Saturday, June 30, 2007

Bambina Bon Mots: Part 155

Bambina has been in rare form these days. She wears me out, but it's a fun way to get exhausted. She has a small stuffed dog named Meyer. He is the love of her life. She got him as a baby and he looks every day as old as the two years of "love" to which he's been subjected. The other day during Quiet Time she told me that she was Meyer's mommy and I was his daddy. I asked her if that meant we were married (wow, I'm so traditional...). She looked at me like I was a moron: "Yeeeeesss, Mama. We married." So I asked her whether we've been married a long time, what flowers were at our wedding, etc. (A long time, purple flowers). Then I asked, "So where did we get married, my love?," expecting "park" or "garden" or "temple" or something. Her answer?

"The Home Depot."

I haven't laughed that hard in a very long time.

Then yesterday she was regaling us at lunch with the shabbat songs she learned at preschool. It's a pretty simple ditty: "Shabbat Shalom (clap!), Shabbat Shalom (clap!)...etc). It's a pretty common tune so we started singing and clapping along with her. Instantly she turned into Debbie Allen from Fame ("Fame costs. And this is where you start payin'. In sweat."). She stood up in the chair, held her hands out with arms at full length and said really loudly, "Everybody stop! You singing it wrong! I show you how!"
We all just fell out laughing, like we'd been called out by a reality show judge who just can't listen to one more note of our atrocious amateur singing. Yup. America voted, and we're being sent home.

Where's Paula Abdul when you need her?

I'm Sticking With Fortune Cookies

I somehow got on the list for two separate daily horoscopes many years ago. I have an email address that I use only for online purchasing, so obviously it was as a result of something I bought. Usually they just fill up the inbox and I delete them all every two months when I get around to it. I've just been too lazy to click on that unsubscribe link, I suppose.

With little else to do this week I decided to read them.

Astrology site #1 for June 28:
You need to get away from home to give yourself some space to think things through. An opportunity to make more money may be possible if you are ready to make a move. Someone you live with may object to your plans. You think?

Astrology site #2 for June 28:
It's time for you to decelerate. Give yourself permission to lie around the house, couch surf and indulge in some strictly-for-fun reading. There's nothing as nice as a bit of lazy time spent on yourself.

So which is it, astral seers? Get away from home or sit around watching SportsCenter with a beer? Obviously I think the people over at #2 have more of a sense of where I am these days, but don't these people coordinate their astrological advice?

Of course, I was finding it all very funny until I got this:
You're glowing with confidence, and no one (least of all that certain someone) can resist you when you're in a mood like this. Why not throw a party and gather your nearest and dearest together? The more the merrier.

I'll get right on that. Just as soon as I hit *delete*.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sexy Toddler Chic

From The Arizona Republic by way of

GapKids recently featured a white, crocheted string bikini you'd likely see Anna Kournikova wearing on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. The bikini was for a 12-month-old. Racks at Target held several bathing suits perfect for a Hawaiian Tropic bikini competition. The crocheted and camouflage-designed suits started at Size 4 in the little girls' section. Inseams on "classic" shorts at stores such as Abercrombie Kids and Hollister Co. are microscopic. And halter tops, shirts often lauded by fashion consultants for their ability to enhance a less-than-voluptuous chest, are everywhere for every age. Moms hoping to find anything even mildly modest have to be happy Bermuda shorts are trendy again.

How disturbing is that? What "parents" would put their kid in a string bikini? I'm all for slutting it up if you're the one making the fashion call for yourself. Have at it, high schoolers, if that's what you want to sell. But to dress your toddler in a crocheted string bikini? What next? Toddler pasties? Little boy g-strings?

I remember being a kid and running around the beach naked. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a single photo of me on a beach before age 4 (and after 23... hee hee) with any clothes on at all. Honestly, I find that to be more natural and less frightening than dressing a kid suggestively. A naked baby is a naked baby. A toddler in Maxim-worthy gear is twelve ways not right. This whole story just creeps me out, perhaps less because the clothes exist and more because there are actual parents buying them. I guess we can just await the next big reality show: America's Sexiest Toddler, which is (as the Book of Revelation clearly outlines) a sign of the coming apocalypse.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Welcome, Gordo.

Ya big Scotsman!

Here is an online chat with Brown over at the Belfast Telegraph. I like how he answers (or doesn't answer) questions, from Iraq to global warming to "How many Scottish people in the Cabinet is too many?" God forbid the United Kingdom have a cabinet that represents ALL of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, huh? Why hasn't anyone wondered over the past several hundred years how many English people in the UK cabinet is too many?
Belfast Telegraph

Anyway, I digress. It's official. Gordon Brown, Scotsman, Prime Minister of Britain.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock and Roll

Had my clinic visit today. I felt like hell, yesterday and today. I had a pretty high fever last night--bad. But it was back to normal by this AM--good. Which means that I obviously have some white cell action goin' on. But I was hurtin' most of yesterday.

Which brings us to today's clinic visit. Today at the clinic was my big day to get my chimerism testing done. We'll find out the results next week. What's a chimera? For all the non-X Files fans out there? A Chimera in genetics is defined as a single animal organism with genetically distinct cells from two different zygotes. As you may have surmised from all of my screeds regarding donor stem cells, I am currently a chimera. Some parts of my body reflect my own DNA, some others reflect the DNA of my donor. (Do I have any special crime opportunities as a result of this, I wonder?)

So how did we find ourselves so soon at this august moment of chimeritude? Simply put, the whole marathon that is a stem cell transplant can be broken down, for practical reasons, into 6 stages.
Stage 1. Do Not Get Infection Before Transplant.
Stage 2. Survive the chemotherapy regimen (via minimal infections, fevers and reactions)
Stage 3. Day +13ish, see if your counts are coming up. If they do, your donor's cells have engrafted. You're on your way! If they don't, see your doctor for advice.
Stage 4. Chimerism testing. Test what percent of the DNA in your blood cells is donor vs. recipient. You want it to be 100% donor. If it's more like 50/50 "then we need to strategize what we're going to do about that," said my doctor, not filling me with any sense that even 75/25 would not be a complete disaster.
Stage 5. Assuming you were summa chimera laude, feel glad. Then watch for the next 6 months for any sign of the dire Graft Versus Host Disease.
Stage 6. Assuming you were out that day when GVHD dropped by, celebrate your one year anniversary. Begin plans to get your immunizations. Start allowing yourself to dream of having a normal life. Meet your donor and buy her a drink. Meet your friends again! Meet their kids born last year! Thank God that you and your miscellaneous DNA lived to tell. Now go buy shoes and cosmetics and worry about the price tag later. After all, you've already spent a million-plus becoming the spokesperson for Chimeras R Us (a role that denies you the wearing of cosmetics and the public places in which to unveil your fantastic footwear); you might as well splurge a little bit for Jimmy Choo and Shu Uemura.

*Wee serious note: If you are inclined to offer thoughts, wishes or whatnot for people with any kind of belief that such offerings may have an effect of any positive kind, I'm going to offer my support for said thoughts and wishes....blah blah blah...what I'm saying is that I really really need my chimerism test to be as close to 100% as possible. Otherwise, I'm a bit reluctant to hear the "other options" available, one of which might involve doing the chemo/transplant thing again, which I don't need to tell you is so very really desperately exceedingly not something I want to relive. My deal is this: I'll do all the bargaining with God if you do all the genuine, real-stuff praying. Between the two of us, I can't see us getting less than a B-. :)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Enough About Me; Now Back To Me

I just got dinged via email by a couple of people worried about me because I haven't posted much recently; and what I have posted has not been about my health progress.

Would you believe I've been way too busy to blog? Too many meetings and lunches and evening get-togethers to find my way to my computer?

