Friday, November 30, 2007

What The Scots Can Do With $250K

That--and 6 months--is what it took for my peeps back in Albion to develop the following:

GLASGOW, Scotland, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Scotland has replaced its airport signs proclaiming the country to be "the best small country in the world" with a new slogan: "Welcome to Scotland."
The new slogan, which was revealed Tuesday after six months of development and $250,000 spent on the project, is also printed on the posters in Gaelic as "Failte gu Alba," The Times of London reported Wednesday.

Folks, one can only imagine what we'd have created with a million dollars and a full year.

Stump the Chump

Okay, can anyone help me solve this math puzzle? I keep thinking I've got the answer only to get shut down. And, as your math teacher always said, "show your work." I want to know where I'm going wrong.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Half Way There!

Today, Thursday, is my Official Six Months Post-Transplant Day. Where DOES the time go, darlings?! To treat myself I've got two choices: I can either go hang out with 10 friends and their sick kids, eat supermarket sushi, have some of those free samples in the bakery aisle, and use the public lavatory.


I can do what I've been doing for the past umpteen days: sitting my bunda at home and avoiding germs.

I think I'll go with the latter. It's just good sense, no?

Especially since, as last week's post indicated, being half way there doesn't mean my immune system is "half way better" or "50% improved." When I caught a cold last week and managed to fight it off pretty quickly I asked if maybe my immunity was coming back. The NP said kindly, "It could be." Then put her work hat back on and said, "But I doubt it. You're on a lot of powerful medicines designed to help suppress viruses. Without them you'd be in a lot of trouble even from a cold." E gets shut down by reality!

Regardless of my continuing house arrest, which is made more bearable by walks when not too cold and newly-arrived workout videos that are literally kicking my tuchis, I'm still and always glad to be here. It has been an amazing journey. Not one I'd ever have asked for, not one I wanted in my wildest nightmares to embark upon. But amazing nonetheless.

I've learned that sometimes the only way out is through. That friends are God's gift to us for good times but most especially for bad. That your children give you gray hair, they ensure you never sleep a full, restful night again, they blow open a hole in your heart that can only be filled by their good health and happiness, they take years off your life. But they also save your life too. On bad days when I was so sick and thinking guiltily to myself, "This would be so much easier if I didn't have to worry about a kid," that was really me admitting that the stakes were too high to give up without a bench-clearing brawl of a fight. It sure would have been easier to not feel the desperate, overwhelming urge to get better and stronger if Bambina hadn't been around. Knowing that she needed me to not only feel better but act like I was better, talk like I was better, and make HER know I was getting better was a massive and profound daily kick in the pants to get over myself.

Which brings me to the other thing I've learned: No amount of positive thinking will make bone marrow grow. It will not cure cancer. It will not heal a spinal cord. It will not, in and of itself, save you from a damn thing. But it will make the journey easier, more bearable, more hopeful, and sometimes more successful. I decided that this could be either the worst year of my life (plenty of reasons to think so) or the best prelude to a second chance at life that anyone has ever been lucky enough to capture. I've always kind of subscribed to the theory that you should never have a sh*t time when you can just as easily (or perhaps with just a wee bit of effort) have a smashing time. Chemo, fevers and this ongoing daily slog of a recovery put that theory to the test, but I'm pleased to say that 10 out of 10 stem-cell-recipients-named-E-who-write-a-blog-with-the-word-Haggis-in-it find it to be a theory worth supporting.

Just my 2 cents on Day 183.

God Approves of Oral?!

A tongue-in-cheek but nonetheless incisive post about the drama at Oral Roberts University, over at Popehat.
And speaking of God, be sure to read Ken's next post down about Bible verses. Good times, good times.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Brown People Are Coming! The Brown People Are Coming!

Resident Asshat Pat Buchanan was on Hannity and Colmes to discuss his new book wherein he writes, "How is America committing suicide? Every way a nation can. The American majority is not reproducing itself. Its birthrate has been below replacement level for decades. Forty-five million of its young have been destroyed in the womb since Roe v. Wade, as Asian, African, and Latin American children come to inherit the estate the lost generation of American children never got to see."

Angry Asian Man says it best: "Ah, I see. So us Asian, African, and Latin American children don't really count as true American children. In fact, all we're here doing in the United States is taking the so-called inheritance of aborted American babies. "American" meaning white, I suppose..."

This man is such a racist a**hole I don't even know where to start. I mean, wasn't it Archie Bunker who used to say, "Blacks, Jews, Mexicans...and then there's your regular Americans" meaning "whites"? How can Pat Buchanan have any credibility whatsoever when he's espousing Archie Bunkerisms 30 years later?!

Media Matters has a whole piece on it. My favorite part is this from the H&C show where he's asked if he really really really thinks the fabric of America is being rended by immigration:

BUCHANAN: It is. It is. But take a look at the unity we had, say, in the 1950s and early 1960s. What have we gone through? You had a culture war that's divided us completely on matters of morality. You've got a wholesale invasion, the greatest invasion in human history, coming across your southern border, changing the composition and character of your country. You've got the melting pot that once welded us all together, which has broken down. All of these things are happening, Sean, and, frankly, I don't think we got the kind of solid, firm, strong national leadership you need to deal with this crisis.

Okay. Let's take this rhetoric piece by piece:
The "unity" of the 50's and 60's???!!! You mean back with Ozzie and Harriet when black people couldn't eat in your restaurant or vote? Or when it was perfectly acceptable to use words like "chink"? You know, that kind of "unity"? When people knew what a "joke" was?

A "culture war." Started by whom, Mr. Buchanan? Or have you forgotten your tirade in 1992 at the GOP convention that most people credit with finishing George Bush Sr's re-election chances? The only war being waged here is in your own diseased mind, Pat, where straight, white and Christian = American. Anything else is not.

"The greatest invasion in human history"? That would be Mexicans and Latin Americans immigrating to the US? How about the Europeans immigrating to the Americas--you know, the Pilgrims, Jamestown, etc? How about the 3 MILLION Russians, Poles and Germans who left for parts elsewhere during the Russian Civil War? Are you REALLY saying that the greatest, largest, most profound "invasion" in HUMAN HISTORY involves Mexicans coming to the US in the year 2007? And, while we're discussing it, why the pejorative "invasion" reference? Mice and roaches invade and infest your house. Nazi Germany invaded Poland. The US invaded Iraq. Are people immigrating here (the majority of whom are doing it legally, by the way) really to be painted with the broad brush of "invasion"?

"Melting pot...has broken down." It hasn't broken down, Pat. It's just less white. Which is what seems to be your issue. I can't imagine we'd have all this harrumphing from you if a million Irish Catholics and Scottish Protestants were streaming across our borders, bagpipes blaring to the tune of "We're Illegal and We Don't Care." Not unless those bagpipers happened to be brown.

Which gets us back to Angry Asian Man's point. Perhaps the most offensive aspect of Buchanan's tirade is his implicit assertion that children of Asian, Latin American and African descent are not actually American. I have friends of various ethnicities, born and raised in, like, New Jersey who are constantly asked where they're from. They answer, "New Jersey" and get asked, "No, I mean where are you originally from?" And they answer, "New Jersey," only to be met with a confused stare as if we don't grow 'em brown in America. People like Pat Buchanan contribute to that mindset, that someone of a different race must be foreign. Or as my Dad used to say while living in San Antonio, home to thousands of 8th generation Americans of Mexican descent, "I'm the most recent immigrant in town!"

