Monday, July 31, 2006
And now a break from our regularly scheduled angst...
My list can be found here. It's not finished yet, since it's taking me a while to come up with things. But it's fun, taking an inventory of what you want, what you've done, where you want to go, where you've been. I've been thinking a lot lately about that. I feel, in a way, that I'm coming out of a very long, very dark place where I wasn't able to look into the future and see anything. But now that I can, I need to find a way to compile a list of...stuff. And seeing them in print makes it all more concrete and achievable. Because, really, why can't I learn to play the guitar? Or write a song? Or get my poetry published? There's no timeline on my life, is there? There's no rule that says you have to have your whole life 'done' by 30.
So, go, look. Poke around, have some fun. Maybe get inspired. And have fun. Fun is very, very important.
A crime without a punishment
The interviewer makes a very good point -- this would be a crime without a punishment. Which makes the whole point of making it illegal dumb. If I knew I wouldn't be punished if I had an abortion, why wouldn't I have one if I needed one? Of course, they're willing to punish the doctors who perform them and the people who drive women to their appointments, but not the women themselves. Exactly what other crime does that? Particularly one that results in the killing of another human being? I mean, if you're mugging someone on the street and accidently kill someone, you're still charged with murder regardless of the fact that you didn't start intending to kill anyone. (Or maybe you get charged with a lesser offense. I don't know. Depends on the state. Point is, you don't get a free pass.)
At least one women in this video admitted she'd never thought about what happens to the women, she only thought about the babies. How you can not think about what happens to the women is beyond me, seeing as how it's the women who are pregnant and deciding to abort. They're the ones who have to live with the outcome of any pregnancy. They're fucking central to the whole argument. Without them, hey, no abortion contraversy! Maybe these people think babies should grow on trees or something.
Frankly, this is the point I think pro-choicers should hammer home. You cannot outlaw abortion without punishing women. You cannot say abortion is the taking of a human life and then let those central to that action have a free pass. You cannot, logically, make the claim that a fetus is equal to a human and make its death less meaningful in the law. It doesn't work that way. Either it's a human life with all attendant rights or it's not. (Frankly, my personal view comes down somewhere in the middle on that issue, depending on the point of gestation. But the anti-choicers have polarized this issue so much that there's no room for compromise anymore.)
Women who have had abortions also need to be more open about them. At least, those women who in positions to talk about them should be. I understand that there are lots of women who have abortions in situations where it would be more dangerous for them to admit that. I know that if I'd had to have an abortion when I had my pregnancy scare, I'd never be able to talk to my family about it. And my family wouldn't do anything drastic or dangerous to me. But women who have had abortions, who can safely talk about them, should do so. Right now, the anti-choicers have control of the debate. They get to paint the face of abortion, even though the facts point out just how wrong they are.
Frankly, I'm praying for early menopause so I won't have to worry about accidental pregnancy. My mother started menopause in her late 30s, so I'm hoping I get lucky too. *sigh*
Sunday, July 30, 2006
The importance of not being silent
Some of the things I talk about make people uneasy. I understand that. But that doesn't mean I'm going to stop talking. My opinions, at least 95 percent of them, are rooted in much more than impulse. I think about things, I roll them around in my head, I try to figure out what each side is thinking, I weigh things before I make a decision. So when I talk about something, I'm talking about something that matters to me, that I think is important.
I disturb some people when I talk about mental illness. I understand that. Mental illness is disturbing on all levels. If it wasn't disturbing, there'd be no problem with it. But it becomes more disturbing when no one talks about it.
As someone who suffered for half my life with debilitating mental illness, I feel that it's my responsiblity to talk about it. To not be quiet, to not let it be covered up. Because I'm incredible lucky. I can talk about it. I made it through to the other side. I survived. But so many others don't. So many others end up taking their own lives to escape the crushing pain. So many keep living, but they're living half-lives, afraid of admitting to anyone what they're going through. So afraid of disappointing their family or their friends or losing their jobs or being looked down upon.
I talk about my own journey a lot. I talk about having my first panic attacks when I was 8. Of having debilitating fears of water or religion or death. I talk about having to, compulsively, pray four times a day, read a chapter of the Bible every night, forgo all secular music and books and t.v. I talk about trying desparately to come up with a reason to go on living and coming up with one. Just one. If I die, no one would be there to feed my cats. And so, I didn't take the bottle of sleeping pills.
I talk about how my family didn't understand, even though my Mother suffers from depression herself. How they thought taking me to a pastor would fix the problem. How I faked being better for them, because it hurt too much to carry my own pain and theirs too. I talk about all the things I had to do. All the notebooks full of writing I was using to just get the pain out of me. About the cutting I did, how some of the scars people think came from me falling are actually from me cutting myself over and over. Because it feels so, so much better once I started to bleed. How people don't understand that, unless they've been there themselves.
And I talk about how incredible strong people suffering from mental illness are. How incredible strong and brave. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone made of tougher stuff than someone who has gone their entire life battling against themselves. You'd have to look far and wide to find anyone more self-aware. It's a vast misconception that the mentally ill are weak or flawed. A weak, flawed person wouldn't last a week in the sort of pain and confusion an mental illness can bring. A week or flawed person would wilt.
I also talk about how it's possible to move through it. You never get over it, it never leaves you. But you can carve a way through it, with time and medication and the right doctors. If you can find people who love you, who believe you, who support you, you can get through it. I'm not certain you can ever be cured of a major mental illness. Because I haven't been suicidal for at least three years, does that mean I won't ever be again? I don't know. I hope not. This is the longest I've gone and I'm on very good medication. But there's no guarantee that I won't have another episode again in five, ten years. I don't believe I will. I believe I've got this all behind me, at last. But I can't ever be sure and living with that uncertainty -- and going on anyway -- is another mark of bravery.
It's important that people know it's possible to survive. It's possible to survive and build a good life. I'm in the process of doing that myself. It's incredible to wake up and not be sad that you did. It's amazing to look around and see that the future isn't all darkness and doom. It's the most amazing feeling when the things you once loved start to come back to you, when you start to realize you can have them back. I feel like a kid again, seriously. Well, a teenager at least. Which makes sense,because that's when my life really went off the rails. But it's possible to have it all back and people need to know that. They need to know they're not alone, that there are other people who understand and who will help them, if they just reach out. And they have to know there are people who will not judge them, because they haven't done anything to be judged for.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Orgasims for fun and profit!