Didn't think so.

As hard as it is to believe, I think I started to bore myself with...myself. Which therefore must mean that someone who is not me must be positively over this whole topic, desperate for some other subject matter, and completely content to spend the rest of their days sans insight into my GI issues. And who could blame them?

But, just as the whole class is "rewarded" when those two kids ask moronic questions with five minutes left to go in the class, you will now be treated to more Adventures In E's Immune System courtesy of the email dingers.

Short story long: I'm fine. Eating better, mostly feeling better. Still dawg-tired. I'm having major psychological issues with the fact that I can neither floss nor brush my teeth till my platelets are 50,000. I have these little green foam-on-a-stick things that I have to use, but when was the last time foam got some toast out of your front teeth? I was an avid flosser pre-transplant, so the lack of between-teeth hygiene is completely wigging me out; more even than the non-shaving of the legs and the inability to groom the eyebrows that have now gone to an appalling state of nature. It's a good thing I'm blond, is all I can say, or I'd be a shoo-in for the Brezhnev lookalike contest. It's horrifying, but certainly less so than not having flossed for almost a month.

I raised the issue with my doctor (who I am adoring more every day as he gets more comfortable and funny around me). He's the head of the transplant program and--not for nothing--he has the lowest infection rate in the country for transplant patients. How does he keep these numbers so low? Because he's strict and he don't care about your wah-wah-I-need-to-floss drama. He said, "when your platelets are 50K, you can floss again." I countered with, "But I flossed all the way up to being admitted here!" He looked horrified. "Are you serious? Well then you are a very lucky young lady because that was dangerous. With your low white count and your lack of platelets you could have given yourself a massive blood infection, and those tend to not turn out very well." Then he waved his hand at me and said with a sort-of humorous shiver, "Don't tell me anymore about it! That is frightening." Apparently, plaque is bacteria. And flossing can cause microscopic nicks in your gums. Into which the plaque goes. From which you can get a mouth/gum or blood infection if you don't have the immune system to stop it. Who knew!?? I was living on the edge all that time, courtesy of Oral B.

Undeterred by his shock, I circled my way back to the "can I floss now since my white count is getting really good these days?" He repeated in the style that I do with Bambina where you are being really matter-of-fact and on-message because you don't want to have to repeat yourself again: "when your platelets are 50K, you can floss again." Still convinced of the absolute necessity of flossing, I was about to try another tack to get him to give me the nod on flossing when he said (again, like he was talking to a willful toddler. Which I suppose he was), "How about I just tell YOU when you can floss so you don't have to ask again?" I started laughing and said, "Fair enough. Point taken."

So that's where I am. I ate a pickle for the first time the other night. It tasted so awesome. The next morning wasn't such a dill-y of a time (Ba-doom-boom!), but eating it was worth the drama. Mostly I eat vegetable samosas, naan, chicken soup, and cornflakes with banana. That's pretty much my repertoire. Oh--and potatoes. Of course. My whole appetite seems to have shifted. I used to love zone bars, balance bars, all of those meal-replacement things. I literally can't even look at the packages now. I loved pizza, any kind, the greasier the better. Now it has to be a very particular type of Trader Joes frozen. I loved Diet Coke. I can barely even type "diet coke" now. I never imagined I'd be eating samosas and naan for lunch and dinner, but if it works, it works.

So that's the update. Thank you for staying after class for a few moments to get the info. Now you can go steal those kids' lunch money.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The WSJ Editorial Board Needs A Vacation Day

Today's WSJ editorial "Paid Not To Work" predicts widespread employee vacation day fraud if paid leave is passed in New Jersey. That's their opinion, and they are certainly entitled to offer it on their OpEd pages. But if you read the article further, they jump from saying that paid leave is too expensive for employers to offer, to saying that leave of any kind (including your usual run-of-the-mill vacation days)will be a burden on conscientious employees because companies will become more vigilant about policing time off.

The most telling aspect of this editorial is the use of the term "...has documented many cases where..." You and I both know that if the WSJ has the numbers, the WSJ uses them. So when they say that "Verizon...has documented many cases where employees claimed illness but were discovered to have traveled to Disney World" or "manufacturers have reported many instances where workers claimed leave in order to take vacation days..." Why the nebulous quantity, WSJ? What precisely does Verizon mean by "many"? Like, 100 out of a hundred thousand? That's not very compelling at all, is it?

And why the beef with people getting time off? The US already works more hours weekly and yearly than hundreds of other countries. And let's talk about the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. It is UNPAID leave. Yes, a wonderful and welcome option for those who can just stay off work for 6 weeks and not collect a paycheck. But how many people--not including those who work for the WSJ, of course--can realistically do that? It's a wonderful benefit that only the already-lucky can use. And you think it's only malingerers and lazy workers who use it? How do you think I was driven to Boston, settled in and taken care of for a couple of weeks pre- and during transplant, with no worries about Bambina's daily needs being met? By someone punching a clock from 9-5? Not likely. It was specifically the FMLA that made that possible, albeit without salary.

But what about those who can't meet the mortgage without a weekly paycheck? What about those who get only unpaid vacation days and who can't therefore stockpile them for such an emergency? (Yes, those people do exist--and for a time I was one of them). Surely there is a better way to monitor paid leave, such as doctor's letters, insurance forms, whatever, to prove the need rather than just saying, "Oh people will abuse it; let's not do it."

The crowning glory on this poorly-written editorial, marked by rank snobbery, by people who obviously have never worked in a factory or plant or, in my case, a hospital is the last line: "Far worse than a job without generous benefits is no job at all." Only someone who has always had generous benefits and has no concept of the millions of people who live without them could write that and not feel like a complete pr*ck.

I think we ought to ask the editorial board about their own benefits and leave at the WSJ. Perhaps there are areas we could trim in advance of the publication's sale. You know, for reasons of profitability.

For BB, With Love

Our beloved BB passed away tonight. I promised I wouldn't sit up blogging, but somehow sleep will not come until I write about him. But I'm now faced with the issue of how you grieve for someone who still feels very present. How can he be gone when it still feels so much like he is here, like there has never been a time when he was not here? The earth spins on its axis--and there is BB. Thursday comes after Wednesday comes after Tuesday--and there is BB. The sun rises and sets every day--and there is BB. To paraphrase William Saroyan, we know that death comes to us all; but we really thought there'd be an exception in BB's case.

He was simultaneously larger than life as the family patriarch and yet real enough to inhabit all those small decisions and actions we made without consciously realizing his influence. He was a devoted husband, loving father, attentive and funny grandfather, and beloved great grandfather. Many roles for one man. Many needs to be met, many responsibilities to handle, none of which he ever failed to accomplish. His capacity for handling all that life threw at him always amazed me. His capacity for love and humor did not, simply because that is the BB that I always knew.

He would set his many house clocks to chime one minute apart for the benefit of the delightedly thrilled Bambina, even when I know it took a chunk of time for him to do so. He would let her climb all over him yelling "BB!BB!BB!BB!" when I'm sure he could have used some peace and quiet. He pushed her stroller around a zoo on a blistering hot day simply because she wanted him to, when I know he could have used a seat and a cold drink. I know this because *I* needed a seat and a cold drink myself. He sat for more than an hour telling me all about his family because I suddenly decided that we had to draw his family tree THAT DAY. At, like, 4pm on a Saturday. On the flip side of a scrap piece of paper. When he clearly had just come upstairs from the basement for just a moment--that is, until he was accosted by the Aggressive Genealogy Maniac in the kitchen. In all these ways and more, BB was generous with his time and his love.

