Monday, March 31, 2008

Ducking People

Bisous to everyone for the lovely birthday wishes yesterday. We had a great day after all. After being in my funk about yesterday, the day began with Bambina singing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes to me in English and Chinese, followed by Happy Birthday in English and then Hebrew. Call me a dork, but having my kid sing to me in three languages was the coolest wake-up (albeit really really way too early) I've had in many a year.

From there the day just got more fun. We have been reading a fun and silly book called "Marc Just Couldn't Sleep," during which his mom gives him a real live duck, a parachute, a colander helmet, and all manner of things to help him not be afraid and go to sleep. This precipitated Mama's Birthday Outing to the Boston Public Gardens where we were advised that we would be "duck hunting" for Bambina so that she too could have a real live duck in her bedroom.

So off we went on the duck hunt, gently trying to prepare Bambina for the fact that, alas, no duck would in reality be making the ride home with us. When we arrived only a few ducks were there since the pond had been drained for winter, but there were plenty of aggressive city pigeons and squirrels threatening to jump on us while we sat and ate snacks on the bench. They were so close it was like being the princess in the movie Enchanted, with all of the animated flora and fauna tweeting and twittering on her shoulders and lap. Only not like that at all. And kind of more gross and vermin-y. So the day's book morphed from Marc and the duck to Don't Let The Pigeon Eat Your Crackers!

The best part of the day was being with family. The second best part was being with family in public. Boston Common wasn't too crowded yesterday since it was still a bit chilly, so it was comparatively easy for me to be there and to just dodge people walking by by about 8 feet of width. As much as people and crowds used to bug me, I have to say that there is something singularly abnormal about being away from them for months at a time. I calculated that for the past 10 months I pretty much have seen the same eight people exclusively, and that includes medical professionals. Eight lovely and delightful and necessary people to be sure. But the situation is just not normal or ideal. There's a reason solitary confinement messes with your head; humans are meant to be here together. I didn't know any of the people at the Gardens yesterday, and surely didn't want any of them really near-near me. But I cannot tell you what a balm for the soul it was just to be among other humans, to hear them chattering, to see them walking their babies, to hear kids laughing and even to hear annoying dudes yammering on their cell phones. I felt for a brief one hour span of time that I was part of the collective human race again, and it was hard to get back in the car and leave them.

But leave them we did, mercifully 'sans canard,' and Bambina and I went on one of our adventure walks. It's basically a walk around the block with a large ziploc bag where she's allowed to pick up almost anything and bring it home. It's one of the things I tried to come up with to do outside with her instead of going to the park (where I can't go if other kids are there), and it has been a wild success. We then played in the back yard, hit some nerf baseball, then came in for cake and dinner--in that order.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Da Na Na Na Na Na, You Say It's Your Birthday

I'm 36 today. And believe me, you won't ever get me to complain about getting old. I love birthdays, especially when you consider the alternative to having them. As you'll recall, my 35th birthday party was cancelled the morning of, on account of me being about to go Tits Up for want of some functioning bone marrow. This year there is also no party, but I'm still happy enough to have a birthday to not be having a party for. Sure, it would be more fun if my current GI issues didn't preclude me from eating cake or anything with sugar. Or anything with fiber. Or dairy. Or anything with fruit or nuts or coconut. Or anything beyond all the foods that are now supposedly so verboten by the diet police (of which I am a former sergeant): white rice, white bread, and white flour.

But still, birthdays are always a time for contemplation of where you are and where you're going. I'm not loving where I am (as you can imagine), and some days I'm not too sure where all of this is going to end up; all of which can create a definite lack of birthday joy. So what I'm doing this year is working on enjoying it for what it is, enjoying seeing Bambina eat cake, enjoying hanging out with the BBDD, enjoying that I am here to actually have a birthday, which is no small blessing (at least in my own mind)! And, most of all, remembering that perhaps the nicest birthday gift you can give yourself is a big fat break from all your old expectations, from everyone else's expectations, and from all those things you say to yourself when you're not being careful what you say to yourself.

For all the ways today could be better, it's still a day I'm glad to have. With any luck, I'll be able to eat cake on my Rebirthday on May 29th (the day my donor hath made). Until then I just keep reminding myself of what I said last May: "From here on out, for the rest of my life, there's no such thing as a bad day."

Amen to that.

I am running into a new year
and the old years blow back
like a wind
that i catch in my hair
like strong fingers like
all my old promises and
it will be hard to let go
of what I said to myself
about myself
when i was sixteen and
twentysix and thirtysix
even thirtysix but
i am running into a new year
and i beg what i love and
i leave to forgive me

--lucille clifton, From Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Let Your Fingers Do The Walking...

...Right Out to My Recycling Bin.

I'm linking to an article entitled, "Why Won't Phone Books Die?" And Amen to that. We pulled into our driveway, and still being in my urban state of mind from living in DC, I saw these bags sitting on our path and freaked out, like "Who the hell is dumping sh*t on our path?!! What kind of jerk doesn't find a trash can?!"

Turns out it was our 2008 phone book delivery. Three of them. And all I could think was, "What am I going to do with these books?!" I mean, I simply cannot tell you the last time I have, of my own volition, even considered opening a phone book to find a phone number. I suppose it's good to have one maybe on hand just in case the wireless or the FiOs or the cellular or directory assistance goes out simultaneously? Maybe? But did I need three of them? Like, one for each floor of the house or something?

I remember phone books being a big deal, just like the article says. I remember being jealous of the kids whose parents let them have their own listing and/or number in the directory when my parents refused to even have call waiting. So they'd all be saying, "I'm in the book! Call me!" at parties, and I'd be writing my number on a boy's open palm with notations like, "N.B. NOT after 9, if Scottish man answers hang up." So I do remember those days of longing to be in this here actual real live phone book. But that was, I shudder to say, 20 years ago. Yes, twenty.

I guess I have gone the way of so many others in my attitude that if your business is legitimate, you will have a website, even one thrown up on geocities or whatnot, on which I will find your menu, hours, number and other pertinent information. Barring that there is, featuring the same listings as the book. Short story long, if I don't find you online, I most likely won't ever have any reason to call you.

Which is not to completely dis the phonebook. Just yesterday, Bambina and I made monster quantities of confetti from Book The Second, followed by one of those circle paper chains you make by ripping paper into strips and affixing them around each other till you have a full-on garland. Book The First is destined for that bottom drawer in the kitchen where all phonebooks go to die, perhaps in a nod to nostalgia, perhaps because we harbor an old fear that some dark night we really really will need emergency martinizing of our dry cleaning.

You just never know.

Speaking of 'Not Appropriate for Minors...' is a three year-old explaining the Eliot Spitzer mess. So wrong!

A Full Day By Noon

Today is one of those teacher in-service days at Bambina's preschool, so we had the day off. It was great timing, because Bambina has been in need of what I always called "a sanity day" when I unilaterally decided twice a year to not go to work. It's sometimes easy to forget that kids are prone to the same feelings adults are; that sometimes they just don't feel like doing stuff, sometimes they're just tired, and sometimes they just need a day out of time. So we started today building a fort out of our couch cushions and a blanket, which morphed into her "art studio with a skylight," which led us to make paper crowns with green pipe cleaner antennae.

Bambina’s preschool had done a whole segment on music and instruments from around the world. One part focused on orchestras where they learned all the sounds of the instruments, facilitated by Peter and the Wolf. She fell in love with the story and the music, so I amazoned a P&TW CD along with the Royal Ballet Nutcracker and a “classical music for kids” CD. We spent a good part of the rest of the morning listening to Peter and the Wolf, narrated by none other than David Bowie. I was a little dubious about the whole Bowie thing, but he is remarkably well suited to the task of telling the story without being the story. It was a neat walk down memory lane because my mom and dad used to play classical music all the time in our house (with a fair measure of Perry Como, et. al thrown in), with P&TW being a favorite. It’s also a measure of how old you are that the iconoclastic musician of your teenage years (yours, that is, not mine, darlings) is now doing his best work narrating Prokofiev.

(Speaking of musicians from one’s teens, we somehow ended up watching “Run’s House” on MTV the other night. It’s a reality show starring Reverend Run from you favorite rap group and mine Run-DMC. What’s amazing about this show is that it is the most positive and normal reality show I have ever seen in my whole life. I continue to wonder how it is still on TV, so uplifting and sans-stripper/hooker/psychotic girlfriends/violent drunk frat boys that it is. The Simmonses (the family) are all normal kids (living in some nice digs, to be sure), but all respectful and caring toward each other. Last season (when I ahem cough accidentally watched it) they had just lost their newborn baby daughter. This show covered the day their adopted baby girl was coming home, so it was a bit of a cyclical storyline, and one that was handled so beautifully. It’s a rare day when I recommend a reality show (unless it is called Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style or Project Runway), but if you get a chance you should give Run’s House a chance. There’s a little bit of Jesus talk in there, so if it wigs you out then don’t watch. It doesn’t happen to bother me one bit, mostly I think because what you’re viewing is a family living by—and not just talking about or judging others because of—their beliefs. Folks who need a point of reference can compare it to The Waltons, only with less sap and more rap.)

Anyhoo, all the music listening this morning led us to Bambina's computer where she did a bunch of online art drawing with Ariel and the Disney Princesses. Which led us to Bambina's favorite thing in the whole world: The Morning Bath. We all like morning baths because there is little urgency to get the kid in, washed and out before bed. You just actually have fun, while away the time, and very genuinely spend 55 minutes playing with her floaty kitchen as she cooks up "Ariel's Heavy Chicken Broth."

