fake Asian portrayal.

I hate Carradine from the very bottom of my heart. This man has made his entire career out of performing a racist stereotype. You know, when I saw that Yellowbook commercial, the first thing I thought was that I wish that Shinichi Chiba (playing the role of the Samurai Yagyu Jubei) could come flying out of the air and force Carradine to commit seppuku as atonement.

Friday, April 06, 2007

A Wonderful Period!

I have some really wonderful news. Yesterday VanGoghGirl started her menarche! Woohoo!! We are planning to throw her a big rite of passage party. If anyone has any suggestions that they've heard of or seen, I'd love to hear about them. I want to make this as meaningful as possible for her.

The odd thing is that she told The German before she told me. It happened when she was at school and when he picked her up, she told him all about it. As much as I wish I had been the first to find out, I'm really happy that she didn't feel like it was something to hide or not talk about with her dad. It's very important to me for her to grow up knowing that there is nothing shameful about the normal functions of the body. Hopefully, this can be something that she'll learn to celebrate.

Disney Changes Its Gay Marriage Position

The German just pointed out to me that Disney has just announced a change in its stance regarding gay marriage ceremonies on their property. Now they will allow gay couples to blow almost ten grand to have an imitation fairy-tale wedding, too! All jokes aside, I think that this is a very good thing and I'm glad to see they've made it. It's a sensible business decision as well.

Disney gives gay couples the "Fairy Tale Wedding" option

Cosmogirl Competition featuring Kiri Davis: Go vote for her

TriumphantMulatta is a single queer woman of african descent living with a disability, working and schooling, planning a family, enjoying life and getting pissed off by the system at least once daily. She has a new blog called The Opposite of Tragic that is definitely worth checking out. Yeah, this is a shameless plug for someone's blog but how often do I get the chance to talk up another woman of color blogger with disabilities? So, if you get the chance, go and show her some love by welcoming her to the blogosphere. By the way, she has a blog entry regarding a Cosmogirl competition featuring Kiri Davis, the creator of the film, "Black Like Me" which you can check out below.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Death Threats Against Kathy Sierra

Updates On The Kathy Sierra Situation

You know, this story really sent a chill up my spine. I write about my life a lot and even though I try not to write too much identifying information, I'm sure that a determined person could probably find out more than I'd care for strangers to know. Still, that doesn't mean that it's okay for someone to do it.

Sierra does not deserve to go through this. No one does. As a mother, I am really concerned when I hear about women having to withdraw from the public due to harassment like this. We need more women in IT. We need our daughters to be able to see that this is not just a field for men. Sierra proves that. However, no one can expect someone to just keep dealing with the sort of threats that she has faced.

How Long Will It Take?

I'm having a lot of problems right now. There's just too much going on in my life. I'm trying to concentrate on all of the things going right but it's just not happening. I am stuck feeling really paralyzed with anxiety. And what for? A million reasons and no reasons at all. It just feels like the world is falling apart.

A huge part of it is this crisis of faith that I'm experiencing. I feel like I'm not just losing my religion. I feel like I'm losing religion altogether. Maybe I'm even losing myself. I've been trying to write about it all but I just can't seem to find a way to express it. Right now I have six or seven un-posted drafts but I just keep getting too lost in my thoughts to finish them.

I've been taking a combination of both Wellbutrin and Lexapro. I used to take Zoloft to help me deal with the anxiety and depression and it worked really well for awhile and then it didn't. My doctors switched me to Lexapro and I didn't see much improvement with the 20mg a day dose so they increased it to 30mg a day. I was still having a lot of problems with the crying almost every day and feeling unable to interact with the outside world so my doctor added Wellbutrin to go along with the daily 30mg of Lexapro.

The Wellbutrin does seem to help a lot; My doctor thinks so too. However, a few months later, I started having that problem with the dreams where I was re-living the sexual assaults I've experienced (Not Sleeping Well & It Happened again Last Night). My psychiatrist suggested that I find a therapist who specialized in sexual issues but I never did it. I made an appointment to see one guy but I never went. After awhile, the dreams went away and I started being able to get through the nights okay. But lately they've come back.