In any case, I wish I could characterize Pat Buchanan's latest outburst as nothing more than the desperate ramblings of a sad act flailing against the inexorable tide of progress and posterity, but I can't. Not as long as there are people who will listen to this xenovomit and wonder if they aren't really, after all, in need of some "lebensraum."

Smells Like McCarthy

That's a link to a recap of the GOP's "loyalty oaths." Apparently VA Republicans will now have to sign one to vote in the primary in that state. And the state GOP in Kansas has formed a Loyalty Committee to ensure no one contributes to or endorses any Democrats for any office.

What next? Waterboarding for 'Pubs claiming to be "Independent"?

Rep. Coburn Scr*ws GINA

Unfortunately, this is not THAT kind of post. But it does still discuss a pr*ck from Oklahoma.

GINA is the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act which has broad support in the House and Senate as well as from the White House. So why hasn't it been acted upon? Because Rep. Coburn from Oklahoma, he who touts his physician credentials widely, has placed a hold on it so it can be revised to include employer protections.

This bill is a no-brainer. It keeps your genetic information private and prevents employers and insurance companies from denying you jobs, coverage, etc because you might have, for example, the gene for breast or prostate cancer or alzheimers. For those of you who think you should pay lower premiums than someone with certain genetic predispositions or that employers should be able to decide whether to hire and cover you, Bernadine Healy has this to say in her article on GINA: "Genomic research has shown us that we all carry around dozens of glitches in our DNA. There are no perfect specimens." Care to let your Human Resources office in on those glitches? Me neither.

Now all we have to do is motivate "Dr." Coburn to do right by patients, by his constituents, and by the constituents of those GINA-supporting MOCs waiting for him to drop the power trip already. Maybe we can find a way to have Rep. Coburn's genome mapped and then ask him to step down in advance of his {insert disease here]'s onset. I'm sure he won't mind his EMPLOYER--you know, the American People, knowing what the Coburn clan has hiding in the family tree.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Racist Diversity Video

This story was so entertaining for me that I had to double check to make sure it wasn't in The Onion. A white man in Denver is considering suing because the city's diversity video is racist against whites. "The video titled, 'Laughing Matters -- Think About It,' features a white, blue-collar worker named Billy who's portrayed as racist, sexist, and clueless while illustrating inappropriate humor. 'Diversity, to me, doesn't mean hammer the white guy,' said Dennis Supple, a heating, ventilation and air conditioning mechanic who said he's considering filing a lawsuit. 'Diversity means you have respect for everyone, regardless of their race, their gender, their religion, their sexual orientation.'" Fair enough.

But that's not necessarily the funny part, even though it does make a good blog title. The best part is the video itself. I swear I kept checking for Dave Chappelle or Will Ferrell to pop up. Enjoy.

Law Enforcement ESP

Today's Globe has the 911 details of a recent incident where police shot a man holding a gun. Turns out the gun was an air gun. However, the gun was a replica of a semiautomatic handgun. "The company that supplies the pellet gun, Cobra Airguns, advertises the weapon on its website as 'authentic in all respects right down to the last detail.'"

Of course people are now asking if the police could have subdued the man without shooting him. So let's follow the chronology:

Man's wife calls police to say he's completely out of his mind, kicking in the door, etc. She thinks he has a pellet gun in his hand and she's concerned the police will shoot him.

Neighbors call 911 with reports of an uncontrolled man waving a gun at them, pointing a gun at them, pulling one person out of a car while brandishing a gun, and acting unhinged.

"An officer heading to the scene then contacted a dispatcher at headquarters, according to a police transcript. 'Are we sure it's a pellet gun, sir?' the officer asks. 'We're not positive it is,' the dispatcher responds...Superintendent Daniel Linskey said that police are trained to use lethal force when confronting a suspect wielding what they believe is a firearm. 'If someone has a weapon, [officers] are trained to ensure their safety and the safety of the public until that weapon can no longer be utilized against them,' he said. 'We can't determine what kind of weapon someone has until we have a trained ballistician there to tell us what we have.'"

Maybe I'm biased because I like the idea of my brother making it home at night for dinner with his family, but I'm with the po-po on this one. The police cannot be mind readers; they can't know that they are looking at a replica of a gun; all they know is that a very unstable man is pointing a weapon in their--and the public's--direction. Is it tragic that a man not holding a lethal weapon was killed? Absolutely. But was it wrong for the officers to ensure the safety of the public and themselves using the best information they had at the time which was "his wife thinks it's a pellet gun but it looks like a semiautomatic"? IMHO, not at all.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wonk Wall Art

Here's a link to a very cool site that offers posters of "information graphics." The music one (a reproduction of an original) is particularly cool to peruse, as is the one on political parties. I love dorky info stuff like this on my walls. You might too. At the very least, taking an hour to keep hitting "zoom" on each image on the site will nicely push back your Monday morning workday.


Morality Modality

Here's a link to 5 questions that rate your "morality." Be sure to click the link in the first paragraph to read the article that accompanies the quiz; it's a rather interesting piece on the study of what makes us moral, the difference between moral codes and moral behaviors, and the anthropological underpinnings of our morality.


The questions on the quiz are the usual "would you kill a crying baby to save ten people?" type. It would be interesting to see whether a person's morality changes as their life circumstances change. I answered "yes" back in college to smothering the baby. Tonight, now that I'm a mother, the notion of harming anyone's baby to save my own life feels absolutely monstrous--to the extent that I'm ashamed to admit ever having answered that dilemma in the affirmative. Whether that makes me more moral, I'm not sure from the perspective of my 9 other hypothetical at-risk compatriots, but it sure does make me more empathetic from a maternal perspective.

Which may prove the author's point that "The deepest foundation on which morality is built is the phenomenon of empathy, the understanding that what hurts me would feel the same way to you...[that] what does, or ought to, separate us [from animals] then is our highly developed sense of morality, a primal understanding of good and bad, of right and wrong, of what it means to suffer not only our own pain—something anything with a rudimentary nervous system can do—but also the pain of others. That quality is the distilled essence of what it means to be human."

Which raises the issue of how to impart empathy to humans, and whether it's even possible even if we knew how. Nancy Eisenberg has written extensively on teaching, or perhaps cultivating, empathy and "prosocial behaviors" in kids. It's pretty interesting stuff, in terms of how to raise kids with a moral center; how to nurture the seed of empathy that is present in all children. Equally interesting is the body of work by Lawrence Kohlberg, which includes his three levels of moral development. Thank you,

The levels feel like they should be age-related, but nota bene that we all know adults stuck in the pre-conventional "what's in it for me? How do I avoid punishment?" stage quite familiar to parents of small children and adolescents.

Anyway, the article is a quickie read, it's a quickie quiz, and it's a neat jumping-off point for really examining where you feel like you're sitting in the moral landscape.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wanted: Presidential Candidate; Must Have Experience

Michael Kinsley has a lot to say about "experience" in the race for President, about the difference between clock-punching, pillow talk, and personal life experience. He gets at what I've been trying to say for a while now.


Rudd On Top Down Under

John Howard, Australian Prime Minister for 11 years and strong ally of George Bush, was defeated last night in his re-election bid by Labor's Kevin Rudd. Rudd has promised to sign the Kyoto Protocol and to pull Australia's troops out of Iraq.