I'm getting okay with Bambina's princess thing, mostly because of the way in which she is internalizing and expressing it. She loves the dressy-uppy stuff, the mermaid pretend games, and the fact that she has a castle, which I loved as a kid too. She couldn't care less, however, about the Prince or any of the actual backstory of Ariel or the other princesses, which I am feeling good about at this early age. Yesterday she made up a whole scenario in which all the Disney Princesses showed up one day because all the bus drivers had fevers and had to stay home, so they were going to save the day and get all the people to work by offering musical bus rides. The musical bus ride involved sitting on the bed behind Bambina as she "drove" while tooting deafeningly into her kazoo. I held my hands over my ears and thought, "Any princess who can operate a Class C vehicle with minimal training and a non-existent CDL license is A-OK with me."

Anyway, all of the bathing and morning excitement was in anticipation of her Very Special Trip with Gram and Pop to see Horton Hears a Who. Maybe we're bad parents, but we have never taken Bambina to the movies. At first it was because she was too young, so we just got DVDs for home, and then it was because all the movies available for kids didn't seem age-appropriate (or "mom-appropriate" in terms of what behaviors I want my kid to learn) for a 2 or early 3 year old. So now that she's almost 4, movies like Horton seem a little more in line with where she is. So we spent the past couple of days describing a movie theater to Bambina, feeling with each very obvious sentence that maybe we had somehow deprived her of something: "see, there's this big screen, as big as that wall, and there are all these seats, and you can eat popcorn..." She's mostly psyched, I think, because I told her that she could have some Sprite since it's a special occasion.

Which is why I am online for the first time at noon, still in my pajamas. Time to clean up the morning's flotsam and jetsam, shower, and then clean my house just in time for the cleaners to arrive. :) I always made fun of people for cleaning for the cleaners, but it turns out that you actually have to if you want to a)not be a complete a-hole to them, and b) want to make it possible to actually get the house clean rather than just tidy. I never saw myself as a person who would ever have someone come and clean my house. Obviously my immune issues have made it a necessity, but barring that, I would have been totally against it on the basis of whatever class issues I still have in my head since childhood. I always just thought, "what are you doing that you don't have any time to empty your own wastebaskets and wash your own bath out?" Am I working 60 hours a week? Nope. Am I planning world-class charity balls quarterly? Nope. Am I busy curing childhood cancer? Nope. I'm just getting someone to do stuff I don't want to do myself because I can. So I feel lazy, but I recognize that for the time being someone else will have to vacuum my house for me until I can do it again myself. Although I've been told by more than one person that I should lie still for a while until that feeling passes...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


In the midst of all the drama going on in the news these past weeks on black vs. white, white collar vs. blue collar, rural vs. urban, I was once again cleaning out old stuff and found something written by the then-President of Wesleyan University, William Chace. It made me stop in my tracks the first time I read it back in 1990, and it stopped me again this week:

Diversity, generally understood and embraced, is not casual liberal tolerance of anything and everything not yourself. It is not polite accommodation. Instead, diversity in, in action, the sometimes painful awareness that other people, other races, other voices, other habits of mind, have as much integrity of being, as much claim upon the world as you do. No one has an obligation greater than your own to change, or yield, or to assimilate into the mass. The irreconcilable is as much a part of social life as the congenial. Being strong in life is being strong amid differences while accepting the fact that your own self can be a considerable imposition upon everyone you meet. I urge you to consider your own oddity before you are troubled or offended by that of others. And I urge you, amid all the differences present to the eye and mind, to reach out and create the bonds that will sustain the commonwealth that will protect us all. We are meant to be here together.

Cheesy Thank You For My Friends

So we've had a bad week on the health front. But today's a new day. This year would be absolutely impossible to live through without you, my extended network of friends and family cheering me on (from a germ-free safe distance). You know who you are. I can't figure out how to say it, so I'm just posting this to say thanks for all the love and support and well wishes that remind me of how lucky I am. Those of you who despise Alanis can just add this to my tab... :) But in any case, don't miss the first line of the song which is, in my opinion, one of the best ever written.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

And Not Even a "Thank You!"

I'm sure this is old news by now, but since I'm just getting to it, I'll put it here for my fellow come-latelys. What follows are the wise and august words of Pat Buchanan, on why black people should be grateful for slavery and welfare.

America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.

No people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the ’60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream.

Yeah, because no WHITE people have used food stamps, rent supplements, Pell grants, student loans or Medicaid, right? All of these are gifts of The White Man to our Black Brothers and Sisters Who Are Of Course Defined By the Use of Public Funds Because There Are No Black Bootstrappers in the History of America. Right? Please. And don't even get me started on how lucky black people are to have been "introduced to Christian salvation." Hey, we treated you like property, stole you from your culture and families, beat and killed many of you, argued about whether you were 3/5 of a human--but not to worry--wasn't that all worth it now that you've found Jesus?

I ate government cheese as a kid. I went to college with Pell Grants and student loans. Rent supplements have been very helpful to some in my family. God forbid someday I might need Medicaid. Why are these programs seen by people on the Right as services for black people? From Public Agenda:

Not a really big delta between the 38% black and 31% white, now, is there? So maybe we should start telling all the Irish Catholics with jobs as pundits that THEY should be grateful for what America does for them and theirs.

I just wish they had a graph that showed the exact percentage of Pat Buchanan that is meathead, bigot and waste of space...

Sniper Fire

I'm just do you mistakenly remember landing in Bosnia under sniper fire and running for cover when it didn't happen at all?

A couple of days ago: “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

Yesterday: “Now let me tell you what I can remember, OK — because what I was told was that we had to land a certain way and move quickly because of the threat of sniper fire. So I misspoke — I didn’t say that in my book or other times but if I said something that made it seem as though there was actual fire — that’s not I was told. I was told we had to land a certain way, we had to have our bulletproof stuff on because of the threat of sniper fire. I was also told that the greeting ceremony had been moved away from the tarmac but that there was this 8-year-old girl and, I can’t, I can’t rush by her, I’ve got to at least greet her — so I made a — I took her stuff and then I left, Now that’s my memory of it.”

She says she "misspoke." Fair enough. But isn't that an odd thing to do? Like, "You guys, when I got my stem cell transplant I was bleeding everywhere and it was totally life-threatening for few minutes there...Oh no, wait. I misspoke. What I meant was that they told me it might be life-threatening and that I might bleed everywhere but it actually went rather smoothly with no problems at all--as you can see from the video."

Like, have they not noticed that we now have amazing inventions called "video" and "the internet"? How do you go on telling a story that can easily be contradicted by a video, not to mention the memories of your trip partner, Sinbad, who said in the Washington Post, "the "scariest" part of the trip was wondering where he'd eat next. "I think the only 'red-phone' moment was: 'Do we eat here or at the next place.'" Threat of bullets? Sinbad doesn't remember that, either. "I never felt that I was in a dangerous position. I never felt being in a sense of peril, or 'Oh, God, I hope I'm going to be OK when I get out of this helicopter or when I get out of his tank.'" In her Iowa stump speech, Clinton also said, "We used to say in the White House that if a place is too dangerous, too small or too poor, send the First Lady." Say what? As Sinbad put it: "What kind of president would say, 'Hey, man, I can't go 'cause I might get shot so I'm going to send my wife...oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.'"

That's almost as ridiculous as a Republican nominee for President (with apparently rafts of foreign policy experience) continually saying (from ThinkProgress)that Iranian operatives are, “taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back” — despite the fact that Iran is a Shiite nation and al Qaeda are Sunni fighters. Responding to reports of McCain’s factually inaccurate claim, the McCain campaign released a statement attempting to paint the senator’s fundamental error as an isolated slip of the tongue:

In a press conference today, John McCain misspoke and immediately corrected himself by stating that Iran is in fact supporting radical Islamic extremists in Iraq, not Al Qaeda — as the transcript shows. Democrats have launched political attacks today because they know the American people have deep concerns about their candidates’ judgment and readiness to lead as commander in chief.

The fact that McCain made identical remarks on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show as well makes it clear McCain did not simply “misspeak.” What’s more, McCain corrected himself only after Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) “stepped forward and whispered in the presidential candidate’s ear.”

Brit Hume didn't help his friend by saying on Faux News that it was "a senior moment." Because if there is anything I'm looking for in a President, it's a 71 year-old guy who gets a wee bit befuddled now and again when discussing the situation in the Middle East. Now THAT's being "Ready On Day One," baby!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Context Matters

One of the wee laughs involved in my GVH saga has involved my daily emails to my doctor with my update on the status of my poops. You know I love my doctor, so my respect for him just goes deeper every day as he has to arrive at his office with E's Crap Report waiting for him with his mornin' joe. Besides the fact that it's pretty ridiculous to be writing: "Tuesday Update: watery, crampy and painful until Immodium at 10am." "Wednesday Update...," it's also rather challenging to think of medical, grown-up ways to say "shitting my pants, got a backache from sitting on the pot so much..." The entire situation is theater of the absurd as I waver between "excrement" or "stool" as the most delicate description of what's going on.

What's more absurd are the little sales messages I get at the right hand side of my gmail screen that think they are selling to me right where I am:

Stunning Teak Stool
Find stylish stools for outdoor or indoor seating. Lifetime warranty!

Frederick Duckloe & Bros.
handcrafts over 100 models of Windsor chairs, benches and tables.

If only the good people at Frederick Duckloe knew...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

This Post Contains Bad Language

For real.

Do you recall all those posts before and during the transplant saying how I really, really didn't want to have GVHD but if I had to get it I sure hoped it wouldn't be the intestinal/gut kind?

Yeah. Gold star to the first reader who can guess what I have.