In addition to his generosity of heart, BB had an impressive mind. Aristotle said that "it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." He and I rarely agreed on politics or policy, but I continued to enjoy discussions with him because he never once acted like I was wasting my breath. Perhaps in my own head, I always felt like he was saying, "If you are truly logical, persuasive and cogent on this topic, today just might be the day you change my mind." I never did manage that, of course. ;) But he always respected my right to my differing opinions even if he thought they were hooey. Most importantly, he always respected me in every discussion, which is what made him so much genuine fun to talk to.

He loved his children and grandchildren with what I can only describe as a quiet fervor. Never one for the broad strokes of airplane messages in the sky or call-ins to radio shows for a birthday, BB instead put his energies into walking the walk. Being there. Offering advice. Helping where needed. Giving you a verbal kick in the pants when warranted. Making clear his expectations for what constituted being a good, productive, ethical person. As I've said before in these pages, my grandfathers both passed by the time I was 4 years old, so having this elder statesman in my life was a very new situation for me. One I worried about a little at first (God, I hope he doesn't think I'm stupid after making that dumb joke), but one that I embraced wholeheartedly--and thank goodness so did he. Having BB as my grandfather for these many years was a blessing straight from God himself. I am--and will always be--the richer for his presence in my life. I thank God that the Bambina got to have him in her life too. She sees clocks and thinks of him. She learns her alphabet by writing BBBBBBBB a hundred times. She keeps a picture of him near her bed at night.

More than anyone, BB loved his wife, our GiGi. Two people more devoted, more committed, more in love all these decades later you have never seen. Theirs was a marriage of mutual respect, shared destiny, and consecrated commitment to each other. Whatever it was, it was clearly special and clearly meant to be. They were a Burns and Allen comedy show, a funny and engaging conversational duo, and a crackin' dance partnership all rolled into one. BB's secret to the long and happy marriage was simple: "I don't meddle with her doing what she wants. I trust her." (See? I told you he was a smart man)! Perhaps most importantly, they laughed together every day even after all these years, which made us all smile inside with renewed faith in eternal love.

As basic as it sounds, BB was a Good Man. A good man in word, deed and intention. I can't articulate how sad I am that BB is gone, but I can't hide my gratitude for the life he lived and shared with us. We were lucky to have him in our lives, and we remain lucky to have memories of him in our hearts.

I'll remember BB in lots of ways. But this song, sung by BB faves like Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme perhaps sums it up best:

Whenever skies look gray to me and trouble begins to brew
Whenever the winter winds become too strong
I concentrate on you

When fortune cries "Nay, nay" to me
And people declare "You're through"
Whenever the blues become my only songs
I concentrate on you

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Nuts To You, Jimmuh Carter!

Jimmy Carter continues to amaze. During a speech in Ireland where he picked up a $1.2 million check for his Carter Center he said, "the American-Israeli-European consensus to reopen direct aid to the new government in the West Bank, but to deny the same to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, represented an "effort to divide Palestinians into two peoples."

Jimmuh? I'm not certain they need any help with that.

Besides, hasn't Hamas been on the list of terrorist organizations for years, with an ever-increasing devotion to violence? Why WOULD other countries support them? Is he truly serious about Israel helping to fund the very group who wants them annihilated? Jimmuh, even YOU can't seriously think that's not batsh*t crazy.

Besides-besides, isn't it a bit reductive to assume that all Palestinians want the same thing? Like, "Oh, you're Palestinian. Then your hopes and dreams for your nation's future include the following three things I've decided you must be longing for...." Jimmy Carter doesn't see Palestinians as actual human people; he sees them as a political tool for his increasingly asinine rants. Why not mention those Palestinian individuals running for the border crossing into Israel when the fighting started? Why not mention the humanitarian aid being sent into both Gaza and the West Bank by Israel? Why not mention all the Palestinian people who have told journalists that they want the fighting to stop and for these gangs of thugs to let them live in peace? Why not treat them like actual people rather than a monolithic political bloc about whom Jimmy feels most qualified to speak?

I swear to G-d, it's like watching someone you thought you knew come completely undone, little by little, in dreadfully public ways. Rosalyn, you are stronger than you ever let on. Call him home and put him to work on building a house.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sir Salman Rushdie

A well-deserved honor.

Another example of Islamists using anything as a "reason" for terrorism. This is going to be a flip kind of post because if it weren't so scary it would be a complete effing joke.

Question One: What exactly does NOT anger fundamental Muslims? Or more accurately, what exactly does NOT give them religious cover to harm and kill others?

Question Two: Why do so many people backstep as soon as the threats are made, asking why the British would "stir things up" like this? It's Britain's business to knight whomever the hell it pleases, without any reasonable person seeing at a reason to commit suicide attacks. Jews are mocked in literature. Christians are mocked in literature. Jesus himself is mocked in literature. Certainly there are protests, but I'm pretty certain that a Catholic has yet to blow himself up in a mall to make his point. And furthermore, NO ONE (save a few fanatics) would consider it at all justifiable. But somehow if it's Islam that's insulted, well, we should have been more sensitive, it will only cause trouble. Why are we walking on eggshells around terrorists and their supporters and apologists?! Is there so much self-hatred in the West that we can't even see an actual threat when it's kicking us in the balls? That somehow we have to find a reason why we deserve it? That is insanity, and a quick road to our own destruction.

Question Three: Isn't it better, whatever your politics or religion, to support people who READ books rather than those who BURN them?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Foie (No) Gracias

I never thought I’d say this, but you might want to just buy some of that name-brand beef paste in a can—for health and safety reasons.

From the Times Online:

Foie gras could be tasty way to get Alzheimer’s
Jonathan Leake, Science Editor

FOIE GRAS, enjoyed as a luxury since ancient Egyptian times, may be linked to the onset of diseases including Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, researchers have suggested.
The scientists who carried out the study say those with a family history of such illnesses should consider avoiding foie gras. The possible risk comes from “amyloid” proteins found in the delicacy, which is made from the swollen livers of force-fed geese and ducks. The proteins have been linked to the onset of all these conditions. In their study, the researchers found mice fed on foie gras started growing amyloid proteins in various organs. They observed a similar result when extract of foie gras was injected into the rodents’ bloodstream. “It may be hazardous for individuals who are prone to develop other types of amyloid-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s or type 2 diabetes to consume such products,” said Alan Solomon, an expert in amyloid diseases at the University of Tennessee medical school, who led the research.
Foie gras has long been controversial because of the way food is forced down the birds’ throats. .. Amyloid disease occurs when proteins that would normally be soluble undergo a change in shape. This makes them form insoluble clumps in organs that damages the way they work. Such abnormal behaviour by proteins seems to play a role in many diseases, including BSE, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. There appear to be many triggers for creating such rogue proteins in the body – one of them is eating foods that already contain them. It was, for example, the consumption of brains from cattle infected with BSE that transmitted the disease to humans, killing 161 Britons since 1995. The possible link between food and amyloid diseases needs to be confirmed by further studies, for example comparing populations to see how disease prevalence varies with diet…

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hey Fadduh

This is my slightly early Ode to Fathers.

If you watch god-awful shows like According to Jim, Still Standing, Yes Dear or any of the other "funny" sitcoms about families you might get the impression that most fathers are fat shlumps married to far younger looking women, who themselves look too young to have teenagers. You might also get the impression that fathers are a bit useless, a bit shiftless, and certainly not required elements of the family. That's such a shame, because it absolutely misrepresents almost every father I know.

Don't get me wrong. Mothers work like dogs (don't I know). As evidenced by the fact that no men I know have ever been asked how they are going to balance having a career AND a family. It's assumed they're not; that the mom will have that side of things squared away, whether she is a full-time mom or a full-time professional. The daily stuff gets done (the stuff that no one notices until it's not done) because the mom gets it done. If the kid knows her alphabet by 2, people don't really say, "Wow. Her mom must really have worked with her on that; she must be super hands-on!" They say the kid is smart. Which she is. But she didn't find the alphabet on her own. Point being, moms do so much that goes unheralded.

