The Great Debate

When I was 14, I was visiting my dad’s house for the weekend and sleeping on the couch, which was the normal – I didn’t have a bedroom there. I’m a light sleeper. So it was a surprise that somehow between 12:30 a.m., when I fell asleep, and 7:00 a.m., when my stepmom answered a phone call from a stranger alerting her to the fact that her purse was scattered on the stranger’s front lawn, that the house had been robbed – and the burglar had somehow gotten past me. Three hunting rifles had been taken off of the wall along with a video camera and tripod, and of course, the purse.

The next night my dad took my place on the couch with his handgun in case anyone decided to come back. We used all of my babysitting cash to re-key the locks. But this story demonstrates many points: I grew up around guns (that were never locked up), the hunting rifles made it somewhere into the wide world to be used for who knows what, and that we are a violent society. The cops were surprised I was still alive and unharmed.

Not many years later, when my brother was five and a half, he was given his first gun for Christmas. His first few minutes alone with it and he shot out his bedroom light. I was never given a gun because I was a girl. Mind you, I never felt as if I missed out. But my dad and my brother perpetuated craving violence and guns. Even though I was the one who was on the couch, exposed, they were the ones who wanted to kill, kill, kill. At least, that’s what they projected.

My dad’s own father died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In fact, Dad was the one who found him. Included in the three rifles that were stolen was the one that Grandpa used to do the deed. It had a strange sort of sentimental value that I couldn’t relate to. Who would want to cradle that weapon, and use it over and over, knowing its history?

Fast forward a few decades to when I lived with violent men. One was the guy who grew up in Manhattan in a household whose own siblings stabbed each other. The last day I saw him was the last time I called the cops on him, when he was supposed to be gone at work while I moved my things out of the house we were renting. Instead he was hiding in one of the back rooms and came out when I set down some moving boxes and attacked me. I struggled to get back out to my car in my stocking feet and he was restraining me and pinning my arms, telling me that if I would just do what he told me to do, we would be happy. I finally wrestled free and got in my car and called 911. The responding police officers bought his big-eyed innocent act and told me that if I called them again that I would be arrested.

Then there was the live-in boyfriend who threatened to shoot me – twice. He also talked about taking his guns to work to shoot all of his co-workers constantly. The cops reassured me there was absolutely nothing I could do until he actually followed through and hurt one or all of us. 

Most recently of course was my downstairs neighbor who moved out the last weekend of July, 2017. He used to beat his wife and abuse their cat. Whenever I had visitors I was a nervous wreck, because I had no idea if he would pound down the door while they were here, falsely claiming that we were too loud, or take it out on me later, screaming and raging and dreaming up reasons to call the cops on me. Worse yet he could of course physically pulverize his wife and cat for revenge, just for existing. He was ex-military so I knew it was likely there was a gun or two or seven in his apartment.

So here we are in the U.S. with our easy access to the worst kinds of weapons and ammunition. I am the one who was laying on a couch while a stranger or two crept past me to rob our house; you would think I would fall into the category of wanting a gun for home protection. I grew up around them; you would think I would relax around them. I’ve lived with and around plenty of assholes who have wanted me dead; you would think that I would feel safer armed.

Fuck that.

First of all, we have over 7 billion people on the planet. We are no longer hunting strictly for food supply. Anyone who claims that is an outright liar. And hunting season is so abbreviated that there’s no need to keep guns out for the entire year to make them accessible to every man, woman and child on the planet. Second, home invasions do not happen with the regularity that the NRA has somehow convinced the gun lovers they do. I remember reading from one guy a quote last week that Texas experiences 800,000 home invasions a year. My answer was, “Are you talking about bugs?” I mean, c’mon. If that were true, Texas would be experiencing a mass exodus.

The biggest and hottest debate that has resurfaced is the arming of school staff. I cannot stress this enough, but there are so, SO many reasons why this is a bad idea. Right now I live in the city where Philando Castille was shot. He had a permit to carry a concealed weapon and told the cops, and was shot and killed anyway. If for some reason some idiots decided arming school staff members would be a good idea, the staff members had better be lily white, because we Americans cannot be trusted to be color blind. Even black cops have proven to have prejudice against black suspects without meaning to.