So this is where I quote Hugh Grant in the opening line of the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral: "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!" So it's not a great situation but it's not the end of the world either (she says hopefully). Especially because my doctor's exact words were, "they don't really know what you have, but because it's inflammatory and in the current context of where you are in the process, we're going to treat it like it's GVH." When I talked with my Mom about it I realized that, given the choice, I'll take GVH (which has treatment at least, however imperfect) over "you have something wrong that is making you shit 22 times a day but we have no idea what it is!" So yeah, I'll take the GVH. So I took 60mg of prednisone yesterday and today and, much to the disappointment of my fantasist thinking that I actually have some kind of virus rather than something 70% of all transplant survivors get, my poop was normal today. Totally effing normal. Which, on the bad side, confirms the GVH. On the good side, means I'm no longer on close personal terms with the commode and can actually eat food beyond white bread and white rice an hour before bidding them farewell in the can.

The bummer, of course, is that prednisone is a fucking shitty drug. It's a blessing and a curse. You need it because it keeps the overactive lymphocytes from destroying the lining of your intestine till you suffer malnutrition, anorexia, then bleed out and die. But you hate it because its side effects are so miserable. The major side effect is, obviously, additional immunosuppression, which means I'll be out of my house arrest who the hell knows when. Certainly not in May or June anymore. I can't even talk about it at the moment because it depresses me too much, so we'll just move on the other effects. Did I mention the "moon face"? That chubby-cheeked Jerry Lewis circa 2006 look that says, "I'm on prednisone!" And did I mention the massive involuntary weight gain? And did I mention the insomnia? (I woke up last night at 3:25 and did not get back to sleep, and that after one [albeit monster sized] dose; I shit you not). And did I mention the insanity/depression/rages it causes if you're tapered off it too quickly? But hey, at least I have a functioning colon, right?

To which my Mom answers, "Yes. You have a functioning colon, thank God. Let's do the pity party and then get on with it." I've figured out a lot about my Mom this week. When she first arrived I was thinking that this was the worst week for her to come because I was feeling so unwell and not so up for entertaining, and I felt bad I couldn't show her a better time (one wonders how a shut-in can credibly show an out of town guest any time at all). But now that we're on the other side of this week, I'm so glad she was here. Because let's face it: when you're having a literally shitty week and watching your plans for freedom two months from now go down the toilet, it's kind of critical, if you are at all lucky enough to have one, to have your Mom around (who might we add, couldn't care less about you "entertaining" her). My mom, as I've written before, has always been a pioneer-type woman, just gittin 'er done no matter what the circumstances. She was also, in my parental relationship, "the leveler," as in, the person who told you she was proud of you for making the Honor Society and now you should go clean your messy hole of a room before you can go to the party because you promised you would earlier and you didn't. I know some of my friends were aghast at that, and at the time stuff like that used to make me so mad. But now that I look back on it--and look at my life now--I realize that my Dad gave me wings but my Mom gave me roots. And make no mistake, you need both to survive.

My Mom, as I can most easily describe her to people who don't know her well, is quite simply "not havin' it." She's not impressed by you, your car, your house, your job, whatever. She couldn't care less what you own or dress like or think you are. She judges people on a wholly non-material scale. That's about as best as I can do to capture the amazing texture and color of who my Mom is. She just ain't havin' it. No excuses, no yeah buts, no nothin. Do what you say you're going to do, don't lie, don't make things seem or be worse than they really are, don't believe your own hype, and count your blessings you scunner. A case in point: I was saying how the prep for the colonoscopy was so hard because I essentially did not eat for 40 hours. My mom immediately said, "You did eat. You had broth and jello!" The BBDD looked at me and grinned, and I said, "Mom, I'm referring to actual caloric food, not POW food." She then said, "Still. You did eat." Her message in her own special way? "Don't make this worse than it is. You did it and you can do it again if you have to." Message appreciated.

It was actually discussing broth where I was reminded that my Mom has come to who she is honestly. She has simple tastes, few real belongings, and a razor-sharp ability to distinguish between a need and a want--her own or anyone else's. She grew up in a tenement in Glasgow, in a one room flat, with an outhouse that her family shared with four other families. I said, "Wow, what a bummer you didn't live on the second floor where the outhouse was inside." She said, "No, not really. Because each of those four families had six kids, so I felt pretty lucky to walk outside and share a toilet with about 18 fewer people." She said her school had no real heat, neither did the school outhouses, so her mother would make my mom and my uncle hot broth and walk it to them at school so they could have something warm in them on a cold day. She had one dress, one pair of shoes and one coat, which my grandmother kept scrupulously neat and clean because there is no shame in being poor but there's a ton in having no respect for yourself. We talked a lot about her girlhood, and I realized that if you read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Angela's Ashes, you can probably imagine a bit about her childhood and the essential poverty in which she lived, although she claims to have been no worse off than anyone else she knew at the time; it's just the way it was.

Which is why, I realize after all these years, that my Mom had very little time for "oh my god my Atari is broken!" or "Oh my god I'm starving! I haven't eaten since noon!" or "I know I said I'd go, but I got a better invite to something else." She has been preparing us for a tough world while simultaneously hoping we never have to experience it. She's the epitome of tough love: I'm making life rough for you now so it will be easy for you later. Which is not to detract from her very loving motherliness, her sitting with me in bed when I was a sick kid, or kissing my tears after falling off my bike, and all the warm and loving things a mom ought to be. She has been--and still is--all of that and more. But what makes her such a unique mom is her absolute dedication to keeping us real, to keeping us in the proper perspective, to delivering a sorely-needed attitude adjustment at a really inconvenient and unwelcome time. All of the stuff that someone outside the family might think odd or harsh if they didn't have it, but all of the stuff that has helped make me who I am today.

Which is why I'm going to figure my way through this GVH clusterfuck. Because what the hell other option do I have? But I'm also not going to pretend it doesn't hurt lest some other poor schmuck think it's no big deal so why worry about it pre-transplant, or worry about it in that "but surely that won't be me" way. And I'm not going to pretend that I'm okay with however much longer my house arrest will continue and how that will affect my sweet Bambina. And I'm just vain enough to be unable to pretend that looking like Jared "pre-Subway" is just fine with me. It all very substantively sucks. But I'm also not going to pretend that somehow my pain is worse than any of the other 70% of poor schmucks who are right in the shit with me and who I somehow magically thought I would not join simply because I am me. And I'm sure as hell not going to pretend that I will learn any great lesson from all of this and that I will emerge a better person at the end of this ordeal like some martyr. But I do know that I already feel more grateful for the life I have (overactive lymphocytes committing sabotage notwithstanding), and that whenever this is over (if that day ever freaking arrives) I will look back and think not "wow, I really learned a lesson and am wiser for the experience. I have so much wisdom to share with others!" I'm going to grab the BBDD and the Bambina and run into the future and leave this shit behind without ceremony, because it has now officially stolen too much of our lives for me to be all noble about it.

Because if there is anything my Mom has taught me, it is that I am amazingly special for being who I am, yet at the same time, I'm just another person with a job to do as a mother and wife and fellow human on this planet; that the same rain falls on me as everyone else. And I can either spend my days ruminating on the why me's or I can just dig in, git 'er done, and get back (God willing) to the job I was put here to do.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The 2008 Democratic Ticket

Turn on your TV to CNN or MSNBC and, in my humble opinion, you will be looking at the top and bottom of the ticket for the Democratic nomination: Barack Obama and Bill Richardson.

Any one else out there think so too? Richardson brings years and years of experience to the ticket, foreign policy expertise, cabinet experience, gubernatorial experience.

I'm placing my bets that it will be Obama-Richardson '08.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ileal Epilogue

So I lived to tell. Who knew? If you can stand one more post on this topic, what follows is the highlight reel.

First, I've got to say that "chugging" the prep drink was not the way to go for me. I chugged the first 10 ounces and promptly barfed them all back up about 10 minutes later. My primary challenge during the entire prep was not the pooping (which I did aplenty) but the constant nausea from drinking that nasty-a** concoction. I felt like hell the entire time but only because of that vague feeling that the drink I had just finished was "in the mail" back to me. It finally went away at around 1am, but from 4pm till then I was reeling from it--not to mention bummed that I had done all the work to drink it and then had to do it again. Bah.

Second, making Bambina a part of it made the process a whole lot easier. Rather than pretending I was loudly powdering my nose for 20 minutes at a time and perhaps freaking her out (because nothing is more obvious than a parent lying than a parent lying), we told her straight up that I had to go see "the bum doctor" for a check up. And the doctor told me, "Mama, I want to see your bum, not your poop. So drink this nasty drink and poop before you come to see me." She quite simply thought that was the most hysterical thing in the entire world. She helpfully added, "Because that would be rude to poop on the doctor." Yes indeed, my love, it would. So she was totally cool with my absences at critical moments and became primarily concerned only with whether I would be bringing "freebies" (e.g., crackers, juice boxes) home from the doctor's office. I assured her it would be the Oscar Gift Bag of freebies upon my return.

Third, on the sage advice of my dear friend who knows all about this stuff, I didn't get too psychotic about being totally "clear" before going. I mean, she's right. How is it that a 300 pound guy who eats pepperoni pizzas for a living is getting the same quantity of mix that I, a 112 pound woman who hasn't eaten a normal diet since Monday, am getting?! I would have done myself internal damage if I'd drunk every last ounce of that stuff.

Fourth, Kenny Rogers is going incognito as a gastroenterology RN at a major Boston area hospital. True story. I got IV'd by a nice woman who did all the med history stuff, and then comes The Gambler to wheel me into the room. "Lay-dee, I'm your nurse in shining scru-ubs, and I love you." No joke. It was Kenny. It had to be Kenny. He even had his chest hair mat out to welcome me. He was super nice and super helpful, especially as he injected the drugs and then, during the procedure as he was pressing on my abdomen so they could maneuver the thingie around "a tight corner."

