Archive for May, 2012

Matt Damon, you suck. I picked up the movie We Bought A Zoo from Redbox to watch tonight. It’s about a comfortably middle class white family in which the mother has died and everybody is working through their grief when dad uses his sizeable inheritance to purchase an ailing animal park on a whim. Actually, it is a mediocre bit of schmaltzy rehash. I enjoyed it like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich except for this one shard of broken glass that runs through the whole movie: mom. Healing and reconstructing a life after her loss is the theme, so she figures prominently. Normally, this would be okay. Poe would have thought the plot to be well grounded, I think.

I just can’t do death, anymore. Me. Ms. suicidal teen USA. Mary, Queen of Macabre. My art was filled with gore, torture, and themes of death. My writings mirrored that. I still prefer black to any other colour in my attire. She who even recently considered becoming a mortician. I, I can’t handle the concept of death, anymore. I’m so disappointed in myself.

It’s because of my baby. I’ve been there. I’m still there. I’m going there on the 25th of June, it looks like. The date for surgery is the 25th. They’ll attempt another resection of what is left of her tumour. My ex still has questions, so we’re going to meet with the surgeons on Wednesday next. I could come up with more questions, but those I had, have already been answered. We’ll see how it goes with my prayers.

Every time she goes under anaesthesia before the MRIs, ever since the first one, I have to put myself under with her. I swallow the panic and fear that would otherwise drown me when her eyes flutter, roll back, and she becomes unresponsive. This surgery will be different than the first; it should be shorter, less traumatic in scope, more precise. In may ways it will be the same, though. the anaesthesia room kiss before she is rolled into the operating room. She will be catheterised, rolled onto her stomach, strapped down, the IVs inserted into each hand. Long rods will be screwed into her skull through a large metal halo that will ensure she is immobilised through the procedure. Electrodes will be inserted into her major muscle groups from the waist to her calves, monitoring nerve response.

After the initial incision, her trapezius, rhomboideus major, and erector spinae muscles will be severed and retracted from the spine around the T3 to T5 or T6 vertebrae. The dorsal bit of the spine will be removed from these vertebrae in a laminectomy, the old screws will need to be removed. Once the bone and it’s ligaments are removed, revealing the dura mater – the sheath that envelops the spinal cord, it is cut through, careful to avoid vital blood vessels which are sparse in this part of the spine. scar tissue from the first surgery 2.5 years ago will have to be assessed and dealt with. Once at the spinal cord, the precise location of the tumour is re-checked and an incision is made into the centre of the vital bundle of nerves that allow for communication between the brain and all the lower part of her body. Nerves are necessarily severed, and here the damage/healing starts. The tumour differs only slightly from the surrounding healthy nerve tissue. A narrow tube that vibrates at ultrasonic frequencies is inserted where the surgeons believe the tumour is. they liquefy and the tissue is immediately evacuated through the tube. Every so often, they check for damage to the different muscle groups via the aforementioned electrodes embedded in the muscles. No or limited response and you stop sucking in that area and move on to another. Rinse and repeat until the surgeons are confident they have taken what they can, then everything is sewn and screwed up in reverse order. The electrodes are removed, as are the long rods, the intubation tube, and she is wheeled into recovery.

We won’t know what damage was done to what nerves until after she wakes up, and is coherent enough to take simple instructions to see if she can move her legs, feet, and toes. She will have 2 IV shunts to switch between morphine and saline to keep her hydrated. The morphine burns every time it enters the vein. The day after surgery, she is wheeled into the MRI to get a follow-up and see what the results of their efforts were on the tumour. After 2 days she will be slathered in plaster to make a mould for a clam-shell brace to support her spine while the newly attached ligaments, tendons, muscle and bones heal together. If hr legs are strong enough, and her brace comes in, she will have the opportunity to try to walk on the 3rd day. Barring any complications, she will have the catheter out on the 3rd or 4th day after surgery, and we will see how her bladder control is. Hopefully, she will be able to have a bowel movement, too, and that will be the end of the hospital stay. Then it’s back home to recover for a few weeks followed by any physical therapy that may be needed.

