Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day 4.

The woman in the bed next to me reads a pocket-size Bible along with a magazine which she makes notes in the margins of. The man on her other side peppers his sentences with "Jesus" and "the Lord," etc., even when he's just talking about mowing the lawn. He also sniffs, or I should say snorts because it's that sound people make when they're imitating a pig, in the morning. I want to say, "Jesus Christ, blow your nose!" but 1) we're here together for another 12 days so I don't want an enemy, and 2) I just don't usually yell at people until I'm ready to kill them, and it's not really that bad.

I spend so much of my life avoiding proximity with Christians that it's always a strange surprise to witness what a constant, almost physical presence this thing called Jesus is in the lives of so many people. If I can put aside my revulsion for a moment, it's exotic and fascinating. It's like in an anthropology class when you might read about some hunter-gatherer tribe that leaves babies in the forest to die or something and it's horrifying but really interesting to consider that that behavior is totally normal to them.

There's still another guy, across from us, who is preoccupied with all things Bible. He moseys over every once in a while and engages the Jesus snorty guy in conversation. This guy seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible, old and new testament. I can't judge his accuracy. He's one of those people who have a pet theory about everything. Did you know that Jesus did not say one thing about "hope"? Didn't so much as mention it. He (Jesus) also apparently never recommended that people pray in public together. Yesterday in the dining room, there was something on local news about a child who allegedly had been beaten to death by its mother's boyfriend. Bible Guy's take on the story was that women who take up with violent men shouldn't be surprised when their children get murdered. Bible Guy wears Bud-Lite flannel pajama bottoms, and for some reason that softens my heart toward him.

Today is a slow day. We started at 6 with urine collection and then an ECG and vital signs. Then a blood draw and breakfast, which was a bowl of raisin bran and a bran muffin (with raisins! it was a theme I guess), orange juice, and skim milk. They took our blood again after breakfast, and now for the rest of the day there's nothing on the schedule but meals.

(Lunch, if you're curious, was a small sub sandwich with turkey (I think it was turkey), some kind of white gluey cheese, tomato and shredded lettuce. On the side were packets of mayo, mustard, and pickle relish, and a small bag of Cheezits, a 4-oz. carton of some kind of juice drink, and an oatmeal cookie.)

Today is Day 4. Day 2 was like this, but Days 1 and 3 were dose days (days when we take the drug being studied) and those were very hectic with procedures all day. Lots of ECGs and blood draws. Starting with Day 6, we dose every day, and there are several glucometer readings throughout the day. (It's a drug for diabetes that we're testing.) I think the glucometer involves getting our fingertips stabbed. Looking at the number of times this is going to happen, I fear my fingertip will be a bloody pulp by the time I get out of here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I Don't Get It.

I've only seen a few episodes of Family Guy, but it has always made me laugh really hard so I guess I'd say I'm a fan. There's been a bit of a stink in the gay blogs today about the recent episode where Quagmire's father turns out to be a transsexual woman. Apparently on The Cleveland Show (Seth McFarlane's other show) there was a similar episode recently which also caused a stink, so the community is not inclined to be forgiving this time. But McFarlane claims not to be "transphobic".

I'm inclined to give an artist a lot of leeway in these things, and it seems to me that the folks who get all bent out of shape in these cases are too easily offended, or just maybe irony-deficient. Often the problem is that people will have a hard time distinguishing between a story in which the audience is asked to sympathize with the haters and a story in which the audience is asked to laugh at them.

As McFarlane has pointed out, in this episode of Family Guy, the transwoman is definitely portrayed sympathetically. She's really the only sane, stable character in the story. The humor is in everyone around her freaking out. So far, no problem.

But when we get to the part where the dog finds out he's had sex with her and he vomits for like a minute solid, I'm lost. And then Quagmire finds out that the dog has had sex with her, and he beats the shit out of the dog. Both of these scenes are interminable, and I have to admit, to me, perplexing. Though I'm inclined to be sympathetic to McFarlane, I don't know where to begin deciphering what his point of view is in these last two scenes, because I don't understand why they're funny.

I wondered at first if the reason it didn't make me laugh is because I'm the butt of the joke, so instead of being tickled I'm offended. (There are many in the GLBT community who say that homosexual and transsexual are two different things. I'm not one of those people. But even if you believe they are, the scene where Quagmire tries to explain that his father is not gay but "a woman trapped in a man's body," and Peter and Lois say, "Yeah, gay," encapsulates most straight people's view that there's gay and then there's trans, which is just more gay.)

But I can't even say I'm offended -- I just really don't know what's going on. I'm not clear enough on what McFarlane is saying to know whether or not I should be offended.

Are regular folks so completely repulsed by the idea of having sex with a transwoman that they would identify with someone vomiting forever over it? And the beating the dog gets, I don't even have a guess on that one. Somebody help me out here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

We Will Not Have Questions Answered by Irrelevant Agencies.

I'm never quite sure what to do on Mother's Day. In my family, when I was growing up, we always called it a Hallmark Holiday, made fun of it. But as I get older, I find it hard to resist feeling sentimental when my friends around me are calling their mothers. I say, "I call my mother all year long, and we email frequently, why is it so important to call today?" Then again, why is it so important to not?

I've also discovered that at some point my brother and his long-time girlfriend and my sister and her husband started sending Mother's Day cards and gifts every year. Maybe it was just me who was so anti-Mother's Day? I've gotten to the point now where I don't believe any of the stories I've been telling myself all my life.

The last couple years I've sent short emails to say hi. Not necessarily "Happy Mother's Day!", but at least "hi."

It was my mother's home-grown, instinctive neighborhood activism in the late 60s and early 70s that planted the seeds of my lifelong rebellion. So, this year I recognize the roots of Mother's Day in feminism and pacifism, before it was swallowed whole by the floral industry, the restaurant industry, the greeting card industry.

It didn't start out being about spa treatments and breakfast in bed. It started with Julia Ward Howe's disgust with the Civil War. Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day Proclamation, 1870
Julia Ward Howe

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.