And so do dads. But in my experience, the things dads do comprise a different set of necessary life skills. The Baby Daddy has taught the Bambina things I simply can't. He is more comfortable with letting her do (what I think are) risky physical games, like climbing to the very top of the highest ladder at the playground. He teaches her to be scrappy and confident in a way I can't, even though I think I am generally both those things. The battle between giving her physical confidence and my protective instincts are usually always won by the latter, and I thank God she has a man in her life who tells her she absolutely can and should climb that ladder as high as she wants to go.

He is able to get her to do things that, with me, turn into all-night hostage negotiations. I want her to understand there are things we do because we have to do them, end of story. He understands that sometimes you've got to change up your technique, and that it doesn't have to undermine the overall message. So where I would say, "for the tenth time, put on your jammies or we're going to bed right now without stories," he'll say, "I bet you can't put on your jammies before I pick a book and then start tickling you." Crisis averted. Mom stands down. Dad's way works better in this situation. And thank God she has someone who can see where she is emotionally and meet her there.

He is able to not worry about mundane stuff. Perhaps best summarized in this aphorism by Harmon Killebrew: My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass." "We're not raising grass," Dad would reply. "We're raising boys."

I'll spare you hundreds of additional examples of times where Dad knows best. But the real lesson here is that, in simply being a loving father, he is teaching Bambina a lot about herself, about how men should treat her, about how much she is loved. I know I teach her that too, but little girls need their fathers to bring that lesson home.

So, to the Baby Daddy, I say Happy Father's Day. Now more than ever, you are the World's Best Dada.

And now onto my Dad, who I miss every day. If I could sum up what I learned from him, it would probably be in this quote from Clementine Paddleford: “Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where you backbone ought to be.” He was the Dad who, like the Baby Daddy, told me to climb high, run fast, stand tall; certainly with words, but mostly with his actions. No matter how much we disagreed on things (which was a lot), I always knew he had my back. I always knew that the one man in the world who would always love me no matter what (although we disappointed each other, I'm sure, millions of times) was my Dad, and the psychic comfort that provided throughout my growing years is incalculable. He took my heartbreaks to heart, but never seriously enough to make me think they were insurmountable. When I called him in tears one day to tell him that my boyfriend and I had broken up, how terribly it had gone, how I was so hurt at things he said to me, my Dad made me feel both love and laughter when he said, "And I always thought he was such a nice laddie. Och well, I want you to call him up and tell him that I said he is an arsehole." I immediately started laughing through my tears, and decided that my Dad was the coolest guy on the planet. He gave me strength, dignity and faith in myself. Gifts that only a father can give to a daughter.

So to all the fathers (and father figures) out there, who aren't shiftless, useless shlumps, I salute you. For all the credit you don't get, for all the unseen burdens you bear (as in "A father carries pictures where his money used to be"), for all the ways in which you honor your kids--especially by loving their mother. Happy Father's Day.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mazel Tov, Mass!

It's time to stomp on the glass!

This just in from the Associated Press: Massachusetts lawmakers just blocked the public from voting on a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in the only state that currently recognizes the unions.

"The narrow 45-151 vote means Massachusetts remains the only state in the nation to allow same-sex couples to marry," AP reports. "The question needed the approval of 50 of 200 senators and representatives to advance to the 2008 ballot."

SUCH good news! This happened just moments ago, and it is fantastic news. Congratulations to those 151 lawmakers who had the courage to fight this ban. And congratulations to all those couples who are still, apparently, legally married, thank G-d.

I've never quite understood people who are anti-gay. What's your main beef with it? Religious? It just doesn't sit right with you? And what of parents whose children happen to be gay and still oppose gay marriage, or as most of us call it, just "marriage"? Someone once said to me that a parent is only as happy as her unhappiest child. And boy, is that true. How could I in good conscience oppose something that would provide my child with the life he or she wants, especially when that life is open to every other mother's child who chooses a different-sex partner?

It's great to live in a state that affirms everyone's right to a lifetime legally-sanctioned partner. May other states soon realize that there is never a loss of "sanctity" as long as the two people in question intend to keep the vows they are making.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I'm Not Your Type

As crappy as this transplant thing has been on a practical level, there are so many unbelievable science-fiction elements to it that I constantly find myself amazed that it was even possible.

First of all, let's just discuss the actual process. They were able to put someone else's stem cells into me, those cells just knew where to go, and--Great Scott!--someone else's basic life essence is now mine too. Even more amazing, I am up and walking around (albeit slowly and immune-deprived) 15 days later. (Although I will cop to my new senior citizen daily routine of afternoon nap from 2-4, early bird dinner at 6, and bed at 9pm right after Matlock...)

Secondly, I'm sitting here at the clinic getting a red cell transfusion. Red cells are the last to grow, usually between 4 and 6 months post-transplant. But here's the extremely cool, bionic, frankenstein aspect of it: right now I have no blood type. I used to be O, my donor is A. O types apparently have an "anti-A" element to them, so it's one of the hardest switches to make, with my remnant O's fighting my new A's all the way. So right now my blood type, for lack of an actual type is "ABO Unresolved." That's pretty damn cool--and weird--and unbelievable in pure medical terms if you consider that not long ago we were using leeches and not washing our hands between leg amputations at Bull Run.

I recognize that my biochem and med school friends will perhaps find all this wide-eyed wonder a little ridiculous. But I feel it. And I'm committed to finding and expounding that wonder because every day I wake up and have breakfast with The Bambina, I feel the joyous disbelief that I'm still here. And, as I've said before, I thank God that somebody out there studied science.

Dennis Miller. Next Stop? Touring With Gallagher.

I'm a day late and a dollar short on this story, but I've been fuming all night about it. This is a link to one of the many rightie sites that gleefully extolled "comedian" Dennis Miller's attack on Harry Reid:

As I watched the video and read the transcript, I couldn't help but notice the irony of Dennis "I Used To Be Funny; I Swear" Miller calling Harry Reid irrelevant. Dennis Miller, he of four unceremoniously-cancelled shows and one spectacular firing from Monday Night Football. Dennis Miller thinks Harry Reid is irrelevant? Whatever. Harry Reid is so Inside the Beltway anyway. If you asked the average American to identify Harry Reid (or Dennis Miller for that matter), I can't imagine you'd get far into the double digit percentages.

So on the one hand I am irritated at Dennis Miller, the classic, angry, used-to-be funny comedian launching a diatribe at Reid focusing mostly on his appearance, his voice, his hair. Dennis used to be so much incisive and witty than that, which pisses me off. What happened to your "comedy for the thinking man," Dennis? I used to love your esoteric cultural and historical references. A college friend and I would hang out in his room whenever Miller was on TV and actually write down the references so we could research and understand them--and then laugh a day later once we got them. He used to be THAT good. Now he's making fun of Harry Reid's skin tone? It's a sad, sad day for a sad-act of a comedian.

On the other hand I think it's indicative of where the Righties are right now. They are being so pounded with reality, with the truth of where their devotion to all things Bush has gotten them, that they are positively gleeful when a has-been comic beats up on....Harry Reid? He didn't go after Hillary or Barack or John or even Joe Biden. Nope. He went after Harry Reid, a man whose name recognition has to be less than or equal to about 9 percent. How sad for them that this vitriolic, meaningless monologue is being seen as the funniest and most insightful smackdown in recent memory. I mean, is this all you got, Righties? Dennis making fun of Harry's hair? How sad for you all.

