Saturday, May 21, 2011

The End of the World

My imagination has taken flight this week.  I'm anticipating the end of the world.  It should happen today in a matter of hours if Nostradamus or Harold Camping are correct.  So what would happen if the rapture happened today?

First, I imagine a lot of rich people will be left behind and the the poor will begin eating them immediately.  Not because it's necessary, but out of spite.  I'm going to call my friend Mandy so we can loot pharmacies together.  Best to have a buddy along who can handle a shotgun when you're stealing all of the narcotics, Valtrex and antibiotics in a Walgreens for sale and barter on the black market.  I'm keeping all of the Zyrtec for myself though.  Screw you. It's dusty here.  After we hit a few drug stores, it's off to liquor stores if there's anything left.  This is Oklahoma, so I can take my time because nobody is going to go for the good wines.

There are benefits for those left behind.  I mean going to heaven is great and all- hanging out with Jesus, basking in the light of God and flying with angels is what I'm sure people are going for.  I'm more of a "laugh with the sinners" type myself. If I'm not sucked up into the holy spaceship, I'm going to have to make the best of what he have down here.  For one, there will be fewer people and my anxiety about us overpopulating and destroying the earth will be alleviated. So I will sleep better at night.  I won't have worry about defending my dissertation or even paying back my student loans.  Like that second part was even possible.  Instead, I'll just start telling people that I defended the day before the rapture and make them call me "doc", because that seems an appropriate post-apocalyptic moniker. And I will probably start smoking again, also courtesy of Walgreens.

I assume also that we are going to lose power and communications too.  That's ok.  I can live without Facebook.  I charged up my iPod and iPad last night.  So just so you know, if this shit goes down, the last thing I'm going to do is strap my cat my back, pick up a shotgun and walk to Amarillo with my dog.  The cat part might be tricky.  Eleanor doesn't mind just hanging out, but she has a special diet and takes medicine for her little cat tummy.  I'll have to work that part out later because it isn't playing well into the cinema in my head.  Ok, wait, let's revise. I'm going to hijack an awesome vehicle with lots of gas and guns and drive to Amarillo.  I'll pick up my cousin (also good with a gun) and we're heading to Washington state to hang out with the rest of our kinfolk in the mountains like we supposed to.

I'm kind of looking forward to it.  I hope the rapture does happen.  If not, I'm going to be bummed and have to recycle this fantasy for zombie apocalypse and in case society collapses in general.  At least there will be other things to look forward to besides paying back student loans.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I'm in the middle of moving from Ada to Oklahoma City.  Those cities are roughly 80 miles apart and I've made several trips with the aid of my friend Valerie.  So I've been recovering from food poisoning and still needed to get my mattress and boxspring from the old apartment.  I borrowed an old Ford with the word "Ford" scraped off of the back bumper, windows that don't roll down and some of it's original paint, grabbed Val and her kiddo and made a trip to Ada to collect said bed. I was unwell anyway and hadn't kept anything down for a day or so, so I was a little weak.  Was very glad to drag myself through the shower and stick my hair up in a pony tail.  It's getting long so it probably does look like a pony's tail.  To make a long story short, I was driving down 23rd street last night (a very interesting venture) at 8 last night, trying to return the truck to my friend in Norman.  I had on no make up. I smelled like a dead badger that's been in the sun awhile.  I'm pale anyway so I can only imagine the visage that spoke to the three guys who rolled up next to me in a bombed out Nissan Altima at a stoplight.
"Aaaayyy girl", one guy hollered out the passenger window.
I hate being called girl. I am not a girl. I am a woman. I ignored said holler.
"Aaaayyy girl!"
I looked over.
"Hey, roll down your window."
"It doesn't roll down."
"Well you can hear me. Hey, are you married?"
"Yes, I lied." I looked at the guy closely.  He seemed in his early to mid 20's.
"You ain't wearing a ring." He had me there...
"I gotta wear a ring to be married?  Shoot."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, well you could take my number and see me on the down." He gave me his best interview smile.  I must've looked at him like he was crazy.
The light changed. My truck blew a cloud of smoke and I pulled away, wagging my finger at the kid.
Couldn't help but smile at him and the song suddenly stuck in my head.  "..hanging out the passenger side of his best friend's ride, trying to holler at me."
My 38th birthday is coming in a few weeks.  At this point, it's a compliment.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