Masturbate for Charity -- it's a win for everyone.
Being a prisoner of Deep Red Jesusland, I've never heard of these, even though they've apparently been held stateside. Probably by those liberal commie queers in San Fran. (Oh, my people, how I miss you!) They're making a movie out of it, so maybe I can get off Netflix. Or, ya know, take part here. To express my solidarity for the cause. Whoohoo. When's my new Adam and Eve order getting here?
But seriously, 55 minutes out of every hour? Are you allowed lube? You'd have to switch hands, because you'll get cramps. Or pull muscles. For those of us with arthritis, well....good thing they allow toys. And would your friends be allowed to help ya out? A little mutual masturbating for the cause?
And I must tip my hat to the person who can rub it for almost nine hours straight. It's all good, but come on, I can't do anything for that long without zoning out.
So, my friends, August 5 -- join in in solidarity with the other wankers of the world!
(Also, check out the winged penis here . It's just too much.)
Thursday, July 27, 2006
The Culture of Life strikes again
So. Let's think of all the ways this could go wrong, shall we? Anyone remember FEMA? That worked really well, didn't it?
I never used suicide hotlines when I was, well, suicidal. But I could have. I could have used the reassurance that I wasn't insane or alone or as fucked up as I thought I was. Two million people helped by this hotline. Two million people. Or do they not matter? Does the figure 'millions' only count when it's totally terminated pregnancies or dollars spent in Iraq? I get so confused, what with that crazy womb of mine making me all fuzzy-headed.
And can I just scream at the notion of "faith-based" suicide prevention??? That's what my family tried with me and frankly, it only made it worse. I have a good idea of what those sessions will be like.
Preacher: Now, Susie, why do you feel like killing yourself?
Susie: Well, I just....I just hurt all the time. And I'm sad. I can't stop crying and I think sometimes I hear voices and...
Preacher: Voices? Oh, Susie, that's just Satan trying to tempt you! You can't let him win, Susie. Here, read these Bible verses everytime you start to feel a little sad.
Susie: But, I don't just feel sad. I want to carve HELP ME into my skin with a rusty knife and...
Preacher: Susie, do you want to make Jesus cry? Aren't you grateful for his sacrifice on the cross? How can you be so selfish?
Susie: *blinkblink* Can I borrow that letter opener?
And really, do we need this government having access to personal information? Of people who are in pain and apt to be...less than themselves? I know that when I was suicidial, the things I said and felt and did were not reflective of who I truely am. If those things had been recorded, put in a database and pulled up years later? Shit. I was the most unstable person on the planet, a far cry from where I am now. And I'm grateful that no one has a record of that, that it's all in my mind. Because otherwise, there'd be all kinds of reasons to deny me jobs, medical treatment, loans, whatever.
This is fucking scary, the way this government keeps collecting data on people and most people just...don't notice. Sure, today they're not coming after you, but who do you think is going to protect you when the rest of us have been collected, cataloged and put on a shelf?
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
The 42-year-old will be committed to a state mental hospital, with periodic hearings before a judge to determine whether she should be released. If convicted of murder, she would have faced life in prison.
Yates’ attorneys never disputed that she drowned 6-month-old Mary, 2-year-old Luke, 3-year-old Paul, 5-year-old John and 7-year-old Noah in their Houston-area home in June 2001. But they said she suffered from severe postpartum psychosis and, in a delusional state, believed Satan was inside her and was trying to save them from hell.
I can think of no greater punishment for this woman than to live with the knowledge that she killed her children. A lot of people will doubtlessly say that this verdict excuses her crime, or does not bring justice to her children. I disagree, but I can see their point. However, I'd say to those people that they've probably never lived with a mental illness and felt firsthand it's crippling effects.
Yates had a documented history of severe mental illness. She had been to multiple doctors and hospitals, on many, many medications. She needed to be committed for longterm care, but that never happened for her. I've heard reports that her husband didn't want that for her, I've heard reports that other people in her family didn't want that and objected. I cannot say if those stories are true, but if they are, I would not be surprised. Most people have no real concept of just how sick mental illness makes you. There are diseases that you can't just take a pill for. They don't go away because you want them to, they don't go away because you get a prescription. Complex mental illness requires medication and therapy, sometimes intensive therapy away from the typical living situation.
I get a little angry at her ex-husband. She was told after the birth of her fourth son not to have any more children, because of the severity of her PPD. Her doctors warned her that a recurrance was almost guaranteed and would likely be worse, if she had another child. And yet...and yet, they had a fifth child.
I get angry knowing how very religious her family/friends/she was, how unhealthy that was for her. Demanding, fundamentalist religions are bad for women, clearly, but it's very hard to make people understand that when they're in the middle of them. For years, the Yates' family lived in a small travel-bus. They were deeply committed to their faith, and the gender roles it proscribed. On it's own, that's something a person can survive. But combine those teachings with severe mental illness and you've got the makings of a tragedy.
Once she had been on medication consistantly and under treatment by doctors, Yates came out of her PPP. She knows, now, what she did. Can you imagine, just for a moment, what it would be like to know that you held your children under water until they died? Can you imagine, just for a moment, what it's like to realize that you're responsible for that? Does anyone think, really think, that this verdict does anything to ease her guilt and grief? I don't have children, but if I did, the thought that I had hurt one of them....I'd probably kill myself.
I say this is compassion, because at least she can get treatment and medication. At least she can have the chance to pull some kind of life together. There are people who believe she shouldn't be allowed to do that, that she should be allowed to do anything but suffer endlessly. Sadly, most of those people claim to be Christians. But I remember Jesus talking about forgiveness and redemption and second/third/1,000th chances. Five lives have already been lost, what good does it do to throw away a sixth? No amount of retribution is going to bring any of those children back. Doesn't Andrea Yates have a soul? Doesn't she have value, even as flawed as she is?
I don't mean those questions to sound like some flaming liberal (even though I am.) I mean those seriously. I don't see how there are easy answers in cases like this for truly thoughtful people.
But what does this mean?