But because I'm nice I'll give the Right a tip. If you'd like a primer on funny and satirical and wittily incisive, just turn on The Daily Show or Keith Olbermann any day of the week. Then you'll see why no one who isn't desperate for Poconos-level warmed-over "humor" finds Dennis' monologue threatening, funny---or--hell, even relevant.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Commit to the Nipple

At the risk of making you think I'm a part-time stripper I will now write what I believe to be my fourth post in 2 years about adhesives on my nipples. I don't know. Sometimes a person always sees a rainbow, always picks the correct Pick Four lottery numbers, always gets called for jury duty. Me--I always find myself in situations that end up with adhesive on my nipples.

Today my "visiting nurse" came by to check my Hickman line, help me do the "flush" to keep clots from forming, etc etc. Fair enough. The nurse was extremely nice.

And his name was Paul.

Paul was a lovely, competent man. Paul has two kids. Paul agreed to wrap my Hickman for me so I could shower (you have to have three hands to do it, to coil up the lumens, cover them with gauze, and then stick an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of adhesive waterproof plastic over it all so that the line doesn't get wet in the shower. Getting it wet is a Very Bad Thing To Do). Having gotten my dressing just a wee bit wet yesterday I figured I'd have an expert do it for me today just for refresher's sake.

Paul did a pretty bad job of things, quite frankly. Or, more accurately, he did it no better than I could have done it myself. Why? Because Paul did not commit to the nipple. I could tell he was trying to find any number of ways to have me not pull my shirt down over my boob. I didn't know how to tell Paul, R.N. that I didn't care if he saw my boob. I just wanted the damn line covered. I recognize the placement of my line is awkward, but the nurse at the hospital said that it's that way for most petite people because you don't have a huge amount of space between your superior vena cava and your neck. Or something like that. Basically, wee people have awkwardly placed lines, and I, by public vote of acclamation, am apparently wee. Hence my line that requires that the 8 1/2 x 11 adhesive cover my boob and nipple as well as the line. I'm okay with that. But Paul clearly was not.

I probably could just have put him out of his misery by saying something like, "yeah, it's awkward, but I'm used to the adhesive so don't worry." But something evil in me found it funny that he was gingerly trying to preserve my dignity when we all know that I have none to preserve. The best part, where I almost had to stifle a laugh, was when he finally came to terms with the fact that the adhesive was going to have to go near NippleLand, but he deftly made a small fold in the adhesive so it wouldn't actually stick and said too quickly, "There. I've given you a little flag so you don't have to search for a place to peel it off." He did not mention that he had also thereby managed to avoid touching said nipple. He also did not mention for a few moments that he had left a large swathe of Hickman line gauze unadhered, so dedicated was he to avoiding my prodigious (not) boob.

All in all, I found it to be a very helpful and entertaining nurse visit. Although I'm sure that if I need a visit in the future, Paul will be unavoidably unavailable. ;)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Home Sweet Home

I'm going home today! Nineteen days later. Amen.

I almost got sprung yesterday but I developed a rash all over my body that was either an allergic reaction to antibiotics or early-onset Graft Versus Host Disease. So they kept me one more night to see if anything happened. Nothing happened. It still might be GVHD, but at least I'm going home.

It's astounding what happens to your mind as soon as someone whispers in your ear that you "might go home today." All of a sudden, after spending 17 days with no expectations, on Day 18 you decide you MUST go home. Now that they've said it, I must have it. I was so disappointed yesterday to spend another night here, but I dealt with it by assuring myself that today would be the day. Thank God for everybody involved that it turned out to be the case!

I miss Bambina so much I can't even discuss it. Forget chemo; being away from her was the worst and most painful part of this whole thing. I'm sure that being with her and convincing her that I'm back but not "back to normal" will be the second hardest part of this whole thing...

Everyone has been going over the rules for returning home. In essence, as I may have mentioned before, I have the immune system of a 12 day-old baby. Just as babies are born with good blood counts and yet no real immune system, so am I. So even if my white count gets back to normal by tomorrow, I still will have no immunity to anything. All the common colds, flus, skin irritants that I developed a tolerance or immunity to over 35 years are now gone. I'm back to zero. So colds and flus can kill me. Viruses that don't even register on the average 35 year-old will decimate me. Which is why going home really means that I'm trading one type of solitary confinement for another until my immunity gets up to speed over the next year and a half.

So that's the downside. So what am I happy about? What am I grateful for?

1. My donor. I still can't really talk about her without getting emotional, so generous and selfless and non-mandatory was her choice to help me. I'm a colossal cynic, but thinking about this woman, who I someday hope to meet, simply humbles me into silence.

2. My doctor. I love my doctor. I love him for being smart and kind and on top of his game. I also love him for being stricter than all the other doctors; that way you know if he says you can do something (like go home) that you can do it with confidence.

3. My nurses. God himself put oncology nurses on the planet for the benefit of humankind. I would not have made it through this without three very special nurses who talked me off ledges, out of nausea and into morphine. They are truly the strongest links in the chain of patient care. The interesting fact about all of my nurses is that they are all really pretty and incredibly talented, like you wonder if the hospital has a policy of hiring only beautiful African-American and Black Irish women.

4. My family and friends. No one gets through something like this alone. No one gets through something like this with two other people. You need a team, and I'm fortunate enough to say that I have one. From all the friends who packed up the DC house, loaded the truck, took care of Bambina on a moment's notice, to all of the friends and family who have just been there in ways large and small over the past few weeks, I know that I am standing on the shoulders of giants, and I am once again humbled into silence at the loving and giving nature of so many people.

5. All of you. For keeping me company, for making me laugh, for making me think, for giving me a reason to do something other than sit and mope. For being my mental medicine during the barrage of physical medicine. I am so truly blessed that I am, again, humbled into silence.

Unfortunately for you, the silence will probably only last till tomorrow. :)

Asian American Bone Marrow Donors Needed

In my new role as a grateful recipient of a kind stranger's stem cells, I want to help publicize a post over at reminding us that there are not enough Asian-Americans, South Asians, Pacific Islanders and people of mixed race on the national bone marrow registry. Click to read about 4-month old Elyse Yu, and about Vinay, an Indian American both of whom need a BMT donor very soon.

Here is the link:
Angry Asian Man

And here is Elyse:

Sign up, Asian or not. They'll send you an envelope with a big Q-tip to swab your cheek. Mail it back and you're registered. It's that easy. And who knows? Someday you might save a life, just like some nice lady who I'm sure was really otherwise very busy has saved mine.

Solitary in More Ways Than One

I'd like to write a few words about the blond woman who is in solitary lock-up, not eating well, questioning her very sanity, and praying for early release--even with mandatory home confinement.

You know, *ME.* har har har

All I'm going to say on the topic of the other "blond" out in Los Angeles is that it's a damn sad day when the popular girl realizes that being popular isn't the same as being loved or cared for. Let me rephrase that. It's a damn sad day for the popular girl. It's a pretty funny day for me.

She's been in and out of jail, laughed at and criticized; and who has come out in support of her? These people:

Where are all her friends? Her "colleagues"? Nowhere to be found because her status is based on nothing, not love, not respect, not affection. People will overlook the fact that you are a talentless ho as long as they can party with you and get in the tabloids (or in sex videos) with you. But when the gravy train stops, no one is lining up to ride out jail time with you. Only people with real friends--and perhaps a knowledge of how to be one--can expect that kind of support when the chips are down. Sooner or later we all learn the hard way that life is not fair. Too bad it took this brainless heiress until the age of 26 to get the life lesson. Or maybe, more accurately, she has just learned that life IS fair.

