Monday, June 29, 2009

Obligatory Michael Jackson Post

1. I did love him back when he was normal. I thought he was so cute in his Off The Wall days (oh like you didn't own it!) However, I was well into hair bands by the time Thriller rolled around so I couldn't have cared less about him by that point. That said--he made some truly monumental contributions to the music scene then--and now if you consider the artists who try to emulate or best him.

2. But...I recall him being a pedophile, right? Are we not supposed to remember that?

3. I realize he was acquitted in one case and settled out of court in another, all of which should absolve him. But I remember watching the interview in which he talked about how he and a bunch of boys not his children would hang out in his bed. I remember thinking, "On what f&(ing planet is this not an outrage--even if not criminal;--on what planet is this not profoundly creepy and Not Okay?!!" Apparently, on Earth.

4. I'm glad I didn't die on the same day as Michael Jackson. Farrah Who? Ed McWho? Joe Shmowho?

5. Seeing Joseph Jackson (MJ's father) at the BET awards last night answered all my questions about how a man with so much could end up so completely f*&ked up. His father, when asked about Michael, said, "I can't talk about Michael and the funeral right now, but my friend and I have started a new record label! Hey Marshall, tell 'em about the record label!" I shit you not. Three days since his son died and he's pimping his new record label. That's what my friend Andre would call "triflin'." Andre is right.

6. I'm pretty sure that all of Michael's famous debts will be paid in full now that his music is selling like it's 1985.

7. I wish him--as I do almost all people who've passed--peace at long last.

Moon-Spoon-June-Crap Typhoon

Folks, June cannot end soon enough for this girl. That's all I'm sayin'. Wow. What a hellish month. I'm aware many world-shattering events took place on a global scale, but what I'm speaking of is, of course, moi.

First up, I got Fifth Disease. You know Fifth Disease. It's that childhood disease you've never heard of but that SUCKS if you get it as an adult. It's such a crap disease that the people who compiled the list of the six childhood rash diseases never actually named it. It didn't even merit "Measles, Jr." It was just the fifth disease on the list and that was that. Friends, that disease TORE through Bambina's preschool. Eight out of the ten kids got it, the teachers got it (one very seriously to the point of almost rheumatoid arthritis), I got it, then Bambina got it, then two other parents got it, rounded out by a final parent who presented last week with massive joint inflammation and soul-crushing fatigue. I do not even want to tell you how rotten Fifth Disease was (Oh hell, of course I do). I seriously could barely move my feet in the morning. I limped around my house for 15 minutes till it passed. I was certain I was getting rheumatoid arthritis. I couldn't move my wrists very well, could barely walk on my knees, could not rotate my shoulders. I'm not kidding. I was seriously scared that I had either far-reaching GVHD of the joints or that I was getting RA. Was going to bed at 8pm, sleeping all night and still feeling like I hadn't rested at all. I had to be retrieved by my MIL and her friend from the Ikea 40 minutes away because I felt like I was going to pass out in the middle of the Skvargnen display. Can you imagine how pathetic a scene that is?! Falling into a giant basket of Ndorglingkvorsten? Not to mention I had Bambina with me, so it was scary as well as ludicrous. After that I went to my doctor who diagnosed Fifth after I mentioned that some kids in Bambina's class had it. He was like, "DUH!! Textbook! It's a virus, so you're just going to have to live through it." Fabulous.

But then it got better. By which I mean much, much worse. Bambina got it next. Only, she got the classic childhood symptoms which are: None, except for a spreading rash that starts on the face. This child (read = I) was awake every night for 5 nights ALL NIGHT itching and crying. I swear to god, I was on the edge of my sanity for lack of sleep. We went to the doctor after realizing that cortisone and every single other OTC product was useless against this itch, and finally got some prescription relief--and thank god--some sleep.

Shortly thereafter I came down with what I thought was C. Diff. I'll let you google it so that I can maintain a meager shred of dignity in this forum. Suffice to say: ugliness on a truly unbearable scale. We traveled to NJ for a family event before the situation had reached its critical mass, and I can honestly say that it's the first time in my life I've ever been thinking to myself in polite company, "Do not shit your pants, E. Do not shit your pants." I'm all about the dignity, you see. Anyway, we ended up leaving NJ early because I spiked a fever and (see above) became aware that I was finding it harder and harder to "manage my personal situation," shall we say, even though I hadn't eaten in 3 days. We headed to the ER, where they gave me perhaps the most horrifying and ass-kicking antibiotic second only to vancomycin: flagyl. So now I was not only crapping myself, I was vomiting as well. GOOD TIMES!!!