Let's hope we here in the US can find the will (and oh lord, the candidate) to ensure our current ruling conservatives will also be hitting the road come November 08.

Goodbye, Mr. Howard!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Holiday Shopping Kickoff

Since today is officially the kickoff of Christmas/holiday shopping, it seems like the appropriate time to highlight a few organizations that would benefit from being placed on your gift-giving list. As we did the last two years, we're picking a nonprofit (or two) and donating the value of one night of Chanukah gifts for Bambina. Last year was DC Central Kitchen (which feeds and trains homeless individuals in food service) and Food & Friends (which provides meals to people with chronic illnesses such as AIDS or cancer). We do this because we want her to maintain perspective in life, to know that she can always do something to better the community and the world, and that--god forbid!--she can live without a gift or two to make it happen. As she gets older she will play a more direct role in picking the charity. This year, obviously, it's gotta be
Dana Farber's bone marrow transplant research program

Here are some others you may wish to consider for your year-end (tax-deductible!) giving:

The World Jewish Watch Backpack Project

This project provides a backpack of school and personal supplies to Darfurian kids in a refugee camp in Chad run by the IRC. It allows them to continue their schooling while displaced. I don't know how to save Darfur and often feel like cursing the darkness as a result, but perhaps provisioning one child for his or her education may light the proverbial small candle.

Bright Horizons Foundation

BHF creates Bright Spaces for kids at homeless and crisis shelters. These playrooms offer kids in crisis the chance to just be kids.

Half The Sky

HTS is an amazing organization that works to better the lives and futures of children in Chinese orphanages who are not adopted. Its work includes building facilities, training caregivers, improving child nutrition, and most importantly, recording each child's achievements and milestones in a "memory book" for them to take with them throughout life--a personal history for a child who would otherwise lack one.

There are many thousands of charities out there to fit any interest your family may have. And because I've been a hardworking fundraiser myself for some great organizations, I'm sending you to
Top Ten Lists of biggest hoarders, most in the red, highly rated, etc. Type in a name or a keyword such as "sailing" or "liver", it'll give you a list of relevant orgs and tell you how they spend their (YOUR) money. By all means identify one, research it, and support it in lieu of buying a couple of gifts. Whether or not you believe in Santa, it's still important to "be good for goodness' sake."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Photos

Our Thanksgiving Tree, where we write what we're thankful for on "leaves" and tape them to the tree. A little out of focus because not everyone we love wants to have their name on a blog...

Unseasonably Warm Weather on Thanksgiving; nice enough for a scooter ride and a cross-country walk

Made more freaky by the weather yesterday, when Bambina and I blew bubbles on the snow


Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

It's been a rough week healthwise, but never so bad that I forget I'm standing on the shoulders of giants; that I am among the luckiest of the lucky ducks in the universe.

We're having a simple 3-person Thanksgiving dinner, but one nonetheless replete with gratitude and joy for, quite simply, the fact that I am here to eat it. Dayenu.

"Dayenu" is a Hebrew word meaning, "It would have been enough," taken from the Passover Seder. It's a means of expressing gratitude for all the little miracles that have to come together for the end result (the thing we usually say we're thankful for) to occur. It makes you stop and say thanks for all the little things that matter.

So in that regard, let me say Thank You:

For a stranger who agreed to give her stem cells to another stranger. Dayenu.

For doctors who have made it their lives' work to find cures for diseases. Dayenu.

For family and friends who love and support and care for me. Dayenu.

For parents who made me who I am; my mother who gives me love and support, and my father whose presence from beyond continues to light my path--especially when the way seems darkest. Dayenu.

Finally, for the two people who make my life worth living, in sickness or in health. Dayenu.

May you all have a truly blessed Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Political Round-Up

Here's today's political round-up, my favorite feature of

I especially like Obama's response to HRC's statement that she is the only candidate with the experience to fix the economy: “My understanding is she wasn’t Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration. I don’t know exactly what experience she’s claiming.”


Register to Vote

I've added a link to the right that will lead you directly to an online form that will help register you to vote. You will have to print and mail it in to the address provided for your state. As a new Masshole who isn't able to go to the DMV these days, this form is a lifesaver. If you've recently moved or have just never registered before, hie thee to this link anon. And kudos to the Obama website for having this link easily available.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mark Those Calendars

The Commission on Presidential Debates is headed up by the really lovely Hot Older Man, Frank Fahrenkopf, and was created by both parties when the League of Women Voters refused in 1988 to sponsor any more debates. They pulled out because "the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter. It has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public." Therefore, such as it is, the CPD has set the dates for the 2008 matchups:

First presidential debate:
Friday, September 26
University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS

Vice presidential debate:
Thursday, October 2
Washington University in St. Louis, MO

Second presidential debate:
Tuesday, October 7
Belmont University, Nashville, TN

Third presidential debate:
Wednesday, October 15
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

Some changes to the formats include the 1st and 3rd being divided into 8 ten-minute issue segments; "the moderator will introduce each segment with an issue on which each candidate will comment, after which the moderator will facilitate further discussion of the issue, including direct exchange between the candidates, for the balance of that segment. Time will be reserved for closing statements by each of the candidates in each debate."

Any bets on whether the moderators, yet to selected, will include any pompous and self-aggrandizing broadcast "journalists"? Any who'll favor one candidate over the other? Any who'll ask tough questions like "Diamonds or pearls?" Any candidates who'll be allowed to go over their time consistently? Unfortunately, as much as I do indeed adore Frank, I still really long for the days when the League of Women Voters would have shut Russert's sh*t down promptly.

You can read the full text

I'm Such A Nice Person, Part 344

My man Ken over at Popehat got me interested in the NYT adoption blog,

I've been reading it for a while and feel a bit perplexed, to be honest. Or maybe more like "depressed" due to the commentary after the articles. A good number of the comments just remind me in a rather unpleasant fashion how far we have to go in terms of helping the non-adoptive community to understand adoption. For me, one of the most unbearable aspects of public comments toward me and my kid involve the "she's so lucky," "you're so nice," "God bless you for taking a child no one else wanted" kind of insults. And that is just what they are: insults. And the comments on the blog were full of them, from clearly well-meaning people. Let's take them one by one and see if we can't educate our well-meaning friends:

My kid is lucky only in the same way YOUR kid is lucky, that maybe she got some decent parents who love her. ANY kid, biological or adopted, is lucky in that regard. At the same time, the blithe "luck" comment displays a complete lack of understanding that children adopted, especially from other cultures, have experienced a loss. A loss that will have to be affirmed and honored and worked through as they grow up and build their identities as adults.

I'm nice because I wanted to be a mom? Are you nice because you had sex, got pregnant, and had a baby? Is that the standard for being nice now? Becoming a mother? No. What they are saying is that they see adoption as charity, as my good deed for a lifetime, my kid as a beneficiary of merciful charity rather than just being my kid.

God bless/No one wanted:
First, God *already* blessed me--and you're looking at that blessing in her funky preschool outfit. Second, she was very much wanted, certainly by us--and no doubt by her biological parents too. The assumption that a child placed for adoption is "not wanted" is one of the most cruel canards in everyday discourse. Believe me, I went to high school with several biological kids whose parents seemed not to have wanted them. Being placed for adoption is not comparable to saying that your parents didn't want you. Can we all just stop this one in its tracks right now? Can you all promise me that you will stop anyone mid-sentence if they say anything in this regard? Among all the crap that people say to adoptees and their parents, this one is the most cruel. And people think nothing of saying it right in front of a 3 year-old as if they're telling me the sky is blue.