Friday, June 08, 2007

This is the Part Where I Thank God for the Grammy

Every night I've been here I've prayed this prayer from a Jewish Book of Healing that my Mom gave me. If you're having any health issues--or any issues at all for that matter--you might want to give it a try.

In Thy hand is the soul of every living thing.
I turn to Thee, O Lord, in my distress.

Give me patience and faith;
Let not despair overwhelm me.

Renew my trust in Thy mercy
And bless the efforts of all who are helping me.

Be with my dear ones in these difficult days.
Give them strength and courage
To face the anxieties which they share with me.

Grant me Thy healing
So that in vigor of body and mind
I may return to my loved ones
For a life which will be marked by good deeds.

At first I thought that last line sounded a little bit like bargaining, ie, let me get better and I swear I won't say mean things about senior citizens in the grocery line. But then I figured that, in my style, it would be more like me "making the case" for why I'm a good investment of God's time and effort. Good deeds?!! I can do that!

You don't have to be Jewish With Bone Marrow Issues to use this prayer, so I hope you'll feel free to do so if it speaks to you in any way.

Hurts So Good

I haven't written much because I've been in massive amounts of pain. I woke up yesterday certain that I had sciatica, that I'd pulled my back, and that perhaps I had a tumor at the base of my neck. I don't even know how to describe what I was (and currently am) feeling, but it is B, A, and D. I even consented to morphine every two hours, no request necessary.

It turns out when your bone marrow is growing that your bones actually hurt. And they hurt excruciatingly if it's growing at a very fast rate. Which means that I can therefore officially report that my white count has gone all Evel Kneivel, jumping over twelve buses, three trucks and two cars, surpassing any white count I've had in the past year. Admittedly, the huge count bump I've had is still half of a normal white count, but it's still double what I've had in recent memory.

As you can imagine, these are the days I've been simultaneously praying for and feeling too scared to admit it lest they not arrive. I've approached this whole thing with a "one day at a time" attitude, refusing to ponder questions that might arise two months from now. I know others have probably found my unwillingness to discuss some things annoying, but I just knew for my own sanity that I had to deal with today and then tomorrow, and then two months from now in two months. I've still got eleven months to go, which is a marathon. The only way it's going to work is if I continue to see today as the only day I need to get through. Especially because the very scary specter of Graft Versus Host Disease is still out there. I'm not cured--and life is not back to normal--until we know I don't have that. Which we won't know for another month or so. Which I can't worry about today.


Because my white count is growing exponentially, which means the transplant engrafted, which means my platelets will be back in a couple of months and my red count a couple of months after that. I want to experience this incredible joy for one day before I start pondering all the ways this ain't over yet, and potentially could still end in disaster.

I especially want to celebrate it because the past 16 days have been rough, and this is my payoff. I truly especially want to celebrate it because my body aches like a mofo to the level that I'm on narcotics (and actually barfed in the middle of writing this), but only because my brand new bone marrow is working overtime.

It definitely hurts so good.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Marriage Before Kids: Do It For Your Country

I was reading a back issue of The Economist today. I have decided that I love The Economist. It covers so much of the world's news, to the extent that I couldn't believe I hadn't heard about some of the stuff from the US media. And then I remembered that the US media does not care about the Central African Republic or the passing of the 90-something year-old leader of Samoa. Especially not when Paris Hilton is in jail. 'Cause THAT'S news! Massacres involving dark-pigmented people? We can't squeeze that into our 30-minute Brian Williams/Katie Couric broadcasts. Bad for ratings, you know.

Anyway, I read a really interesting article about marriage in America. It recounted the data from several studies showing that the "marriage gap" between college graduates and high school dropouts is one major cause of the ever-widening economic inequality. I've never once thought deeply about the macroeconomic effects of having a child out of wedlock, but this article really brought it all home.

For example, "Only 4% of the children of mothers with college degrees are born out of wedlock. And the divorce rate among college-educated women has plummeted. Of those who first tied the knot between 1975 and 1979, 29% were divorced within ten years. Among those who first married between 1990 and 1994, only 16.5% were. At the bottom of the education scale, the picture is reversed. Among high-school dropouts, the divorce rate rose from 38% for those who first married in 1975-79 to 46% for those who first married in 1990-94. Among those with a high school diploma but no college, it rose from 35% to 38%. And these figures are only part of the story. Many mothers avoid divorce by never marrying in the first place. The out-of-wedlock birth rate among women who drop out of high school is 15%. Among African-Americans, it is a staggering 67%."

How effing frightening is that for our economy and our society? And why can't we find some kind of solution that doesn't demonize people or require them to accept Jesus? How about finding ways to get more poor kids into college or at least having them complete school, whether pregnant or not.

Using several metrics and university studies (that you can get via the article in the May 26th issue), they found that marriage is "a wealth-generating institution" for several reasons, including economies of scale and behavior changes vs. unmarrieds. It also discusses the cost of cohabiting, something I have always kind of favored myself on the theory that you need to know each other before getting married. "Research suggests otherwise. Two-thirds of American children born to co-habiting parents who later marry will see their parents split up by the time they are ten. Those born within wedlock face only half that risk." Another key--and sobering--point? "Since no explicit commitment is made, it is easier to drift into living together than it is to drift into a marriage. But once a couple is living together, it is harder to split up than if they were merely dating. So “many of these men end up married to women they would not have married if they hadn't been living together,” says Mr Stanley, co-author of a paper called “Sliding versus deciding”."

The article's main point is to ask what can be done politically and societally to ensure the economic well-being of American children, and close the economic inequality gap, rather than simply implying that gays are threatening the institution and then doing nothing. It offers no answers, but at the very least it asks the right questions. How can we reduce teen pregnancy, encourage marriage, and ensure the economic future of not only America's children--but America's economy as a whole? How can we approach a policy of supporting marriage without necessarily putting religious litmus tests on it? How can we fix this issue? I myself do not know, but the article has given us lots to think about, especially as we listen to the candidates for POTUS over the next year. It would be interesting to hear their thoughts on closing the income equality gap, be it financially-assisted higher education for all, better sex education or removing tax penalties for married couples. Because what The Economist taught me is that this is a seemingly micro issue but one that has tremendous current and future macro-level consequences for our country.

Your Dog is Calling The Movers

Saw this article in this month's Men's Health. It lists all the best cities for dogs, based on access to veterinarians, dog parks, boarding, dog sitting, and other amenities that make it easy to own a dog--and fun to be a dog. Notice poor old DC at the near-bottom. Notice that 9 of the top ten are in the West. What've they got that we don't?!

1. Colorado Springs, CO
2. Portland, OR
3. Albuquerque, NM
4. Tucson, AZ
5. Seattle, WA
6. Denver, CO
7. Austin, TX
8. San Francisco, CA
9. Tampa, FL
10. Sacramento, CA
11. Nashville, TN
12. San Diego, CA
13. Oklahoma City, OK
14. Charlotte, NC
15. Las Vegas, NV
16. Indianapolis, IN
17. Miami, FL
18. Tulsa, OK
19. Pittsburgh, PA
20. Omaha, NE
21. Wichita, KS
22. Oakland, CA
23. Phoenix, AZ
24. Dallas, TX
25. Fort Worth, TX
26. Minneapolis, MN
27. San Jose, CA
28. Kansas City, MO
29. Houston, TX
30. Atlanta, GA
31. Columbus, OH
32. Honolulu, HI
33. Fresno, CA
34. Louisville, KY
35. San Antonio, TX
36. Arlington, TX
37. New York, NY
38. Philadelphia, PA
39. Chicago, IL
40. Memphis, TN
41. Los Angeles, CA
42. Cleveland, OH
43. St. Louis, MO
44. Milwaukee, WI
45. Boston, MA
46. Baltimore, MD
47. El Paso, TX
48. Jacksonville, FL
49. Washington, DC
50. Detroit, MI

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sister Morphine

--The Rolling Stones

Thank you for that intro, Mick and the Boys. It's time for that segment of the program we call 'Confession of the Week." Today's confession: I am on morphine.