Now here's where I learned my lesson. I contacted my transplant doctor as well as my PCP. Transplant doc says, "You don't have c. diff; you have an adenovirus. Stop the flagyl. I"m not extremely concerned about this." Me: "WHAT THE F*CK?!!! I guess I wouldn't be 'extremely concerned' either about losing 5 pounds in 3 days if I wasn't the one doing it, a**hole!" I was hating him so much because I was terror-stricken at stopping the flagyl and having it all come roaring back. I mean, everyone said I had c. diff. I had all the symptoms of c. diff. I was the poster child for someone who had c. diff. My website popped up if you googled "c. diff." But Dr. KnowItAll was positive I'm getting marginally better not because of the flagyl but because the virus was simply running its course. Dr. KnowItAll claimed to have seen all this before. Dr. KnowItAll kept talking to me like 'why are you hoping it's c. diff?' Dr. KnowItAll was on my last, hungry-but-nauseous, physically-drained, spent nerve.

Dr. KnowItAll was--as you probably surmised--right. I got completely better 2 days after stopping the flagyl.

Happy days, right?! WRONG! A few days later, Bambina got it. And she's still not totally better. She missed her first day of camp today, still isn't really eating, had an obligatory ER visit for dehydration at 2am Sunday, and generally is struggling. Which means so am I. Which means all of us at Chez Haggis are ready to bid adieu to June in the hope for a better July.

So yeah, I know that Iran has erupted, politicians are poking their peckers everywhere, Congress is dithering on health care, and that Michael Jackson "The King of Pop" died. I know it. I'll just care more as soon as I can free myself from monitoring the bowel movements of other humans.

ps--On a serious note, the Ikea Incident actually gave Bambina and I the opportunity to have a really important chat about what she should do if an adult she is with is ever incapacitated. It's something we generally never think to discuss with our kids, but believe me, the only thing keeping me vertical that morning was the fact that I knew she would not have known what to do if I had dropped. Would some "well-meaning" stranger tell her to go with him or her? Would she know to tell them who to contact for me? Would she know to STAY WITH ME NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS until a family member or the following 3 pre-approved friends arrived? The answer at that time was NO. But now it's yes. Which you might want to consider for your own kid too. Just in case you ever get Fifth Disease. :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

El Gobierno del Amor

First, massive sympathy for his wife and kids. Disclaimer accepted?


I LOVED Mark Sanford's press conference today. Rambling, self-indulgent, stream-of-consciousness. An absolute disaster.

Oh sure, the GOPers who like to circle wagons at times like these will say, "He showed courage" and "What honesty!" But let's be clear on motivation here: Dude got honest 'cause dude got caught. So all his talk of violating "God's laws" and asking for "forgiveness" will no doubt get him the Christian Right's support, but anyone else listening will likely think as I did: "You are a selfish fuck, Mark Sanford." Kinda like Bill Clinton. You remember him, right? The man of whom Mark Sanford said:

"I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally (to resign)... I come from the business side, if you had a chairman or president in the business world facing these allegations, he'd be gone."

About voting to impeach Clinton, "I think what he did in this matter was reprehensible... I feel very comfortable with my vote."

Let's ask a few additional questions, shall we?

1. Who paid for these trips to Argentina?
2. Isn't leaving your state with no contingency, no succession plan a gross violation of the duties of the office?
3. How did The State (the local newspaper) get those embarrassingly-cheesy emails between him and his girlfriend?
4. Can we put paid to the lie that the Left is hypocritical because we'd be supporting him if he were a Dem? We sure wouldn't--if he were a Dem who RAN and WON on being a God-fearing Christian who is therefore better and more moral than others.
5. What kind of guy uses the two week separation he and his wife agreed upon--as a linchpin of their marital repair--to go to Argentina to see his girlfriend?
6. Why is it that the GOP of SC wanted his head on a stick when they thought he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail, but now that he's said he was actually shtupping a lady in Buenos Aires, they think he's courageous and "honest?" That's a pretty good deal if you think about it, isn't it?
7. Why was Governor Sanford OUTSOURCING his infidelity to South America? That is just unfair to good old American homewreckers.

Again, I don't care who the guy sleeps with. I simply care that he held himself up as someone better than those who faced similar troubles, someone who had little sympathy for those who faced similar troubles--and now he's asking forgiveness for those troubles. Cry me a river, Sanford.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Englsh Fiirst

I love when a conference dedicated to issues such as "English First" has a misspelled banner. Thank God Pat Buchanan is holding off the barbarians at the gate who would ruin our blessed language. I find everything Buchanan does to be reprehensible, but especially his remarks at the conference deriding Supreme Court nominee Sonya Sotomayor. She had said that she “spent summers reading children’s classics she had missed in a Spanish-speaking home and ‘re-teaching’ herself to write ‘proper English’ by reading elementary grammar books.”