Which brings me to Five: I was not given nearly enough drogas, because I was slightly woozy but totally involved in the proceedings, watching the MC Escher piece of performance art that is my colon. Up to and including that pesky "tight corner" that just about made me pass out.

And then happily, Six: I finally ate after 40 hours of fasting. At Kenny Rogers Roasters.*

*that's a joke.

Don't Make Me Laugh

In spite of trying to avoid sudden moves in my current "prep" state, I have been laughing all night long.

First, this from The Onion, regarding a black man accosting people for change on the street:


Then, making my Haggis' Bathroom Book Club selection "Unlimited Access" by Gary Aldrich (handed down via three different people). You'll recall this book as being the darling of the Right Wing Conspiracy because of its revelations about the Clinton White House. I could not have picked a more appropriate book for companionship while crapping, because much of it is horse manure.

I get his point, that security procedures were not followed, that security was lax, and that he feels the Clintons disrespected the White House and the Office of the Presidency. Fair enough if that's your opinion and experience. But here's where the laughing started:

His evidence that "the Clinton people" were deviants?
"The canteen, which was usually spotless, was a mess. Napkins were scattered like windblown kleenex, and somebody had spilled coffee on the floor. Instead of wiping it up, people had simply tracked through it...I looked around. I saw a shaggy haired middle aged guy over in the corner in a loud, checkered, polyester double-knit suit and badly scuffed shoes..."

Oh but it gets better:
"There was a unisex quality to the Clinton staff that set it far apart from the Bush administration. It was the shape of their bodies. In the Clinton administration, the broad-shouldered, pants-wearing women and the pear-shaped bowling pin men blurred distinctions between the sexes. I was used to athletic types, physically fit persons who took pride in body image and good health."

The outrages poor Gary Aldrich witnessed just go on and on, what with women wearing trousers, people swearing within his earshot as he walked past their offices, and men having the temerity to be overweight AND to think they should have a job in his precious White House too!

Whatever point Aldrich was trying to get across about security breaches is just completely lost in his shock!horror!outrage! that the entire world doesn't look like, act like, and think just like him. The whole book was just laughable in that regard. Everwhere Aldrich turned, people were different from him and what he knew to be right and good and decent! And he didn't like that. One instance involving inappropriate behavior between coworkers was not a disgrace because the event occurred in the offices of the OEOB, but because the people engaged in the event were (gasp!) BOTH MEN! He kept writing about the valor and decency and appropriateness and patriotism of the Bush I administration. One wonders what he would think about the Bush II administration. Because after all, it's okay to lie and obfuscate and act immorally and unethically as long as you appear what Aldrich called, "all-American."

You should read it for entertainment, but definitely don't pay money for it. And with that, I bid you a good day, with thanks for all the support, whether kindly or ribald, in my ongoing effort to ensure that every single inch of my body be somehow medically invaded by 2009.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'm Dreading Weds.

Tomorrow is Wednesday, the day before (as I've mentioned) my colonoscopy. Major thanks and love to everyone who has sent wishes for duodenal and ileal harmony. I'm still dreading tomorrow (later today?) for the simple reason that I am experiencing massive bowel cleansing already, as a result of whatever it is that I need to do the bowel cleansing to identify. So even though I won't start the "Prep" till the afternoon, I am not allowed to take immodium as of tonight. If Monday AM and this AM were any indication, it will therefore result in an average rate of two adverse commodal events every 60 minutes--before I even start the prep in the afternoon.

I recognize that this what an old family friend would call "not Shabbos table" discussion material. But where else but her (three or four) loyal readers can a girl turn to when her colon has suddenly turned into an exclamation?

I'll see if I can post tomorrow, but if not, rest assured that I'll be back at ya on Friday with the post-colonic latest. Turd. I mean, Word.

The Speech

I'm obviously talking about the speech by Senator Obama (or as my dear Matty calls him, "Your boyfriend Barack Obama").

It struck me as the first speech of its kind in modern politics tackling race, one that was sophisticated, nuanced and just kind of "let's talk about the elephant in the room". Of course the Rightosphere started pulling sentences out and deriding them, because god forbid we actually try to have an adult discussion about race in this country that doesn't boil down to some tirade on affirmative action or urban crime or Angry Black Men. God forbid we actually acknowledge that the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow exist in America. Hell, you need only look at some reactions to this speech to prove it. And god forbid we don't foment the rage of economically-challenged white males, right? Cause who will vote against their own economic self-interest if they aren't mad enough about some distraction to do so?

What I found most powerful about the speech was his attempt to bridge the divide. As a person of mixed race, discussing the very legitimate grievances of both blacks and whites, neither of whom should be branded racist for holding their views. That prejudice can exist in many forms and that we can't--black or white--use our communal past and ongoing feelings of being somehow shortchanged as an excuse to not create a meaningful future for our kids and our families and our country.

I see this speech as a beginning. A start of a dialogue if our country is strong enough to step up to it. After all, what are we so afraid of? And why have we been so resistant to having it? As Obama said, we've been dancing around this honest discussion for 50 years, to no great result, for either blacks or whites. Because the success or failure of "those kids" and "those people" really does matter in our economy, our society and our way of life; because whatever color "those kids" are, as Americans, they are "our kids."

I've done his 40 minute speech absolutely zero justice here, so it's worth your own look-see, regardless of who you support in this election.

Glenn Greenwald says it way better than I do:

Self-Involved SuperDelegates

Wise words from my man Josh Green over at The Atlantic, on the vanity that is the current crop of undecided superdelegates:

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton woo superdelegates and vie for the Democratic nomination -- but at what cost to the party?

As if further proof were needed, this front-page piece on superdelegates in Sunday's New York Times confirms what everyone already knows: the Democratic primary fight is damaging the party. What's irksome about the piece (and the accompanying video) is not the point it makes, but the superdelegates themselves -- to be specific, the uncommitted superdelegates, who are forever alternating between pious concern about the damage inflicted on their party and boundless self-regard as they patiently explain their decision to "keep their powder dry" and withhold until the Democratic convention in August their Solomonic decision on which candidate to support.

This is nonsense. Superdelegates can worry about the party, or they can preen and carry on about the importance of their role. They can't do both. The only thing the Clinton and Obama campaigns agree on is that neither can secure the nomination with pledged delegates alone. So the uncommitted superdelegates wringing their hands in the Times are the same ones who will ultimately decide the nominee. Why wait until August? If they truly cared about ending the primary, they could do so in a matter of days or weeks. All they need to do is declare their allegiance now.

If all the 352 uncommitted superdelegates (CNN's number) chose Obama, he'd have 1970 delegates and need 55 more to secure the nomination. Slate's Delegate Counter says he could draw a paltry 35 percent of the vote in Pennsylvania and still secure that many. Once superdelegates declared, the race would be over, and the remaining primaries a mere formality. The party could focus on John McCain. The same holds true for Clinton. If the uncommitteds swung her way, she'd have 1,831 delegates to Obama's 1,618. She'd need only reasonable showings through May 6th to cross the delegate finish-line.

The split won't be that lopsided, of course. But by declaring now, rather than in late August, the superdelegates can arrive much sooner at the point where the winner is clear -- the only means of halting the damage to their party. In Washington, there's no happier situation for a politician than to be doing absolutely nothing and getting great press for it. But let's be clear about one thing: keeping their powder dry profits the superdelegates, but comes at the expense of their party. It shouldn't take Solomon to see that.
— Joshua Green

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Undiscovered Territory

I'm speaking, of course, about my colon. My soon-to-be discovered colon, unfortunately. I'm getting a colonoscopy on Thursday to try to figure out what in sam hill is goin' on. As I said to my transplant nurse, I don't *want* a colonoscopy, but if the only way to get some answers and some relief from my current predicament, then I guess I want a colonoscopy.

I have to start drinking that ghastly "prep" stuff tomorrow. And you know you'll get a weary review when it's all over. In the meantime, at the very least, I am proud to say that All I Ever Needed to Know About Colonoscopy Prep I Learned At Dubious Quality:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Top of the morning

...or rather, bottom....

I'm at Dana Farber after a rather 'eventful' morning and evening. I'll write more and give you updates on what's going on once I find out.

In Boston, we celebrate two holidays on March 17: St. Patrick's Day and, as a teaser of my current circumstance, Evacuation Day.

I'll try to write later.

I'm back home after getting some IV fluids and offering up a sample of That Which Has Been Plaguing Me For Four Days. If it gets better in a couple of days, it's probably viral gastroenteritis or something like that. That's the good news. The bad news? "If it gets unimaginably worse" then it will most likely be intestinal GVHD. The only reason I'm nervous is because this morning was so bad that I don't even want to contemplate what "unimaginably worse" than that might be like.

In other news, my Mom is visiting this week. And, Mom, in honor of your visit I've crapped my pants! Awesome!
Let us all pray that I have some terrible virus that will have its way with me and then depart. Because On The Toilet is no way to live, darlings.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Reject and Denounce Rejecting and Denouncing

This article by Michael Kinsley made me laugh quietly to myself. (I was going to say Laugh Out Loud, but that would have been a lie). It just kind of provided a little attitude adjustment for me, politically speaking.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Don't Link Or You'll Miss It

Here are some potentially interesting links since I am without inspiration this evening (and Lost is on, so my brain is otherwise engaged).

"Seven Confessions of a Verizon DSL Support Rep." Some good, some bad.

