Sunday, February 24, 2013

not a sermon, just a thought

People who talk about Jesus ALL. THE. TIME. are unbearable - pretty much the opposite of Jesus. Even Jesus used parables to share his message in real-world examples that didn't overwhelm or freak people out with theology, or guilt, or showboating. There are lots of folks on the Internet who seriously just need to chill out. Jesus wants ambassadors, not enforcers.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Freedman's hospital

This is the view from the rooftop bar of a swanky joint called Brixton. Never mind the racial implications of the name (for now), or that census records show my great great grandmother lived on the next block over. Being able to see HUH while I drink makes me feel strange inside.

My grandfather was an alcoholic. The kind of alcoholic who keeps drinking past when his wife, children amd pancreas have abandoned him. As a child, when my father was speaking to him, I remember visiting my grandfather in this hospital. Every time he was there, it was his fault - something related to his affinity for Kool-Aid over health. I never knew him very well. My father's strained relationship with him limited our interactions to Kool-Aid and Nintendo games.

And this hospital. He wasn't fortunate enough to die there. Instead, he died in a diabetic coma less than a mile from the school where I currently teach, where my father worked in the early 1980s.

And so, despite the fact that I am neither an alcoholic nor a diabetic, I suppose I feel immense amounts of guilt for partying here.

I suppose, as well, that I'll have to get over it. That's what Jollys do.

Friday, February 8, 2013

getting medieval on your sleep

I'm starting to really like my new medieval sleep schedule.

I come home from work at 4 and sleep until 8. Then I stay up to plan for school, watch TV and goof off on the computer until 2 or 3 in the morning. I get in one more round of sleep until 7:45, throw on some vaguely professional looking clothes, and head off to school.

My favorite part? I get to see my husband when he gets home from working nights.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

lefties support gun rights, too

"Of the many inhuman outrages of this present year, the only case where the proposed lynching did not occur, was where the men armed themselves … and prevented it. The only times an Afro-American who was assaulted got away has been when he had a gun and used it in self-defense.

The lesson this teaches and which every Afro-American should ponder well, is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give."

Ida B. Wells, Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases
I've kept pretty quiet about it until now, because I hate the idea of being lumped in with those fear-mongering racists over at the NRA, but consider this my official coming-out: I firmly believe that the right to bear arms is a fundamental political right, and that to limit or eliminate that right is unconstitutional.

Like Ida B. Wells,  I think that gun ownership is especially important for African-Americans. As individuals and as communities, we tend to be on the receiving end of institutional violence more often than other groups. It is too easy for us to find examples of our vulnerability during every moment in our nation's history. This fantastic, albeit long, blog post also does a better job than I ever have of tracing the modern gun control movement from white fears of black armed self-defense (a la the Black Panthers following police to prevent police brutality).

But even more important than self-defense, the writer makes the point - correctly, I think, or I wouldn't be writing this - that the constitutional right to bear arms is rooted in preventing the government (police and the military) from having a monopoly on the use of force. This is the same problem I have with capital punishment. The government should not have a monopoly on the power to decide if a person should live; based on the other inherent flaws in the way the death penalty is meted out (see above paragraph), I think it's best to eliminate that power entirely.

Back to the right to own a gun. Two passages from the essay stand out; the first is quite long, but quite powerful:
"I heard someone ridiculing a gun-rights supporter on TV the other day, along these lines:  Do you realize how ridiculous you sound when you talk about tyranny or resistance to tyranny, in the United States? Really? Let’s roll the videotape back a few years, and try that out again:  Do you realize how ridiculous you sound when you talk about American presidents, Republican and Democrat, torturing, kidnapping for torture, nullifying habeas corpus, spying without warrants on everybody, setting up a separate justice system for Muslims, rewarding billions in bonuses to bankers who crashed the economy, offering Social Security and Medicare as sacrifices to those bankers, aggressively prosecuting whistleblowers and journalists while granting complete immunity and government favor to torturers and banksters, personally overseeing the assassination of anyone they want anywhere in the world, including American citizens, starting seven or eight secret wars?  Do you realize how ridiculous you sound when you talk about the great European social-democratic states, Socialist governments included, overseeing forced austerity on behalf of banksters, selling off the land and assets of their countries, reneging on the pensions of their citizens, ushering in 25-30% unemployment, facing riots and pitched battles with police in the streets?
Understanding that things can and will change, radically at times, is an historical attitude. Asserting that the society and moment we live in today is omnipotent and unchangeable –proclaiming, essentially, that history is over – is what I understand as pure ideology. 'Tyranny' – or whatever you prefer to call it – has, not so long ago, already been here and been successfully resisted, with non-violent and not non-violent tactics – unless you think Jim Crow doesn’t qualify. And whatever-you-want-to-call-it is back – unless you think a regime that practices assassination, unilateral war-making, unlimited surveillance, austerity imposition, and issues from a completely corrupt electoral process, etc., doesn’t qualify.  And it may well be resisted again. I don’t know how the street protests and occupations of state capitols and such by workers and pensioners and student debt-slaves and people thrown out of their homes and out of their jobs may unfold in America in the near future, but they very well may take lessons from more than the edited history of such struggles in our country and around the world.  Nothing ridiculous there, as far as I’m concerned.  History is not over."
"The ultimate power does not rest with who starts out with the most guns, or even with who shoots them the most (or at all), but with who ends up determining which way they are pointed.  The most successful insurrectionary moment is one in which no bullet has to be fired; everyone just has to know at whom they will be headed if they are. 
That is still a struggle over the use and control of arms. Pointing a gun is using it."
And more yup. All day, yes.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