I saw my psychiatrist last week and he recommended that I taper off my Lexapro dose and substitute it with Effexor. I'm going to start it tonight, I think. I've been saying I was going to do it but I'm really nervous about trying a new medication. I hate being a slave to these pills. I feel like I should just be able to handle life without needing to resort to chemical help. I try to tell myself that I shouldn't judge myself by other people's standards because the average person in this country doesn't know what the hell they'd do if they had to deal with all that I have gone through.

My cancer is an ever present sword of Damocles. Actually, it's not even the cancer by itself. It's the lupus and asthma and depression and anxiety and schizophrenia that also weighs it down. The combination of all these factors leaves very little room in my life for happiness and hopefulness. How long will I be able to hold it all together?

The Proposal

I've been writing since the middle of the night. Last week, I posted almost twice a day but this week has been difficult. I am going through this period where I have too much to say. All of it is connected so it's hard to just stick to one topic per post. I started writing about two of Belledame's posts but then I realized that I needed to talk about how my past made those posts affect me as they did. So, I switched to writing a post about that but then somewhere in the middle of it, I realized that I wanted to talk about a subject that I had never delved into on My Private Casbah.

I haven't written very much about The German on my blog. I can't say for sure why that is. I mean, I could say it if I knew why but it's just something that has worked out that way. Back in June of last year, I wrote about how he and I met and became a couple but I stopped short of anything past that point. It wasn't until last night that I realized that I have never written about how we came to be the way we are now.

Even though this blog has taken on a life of its own, my first intentions were to use this as a means of writing about my life so that when I am gone, VanGoghGirl can know what kind of person her mother was. It's a thought that has stayed with me all throughout the almost two years that I've been blogging, so there are some things that I mean to write about for her sake so that if I were to die before I get the chance to tell it to her myself, she can still come here and read about it. This is one of those topics.

The German asked me to marry him years ago. It was a sweet proposal. I have never been the sort of girl who dreamed of getting married, so I have never imagined how I'd want a guy to propose to me. Nevertheless, since that time, I've heard a lot of other proposal stories and none of them seemed as perfect as mine.

One spring night, after he had taken me out to a wonderful restaurant, he said he felt like taking a stroll down the riverwalk next to the Mississippi River. After we had been walking for awhile and laughing about God knows what, he said he wanted to stop and sit on a bench for a minute so that we could catch our breath. It was a beautifully clear night sky with the moonlight reflecting off of the surface of the Mississippi River.

As is always the case downtown, we could hear the jazzy blues music playing from some place nearby but we couldn't see anyone from where we were. I started hoping that we wouldn't sit for too long. It's not exactly safe, you know. People have been robbed there before, I'm sure. Besides, my best friend was babysitting VanGoghGirl and though she was one of those people who never seemed to sleep, who seemed just as comfortable receiving visitors at three in the afternoon or three in the morning, I was starting to think that it might be best for us to call it a night and head back to her uptown apartment to pick up the baby.

While we sat and chatted, The German nonchalantly asked me if I was having a good time and, even though my feet were sore from spending so many hours in my stilty heeled shoes, I had to admit that this night had been especially nice. Then he asked me if I could think of anything that might make the night even better. He always went out of his way to make sure that I was happy so this question didn't seem odd to me at all and I happily replied that there was nothing that could top the amount of fun we were having that night.

Suddenly he got up from the bench and knelt down on one knee. My immediate thought was that he was going to ruin his pants, so I started to tell him that he shouldn't do that but then he started to reach out for my hand and I suddenly realized what he was really doing. I, being the complete weirdo that I am, began to panic. I got up and started to protest. In fact, I actually tried to run away but I didn't get far because of those darn heels. He grabbed my hand and said "bint, I've figured out that I can't live without you so I need to have you in my life forever. bint alshamsa will you please marry me?" Then he went in his pocket and pulled out a pretty purple box--it's my favorite color--and began to open it with his thumb. He was using one hand to hold onto me because I was still pulling away and trying to make a mad dash to lord knows where but any place other than there.

I think that most people already have a pretty good idea of whether they'd say yes or no when the love of their life asks for their hand in marriage. So you'd think that I would have just said, "Yes!" Instead, I just felt really, really startled and anxious. I couldn't run so I just turned my head away from him. He kept talking to me saying, "bint, please look at me for a minute. Please!" I turned to him a little bit and started explaining to him that he didn't know what he was doing and that this wasn't really what he wanted but he kept saying that I make him happier than he's ever been and that he didn't want to go back to the way his life was before I came along. So, I started to relax a little bit and the fight or flight response wore off a bit. Hearing him tell me why he knew that this was what he wanted calmed me down and convinced me that he really wasn't just asking me without having given it enough thought.