I posted this article on Facebook regarding an armed officer who never engaged in the shootout that was happening in Florida. He simply hung back while all of those kids were getting shot. I pointed out that if an officer did this, why would we expect teachers to uniformly charge without fear or hesitation, and to act correctly? A friend of 27 years, whom I considered a decently good friend, didn’t like that I used this as an example of why we shouldn’t arm teachers and staff. He also didn’t like that I proposed that we have stricter gun laws regarding background checks, wait times, amount of ammunition sold, amount of ammunition guns could fire, types of guns that could be sold on the market, and age of buyers/operators. He resorted to calling me an idiot. Finally, he just outright blocked me. 

But am I an idiot? I’ve just been trying to stay alive. I have all of this violence swirling around me, and all of these men are insisting that they have a right to violate me. I’m saying no. I will continue to say no. I’m good with saying no.

Lastly, here is a comprehensive list from a woman named Karen Nichols in Ottawa Center, Michigan; she had many questions regarding arming teachers and staff, and did a great job of articulating them:

Which teachers get guns?
Where will the guns be stored?
Who decides when guns can be brandished?
What penalties will apply if teachers mishandle a weapon?
Will teachers volunteer for gun duty?
Can teachers refuse it?
Who will audit their adherence to regulations?
Will students know which teachers have weapons?
Who will be liable if the teacher with the gun becomes the shooter?
What will be the consequences when students are accidentally shot by a teacher?
How will armed teachers communicate in a tactical situation?
Will teachers with a history of mental illness be allowed to use weapons?
Will teachers be required to disclose any history of mental illness?
Will teachers be issued a weapon? Reimbursed for purchase? For ammunition?
How will administrators conduct non-weapon-related discipline against a teacher?
Will there be armed assistance available to deter workplace shootings?
Who will shepherd the armed teacher’s classroom while the teacher is attempting to locate the active shooter?
What happens when a teacher misidentifies a student as a threat in good faith?
Will teachers who do not carry lethal weapons be offered non lethal alternatives?
If an armed teacher is shot, can another teacher employ his or her weapon?
How will armed teachers identify themselves to arriving first responders?
Will armed teachers be required to learn how to give first-response medicine?
Will armed teachers be required to attempt an arrest before using lethal force? Under what circumstances?
Will proficiency training on weapons count for teachers’ continuing education and professional development?
How will insurers adjust health and other rates to account for the presence of armed employees?
Will teachers receive additional pay for being armed?
how often will armed teachers be re-evaluated for licensing purposes?
Will armed teachers leading field trips deposit their weapons in a personally owned vehicle or school-owned transport?
Will one teacher per wing of a school building receive weapons? Two? Three?
Exactly which standards will count for proficiency—greater than a big-city police department, State Police, FBI, hobbyist, marksman?
In training scenarios, how will using force against innocents be penalized?
Will racial sensitivity courses be required?
Do parents have a right to refuse to send their kids to schools with guns?
Will students have to sign waivers? Will parents? What if a parent signs a waiver for a minor student who, when that student turns 18, refuses to abide by its provisions?
Will teachers on probation be allowed to carry weapons?
What about teachers with active union grievances? Complaints about sexual harassment? Anger management? Divorce proceedings?
Will armed teachers wear holsters?
Will they be stationed strategically during pep rallies or other gatherings?
Will they participate in lockdown drills as if they were armed or unarmed?
Will funding for the policies outlined above be distributed according to local budgets, statewide formulas, or national formulas?
Will schools in high-risk neighborhoods receive more or less funding? Suburban schools?
What is the right ratio of armed:unarmed teachers by grade level?
What is the procedure for debriefing and assessing armed teachers’ performance during a crisis?
Can an armed teacher who flinches be fired? Can an armed teacher who breaks protocol be rewarded?
Will preschool teachers have guns?
Will teachers in “juvie” (high risk) schools have guns?
Will the teacher or the school be liable if their gun is stolen?
Can administrators carry weapons? Can they do so in disciplinary situations?

Last but not least, I quit playing clarinet after 8th grade because my band teacher was an outright asshole. After I quit, he was fired for punching a student. But let’s give him a gun, right?

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If Nothing Else, There Is Hope

Written as a MySpace blog post 10.5 years ago, approximately 3 years before I became seriously ill with the disease that took me down and now has me bedridden. I can’t believe it’s been a decade already.