My child is not--and never has been--an unwanted charity case. Which is why I'm going to add in a bonus insult here, which is the "there are so many needy kids right here in America, so why would you have gone abroad?" question. Wow. You seem very concerned about the plight of kids in the US foster care system. How many have you yourself adopted? The question once again speaks to the "charitable" view of adoption, as if those who have biological kids are squared away, and anyone else who doesn't or can't go the biological route needs to be doing some public service on behalf of all the needy children in America. Adoptive parents just want to have a family. That's it. We're not nice because we do, just as you are not nice because you do. Yes, there are people who are in a place and have resources to assist kids. For most adoptive parents, that is not the motivation in the least. So to ding someone who adopted from wherever because it doesn't meet your criteria for what adoption means to you ("second best to biological; 'troubled' kids that 'no one wants' should go to those poor defectives who have no choice but to adopt") is not only breathtakingly intrusive but wildly wrong-headed as well.

I hesitate to add that sometimes adoptive parents can be our own worst enemies in this regard. One of the blog's articles, written by Jeff Gammage, discusses finding the man who found his daughter. It is truly a touching story of helping to identify small threads of his daughter's earliest days. But I felt so uncomfortable reading it, like it somehow wasn't my business to be party to this very personal narrative. I know I've yammered on about this point before and that not every adoptive parent shares my opinion. But I just feel like a child whose earliest information is murky should get the choice of what and how much to tell about that. My opinion comes from a desire to give my daughter privacy and control. Not for the moment but for her future. On the one hand, why does it matter what people know? It's not like where or how or when she was found says anything about her as a person. But as long as curious people seem to feel like it's relevant (as evidenced by the fact that it's generally one of the top three questions people ask, as if being found in a park or in a market or on a bus or wherever offers any information about the person my child is rather than simply the results of adult decisions made beyond her control), I'm going to let Bambina decide for herself.

Who knows? Maybe Bambina will turn 16 and wonder why I so assiduously kept her personal details to myself, like what's the big deal if people know where and when I was found and anything else to do with that day? If so, fantastic. But at least she will know that we thought about it, that we made a commitment, and that we resolved to give control of her story to HER where it belongs.

As an editorial note, notwithstanding my posts on this topic, I genuinely do not spend my waking hours agonizing over being an adoptive parent or worrying about Bambina in that regard. She's just my kid and we're just a family doing what families do on a daily basis. But to NEVER think about or to minimize it (as some of the parental comments on the NYT blog indicate) is a complete abdication of parental responsibility. I want her to know in no uncertain terms that I honor her birth, her birthmother and father, and her very unique circumstances when compared with most of her friends. I want her to know that we worked to find that balance--and it is a balance--between knowing that she is Just Our Kid Just Like Any Other Kid while giving her the freedom to feel anything she may feel in the future, from loss to anger to sadness, should that be the case. Being adopted is not WHO Bambina is, but it's a part of who she is that I don't want to ignore or pretend does not exist even as we go about our daily life, often for weeks on end, (believe it or not) without thinking about the fact that we adopted her rather than birthed her.

In short, I guess I want Bambina and her upcoming little sister to know, when told they are lucky, that we're so nice, that they should be grateful, that they don't have a real mother or father, that they were unwanted:

A) That we are all lucky to have found each other in this universe, but we know not without an emotional and psychic price

B) That the "nice" question they can answer for themselves, with no regard for how we became their parents

C) That "gratitude" hasn't been in our family dictionary for generations..until the grown-up kids have kids of their own and then write it in the margins

D) That they have "real" parents. Four of them. Two who gave them life, and two who love and care for them as they go through that life. That they can talk about their birthparents, ask about them, wonder about them, want to search for them, or not care to do so in the least. We're all real and we're all one family, whether known or unknown.

E) That they were indeed wanted. That placing a baby in a public place to be found quickly is not "abandonment." It's the last, best hope of a loving mother for her child. And "F You" to anyone who has the temerity to say different.

So, as a personal favor to me, if you would all be my emissaries, my child's emissaries, and the emissaries of all children who come to families via avenues other than biological birth: don't let any of the above statements stand unchallenged. Gently offer the alternative, remind them that keeping private family information does not always mean that the information is shameful; it's just simply not your business. And finally, remind them that they are talking about actual children; not philosophical, theoretical, hypothetical constructs but actual children. Help them refocus the emphasis right where it belongs: on letting kids be kids, regardless of their family's journey.

Thanks for being so nice!

Friday, November 16, 2007


Or, as Dana Farber calls it, "nasal wash."

After my big 6 month blog post about infection control, guess what?! I have a chest cold. So I called my doctor yesterday, who told me to come in for a chest x-ray and a nasal wash. Sounds simple enough, right? Oh dear. A nasal wash involves spraying saline down into your nose while you lie down, neck open like you would be positioned for CPR. Then they suck it out, put it in a vial and see if anything viral grows over the next 24 hours. I cannot tell you how uncomfortable it is to have liquid forcibly injected into your breathing apparatus even for a very short time, even when you know that they are immediately going to suck it back out and that you are indeed going to breathe again. I cannot tell you how uncomfortable it is when they say, "Oh, we didn't get enough; we'll need to do it again." It is really really not a pleasant feeling, and the weird "water should not have been in there" feeling stays with you for the rest of the day.

We're still waiting for the results. In the meantime it made me ponder waterboarding. Yes, I AM so self-involved as to speak of a minor medical procedure and torture in the same sentence. But that's the point, isn't it? That safe and minor procedure was so uncomfortable and so icky in that not-as-God-or-nature-intended kind of way (and remember that I am, at this point, a woman of extremely high pain threshold) that it absolutely confirmed in my mind that waterboarding cannot be considered anything but torture, both physical and mental. And don't tell me that waterboarding is really just an assertive interview technique called "simulated drowning." Friends, if someone poured water down your cakehole, wouldn't you call that ACTUAL attempted drowning? Simulated, my a**.

IMHO, people have the luxury of calling something "not torture" only when they have not undergone it. My recommendation for anyone who wonders if waterboarding is torture, is to just get a little nasal wash. Seriously. Just a little, safe, no-big-deal, routine procedure that involves a few cc's of liquid in your respiratory system. That is all it will take to demonstrate that one drop more liquid and one less caring physician would make that the worst experience of your life.

We've Never Met a Cliff We Didn't Like

Democrats, I mean.

I'm having agita over the debate last night, and the way that HRC was treated as the frontrunner. Yeah, yeah, "polls show" that she is. But I don't buy it. I think she's the frontrunner because we are being told that she is, much the same way that Julia Roberts became "America's Pretty Woman" and Michael Jackson was the "King of Pop" because that's what the announcer said before introducing them on talk shows.

If HRC gets the nomination we can kiss the White House goodbye. And we'll deserve to. Yes, I'm an Obama supporter so I come from a certain POV. But think about it: Hillary Clinton has huge negatives. The key to winning any presidential race is to bring the undecideds and the independents out to the polls for your candidate. You cannot win without them. As my darling pollster friend told me: the people who will vote for HRC have already decided. Her numbers are pretty much always the same because people already know how they feel about her. There is zero expectation that a rush of independents and undecideds will suddenly sweep Clinton into office; she is seen as a known quantity, either for good or for bad. There is nowhere for her to go.