Researchers believe proteins hold clues to chronic pain
By ROBERT PREIDT
Low blood levels of two anti-inflammatory proteins could be key to chronic pain, researchers report.
Low concentrations of two cytokines, IL-4 and IL-10, were found in patients with chronic widespread pain, according to a German study published in the August issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.
Cytokines are proteins that act as messengers between cells.
The study included 40 patients who’d received intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) as a novel treatment for pain that hadn’t responded to standard therapy and another 15 patients who did not receive IVIG. The study also included a control group of 40 healthy people.
Blood samples were collected from all the study volunteers, and the pain patients were asked to rate their pain, fatigue, mood and cognitive function.
Okay, so it's good news that they think they're figuring out what causes chronic pain. Yay! However...what does this mean? I mean, I'm happy to know there's a protein in my body that's not doing it's thing. Cool. So, tell me how to fix it. Seriously, what do I do to up those proteins? What do I do to make that happen, because living in chronic pain is a bad, bad, bad thing.
The deal with chronic pain is that you get used to it. You get used to feeling draggy and tired and achy. It becomes normal, so you don't really notice it. Which is dangerous, because pain is your body's way of saying there's something wrong. So you run the risk of ignoring a serious warning sign, because you're so very used to being in pain.
That's why it took me years to find out I had an inflammed gallbladder. It hurt, yes. But everything hurts on me, so when one spot starts hurting more than others? Eh. It doesn't really register with me. I had gallbladder pain off and on for six damned years before we found out what it was. And the only reason I found out is that it started hurting daily, instead of once or twice a month. My surgeon said my gallbladder was getting to the dangerous stage and if I hadn't gotten it taken out when I did, it could have ruptured and then I'd have been in serious trouble.
It feels strange, being a chronic pain patient, because you go to the doctor so often. (BTW, I just got my latest round of tests back and I'm prefectly healthy. Well, you know, aside from the previously dxed conditions.) I worry sometimes that people think I'm a hypocondriac. I know I'm not, but it seems strange to be my age and be on so much medication/go to the doctor so very often. On one hand, I don't care what people think. But on the other...I'm only 31. This cannot be my life, ya know? Not for the next sixty or seventy years. (And I plan on living to be an old, old woman with many many cats and lots of books. I will have myself a little cabin on a mountain somewhere where it gets cool in the summer and cold in the winter. I will grow a flower garden filled with my favorite flowers, even if they don't match together. My garden will have no symblance of order, but everyone who sees it will know it's mine. I'll make pots of tea and sit on my front porch, reading. I'll give cookies to all the children in the neighborhood and everyone will know me as That Nice Old Lady With All the Cats. I will paint as much as I like, write as much as I like and generally do whatever the hell I want to do. And when I die, people will miss me and plant roses at my grave.)
So, anyway. I'm glad they're making progress, I just wanna know how that translates into the real world!
I thought Washington was a blue state?
Three of the justices in the majority, however, invited the state Legislature to take another look at the gay marriage ban’s effect on same-sex couples.
“Given the clear hardship faced by same-sex couples evidenced in this lawsuit, the Legislature may want to re-examine the impact of the marriage laws on all citizens of this state,” wrote Justice Barbara Madsen, with Justice Charles Johnson and Chief Justice Gerry Alexander concurring.
The two other justices in the majority, James Johnson and Richard Sanders, agreed with the outcome but more actively opposed gay marriage.
Johnson wrote that the Legislature had “a compelling governmental interest in preserving the institution of marriage, as well as the healthy families and children it promotes. This conclusion may not be changed by mere passage of time or currents of public favor and surely not changed by courts.”
So, would now be the time for same-sex allies in Washington to be petitioning for a change of laws? And what's this bit about promoting marriage for the children? Gay people don't have children? Really? That'll be news to the lesbian/gay families I know!
The sad part is the article mentions that there are 45 states that have gay-marriage bans on the books. Most of those statues have never been challenged. So, really, this is even sadder. So far, Mass. is the only sane state in the nation, but it's kind expensive to live there.
I know some people make the arguement that pushing for gay marriage is too polarizing going into an election, particularly one we really need to win to have any chance of stopping this free fall President Frat Boy has put us in. There's some merit to that line of thought, but. . .it's like suffrage, really. If we wait until the "right time" to push for it, we'll be waiting forever. Although, at the moment, I don't think there are any more court challenges going on, so having this happen now, instead of on the eve of the November elections, is probably a good thing. I'd hate to give the neo-cons any more reason to get their people to the polls.
As I've said before, I'm not really a marrying sort of girl myself. At least, I don't think I am. Who knows, that could change later. But denying someone the right to marry because they want to marry someone of their own gender? That's clear discrimination and shows an utter lack of knowledge of the actually history of marriage.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
What flavor feminist am I again?
Alas, I seem to not be a feminist by her definition.
That would break my heart, but since I've never really given a fuck what other people said about me, I'm surprisingly tear-free.
(Actually, I don't mean to sound too snarky. I like reading her blog and think she's a pretty cool person. I don't agree with a lot of what she says, but I respect her for being able to articulate her beliefs and doing her best to live by them. I also think we've got a lot of common ground and could probably hang out easily enough.)
Actually, I agree with a hell of a lot of things on YL's list. I also disagree with lots of 'em too. And, being the cranky, argumenative sorta girl I am, I'm just gonna talk about the stuff I disagree with. Because it's more fun than being an echo chamber.
So, here we go: Things I Disagree with Yawning Lion About or Why I'm not a Radical Lesbian Separatist Feminist:
So, anyway. Reasons I'm not a Lesbian Separatist Feminist. I really don't know what "kind" of feminist I am, but I do know I am one. Not a radical one, which is funny because this may be the first time in my life I've been in the non-radical end of anything. My mother would be pleased. (Although, by her reckoning, I'm definately a radical feminist. Go figure.)
Friday, July 21, 2006
Please call or email your senator as soon as you receive this message. The so-called Child Custody Protection Act or as we more correctly refer to it: The Teen Endangerment Act may be voted on by the Senate as soon as tomorrow. The House has already passed their version (H.R. 748).