Shock! Horror!

I've finally relented and allowed them to give me a small quantity of IV morphine before meals so that the pain in my mouth and throat will subside and allow me to swallow. Thereby ensuring I don't lose any more weight and that I eat enough to support my (hopefully) growing new bone marrow and immune system.

This is a huge step for me. The Physician's Assistant who comes around every day just finally begged me to take some, assured me I wouldn't end up a junkie, and told me that food was important enough to justify narcotics. So I relented. But why so resistant, Miz Haggis?

Well, it all goes back to Little House on the Prairie.

Do you remember the shark-jumping 9th season where Pa Ingalls moves the family to the city only to find Albert acting like a hoodlum? Where he forces him to go back to Walnut Grove to learn how to act like a decent god-fearing citizen? Where he finds out that Albert has been stealing morphine from Doc Baker's surgery and is now ADDICTED TO MORPHINE!!! One of the final scenes involved Doc and Pa essentially kidnapping Albert and making him detox. There was a vomiting scene so grody that, to this day, when someone says "morphine" I think of Matthew Laborteaux wretching in full technicolor all over his bed and Michael Landon. Followed by the scene in which he says he's going to make Pa Ingalls proud, and we are foreshadowed into the knowledge that he will someday become Doc Albert Ingalls. Cue the single tear in Landon's eye, the extreme close-up of the healed father-son relationship, the credits---and then the flashback in my head to the morphine vomit scene.

This was my dilemma. Every time they said, "you should take some morphine for that" I was adamant that I was no Albert "Hoodlum" Ingalls barfing all over Doc Baker's office in prairie-town Minnesota. That's all I'd need; Mrs. Oleson telling the whole town about my problems and trying to run Laura and Almonzo out of Walnut Grove on the strength of my addiction. I wasn't havin' it.

Then my lunch arrived and I couldn't even begin to eat the liquid stuff I'd ordered (soup, milk shake, boost and whipped potatoes), and I wondered WWPID? What would Pa Ingalls do? Pa Ingalls--and I'm convinced Mr. Michael Landon himself--would tell me to take the hit and eat the food. And so I did. Because if there's one thing you always get from a Little House episode, it's a lesson learned.

They All Look Alike

From Yahoo news, another example of people thinking that all black people look alike. I mean, if they were running a story on Ted Kennedy,
no "22 year-old production assistant" would "pull the wrong tape" and run a photo of Chris Dodd. That person would be able to differentiate between two white men who look nothing alike. But two Black congressmen? Who can tell the difference? Even if they bear no resemblance to each other, it's completely understandable, isn't it, that such an error could be made? And the non-apology apology just makes it even better. Good job, Fox "News."

NEW YORK - Fox News Channel apologized on-air Tuesday for running tape of a different congressman while reporting Monday on the indictment of Rep. William J. Jefferson on bribery charges.

The network ran footage of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan instead of Jefferson. Both congressmen are black. Fox blamed the mistake on a 22-year-old production assistant hurriedly grabbing a wrong videotape. Fox's Washington bureau chief, Brian Wilson, said he was mortified by the error. On Tuesday, Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum said about the Jefferson story: "We mistakenly ran the wrong videotape accompanying that story and we apologize for that error." The apology apparently wasn't accepted by Conyers.

"Fox News has a history of inappropriate on-air mistakes that are neither fair, nor balanced," he said Tuesday. "This type of disrespect for people of color should no longer be tolerated. I am personally offended by the network's complete disregard for accuracy in reporting and lackluster on-air apology." Wilson said he called Conyers' office on Tuesday to apologize. He said he spoke to a press secretary and asked what he could do to make amends, including coming to Conyers' office to apologize in person. No one got back to him, he said. Conyers' press representative, Melanie Roussell, said the congressman was upset that Fox's on-air apology did not say specifically what the mistake was. Fox News Channel has become a political issue itself recently, with Democratic presidential candidates refusing to appear in a debate sponsored by the network.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Republican Debate Preview

I was going to write one, then read a better one over at The Vigil. Note the recommendations of Frank Luntz to excuse everything (deficits, economic decline) by way of 9/11. For all the accusations from the GOP that those against them are "politicizing" 9/11, it seems that no one has been doing it better, ever since 9/12.
The Vigil

Day Plus Seven: Not Exactly Heaven

Lame rhyme, I know. I should have tried something creative involving leaven or Kevin or something, but I can't be arsed right now. I woke up this AM with a raging sore throat and swollen esophagus, the kind where you can neither swallow nor speak. I was afraid I had an infection. The good news is I don't. The bad news is that this is one of those week-later side effects of chemotherapy, and it's gonna get worse before it gets better.

The nurse explained that chemo affects all rapidly-dividing cells in your body. Hence why it kills cancer. Hence why it injures everything else. The cells most affected are bone marrow (of course) and the kind that line your mouth, throat, gut, intestines and rectum, as well as your skin. Which is why you get mouth sores, esophagitis, stomach aches, diarrhea and skin rashes post-chemo. My opinion? I don't recommend them. Mostly because they get in the way of eating. For the first time in the history of my life and historically proudly-fat Scottish family (ie, if you're not 10 pounds overweight everyone wonders if you're sick or perhaps waging a hunger strike for Scottish independence), I can't keep weight on. It's insane. I'm eating what I can, when I can, and drinking those dire Boost and Ensure drinks to supplement, but the weight keeps coming off. And also for the first time in my life, I'm not thrilled about it, mostly because I know it's muscle I'm losing. Which is why I'm so dedicated to my laps around the pod, in an effort to put a little definition back into my calves and to at least use my muscles even a little so they don't forget why they're there.

All of which means that I need some motivation to get up and out, mind over esophageal matter. Anyone recommend any good tunes I should download for my pod walks? I'm looking for stuff to keep me moving, not too fast, not too slow. I'll try anything; my tastes are pretty eclectic (my current mix has Creedence, The Killers, Frank Sinatra, Jason Mraz, The Clancy Brothers...).

Help a sister out.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Only Boring People Get Bored

I can't remember who said that to me when I was a too-cool-to-be-impressed adolescent, and I was moaning about how some activity was lacking excitement. I'm not sure it's absolutely true, since some things are just empirically boring. But it occurred to me today that I am going to have to make my own fun or else become a tiresome complainer. And since I cannot abide complainers I simply cannot become one.

So I was watching Ellen DeGeneres this morning. I think she is perhaps the most fun-loving person on TV. I love her show, the music, the dancing through the audience, her incisive (but not mean) humor. I never usually get to watch Ellen because Bambinas don't love talk shows, and why would we be watching TV mid-AM anyway when there are libraries and parks to visit.

Anyhoo. I was out doing my laps around the pod this afternoon with my IPod Nano (thank you BBDD!). I have been trying to do twenty laps in the AM and then again in the PM. It's hard if I've got "Fred" my recently-named IV pole on wheels/shadow tagging along since the pod ain't that large. But whenever I'm allowed off my tether, I dash out there to seize my freedom for as long as I can keep my legs from getting wobbly. Today I got wobbly before Le Freak was finished, so I came in to my room, almost sat down, and then decided to do a little Ellen-inspired groovin' in my room. Then I thought it would be funny to take a photo of me discoing at '54 for you. Then I thought I might submit it to Apple for a new ad campaign focusing on all the not-fun places you can go with your IPod and still have some fun. And why not? I clearly have nothing better to do. Just be glad my room doesn't have a xerox machine or you'd no doubt be seeing some butt cheeks instead of white-girl dancing.
"Aaah, freak out! Le freak, c'est Chic, freak out!"