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The Legacy of Hope   6/2/07

 

When I went to the Chandler library to cruise for movies to check out for the weekend, the selections were pretty slim.  The Poirot series that usually appears on PBS didn’t hold any appeal, and “Show Boat” wasn’t looking any better.  I picked up a documentary called “Legacy,” about a multi-generational family of single moms trying to escape the inner city projects of Chicago.

The narration is provided by one of the teenage girls who lives with her grandmother, mother, aunt, six cousins and four siblings.  Within the first 10 minutes of the film and after the grandmother gives her first interview about living in the projects, one of the nephews – the one that showed the most academic promise and stability, and was looked up to by family and neighbors alike – was shot dead in the street.  The filmmaker chose to follow this family for a total of five years after this devastating murder, which included the boy’s mother joining and completing her 5th addiction treatment program, the narrator’s mother getting a stable job after being a welfare recipient since the age of 16, and the grandmother finally qualifying for her own house after a generous donation from an area businessman who saw the news story of the boy being shot.  The narrator was the first in her family to complete a high school education and receive her diploma.

This was a difficult story on many levels.  It is not dissimilar to watching episodes of “Intervention” on A&E.  Nearly every person of my immediate and extended family is or was an addict; I saw and learned things that no child should.  Every person in my father’s family with the exception of my uncle died young, including my father.  This month will also mark the violent death 12 years ago [as of 2007] of my aunt at the hands of her boyfriend.

Poverty was also a strong factor in my childhood years.  My mother nearly died when I was five after she contracted a bacterial infection, and was bedridden for three months.  Add that to the strain of my own medical bills, with my terrible asthma attacks, allergies, and numerous bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis….and no health insurance.  “Preventative care” was impossible to consider.  We stood in line for milk and cheese.  We were also issued these awful frozen fish portions, which were breaded fillets of cod with a hunk of cheese wrapped in as well.  Luckily an uncle was a manager at General Mills and would give us test samples of various foods that they were developing to mass market.  It was a treat when we once got “Bonkers” – if you remember those, they were rolls of peanut butter with rice crispies and chocolate chips on the outside.  Mostly, though, we got these horrendous breakfast bars – vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate – that had the taste of chalk and the consistency of a doorstop.  We ate them because we had to.  [It is no mystery that impoverished people are overweight because the least expensive food is the most fattening and unhealthiest fare you can conjure up.]

One Christmas there was no money for presents.  My mom contacted a local charity that gave us $14 each to spend on gifts, took us shopping, and had a wrapping party afterwards.  Mom still had a sense of humor about it – somehow she convinced me to tell her what I got her, saying “Oh, I’ll forget, I promise.  Just whisper it in my ear.”  Of course I told her.

It is also no mystery that being poor is stressful, humiliating and limiting. It is easy to say “Why don’t they just ___________ ?”.  Right now, as a nation in general, we have a very them-vs.-us mentality; every man for himself. If you are lucky enough to have grown up in a household that never really had to struggle to survive, it is much more difficult for you to understand how this cycle of poverty continues through generations.  But instead of saying “Why don’t they ________?”, why don’t you ___________ to help?  Because it’s their problem, not yours.  I’m not saying that we have to give $10 to the people with signs at the end of freeway exit ramps.  Can’t we lend a hand before it gets to that point?  It may not be you or your family right now, but it could be in the future.  Medical expenses alone are becoming outrageous, even for those covered under company policies, and one major illness could be financially devastating.  Half of all bankruptcies filed are attributed to medical bills.  For some reason, we as a society have associated medical bills with outright laziness, when it couldn’t be further from the truth.

There were elements in this film that I could not relate to.  My extended family never bonded to get through the hard times.  When my aunt was killed, my father had to admit to the detectives that he “never really socialized with her” and didn’t know her boyfriend was violent.  Her death was heartbreaking, but instead of offering each other support, fights broke out over stupid things like who would get her dresser and bed.

These women in the documentary also had strong faith in God, which was never a part of my upbringing.  Hearing “God will get us through this” and “by the grace of God” was like they were speaking in tongues to me.  Faith is not something I practice.  Even if we’re talking about people in general, or work, or good health, or anything for that matter, I never sit back and say “I have faith”.  Instead, I have hard work and critical thinking skills.  If I don’t do for myself, I have no business sitting back and waiting for something, or someone, to take care of everything for me. 