In 1996, I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada.  For the most part, I didn't like it there.  I couldn't trust anyone.  Stuff got stolen.  The apartment complex was really close to the Hard Rock Cafe/Hotel.  Some good things happened, though. That was the year I adopted Eleanor and Henry.  They were fuzzy, cute, grey kitties and siblings. They are so named after watching "The Lion in Winter", for Queen Eleanor of the Aquitaine and Henry the second.  Henry stayed true to his name, becoming a fat slob of a kitty who often mistook the bathmat for his litter box.  Eleanor was quiet and shy and really only blossomed after Henry died of being fat and slovenly.  El now lives the life of the real Eleanor- shut in her ivory towner of a home, plotting ways to escape and raise an army to defeat the world and take over. Las Vegas is the place where I first got food poisoning.

I ate the seafood buffet at the Mirage and everything seemed fine.  For a couple of hours.  Then I started to not feel so good and my tummy hurt. I started to sweat and get chills.  Then the vomiting commenced, which bothered my other parts.  I spent the evening sleeping in the bathroom, watching the lights of the strip club next door blink on and off in pink neon.  I called my mom.  We didn't know it was food poisoning so she recommended Pepto Bismol for the the vomiting and Immodium for the other stuff.  I couldn't keep anything down.  Not water, gatorade or the leftover chicken from the day before the great seafood incident.  I couldn't stop crying.  My tongue was swollen and dry.  My boyfriend took me to the emergency room.  The doctor, who had an accent I couldn't place (I was 23 or 24, I couldn't place England on a map) chided me about the medicine.  It just had to all come out.  I was dehydrated too, so they thought to put in an iv.  I have rolling veins; they look just fine but roll out of the way when you go to stick them with a needle.  I give two pokes to each person who works with me, so after two nurses and the doctor, I made a deal that if I could just keep down some water, they would stop treating me like a pin cushion.

Now, as traumatic as that was, it didn't even hold a candle to yesterday and today.  I love a place in Oklahoma City called "The Mediterranean Deli" and I go there fairly regularly, often enough that they have gotten to know me after ten years. I bought some baba ghanoush dip and took off.  I love their baba.  It beats any other food in the world.  That was at about 2 p.m.  I ate some when I got home.  I mean, I almost all of it, since I hadn't had much breakfast and was hungry.  Went about my day.  I bought an iPad 2, which I love, and a wireless router.  I started feeling sick around 4:30 or 5.  Shook it off and borrowed a truck from a friend to move the last of my possessions from Ada.  By 8, I was back home and sick as a dog.  I became a poop conduit.  Then a vomit conduit.  Turns out most of the baba had lodged in my stomach which my body faithfully tried to expel over the course of the next seven hours.  I'm not saying that their baba was bad; I'm saying that I've been really lucky for ten years with baba ghanoush and only had one little oopsie-type episode.  I still highly recommend them for anything you care to buy in that store.

Did you ever see a movie called "The Fourth Kind"? In it, a woman is sucked into an alien spacecraft, but before that happens, her jaw unhinges and really loud sounds emerge from her.  I felt like that as I heaved.  I wasn't aware that I was making so much noise and I had a few moments where I was outside of myself, hoping that indeed, I was being abducted by aliens.  I hoped they had something to treat food poisoning because I was hornking so violently, the splash landed on my right foot.

My cat is super supportive when I don't feel well and she can always tell when something is wrong.  For instance, awhile before I got the call about my Grandmother's death, she cuddled up to my back and put her paw on me and just purred.  As I went through the gyrations of gastric death and dismemberment, she would lay on the bed with me, always keeping a paw somewhere on me.

I didn't get dehydrated, however.  Even between ex-peristalsis, I kept drinking water and gatorade- something I learned from my first bout.  I'm recovering now, though I won't be eating anything solid for awhile.  And I've learned to laugh at this too, to find those moments we all experience but don't often appreciate.  For instance, I thought I was expelling green stuff, but it turns out that my toilet water is just blue.  Since the water turned green, then I must have added...yellow.  You know, because yellow and green make blue.  I was proud to have laced two different hair bands around my wrist so that when I ran to puke (which, p.s., tasted a lot like garlic), I'd have a moment to put my hair up.  The result was no barfy hair.  I'm getting good at this.  My ribs hurt from just under my armpits to my pubic bone, but I'm at my ideal weight so there's that. You get the idea. The worst part, the tragic part, is that I won't be eating any more of the amazing baba ghanoush anytime soon.

