Friday, August 30, 2013

Slavery: Part II

I started writing this a while back and I've just been putting off posting because I wanted to go through some fact checking. The other day, I read a black man posting how president Obama and his wife are racist and hate white people. He didn't give any examples, he just stated it like "it's obvious." They're also communists, according to this guy. Truly these things are simply political rhetoric to appeal to a right wing base. Much of it would be directed at any white democrat. Claims of "we must respect the presidency" during the Bush era, seemed to be only for Republicans.

This whole idea of slavery started to occur to me after seeing news reports of the disabled being paid subliminum wage and mass casualty fires and building collapses in places like Bangladesh. Garment workers toil long hours under terrible conditions for low pay. It struck me and I read someone else suggest this just moved slavery from our vision. "Fiddledeedee, I'll think about that tomorrow!"

African Americans continue to suffer the effects of enslavement even today. I knew that slavery didn't end with the civil war. It changed to mass incarceration of people of color coupled with segregation and culminated with the drug wars began in the 1980's.

In his book, Slavery by another name : the re-enslavement of Black people in America from the Civil War to World War II, author Douglas Blackmon (yeah, great name huh? He's white too!) tells of how the south denied former slaves their liberty. Using court documents and historical letters, Blackmon describes a post civil war south that continued forced labor by means of incarceration. Thousands of men and women, ill equipped for a free life, got duped into jail and then "sold" to companies as prison labor. 

White men would stop healthy looking young black men and charge them with vagrancy or some other petty crime. Once jailed, other white men would prosecute, judge and sentence them to a fine these people could not pay. They would then be required to perform forced labor until their fine was paid off. Jailers would tack on fees for room and board, growing a six month "sentence" to an incarceration term of years. All for basically "walking down the street while black." 

The prison documents often failed to include what crimes a person was convicted of or the term of their sentences. They were just cogs in the machine. If they broke, the system would just find a replacement. 

Blackmon goes on to say this treatment made slavery look kind in comparison. As slaves, people had monetary value as livestock. Though this is demoralizing, it means there's less incentive to injure or starve your assets. Labeling prisoners as "bad" gave those jailing black people an excuse to abuse them. 

These practices got the attention of the federal government in the early 20th century and several white men were prosecuted and fined. Some were jailed, but many refused to pay. Since the people enforcing such fines were the very people who jailed the prisoners in the first place, hardly any whites suffered any punishment at all.

With the advent of mechanization of labor and after World War II, blacks began to move away from the harsh treatment from southern states. These practices ebbed. Segregation began to repress people of color. Through legal battles and legislation, slowly blacks gained standing as fully engaged citizens of the United States. Still, few white men abusers and oppressors suffered any consequences. 

Imagine watching a white man hurting your friends and neighbors and knowing that he'll get very little punishment. Imagine having your whole community accused of being "uppity" just for asking for your turn at opportunity. Might you not reason there's a high  chance of you going to jail on a bogus trumped up charge and might you decide that if you are going to jail, you might as well live it up and do a crime? I'm very law abiding and I can imagine it.

In The new Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander suggests that drug laws and unfair sentences created from the drug wars of the 1980s continue the legacy of repression of the African American community. Different rules for powder and crack cocaine sale along with mandatory sentence differences keep more blacks in prison. Many states also ban felons from voting. 

In the 21st century, of all men in their early thirties, African-Americans are more than twice as likely to have a prison record and serve longer than whites. These sentences run roughly 10 percent longer than whites jailed for the same crime. According to the 2000 US Census, 2.2 million blacks enrolled in college compared to the Bureau of Justice figure of 610 thousand black inmates.

According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report database, in 2010 58 percent of hate crime offenders were white (including latinos), 18 percent were black, 8.9 percent were multi-racial and 1 percent  Native Americans.The report states that among hate crime offenses motivated by race, 70 percent were composed of anti-black bias, while 17.7 percent were of anti-white bias, and 5 percent were of anti-Asian or Pacific Islander bias.

Prisons charge inmates more for toiletries and other personal items and the "store" has a monopoly on their business. Though the reasons for this involve many legitimate concerns, it just pushes more financial burden onto an already impoverished population. 