Yet, there is still the legacy of hope.  We need to be reminded that despite our circumstances, we can rise above with dignity and flourish.  You or I may have been in a bad place 10, 20, 25 years ago, but that doesn’t mean we have to be there now.  Good deeds should be handed out to strangers, friends and family alike – you may need their help one day.

My mom has recently started worrying that she made too many mistakes and bad decisions when raising my sister and I.  It’s quite a time delay, since we are both in our mid-thirties and turned out pretty straight.  I don’t hold anything against her.  She also taught us love and affection, dignity, and the joy of survival. 

Super Blood Moon Drawing Blood

In 1993 to 1995, I worked at a regional hospital in the admissions area, and we always knew when it was a full moon. On any given day we would have one or two women during regular business hours coming in (not through the ER unless it was after hours) in full labor. When the full moon hit, the number always jumped up to about nine. If we ever forgot or wondered for a second, we checked the calendar and then it would click: oh yeah, the full moon. Every time. Don’t ever doubt that the moon has a big influence on happenings on Earth, and it’s not just tides and births.

I was at a social gathering this Tuesday the 30th of January. There were only six of us, but I only knew two others and three were strangers. One person came from her workplace and was wearing her work uniform and I was familiar with the clinic where she works – it’s quite large, and I used to have the majority of my doctors there. One of the young women sitting next to me piped up and said, “Oh, I used to work there, in ophthalmology!”

I immediately tensed up. “Do you mean you used to work with Dr. X?”

“Yes! I loved working with him, he was so laid back,” she said.

Now I’m no good when it comes to putting out a poker face. I also didn’t feel like playing Minnesota nice either. I said, “He made my life a living hell. He was the first doctor I saw there, and he said that my condition was psychogenic [meaning it is psychosomatic], and all of the doctors after that saw what he wrote so they wrote the same thing in my chart, and now no one will treat me. I actually have scans showing that my brain has collapsed and I’ve had a clogged shunt for almost three years.”

She nodded and said cheerfully, “Well, yeah, he actually writes that it’s psychosomatic or psychogenic in almost everyone’s file. But he’s nice to work for as a boss, he doesn’t get crabby often.”

When I say she was young, I mean early to mid-20’s. She wasn’t affected at all by me telling her that his notes basically ruined my life and chances for getting treated properly. I also haven’t had any money (including and especially disability) coming in for three years. I also wasn’t successful in filing a complaint with the Minnesota Board of Health – they said I didn’t have sufficient evidence. But now I’m wondering if I’m the only one who has complained about what he put in my chart because it was so obviously wrong, and I backed it up with 100+ pages of medical records.

This Dr. X is Harvard-educated, but you know, even Harvard has to have someone who is the shittiest out of the bunch. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’s the one.

This is also why it’s important to stay diligent about your own care. I realize that anger makes people uncomfortable, but in my case, it’s legitimate. 

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When I returned home from this gathering, I was taking my nighttime meds and catching up with my emails, and I saw one pop up in my inbox. I dreaded opening it. It was from a researcher I had written to a week ago to give her an update on my situation. I had met her in 2016 at the hydrocephalus conference that just happened to be in Minneapolis. I wasn’t sure that I could handle more disappointment, but after delaying it for a bit, I braced myself and checked her reply.

I had explained that I was diagnosed with mast cell activation syndrome, and that my Phoenix neurosurgeon had noted that my dura was extra tough when he started doing surgeries in my head rather than my back, so my theory was that my CSF couldn’t drain properly and that it was probably because of the mast cell degranulation. I already know the shunt failures are because of the mast cell action.

Her reply was very encouraging. She thought that I was absolutely on the right track, and she wants to work me into her research. A lot of it already revolves around inflammation; I consistently have astronomical platelet counts (that have already been checked via a bone marrow biopsy), but she hasn’t studied mast cells and I would be the perfect candidate since I had problems before the shunts and with the shunts.

I tend to be a pragmatic person, which sometimes leads to awkwardness in emotional situations. But I’m more than happy to sacrifice my body at the altar of science if it means that some knowledge is gained and others are helped. I’ve become a broken record in the online MCAS groups because I’ve talked about the CSF and shunt issues so many times, but every time I do, more people step forward and say that they have had some mysterious problems too, even if they are not exactly like mine. For a long time doctors have said that only fat, middle-aged women have pseudotumor cerebri/ideopathic intracranial hypertension, but I’m beginning to suspect that mast cell activation syndrome might be playing a bigger part than they realize because of how many people in the groups have stepped forward. 