The current version restricts a young woman's ability to obtain an abortion outside of the home state even if the closest city is across state lines. In addition, it does not allow for an exception necessary to protect health, requires a 24-hour to 72-hour waiting period in many cases and imposes criminal penalties for any adults accompanying a young woman across a state line to obtain an abortion unless she has met her home state's parental involvement laws. (Info via NOW)
If this passes, this is going to totally screw girls in states like Mississippi and South Dakota, where there is only one abortion provider. If those damn protesters somehow managed to close Mississippi's clinic and that damned S.D. bill is upheld and this thing passes, the no teenager in either state will be getting abortions -- even if their pregnancy will killed. Gods dammit, what the hell is wrong with people?
I get so very sick of these things. Where's the fucking bill to require teen age fathers to provide for their offspring? Where's the fucking enforcement on that? Why the hell is it so goddamn hard to get men to step up to the plate and take care of their children? I'm thinking, if you're going to force women to become parents, then dammit, you'd better force the men who got them pregnant to be responsible too. But no. We can't have that, can we? Fucking hypocrites.
Seriously, if you want to force women to become mothers when they'd rather not, then you force men to be fathers when they'd rather not. That means garnishing wages, seizing property, whatever you've got to do to make it real to them. Make men start actually sharing the responsiblity of parenthood and see how fast these law start disappearing. And you know, of course, that if the governors daughter gets knocked up, she's getting her abortion regardless. Goddamn it.
Sorry, but eloquence fails me. I just am so sick of being regulated to second-class status because I happen to possess a vagina.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
The Idiot Son of an Asshole strikes again. . .
President Bush cast the first veto of his 5½-year presidency Wednesday, saying legislation easing limits on federal funding for embryonic stem cell “crosses a moral boundary” and is wrong.
“This bill would support the taking of innocent human life of the hope of finding medical benefits for others,” Bush said at a White House event where he was surrounded by 18 families who “adopted” frozen embryos not used by other couples, and then used those leftover embryos to have children.
“Each of these children was still adopted while still an embryo and has been blessed with a chance to grow, to grow up in a loving family. These boys and girls are not spare parts,” he said.
Okay, let's stop right there. I want to clarify something for the Unpresident. Just because you support abortion rights does not mean you're anti-adoption, even embryo adoption. My neice is adopted. I adore her. I'm glad she's here. However, it was still her mother's right to terminate her pregnancy. She did not owe us a child. She did not have a responsiblity to reproduce. I'm endlessly glad she did, but that's not the point. If she'd not had K. we'd have never know. No harm, no foul, get it?
And this appearence with 'snowflake' babies...come on. Did you mention how many tries these families had to take before they got those children? How many frozen embryos didn't implant? Doesn't that make these parents murderers? I mean, so long as they stayed frozen, they were alive, right? And since there's an very, very high failure rate to IVF, it would make more sense to leave them frozen because they've got a higher chance of dying than living on implantation. But hey, what do I know. I just do things like read.
And I love the "crossing a moral line" bs. Because only those 'children' we deem so deserve to live. Those babies in Iraq or Afghanistan? Nah. Those babies living in New Orleans when Katrina hit? Nah. Those babies of the poor in Texas who need treatment their parents can't afford? Nah. Sure, the fact that they're actually walking or crawling or talking or having some other measurable impact on the world around them doesn't count. No, they just aren't up to standards. Not Our Type Dear.
How much longer do we have to put up with this idiot again?
Just when I thought I couldn't hate these people any more. . .
Members of Operation Save America spread out through the capital city, targeting not only the Jackson Women’s Health Organization but Millsaps College, a high school, the Jackson Police Department and The Clarion-Ledger newspaper among almost two dozen locations.
Because, clearly, college and high school students are a danger. Especially when they're, you know, in class and all. And that newspaper? Ha! Clearly, a bastion of Satanic urges. Don't believe me?
The group’s leader, the Rev. Philip “Flip” Benham, said Wednesday’s targets represent “the gates of hell” and influential areas in the city.
The gates of hell. Seriously? I thought the gates of hell were located in Washington D.C. Something about a Texas Fratboy moving in. Oh well. What do I know? I'm just a woman.
But was that enough protesting? No, indeed. There's more!
The group burned a copy of the Islamic holy book, the Quran, during a gathering Tuesday night at the Making Jesus Real church in Pearl.
“We deal with all the issues we possibly can because they are different manifestations covering the same fist, the fist of the devil,” Benham said when asked what the Quran has to do with the abortion issue.
That's right, everything goes back to those damned Muslims. Muslims, liberals and sex-having-no-shame-feeling women. So long as they're consistent.
There are things I'd like to say about these people, but really, don't they speak for themselves? The protests in Mississippi still have four days left. Wonder what else they can come up with? They've already had a bomb threat and a false police report of a fetus being disposed of in a frigging bank, for gods sake. And they wonder why they're being arrested?
Sunday, July 16, 2006
To bleed or not to bleed -- is that really the question?
But I just don't want my period. I don't. I don't love it, I don't need it, I don't feel any attachment to it. Give me a pill to make it stop and I'm a happy girl. Seriously. It's just blood. It doesn't mean anything more to me than a cut on my finger does. I have no plans to ever have children, so that basic function isn't even something I really need.
I object to people, particularly other women, trying to guilt me into loving my period. I just don't love it. I don't. It's not in me, okay? I don't think about it too much, because my periods themselves aren't really big events. I'm one of those lucky women who are very regular, so I'm rarely surprised by it. It's always the same length, always about the same amount of blood. Which, for me, isn't much. I'm really lucky. I don't have to change pads but once a day. So, really, for me it's kind of a non-event. There are five days a month when I can't wear white. Big deal. Whoo hoo. Where's the party?
No one has ever tried to make me feel guilty or ashamed because of my period. At least, not since I got past puberty. Sure, at that age people were weird about it. But frankly, kids at that age are weird about everything. No one has ever tried to make me not do things because I've got my period. There are things I don't like to do on my period -- not wild about swimming -- but really? It's a non-issue. There are exceptions. Sometimes I get really bad ones and have to double up my pain meds. And I've had a few instances where the pain was so bad I stayed home from work. But that's maybe once or twice a year. On the whole, eh. I don't really care so much. And if I don't care so much, and it doesn't matter to me, why should I be compelled to experience it?