So you're charged more for some basic needs and then paid far below minim wage for your work. In a federal prison labor program called UNICOR inmates make between .23 and $1.15 per hour. In fiscal year 2008, UNICOR employed 21,836 inmates: 17 percent of eligible inmates held in federal prisons. The company generated $765 million in sales. Of these revenues, 74 percent went toward the purchase of raw material and equipment; 20 percent went to staff salaries; 6 percent went to inmate salaries.

States have similar programs. Prisoners with a financial obligation to pay for their crimes are required to pay 50 percent of their wages to reimburse victims. Working while in jail does benefit inmates by giving them skills and it alleviates the boredom. 

Shouldn't prison industries be subject to the same rules as non prison employers? There's a mechanism for garnishment outside of jail. How can it be fair to anyone inside or outside the system to pay people less? Victims would get paid sooner, prisoners would no longer be treated as slave labor, outside contractors wold be able to compete fairly on labor and it would remove the incentive to keep skilled workers jailed. 

People who do bad things need to be taught to stop doing those bad things. But what we have now, are warehouses for slaves. For half the cost, drug treatment and life skill training centers could replace most non violent offender rolls. The echoes of slavery persist because few people ever consider the reasons for over representation of ethnic minorities in prison. Most of us just think, bad people go to jail. Good people avoid it. 

Even people in the black and Latino community blame things like drugs for the problem. They may form groups that try and change minimum mandatory sentencing or efforts to end prison overcrowding. All valuable concerns, but these groups fail to realize how much bigotry still drives the jail system. This system that should have been dismantled 150 years ago persists in repression of minorities. 

How about we do as I suggested above? We start shifting toward parity in incarceration and creating cheaper true rehab for drugs and life skills? Baltimore, Maryland is doing it with juveniles. They have conflict resolution programs where they bring together all parties to a conflict and everyone works toward a solution. We can be a better country and live Dr. King's dream. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Work it out

I need the exercise, but since I have surgery on September 9, I'm going to take the month off from Tai Chi. Today will be my last bending stretching and moving around organized by a nice long haired lady. Or her equally nice, when he doesn't use me as a sparring dummy, long haired husband.

My state funded health plan has weight loss program that includes exercise. I have to go to an orientation, but that doesn't start until four days before my surgery. I selected one I hope will let me do some work while recuperating 

I don't know how down and out I'm going to be. None of the doctors can tell me until they open me up and see how easy their cutting is going to be.

Went to the dermatologist and he said there are no more skin issues to worry over. He said I should be checked as regularly as twice a year. He thinks I'm the only person with albinism in the area. It's possible. We're like 1 in 20,000 in the population. There's about 65,000 in the county. Could be a couple more like me lurking around.

Here's the timeline:

Sometime in June I noticed the spot on my leg turned into a lump and I called up and get an appointment to have my doctor looked at it. She sent me to a surgeon to have it removed.
July, the surgeon scheduled the lump for removal.
July toward the end, Lump removal surgery, biopsy sent. The injection of numbing agent hurt, but the surgery didn't.
July 31, Surgeon called to tell me it was cancer and scheduled a CAT scan
August 7, Donning my cat ears my friend Alison made for me (yay Ali)  I went off for my test. I posted about it with a picture here" What's new PussyCAT On the same day, they removed the stitches from the surgery. My skin grew in well which unfortunately made taking the stitches out painful.
August 12, Surgeon shows me the CAT scan with some lumpy bits near my uterus and around my breasts. He thinks it's nothing but he has me get some exams anyway. We schedule a mammogram and gynecological exams.
August 16, Gynecologic tells me the mass is just a fibroid like we thought
August 18, Mammogram tests reveals no lumps and nothing of concern. It was way easier than I expected and not painful  Though I have large breasts, perhaps a woman (or man) with smaller pectoral area would find it painful. One of the scans is a little awkward, but it didn't hurt.
August 28, full body dermatology exam finds nothing of concern.
August 29, I see my regular doctor to clear me for lymph node biopsy.
September 6, Pre-operative consultation with the nursing staff and anesthesiology.
September 9, Lymph node removal and more skin removed around the area of the lump.

I don't have any information on what happens after that. I know I will go home that day.

Writing this all down tired me out. Quite a stressy ordeal. I am confident the cancer got taken care of the first time, but it not, we'll decide what to do from there.

