Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Sherri Shepard Incident

You know, this whole Sherri Shepard thing is ridiculous. Did no one understand the point she was making? Have these people ever heard of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs?

Get Your Free 2008 Women's Health Calendar

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is now accepting orders for their FREE 2008 Women's Health Calendar. Here's a description from the site:

"The 2008 Women's Health Calendar is a briefer version of our annual Women's Health Daybook. You will still find health information and tips throughout the calendar pages. You will also find important symptoms to look out for and diagrams of body systems. The calendar also includes tips for preparing for emergencies, talking to your doctor, and knowing when to get important screenings and immunizations."

They will only be accepting orders for a short time because the calendars will be shipped out this winter. Please spread the news.

Women's Health Calendar Order Form

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My Jena Complex

I've been meaning to write about the Jena Six but I haven't done it. It's a very strange situation. I'm trying to figure out why it's felt so impossible to write about despite how strongly I feel about it. I think it has to do with the fact that it happened here in Louisiana. It's humiliating to think that we need all of these people from outside of the state just to get justice in one case.

I'm really going to have to get over this, today.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Republican Dietary Label

Shamelessly stolen from my daughter's blog:

The picture reads:

Dick Cheney
ten percent human, thirty percent machine, sixty percent horse's ass

George W. Bush
fifty percent human, fifty percent chimp

Dennis Hastert
thirty-five percent human, sixty-five percent trans-fatty acids

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Arrgh Ye Looking Far Sumthin' To Read?

Ahoy all ye sea wenches and scurvy scavengers!! Do yer know what today is? It's National Talk Like a Pirate Day!! How are ye scum buckets plannin' to celebrate this most important day of all tha year? Well, you could start by going get yer own pirate name just like I did,

Your Pirate Name Is...

Evil Flirty Fran

Then go and vote in the Pirates vs. Ninja survey. Be sure to sure to vote for pirates or all ye' loved ones shall be forced to walk the plank!

Pirate v Ninja

Lastly, go and check out VanGoghGirl's Talk Like A Pirate Day Post. Yer Captain Evil Flirty Fran commands it!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How To Piss Me Off In 150 Words or Less:

1. Be stupid enough to think the following comment might be good advice to give a person with disabilities:

Questions to ponder: What's so bad about dying? Do you really want to live on a vent? And as your right hand is failing, think about how your life will be with an even more limited method of communicating. Why not be un-selfish give your tortured family a break from their obvious horrendous pain? The sooner it happens, the faster they will heal. Think of the babies if not your loving, wonderful wife. What memories do you want them to have of you? Chosing to die sooner than later is truly more loving than having your wife and family make a decision when you are not able to. I thought that you understood that. Was I wrong?

2. Be too chicken-shit to make the rest of us happy by taking said advice before you have the audacity to tell it to someone else.

I'm too mad for words after reading this comment on one of my (PWD) buddy's blogs. Ableist asshole!

Happy Belated Conception Day???

Last Wednesday was designated "Conception Day" in Russia. Nearly all government employees were given the day off on September 12th with the hopes that couples would go home and make some babies. Am I the only one who has never heard about this before? Apparently, the government is so concerned about declining birthrates that it is providing incentives to those who give birth to more than one child.

I don't know much about birthrates and the consequences associated with declines in it. I can imagine it probably means less tax revenue for the government. There would definitely be a smaller pool of both skilled and unskilled workers but couldn't it remedy that by encouraging immigration? Can someone who is more knowledgeable about this explain the issues involved here?

Time to make the doughnuts!

Via Ktrion

You Are a Boston Creme Donut

You have a tough exterior. No one wants to mess with you.
But on the inside, you're a total pushover and completely soft.
You're a traditionalist, and you don't change easily.
You're likely to eat the same doughnut every morning, and pout if it's sold out.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Diversity That Got Me Through the Beginning of my Cancer Journey

When I'm bored, I sometimes check out a particular message board that's associated with a yearly festival for women. I'm not going to link to it because I don't want anyone to feel like I'm recruiting people to gang up on them. I wouldn't even be posting there if it weren't for the fact that I was mentioned on it a while back. If you've read some of my recent posts, then you'll know what board it is, so I don't need to mention the name again. That would just be over-kill.

There aren't a whole lot of people who post there regularly--maybe twenty, tops. However, of those, there's a small coterie of women who are vehemently and unapologetically transphobic. I've had conversations with some of them on other blogs and I don't think those conversations went the way they would have liked, so I was pretty sure that our interactions on this board were going to start off pretty badly. Predictably, they did.

It's not altogether awful though. I was happy to find out that it's a fairly diverse group. Well, not very diverse but more diverse than a lot of places on the net. The mix is assorted enough to spark some provocative discussions. Still, it looks a lot like America: mostly white with a few people of color and people with disabilities thrown in.