Within 2 weeks we will have the tissue results that will tell us if the tumour was still grade 1, which is benign, or if it has “upgraded” to a higher level that may require other measures, including chemotherapy or radiation treatments at the Cyclotron here in Bloomington, or if it’s a grade 4, to enjoy what time we have left together, usually 1-5 years from diagnosis.

Some of our friends have been on the receiving end of a miracle or two, a couple never got theirs. We’ve been blessed with one, already, and I am forever grateful for it. But there is that horrid dread that supersedes worry, hiding at the edges of my psyche. My ex has it, too. We all have it. But it can’t be shown leniency, it must be held back. There’s no time for that when the dishes and clothes and homework have to be done, tickle wars have to be waged, and every giggle, laugh, word and deed must be cherished. I want to hug her into me, to protect her, keep her safe from the world outside, but it’s the trouble within that confounds me. I’m powerless. I can’t kiss this better. All I know to do is to pray, love, laugh, and cry. Tonight, Matt Damon made me cry and fear. I may never forgive him for that.


Problems with ‘publicans

It’s only May, and I’m already so sick of the politicians and my country’s devolution, that I want to bury my head in the sand and forget the whole business. But that is something I cannot do, because half of the electorate endorse policies that are antithetical to my existence. This is where I talk to the “conservatives” and those so far-right in their ideologies as to be regressionist in their ambition. Um, this means you Republicans.

Those of you who claim the mantle of conservative, including those in my family, read well this rambling bit, because one of your duties as a citizen is to be of an informed electorate. Please tell me you get that, because it is one of the principles this nation was founded on, and your party of choice is so very fond of waving around the Constitution and Declaration of Independence and referring to it while directly opposing in rhetoric and policy those very shrines of our society’s founding principles. Please read those documents, including all the amendments to the constitution, because those are the basis for the rule of law here, and are to be applied to all citizens, period.

It is an embarrassment that we have a hard time coming to terms with the equality of our people. Former slaves and women had to fight to gain recognition of their humanity and equality. Who did they have to wrest that recognition from, and why? Why are we still locked in struggles against the elevation of all of our citizenry? We are all created equal in value if not ability and form. Anything else is an oppressive mentality, and that oppression is the very thing that is tearing us down. The desire to control, invalidate, and suppress people based on whatever differences that the traditional power-hoarders feel threatened by is the root of all these disruptive “movements” throughout our history. And by assuming that these people who seek to keep a majority of the country from full participation are justified and correct, is akin to serving the abuser who uses the same tactics to dehumanise their co-dependent victim.

As a survivor, but no longer victim, of both parental and spousal abusers, no desire is left in me to be the victim of my country’s leaders’ inhumane treatment. The politicisation of my body, whether it be because I am an intersex/transsexual or a woman is indefensible except by the tenets of some religion. Rather the religious basis is thrown up as support for personal prejudices. Enslavement and dehumanisation of women and slaves had the same books thrown up in defence of their oppression as is now happening in the opposition of equality for GLBT people from marriage rights to the right to use appropriate public facilities to discrimination in hiring and housing. It’s nothing new, it’s the same argument, the same props, the same vitriol and propaganda, and the same injustice as it has always been, only with another group to focus on.

I’m going to preface this next section by saying that I know a good number of Christians who try to live the words of Jesus and live in Love. But they are not as loud as nor as organised as the people who through fear, live in hate, and attempt to impose their beliefs by denying the rights they enjoy from others.