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Day Plus-Five and Stimuli-Deprived

I am a complete social moron these days. Twelve days in solitary and I've turned into that person. The one who says the same thing every time you see her for two reasons: 1. because she's forgotten that she's already said the same thing to you, and 2. because it's the only thing she's really got to say. When someone walks in the room and says, "How are you doing today? How are you eating?" I reply, "I'm doing pretty well. Eating rather well; building my strength now before the next bomb drops and I can't eat for another two days."

But here's the thing: I only see about 4 different humans every day, and most days, 3 of them are the same ones I saw yesterday and the day before. So when my poor wonderful nurse of 4 days asks me how I'm doing and how I'm eating on Day 4, I am giving her the same "punchline" every damn day. Bless her heart for not pre-empting me with, "Right. Eating well. Building your strength. Got it. Now shut your cakehole."

I need some new material.

Before this all started, my doctor told me the two primary side effects of this procedure would be "diarrhea and boredom." I laughed hysterically at the time. But now I'm here and the laughing has stopped. Y'all. The two (three?) most important joys of my life are a)my friends and family, and b) food. The two things I am pretty much denied for a full year? Friends and family and food. The mental challenge for me isn't worrying if I might die or if I'll lose some hair or whatnot, believe it or not. It's just getting myself okay with the fact that this is a type of (completely necessary, albeit) culinary and social house arrest. In practical terms, it's very difficult to fathom that I simply won't see my friends for a year, no one can visit my house for a year, and that I can't eat in a restaurant or order takeout for a year. And yet, when I write it out in words, it sounds so petty and stupid to be all "No social life! No moo shu pork!" And yet YET, it still bites on a daily, consistent basis.

So boo hoo poor me. ;)

Really what I'm bellyaching about is the fact that I now think I'm a bore. Perhaps I always have been, but boy the realization that you have nothing to say, nothing new to add, and absolutely no prospects for getting any new stuff soon is a frigid bucket of ice down the conversational pants.

That said, I'm doing okay. You know, eating well. Building my strength now before....

The Dem Debate

It starts in a few minutes, and I'm really looking forward to it. First, who can resist a Kucinich-Gravel Leftie DoubleTeam? Second, Obama has the most to lose and the most to gain, so seeing how he overcomes his self-described discomfort in debates will be good TV. Third, as everyone and their mother is saying, it will be interesting to see how many times the name GWBush is invoked tonight. I'm hoping for an evening of proactive proposals for what each candidate stands for and will do as President, rather than a rehashing of The Crimes of George W. Bush, which are already well-documented in better formats.

Will Joe Biden say anything to make voters think he's a viable presidential candidate, or will they continue their habit of saying, "he's very good in a debate; I didn't know he was running and I don't see him winning." Same with Chris Dodd. Witty and quick on the feet perhaps, but really in the running for POTUS? I'm thinking not. But maybe tonight will be his watershed moment. Big questions on Edwards. His campaign seems stalled; can he break out of the pack tonight and show he can shine on the dais with Clinton and Obama?

Six minutes to go and we'll have our answers.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Catching Up On My Reading

Foreign Affairs? Washington Post? WSJ?

Nope. The important ones.

Oprah, Rolling Stone, People and Esquire.

Some thoughts:

1. Is it wrong to not get the "icon" that is Diane Keaton? She's in an ad in Oprah, and I just don't get her current or past appeal. What am I missing? About 47 Woody Allen movies? Or the recent 9 where she is A Woman Of A Certain Age With Kooky Kids and a Young Lover? I just don't get it. She seems to wear the same clothes in which she was frequently photographed with Warren Beatty during the Ford and Carter presidencies. She seems to be addicted to wearing men's hats and scarves. Somebody help me out here.

2. Jeremy "The Pivert" Piven in Esquire. Awesome or completely awesome? Or am I just loving the duality that is Ari Gold in Entourage and personalizing it to Piven? I'd have read more of the Esquire issue, but there were three cologne-attached pages making me gag, so I sacrificed for the delicious Piven. No one else.

3. The three year-old kidnapped from a hotel in Portugal while her parents were out to dinner. Extremely judgmental/blaming the victim to wonder who leaves their 3 and 2 year-olds alone in a hotel room while going to dinner, even if they do check on them every half-hour? Am I an overanxious parent to think that toddlers should not be left alone in hotels, unless they are auditioning for a reality TV show or JonBenet pageant, in which case I have to think that's completely okay?

4. Johnny Depp and Keith Richards (who plays his father in the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie) in this month's Rolling Stone. How many ways can the author find to make Johnny Depp say Richards is a rock god, and how many ways can he make them compare moviemaking, rock music, the entertainment industry and the Rolling Stones themselves to pirates? Hack writing. Excruciating interviewing. I'm surprised Richards didn't tell the writer to F Off after the fifth " getting back to pirate analogies...."

5. And in my final love-hate with Oprah. An article breathlessly listed on the cover as, "The 4 Love Types. Which are you? Which is he? Don't say another word to him until you take our quiz." I'm sorry; I didn't realize I was reading Seventeen Magazine in which tween girls try to figure out if they are more compatible with Zac Efron from High School Musical or Drake from Josh and Drake. I remember these quizzes well. I was variously perfectly matched with Scott Baio of Joanie Loves Chachi, Michael Bivens from New Edition, and C. Thomas Howell of The Outsiders. When I was 12. I also wondered at the time, in my pre-pubescent naivete, why they didn't do quizzes to tell you who your best girl friend would be. I was always hoping for Kristy McNichol, my childhood girlcrush, but no quizzes ever existed to prove that she and I'd have a great time playing kickball together. Heartbreak. And to this day I am heartbroken that I was never the same "Love Type" as John Taylor from Duran Duran. Thanks for bringing back the pain, Oprah.

Public Health Fears UnMasked

You know what really burns my ass about the Atlanta lawyer who flew knowing he had wildly drug-resistant TB? The reaction of the average person to someone in a mask.

Yeah. International public health nightmare. Domestic quarantine and national security policy. It all boils down to ME. :)

I already hate that when I wear a mask out in public that people react as if *I* am the person who is infectious, rather than the one trying to protect myself from THEM. I'm always given a wide berth, especially by parents of other kids when I'm at the park with Bambina. I'm obviously used to it now, months later. But I still hate the implication that the mask represents a danger to others, rather than the other way around.

Thank you Andrew Speaker, you selfish a**wipe. I know he says the doctors didn't say overtly and seriously "you must not travel," but come ON. I got my counts one day in Baltimore and asked my doctor what this meant for my travel plans to my friend's baby shower. He said, "I wouldn't recommend that you get on a plane." Now, did that seem more clear to me than to Mr. Speaker because the person whose health was at risk was mine rather than numerous, faceless others? What part of a world-renowned doctor saying, "I wouldn't recommend you getting on a plane" doesn't make you cancel your flight? Did he need to say, "you will be arrested and quarantined if you get on a plane" to make the point? Speaker was selfish, pure and simple. He's not a stupid man. He's a personal injury lawyer, for heaven's sake. One wonders what his position on his flight of fancy would be were one of his clients to have sat next to him?

On a larger note, one wonders if he'd have made it as far as he did if he hadn't been young, professional and white. You know, "clean" and healthy-looking. If he'd been a dock worker or a janitor, or Black or Latino or Arab, anyone wondering how this story would have gone?

Regardless, I shake my fist at you, Andrew Speaker, for impugning the good work of the N95 mask. I'm sending you the bill for the "NonToxic" T-shirt I'm gonna have to make for myself for the park...