Remember, make me laugh. I know you're sorry and yes I am amazing and strong. You can just be silly.. that's the best thing you can do for me ;) Kind and silly.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Give it away NOW

A friend of mine told me about a couple posts on charitable organizations and it got me to thinking about efficiency. Making the most of my spending and actions interests me a great deal. Not only do I like a bargain, I like a bargain on what lasts.

Each post told stories of giving and asked the question if the program was the most effective use of the giving dollar. See them here;
Do you cause more harm than good by giving Tom's Shoes to the poor? 
Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others

They both ask the question of if the programs created to help people use the money wisely. Is it wiser to clean up places where children walk barefoot or give them shoes? Is it wiser to provide mosquito netting for more people or cure malaria in fewer people? Maybe the question is far more complicated.

A few years ago I saw a charitable giving chart of dollars spent on different categories  It showed that charities related to animal welfare garnered more than those for children. I remarked on this and some friends suggested that animals are completely defenseless. Where as children at least had someone to speak for them and could to some extent speak for themselves.

Seems to me people flat out just like animals more than they like people. And probably for the very reason that they don't "feel" as needy. Kind of ironic that the thing that gets them more charitable contributions is the thing that says they don't need it as much as the kids do. Lets face it, kids make noise, cry and complain sometimes in ways we don't expect. Animals needs tend to easier to both ignore and fulfill. Though children need food, stability and comfort just like dogs, what they might ask for is "go away!" or "take me to the mall!"

With regard to charitable work, I wonder if people from outside a need can ever truly sort out how to solve it. There is something to be said for information and perspective, but providing those along with a charitable gift may be the most effective method for problem solving.

Does the poverty charity help people out of poverty or at least help people take steps toward that goal? Does the cancer charity provide funds for research that have good outcomes? Does an organization's goals match what outcomes they are looking to accomplish?

A few posts back I was objecting to Goodwill Industries for paying their managers high salaries while paying disabled individuals sometimes far below minimum wage. Honestly, I don't care what the managers make if they're helping a high number of people. Are they getting the most effective use out of their contributions. I still don't think the disabled are getting the best benefit from Goodwill, but I stopped tying it to what the managers make.

Take a moment the next time you do something charitable. Consider  the whole of the impact. Occasionally ask the question of the effectiveness of your donation. I'm not asking you to never buy Tom's Shoes or forget about donating anywhere. Just sometimes ask. If we all ask, sometimes, we might get to where more gets done.

I donate to and buy mainly at Hospice Thrift store and the Habitat for Humanity Restore. I've heard good things about both and I like the bootstrap build your own idea with Habitat. I like the cooperative  idea. I'd like to see some numbers on effectiveness and I plan to talk to them about it later this week.

What about you? Where do you spend your money, donate your goods or spend your time?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ya Gotta have Friends.