So let me address Christianity’s role in the oppression narrative. In it’s inception, the Jewish sect suffered persecution as all emergent social groups do. a culture of persecution persists to this day in the popular evangelical groups, and this underlying perpetual victimisation as perceived as coming from Satan (“the adversary”) surfaces as fear of the eternal “Other.” Any threat to the understandings of followers, however shallow or mistaken those understandings or blind beliefs are, constitute an attack upon their reality by the great Adversary, the antithesis of God. The Other is thereby literally “demonised,” and as such, it cannot be reasoned away. It is evil, destructive, unnatural, corruptive, insidious, unholy, and thus deserves extermination. This took the form of the Crusades, the Inquisition, the continuing Witch Hunts (Europe to America and Africa, the genocide of the Americas, the enslavement of non-white people and the white poor, women’s chattel status, lynching in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the aforementioned denial of the full humanity of non-whites and women that persists today. The persecuted became the persecutor, or, rather the destructive cultures adopted Christianity and used it as a tool of oppression. Christianity, itself is not a problem, outside it’s hyper-misogynistic foundations, it’s the anti-social sociopaths who use its book as fictional “basis” for their personal, self-serving agendas.

As Christians, one is required to follow the words of the Christ, after all, He’s kind of the main character in the story. So, conservative, Christian Americans out there who rail against openly available healthcare, “entitlements” for the poor, homosexuality, transgender people, the freedom of a woman to make decisions about her own body, and we’ll throw in slavery because it never ended.

What exactly does Jesus say about the poor?

And what of the sick? He healed them without reservation,

About women Jesus mentioned nothing about their equality or inequality explicitly (nor anything about abortion), but treated them as individuals, no different than the men he met, ultimately proclaiming in Galatians (3:28): “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

About slavery? Matthew (20:26-28) “If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. And if you want to be first, you must be the slave of the rest. The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people.” or, more succinctly: Mark (10:44) “Whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.” “But wait, that’s spiritual and metaphorical slavery,” you say. Yes it is.

And what about the GLBTI folk out there? Matthew (19:12-13): “Jesus replied, ‘Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it’. Born that way is the thing, here. There is some speculation as to who these passages cove, or if they mean much at all, but for most people around the world, outside of the modern Western world, the births of intersexed people and animals (sometimes mistakenly called hermaphrodites), and as our understanding of just what influences who and what we are expands, we find that there are physical and genetic differences in those attracted to the same sex as compared to those who are heterosexually oriented, so this passage would also seem to apply to those who didn’t follow the “normal” social path of pairing up with a member of the opposite sex and having babies.

Oh, what did Jesus say about marriage? Well, in no uncertain terms, his problems were with divorce, and he absolutely ruled out remarriage after after one. Read it: Mark (10:2-12) And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away.” But Jesus said to them, “For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

So what is my point? that those who wield the Bible and spout biblically inspired claptrap as the foundations for restrictive and punitive laws for any segment of the population are your anti-Christs, your false prophets, and they are preying on your ignorance on the matters to get you to support their denial of the equality this country is supposed to guarantee for every citizen regardless of religion or any other ideological or physical reason. “But Leviticus and Deuteronomy?” you shout, “surely those condemn homosexuality and cross-dressing.” How about this, go back and read those books of the Torah, Mosaic laws governing how the ancient Hebrews were to live. Now, after you’ve done that, enumerate how many of those commandments you break every day. Now shut up about it, because you’ve probably violated five within the past week without even having to try. “But Jesus died for our sins, thus negating some of those.” Yeah, which ones, specifically? Are you insinuating that Jesus died so that you can eat bacon and shrimp while wearing a cotton/poly blend top? I smell bull, here, and it’s not coming from your altar-fire.

But what about Judaism and Islam? They condemn the same stuff in their books, right? After all, the Old Testament is the Torah, and Islam recognises the Pentateuch (five books of Moses) as the word of God, too. Yes, true, and I’ve read translations of both the TaNaKH and the Qur’an, and they describe in bloody detail how not cool they are with women, foreigners, and homosexuals. Here is a difference, though. In the United States, despite the spurious evidence ejaculated by white supremacy groups, the direct influence exerted by these faiths’ traditional laws on the modern political arena is minimal.