Again, it's one of those "My body, my choice" issues to me. I don't get why this is even an issue. (Now, I understand why the marketing of the pill is an issue. But that's not the same issue and yet, it all gets dumped together.)
While my period is no problem, I do have a problem with PMS. Let me state this really clearly -- I have a problem with PMS. Which makes me feel kinda bad, since in most parts I agree with Happy's take on it.
For more women, PMS isn't a big problem. For me? Yeah. It is. Actually, my doctors say I'm borderline PMDD which is bad, bad, bad. So, I'm the exception to the PMS isn't a huge deal rule. Which makes me not want to talk about it too much, since I don't want my experiences to be thrown up against women in general.
For me, the two weeks before my period are generally very rough. It varies from month to month, but usually I start to get really, really angry. I mean irrationally angry. I got pissed off once because I had to pay for my gas before I could pump it. I was just furious and why? My rational mind knows it's no big deal. But I was just...it was crazy. I've gotten so pissed off at people I wouldn't speak to them for weeks. For no real reason, except that my brain chemistry was Fucked. Up.
So, explain to me please, why I (and people around me!) have to endure that trauma when there's a pill that could put an end to it all? Since my PMS/PMDD is brought about my changing hormone levels and the BC pill can stablize/regulate/suppress that shifting, why shouldn't I take it?
If I can have a better life through pharmacology, why shouldn't I?
Maybe I'm just not the marrying kind?
My marriage issues are kind of strange, I suppose, given that practically everyone in my family has a history of marriage success. There have been exactly two divorces in my family and both were caused by an abusive spouse. So, I've got lots of examples of good, functioning, equitable marraiges. And I still can't bring myself to take that step.
I came close once. I was vastly in love with a man I dated in college. I could see the two of us together longterm (and well, we were. For nearly seven years.) and yet...and yet I just couldn't do it. He knew that too. He told me once, if he thought I'd say yes, he'd have asked me to marry him after our first year together. But he never did, because he knew I'd say no. We lived together for several years though. And that, maybe, is what really sealed my opposition to marriage.
See, I was in school full time and working, so I made all the money. And he was in school full time, but not working. So, he was home a lot more than I was. And it always seemed to me that I was paying for everything. I paid the rent, I had the car, I bought groceries, I paid for our nights out and for renting videos. Hell, I even paid for all the birth control. (Which, frankly, I will continue to do. If I pay for it, I know we've got it, so none of this "Oh, I don't have a condom. Just this once won't hurt..." shit.) It built a great deal of resentment in me. He would get to be home while I was working and he'd read or watch tv or play on the computer or hang out with friends and...the dishes wouldn't get done, the laundry wouldn't get done, the vacuuming wouldn't get done...and I'd come home and he'd be all snuggly and kissy and I was just so tired and pissed off that nothing had gotten done at the house....And when I finally got on him enough to get a job, he found one in another town, which meant he had to move and that really spelled the end for us. Because I got my life back. I got my freedom to do what I wanted back. I could do the dishes at midnight if I wanted. Or I could skip them. If I wanted, it wasn't a forced thing.
And then, I started to get really, really sick. And he wasn't there. He wanted to be, I think, but he was working in another town and could only come up on the weekends. And at first, it was fine. He'd take care of me and we'd be together and it was okay. Then it got to where...he wanted to be with our friends, not staying home taking care of a very sick girlfriend. And there goes more resentment, more anger, more certainity that this whole relationship thing wasn't for me. Eventually, he moved to Texas and that was it for us.
It took me a few years to get over that, but I did. And I meet another man who I just loved. I can't explain how much I loved this man. It was...it was scary, actually. He was great, he understood me and he didn't care that I was sick. It was amazing. But as good as it was, we also fought like crazy. No one has ever made me feel as incredible or as awful as he did. There was no middle ground with us, we were either on top of the world or tearing each other's throats out. I know now, it was a very unhealthy relationship, but at the time...at the time it was like a drug. We'd finally reached a sort of even balance when he moved. Literally left the country. He was originally from Europe and he just went home. Just...gone. And he didn't even tell me he was leaving. No goodbye, nothing. Just, one day he was there, the next he was gone. He sent me an email when he got home, saying it would have been too hard for him to tell me goodbye in person.
Seriously. Fucking hell. Just...poof. One day it's 'you're my best friend' the next it's 'Hey, anyone seen K?' Arg.
So, after that, I kinda decided this relationship thing? It doesn't work for me. (Actually, there was at least one other man who did something similar to me, but two examples should do, no?)
So, for me, the thought of a long-term/marriage relationship is possibly the most frightening thing on the planet. In the end, material things don't matter that much to me. I can get another car, find another apartment, get new furniture, pay off credit cards, whatever. But the emotional damage a divorce/breakup can do is just...I know I can survive them, but how many times should I be expected to?
And yes, I realize not all men are this way. Not all women are, either. And I believe, should I meet someone that I really felt drawn to, that I'd be able to have some kind of relationship. But the thought of taking vows? It just....I don't know that I could.
Because after the vows comes the expectations. Where are we going to live? When are we having children? (Uh, never. Sorry.) What happens when I start to get sick again? What happens when/if I get so sick I can't work? How are we going to pay the bills? How are we going to blend our families? What happens when my father decides he hates him? (And he will. I have yet to find anyone good enough for me, according to my father.) What happens when his mother decides she hates me?
I know, intellectually, that all those things can be worked out. I know, because I've seen it. But I haven't been able to live that sort of relationship. I wish I could, but I don't seem to be able to manage it.
Marriage to me feels like a trap. It feels like I'd be giving up who I am to become A Wife. My poor mother...for the longest time, she was always 'Zan's mother' or 'Lee's wife'. She wasn't herself, ya know? People didn't seem to know her name or what she did or what she liked. She was always seen in reference to someone else. That was so very unfair. And I thought, no one is ever going to do that to me. No one is ever going to not know my name, not like that. I'm never going to live my life for someone else.
And yet, my parents have a happy, stable marriage. They've been married for 35 or 36 years. So clearly, they know something I don't. My brother has been married for probably 8 years now. They're happy. My paternal grandparents were married until my grandfather died. They seemed happy. (Of course, my grandmother is perfectly happy on her own too.) So, I don't know. It's such a deeply personal issue, it seems almost wrong to bring political views into it. (There's certainly room to critque the historical problems with marriage for women. Even critique modern problems too. Maybe it's me, but my objections to marriage, for myself, are much more personal than that.)