So after this low low and this high high, the super blue blood moon arrived in the early morning hours Wednesday. The moon has ruled my Earth. I feel a little bit lighter now.

97% Compatibility But The 3% Was Extra Bad

I was contacted by this guy on OKCupid, and his profile seemed very promising. A few things stuck out: first, he grew up in the bible belt and he is staunchly NON-religious like me; second, he’s able to construct sentences correctly; third, he’s handsome and tall so he can do things like see the top of the fridge without having to dig out a step stool. I was busy for most of the day yesterday so I didn’t log into OKC until it was after midnight. Here is our conversation from last night:

Him: I am very interested in having you proofread my profile. Seriously though, I spend a great deal of time lamenting how very few people have any idea what an apostrophe is for these days. I don’t know whether it was always the case, and Facebook just revealed it, or if this is a new issue.
Me: I think Facebook revealed the issue. I have a friend who was formerly a high school teacher and who is now home schooling her 7-year-old twins. Recently she posted something that said “Morning’s!”. I nearly lost my mind.
Him: I guess so. Most people don’t spend their high school years reading peers’ papers, so don’t notice until later in life.
Me: That sounds correct. I probably would have fallen out of my chair if I would have had to read some of my classmates’ material, or tried to. Do you write, or are you strictly a reader?
Him: I write on and off. I don’t do it regularly enough, but I always take it up again. I’m probably going to make the jump from fiction to nonfiction soon.
Me: I hate to do this so quickly after just starting to chat, but I have to get up fairly early tomorrow, so I need to call it a night. Would you care to try to chat soon?
Him: Of course. I didn’t realize that it was after midnight. Let’s try this earlier next time.
Me: Sounds great! Sleep well.
Him: Dobranac.

This appears to be a pretty sane exchange, correct? It’s reasonable that I didn’t realize how late it was, and that I said, “Hey, let’s try this again; for now I need to go to bed.”

This morning I received a message from him saying:

Him: Good morning. I hope you are having a good day. Yes I would like to chat. I just need to what hours are better for you. Last night, I was merely responding to your messages at the time that they came in.

Tonight I responded and said:

Me: I looked at the clock last night and was surprised by the late hour is all – I thought I would have been tired before then. Sometimes I have to get up early, I don’t always have a set schedule. I hope you have had a good day. Mine ended up being busy up to this minute, surprisingly. Tomorrow I won’t be on at all.
Him: I’ll have some free time tomorrow, Chelsea.
Me: Ah. Well, I have PT, then I have to take care of my young nephews all day until about 11 at night (we’re going to a concert since they’re off from school), so I won’t be signing in.
Him: You don’t have to alert me when you’re signing on.

So that didn’t take long at all for him to fly his freak flag. First he asks me for an idea of when I’ll be on so we can chat, then he tells me he doesn’t want to be “alerted.”

I typed a bunch of smart ass replies to him but in the end didn’t send any of them, because a nagging voice in my head was singing, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” so that guy gets radio silence. But if I would have responded, here’s some examples of what I had typed and ready to go:
– I was merely responding to your request to know when I would be logging into OKCupid to chat
– You mentioned you would be on tomorrow and I responded that I wouldn’t be as a normal flow of conversation
– Do people ever get tired of you starting fights with them even when you are in agreement with them?

 

‘Scuse Me, Are You The Lady With Some Honesty?

A week ago I received a message from a guy on OKCupid who seemed pretty sane. What I mean by this is that he typed complete sentences that included all of the proper punctuation, he didn’t call me “sweetie,” “honey,” “dear,” or “beautiful,” and he didn’t simply say “Hi.” He did tell me right off the bat that I had a lot of negatives in my profile (as in, “Don’t send me dick pics”) so it was hard for him to get a true sense of my personality.

I wrote him back and thanked him for contacting me. I told him that I wrote my profile in that manner because in the past, it never mattered what I wrote – every guy who contacted me wanted to get right down to showing me his penis, so I had to immediately make my personal boundaries known.

I also told him that I wasn’t really in top form for dating for the time being; my time and attitude are both being consumed by medical stuff and I am not the best company right now. His response was, “Hey, I understand on both fronts – it’s gotta be pretty frustrating to be a woman on this site and fighting off all the trash, and if you have stuff going on that is too much to deal with, I won’t take it personally if I don’t hear from you again.”