Buchanan finds this all very funny. I find it to be rather inspiring. Here is a woman who humbled herself to learn all she could. Who shows contempt for someone doing what she needs to do to better write English and understand some great books from literature? Only Pat Buchanan can take what would be--to a non-diseased mind--an inspiring example of someone raised in a Spanish-speaking home who worked tirelessly to learn and absorb English, and turn it into a means of diminishing her entire educational history.

I'm pretty sure I've said it before, but it must be said again: Buchanan is an asshole in any language.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Iran So Far Away

Oh my. What a scene over in Iran, the protests in reaction to the election results in which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad apparently won handily, even in areas heavily populated by opposition supporters. There are many talking heads calling for President Obama to speak more "forcefully" on the matter, lest he prove that he is indeed soft and weak on foreign policy.

McCain said, "He should speak out that this is a corrupt, flawed sham of an election and that the Iranian people have been deprived of their rights."

Various rightie blogs are calling on him to stop giving aid and comfort to the Iranian regime. Various leftie blogs are calling on him to fully support the protesters so as to enhance their position.

But this from George W. Bush's chief diplomat in Iran: “President Ahmadinejad would like nothing better than to see a very aggressive series of statements by the United States that would try to put the U.S. in the center of this, and I think President Obama is avoiding that quite rightly...This is not a dispute for the U.S. to be the center of; it’s up to Iranians to decide who Iran’s future leaders will be. He said he respects Iran’s sovereignty. I think it was important to do that.”

I think Obama has this situation sussed, as well as one can. He's playing the long game:

Obama noted that Iranian policy would not be much different under Mousavi, particularly since the real rulers of Iran are the clerics, headed up by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "It's important to understand that although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, in terms of their actual policies, may not be as great as has been advertised...either way we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused problems in the neighborhood and is pursuing nuclear weapons."

This is a man who understands the situation, the history, the stakes. Contrast that--those of you who wonder what foreign policy under President John McCain might have been like--with the immediate reaction of the Senator from Arizona. The neocons are angling for a fight with Iran, want to avoid direct talks, and generally can't envision a future without some kind of conflict between our two countries. That conflict may come, but Obama knows well enough to let it play out of its own volition, rather than inserting the US and our baggage into the current crisis.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's Always Something

Blogging will be light in the coming days since preschool has ended and we find ourselves in the interminable interregnum before camp begins. This means 24-hour mommy duty. Made worse by Bambina's recovery from Fifth Disease. She's fine except for The Rash That Will Not Leave. The doctor said it can take 20 days till it clears. In the meantime, she is itchy to the point of crawling out of her skin--particularly at night, on maxed-out doses of zyrtec and benadryl, and is generally too itchy or drowsy to do anything. She's fine but if she gets overheated or sun exposed or anything--blam--the itch is back with a vengeance. So we sat up most of two nights ago, most of last night, and tonight is shaping up to be no exception as my agitated child keeps calling for me. This obviously means that I'm sleeping and blogging very little, which is misery because now there are finally compelling things to rant about. So--I'm not on another sabbatical. I'm just doing my mommy job around the clock is all.

Honk if you can't wait for camp!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Real Freakshows of New Jersey

Y'all. Promise me you will tune into The Real Housewives of New Jersey (Tuesdays at 10pm on Bravo). Oh man, that show is hilarious. All of the Real Housewives shows have been ridiculous, but this one--as can always be said of all things Jersey--takes the effing cake. These ladies are out of control. Think The Sopranos in real life.

One woman, Danielle, is a former stripper with a criminal past, who is being outed by her "friends." Caroline is a self-described "Italian mother" with two sons. One is opening a strip club, the other is off to law school, neither bring home any women she finds acceptable. She is my favorite because, while I would not like to be her daughter-in-law, she runs a tight ship and does not take crap from anyone. She's a bootstrapper.
Dina runs a decorating business yet still finds the time for numerous spa appointments. Jacqueline is the "sweet one" who is torn between her family (see two previous wives) and her friend (the soon-to-be-outed stripper). The last one, Teresa, is genius entertainment. This is the Sopranos, flat out. They just built a house with more marble than you've ever seen, and the furniture is being delivered. Her husband happens to come home while she is raving about the couches. She asks him if he loves the couches:

"I don't care. You love it, you love it. Why would I love a couch?" He then pays $120,000 IN CASH to the delivery people. Yeah, that's legitimate.