(Writing fiction seems to help calm me down so here's a bit more on our story. I will figure out a title after a few more installments. I am totally making this up as I go. I have a couple ideas, but they're vague and undefined. Feel free to comment. ) Catch up on the story here: 
2. Double Vision
  "Come out of there! I can hear you breathing, you beige tinted bag of goo!" 
  Georgia held her breath and tried to shrink inside herself. If she could just be invisible for a minute, he'd go away and she could eat. The alley looked deserted and closed up for the night, but naturally  a Chentry lurked down there. Just her luck. 
  "Bastards act like they are god's gift to humanity." Thought Georgia. In the 127 years since their first contact, the Chentry paraded around and took over every position of authority. Unworthy, imperfect natives lost what little place they had built. Now they worked for their benevolent overlords. Though humans still have the illusion of freedom. 
  If she were caught, she would be sent back to the orphanage for training. The idea of back breaking mining camps, coppa crop field work or cleaner duties never appealed to Georgia. She had a fertile and active mind but only humans from a good family got a decent education. So she escaped. 
  After lights out, and most of her fellow captors were asleep, she made her way to her cache of food, wire cutters and a small digging tool she hid in a bin near the fence. The lump of pillows and covered hole kept her exit secret until morning. Before anyone knew she was even gone, she was dozing behind a human grocery market on the outskirts of a nearby town. 
  The Chentry kept the streets safe and clean enough to appear survivable, but she soon learned how much she had to hustle to get by. For two years, she learned how to eat, wear and sleep in the cast offs of her betters. And she knew everyone was better than her. 
  She figured out how to fake a persona for the daytime. By accident someone mistook her for a girl from Cherry Hill. The distant acquaintance hadn't seen the girl in a long time and wanted to catch up. At lunch, Georgia tried not to scarf the meal as she pretended a life from stories she read about in scraps of tossed magazines. Nothing extravagant, just real enough to seem interesting. 
  After that, she used the name Gilda Menger whenever anyone challenged her. If you walk confident and with purpose, most people and even most Chentry, ignored you. 
  At night, everything changed. Chentry preferred to do their business when they weren't blinded by the sun.
  The Chentry down the alley came closer to where she pressed herself flat against the brick wall. He peered around the dumpster and she could see him craning his spindly neck, his triangular shaped head swiveling, searching from side to side. He glowed pale green against the darkness. His black marble eyes blinking as he scanned the surroundings. 
  When he started to move off, Georgia carefully let out her breath. The Chentry whipped around and caught her by the collar. "There you are you little mouse!" At first, Georgia thought he was going to eat her. They didn't eat human adults, that she knew of, but they could be cruel if they were in a mood. 
  He set her down and looked her up and down. "you're too small to be out this time of night." 
  "I lost my notebook and I needed it for lessons. I didn't think anyone would mind if I just picked it up." she bluffed. 
  The Chentry looked behind where she tossed her bread when he caught her. He growled a bit and glowered down at her. "Not the best lying beigy I've met, but not the worst. Come on, I've got some things you can eat. " 
  Georgia contemplated running when they got to the edge of the alley, but he put out his arm and told her to wait. He was the closest thing she has to a friend out at this time of night. She nodded and let him lead her. Another Chentry appeared around the corner and the one in front of her waved him off. "Not tonight, Jaho. I have to feed this kapkah, I'll catch you another time." 
  The other glared at Georgia, but just shrugged and went back the way he came. Georgia wondered why he spoke in Standard so she could understand. Maybe he didn't want me to be afraid of the other Chentry. That seems odd. She knew some Chentry lingo. Kapkah, for instance was slime eater. 
  It makes sense that Chentry homes resemble wasp nests. It reveals their insect like nature. He climbed up the entrance and let a rope ladder down for her. He's had humans in here before. The small rounded main room made from human hand sized rough hexagon cells. One section featured a flat bench with some kind of grassy covering. Definitely made for people. He waved his hand toward it and she sat down. 
  Several of the closed sells glowed with a warm light. The Chentry rustled inside a cupboard of sorts and brought out some cheese, an apple and some kind of fungus. "I'm Benhi, " shared the Chentry. "What do they call you, kapkah?" 
  Georgia took a bite of the apple and sniffed the fungus. She used the time to consider what to tell him. Her lie could be checked too easy under these circumstances, but the truth would send her back to slavery. She had never encountered anyone, not even a human who talked to her as a person. She didn't know what to think. And he knew she was lying in the alley. 
  He observed her dilemma and chuckled. "It doesn't matter right now. You can keep it to yourself. I'm not going to turn you in to anyone. Though, I don't know what I'm going to do with you either. It's not exactly safe out there for orphans, but I bet you know how to handle yourself. '
  She cocked her head and looked at him through narrowed eyes. She carefully chewed her cheese and tried to work out what this game was. He waved his hand to the open door. "It's late, I'll decide what kind of offer I will make in the morning. Sleep there, if you want. Or leave if you want. I"m going upstairs to signal Jaho and see if I can salvage that deal you screwed up." 
  Georgia couldn't help the flash of fear that came across her face. She didn't want the Chentry angry with her. "Oh relax, you, I know you didn't meant to do anything. Jaho's a REAL kapkah, I'm only working with him because he's a neighbor podmate. I'd just as soon work with a dung merchant!" 
  Before he leaped upstairs the Chentry tossed his head back in their equivalent of a smile. Georgia quickly finished her meal and headed for the door. Just as she looked down she caught herself. What is this all about, she thought. Might it be safer to sleep here for a few hours. She could always leave before he came down. 
  Georgia looked back longingly at the bench. She hadn't slept or even sat on anything so comfortable in her life. After a few seconds of hand wringing she went back and curled up. Just a couple of hours and then she'd go. 