So, where does that leave me? Am I fated to be single for the rest of my life? On one hand, I don't really mind that too much. I'm happy enough and I can certainly take care of myself. On the other hand, it would be nice to have someone to come home to. It would be nice to have someone I could count on when I get sick. But marriage isn't a guarantee of those things, it's not some magic pill like a lot of people seem to believe. So, I just don't know.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Digital boobie pictures
I had my first mammogram today. Whoohoo.
At 31, I'm rather young to be getting my boobs squished and radiated, but three months of breast pain and a squishy lump sent me off to have my lovelies photographed. It wasn't a particularly pleasant experience, but it wasn't nearly as painful as I'd been lead to believe. Now, I simply have to wait for the results. Well, the results of the mammo and the blood work I got done Wednesday. On Tuesday, my doctor found protein in my urine, which is a not good thing, particularly when you've got Lupus. So, I'm waiting to find out if my kidneys are starting to screw up. In a way, it's kinda funny. I'm not sure which test should concern me most. Lumpy breasts or screwy kidneys? Where's a girl to put her focus? Either one could kill me, but neither likely will.
Anyway, while I was in the waiting room today the hospital had CNN on. And they were doing a report on the fighting going on in Israel and Lebanon. And the receptionist, a older Pentecostal lady, starts talking about how people should know better than to mess with Israel because that will only bring Jesus back faster. And everyone else in the waiting room, except me, started nodding and agreeing and going on and on about how sacred Israel is and how this is a sign of the end of the world and....I just kept thinking, "Shouldn't mess with Israel? How about we not mess with anyone? How about no one fire weapons at anyone else because it's wrong not because "God" said not to? How about we stop holding on to superstitious beliefs and start valuing people just because they're, oh I don't know, people? How about we stop holding some people to a set of standards because they're "chosen" and other people to another set because they're "condemned"?"
I realize I live in the middle of Jesusland, but...why do people insist on relating everything to their version of Christianity? It's terribly self-centered and small-minded. I remember growing up and talking to my mother about what I wanted to do when I grew up. I had lots of ideas and she never discouraged any of them. But she always said things like "Well, God could use a Christian lawyer." or "There's a need for good Christian journalists." Everything was qualified by being Christian. What, I couldn't just be a lawyer (didn't go that route, btw)? Or a reporter? Or an artist? Or a street sweeper? It wasn't good enough for me to do what I wanted with my life, I had to be following Gods' Plan (TM).
I wonder sometimes if my parents know how much they contributed to my resenting pretty much all things "Christian". (I say that because I've finally gotten to the point in my life where I can set the true Christian teachings/beliefs apart from this pseudo-Paulism that masquarades as Christian these days.) I wonder if they know how much their insisting I go to church twice on Sundays and once on Wednesdays, every god-blessed week made me run, run, run far from church as soon as I got to college? I wonder if they know how uncomfortable and unhappy I was being compelled to go to church camp every summer, Youth Rallies every month, youth activities all the time? And I wonder if it would have mattered if they did. Because there's this strain of thought in fundy churches that, if you're uncomfortable, it's because the Holy Spirit is working on you to get saved. Instead of, oh, I don't know, you like to think for yourself. Or you don't like being in crowds or about lots of people or that you feel religious faith is a personal, private, not-for-public consumption affair?
When I had surgery in May, my mother asked me, before I went into the operating room, if I knew I'd go to heaven if I died on the table? Now, I believe I will. Or, well, I believe in the continuation of the soul in some form and I believe in a Goddess that loves me. So I could honestly answer yes. But if she knew why I could answer yes, she'd have been worried the whole time I was under. And I don't want her to worry, because I'm not worried. And if I'm not worried, why should she? I'd like to live in a world where conflict in another country, which is killing hundreds if not thousands, would be seen as something worthy of concern in it's own right. I'd like to live in a society where other people's pain is not important only in so much as it relates to your belief in a coming judgment. I'd like to live in a place where it wouldn't matter what a person believes, or what they don't believe, where people are valued for simple being. But I don't. I live in Jesusland, where everything centers around being "Christian" and anything or anyone that doesn't live up to that set of standards is either less-than or, usually, inconceivable.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Happy and sad at the same time. . .
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — About 75,000 poor and moderate-income women in Louisiana will be eligible for yearly doctors’ visits, Pap smears, contraceptives and other services under a new program aimed at reducing unwanted pregnancies, state health authorities say.
Louisiana is the 18th state that has received approval from the federal government to expand the availability of family planning services to women who otherwise do not qualify for Medicaid benefits.
Women from 19 to 44 and whose incomes are below 200 percent of the federal poverty line will be eligible for free annual gynecological exams, lab tests, birth-control pills and other forms of contraception.
Under some circumstances the program will also cover tubal ligations, Health and Hospitals Secretary Fred Cerise said Monday. He said the program will cost the state less money to provide free contraceptives than to pay the costs and cover potential complications associated with unwanted pregnancies.
State figures show 55 percent of all pregnancies in Louisiana are unintended.
The five-year program is being financed with money that the state currently sends to parish health units for family planning services. For every dollar the state puts up, the federal government will put up a $9 match.
The state expects to begin taking applications in November, Cerise said.
On the one hand -- yay! More women getting access to reproductive health care! Given our extraordinary poverty level, it won't take long for all those federal dollars to be spent. Gods know there will be plenty of women who meet the financial criteria. So, on that count, good for us.
On the other hand -- 55 percent of all pregnancies are unintended. More than half. Let that sink in for a moment. More than half of the pregnancies in this state are unintended. Maybe not unwanted, but not planned. Let's say that a good chunk of those babies are like my brother -- happy surprises. My parents intended to put three to four years between thier children, but when Mom went in for a check up when I was 9 months old, she got a little surprise. Happens to lots of people, so...let's just say that oh, 20-25 percent of those unintended pregnancies happen to married and/or committed couples who are pleased with the news.