It seems that I would be attacking straight, white, cis-gendered, Christian men, here, wouldn’t it? While it is true that those are characteristics shared by the majority of the people who deny equality for the rest, they are not required. Fear of losing privilege and the resultant need for absolute control of those you feel threatened by through institutionalised denial of their equality is the only criteria entry into that club.

Now, that club is predominantly represented by the Republican platform of strict social conservatism. Fiscal responsibility is obviously not either of the main parties’ actual goal, despite the rhetoric, so I will not address it. Far from the ideas represented in the Constitution, Republican efforts have been centred on repression, denial of rights, discrimination, and oppression. So-called “right to work” laws and their public servant kin that strip rights to collective bargaining lower wages and allow for a slackening of requirements of safe working environments as well as take away health care options for millions. Bullying laws support hostile conditions in schools by protecting the free-speech of bullies and stifling the same rights for the victims. Money is stripped from school budgets, inaccurate and simplistic assessment methods are mandated for inflexible and arbitrary performance requirements while the same people who took the funding and instituted the indefensible expectations proclaim the schools to be failing the children. Women are demonised for being sexual, rape and incest is defended, and the right to the sanctity of a woman’s own body is being stripped away. Transgender access to appropriate bathrooms is coming under fire. Homosexual people and couples are denied equality in marriage and adoption options in most states. People of colour still face institutionalised discrimination, and modern voting access restriction laws disenfranchise them and the poor and the aged. The poor in this country, roughly half of us, suffer from the deregulation, outsourcing, and flight of jobs supported by the policies pushed by Republicans. And who can claim to be all about Christian “values,” and deny access to health care to a quarter of the population? Arrogant, self-serving, sanctimonious, sociopathic, control freaks, that’s who. And you, you help them.

Democrats are not without blame, by any stretch, but they are less anti-Constitutional values, at least on the surface, than the Republicans. I would argue that their platform positions are also more in tune with the teachings of the very One that the Republican “base” purportedly believes in. Like my parents, I aspire to the designation of “independent” when it comes to politics and voting. I would have no problem supporting a Republican for office if that person embodied any of the traditional values of that party. Unfortunately, the party of Lincoln is now the party of Fallwell, limited government is a joke except to those crushed under the regulation of everyday life, and fiscal responsibility no longer applies when there are wars to wage against drugs, terror, and women. Ignorance and hate wrapped in the Shroud of Turin appear to be the values of the modern Republican party. If I’m wrong, somebody please show me how.

“… with Liberty and Justice for All.” (The “under God” was not originally in there. Revisionists!)

A girl at Bloomington North high school committed suicide on Tuesday. Her mom said that she was being bullied, the principal said that he found no evidence of it. I’d just like to say this about that last bit with the principal.



There. As an administrator, you have a pulse on the trends at the school, you may even have a rapport with some of the students. Boffo for you. But here’s something that you and the teachers, and the parents are usually not privy to: anything said in the halls, bathrooms, lunch lines, locker rooms, busses, and class rooms. You are ignorant of the realities that swirl and collide before you every day, or you had better be, because if you actually know what is being said and done within the walls of your institution, you are complicit in the activities that are ruining lives. So, please, Principal Henderson, STFU before you say something else stupid. Shut up and listen. Listen to the kids, the talk in the halls when you’re not noticed, the niggling cruelties between each-other that eat like acid through the developing identities of your students. All of you, just listen, then, put a stop to it.

Kids will be kids, but they will be the kids they are guided into being. By ignoring or dismissing one act of bullying, you are condoning it. Nip that shit in the bud. Anyone seeing that, call it out for what it is – psychological and/or physical abuse.