(So now we know where she met Benhi, now I just have to find out how to tie these together. ) 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Do that to me one more time..

Oh my fucking god. Sorry for the language, but it's where I am at. I cannot believe I didn't see it before today. I made the SAME MISTAKE! I know that life is full of missteps, fumbles and falters; I just try and not repeat the error.

Evidently my psyche has other plans. 

Let me draw you the picture of my life the first time I made this mistake. My ex and I had been married three years when we had a terrible fight. It was the weekend of our third anniversary in fact. We went on a trip from Los Angeles to San Diego. He had a pager on his hip and he got a message from my best friend. 

I was jealous of them working together. I teased them about their closeness but I was genuinely angry and bothered by it. I knew they were getting closer and I knew they were going to end up together. I think now that I didn't want to stop it. I think now that I wanted out, because as I was gaining my independence from him, I was starting to think he wasn't enough of a man for me. 

We started a business together seven years before this. We weren't making bushels of money, but I loved how we built a nice base of regular customers and relationships with suppliers. I didn't think I'd done much, but once I was outside of it, I realized I did two thirds of the work. 

So my ex and I had a fight after he called her back and just chatted with her while I stood by. This was back when cell phones were rare and so I stood outside the payphone watching his body language as he romanced my best friend. I griped at him through dinner and went to bed angry. In the morning I cried while we showered together and he was trying to romance me too. 

We went on to the San Diego Wild Animal Park and as we walked around, I knew my marriage was over. He clung to me, but I knew that he didn't love me, he just didn't like letting go.

We denied it all and when we got back home, the stress put me into a deep sleep. He woke me and wanted to go have dinner. He said the most amazing thing. He said "Nancy wants to eat." That was her name.. my "best friend" who he was having an emotional if not a physical affair with... Nancy. 

I screamed for him to leave me alone. I did scream "go sleep with her, you want to anyway." Then I called my other friend Carol and she came and got me and I spent the night at her house. Hours of crying and tossing and turning restlessly. 

Carol took me home the next day. My ex wasn't home, he had some business to do and so I waited. He was shocked to see me. He thought I had left for good. I said no. I was so sad and hurt, but I wanted to stay married. Or I thought I did. I thought I was the cause of all our problems. I thought I wasn't a good enough lover and that's what made him look for someone outside our marriage.

So we went out to dinner so we could talk and I wouldn't get overly emotional. This was my idea, because if I'm just crying and carrying on, nothing gets worked out. But I keep myself in check if I'm in public. Mostly. 

So this song came over the radio in the restaurant. "Who's Sorry Now"  sung by Andy Gibb and Barbara Streisand. The lines that hit me; 

"What, what kind of fool Tears it apart
Leaving me pain and sorrow ...
I only apologize
For being as they say, the last to know
It has to show
When someone is in your eyes "

So I sat in that restaurant and quietly wept as I realized the words were true. I think I said, "Oh my god, you slept with Nancy. " I think he said "you told me to. " Still, I should have decided to divorce him, but I didn't. 

For three days we were in dire relationship negotiations. I made him sleep on the couch and we put off business dealings while we figured out what to do. On the third day he came to me while I was getting ready for my regular therapy session and demanded he be let back in my bed to sleep. When I said no, he defiantly said that if I wouldn't do that, he might as well go sleep with Nancy. 

I consider that my best worst day. Finally, he said something that I couldn't blame myself for. It was the last straw. He packed some belongings and left. 

I found a lawyer through an online friend and made an appointment. I was out of a job and a marriage. I failed to realize that I did so much work in the business. All the planning, growing and directing resource skills were in my basket. He was a wonderful technician and contributed that skill well, but I made it work. My two thirds to his one third.  

I told him I wanted paid for my half of the business and he agreed. He took a year to destroy the business. Maybe he did it on purpose, maybe just lacked competence, I can't really say which is true. I got an income for a while, but he called me up one day and asked me to pay for his bankruptcy. He showed me all the debts and I noted that he had increased them by $50,000. I had no debts of my own and a small amount of savings and I'd be damned if I was going to pay for half his mess. 

So I lived with really messed up credit for a while. My divorce became final and I went back to school. 