It is said that poison is the weapon of women and the weak.  I've been in lots of fights.  Broken bones and cut myself and bruised every imaginable part and even some parts I didn't know could be bruised.  I think that if I were just mad at someone, I might get mad enough to beat the crap out of them.  Maybe break a bone.  But if I had a personal grudge and wanted to kill someone in a painful way, I'd get some tasty dip and leave it in the sun for three days, then make a gift of it with some delicious garlic-y pita chips.  Because we women are mean.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to crawl back into bed and die for awhile.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I like Planned Parenthood.  I need Planned Parenthood.  So do you.

If you just cringed at the sound of the name...Planned Parenthood.. and associated it solely with abortion provision, you really need to keep reading.

As a young woman in high school in the late 1980's, we didn't get much out of our sex-ed classes.  The boys and girls were separated in junior high school and shown videos.  I don't know what the boys saw but the girls saw a video about menstruation and anatomy hosted by the star of the latest bit movie- Annie.  In the video, which meant that the teachers didn't have to broach an uncomfortable subject, Annie talked about what happened when girls started to get their periods, how our breasts would hurt and hair would sprout from the weirdest places.  Then she showed us about maxi pads and tampons.  And that was it. "Any questions?" asked the gym teacher.  Nobody ever had questions at a time like that.

I should have been an old hand at this.  All of my sisters had gone through puberty with varying degrees of success.  The sister closest to me in age seemed to turn into a raging hormonal bitch every couple of weeks and was just a grumpy bitch the rest of the time. Frankly, I was terrified.  I did not sign up to grow up and have my body become all soft and painful and to bleed every month.  One of my sisters suffered horrible cramps, bad enough to have to take narcotics.  Apparently I lived through puberty anyhow but lost the ability to climb trees or to skin my knees up real good while catching frogs in Penny Creek.

In high school, Planned Parenthood came in to educate us about actual sex.  They talked about how it was ok to not have sex, played games with us to illustrate what the movement of a sexually transmitted disease through a population, and showed us how to use a condom.  That was when I was 15.  I ended up abstaining from sex until I was 17 even though I had a boyfriend for three years.  Never once did they say that we should or should not have sex. Never once did they give an opinion on abortion.  They did tell us where their offices were and told the girls that we would need yearly exams, what some of the health problems were for young women and they also told us we would not be turned away if we could not pay.

Planned Parenthood gave me my first pelvic exam.  It was not fun and the whole awkward sweaty experience should never be recorded.  It was not some magical kum-bay-a moment where a bunch of naked women held hands in a circle and celebrated our sexuality.  They told me facts and showed me what my cervix looked like.  It was...ugly.  Perhaps I should have thought it mysterious or amazing or beautiful but really I was significantly non-plussed.  I lived through the exam and learned to respect my body.  And they charged me less than half of what the regular rate was.

What might have happened to me if Planned Parenthood didn't exist? My mom never, ever, talked to me about my body. Ever. And she had four daughters.

Currently, Planned Parenthood offers abortion services and referral.  Yes, yes, they do.  It's part of what they do.  Safe, legal and necessary.

Yes, I am a pro-choice advocate too.  You know why? Not because I have a feeling one way or another about when life begins.  Not because I think that slutty women should just be able to waltz into a clinic and have any "mistake" erased or because someone just doesn't want their life to change.  But because if you take away legal, safe and sanitary abortions, you will not stop abortion. You will only make it more dangerous.

Planned Parenthood does so much more than just provide abortions.  They offer services that include physical exams, discussion of masturbation, birth control, and mens and women's  reproductive health.  They educate teens on other options if they do not want to have sex, frank discussions of what intercourse is and even a description of orgasm.  They talk about LGBT issues and how to plan your family and diagnosis and treatment of STD's, pregnancy tests and yes, even offer help with infertility.

Actually, if all funding to PP stops, you will stop some abortions.  Those women who are often statistically young, poor and uneducated will end up swept into the welfare system because of some misguided shame brought on by religious beliefs.  These women will then later be blamed for being bad mothers or accused of wearing furs and buying a basketload of steaks with food stamps or selling their food stamps at half price so they can just buy drugs.  More unwanted babies will be brought into the world and crime rates will go up.  Racism will also become more apparent as statistically, young women of color at most at risk.  I have seen this in action over my lifetime.  And I don't see many rich politicians fostering or adopting children of teen mothers.  I see them removing choices and blaming women (not the men) for the situations they find themselves in.  In the long run, not funding PP will cost the taxpayers more.