I wrote back and said, “Hey, thanks for understanding! I don’t want to be one of your “stories” because of the stuff I have going on, so I think it’s best if I take a time out right now.” So…crickets. He’s being a gentleman and taking no to mean no at face value, which I appreciate to no end. It’s times like these when I really, really feel cheated about the body I currently dwell in.

From another guy an hour ago: “Hello! I love the profile. Very Intelligent way to let people know you are a no-nonsense, straight forward woman, who know what she wants. And I like that.” However, he’s a holy-rollin’ Christian and I’m not at all attracted to him physically, so I’m going to have to thank him and turn him down gently. I’m going to stay on hiatus for now.

And I just saw someone from the town where my mom’s business is located. There’s only 1,000 people in that town on a good day, about 80 miles from here, and I can’t figure out if I know him…I’m afraid to click on his profile. I guarantee you he’s a Trump humper and we’d have nothing in common anyway, but it creeps me out that I’m back to being in the same state as the place that I ran away from two decades ago and I’m going to keep running into people I know exactly in the same manner.

How Nice, She Included A Map

I’m officially clinically depressed.

I don’t know who was the first to diagnose me. It doesn’t really matter. You would be depressed too if you had worked your way through 54 doctors and none of them could tell you what was causing your severe physical issues, a good number of them misdiagnosed you, somewhere around 10 said it was psychosomatic, and around 49 of them told you to go away and don’t come back.

I’ve got anxiety too.

I can’t talk about a lot of the CSF stuff without becoming emotional. I also don’t sleep the night before appointments. Who wouldn’t react the same under these circumstances?

At some point, whether it was my counselor or one of my medical doctors or the actual medical insurance, someone determined that I should get help from a county organization that offers comprehensive help with mental health. Fine. I’m doing meditation, and I’m trying to be social while also trying not to wear my body out, and I’m trying to watch videos of babies and cats and dogs to keep my spirits up, but fine, if this is a resource that I can benefit from, then sign me up. But I told them that I still need a hospital bed so I can try to avoid bedsores, and I still need a neurologist and a neurosurgeon that won’t turn me away and who will listen to me.

So this past Monday the 19th I had my initial intake appointment, and two women from this organization come to my apartment to discuss the program and sign forms with me. I signed a release form for them to talk to my counselor, with whom they are very familiar, and they also went through various questions, one of which was, “Do you have a religious preference or religious beliefs?” I emphatically said, “No, thank you!” They smiled and nodded, and we didn’t go into more detail, but it was clear that I have zero interest in religion.

So imagine my surprise when I pull this anonymous letter out of my mailbox this afternoon:
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At first, I thought one of my friends (or even a frienemy) was having a laugh at me, especially since religion has been a hot topic in light of the stabbings and shooting this last Saturday. I wracked my brain; I thought there was a possibility it was the crazy German woman who was always telling me she was better than me and in addition, she was a good Christian; I fleetingly wondered if it was a relative of the ex or maybe a recent new acquaintance who contacted a friend for my address to send me this information about this can’t-miss fire and brimstone. The envelope wasn’t much help because it didn’t have a name on the return address, but I looked up the numerical portion anyway…

Bingo.

It’s from one of the two people who sat on my couch on Monday morning. They both heard me firmly say “No, thank you,” and both smiled and nodded. When I talked to them about my medical history and both were absolutely dismayed at the number of surgeries I had, my inability to still get a diagnosis, the swiftness with which I am sent away, the sheer number of doctors I have seen, my accuracy in my communication to my doctors and their refusal to “hear” me…let me say that last part again: THEIR REFUSAL TO HEAR ME. They said that they would collaborate with my counselor and also have an RN visit my apartment so that my physical and emotional needs could be addressed, and they would also review my medical records so that they would be worded more accurately for my disability case.

They saw me become emotional when I said that doctors were ignoring me when I told them exactly what was wrong with me and it would prolong my agony and pain, sometimes for years, when they ignored me; I was never wrong. They said again, “Your biggest challenge is that doctors don’t hear you.” Yes!

So why didn’t they HEAR me when I said “No, thank you” to religion?