And national polls are useless. So what if she's running close to Giuliani in national polls. They are meaningless because we haven't had a single primary yet and the remaining candidates haven't come into focus yet. And the election isn't for another year. And how can she be ahead in all these polls when, anecdotally, I can't identify a single person in my social universe who is voting for her. And we're liberals living in Massachusetts!

All I'm saying is that HRC's nomination will ensure four more years of the Repugs. And it will, to me, signify the death of the Democratic Party in that we couldn't even win when faced with potentially the worst presidential record in modern history.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gentle Reminder Indeed

November 28th will be the official Half-Way Day in my ongoing stem cell transplant saga.

In some ways it seems so soon. In others, I'm stunned I haven't pulled my hair out from cabin fever. To mark the occasion the good people at the National Marrow Donor Registry have sent me my 6 month newsletter full of "gentle" reminders. The most compelling one for me is this:

You may be feeling much better at this point and beginning to resume some daily activities. It is important to remember that your immune system remains suppressed regardless of how well you may be feeling. Do not let down your guard on infection and graft-versus-host prevention simply because you may be feeling better.

Who, me?

I'm glad the newsletter arrived because it is a sobering reminder that, my improving physical condition notwithstanding, I still have no real immune system. It said that the 6-9 month period can often be the most dangerous precisely because patients assume that "feeling better" equates with "doing better," and so start backsliding on the hygiene and infection-prevention controls we were so committed to back at Month 2. There is no doubt that between my ongoing immunosuppressive drugs, the additional immune suppression of being on the rituxan study, and the fact that we are approaching winter (= more incidence of illness), my immune system is still not at a point where it can be safely taxed by anything no matter how well I may be starting to look and feel. "Gentle" reminder, my a**!

It was also a very serious reminder about GVHD. About staying out of the sun as much as possible, putting SPF 30 on every centimeter of exposed skin, and being vigilant about looking for any changes that might indicate GVHD is on the way. I know that sun exposure can trigger GVHD, but I think I had kind of forgotten about the zero-tolerance nature of the sun prohibition. Not that I was going tanning or anything, but I may have been less than meticulous in applying sunscreen or about letting the sun hit me while riding in the car. The newsletter was a very not-gentle reminder that Sunlight Triggers GVHD. Really. Even For Me.

So that was the slap in the face part of my upcoming 6 month mark. To which I say, Keep 'Em Coming. If I may say so, I have been the model patient. I literally do everything--to the letter--that my doctor tells me to do. If he told me that running around the DFCI waiting area with pasties and a boa on would prevent GVHD, I'd be getting my kit off as we speak. The man does this for a living. And speaking of "living," I know that I am alive in November of 2007 only because of this transplant. It's weird and unpleasant to think about, but the stark reality of the matter is that I was exceedingly unwell in May 2007. There's a reason there was only a month between my initial consult and my transplant, and it ain't because Dana Farber had tons of open beds to fill. My doctor (and my donor) saved my life. So whatever he says to do, I'm doing. And this newsletter was a real smack on the forehead to stay vigilant, stay focused and to remember that half-way is just that: not out of the woods yet.

The sunshine-and-lollipops aspect of the 6 month mark is, obviously, that I'm still here (cue Barbra: "Good times and bum times, I've seen them all and my dear, I'm still here. Gold statues sometimes, sometimes a kick in the rear, but I'm here..."). I'm also more convinced than ever that "A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature." (Thank you, Ralph Waldo Emerson). When things go to sh*t, you know who your real friends are. You know them because they are sitting right there in the dung pile with you. I'm lucky to be able to say that I have lots of very stinky friends these days. I've never been more grateful, more appreciative, and more aware that life is too short to not look around and feel thankful every single day for what you have. Or, as that oracle of my generation, Ferris Bueller, once said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Just be sure you use Purell and sunscreen.

Chinese Clapping

Here's a post over at Angry Asian Man about Chris Matthews' obsession with Hillary Clinton's clapping. The reason it's on Angry is that he keeps referring to it as "Chinese" clapping. Does ANYONE have any idea what that reference means? And why Matthews is filling show time with musings on a candidate's clapping style?


Please Hammer, Don't Hurt Me

Two full days with the Bambina.

Need I say more?

Even though I slept in her bed last night with her and woke up after ELEVEN hours (a feat of rest and recuperation not previously achieved since, I kid you not, college), I'm still beat at the end of the day, such is the energy level of this particular three year-old, if not all of them.

She just does not stop, which I love and find amusing and energizing in the moment, but which leaves me tired and incapable of completing a comprehensible sentence at the relatively-early hour of 9pm. Which is why we jokingly say to her lo around 7pm when she is wired and we are hungry and tired, "Please Hammer, don't hurt me," which she finds funny even though she is mercifully uninitiated into the early 90's rap music scene.

Today we were doing arts and crafts (her preschool had one of those teacher in-service days), and we once again had really fun out-there conversations. She was coloring a picture "for God." Oh? How come? "Because he might like one." (Duh, Mama). I bet He'll love it, sweet girl! "I think so too. I'm going to invite him to my birthday. He can come to my party for cake."

She then pretended to "polish" my hair, as in coloring my hair with pretend nail polish. "What color you want, Mama? Blue, purple, green or pink?" Having learned not to answer with a color only to be told "No! Not that one!" I answered, "What color do you think I should have?" but then foolishly added, "Maybe blue?" She answered, "Not blue. That not appropriate for you. I give you pink." I spent the rest of the day wondering where she learned to speak of things in terms of what is or is not "appropriate." The BBDD says, "look in the mirror" but I disagree, and I think it was an inappropriate supposition for him to make. ;)

She then asked me again how babies come out of the mother, like how do they know where and when to go? I'd detail here what I answered, but I'll spare you the claptrap I came up with on a dime that a 3 year-old could comprehend. Something about the baby just knowing when to come and the mother helping by pushing...Memo to read up on this stuff before the next question comes....

She also has learned the word "idiot" at school and delights in saying it over and over again to see if she can replicate the raised eyebrow I gave her (I do not pretend to be anything but an amateur, folks) the first time she uttered it. Couple that with her pretending to be Barbara from the Dan Zanes Band, with the imaginary Dan Zanes wetting his bed, after which I am asked to pull off his wet pants, dry him off, get him a new pair of "big girls" (as we call her Big Girl Underwear), and put them on him--and you have all the makings of a simply fantastic scene that would have us all put in jail should a social worker ever see it. Not to mention that she told me last week two days in a row that Miss Haley (name changed) at school wipes her bum from back to front and that's why she is scratching her crotch. She demanded that someone set Miss Haley straight on proper hygiene, and since I can't set foot anywhere near the building, I promptly volunteered the BBDD to do it.

Last I heard, he thought my drafting him for such a conversation was, quite frankly, not appropriate.

Another Mama For Obama

As I have previously blogged, I've been undecided throughout this presidential campaign. Until now:

Barack Obama is my candidate for President of the United States.

I had an entire post written in my head detailing the whys and wherefores of my leap into his camp. It discussed his positions on the issues of concern for me, his life experiences, his sensible and non-sensationalist approach to finding solutions to problems, his varied and diverse upbringing which has informed his attitudes. It discussed his 100%, from-the-start opposition to the war in Iraq--back when it was the decidedly unfashionable and unpopular position to hold. It focused on his ability and potential to finally end the culture wars that have been raging--and will continue to rage unabated in a Clinton or Giuliani administration--since the 1960's. What appealed to me about Senator Obama immediately was his commitment to stop fighting old fights, old issues that get in the way of truly solving the seemingly-intractable problems facing America today. What also appealed to me was his electability. Yes, electability.