In hindsight, I realized that I should have kept the business and hired some technical people to do the work. I simply didn't know at the time what my skills were. I thought he was the business. I was wrong and I failed to learn a valuable lesson. 

When Murry and I moved to Oregon, we wanted to start a business. We're a much different couple and I'm a much different person. I accept blame when it's mine, but I don't put up with anyone trying to push it on me. Never again. 

We started our business from the ashes of someone else's failure. I thought we could make a go, because the owner before them had a nice business. We hired two people to start who were far more experienced in retail than I. We let them run the day to day operations for the first two years. I started keeping tighter rein on operations when we weren't making enough to cover expenses.

Advisers told us that it would take three years to get to profitability so Murry and I just kept going, but we were really struggling. Our two main employees were often at odds with each other. It got to the point where our accountant was suggesting we get rid of one of them. I didn't know what to to do. One of them came to me and offered to be laid off. I took her up on her offer. 

I saw the other employee as a better fit and I indirectly chose him. I think that was my biggest mistake and one that I repeated from my first business. 

I'm posting this on a different day from my regular Monday, Wednesday and Friday schedule. I thought it was valuable enough to post it as soon as I finished writing it. Comments welcome. 

I failed to see the value of vision, management, subtler customer service and reliability. Plus I created a monster in the person I chose.  It took eight months for that monster to grow big enough to destroy the previous two years, but once he started raging, there was no stopping him. 

So both my businesses failed for the same reason. I overvalued the technical aspects of enterprise and undervalued the more subtle leadership skills. 

I'm most ashamed that I didn't learn from my first mistake. That's not to beat myself up, that's to remind myself to get REALLY clear when I do things in the future! 

It occurs to me that this post is a little disjointed  It's about my epiphany of realizing I made the same mistake, so why is there relationship stuff at the beginning? I don't entirely know. I just feel the need to tell the story. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cat Scratch Fever

My CAT scan did now show any masses considered cancerous. My surgeon wants to take out some lymph nodes near where the lump was to make sure there's no spreading of the melanoma. I'm a little annoyed to have to have major surgery, but I guess it's better to be safe than sorry. He also has to excise the wound and take more skin around where he took the lump out.

He sent me for an EKG and blood work for the surgery. I like the EKG, no sticky pokey, just tapey machinie noises. Though the blood work and pee in a cup was fine. They must train people really well, neither of them hurt at all. Come to think of it, neither did the CAT scan IV tech.

The scan did reveal an enlarged liver and a mass near my uterus. I'm set for a mammogram and a gynecological exam Friday and Monday. The mass is likely fibroid tumors. I haven't had a period in at least 2 years, I thought it was just menopause but that may be why. I'm told it would have lit up if it had been cancerous.

I know that most doctors are arrogant. Murry says they're trained that way in western medicine. I guess maybe it's the make bold decisions and stick to them and leave the doubt aside. Surgeons are known to have extra assholey arrogance too. Mine sure does. I get it and I don't really have to like him. He's competent at his work. He could be trained to at least feign compassion.

Fine, be blunt, but be confident you can help me make changes. "Lets see what we can do with where you are at NOW and then go from there to help with your overall health. " Like what would it hurt to be supportive and move off from here? I KNOW I'm fat. Treat me like it's a medical, emotional and lifestyle issue. Don't stand there and judge me "bad" because I'm not healthy.

Okay, rant over. I have confidence all this will be done and over soon. Peace.

Leave a comment, I'm feeling like I am typing in the dark. ;)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bad Bad Leroy Brown

I'm a bad blogger. I apologize for not posting Friday and this being a short post today. I did start writing something I was just getting bogged down in the details and still haven't finished it. Also, I wont get my scan rusults until Tuesday and if I remember, I'll post. If not, it'll be Wednesday.

I'm feeling down and pressured about life. Disintegration of business taking it's toll. Plus the medical issues.

Someone posted on Facebook, "stressed is desserts backward." ;) That gave me a chuckle. I've been watching a comedy show hosted by John Oliver, the guy hosting the Daily Show for Jon Stewart. Couple really funny older bits that helped a lot. Apparently there are four seasons. Woo.

