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Archive for March, 2010

One of the medications I take on occasion causes depression. It’s a unique kind of depression that I can feel in my head, almost like someone has soaked cotton balls in vinegar and then stuffed that sodden mess into all the nooks and crannies of my mind. I can feel the sour, musty thoughts press against my brain and the thick tearstuff pushing the back of my eyes. Over the years we’ve learned to identify this breed of black dog as coming from those particular pills, and it helps. If I can give the heartache a cause, I can treat it less like a barbed wire box and more like a psychic bruise that I know will fade in time.

The medicine that does this to me is one of the addictive ones, one of the pills that the pharmacists and nurses and interns always act like I’m headed for skid row whenever I just mention the prescription. If only they knew that I would rather eat ground glass than take this pill–and that I only take it when I feel like I’ve already eaten ground glass! At my last appointment the Rheumatologist encouraged me to take more pain medicine on a regular basis. At my last appointment the gynecologist offered to double my script for the pain meds he gives me. Neither man seemed to understand why I’d often rather put up with the ache in my joints and my groin. Bodily pain doesn’t always hurt as bad as the dark thoughts that come on the wings of opium.

What does all this have to do with blogging? Well, I feel better when I write. But I can always tell which writings are done under the influence of which drugs. So I daren’t do any fiction work when slogging through the aftereffects of the hydrocodone. (I can’t bring myself to call it “Vicodin”, because that’s a drug for TV junkies. I stick with the generic name to distance myself from Dr. House and Rush Limbaugh and the idiots on Nip/Tuck.) That leaves blogging.

And I don’t really have anything worthwhile to say about anything. I wish I had a carefully prepared set of opinions about a blogable topic like Health Care or Reality TV. I don’t. What thoughts I do have are ephemeral and fragmentary, like dandelion seeds. None of them makes for a whole post.

* I read the new Harlan Coben book, Caught. People are raving about it over at Goodreads. I personally feel like it was a 380 page episode of Law & Order:SVU. Or an afterschool special. The twist ending all those people seem to think so bloody special was really just him coming up with something utterly random.

* I watched 2 weeks worth of Lost tonight. The hour about Richard left me scratching my head. I love it when they turn 8 minutes of actual story into a whole episode. I find myself growing weary of the mythos, largely because we seem to still be dancing around the edge and flirting with poetic imagry. I am still afraid that instead of a map, the final work will be more of an inkblot and we’ll have to figure out what the story meant for ourselves.

* Friday night last, I had three of my female friends over to watch Twilight & New Moon with the Rifftrax guys. It was beyond wonderful to have company. I find myself getting lonely more often than I used to, and lonely for female company. We had the best time just talking and eating and laughing. We’re all devout Christians and there was so much joy for me in the pleasure of fellowship.

I’ve gone beyond my 500 words, and I feel part guilty, part rebellious. Most of all I feel victorious, because as usual the writing quieted the baying dog.

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Of course, the very title of this post makes ME a truculent Christian of sorts, and so I must be tired of myself. Which I am, so there. But setting that little irony aside…

Here we are, in the long shadow of yet another Christian Holy Day. Easter looms on the horizon, supposedly the zenith of our religious observances. It’s theoretically the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, the propitiation of our sins and the new freedom we have to speak directly with God as God’s redeemed children, no longer fallen from Grace.

In practice it seems to have become yet another excuse for American Christians of a certain flavour to stomp about like spoiled children, demanding that everyone everywhere say “Easter” instead of “Spring”. Now, I admit that I understand part of where they’re coming from. I found this Christmas season slightly rankling in the marked absence of the word ‘Christmas’ and the overly pointed misuse of the word ‘holiday’.

But to me there is a difference, however subtle, between wistful mentioning and temper-fit throwing. And over in the world of Facebook I’m constantly being assaulted by temper-fits in forums and status updates. People are announcing their intentions to quit activities if Easter isn’t officially acknowledged, even though said activities are wholly secular in nature. Every three or four hours a status update comes along, belched from the bowels of whatever trollish creature makes up those annoying viral paragraphs. It says something along the lines of “I am [declarative statement of strident nature]. I [believe in or want] this particular thing that many of you do not find appropriate or appealing. Only 7% of people will keep this statement in their status for an hour. If you are one of those who agree with this statement, copy and post to your status.”

For awhile there, those statuses were innocuous about loving fathers or supporting cancer awareness. (It’s apparently now quasi-heroic to merely mention cancer to another person.) Now they’re all about not being afraid to say “Easter”.

Good for you. Easter Easter Easter Easter. Now how about you quit quibbling over other people’s word choice and start living your life as though you have the joy of salvation NOT the bitterness of your old self? Because your very truculence belies the point of this holiday.

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So I just finished reading The Lost City of Z.

And I’m going to spoil it for you if you a) haven’t read it or b) haven’t read any major archeological journals in the last 8 years or so.

The book ends with the recent discovery of the ruins of what is thought to have been a major metropolis in the deepest jungles of the Amazon. El Dorado. Z. The city of legend.

The author of the book then goes on to explain in great detail how the discovery of these ruins calls into question essentially everything we ‘knew’ about the settling of Homo Sapiens in the Americas.