I applaud Dynasty Young’s mom who tried official channels to curb the torment her son faced at Arsenal Tech high school in Indianapolis. She could get no help from the school, so she gave her embattled child a stun gun. Not a taser, mind you, which shoots out barbs, but a handheld device that produces a high-voltage but low apm shock that temporarily incapacitates someone. So Dynasty took this device (some call it a weapon) to school and one day gets enircled and threatened with a good sound beating, oh, forgot this, because he’s “flamboyantly gay.” So in a moment when he is fearing for his safety, he pulls out the stun gun, holds it in the air, not at anyone< and presses the button which makes an impressive spark and snapping sound. His attackers back off, and Dynasty goes to class, only to be apprehended by school police and suspended. He had an expulsion hearing where he was kicked out of school, and his tormentors, who had threatened him regularly and even followed him home, throwing rocks and bottles at him, are still at school. Some people get hung up on the defensive weapon being taken to school, but this child was fighting for his life. His grades fell from As and Bs to Fs, he was physically attacked, stoned no less, and repeatedly targetted at school, and the principal (sensing a pattern here) when asked about stopping the bullying, chose to blame Dynasty for being too flamboyant. Victim blaming. Nothing better to build up the student's spirits.

But, Melanie, why are you so emotional about this? Well, funny you should ask. You see, I was suicidal for about 8 years of my life, much of it due to hiding my intersex/transsexual nature, but largely because of the abuse I received every day at school for six years. From 7th grade through graduation, I was tormented and harassed and faced down an older kid with a switchblade whose intent it was to save me the bother of suicide. There were petitions, weekly questionnaires, a daily chart of what I wore, songs, pranks, daily verbal abuse, false accusations, attempts to get me in trouble, and graffiti in my honour. Those who were my friends had to be the best characters in the world to be associated with a pariah like me. It would have been easy for me to believe that I was the only one to be bullied, but I saw it everywhere around me. Rumours, whole concocted mythologies about some people, name-calling and small assaults when the teachers' backs were turned. Two kids at the high school reportedly had HIV, but a hundred were accused of being them. Even I participated on a counter-attack on a group that had hurt a friend of mine.

Screw love, Pat, school is a battlefield. I survived, not everyone does. Years of therapy, alcoholism, drug abuse, ruined relationships, eating disorders, and the smattering of suicides are the casualties of this war. Even nearing my 40s, I know peers who are still trying to recover from the emotional damage they took in high school. This is not something new, it's just coming into the light with the interconnectedness of our world, we know within hours of another child lost to inattention and callous reactions. But still, reaction is the norm, and its effects are only local. Someone has to die before the problem is recognised and discussions about bullying begin. We're not a very proactive species, as a whole, and American culture is quite cold to those who suffer emotionally, two very horrific realities.

My daughter has some physical problems that she will have to live with perhaps all her (hopefully) long life. They are already a source of shame for her in first grade, and I worry about how she will react to kids that may latch onto that and poke fun at her for it. Bullying even goes on in her school, though teachers and administrators are quick to respond when it is brought to their attention. Yet even in this very conscious environment, children find time and opportunity to bully. It may be as ubiquitous as book bags, but so too was tuberculosis, and look what we've been able to do with that. For starters, I am teaching that everybody deserves respect from the start, and that she should accept nothing less in return. I do add that once respect is lost, on one side or the other, it may never be regained.

That's one concept I find missing from many people I meet these days. Respect seems to have been retired sometime in the 60s from the general culture. Oh, everyone may demand it, but it is rarely given, and when it is, it is usually in short measure. Like sex-ed, I think that the burden has to fall on schools to teach it to the kids, because like sex-ed, the parents alone are not always sufficiently versed in the subject enough to adequately instruct their children.

I'm tired, the clothes are dry, and I'm ending this here. I've taken to rambling, but I do want to hear a discussion about this instead of a bunch of "it gets better" stuff. Obviously, the message isn't reaching enough kids.