Okay, that's it for this light post. I'll post the deep long winded post another day.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What's new PussyCAT

  Friday's post will cover the results of the CAT scan I had today. Yes, I know they don't call it CAT anymore. It's just CT, but if I gotta have a big scary test, I'm going to have some fun while being poked and prodded!
  They make you drink this weird barium crap that tastes of vanilla soy milk and toothpaste without mint. I had to do four doses every 20 minutes. Two people mentioned the word "vomit" while I was there. I almost did at the suggestion. I wanted to scream SHUT THE FUCK UP! I just forced myself to think happy thoughts.
  My kitty ears and shirt made a few people chuckle. The best part is it helped ME! Still getting all the strange comments coming out of the woodwork. Mostly on Facebook. Here's what I want form you all: kindness and funny memes. Tell me your favorite really funny show or comedian. Tell me a funny story. I KNOW you're sorry, I KNOW I'm strong. Never mind those things for a while. Laughing is good for both our health. Do that.
  Okay, so the scanner is this really big donut with a place for you to lay on in the middle. They run one scan with just the drink contrast, then they run an IV through you for an additional contrast. That feels warm, like your whole body drank hot tea. I noticed it especially on my ears.
  My scan was of my chest, abdomen and pelvis so the guy running the machine had me raise my hands. He didn't tell me his name or his title, he could be a radiology tech or a radiologist, I have no idea. I feel kind of strange about that. I suppose there were diplomas on the wall. I could have looked closer at them, but I didn't.
  So I went into the machine hands raised the mechanical voice goes "breath in and hold" while the machine whirrs and clicks for a couple of seconds and then it tells you to exhale. It kind of spits you out like you're atop a giant tongue. There's a count down on top so you know how long you have till you can let out your breath.
  The actual scan took hardly any time at all. About five minutes and I was on my way upstairs to get the biopsy stitches out.
  Though there were only three stitches, it hurt a little. My immune system apparently works a tad too well. The skin knitted nicely around the threads. She got them out and bandaged me up and on my way.
  Murry reminded me, the tests are just for information. I like knowing stuff so that kept me mostly calm. I see the surgeon tomrrow afternoon.
  Oh, and have I mentioned yet.. FUCK CANCER!

I'll let you know what's up Friday.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Double Vision

(Fiction for fun and to let me destress from all the stuff going on with me this week. Sorry for the late posting, technical difficulties arouse. Two weeks ago we left Georgia in the Medlab after her gang initiation. In case you missed the start of the story, have a look at:
Undercover Angel

  "Benhi! STOP!" screamed Georgia. She blinked a couple times and looked around. The sounds of her own cries woke her. These nightmares had to stop. She needed sleep. She needed both sides of the angle to find out what happened.
  At least she'd earned her bunk. She didn't have to answer questions about it. Though she told the truth, she left a few details off. Both with the cops and the gang. She tried to suppress her amusement when Security Chief Ranaldi lectured her on working undercover "People know when you're misleading, they can smell it. Use your background as your cover." Hell, yeah, she thought, it worked on you!
  As she got up to wash her face, Georgia wondered what Benhi would think of all the trouble she was going to for him. He'd probably bust her head. "It's just business, babe. Leave the personal for your love life." Yeah, that's the problem Benhi, they done business on someone I love.
  Georgia sighed and crawled back to her bunk. Sitting cross legged, she closed her eyes and began breathing deep. Slowly she raised her arms in slow rhythmic movements. Tension started to drain as her cells filled with air. She imagined putting her fear on a shelf. Her goal still existed. Tomorrow began the steps toward untangling who really ran the operation that got her friend killed.
(More when I feel like writing it. Probably a couple of weeks. I have an idea where the story is going, but not a definite one. Georgia might surprise me too. )

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Greatest Love of All

Ego, confidence and self regard require an ability to assess your own qualities. People often confuse ego with boastful. When you can do something well, taking pride in that can seem vain.

Some of us get confused into thinking that denial of our gifts is humble. I think it's quite harmful. How can we expect others to hold us in high regard if we cannot look at ourselves in the same light? I had to learn to just say thank you when I got a compliment.

I sometimes have to practice this with myself. I look at myself in the mirror and just remind me of attributes I like about me. I will say them out loud and add a thank you. I have pretty pale blue eyes, thank you. I can draw, thank you. I love talking to strangers, thank you.