A few days ago, I was participating in one of the discussions and some people expressed the view that they needed time to be away from anyone who isn't "woman born woman" in order to relax, heal, and survive this world. The conversation went in several directions and at some point I wound up writing about some of the different people who helped me get through the beginning of my journey with cancer.

Basically, the point of it was to show why I don't feel like I need to be in the presence of people just like me in order for me to heal and survive. I think the diversity of experiences and feelings that each person brought into my life is what made it possible for me to juggle a situation that was so over my head that I knew I couldn't manage it all alone.

I don't think I've ever discussed some of these people on my blog and I wanted to put my comment here because it's really the only way that I have of acknowledging some of these people that I may never see again in my life. So, here it is:

This is exactly how I feel. I see no reason to assume that I don't have a significant amount of shared experiences with another individual simply because of who I think they are nor do I assume that I DO have any particularly meaningful shared experiences with someone just because of who I think they are. I dropped those assumptions when I left fundamentalist religion and life has been unimaginably more interesting and fulfilling since then. When I became extremely sick, going through radiation, surgery, et cetera, the people who came into my life and helped me through it...they came from all sorts of places:

The black, mid-western cafeteria worker at the dorms of UW-Madison who brought me home-made food from her house because she saw I wasn't eating right and the school-fare was just above inedible.

The white, het, male middle-aged orthopedic oncologist who treated me at his private practice for free for four months until I was able to get some coverage because he didn't want to see me have to be treated at the Charity hospital here.

The college students (boys and girls) in my dad's class who sent me books about disability empowerment and woman-centered spirituality.

The prominent, crotchety, elderly het, white, male biology professor at Northwestern who made me get up and come to work at the lab 40+ hours a week to teach me to always test the limits of what my body could accomplish.

The economically-disadvantaged, black, female cashier at Wal-Mart who would always stop her line and say a quick prayer with me whenever she saw me in the store.

The middle-class black, gay boyfriend of my partner's white neighbor who sat and talked to me for hours on the day before my surgery about all the things his mother used to say to comfort him when he was scared.

The rich, white, het, female surgeon who was the mother to my brother's girlfriend and didn't even work in the oncology ward that used her few hours off to come sit with me in the hospital while I was recovering from my surgery and tell me about all of the amazing stories of recovery that she'd seen in her years of practice.

My black, lesbian cousin who was recovering from two strokes but still found time to call me each week to see how I was doing.

My het, black Puerto Rican, female sex-worker roommate who would constantly tell me how sexy I was, how she wished she had my lips, how lucky my partner was to have me...even though I felt like shit and looked like it too.

The Persian-American medical student who convinced a plastic surgeon to come and do the stitching on my back so that I wouldn't have any scars because she heard that I was supposed to be getting married in six months and I had planned to wear a strapless dress. When she told the other med students on the ward that I was a biology student and I was trying to keep up in my classes by studying while I was hospitalized, they finagled a way to get the date for my next surgery pushed up so that I could be healed in time to maybe start and complete the Spring semester without interruptions.

My hospital-phobic brother who came and sat with me when I had tubes coming out of everything except my ear holes and read Hillary Clinton's book to me and surprised me with an autographed copy of Tavis Smiley's "Keeping the Faith: Stories of Love, Courage, Healing and Hope in Black America".

My male German partner (who had faithfully sat with his grandmother every day after school as she died of brain cancer before we met) who knew what he was in for with me but never once complained about having to go through it again even while he cleaned up my vomit, bathed and clothed me, cooked my meals, and even learned how to wash and comb my (now our) daughter's hair.

Each of these people understood something about what I was going through and what I needed to get through those times and they helped me make it through. If I had assumed that what I really needed was an all-female or all-black environment during my time of suffering, I would have missed out on most of these very meaningful relationships and all that they provided me with.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"What's Your Japanese Sub-Culture?" Quiz

That's me! I can't wait to show Neko-chan so she can tease me for the rest of the day!

You Are a Henna Gaijin!

You're not Japanese, but you wish you were!
You can use chopsticks with your eyes closed, and you've memorized hundreds of Kanji.
You even answer your phone "moshi moshi."
While the number of anime videos you've seen is way higher than the number of dates you've been on, there's hope.
Play the sexy, mysterous gaijin, and you'll have plenty of Japanese boyfriends.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Making a Move From Church or From Belief

I have so much on my mind today. I have three different posts that I've been trying to work on since this morning. This is just one of them. While looking up information about one of them, I came across a very interesting blog called Memoirs of an Ex-Christian. It's a very thought-provoking blog. I've been going through what some would call a crisis of faith and some of Kevin's feelings remind me of my own even though I don't know if he'd see much of a similarity between them.