Stress is teh suk. Between the anxiety I feel now every time my baby goes for a weekend with my ex, said daughter’s health issues and impending surgery, money, hormone/transition problems (see money), diabetes, neuropathy, slipped discs, scleroderma, weight, lack of health insurance, wearing the mantle of Marketing Chair for the school fundraiser, and needing to touch up my roots, I’m a wreck. Not that I can’t handle it, but I get flustered easily. Somehow, I cannot sleep at night anymore. I’m not taking advantage of this gift of wakefulness, the house is great one week, the next it could be mistaken for a ring straight out of Mr. Dante’s Inferno. I’m behind in just about everything, and artistically frustrated to boot.

Does this stuff ever stop? Can there be a week or two without BS? Why am I asking you? One woman I know was bitten on her cheek by her dog and the developed a matching hive on the other, just for balance, like her immune system is OCD or something. How can you beat that shit? Another friend’s daughter had two epileptic seizures in short succession, with resultant injuries requiring trips to the hospital and stitches. Really, what have I to complain about? Everyone, including the more affluent of my acquaintances, is broke. I’m not the only one with problems, and yet I am so narcissistic that I believe everyone needs to hear of my woes. Maybe you do, just to know that someone else has to deal with their shit. Let’s continue. American culture is a festering bog of ignorance and apathy drowned in sex and drugs. My drug: Cherry Coke Zero, or at least two of the bottles I had, showed elevated levels of radioactivity according to my Geiger counter. No, not like the artist, H.R. Giger, why would I have a machine that counted those, and why would Cherry Coke Zero contain H.R. Giger? You ask weird questions.

I’m reading more news, which just serves to make me weep, piss me off, and then I just go back to the weeping because I can’t do a thing about the crap I read about. I’m an idealist, dammit! I need to believe in the ability to make this world a better place, but I can’t. Not in the face of all this greed and oppression with not a thing to my name and a daughter to raise. And speaking of, how exactly can I foster her own idealism and keep a hope in her for a good life when she’s already faced all she has in her nearly 7 years. I want her to be tough, yet able to laugh. I want her to assert herself and be thoughtful and giving. I don’t want her to take any shit, and I want her to be able to back herself up in that, if need be. And I want her to be a little girl who dances in the dandelions and makes faerie houses and is a vampire queen and witch queen and is a hampire which is a vampire hamster (though not all at the same time, mom! duh). She wants to be a singer, artist, rock star (somehow separate from singer), mother, puppy, Goddess, vet, gymnast, photographer, jewelry designer, farmer, fed, and in my lap all in about 2 hours (see earlier bit about the ring of hell my house becomes). How do I facilitate all of those things together? Hell, I have a hard enough time making something that she’ll eat for dinner. Gah! Oh, and I am a terrible playmate. I never really got into that whole play thing, before, and I was hoping that I would be challenged to do that with her, but my inner fuddy-duddy is too powerful.

I’m feeling a tad overwhelmed and despite several people telling me that I’m doing a great job, I’m not so sure I won’t screw the whole thing up and Kat will become a teenage mom/serial killer/hedge fund broker/Kardashian wannabe/Appalachian snake handling Wall Mart shopper because all she will eat is mild Slim-Jims, macaroni and cheese, Taco Bell, chicken and potatoes in their various guises, burgers from the Trojan Horse, a nice salad with Italian dressing only, corn, ice cream, and eggs sunny side up with toast, but only the yolk she can sop up with the toast, at least on days she hasn’t decided to be vegan. Oh, and candy. If it falls outside of this list or has any flavour or if it comes in a soup, deal’s off. I used to hold my breath to show displeasure with parental authority until I passed out, she will not eat for a day to protest my choice of food options or lack of planning around her dietary choices.

How the fuck do you people with multiple kids and partners do it? Am I missing something? Well, in the mean time, as I’m figuring out how to do that supermom transformation, I’m going to tiptoe around the 12 science experiments, art projects, a huge freaking radial arm saw, and costume change piles to the staircase 8 feet away to attempt a toss and turn before the alarm signals another solar period of juggling badgers.