I sat back down on the bench and took a long look at his face. He was holding the box down by then while he spoke to me. I hadn't even seen the inside of it yet. I asked, "Can I see what you have there?" and he held it up towards me again. Inside of the purple box was a gorgeous heart-shaped diamond solitaire ring. It was the prettiest ring I'd ever seen in my life.

He took the ring out of the box and asked me again. This time I said "Yes."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sometimes This Divide is Just so Damned Great

You know, sometimes this divide is just so damned great that I don't even know why we bother, or perhaps I should say, why I bother. I have no idea what is the actual cause of it all. It could be the racial/cultural differences or my change in religious and political views or the reality of long-term monogamy. Hell, it might be my altered appearance post-cancer diagnosis. I can't even sort through it all.

Whatever it is, it is totally effed up and more than I want to deal with at this point in my life. But then, it's not really my choice, is it? I mean, when you're disabled like me, you can't just up and leave. I grew up with all of that "Independent Woman", "Miss Independent" bullshit on the radio and I loved all those stupid songs. But really, all of that is totally irrelevant in my life. It's just another way that living with a disability is worlds apart from the non-disabled world.

Can I just say, "I've had enough of your crap and I'm so-oo-oo out of here...Oh, and would you please carry my things down the stairs for me because I'm not supposed to lift anything heavier than a cat?" I'm not saying that I want out of this relationship for good. It's just the power differential is so great that it colors absolutely everything that goes on between us. He knows that I couldn't just tell him to get the hell out no matter how much he might ever make me want to.

I don't really talk about it too much but, as is apparent from our family photos, I am in a inter-racial relationship. He's lived here his entire life but his family is so solidly German that he might as well have been born there. It's amazing how much cultural habits and tendencies tend to get passed down through the generations even when a person has very little connection to their original homeland. For instance, my family still organizes around the cross-cousin kinship system.

My mother's brother's child is totally outside of my family. He wasn't raised around us and nobody really keeps in touch with him. On the other hand, my mother's sisters kids are basically like my brothers and sisters. For years, three of my aunts and their families lived within walking distance of our house. Before the hurricanes, all but one of my mother's sisters lived in the city together. My mother's brother lived with us too, but not his son. His son lives with his mother. Even now, my (parallel) cousins have managed to relocate in little bunches. Two of my cousins live with another one of my cousins who are the children of a different aunt. Another of my maternal aunt's kids settled down on the same street as me.

In contrast, The German has no extended family. It's hard for me to understand what that must have been like growing up. When I ran into trouble, I had a gang of cousins showing up to back me up at the drop of a dime. Hell, they'd still come running just as I would for them. As you can probably infer, we weren't exactly brought up to be pacifists. On the other hand, The German is as close to pacifist as I imagine one could be. People look at him and assume that he's probably some real "tough guy". Though he is a foot taller than me, I am the one that's most likely to speak up during a confrontation. In fact, that's a big part of the problem between the two of us.

He doesn't talk. To me he often comes across as non-responsive. He's just not demonstrative with his feelings. No one in his family is. In my family, when we see each other, we always greet each other with a hug and kiss but not them. It's just, "Hi" and that's it. That wouldn't be that big a deal if it just went as far as that. Unfortunately, it extends to how we communicate with each other. For instance, it wasn't until last year that I was even able to get him to talk about the fact that we are an inter-racial couple. Despite the fact that we've been together for *mumble* years, we have had few conversations about the role that race has played a role in our relationship. Usually, he just doesn't think that it has anything to do with how we see and deal with the world but I think it does.

We used to share similar views about a lot of topics but now...Well, let's just say he feels fairly comfortable holding opinions that I am trying very hard to shake off completely. When he met me I was a self-identified "conservative", member of a very right-leaning evangelical religious group, and completely celibate. This is basically the way we continued for the majority of our relationship, even when he moved in to this apartment with me and VanGoghGirl. In our relationship, he was the most liberal, hands down.

Ironically, living with him is what made it possible for me to even reconsider the beliefs I held. In the Church of We're Never WrongTM, there is absolutely no room for the idea of live and let live.