So once again, we find information we didn’t have. And based on that information the ‘facts’ changed. Pluto isn’t a planet anymore. Corvis weren’t the earliest settlers.

Now, none of this would I mind if we hadn’t been taught WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY for years that these theories and suppositions were actual, provable fact.

Now, I don’t intend to get into the Intelligent Design/Evolution debate here–although one certainly could. There are just too many places in the sciences, origin theory being merely the most infamous, where people have repeated theories for so long that students begin to believe those theories are actually proven facts. When they aren’t.

Me, I like to learn things. And I like to ponder things…suppose things…imagine things. So I have no qualms about being taught suppositions, theories, hypotheses, etc. I just like for people to plainly state that these things they’re teaching are, in fact, not facts.

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“Rabbi, Is there a proper blessing for the Czar?” “A proper blessing for the Czar?!” “Yes. ‘May G-d bless and keep the Czar…far away from us.”

My first exposure to the term “Czar” (although it was then spelled ‘Tsar’) was as a five year old girl listening to the Original Broadway Cast recording of Fiddler On The Roof. Me being me, I asked my parents who ‘Tazarr’ was, assuming it was all one exotic name for a Russian monster.

Even though I’ve gotten over the Mondegreen, I’ve not quite lost the creeped-out feeling I get, the sense that a Czar is a type of dread monster. When George Bush created the first Czar position that I remember, I was upset. It seemed to be a gross misuse of government, naming an unelected person to an official position. I gather it’s well within the scope of the Executive Branch to do so, but it never seems to be more than a cronyist, figure-headish type of thing. Presidents have been creating and naming Czars forever–on both sides of the silly-headed seesaw of party politics. They never seem to accomplish much other than getting eased into the party machine, occasionally bending the president’s ear and making contacts for future employment at the upper echelon of the private sector.

That’s why this Czar cracks me up. We have someone in an insider, cronyist position sitting in judgement on…insider cronyist positions. It’s just weird.

I feel like I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole. The government owns private business now. And the government is setting pay scales for private business. When I was a kid that was Bolshevik-style operating. Now the Bolshies are kaput. But we’ve got The Czar who oversees the corporations.

It doesn’t sit well with me at all.

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I’ve finally gotten around to reading The Lost City of Z, several years after it was so highly acclaimed. I’m like one of those college students who goes to their cousin’s Senior Prom.

I’ve been very much incredibly down lately about the limitations of my illness and how much of a waste of a person it makes me. How it must mean I’m lazy and ineffectual.

Then I got to this paragraph in Lost City and felt like God was telegraphing me a little cheer-up message. Because the book is about the ‘golden age of exploration’ when people of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries set out to conquer the uncharted parts of the globe. That meant either trekking to the frozen barrenlands of the poles or enfolding oneself in the Green Hell of Amazonia. These people were of amazing constitution and did amazing things that would fell all but the bravest and most tenacious of souls. And one of these explorers left explicit instructions to his friends that they were to shoot him dead if he ever became chronically ill or was suffering from unremitting long-term pain.

That’s right. This man who was brave enough to tame the Amazon couldn’t summon the courage to deal with illness. To him, and to many others, chronic illness is the darkest jungle. I started to realise that God was showing me that this path I’ve been given requires a unique sort of bravery. Weakness of body does NOT mean weakness of mind or heart or spirit.

I don’t say this to imply that I’m better than others. I only say it to show that from this long-dead world traveller I am inferring that I am in no way worse.

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To pay for the changes, the legislation includes more than $400 billion in higher taxes over a decade, roughly half of it from a new Medicare payroll tax on individuals with incomes over $200,000 and couples over $250,000.

I’m not happy about the vote, obviously. I imagine that I’ll spend the next decade shaking my head and saying “I told you so” as various pro-bill friends whinge

– about the health insurance they’re forced to buy that doesn’t really cover what they need–so they’re forced to be out of pocket X dollars a month that they just can’t afford.

–about how much harder it is to get in to see the doctor.

–about how much more difficult it is to get basic tests run.

–about how the hospital kicks you out 12 hours after you deliver your baby.

–about how you have to carry your ADULT child on your health plan until he/she is 26 years old. TWENTY-SIX.

–about how your tax refund gets smaller every year. You used to be able to count on it to buy a TV or a Stereo. Five years from now you’ll be lucky if you can use it to pay one month of the mandated insurance premium.

–about how the government is letting Mr. Scary Example die a horrible, lingering death because they won’t approve some insurance charge for some treatment or another.

–about how long you have to wait to have basic surgery.

In short, what seems like a victory now to those of you who yearned for passage of this bill will in due time sink in as the very costly loss that it actually is.

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Never, ever, ever post on your blog that you might be getting better. Or that your new treatment regimen seems to be working.

Because when you do all of a sudden you will be facing the worst flare you have EVER had in the history of RA. Your joints will fill with shards of glass and hot lava. You will be tired beyond sleeping. You will vomit from the sheer pain of it all. And you will cry. And cry some more. You will not leave your bed for 16 hours straight, but your body will radiate so much heat from inflammation that your Tempurpedic mattress will be the consistancy of pudding.

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