There is a certain arrogance that comes with religion; if you practice religion, why is it assumed you are better or your life is better than if you don’t? If one person is religious and the other person isn’t and there is some debate about whether or not a ritual like going to church is practiced, why is the assumption that the ritual is the obvious choice and that the religious person should be made happy? Why can’t it be the other way around? Pray on your own time. God is everywhere, right? Why do you have to go to church to put money in the pastor’s wallet?

I got this letter after business hours so I have been left to my own imagination to compose letters, and most of them ended with an emphatic “Fuck you.” Most importantly, this organization is a county organization, and no where does it state that I must follow a certain religion in order to receive services. That was one of the first things I looked for, because if I would have known that that was a requirement to be in the program, I would have told them not to bother before making the appointment.

So now, just three days into the program, I have to file a complaint with the Clinical Director.

If I do compose a letter, it’s going to include the fact that I have traveled around the U.S. and have moved across the U.S. four times, and have used up two passports, and since I’m a 42-year-old woman who has lived a fairly adventurous life, I know what options are available to me as far as belief systems go. “Have you considered science?” I think I’ll end my letter with that.

Everything But The Gay

Quite frankly, I really like this pope…except for this glaring disparity in his chorus about love and acceptance and how homosexuals are still making a choice to sin. This is why I can’t subscribe to any religion.

 

Pope France made another official proclamation this week, and it was predictably warm and fuzzy. The 256-page document, titled “Amoris Laetitia” (Latin for “The Joy of Love”), calls on Catholic leaders and followers to treat one another with kindness and empathy, and to remain respectful and honest about the challenges of domestic life. It contains…

via If the pope loves gay people, he has a strange way of showing it — Quartz

My Adolescent Heart Is Cured

Right at the cusp of my childhood and the beginning of the time when I became self-conscious and awkward, we moved from a large metropolitan area with a population of 1.5 million people to a town of 300. My bus ride to school was long and filled with strange faces; it took an hour to get to a town of 700, where people rarely moved to or away from and were all largely related. In fact, I had a couple of classmates who were the offspring of first cousins, sentenced to lifelong special ed classes thanks to genes that were far too similar to have been considered safe to pair up.

I was bullied terribly my first year at the farm town school. It really wasn’t until the next year, 6th grade for me, that I started making friends. I also became a little more comfortable expressing myself – including being vocal about crushes on boys. One boy in particular held my attention for ten whole years. I’ll nickname him C. C. Deville, because he played guitar and wanted to be a rock star just like the guys in Poison and Motley Crue.

I made Valentine’s Day cards for everyone in my class. However, for C. C.’s card, I did exactly what I read about in a book, which was write a little poem without signing it:
“You can’t be my Valentine, you look too much like Frankenstein!”
He was intrigued! It worked, just like in the book! Except when he thought another girl wrote it for him, and he started making eyes at her. That wasn’t supposed to happen.

Two years later a friend from Minneapolis stayed with me for a couple of days and came with me to school. C. C. Deville was doing everything he could to charm her, and she flirted right back, even though she knew I liked him. She liked him too and thought he was very cute. Later that year he got suspended for smoking pot under the bleachers in the gym, so obviously he was a little bit of a bad boy. No wonder all of the ladies were flocking to him like bees to honey.

When I was in 9th grade, I tried out for and made the cheerleading squad for boys’ JV basketball…which meant that I would be cheering for HIM. Oh, sure, there were a few other boys who were cute too. But there was one time on an away game that I was floating on cloud nine because we had to drive two hours through a snow storm on the bus and I was sitting in front of him, and he let me borrow his leather jacket to sleep on it. I could smell his cologne. I thought maybe he might eventually warm up to me since he lent me this article of clothing. Instead, he started talking to one of the other girls on my squad and eventually started dating her. I had confessed to her that I had had a long-term crush on him and I’m pretty sure she spilled the beans to him if he hadn’t already figured out that I had been throwing myself at him for years at that point.

(2 years break to attend arts high school.)
(2 years pass while I move back and forth between Michigan and Minnesota.)

When I was 20, I discovered that a former classmate was living in my apartment complex. She said, “Oh, did you know that C. C. Deville also lives here?” I just about shit my pants. It turned out that he lived above me. Shortly after that I ran into him, said hi, exchanged pleasantries, talked him into putting my new license plate on my car for me. (“Oh, C. C., you’re so manly, thank you!” Okay, no, I didn’t say that, not really.) Sadly, I didn’t see him after his dad and my aunt died and I left on my big trip around the U.S. to find a new place to live.