That still leaves 20-25 percent of them going to women/couples who are not happy. Who don't want them. With the difficulty obtaining abortion in this state (waiting periods, clinics clustered at the very south and very north ends of the state, costs, transportation problems, etc.) lots of those babies are going to be born. Some will be given up for adoption, but not that many. So....unwanted babies born into families that, likely -- given that our poverty rate was insane before two hurricanes smashed our economy to bits -- cannot afford to provide for them. So, say, one in four children in Louisiana. That's just....it makes me want to cry.
It also makes me want to shake people. It's good that more women are going to have access to reproductive health care. It's wonderful. But what about those women who miss the critera because they make $100 too much a year? Or those who don't hear about the program? Or those do, but can't get the time off their low-wage jobs to take advantage of it?
I realize there are no prefect solutions (well, you know, maybe universal healthcare, but...)and this is good news, overall. But still...one in four children born unwanted? That's way too many. (And that's just my taking guesses at the numbers. From what I've seen, it's probably more than that.)
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Wake up, dammit
They want to tiptoe walk around it.
Wave the flag and mindlessly salute.
So, I'm having lunch with a friend today. She's a smart woman. She's educated, articulate, the very model of modern middle-class America.
And she's got no clue what's going on in the world.
We were talking about me looking for a new job (which I do endlessly) and I mentioned I couldn't live in South Dakota or Kansas and I really needed to move out of Louisiana. And she asked why not Kansas or S. Dakota? ('Cause no one questions why I need to leave Louisiana, oddly enough.) And I mention the new abortion laws in S.D and how the attorney general in Kansas keeps trying to get medical records from clinics that perform abortions and she's like What?
So, I explain everything to her. And she's like...that's stupid. Well, duh. But she was also like, well I can't really take a position on abortion. But she also says she'd never force a woman to have a child against her will. And she looked kinda freaked when I told her that made her pro-choice. Because the other side has done such a good job corrupting what pro-choice actually means that people who are pro-choice don't even realize it! And when I told her what some places are trying to do with birth control (the whole pharmacists can refuse to fill scripts bit) she was like...that's dumb. Well, duh.
But she doesn't know any of this unless I tell her. If she didn't have me as a friend, she'd blithely go about her life not thinking about any of this. Or about how the President blatantly violated the 4th Amendment with his wiretapping programs. Or how his lies to get us into war are certainly grounds for impeachment. Or about any of the shit going on in our world. Because she just...I don't know.
I keep trying to figure out how this happens. How do people who are otherwise intelligent people become so completely disconnected with what's going on in our country? She doesn't like the president. She doesn't like what he's doing. But she doesn't know why she doesn't like it. It's just a vague sense of dislike. Which is good, but...if you don't know what's going on, how can you make informed choices?
This is how bad things happen. When good people don't pay attention, dictators take over. The truth is, most people are decent, good people. They don't want to hurt others, they don't want to force their views on other people. They just want to be left alone to live their life in peace and they want for other people to have that same right. And my friend, like a lot of people, really thinks that all this stuff doesn't affect her. She's fairly certain, if she got pregnant, she'd have the baby even if it wasn't planned. Which is great, for her. She's got a good job, she's got a house of her own, she's got a family that would support her. She could have an unexpected child with no more trouble than most children bring. (Unless, of course, she got sick or there was something wrong with the baby...we didn't even get that far into the conversation.)
But the problem is, it doesn't matter if these things don't affect you. They affect other people in profound ways. They contribute to a society where the poor are seen as disposable, as somehow less than. You can see it all around, if you just open your eyes and look. The whole immigrant debate just makes my blood boil. If we'd just enforce the laws we already have, this wouldn't be an issue. If we stopped treating our neighbors like our enemies, this wouldn't be a problem. The fact is migrant workers contribute to our economy is important ways (especially here in the south), take those people away and you're not going to find enough willing Americans to take their place. Oh, there are doubtlessly people who are willing to do their jobs. I don't doubt that at all. But I do doubt they're willing to work for the wages the immigrants will work. I doubt they'd be willing to be paid in cash, so the business owners don't have to pay taxes on them. Some of them might, sure. But not in the numbers necessary. So, how about instead of making this all about punishing "those people" we stop acting like idiots and figure out a way for everyone to get what they want in a way that benefits everyone?
What's with the need to punish? Does that ever work? And if it did work, wouldn't it have worked by now? Where does the urge to be all alpha and dominating come from? I mean, for gods sake, Mexico is our friend! They're not our enemy. If we were willing to work with them, we could come up with a plan that would strengthen both our economies, build some ties that will help us with the rest of the world and you know, not be such asses.
The thing is, I don't think most people actually think about things. I think they go about, not aware of what's really going on, and so long as they have the things they want or think they need, they just don't see "those things" as important. Which is really sad, because eventually, it's going to affect the way they live. (Like, right now, it's nearly impossible for me to find a new job. It shouldn't be. I've got a MA and almost 10 years work experience. But it's almost impossible for me to even get interviews. If I wanted to do low skilled work, sure, I could find that. I could get a job at a burger joint or something. But finding something that pays the bills? Nearly impossible. And that's a direct result of the screwed up economy we've got going on now. It's cheaper to hire people just out of college than to hire someone with experience and companies know it.)
Here's the thing -- believe whatever you believe about the world and politics, but know why you believe it. I respect anyone who has a veiw different than mine if they can explain to me why they feel that way. I won't agree and it's doubtfull anyone is going to pursuade me otherwise, but I can respect it. We can have a discussion about things in a way that doesn't turn into insulting and yelling. But you have to know why you think things. You need to be aware of the influences at work. You need to realize that a lot of what we see or are told here in this country isn't the full story. You need to be willing to listen to other people in other places talk about their lives and experiences and how what our country has done has affected them. Have your beliefs, whatever they are, but have them because you really believe them and you've thought about them, not because it's how things have always been or because you don't think "those things" affect you. Because they do and they will and if you don't know who you are and why you hold your beliefs, you're going to be a really easy person to lead around by the nose.
Friday, July 07, 2006
And this is why fat people don't go to doctors...
By DAVID TIRRELL-WYSOCKI
Associated Press Writer
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A judge has ordered the state Board of Medicine to stop disciplinary proceedings against a doctor accused of telling a patient she was so obese she might only be attractive to black men and advising another to shoot herself following brain surgery.