There is too much "there" there to fully do this show justice, but suffice to say it is truly good television, if you like over-the-topness with a Jersey flavor. The only show that could do this one better is my personal recommendation to the people at Bravo: The Real HUSBANDS of New Jersey.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

With Age Comes Crankiness

I think I'm getting cranky in my old age. The evidence is mounting:

1. I watched Pineapple Express. I thought it blew chunks. This movie, widely-adored, made me question the existence of God. Because why would a good and decent and kind supreme being allow me to waste two hours of my life on such drivel? This comedy concerns two stoners, one of whom witnesses a drug deal gone bad, precipitating the duo going on the run. The movie's title refers to the type of weed the two guys smoke. What can I say? This movie was written while these guys were high. How else to explain the long, drawn-out dialogue that I'm sure was funny ten hits in, but is just tedious to the viewer at home. These were writers in love with their writing and therefore unable to cut any of it from the TWO HOUR movie. I laughed three times during two hours, the rest I fast-forwarded through just to spare myself additional repetitive stoner talk.

2. Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist. A supposedly cute movie starring wonderboy Michael Cera. I love Michael Cera in Arrested Development. He's perfectly cast. But in N&N? He has such a flat affect that it's impossible to believe some hot, rich girl falls for him across a crowded room while he and his band are performing. I do like the movie's matter-of-fact take on his band's gay members; it's no big deal, he's not threatened or freaked out by his friends' gayness. I loved that, especially in a teen-type movie. But the whole thing just felt wrong with him as the love interest. Not to mention that every one of these "high schoolers" looked about 28, except for his ex-girlfriend, who disturbingly did look young while being the most sexualized character in the movie. It wasn't horrible; I'd watch it on an airplane. But it wasn't fabulous.

3. Further evidence of my crankiness and advancing age? I LOVED Doubt, to the point that I gushed at one point in the movie, "Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman are acting geniuses!" AARP calling..

4. Additional evidence: We went out to dinner to a decently-nice restaurant with a bunch of friends last night for the BBDD's birthday. Felt horrified to see families arrive with kids in cut-off jeans and sneakers. For dinner. In a non-chain restaurant. Now, I'm no snob. I was raised with no real money, so we didn't own fabulously fancy clothing. But we owned SHOES and PANTS THAT SAID WE RESPECTED OURSELVES, and you best believe my mom made us wear them when we went out. Again, I'm certain we looked "less than" than the other people there, but we never looked like we didn't care or that we had no idea of what was appropriate. I'm sure someone made comments about my dad in his Dickies trousers and us in our Sears outfits, but you know what? Cheap clothes from KMart can look neat and clean and respectful as well as any BCBG get-up, snotty people be damned. It's all about showing respect for yourself and for the place you're attending, which I believe we always did. So now I'm cranky about people who obviously can afford to look decent but who somehow don't care to tell their kids that cut-off denims and sneakers are, you know, for a cook out, not a restaurant.

So the inexorable slide to seniorhood continues apace. On the bright side, I'm looking forward to my free coffee at McDonalds. :)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Free Speech

Whoa! That was quite a speech. Powerful. More later on it. Here is the text so you can form your own opinion in the meantime:

P's and Q's.

First, the TMI (Too Much Information) post. I have once again mystified my doctors. A couple of days ago I went to the bathroom to pee. It hurt like I was peeing broken glass and it was BLOOD. WWWHHHHAAAAATTTT?!!!! Your mileage may vary, but for me, if I see any blood anywhere for any reason, I'm calling a doctor before I even flush. So I got an appointment that day to pee in the cup. I did it, while shuddering from the unbelievable level of discomfort that took about 15 minutes to wear off. I met with the PA, who asserted that, based on my symptoms, I probably had some kind of raging urinary tract infection. We waited. The results came back:

I have perfect urine. Urine an MLB player would pay for. Not a discernible thing wrong with it. Again: WWWHHHHAAAAATTT?! So now I'm freaked out because now she's saying, "Are you sure it was blood you saw?" Um, YES. Believe me, you don't misinterpret peeing blood. Once you have peed blood, you will never forget it. It is one of those "this is not how God or nature intended things to go" feelings that you never get over. So she gave me a short course of antibiotics just in case there was something the lab wasn't picking up on, and said she'd call in a couple of days with the viral results.

BINGO. She called yesterday to let me know that the BK Virus is back. You may remember from my early transplant days that I had this affliction, but sans the blood. (It's a virus dormant in almost every person. It resides in your bladder and you never know you have it until you are either pregnant or immune-suppressed and it roars to life). Her exact words: "It's very interesting because from one perspective you have absolutely pristine urine: no white cells, no blood, no bacteria, nothing. Pristine. From the other, you have perhaps the most virulent urine I've ever seen. Shockingly so." Nice. I had been thinking I was losing my edge, but hearing that I'm still shocking doctors is kind of comforting in a demented way. And of course I can laugh about this now because I'm now producing only good old American, USA #1, regular human pee with only minor discomfort.