All of this I was going to write, just as soon as I took a quick gander through the latest Atlantic Monthly while in the loo (anyone with small kids knows that commode time is your only chance to read anything meatier than the Olivia The Pig book series, well-written though they may be).

All I can say is that b&*tard Andrew Sullivan beat me to a good part of it. He very capably covered some of the items in his article that my post was going to mirror in a far less well-thought out and well-written way. My opinion of Mr. Sullivan (and, admittedly some of his conclusions in this very same article) notwithstanding, I offer some of his prose to explain my own, with apologies for length:

Regarding the question of Why Obama Now--
Obama’s candidacy in this sense is a potentially transformational one. Unlike any of the other candidates, he could take America—finally—past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us. So much has happened in America in the past seven years, let alone the past 40, that we can be forgiven for focusing on the present and the immediate future. But it is only when you take several large steps back into the long past that the full logic of an Obama presidency stares directly—and uncomfortably—at you.

On the issue of Obama's race and ethnic background, which resonates for those of us with multiethnic families:
He therefore speaks to a complicated and mixed identity—not a simple and alienated one. This may hurt him among some African Americans, who may fail to identify with this fellow with an odd name. Black conservatives, like Shelby Steele, fear he is too deferential to the black establishment. Black leftists worry that he is not beholden at all. But there is no reason why African Americans cannot see the logic of Americanism that Obama also represents, a legacy that is ultimately theirs as well. To be black and white, to have belonged to a nonreligious home and a Christian church, to have attended a majority-Muslim school in Indonesia and a black church in urban Chicago, to be more than one thing and sometimes not fully anything—this is an increasingly common experience for Americans, including many racial minorities. Obama expresses such a conflicted but resilient identity before he even utters a word. And this complexity, with its internal tensions, contradictions, and moods, may increasingly be the main thing all Americans have in common.

On the issue of religion and faith, a statement that really spoke to me in that Obama was clearly stating that his religion is also intellectual for him (in contrast to the anti-intellectualism of the born-again Bush supporters), that there is a sense of trying to understand that belief even while using it to engage in what we Jews call Tikkun Olam, "repairing the world":
“What I really did was to take a set of values and ideals that were first instilled in me from my mother, who was, as I have called her in my book, the last of the secular humanists—you know, belief in kindness and empathy and discipline, responsibility—those kinds of values. And I found in the Church a vessel or a repository for those values and a way to connect those values to a larger community and a belief in God and a belief in redemption and mercy and justice … I guess the point is, it continues to be both a spiritual, but also intellectual, journey for me, this issue of faith.”

And, most importantly, when you consider foresight and judgment to be qualities you most desire in a POTUS, you need read no further than Senator Obama's speech in 2002 opposing the invasion of Iraq:

I don’t oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war … I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.

As Sullivan notes: "The man who opposed the war for the right reasons is for that reason the potential president with the most flexibility in dealing with it. Clinton is hemmed in by her past and her generation. If she pulls out too quickly, she will fall prey to the usual browbeating from the right—the same theme that has played relentlessly since 1968. If she stays in too long, the antiwar base of her own party, already suspicious of her, will pounce. The Boomer legacy imprisons her—and so it may continue to imprison us. The debate about the war in the next four years needs to be about the practical and difficult choices ahead of us—not about the symbolism or whether it’s a second Vietnam."

Regardless, notwithstanding my utterly unimpeachable foregoing recommendation of Senator Obama's candidacy, his critics will say he "lacks experience" compared with Senator Clinton, Giuliani and other rivals for the Presidency, that 2008 is not his time since he's so young.

No one who has not been President has conducted foreign policy on the scale of the POTUS, so to say that someone's lack of foreign policy experience renders them unfit to serve effectively negates all candidacies save the incumbent's. I have long since dispensed with notions of "experience" and age as a primary qualification (as if George W Bush was any more fit to serve during his second term than his first, as if being First Lady in the White House, however engaged in policy, is relevant experience, as if being a hated (pre-9/11) mayor of a large city somehow provides leadership bona fides not provided by the Senate), in favor of attitude, aptitude and judgment. Senator Obama has all three. And he therefore has my vote.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Aqua Dotty--UPDATE

I know I'm way behind commenting on this story, but better late than never, I suppose.

Re: the recall of Aqua Dots toys due to the fact that they convert into the date rape drug GBH when metabolized, creating serious illness, coma, etc in children who ingest them.

Am I the biggest, most judgmental jerk on the planet that when I read this story my first thought was, "What kind of total non-supervision is going on in your house if your kid has time to eat TWO DOZEN of these beads?! And if the toy is for kids 4+ why is your two year old eating them? For that matter, why is your 10 year old?!"

My second thought, in my defense, was, "That is an outrage that such a toy is on the market." But my first was, in all honesty, "I'd have to be all kinds of not-paying-attention for my two year old kid to eat more than twenty beads of an older kid's toy." Accidents happen, I know. Especially with little kids. And toys should NOT be made with dangerous chemical compounds or lead. I get it. But there has to be some kind of middle ground, where toy companies make sure toys are reasonably safe--and you make sure your kids don't eat them.


I'm attaching this addendum to this post because it's been on my mind all night. I have been pondering the dichotomy in that I immediately think parents whose kids eat beads must be negligent and therefore are to be scoffed at regardless of their kid's health scare, but that I simultaneously can't watch shows in which children come to harm, even for the sake of fictional drama or fundraising. Case in point: St. Jude's Hospital. They had a fundraising show on last week and I almost cried watching these parents with their desperately ill children; it was almost too much to bear. All I could do was think about my own kid and thank God out loud for her good health. I mean, chemotherapy and meds were hell for me, a grown woman. How toddlers go through it--and how their parents live through watching it--is something I pray will always be a mystery to me. And yet it didn't make me grab my credit card to call and donate. It made me need to change the channel as soon as possible, almost as if watching it is somehow inviting it. To be honest, writing this addendum even felt scary.

Which, if I really drill down to my attitude toward the aqua bead kids, is probably of a piece with that. That if I can chalk that kind of weird situation up to bad parenting and bad toy manufacturing then I'm safe because I'm a good parent and I don't buy toys like that anyway. That if I can find some way to distance myself from those parents and their unwell kids, I can pretend it's something that happens out there to others and not to me here with mine.

Perhaps that is a universal human reaction to someone else's pain. When I first announced the need for a transplant, some friends stopped calling, albeit awkwardly. After my Dad died, some people said and did weird things. Both I attribute to the discomfort of seeing the mortality in others holding up a mirror to your own. I don't judge them, because I understand that need to push away what you cannot bring yourself to embrace, even grudgingly--like death--as a fact of life.

And so I confess that urge in myself. Not about my own mortality; that I got square with long ago and I'm a better person for it. But about anything remotely touching on my child's health and well-being; I simply have to push it away and pretend it's not there.

Which often makes me sound like an a%%hole when discussing seemingly non-emotional topics.

Such as aqua dots.

Monday, November 12, 2007

What Would You Do To Prevent Terror?