Think of yourself as a different person. Don't go all multiple personality on yourself but just imagine if some stranger was seeing you. What would they say? If you cannot think of anything, think of what other people have said. Even the negative stuff has something. If someone said you were ugly, think about that for a second. Are you? If not, you could say to yourself, "People are jealous of my looks enough to put me down. Thank you." If you think you are ugly, be kind. We all feel that way from time to time.

Look around, the world is filled with perfectly happy people who don't fit in fashion magazines. They're married, they have children and pets and go about their lives. They have qualities that they share with the world.

Show up and be on your own side. Start practicing being complimentary with other people too. Find something, anything, nice to say to strangers. It's so easy and it makes people so happy. It changes how they see you.

Tell the truth in a kind way. Deflect put downs by mild confrontation. "You're doing that wrong!" "Okay, can you show me how to do it right?" If their way is better, use it and thank them. If it's not, thank them for the new perspective and do it your way.

The saying "do unto others as you would wish they do unto you, " can be thrown in reverse. Do unto yourself as you wish others would do unto you. If you want a man to bring you flowers, buy them for yourself. Practice how it feels to get flowers. Write yourself a little thank you note. "Dear me, how THOUGHTFUL! Hugs and kisses."

One major thing that helped me live way better. Choose OKAY! If I can't say anything complimentary toward myself, I can always say "I'm okay, thank you. " There's always "I'm breathing, thank you."

Try a little faking confident. Fake it til you make it, so the saying goes. No reason to truly mislead, but a little pep talk of "yes I can" goes a really long way to build self esteem. The song I used as the title of this has a line, "If I fail, if I succeed, at least I lived as I believe." It doesn't promise a success only journey. It says, you might fail, but go ahead anyway.

I believe in you. Whoever you are. I know everyone has gifts and talents to bring to the world. Shine for your own mirror.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Cats in the Cradle

I found out yesterday I have cancer. Remember when I said a few months ago that I have fear? Yeah, I get it's normal to be fearful of some big bad disease boogie man. Kind hearted people keep telling me how strong I am and how I can beat this. Not to discount those things, but I am tired of having to be strong and brave about shit.

That's what this is, it's a pile of shit. Our business closed a few months ago, leaving us in shitty financial shape, I get cancer and we also heard the Big Box Store Murry works at is closing soon. It's all a raw arsed deal and fucking shitty. I am strong and I will handle, it would just be nice to not have to.

What confounds me deeply is the kind of cancer I have. I have albinism which means I don't have much of the brown pigment called melanin. The doctor said the cancer is melanoma. So the few cells of the stuff I mostly don't have, decided they were lonely and were gonna make me sick. They want to go off and become part of something else. Great. Little bastards.

My research revealed something interesting. Albinism means the melanocytes (the cells that are supposed to produce melanin) don't work properly. But I have plenty of melanocytes so I can get melanoma. Fun. All the down side and none of the upside. On the other hand, if doctors found a way to modify the genetics, I could get pigment. Sorry anti GMO folks but I want to be one. 

Next Wednesday I have a CAT scan scheduled. I am preparing by seeking information and arranging to have cat ears. I figure if I am gonna be sick at least I am gonna be funny and sick. Murry has this shirt comic cats on it. One of them is smoking, another has an eye patch. Maybe I'll have him dig that up too. I know they'll ask me to take things off, but it will lighten MY mood anyway. Maybe I'll find some face paint and do up some whiskers.

As far as owing everyone and their little blue dog, we'll just have to take them a few at a time and try and sort things. I am asking for Murry's help. Before the store went bust, I tried to keep track of things. I have been falling down on that job. We don't owe anything but property taxes on our house. Those are paid until November.

Murry has a lot of merchandising experience. He should be able to get a job fairly quickly. He kept working there while we opened the store. It was a pretty good fit around what we were doing.

I have no idea what's going to happen. I think mostly it will all be fine. If we have to make major life changes, I'm content with that. I will have something to write about.

Please, I do care about you, but no comments on how strong I am or that I'll be fine or giving advice. I know that you're sorry I am going through this. Make me laugh, get my mind off it for a second. Make suggestions on how I can do things fun, happy and free. And take care of yourself.

(Sorry for the lateness of this post. For as short as it is, it took a while to write. I guess everything is very emotional right now.)