now what?! (brought to you by tramadol)

I don't know if this is normal or not, but sitting around mostly immobile after this bone marrow procedure has me kind of obsessed over what happens next. I suppose it must be normal. I mean, for the past two weeks, I've been preparing for this extraction to happen. Now it's over, and poof! I have no idea of how Little Man is doing. And I'm not even allowed to know until three months in. Unless he doesn't make it. So I keep looking up survival rates for bone marrow transplants, and how HLH patients respond to BMTs, because I don't have anything else to do but sit here all jacked up on painkillers with ice on my back.

I keep finding all these resources about transplants and HLH, but don't want to post them on Facebook. I post enough crap on Facebook as it is, and I really don't want people interpreting it as some kind of pathetic attention grab because I did this good thing (I used to be friends with that girl, and she sucks).

So on the off-chance you're interested in information about bone marrow transplants or hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH, duh), I'm going to stick all of the really interesting stuff I find right here in this post.

Also, I have a clone. I repeat, I have a tiny person out there with my DNA who is my motherflipping clone. Whiskeytangofoxtrot.

Anyway, links:
HLH: A Simple Description - This whole Web site is an account of a little girl named Zoe's (winning!) battle against HLH (and we all know how much I love a Zoe).
The Histiocytosis Research Trust - "The prognosis for children with HLH has improved dramatically over the last 20 years and there is now a cure rate of more than 50%."
Thoughts One Year After Donating Bone Marrow Stem Cells - I had to have my bone marrow extracted directly from my pelvic bone, but other donors (like Ruth) are able to donate the stem cells that create bone marrow.
What Is It Like to Give? - From an awesome, now-defunct Web site called Sepia Mutiny. The site highlighted a few campaigns encouraging South Asians to register for the marrow registry; with only 1% of registry members of South Asian ancestry, South Asians have just a 1 in 20,000 chance of finding a match.

because I felt like it

That's right. I ate two Filet-o-Fish sandwiches in one sitting. Yeah, I'm gluten intolerant.

But I figure if these painkillers are going to make me sleepy, itchy and cranky anyway, I might as well be those things and full of Filet-o-Fish.

So suck on that, body. I do what I want.

Friday, February 1, 2013

officially a donor

Yesterday, I donated bone marrow to a newborn with a rare blood immunodeficiency. I'm still pretty overwhelmed by the whole experience. I'm in awe that somewhere in the world is a tiny little boy who is fighting to live - and he has my DNA inside his body to help him now. There's a tough little mini-me out there, and all I want him to do is live.

The procedure wasn't painful - minus the sore throat left over from the anesthesiologist's breathing tube, and the pretty intense constipation - I was asleep for the whole thing, which took less than an hour. I am drowsy from the painkillers, and sore. I feel like I fell down a flight of icy stairs and bruised my butt and lower back.

I despise IVs more than anything else I've ever encountered.

One of my kids gave me a card and made me promise not to open it until after the procedure :)

Awake, but still heavily anesthetized, on morphine, and very confused by "KGC." This is also the most unattractive photo ever taken of me, so of course I had to include it here.

And I would absolutely do it again.

I can't run for two weeks while I recover. The doctor says that any kind of over-exertion too soon will cause the puncture holes in my pelvic bone to "connect the dots" and cause a fracture. So I'm counting down the days until I can put my Asics back on, and focusing my energy on fundraising while I wait.

I'm also praying. I'm not huge on prayer, because I'm not convinced God cares about what happens to us. But just in case It does, I want to give my patient, my Little Man, the best chance he can possibly have to survive and thrive. So it'd be nice if you'd pray for him, too.

it's black history month!

“There is no reason for you to try to become like white people and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you. The really terrible thing, old buddy, is that you must accept them. And I mean that very seriously. You must accept them and accept them with love.” 

This is one of my favorite quotes from James' Baldwin's The Fire Next Time. I'd post it to my Facebook wall, but you know how people on Facebook stay tripping because they're lazy readers and thinkers.

Happy Black History Month!