"33 Pounds and Then Some." Nothing looks more like cocaine strapped to your kids' legs than cocaine strapped to your kids' legs.

"Nigerian Spam." Those bastards are now impugning the good name of public television!

More actual writing manana.

That McCain; He's So Moderate

So while the Dems are fighting amongst themselves, John McCain coasts. Here's an article at Carpetbagger on yet another "spiritual guide" of John McCain's: Rev. Rod Parsley. His notable achievements are disliking gays and wanting to "destroy the false religion of Islam." Gee, that's so moderate! Just like John "I'm Now Baptist; I Heart John Hagee" McCain! What with all of the coverage attending Obama's minister, you'd think we'd be hearing more about McCain's. Or maybe it's a little more socially acceptable to be "Christian"-centric than Afrocentric?

Additional scary link to People For the American Way to see some Parsley Video Goodness:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


A couple of things today:

Geraldine Ferraro. Aw, bless. A member of the Loser Leftie Wing of the Democratic Party, long past her sell-by date, starts spouting nonsense about when she thinks Black people should be considered credible candidates for office. Still awaiting Hillary Clinton's Reject AND Denounce response to her campaign supporter's remarks... So far we've gotten a tepid "Well, I don't agree with that." Shall we hold our breath? I'm thinking not. My suspicion is that this is yet another attempt to paint Obama as The Black Candidate, all of which serves HRC's nefarious Divide and Conquer campaign strategy.

I've come to the decision, firmly, that I will not vote for Hillary if she is the nominee. I simply won't do it. Not now. Not after seeing how she does business. Abraham Lincoln once spoke rather eloquently about the need for appealing to "the better angels of our nature." In his case, he was discussing the need to maintain our Union in the face of Southern secession. In this case, HRC can't truly expect to keep the Democratic Party united even as she endeavors to fracture it into its parts, black/white/latino, female/male, rich/poor, whatever. I've always loved being a Dem because I felt like it was the party of E Pluribus Unum, that you didn't have to pretend to not be gay to join, that you could be of any color or religion, that you could live at any end of the political spectrum, from Eugene McCarthy to George Mitchell, and still be welcome. Now I feel like her campaign is taking that strength in diversity and turning it in on itself, pointing out the "otherness" of some party members, creating division. I'll walk away from the Democratic Party before I allow myself to be a member of an entity that flagrantly appeals to the baser angels of our nature.

In further nutball territory, here is the exchange, via Huffington Post, regarding Dr. Laura's thoughts on why Eliot Spitzer's infidelity was his wife's fault (not Vieira offering the bait):

VIEIRA: Do you think women play any role in this, Dr. Laura?

SCHLESSINGER: It's interesting. what you said about what men need -- men do need validation. When they come into the world they're born of a woman. Getting the validation from mommy is the beginning of needing it from a woman. When the wife does not focus in on the needs and the feelings sexually, personally, to make him feel like a man, to make him feel like a success, to make him feel like our hero, he's very susceptible to the charm of some other woman making him feel what he needs. These days, women don't spend a lot of time thinking about how they can give their men what they need.

VIEIRA: Are you saying women should feel guilty, like they somehow drove the man to cheat?

SCHLESSINGER: You know what, the cheating was his decision to repair what's damaged, and to feed himself where he's starving. But, yes, I hold women accountable for tossing out perfectly good men by not treating them with the love and kindness and respect and attention they need.

Is there any way to get Dr. Laura to resign? Or at least to discuss her self-hatred? How can anyone see a man cheating as his wife or girlfriend's FAULT!? For a conservative woman of her stature, you'd think she'd be all about pushing for Personal Responsibility. And for an orthodox Jew, she has it completely wrong. The ketubah (marriage contract), believe it or not, outlines the HUSBAND'S sexual responsibilities to his wife, not the other way around. For real. From Judaism 101:

In Jewish law, sex is not considered shameful, sinful or obscene. Sex is not thought of as a necessary evil for the sole purpose of procreation. Although sexual desire comes from the yetzer ra (the evil impulse), it is no more evil than hunger or thirst, which also come from the yetzer ra. Like hunger, thirst or other basic instincts, sexual desire must be controlled and channeled, satisfied at the proper time, place and manner. But when sexual desire is satisfied between a husband and wife at the proper time, out of mutual love and desire, sex is a mitzvah...Sex is the woman's right, not the man's. A man has a duty to give his wife sex regularly and to ensure that sex is pleasurable for her. He is also obligated to watch for signs that his wife wants sex, and to offer it to her without her asking for it.

So for a lady who uses biblical text to hate on gays, I find it interesting that she doesn't find it useful in cases where it doesn't further her argument that women are to blame when their partners cheat. I don't watch the Today show anyway, but this kook should be disinvited permanently from the show, for the benefit of all humankind.

In other completely unrelated news, happy birthday to my sister and my niece! Sister relationships, I've found, bear zero resemblance to anything you find on Lifetime Television for Women movies. In fact, I suspect that expecting to have one of those Hallmark Channel relationships is no doubt partially responsible for some of the poorer sister relationships out there. Let's review. You are two different human beings. You live in close quarters growing up. Teachers and others compare you with each other to your face for years on end. This is expected to be a wonderful situation how? Me and my sis have followed the standard pattern: best pals as kids, mortal enemies in high school, she goes to college and comes home somehow cooler; the change no doubt a combination of evolution on both our parts. Then we grow up have largely different lives and social circles which is just as it should be, IMHO. So my sister and I have different views on issues (I won't even tell you how we disagreed on OJ Simpson ;)...), we're in different places in life, and we don't necessarily approach situations in a similar manner. But would I throw myself under a bus to save her life? Would I move heaven and earth to keep her safe? Would I consider her kids to be my own kids? You better believe it. I think she and I would both agree, in Lyndon Johnson fashion, that we can say whatever we want to about each other, but god help you if you say anything bad about us. As in, I may be a sonofabitch, but I'm *her* sonofabitch. Or, as a few people have said:

I don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at. ~Maya Angelou

A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves - a special kind of double.
-- Toni Morrison

If you don't understand how a woman could both love her sister dearly and want to wring her neck at the same time, then you were probably an only child.
-- Linda Sunshine

Monday, March 10, 2008

There's No V.P. in O.B.A.M.A.

I'm sure you've already heard about Obama's smackdown of the Clintons' "trial balloon" that he would make a great VP and "Oh what an unstoppable force" that would be. Here is the video of said smackdown, and it is good with a Capital G.

If you work for one of those nasty employers who doesn't want you eating bandwidth to watch Jimmy Kimmel effing Ben Affleck, then here is the transcript. But man, it's so much better straight from Barry's mouth:

You know as I understand it. Both Senator Clinton and President Clinton repeatedly talked about how I would be a great Vice President. They kept on saying well you know he would be a fine Vice President. It would be a formidable team with Clinton at the top and Obama in second place.

Now first of all..with all due respect..with all due respect. I have won twice as many states as Senator Clinton. I have won more of the popular vote than Senator Clinton. I have more delegates than Senator Clinton. So I don’t know how somebody who is in second place is offering the Vice Presidency to the person who is in first place. I mean. I am just wondering. I am just wondering. If I was in second place I could understand it, but I am in first place right now. So that is point number one.

But there is another. There is a second point. This is an interesting point. I want you guys to follow me on this. President Bill Clinton back in 1992 when he was being asked about his selection for Vice President. He said the only criteria, the most important criteria for Vice President is that that person is ready if I fell out in the first week that he or she would be ready to be the Commander in Chief. That was his criteria.

Now they have been spending the last two, three weeks. Remember with that advertisement with the phone call. Telling everyone.. Getting all of Generals to say well we are not sure he is ready. “I am ready on day one”, “He may not be ready yet” But I don’t understand it. If I’m not ready how is it that you think I should be such a great Vice President. Do you understand that?

See I was trying to explain to somebody a while back.the okidoke. You all know the okidoke. When somebody is trying to bamboozle you, when they are trying to hoodwink you.

They are trying to hoodwink you.

You can’t say that he is not ready on day one unless he is willing to be your Vice President then he is ready on day one.

So look I just want everybody to be absolutely clear here, okay. I want everyone to be absolutely clear. We are in a tough battle and I don’t presume that I have won this election. Senator Clinton is fighting hard. She is tenacious. I respect her for that. She is working hard to win the nomination. But I want everybody to be absolutely clear.

I am not running for Vice President. I am running for President of the United States of America. I am running for President of the United States of America. I am running to be Commander in Chief. And the reason I am running to be Commander in Chief is because I believe that the most important thing when you answer that phone call at three in the morning is what kind of judgment do you have, not how long you have been in Washington, but what kind of judgment do you have when you are answering that phone.

Good Old Spitzer is In The S**zer

There's many a dry eye in New York politics today as the founder and CEO For Life of the Upright Prosecutors' Brigade, Eliot Spitzer, is busted in a prostitution ring. Apparently many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle feel that this could not have happened to a more deserving individual.

Now call me a moral relativist, but I simply don't care that he was paying for sex. It's not The Oldest Profession for nothing, darlings. Better men than him have remunerated a lady for some of her evening. I do object to a few things, however: using his position to hide the financial transactions, being a worthless husband to the clearly distraught Mrs. Spitzer (can you imagine the very practical concerns regarding disease and whatnot?), and for being an unmitigated hypocrite as regards right and wrong.

One article on this story said, "It's not the sex; it's the money," perhaps in homage to the Repuglicans refrain during the Lewinsky fiasco, "it's not the sex, it's the lying!"

Oh please. It's the sex. And perhaps a little bit of the lying. And the money. But for me, and perhaps for anyone who had to deal with him on a daily basis, it is most definitely the breathtaking hypocrisy.