I have been trying to process some rather negative experiences I've had recently at the congregation that The German, VanGoghGirl, and I associate with most often. It's a small group that has only been here for a few years. It wasn't until shortly after Hurricane Katrina/Rita that it went from meeting in some one's home to having weekly services in the recreation room of a local church. I don't think they've ever even had 50 people at one of their services despite the fact that they have a bus that goes around the city and picks up anyone who wants to come but doesn't have or can't afford transportation. I'm okay with that though. It makes it a lot easier to get to know everyone in a way that you just can't do at the "mega-churches".

The guy who pastors the group is from out of town and he worked with The German. He's from "out west". Of course, as far as most folks down here are concerned, he might as well be from The Czech Republic. All that matters is that he isn't from the south. Oh yeah, he's also white--very white--with a very white family.

I liked them a lot. I started going to their little "prayer meetings" after the pastor asked the The German if it would be alright if his church prayed for me (The German had just given a little presentation during the United Way drive regarding how our family has benefited from programs that receive funds from the organization). I thought that it was awfully nice of this guy, who didn't even know me, to offer to pray for me while I was going through a really rough patch with my health. He also invited The German to check out their congregation one day.

One evening, I was feeling rather stressed out and I wanted a little spiritual encouragement. I didn't have a church or anything that I belonged to at the time and it happened to be the same day of the week as this pastor's church met at his house, so I decided to see what they had going on over there

It was nice. It was a group of about ten people. They alternated between praying about different topics and singing contemporary Christian songs (think: "God of Wonders") while the pastor played the guitar. Afterwards, everyone hung out together and ate snacks. I had a good time. They made me feel really welcome.

I started going somewhat regularly. After a while, I let VanGoghGirl come with me because the pastor had a daughter and son close to her age and I thought she might enjoy meeting them. The kids played together while the adults prayed so I wasn't too worried about her having to deal with any hardcore indoctrination. Don't get me wrong. I do want her to learn about my beliefs; I just don't want her to feel like she has to dedicate her life to a particular religious group just because it works for me.

After the hurricanes, I had a lot of family matters to deal with so I didn't have time to go to their prayer meetings regularly--okay, not at all, actually. However, I did go back about seven or eight months later. By that time, things were totally different. Because of the hurricane devastation, they'd received a big infusion of funds and volunteers to help them engage in some community service clean-ups around the city. They were still having the weekly prayer meetings but now they were also having Sunday services. To be honest, I was a bit wary of attending because my background makes me very paranoid about aligning myself closely to a particular group but, eventually, I went.

The German, VanGoghGirl and I got up on a Sunday morning and dragged ourselves to the sermon. It was really pleasant. Everybody was in their casual clothes. In fact, we were the most dressed up folks in attendance. Even the pastor was wearing shorts. They brought out the guitar, sang a couple of songs, prayed, and the pastor gave a sermon about something or other. Then they sang a few more songs, prayed, and brought out the coffee, bagels, and orange juice for everyone to munch on before going home.

I enjoyed it so much that I decided to keep going. It felt nice to attend some sort of religious service each week. I went to my old congregation three times a week for 25 years of my life. Being a regular church attendee felt really comforting and familiar to me, except this time I didn't have to dress up and pretend to believe everything that was said in order to avoid ostracism.

VanGoghGirl liked it because they had a really fun Sunday school program where they played games and learned a verse from the Bible each week. The church picks up kids from around the city for Sunday school each week so it was a good place for her to meet new kids too. I told her that she didn't have to go if she didn't want to. If she wanted to sleep in on Sundays after waking up before the crack of dawn five days a week for school, I don't think that God would damn her to the pits of hell (actually, she knows I don't believe in any hell but she understood what I meant), but she was really eager to go back every week and that made me feel more enthusiastic about going too.

However, there's trouble in paradise right now and I'm beginning to think that it may be time for me to part ways from this group. I've written enough for now. I guess I'll blog more about it tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Weight Saga

I went to the doctor yesterday and now I'm pretty upset. I was sure that I'd gained some weight. A while back, I put away the scale at home and decided to just stop tracking my weight. I didn't want to become obsessed with scale results because I know that would add to my stress and that would screw with my stomach which would jump start the intestinal problems.

Well, it didn't work. I've lost even more weight since the last time I saw this doctor. Even the temporary weight gain associated with my menstrual cycle didn't help. If she were to weigh me next week, I'd probably be even smaller.

It is so frustrating! I take the medicine they give me and I'll start to feel a little bit better but I never actually get better.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Rogue Organ Donor Officials Murder Another Person of Color With Disabilities

I just found this blog posting about the recent murder of a person of color with disabilities down in California. All I can say is that it scares the hell out of me.