When I say the words "Planned Parenthood" in my classroom, blood pressure goes up and students expect the devil to appear.  Abortion in the U.S. is not just a religious issue, it is an issue of power and hegemony. I say this because of the polarizing political nature of a pro-choice or pro-not-choice stance.  If you limit a woman's right to make her own informed decisions about her body, you oppress her.

No such limitations are put on men, say like if they have four or more children they have to have a vasectomy.  In Denmark, abortions are free, whereas in the U.S. women pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for the procedure.  If I had my say, we'd all limit ourselves to one child per household from here on out to assuage some of the damage we're doing to our environment.  But it would be the men who must make these sacrifices.  After all, we only need one virile man per ten women.  Perhaps they should all be screened and the top 10% cultivated for their sperm.  The others will be sterilized at the age of about 12 and all would be well.  Women could then just get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization when they're ready for the responsibility.

This is no more strange or cruel than the shit we put women through now.  In the U.S. women can use their vacations to have their children, or six weeks of UNPAID leave before going back to work.  If she's a single mom and sometimes in a two-income household, nobody can afford to stop working, so the child often goes to daycare.  It's quite fortunate when a grandparent or other family member can babysit for free. Try breastfeeding from an office.

Let me riddle you this: There are no unplanned children of same-sex couples and even fewer abortions.

I think about the life I have and wonder what might have happened if I had not had access to heavily reduced reproductive preventative health care.  I might not have made it to college or fulfilled my dreams. On the other hand, I might have- but the road would have been much different than it is now.  I like the idea that I can choose when or if to get pregnant and that if I am raped and become pregnant, I can legally make the choice to not carry to term.  I wonder if our next generation of women will be afforded this luxury.  Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana signed into law a bill that cuts $3 million from Planned Parenthood funding. I wonder why. Does he dislike women?

Please do not think that I am anti-child or that I cannot possibly know what I'm talking about because I do not have children of my own.  I have ten nieces and nephews and four great nieces/nephews.  I have tons of younger cousins. I have friends with children that I am around all of the time.  I'm good with kids. I love children.  I love my family and when I'm ready, I'll either have one of my own or adopt or foster children.  Possibly more than one of those options will happen.  Honestly, I'm pretty conservative in one aspect: that I'd like to be married or at least in a long-term relationship if I'm going to have a child.  It's a big responsibility and people need help. Children deserve the best we can give them. As a heterosexual woman, I like men for things like sex, heavy lifting, dealing with people I don't like and opening jars of stuff.  I just don't see how single moms and single dads do it alone.  They must be the hardest working and dedicated segment of the population. Hell, parenting in general is the most difficult job I could imagine.

As for me- for now- I'm going to forget all about this rot and go climb a tree and skin up my knees, hoping all the while for a better tomorrow.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Finals Week

It's finals week at our little university.  Personally, I love it.  I get to read the best of the best of my student's work and listen to them make summer plans and generally roll around in end-of the semester marshmellow-ness.  Everyone gets so sweet and sentimental.  The week before finals, it's all "I can't wait to get outta here!"  The week of finals, all I hear is "Wow, this year went by fast!"  This is also the time of year that I will give out my blog address if students want to read it.  So if you're reading this and you're one of my current students, then cool! Glad you're here.

I'm going to miss Ada in many ways.  The students are really phenomenal and have shown me nothing but kindness.  My fellow faculty members are pretty neat too.  I wish my contract had been renewed but each institution only has so much money and they often have to make difficult decisions.  I will be moving to Oklahoma City where it's more likely that I can find a teaching position and also defend my dissertation over the summer. Or I'll become a bartender or some such other thing.  It doesn't matter that much to me, though I prefer teaching. I just want to do something useful in the world.

As I pack up my tiny cell block apartment (which in truth shouldn't take more than an hour since I didn't really unpack) I will be sure to take the best parts of Ada with me- the hilarious, serious, earnest and amazing people I've had the pleasure to meet in the last year.  And as I move to the city, I know I will find many more misadventures and happenstances.  I will do colossally stupid things and share them on my blog. I will know more loss and more love and if I'm not careful, might at some point find myself even more at peace with the universe than I am now.