**And in a further note, why do political wives all consent to go stand on stage with the man who has just humiliated them? If my husband ever got caught with his pants down, I'd tell him to get his damn girlfriend to go stand on stage and look supportive because I'd be at home throwing his sh*t on the lawn, changing the locks, and finding an attorney who'd ensure he'd see his daughter again just as soon as she turned 18. Stiff Upper Lip my a**. I'd say that "stiff" is what got him into the trouble he's in, and it ain't gonna get him out. What's more, NONE of my girlfriends would have allowed it. I can name two specifically who would have dragged me out of that press conference by my hair to ensure my own dignity in the face of such betrayal. Mrs. Spitzer seems let down on all counts in this lamentable situation, and that strikes me as the sad other-side-of-the-coin to the rampant schadenfreude attending Spitzer's downfall.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Darjeeling Limited

Hmm... How to review a movie that is simultaneously about philosophy, enlightenment, family dynamics, sibling relationships, pettiness, and also nothing at all? This is my challenge in discussing Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited. Three brothers (Owen Wilson, Adam Schwartzman and Adrien Brody) set off on a pilgrimage through India to find their mother who is now a nun. That doesn't exactly explain it, but it's as close as I can get.

From IMDb: Three American brothers who have not spoken to each other in a year set off on a train voyage across India with a plan to find themselves and bond with each other -- to become brothers again like they used to be. Their "spiritual quest", however, veers rapidly off-course (due to events involving over-the-counter pain killers, Indian cough syrup, and pepper spray), and they eventually find themselves stranded alone in the middle of the desert with eleven suitcases, a printer, and a laminating machine. At this moment, a new, unplanned journey suddenly begins.

What follows is kind of funny, kind of serious, kind of touching, kind of boring, kind of annoying, kind of bittersweet and kind of cool. This movie, if I have to sum it up, is all about losing your baggage, unloading all the stuff you're carrying around, all the stuff that's keeping you trapped in old roles and expectations. It's a comedy-drama, but it's neither wildly funny nor deeply dramatic. It's just an entertaining hour and a half that you won't regret spending on your couch. You also won't regret hearing the amazing soundtrack featuring music by the Kinks, the Rolling Stones and then primarily tunes from movies by Satyajit Ray, to whom the movie is dedicated. So it's recommended for both your Netflix and your ITunes downloads.

PS--The DVD also includes Hotel Chevalier, the 13-minute short that introduces TDL. It's rather boring and you might skip it, unless you are committed to seeing Natalie Portman's First Nude Scene Ever. (Don't get too excited; it's just her ass cheeks). I predict a lot of fast forwarding in 3...2...1...

Family Day

Monday is our Family Day, the anniversary of us meeting Bambina and becoming a family. I cannot believe it has been three years since her nanny placed her in my arms. And, besides the whole bone-marrow-failure-almost-died-stem-cell-transplant thing, it has been the most awesome and fun three years of my life. Bambina is the greatest thing to ever happen to me, and don't I know it every single time I look at her and just know that she and I were meant to be together.

For those of you without kids, that's the soft-focus, big-picture view of parenthood, every word of it true. What follows is also true. It reflects more of the daily realities of parenthood:

Bambina was sick this weekend with what we thought was the flu. A couple of vomits, lots of crying, and an ER visit later, it's not. Which is good news for her AND for me. But it was so exhausting being up in the middle of the night trying to make her feel better, trying to figure out specifically what was hurting her, trying to determine whether this is something routine or something more concerning, having her kick me away, calling the doctor, and then finally deciding that we needed to get her to a hospital because she was getting worse and worse. I felt so bad for her, especially because she had never barfed before, so it was not only miserable for her to be vomiting but it was freaking her out too trying to understand what had just happened. And then, through her anguish, she flashed that spirit we love--and contend with: "Mama, why are you changing your clothes?" "Because they have vomit all over them, sweet girl." You could not have imagined a more offended look, like, "you don't like my vomit all over you?!" Then she lapsed back into screaming/crying--and I do mean screaming--that her head was hurting, which completely freaked ME out, since headaches and vomiting are never good together, medically speaking. So she's got a bacterial infection and potentially a viral infection too. Luckily she's back to her usual self today, if a bit subdued and laconic. But I'm not. Every time your kid gets sick, it takes a little piece of you. It's jokingly called, "getting gray hairs" but it feels more like an ulcer forming as you wait to hear what's making your generally unflappable child cry uncontrollably and inconsolably. It's pretty much total effing misery as you do everything in your power and via every sensory vehicle to reassure your kid that she's okay, all the while feeling the acid of fear rise in your throat. It's fear like you've never felt before.

But you know what? I wouldn't trade back one single ulcer, nascent or otherwise. I wouldn't take back all the sleep I've missed (and continue to miss). I wouldn't change a minute or a detail of the past three years. I'll sleep when I'm dead. I'll work out again when she's in college. I'll tastefully and elegantly decorate my new home when little people are no longer riding their scooters through it and using the couch as a Ninja Warrior jump-off point. Until then, I'm just trying to savor (if not always enjoy in the moment) this amazing and wonderful and deeply satisfying thing called motherhood.

More than gems in my comb box shaped by the God of the Sea,
I prize you, my daughter

--Otomo no Sakanoue Iratsume

UPDATE: And so we arrive home at 2:30am after another evening at the ER with Bambina. She woke up and started barking coughing and struggling to breathe--also known as croup--so we tried the head in the freezer thing which didn't work. So we hopped in the car and revisited the ER to get her some relief. I sat in the car, as usual. Boo. And now we are all in bed. Finally.

Friday, March 07, 2008

A Big Load O' Nuthin'

That's what I've got for ya. It's Friday and amen to that. Although it brings with it meteorological prognostications for "flooding rains" which means more water in our basement. This has been the wettest and snowiest winter in recent memory. I'm already banned from the basement because we did a mold test thingie and it came back positive. Luckily not for the toxic black stuff, but in my current condition any mold--even the standard kind--is not recommended. I actually learned more than I wanted to about mold from my doctor. Turns out there are two kinds: mold that produce waste products (from eating your particle board or paper or whatnot) which cause that musty smell and some issues for kids, asthmatics, people with lung issues, the immune suppressed, etc. Then there are the kind that give off "mycotoxins" and these are the kind that NO ONE should live in or around. The scariest is aspergillus, which essentially colonizes your respiratory tract and kills you, especially if you are immune-suppressed. So I'm bummed to be locked out of the basement, but glad that we don't have the most virulent kinds of mold. But every time we get more rain forecasts I just feel like, "okay, when are the effing locusts and boils coming?" Enough already so we can get the damn basement fixed.

Speaking of invasive organisms, the Princess Obsession has found its way to Bambina. How bummed am I? I've done all I can to not encourage it, but pop culture will have its way regardless. So I'm taking the middle way: not making a big deal about it but not necessarily buying into the commercial expression of it either. So she can be a princess all she wants, but damned if I'm spending 60 bucks on some kind of princess contraption from the moneysuckers at Disney. Especially since they have, like, one princess who isn't blond and blue eyed. Bambina has settled on Ariel, who I think was the mermaid? I have no idea. So I play princess with her and tour castles with her and then make sure she rescues me and the imaginary prince because we are afraid of the dark and she is not.

In other news, my 5K running training program is being postponed until I can get to a running store (hello, July!) to get the proper shoe fit. I was totally loving running because I seriously was having trouble getting myself out of breath for the first time in my life. So all was going swimmingly (runningly?), lungs good, form good, training good--until my knees suddenly started screaming, 'STOP IN THE NAME OF MENISCAL SANITY!" My doctor is a runner, so I was hoping he'd give me some tips for my knees. His tip was: "give it up till you can get the right shoes." So my running career is over as quickly and ridiculously as it began. Story of my life.

In other, other news, on Wednesday I forgot my Dad was dead. We were talking about some issues with our water heater and I seriously thought, "I'll call Dad and he'll tell me what that noise was." And I seriously carried that thought around for a full minute, like "oh let me just go get the phone..." I'd heard tell of that happening to relatives of the deceased, but it's not so weird until it happens to you. I actually started laughing because it was so surreal. My brother, god love his handy self, is now the lucky recipient of those late night my-house-smells-like-burning-electricity calls. And after him, my girl C's husband M, who is as handy as he is dandy.

Which leads me to my next stream of consciousness musing. I'm reading Shape Yourself by Martina Navratilova, a woman I absolutely loved as a high school tennis player. She was the ultimate champion and my 16 year-old dream of an ultimate life would have been to play tennis like her and then go home and make sweet double-handed backhand love to Andre Agassi. I'm not ashamed to admit it. That was even back when he had that crazy mop of ridiculous mullet hair. Anyhoo. Martina rocks. I heart Martina. One of the key elements of her book is to do what you can with what you have, and to surround yourself with people who support you in your efforts to be healthy. She uses a Czech proverb to make her point: "Protect yourself not with a fence but with your friends." If I could sum up most of my life--and especially the past 280 days or so--I would have to say Thank You Czechoslovakia for that sentiment. My friends and family are my fences. Whatever we need, we ask for and receive. Whenever I call or email and just drone on about me me me, I'm listened to. Whenever there are opportunities to get the BBDD and Bambina out and about, our friends are there. Whenever I have joys or anxieties or irritations, I feel absolutely surrounded and embraced by the fence of my friendships. Up to and including the kind that will tell you how to fix your boiler, and you just can't overstate the psychic benefit of that.