Facebook has directed us back into each others’ lives many years later. However, he posts maybe 6 times a year, and my average is maybe 6 times a day – mostly goofy stuff, sometimes political stuff, and occasionally medical updates. As far as I can tell he hasn’t moved much, he doesn’t have children, may or may not play in a cover band, may or may not have a girlfriend, and may or may not work in a bank. In other words, we are really only peripheral observers. All that we have in common is that we have been in the same place at the same time in the distant past.

Today, for instance, he posted something on Facebook that really weirded me out – mainly because it didn’t seem like he wrote it (though he was taking credit for it, but its rhythm and spelling and punctuation didn’t match the rest of his writing in other posts), and because it’s some sort of rambling message about “God.”

It starts out nice enough: “Most of the time, our biggest obstacle is us. Maybe we’ve stopped dreaming.” True enough. Then: “Or, maybe we’re refusing to share our dreams out loud because we fear that God’s reputation might be at stake. God’s reputation is fine. It’s our reputation as leaders that we fear taking a hit. The dreams in our hearts were planted by God who loves us!”

“God’s reputation”? That, my friends, is anthropomorphism – assigning human qualities to non-human entities.

He goes on: “The day we stop following the dreams God has put in us is the day we allow ourselves to go into cruise control. When our biggest desire starts to shift from seeing God do great things to making everyone as comfortable as possible, we know we’re losing sight of how big God is.

“Fight the urge to maintain the status quo. Instead, do everything possible to advance the cause God placed in your heart. Stay focused on what could be rather than what has been.”

This is what has cured my heart once and for all: I feel like C. C. Deville deliberately lived a small life, looking for hero worship in a small town, and is now turning to “God” to try to make his life feel expansive and limitless. A classmate said that she was surprised at his preacher-like post (hell, I was too), but he replied that he wasn’t trying to be a preacher, he was just coming to his senses. I think it’s more like he realized that he’s middle aged and he hasn’t done anything he said he said he was going to do when he first reached adulthood.

For the longest time I felt inadequate and undesirable while he chose girls around me. Now I feel as if I have run circles around him with my life experiences and we would have nothing to talk about.

 

Don’t Ever Think ‘Equality’ Is A Dirty Word

We need women (and MEN) from all walks of life, from all occupations, from all age groups, to get on the bandwagon with the idea that equality is worth it. Already my nephews, aged 10 and 6, have started reciting the ugly words, “Boys are smarter than girls.” They certainly didn’t learn that from me or their parents. Now our work is even harder with trying to turn that thought process around (if it is even a process – because they are more parrots at that age than scholars).

I want all girls and boys to grow up to appreciate differences while embracing each other for their value as human beings first.

I want women to receive equal pay for equal work.

I want men to stop claiming all space as their own, including women’s bodies.

I want women to be supportive, rather than see each other as competition to be beat.

But in addition to that:

I want people who are labeled “disabled” to be out in the work force (if they are able) and have a social life filled with inclusion, and to be portrayed correctly in advertising, TV and movies.

I want “inspiration porn” to end.

I want the freedom to practice – or NOT practice – any and every religion of my choosing.

I want churches to start paying taxes.

I want people of ALL races to be valued, truly, but I want privilege to be acknowledged and then driven to extinction.

I want our actions to match our words.

I want choices, whether it’s the company I keep, the job that pays the bills, the food I put in my body, the chemicals I keep away from my dwelling and the doctors I see. The more we work towards total inclusion, the better our lives will feel, period.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jennifer-lawrence-feminism-equal-pay_us_56d08bfee4b03260bf769e58?

Dude, You’re Stepping On My Personal Space

I wrote this article for Patient Worthy on February 14th; since that day I got daily (sometimes twice daily) texts from this guy saying, “Good morning cutie” or “sweet dreams cutie.” The most recent ones – because he still won’t stop – say “Just got to my hotel” and “How are you?” For the life of me, I can’t figure out why he would bait me with the hotel remark because that one really came out of the blue. I haven’t traded texts with him since February 10th. Was the hotel text his clumsy attempt at a booty call? Or was it not intended for me, and instead should have gone to whomever was playing the part of his dirty little secret?

Dude, just…stop.

Boundary Waters and Dating Boundaries