Diagnosis: Murder

Every time I turn on the television and some writer wants to get rid of a well-liked character, it seems like they simply have them get diagnosed as having cancer and kill them off that way. The worst was the job that the writers of "The L Word" did with the Dana Fairbanks character. Dana got cancer and she was dead before the end of the season. I stopped watching the series at that point. However, that's television.

What happened to Ruben Navarro is real life but that life was canceled, stomped out, terminated and it was all because society valued his organs more than his life. After all, what's the point in keeping a person with disabilities alive when, by killing them, we can make a tidy profit provide life-saving organs for rich needy people?

This man was tortured and killed. Yeah, I'm calling it torture. You don't have to be in abu ghraib or Gitmo in order to be tortured by Americans. Ruben's body sustained treatment that would kill almost anyone but he still didn't die. It wasn't until the next day that he died. They, the doctors and nurses at the hospital, killed this man.

And yeah, I'm convinced that being poor and Latino definitely made him more vulnerable to this sort of abuse.

My Tomboy/Soft-Butch Teen-Aged Years

As a teen, I was very butch as far as how I presented...inasmuch as my mother allowed me to be. Fortunately, I didn't get the breasts that other girls were developing, so I was able to just cover them with muscle shirts. To this day, I can still fit a "training bra". I refused to wear a dress other than the couple of hours a week when I was required to go to church. I didn't shave or wear make-up or purses or shoes with heels.

In high school I did okay until they adopted a uniform policy. It caused a bit of trouble for me because I didn't want to wear the cutesy plaid wrap-skirt that the school had picked out for the girls to wear. Instead, I wore the boy's uniform. The school tried to prevent me from wearing it but my mom intervened on my behalf.

I remember my favorite time of the school year was Spirit Week because there was a different theme for each day, one of which was "Opposite Sex Day". Lots of girls would come to me and ask to help them with their clothes or have me draw a moustache on their face with their make-up pencils. It was the one day of the year where I felt like it wasn't just okay to be me but actually GOOD to be who I was. I was able to be a girl and fit in without having to be femme.

Over the past five or so years, I've become more femme-looking but it still pains me to hear about what many butch women experience every day. I remember how it felt when I was constantly being called "dyke" or "dyke-bitch" whenever someone wanted to insult me. In that environment, it was impossible to convince myself that it was okay to be me. It was like, to them, having any sort of "questionable" sexuality was bad enough but to have the audacity to not try and cover that fact up by looking feminine...well, that was more than they could/would tolerate.

Wouldn't you know, it was always the girls who used that as an insult. It was a non-issue for most of the boys; They never seemed put-off by how I looked. I really wish we (women) could get to the point where we stopped being so concerned about how other people present themselves to the world. I think this would make the planet a lot easier to deal with for many people.

"Progressives", Blue-Staters, Democrats, Feminists

When I was younger, I used to believe that we were all in this together. Being a New Orleanian gave me a really skewed view of this country, especially regarding issues like immigration, sexuality, and gender. Our attachment to times past is one of the things that I think we are most famous for. You can see it in the architecture, the language, and the manners. I thought that this was a bad thing because it was keeping us from being as politically progressive as I felt we should be. However, I've come to see that this isn't really the case. We're actually a lot more tolerant and accepting than most of the USA, including many of the so-called "blue states", and I think that this is partially because we don't believe in forgetting about the past.

While other folks are patting themselves on the back because they vote for Democrats or Independents, they see nothing wrong with continuing the same patterns of behavior that have harmed people of color, people with disabilities, women, et cetera. In their minds, they couldn't possibly be a bigot. After all, they don't actually SAY that they hate all members of Group "X" (i.e. any particular marginalized group). I think they simply make up their minds that even if "X" is treated poorly, it doesn't mean that they have any responsibility to speak up or do anything about it. Their silence is painful enough but witnessing them actively promoting bigotry, it becomes almost unbearable.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Gay Americans, We Fight So That You Don't Have To

The Onion News Channel brings us an important clarification of the U.S. Military Services' "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Some one should have explained this to me sooner!

'Gays Too Precious To Risk In Combat,' Says General

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Geek Girl Part VI: How To Make A Non-Newtonian Fluid

The first time I encountered this, I didn't even know that what I had made was a non-Newtonian fluid. My mother was going through radiation therapy for her breast cancer (ductal carcinoma in-situ). She was instructed not to use any deodorant during that time. When she asked her doctor what she could do to minimize wetness and odor under her arms, he suggested that she try using a little cornstarch and water. He didn't give her any further instructions, so it was left to me to figure out how to make this work for my mom.

I found a little container and I tried to mix the two ingredients together. The result didn't look like anything that she could spread or dust under her arms. It was dry and weird feeling. What I didn't realize is that what I'd made is called oobleck. Here's a cool Youtube video showing how to make it.