So that's the big pile of nuthin'. I'll send you off with this little ditty by Sherman Alexie, which totally sums up the poignant and yet rather funny issue of forgetting your Dad is dead:

Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World
by Sherman Alexie

The morning air is all awash with angels . . .
- Richard Wilbur

The eyes open to a blue telephone
In the bathroom of this five-star hotel.

I wonder whom I should call? A plumber,
Proctologist, urologist, or priest?

Who is most among us and most deserves
The first call? I choose my father because

He's astounded by bathroom telephones.
I dial home. My mother answers. "Hey, Ma,

I say, "Can I talk to Poppa?" She gasps,
And then I remember that my father

Has been dead for nearly a year. "Shit, Mom,"
I say. "I forgot he’s dead. I’m sorry—

How did I forget?" "It’s okay," she says.
"I made him a cup of instant coffee

This morning and left it on the table—
Like I have for, what, twenty-seven years—

And I didn't realize my mistake
Until this afternoon." My mother laughs

At the angels who wait for us to pause
During the most ordinary of days

And sing our praise to forgetfulness
Before they slap our souls with their cold wings.

Those angels burden and unbalance us.
Those fucking angels ride us piggyback.

Those angels, forever falling, snare us
And haul us, prey and praying, into dust.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

HRC Endorses John McCain

Okay, I couldn't stay away from politics for even one hour. I was going to write a whole screed on how HRC is poisoning the well for Democrats, regardless of our nomineee, by consistently saying the following: "“I have a lifetime of experience I will bring to the White House. I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience he will bring to the White House. And Senator Obama has a speech he made in 2002.” Carpetbagger has done it better, so click the link for the discussion.

John McCain thanks you, Hillary, for giving him the easiest and quickest commercial of his general election campaign. Since when was helping your Republican opponent a strategy for winning the Dem nomination?! Another piece of evidence in my mind that HRC absolutely does not care if she destroys the party in her quest for the nomination. I mean, really. On what planet do you favorably compare your REPUBLICAN opponent with your Democratic opponent? This is a person who has crossed the line. Again. But will she be called on it? Or will the press continue to give her a free ride because of who she is?

I was doing the math yesterday, in the context of the media's sexism, etc. John Edwards dropped out of the race after losing FOUR straight primaries and caucuses. Hillary Clinton was still in the race after losing ELEVEN. HRC has certainly been subjected to sexism, as I've said before, but what male candidate would have continued to be taken seriously after losing eleven straight? So while she has perhaps suffered as a result of being female, she has also benefited from being Hillary Clinton. Why was she still considered viable? Why IS she still considered viable? Especially in light of the fact that she has now apparently dedicated herself to assisting John McCain in his potential run against Barack Obama. She's not just fiddling while Rome burns; she's lighting the match.


And Now For Something Completely Different...

Oh I know there is a POTUS race going on and delegate infighting to be had. I know. But I'm kind of tired of it at the moment.

So let's talk American Idol!

My primary, overarching thought about American Idol contestants is this: it is very hard to credibly sing a song with which you cannot identify. Last night, as with all other nights, I watched these 17 year-olds sing songs (it was 80's night) like Against All Odds and Didn't We Almost Have It All. They were technically sung well; good voices, good timing, etc. But what was lacking (as IMHO in all seasons of this show) is any sense that the singer has any real emotional clue about what the song is really saying. The role of a singer is to interpret the music and lyrics of a song in a way that resonates with listeners, and these kids just can't do it. Not because they are not good singers (some of them) but because they have exactly zero hours of the life experience necessary to really feel--and interpret--the songs they are singing. One girl sang "Faithfully" by Journey, which is one of my favorite songs of all-time. And she just did not feel it at all. It was killing me to see her just skimming past the key lyrics that speak to being separated from someone, then being reunited after a time and "learning to fall in love again" and "rediscovering" each other. All very sort of adult, married, long-distance love type feelings with which she seemingly cannot identify. Contrast it with the bluesy woman (Allison? Amy?) who sang, 'I Hate Myself For Loving You." You definitely got the feeling that she has indeed hated herself for loving you at some point in her life.

And of course no discussion of American Idol would be complete without the obligatory discussion of what substance Paula Abdul ingests prior to taping. Seriously. She is 100% absolutely chemically affected during this show. She reminds me of me back in my drinking days after about 2 large glasses of wine, where you are just SO HAPPY for all the kids and you JUST LOVE your cohosts and you can't seem to find just the right word in your happily-addled brain to say what you are trying to say so you settle on nebulous concepts like, "You are so shiny!" or "Your voice just has so many...colors! And textures!" And the entire time you think you are being all sparkly-charming but your friends really just know you are buzzed. That is Paula. And somebody needs to call her out. Or maybe they don't because they know people tune in to see what crazy high sh*t she is going to say tonight. Either way, an intervention would not be out of order for our girl Paula.

Okay, I open the floor to your thoughts. That's assuming I'm not the only loser who watches this show...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I'm With Bastardo

A very amusing post over at BaseballCrank on the top best and worst names for baseball prospects. My favorite best? Terry "TJ" Large. My fave for the worst? Evan Longoria.
Good times, good times.

Geek Culture

People of my age cohort will find Ken's post over at Popehat to be hilarious. Those younger or significantly older will wonder what it all means.

Don't Call It a Comeback

But of course they already are. Thank you, Wolf Blitzer, for mentioning it first. How is a candidate winning a state in which she was 11 points ahead last month a comeback? She was expected to win Ohio. Obama was expected to win Vermont. Neither strikes me as significant.

If you turn on the TV, note the immediate shift in tone. Last week: He's unstoppable! This week: She's unstoppable! You can't keep her down! The commentators are painful to watch (so why do I watch?!) because they are pretty much bending whichever way the wind blows. Before the call for her Ohio victory, they were saying how "Bill Clinton himself said she had to win both Ohio and Texas to stay alive." Now, literally 10 minutes later, it's an immediate shift in tone to "she's alive! She's back!" I'm not trying to kill her candidacy; she should stay in the race. But it's absolutely painful to watch these talking heads talk absolute shite.

Which is why I'm turning it off in 3, 2, 1...

Bizarre Primaries

Of course I'm watching the primary returns on CNN. Riveted on Texas, of course. But in between John-King-at-his-Computer-Board segments, we're flipping to Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods. He's in Beijing tonight and I am seriously feeling homesick watching it. He was on Wangfujing St, the Fifth Avenue-like main drag on which we stayed while in China for Bambina. Imagine our joy when he took a right off Wangfujing into the alley full of little food carts where we ate I know not what. Then imagine our (well, MY) further delight when he went to the late night street food festival wherein long-time readers will recall the BBDD ate the fateful pork bun that caused us to cancel our Great Wall tour and pretty much everything else for the next 36 hours due to massive intestinal distress. It also caused potentially the most incendiary verbal exchange in the history of our relationship as I, nervous mother-to-be, lectured him ad nauseam that "your only purpose in being here is to bring home our child! How stupid do you have to be to eat a pork bun off a street vendor at midnight?! I mean, what could POSSIBLY go wrong?! Are you INSANE?!!" All delivered, I might add, while the poor man was greenish-gray hunched over a toilet. Don't mess the mama-to-be, I suppose.

Anyhoo! If you can, watch the Zimmern Beijing show. It's so much fun to see him enjoy the food and the city. The most entertaining parts are 1) where he eats the various Bugs On a Stick that the Chinese people we met said that only foreigners eat, and 2)seeing him at the Penis Restaurant enjoying snake penis, deer penis and the ultimate: Penis Variety HotPot. "I like the yak penis best of all." --Andrew Zimmern.

Speaking of yak penis, back to Wolf Blitzer...

Monday, March 03, 2008

Reading is Fundamental

I love that Bambina loves to read. Every night we only manage to get her to go to bed and sleep by picking out the book that we will read first thing the next morning. We get her to sit still for 30 minutes and eat a three-course dinner by reading books at the table. She has books in her bed, books in the car, and books in her preschool cubby. It makes me so happy I could cry because I absolutely want her to have the inner life that books provide. It's such a cliche, but when I was a little fat kid with not a lot of money I just lost myself in stories where I imagined I was the protagonist. As I got older, I found messages and meaning in books I don't think I could have received otherwise. And what girl of my generation didn't go through a period of time where she thought that Judy Blume was writing directly to her? And then in high school my beloved teacher, the nattily-dressed Mr. Douglas H., turned me on to Charles Dickens and my life has never been the same since.

I was reminded of all this going through some old boxes that we moved from DC. In one box I found a bunch of my college papers from English classes as well as notes from books I'd read post-college. In a hat tip to William F. Buckley, a man with whom I could not have disagreed more politically, I found more notes than I've ever written before from the time I read his compendium of writings. Not only notes, but a list of words I wrote down (such as "peroration") while reading so I could look them up in the dictionary. I also found my old collection of Flannery O'Connor short stories. If you've never heard of Flannery O'Connor, now is the time to familiarize yourself. She was a Georgia native, a Catholic in a Protestant land, and perhaps one of the most unbelievably outre writers I've ever read. Her works are very Southern Gothic, and all have themes relating to religion and heaven and salvation. But how she gets there is through all kinds of double entendres (one character is named "Manley Pointer"), violence and bizarritude.

I laughed to remember the days when I had time to think through "The Significance of the Book 'Human Development' in Flannery O'Connor's Revelation" and when I not only had time to read and digest Buckley, but to take notes for further study. And then I realized that I have no excuse for not diving back in. My 50 books by 2009 program had kind of fallen by the wayside, and I was starting to wonder how I could credibly continue to encourage Bambina's bibliophilia when she rarely sees me reading anything that is not a recipe or an receipt. I know that this will all be easier when Bambina can read books herself, but in the meantime, I have started to read a book whenever she is playing quietly. Not only does it let me actually kill a chapter or two before I do my usual late-night eyes-half-closed reading, but it also lets her see that reading is something enjoyable for her Mama too, even if (like today) that book is a fitness book by Martina Navratilova.