Speaking of discomfort, turns out George Bush made some side deals with the Israelis that they could keep building settlements while honoring the "freeze." "When Israel signed on to the so-called road map for a two-state solution in 2003, with a provision that says its government 'freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements),' the officials said, it did so after a detailed discussion with Bush administration officials that laid out those explicit exceptions. 'Not everything is written down,' one of the officials said."

Well, see, there's your trouble. An international agreement in which not everything is written down?!!! Who would "sign" that? And who would honor that? Turns out the Obama administration doesn't, and I don't necessarily blame them. George Mitchell expressed frustration that they were being slammed for not holding to "agreements we've never heard of." It's a complex issue for which there is no easy answer, but if you signed an agreement saying you'd freeze settlements, freeze them. As in, build no more. Obviously, much has to occur on the Palestinian side as well; nobody involved gets the gold star for keeping their word. But it's got to start somewhere. And methinks demolishing any vestige of the Bush administration's penchant for doublespeak and syntactical smoke-and-mirrors (it's not torture, it's Enhanced Interrogation. It's a "freeze" which allows you to keep building) is a good place to start. Sorry, Israelis. You should have gotten that agreement in airtight writing.

Speaking of Obama, some on the Wacky Right are concerned that he is a "half-breed Muslin" because he thanked the Saudi King in Arabic: Shukran. Well, hell, I must be a half-breed Chinese lady then, because I say "Nie hao" to the Chinese grandma across the street every day. What moron thinks that saying thank you in your host's native language means that you are either secretly fluent in that language (the language of terrorism!) or that you are kow-towing to that person (Obama's Apology Tour!). Get a freakin' life. It's called effing manners, not to mention diplomacy. I am not shocked by much these days, but the ongoing moronic bigotry against Arabs and/or Muslims blows my mind. Like, I speak Hebrew so I must be a secret member of the Mossad? Everyone who speaks French secretly wants to be a "cheese-eating surrender monkey?" These characterizations make no sense, but as soon as you speak Arabic, there has to be something nefarious going on? Let's be smarter than that, folks, shall we?

On that note, the Bambina has awoken and I must now go and wish her a cheery "dobrahye ootrah." Unless that makes me a tool of Vladimir Putin...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Having it Both Ways

It has taken me a day to write something about the assassination of Dr. Tiller, a provider of late-term abortions because I was reviewing many of the on- and off-line responses to it in comparison with rhetoric previously espoused by the same individuals or groups.

I have a few questions.

1. How can a broadcaster name Dr. Tiller 28 times in his broadcasts, using terms like, "he has blood on his hands" and then disavow any responsibility in his killing? How can anti-choice organizations now condemn this act when their rhetoric created the environment for it to happen? How can the very people who would like to ban obscenity and pornography due to their deleterious effects on society (ie, speech influences people negatively), now claim that their speech and actions did not have that same effect?

2. Why does the pro-life movement not just change its name to what it really is: Pro-Fetus.

3. Do any of the people protesting Dr. Tiller's clinic and demonizing Dr. Tiller understand--on a personal and painful level--what he does? Do they really think it's 18 year old welfare queens claiming "mental distress" getting all the late-term abortions? Why not read, where actual, normal, just-like-you-and-me families write of their anguish as they learned their unborn baby would suffer and die within days of birth, or would require 3 surgeries before the age of one, only to prepare it for heart transplantation by age 5, if the child survived the initial surgeries? What about the priest who counseled the family that they were not killing their baby, they were simply deciding the time? It's easy to forget in all the rhetoric that real families and real pain are involved in the decision, especially late-term. Groups that reduce it to anything less than that show, as I said, concern for fetuses but not for born humans who wish to spare that baby a short life of suffering.

4. If the man who shot the army sergeant in Arkansas is an "Islamic militant" why is the murderer of Dr. Tiller not a "Christian militant"? Or would that be unfair to paint all people of a single faith with the same brush?

5. How can the United States allow doctors to live in fear while performing a LEGAL procedure that, by HIPAA regulations, one would assume is confidential. How is it okay for American citizens to use violence to intimidate, harass and--yes--terrorize other American citizens based on their differing religious and social beliefs? How can this be happening, where a legal procedure is becoming essentially extinct simply because the providers live in fear for their lives? How do we allow this to happen in Germany 1939, I mean, the USA 2009?

Just asking.