Potentially one of the funniest questions that should be asked of the (male) pro-war candidates for POTUS. It's an old post, but damn is it funny:


If Russert had the cojones he pretends to have, he'd actually ask this question on Meet The Press. I would pay big money to hear him use the term "hot gay dicking." But never mind; I'm sure he'd rather mischaracterize a guest's four year-old quote rather than actually make a candidate fully elucidate his or her positions for the benefit of the viewing public.

A Mighty Heart

We watched A Mighty Heart tonight, the film about Mariane and Daniel Pearl starring Angelina Jolie. The movie centers on the 10-ish days of Daniel Pearl's kidnapping and disappearance in Pakistan, beginning one day before he and 5-months pregnant wife Mariane are to head home.

This is not a date movie, y’all. And yet it is a love story. It is a political thriller. And yet it doesn't leave the viewer with an enhanced, detailed understanding of what was going on politically. It captures the palpable love between these two people. And yet it leaves me only slightly more informed of what made Daniel Pearl so lovable.

Which is why I think it tanked at the box office. It couldn't quite figure out what it was trying to say.

Was the point to show that Pakistani officials worked very hard to find Daniel, ie that there are good and bad in every country? That tolerance in the face of tragedy is the way to act? That here was an ordinary man who loved a woman who tragically lost him? I don't know. His parents and sister back home in the US seem to be footnotes to the story. They don't even get to wax lyrical about Little Danny as a boy or whatnot, anything that would illuminate and highlight all of the wonderful things that made Daniel, Daniel.

To be fair, it is based on Mariane’s book and therefore does indeed focus on her experience trying to find Daniel. That search--and Jolie's representation of Mariane's pain--are truly searing to watch and to feel. The movie absolutely made me shiver just thinking about what I'd be like should my husband go missing. It is chilling to contemplate that kind of fear and loss, to say the least, but beyond that visceral anguish, the movie never really touches on who Daniel was as a person beyond scene clips that show he loved his wife and was funny and honest. Perhaps the book does successfully move him beyond his public status as The Wall Street Journalist Beheaded by That Sheik, but the movie does not. Which is especially unfortunate because my sense is that that was precisely what Mariane Pearl--and by extension the fantastic-in-this-role Angelina Jolie--hoped to communicate.

Workin' for the Weekend

Problem solved.

I've figured out how to keep blogging without going IVillage on you. I'm going to take weekends off. So from here on out it'll be strictly Monday--Friday which, case in point this weekend, gave me some time to actually read some news, synthesize article content, distill it down to something meaningful for me, ponder how I feel about it, then start to percolate about writing about it.

Hope that works for the 9 of you who read this!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bad TV

Via our friends at Baseball Crank, a list of the 13 worst TV shows ever green-lit. Quite timely since this fall TV season has been pretty lackluster. I'm sad to say that I watched a good number of these shows...


Loving Yourself 'In Your Fashion'

It is no secret that I heart Tim Gunn, he of Project Runway and Tim Gunn's Guide to Style. I'm reading his book, "A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style," well, because I currently possess none of the above. I have never been what anyone could consider fashionable unless I'm showing up to your wedding. Special events I can do. But my daily sense of style has always been somewhat lacking. My daily uniform in college consisted of (shriek!) jeans and a flannel shirt. And I wasn't even a fan of grunge. That's how sad that look was for me in retrospect. Although heavier than I am now, I was by no means fat; but looking at photos you would think I had a BMI of 44. Like it or not, says Tim, what you wear sends a message, the "semiology" of fashion, if you will. I think I was trying to blend in, however inauthentically, truth be told. Like it was a test: if you notice me, we can be friends. If you don't, cool; I can avoid you. My message was: "nothing to see here; move along now!"

Then I lost some weight (too much perhaps?) and started wearing Ally McBeal suits to work. Skirts that I cannot believe I ever left the house in, so much upper thigh was there to see. Yeah it was the style of the times, but good lord. I tried one on the other day and felt so embarrassed for myself that I ever walked around in that getup, however expensive the suit. I was trying to remember how I ever bent over or sat down in it. Did I just not sit for two years post-college? Perhaps my mind has mercifully blocked it out. I am still coming to terms with what my message might have been, semiotically speaking. "Do you like alabaster thighs?" God, I hope not. Maybe it was more like, "I am a woman clearly in search of an authentic sense of both style and self." Sadly, that sounds about right.

Then, immediately pre-Bambina I was all, "Fierce and funky." Short choppy hair, experimental outfits, much makeup, lots of happy hours in halter tops that did not say in any manner, "About to be a mother." They were good times to be sure, but perhaps to be filed under, "The most fun I never want to have again."

Then immediately post-Bambina I entered into what Tim calls "the slobbification of America." I didn't meet a velour hoodie suit I didn't love. Luckily I never fell far enough into the depths of ignominy to wear any that had lettering across the backside, but sweat pants outside the home, as George Costanza and Jerry said, indicate that you have "given up on life." Or, at least your OWN life.

Which brings us to today, which I call "Transplant Chic." It's working for me now since I go nowhere and see no one. But come May 2008 it's going to be replaced--at long last--by "Quality, Taste and Style." Much of the reason for my adoration of Timi Gunn is his commitment to making YOU look better. He doesn't want you to turn yourself into someone else, or some version of yourself you think people want to see. He wants you to find your authentic self, and in the process, a style that communicates that to the world. I like that his emphasis is on the former first: that you drill down to the core of what makes you, you. That you see the value in you, no matter your size or shape. He uses the examples of Leontyne Price and Audrey Hepburn as two women who look fabulous regardless of size because they dress in a manner that honors their own bodies, their own personalities and their comfort in their own skin. In essence, that true beauty and style come first from a confidence radiated outward from within, and second from attention to fit, silhouette and form of your clothing.

Perhaps I love Tim Gunn so much because, in one simple paragraph, he knocked me out of old ways of thinking and into a new appreciation for loving oneself and having the courage to dress like it (not to mention seemed to be confessing to having seen me in my closet lately):

"There is no reason to have something taking up space in your closet that does not make you feel good. These items must go. Perhaps you like to torture yourself by trying on jeans from a few years ago to see if you can button them. Clothes do not exist to humiliate their owners. Please do not force garments into performing psychological tasks for which they were not designed. Furthermore, please be kind to yourself. They don't fit. Toss 'em."

So when you actually get to see me again you are finally going to see me being authentically me, dressed to communicate what I feel already: gratitude, happiness, appreciation, life is too short to sweat the small stuff, and yet life is too short to forget that sometimes small stuff can make all the difference. It's far more important to be authentically yourself than to attempt to look like--and be--some version of something you think you should be based on other people's (or your own misguided) expectations. Or, as the divine Merce Cunningham once said: "Perfection is something you should aim for and dismiss at the same time. It robs you of a certain spirit."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Least Original Costume

By now I'm sure you've heard of the Halloween party over at homeland security? The one where a worker put on some dreadlocks, a prison outfit and "bronze" face? The one where Jennifer Myers, awaiting confirmation as director of Immigration and Customs, gave the costume a prize for "most original," took a photo with the person, and had the photos posted on the web site? The one where, after some employees complained, she subsequently called it "offensive," and had all photos of her with the person in question destroyed?

How very Bushian.

I read this story and simply want to weep for America. This is 2007 and people still exist who think dressing up as a black convict is not only inoffensive but "original." That is the effing LEAST original costume to come down the pike since "sexy Asian woman in pseudo-geisha outfit" and "'Indian' wearing war paint." Original, my ass.