With any luck, Bambina will love Dickens too. Until then, we're reading the Fancy Nancy books and The Seven Chinese Sisters like they are going out of style. But you know what's so cool about it? Good books are always in style. And thank god for that.

*ps--please do not purchase the 1938 version of The Seven Chinese Brothers, called The Five Chinese Brothers. It is way racist with slanty-eyed caricatures of people actually colored yellow and who all look alike, literally. The entire town looks alike, not just the brothers. And never mind the subject matter, that the brothers are trying to avoid the executioner for upsetting the emperor. Some of the reviewers say, "I loved this book as a child!" Please also note the ones written by Asian kids who didn't have the luxury of just seeing it as a book in school, but who noticed that everyone was YELLOW and slanty-eyed, and who suffered at the hands of white kids accordingly. More importantly, let's just not offer this stuff to our kids as normal just because it's "a classic." Classics should sometimes be retired, and this one gets my vote.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Live From New York

It's Hillary Clinton.

You all can go to the Saturday Night Live site and see her appearance if you'd like. I didn't watch the show (does anyone anymore?) but saw it online this morning after seeing that she had made an appearance.

Some thoughts. First, on whether SNL is funny. This week's debate spoof was exactly the same as last week's. We get it. The media loves Obama and hates Hillary. But a week-old joke rehashed in a different debate setting? Not funny. I know the writers are clearly trying to make their point, but what happened to writing a skit and asking "Is this FUNNY?" Also, all good humor has a grain of truth in it. The portrayal of Obama in this week's debate as monosyllabic and dumb has no anchor in reality, either in real-life or how he comports himself in debates. You can say a lot of things about him, but "monosyllabic" and "dumb" are generally not charges that will stick. So why craft an entire skit around a characterization that does not ring true, even to those who do not support him? The genius of comedy is in finding that one true thing, that one kernel of truth in a person's beliefs or mannerisms that you can inflate and parody; good comedy shows the other side of a well-known coin; it causes you to see something in a new, different and humorous way. Playing Obama as a boob perhaps made the writers laugh or met their goal of having "hillary" appear Ready On Day One, but it missed the mark in terms of actual, solid comedy and satire, when they could have hit on his propensity for talking about unity or his constant statement of "That's a discussion I'm glad to have." There are so many ways to play Obama in a truly satirical and send-up way, to greatly humorous effect. To just make him one step short of drooling makes no sense, comedically or otherwise.

Second thought. On whether SNL has a race issue. They clearly have no trouble talking about gender and sexism issues. So let's discuss why there is a white man portraying Obama when they would never consider having a Black woman portray Hillary. I recognize that in our culture there is a fluidity in our acting portrayals of minorities, but it bears noting that the fluidity is unidirectional. That is, lots of white people play roles written for people of color, but few people of color are drafted to play historically white roles. I'm not ready to go out on a limb and say that every role must be played by a person of the "appropriate" race or ethnicity; that is a reductive way to view art. I'm simply suggesting that if we'd find it jarring to see a Black Hillary, we should also find it jarring to see a white Obama. A white black-faced Obama, no less. (Note Fred Armisen's makeup). Specific to SNL, the question should also be asked why there is only one African-American man in the entire cast to begin with. You can't tell me there are no funny African-Americans in show business. The reason a white guy is portraying Obama is because the cast has no one to pull into the role! Again, it's not that you have to have "one of each" but that we have come a very long way since the days of having white people play Chinese people by adding eyeliner and from white people putting on dark makeup to play Black people. It's 2008 and it's high time that a candidate for the President of the United States who happens to be Black ought not to be minstreled on national television without us taking issue. (For further evidence of racial cluelessness on this show, see the Robert Smigel cartoon regarding Obama, Jesse Jackson and Sharpton). Pretty racist if you can get past the fact that seeing Jackson and Sharpton mocked tends to make people say "Oh, it's funny! Get over it!"

Third thought on the HRC campaign vs. the Obama campaign in the matter of each candidate's minority status. Some good chats with friends have brought me to the conclusion that HRC's campaign is floundering not because of sexism (which she has, to be sure, endured), but because of her campaign's inability to navigate that sexism. Contrary to her supporters' belief, Obama does not face less scrutiny or hatred because he is a man (click on the comments section of many blogs and news sites for proof of the often raw hatred directed at him due to his race and ethnic origin). Rather, he faces a different kind of scrutiny, and one that he and his campaign PLANNED for. They knew that he'd be pigeonholed as the "black" candidate and created strategies for mitigating that outcome. They knew he'd be seen as inexperienced up against HRC and others, and created a plan to counteract that. Whatever he's faced (although I'd argue that the sheer, well, virulence of the viral emails regarding his supposed Muslim connections came as a bit of a surprise), his campaign had a plan to deal with it.

Contrast with HRC who seems to have found the sexism directed at her campaign to be a huge surprise, with her campaign's response being irritation and complaining. (See her adviser Phil Singer's flipout during a press breakfast on Feb 26th for evidence). Her campaign is frustrated because they feel that the playing field is not even. Helloooooo?! Did you think it would be? Obama's people walked into this *anticipating* an uneven playing field--and therefore created plans to even it themselves via multiple avenues or to emphasize strengths when faced with areas of weakness. They are doing what any self-respecting campaign ought to be doing, and they are doing it with their eyes focused directly on reality--that a black man running for President is not going to be on an even playing field. Duh. They accepted that fact, however mad it no doubt made them, and just moved on with that knowledge in mind.

In my opinion, the difficulties HRC is facing also point to what I consider to be a dated form of feminism on her behalf. The statements from her campaign and her supporters remind me of me when I was a womyn during my college years. (I'm serious as I write this, and with great respect for the women who came before me). The statements of frustration with the media, anger at Obama supporters, at the Right Wing, at those who make derisive comments about her based on her gender, all constitute (pardon the imagery) One Big Feminist Circle Jerk. I used to go to pro-choice rallies where, looking back, we were the most ineffective advocates for choice ever dreamed up in a Rightie's diseased mind. We were all talking to ourselves. Our signs were smutty, our appearances were bizarre, and we convinced no one but ourselves of our position. But boy were we committed, and boy were we angry. I can remember feeling so frustrated that, as HRC has herself said, women are not permitted as many leadership styles as men. That women either have nurturing earth mother or iron lady to go on, but not much else in between or in combination. I remember feeling so angry that various frat-boy behaviors could occur on our college campus without comment, but if a woman voiced disapproval was told that she was jealous, fat or both. I felt like I was this totally intelligent and driven woman stuck inside a society that didn't know what to do with me, and it quite rightly made me frustrated and mad as hell.

And then I figured it out after pilfering a motto from Gandhi: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." No one is going to give me anything either because or in spite of the fact that I'm a woman. And they are sure as hell not going to give it to me because I'm angry. I will get what I work for and I will not accept any excuse for not rewarding me according to my achievements. I left a job because I couldn't get my boss to send me to speak at conferences but sent a guy who was far less qualified than me. I could have fought it out, I could have rallied HR I suppose, I could have done the anger and rallying route but I decided the only way up was out; so I got another job, ended up in essentially the same position as my old boss, and throughly enjoyed saying hi to him as we both attended the same conferences as equals...with me and my 2 female coworkers presenting. Now THAT'S a "fuck you, you sexist bastard" that no HR arbitration--and no amount of righteous indignation--could have ever achieved. I decided that I didn't want the scraps of whatever conferences I may have gotten sent to as a result of taking action. I decided I wanted the power myself to determine who got to go to conferences, and that waiting for Supervisor Asshat to suddenly find me qualified in his rigid mind was not the best use of my time.

My point is not that sexism doesn't exist or that decisions, large and small, are not made according to attributes you cannot change. My point is rather that we can't "angry" our way into the Presidency. We can't "rally" our way into the Presidency. We can't even demand an even playing field in the race for the Presidency. Those tactics have all been tried. Rather, we have to play the field as it is, and plan-plan-plan to mitigate every single hurdle that we already know will be coming our way. The Obama campaign has done it, and the HRC campaign should have done it. Going on SNL to plead your case and telling Tim Russert that he should get Obama a pillow will not make you President. People (at least, I) won't vote for you because I feel bad for you, no matter how much I think you may be getting dinged for things a man would not. Because that's my point: you KNEW you'd get dinged for those things, you KNEW you'd be treated differently than the men, you KNEW this wouldn't be easy, right? So where was your airtight, rock-solid, no-excuses plan for handling that crap? You did have a plan, right? And if you didn't, why not? Because if you really wanted to win, you'd BE the change you wish to see. You'd have the most put-together campaign organization in the world, you'd have a solid idea of who you are, why you're running, and how you'd best display and demonstrate your considerable talents to 50% +1 of the population. Your campaign would be so tight, so right and so outtasight that no one could write you off without having to be honest with themselves and others about the real reason why. You would have left voters with no choice but to see you in a new and more powerful way.

It is a sad truth in our society that "a woman must do something twice as well as a man to be considered half as good." I believe it because I have personally experienced it. But here's the rub: knowing that sad truth, the burden is on you as a leader and as a woman to plan, work and struggle mightily at that beast of an expectation so that you find yourself in a position to slay it. And that's my point: you can't slay it before you get to the top; you can't even slay it on your way to the top. You have to outwit, outplay and outlast it--unfairly or not, on it's own playing field--until you get the power to kill it good and dead.