Judge Edward Fitzgerald made clear in a ruling released Thursday that he did not condone remarks attributed to Dr. Terry Bennett and found them unnecessary, but ruled Bennett had a right to speak bluntly.
"It is nonetheless important ... to ensure that physicians and patients are free to discuss matters relating to health without fear of government reprisal, even if such discussions may sometimes be harsh, rude or offensive to the listener," he concluded in the ruling Wednesday.
The complaints against Bennett included charges that he told a white patient that she was so obese she might only be attractive to black men.
"Let's face it, if your husband were to die tomorrow, who would want you?" the board has said Bennett told the overweight patient in June 2004. "Well, men might want you, but not the types you want to want you. Might even be a black guy," it quoted him as saying, based on the woman?s complaint.
Bennett, 68, has denied making the comment, but has said he's seen polls supporting that position.
"If you look at the polling, nobody likes fat women," he said last year. "Is it right? No. Is it sensible? No. Is it true? Yeah ... Black guys are the only group that don?t mind that. Is that racist to say that?"
A 2001 complaint accused Bennett of telling a woman recovering from brain surgery to buy a pistol and shoot herself to end her suffering. The doctor was also accused of speaking harshly to a woman about how her son might have contracted hepatitis, according to the ruling.
Bennett claimed victory.
"The question now is: Will the board waste more of your and my tax dollars and appeal this, or accept done as done?" he said in a telephone interview.
Fitzgerald also ruled that state and American Medical Association requirements to treat patients with "compassion and respect for human dignity and rights" are so vague they are unconstitutional. Bennett probably would have won his challenges before the board, the judge said.
Bennett said he planned to sue everyone involved for "malicious prosecution."
"I am not inclined to be forgiving about it," he said. "It's been devastating and infuriating."
Assistant Attorney General Elyse Alkalay, who represented the board in the court case, said she was reviewing the ruling and had not decided whether to appeal.
Bennett could have faced penalties ranging from a written reprimand to suspension or revocation of his medical license.
Where do I begin? Seriously. First, no one likes fat women? Uh, no. I do. I tend to prefer them. So, point one against the good doctor.
Second...what the fuck? I mean, seriously. What.The.Fuck? This is what's passing for good bedside manner these days? I know there was a point in my life that, if a doctor had spoken to me that way, I'd never darken their door again. And I'd stay sick and suffering, because of the "blunt" nature of his advice. Only black men will want you? What? What's the problem with that? There's nothing inherently inferior or wrong with black men. What the fuck? I just...what the fuck???
Okay. Calmer now.
Here's the problem with doctors like this -- they get fat people killed. Don't believe me? Let me offer my Aunt Vickie as an example. She died when she was 42 of a stroke. She was 5 foot nothing and probably 350 lbs. She was also a nurse in one of the best hospitals in the state, in the ICU. She knew, we found out after her death, that she knew something was wrong. She'd been taking drug samples from work to treat what she thought, it seems, was simply high blood pressure. The problem was, she didn't just have high blood pressure. She had an auto immune illness, one related to Lupus actually. One that a simple blood test could detect. One that could have been treated, though not cured, by taking one damned pill a day. One little, tiny pill. She'd likely had it for 10, maybe 15 years. It had damaged her blood vessels so badly, that the two main ones in her brain had actually rebuilt themselves, carving out a new pathway because the old one had been scarred to the point it was blocked.
She was around doctors every damned day. She was friends with dozens of them. And she wouldn't go to any of them, wouldn't talk to any of them about her symptoms because she was so very, very afraid they'd make it all about her weight. She was so ashamed of being fat that she died way, way, way before she needed to. And why was she ashamed? Because of bastards like this guy who thinks that "blunt" talk is the way to get fat people to loose weight. Why the hell is it anyone's business if someone is fat? Unless the fat is actively affecting a patients health, what the hell does it matter?
My aunt was an amazing woman. She was a second mother to me, the one I could actually talk to. She was the only other person in my family to escape the Fundy programming. I could do things with her, or tell her things, that would scandalize everyone else in my family. She was smart and funny and the most generous, loving person you'd ever meet. It didn't matter that she was raised in poverty. It didn't matter that she, like my mother, was told by her father she was worthless because she was female. She put herself through nursing school, she worked her way up to an awesome job, she bought a house when she was my age, she had great friends and was so very, very loved.
Christmas was her favorite holiday. She didn't have any children of her own, so she spoiled her nieces and nephews. I was the oldest, so I had the most benefit of her adoration. Every year, she brought in piles and piles and piles of presents. Whatever we wanted, we got. It was amazing, really. She let me crash at her house the summer before I started grad school. My boyfriend and I painted her house one summer. She took me on vacations to Disney World and the mountains and the beach. She really loved life and she wasn't afraid to just get out and do things.
But she wouldn't go to the doctor. She wouldn't do the one thing she needed to do most. She was so afraid of being told she felt bad because she was fat, that she just didn't go. And so, she died. Even that morning, when she was having the stroke, she wouldn't call an ambulance. She wouldn't go to the hospital. And because she waited, she died. Because she had been told, been brainwashed to believe that all her problems were caused by her fat, she died.
Being fat was not the physical cause of her death. Regardless of the fact that she was 350 lbs, that's wasn't the organic cause of her death. No, it was that damned undiagnosed autoimmune disease.
And you know what scares me? It scares me to think that, even if she had gone to the doctor, it wouldn't have changed anything. It scares me that people like this bastard are in practice. Because if she'd gone to someone like him, they wouldn't have seen a sick woman. They'd have seen a fat woman.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
The world loves a poet, so why can't I get laid?
I ache with this
Bones hollow, like birds
Knocked down by gravity,
Feathers spinning before me to
Cushion the impact.
I will crash
(the repeating pattern of my life)
Against the rocky hills of you and
Scramble for purchase.
How often have I done this?
How often grabbed from flight and
Held by hands,
Fingers stroking at my desheveled heart.
I don’t learn.
I love recklessly, over and over.
And it’s always a surprise,
This aching, downward spiral.
Eagles are wiser than this,
But not hummingbirds and
My wings beat faster, wilder,
More frantic than theirs.