I'm glad there is a hold on Myers' nomination now. Not only for her shocking lack of judgment, but the shocking lack of judgment for a person who seeks to run the agency that deals specifically with people from hundreds of ethnic and racial backgrounds. Especially when her defense is that the person wasn't wearing blackface per se, but more "bronze" face.

You would hope that any normal person in a position of authority seeing a black/bronzeface costume walking in to a party would immediate tell the person to go home, get changed, and see me in my office tomorrow AM for a chat.

Hmm...Racial and ethnic sensitivity from a Bush minion. Now THAT would be "most original."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


You'd think that with nowhere to go, no one to see, and nothing to do, that SSHaggis would be one ongoing, nonstop posting frenzy, right?

Clearly wrong.

It turns out that my days are actually pretty full, between domestic stuff that I'm now able to do, doctor's appointments in various parts of town, and Bambina home from her half-day preschool. I kidded myself at the beginning of this whole drama that maybe I'd write a book or learn Chinese with all of my "down time." Hah! Not going to happen until that down time actually materializes.

Which is why I am hating life that I don't blog more. Or, more accurately, that I can't seem to find anything that interests me to the point of wanting to dissect and discuss it online. Pakistan, the presidency, Spice Girls reunion, Heroes Season 2, the ongoing neverending Iraq War, Rock of Love with Brett Michaels: there are no shortage of things to gnaw on. I just can't seem to make myself care these days. Which is why, in addition to the daily grind of appointments etc, that I don't find myself in front of my laptop much in a position to credibly blog on something.

I keep channelling Diddy from Making the Band when he kept threatening the guys who weren't performing well, "I'm closin' it down! I'm closin' down the studio!" He said it so much that it became a joke in our house if someone wasn’t hopping-to fast enough: “Brush your teeth now—or I’m closin’ down the bathroom! I’m closin’ it down!” I guess you have to find the humor in Diddy’s ego to find it as funny as we did…

Anyhoo. My point being that I’m wondering whether I should blog once a week or put the Haggis out of its misery entirely. I realized today as I was chatting with an exceedingly out-of-luck lady in the DF waiting room how much of my blog fodder requires human contact, a feature lacking from my life at the moment. I don't visit bathroom stalls at work anymore. I don't ride airplanes and meet weirdos anymore. I don't get in cabs with psycho drivers anymore. I don't even interact with the dude at the Starbucks or the surly Target cashier anymore. All of the places from which my stupid and inane and mildly entertaining stories emerged are currently off-limits for me. Leaving you with my random links, Bambina stories, book reviews, moment-by-moment tracking of bacteria in my intestinal tract, and TV show updates. Hardly the stuff of which I dreamed when I first put finger to keyboard back in 2004 (except for the intestinal stuff, of course. That was actually Tenet #2 in my mission statement)...

But you get my point. I feel like the overall quality, consistency and timeliness of SSHaggis is just not where I flatter myself that it once was. I always said I'd "close it down!" if it became an online journal or anything resembling something you'd link to off of IVillage. I fear, at this point, that I'm dangerously close to peering into that abyss, and I'd rather listen to every song ever sung by Kathie Lee Gifford on a continuous loop than jump off that cliff into Precious Moments territory.

That said, I do have to give a shout out apology to the BBDD who told me not to write this. He said it would make me look like I was fishing for some of these:

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Green Cheese

Is anyone else laughing at NBC's Green Week? I hadn't heard of it either until last night's Heroes episode during a promo spot where poor Zachary Quinto/Sylar was forced to say, "On the TV show Heroes I am trying to destroy the world, but in real life I want to save it." You could see his eyes pleading for understanding, "Guys, I know this is as lame-ass as it gets, but it's contractual stuff. I swear I would never really say crap like this in real life. Can we blame this on the writer's strike maybe?"

It was embarrassing in the worst way, for both Quinto and NBC. The rest of the show's breaks were peppered with helpful hints like, "Instead of using a paper or plastic cup, invest in a mug and use that throughout the day." Apparently this is indeed "Green Week" where NBC/GE/massive corporation tells us how we can stop polluting and wasting and destroying. Thanks, guys!

So go ahead and click here to read about Sami and Lucas' Green Wedding from Days of Our Lives or why the cast of Chuck exhorts you to eschew incandescent lightbulbs. Or something like that.

Now, I've got to run and invest in that mug...

I can't believe you won't switch to a push lawnmower, Maya.

Birds Eye View of Defense Appropriations

Here is a link to a very cool site. It's the Sunlight Foundation's latest neato activity. You can use Google Earth to fly over all of the Defense Appropriations' earmarks. Very interesting to see where they land, and such a cool way to do it.


Almost Home

We almost have a house, darlings. Not to live in, of course; just to pay for. We need to purchase it, then have any internal work done before I can move in since I'm not allowed to breathe dust, mold, etc. So it may not become The Domicile till early '08, but at least we're on our way to ending our long-term mooching off nice people. Squatters Unite!

This cartoon from The New Yorker sums up where we are:


Monday, November 05, 2007

Taking The Weekend Off

SS Haggis was dark this weekend. And so was my bedroom. I had a monster effing migraine for the second time in a week which threw off my entire weekend blogging, Bambina-ing, baking, footballing schedule.

The assumption is that the migraines are medication side effect-related. My assumption is that they are God's punishment being visited upon me for all the times I thought people with migraines were malingerers with minor headaches. If you haven't had a migraine, DO NOT get one. Avoid them. You seriously feel like a blood vessel in your brain/forehead/eye is about to burst open--for 24 hours. No joke. 24 hours (or more, I've heard) of constant throbbing nausea-inducing pain that cannot be eased.

Although feeling like your head is the size of Peyton Manning's is indeed miserable, the worst part for me is less the headache and more the barfing. Especially if you, like I, had just eaten brisket for dinner. Take it from the old bulimic handbook: if you think vomiting is in your future, do not eat anything red and do not eat anything that will feel like a Stephen King creature breaking free of your body on the way back up. Avoid that kind of horror show if you can.

So it was a bad scene as you can imagine. Which is why I blogged not this weekend. And why I am woefully unprepared for blogging today due to catching up on business left unattended during my indisposition. So maybe another post today, but definitely more tomorrow.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


That's a link, via Dubious Quality, to video of the San Diego fires' progression. As Bill says in his post, it's absolutely remarkable stuff.

Trick or Treat!

Here are my little sunflower and I trick or treating last night. The doctor said I could do it if someone else walked her up to the door and as long as I took a mask and avoided people.

So why am I seemingly flouting doctor's orders? Because, before walking in to Gram and Pop's house and getting ready for bed, we trick or treated at the door! That's the cool thing about 3.5 year-olds. They just go along with intellectual fiction in the name of fun, unburdened by that ludicrous adult notion of "reality." Or, more accurately, unburdened by anyone's notion of reality save their own.

The highlights of the evening included Pop in a 'fro wig getting some candy from neighbors for his costume too, Bambina chastising a lady for calling her a "cute little girl" with "I'm not a little girl! I'm a big girl!" And, her announcing to another lady of a house, "My mommy can't meet you!..." I quickly yelled from my position on the street, "Hello! Happy Halloween!" to the woman before my cherub could get to the part about "...because you have germs!"

*ps--Smooches Gracias to Gram for making the awesome costume!