Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fat, Fabric and Crafts

Yesterday, someone asked me what I write in the mornings. I had to stop and think about it. Outside of emails and other professional writing, I blog. Why? To get the meandering thoughts out, of course.

They roam around all night long asking absurd questions when I've happened to wake up from a stiff neck requiring a position change. Sometimes these thoughts seem brilliant at the time. But when I fully awake, they either don't make sense or sound stupid by morning's light. I'm glad I don't blog in my sleep.

Sometimes I blog in the evenings, but not typically. My brain stops adequately functioning after a certain time. It's called saturation. Reading, writing and other obligations fry me until all I have left is Word Whomp or at the moment, trite novels. The funny thing about Word Whomp is I don't seem to win any more in the morning than I do in the evening. I can't alphabetize that fast. The timer makes me nervous. Those are my excuses. I'm sticking to them.

What do I have to do today? Oh yeah. Go for a nutritional assessment to prepare for bariatric surgery. This is one of those appointments where they tell you, "You don't eat right." To which I respond, "I know." If I ate right, would I be having bariatric surgery?

I've been dreading this appointment but looking forward to it at the same time. I need someone to help me get structure into my eating routines. I am quite sure I will feel better once I do that, weight loss or no. Lately, I have been all over the place, floating in a sea of calories, lost amongst the clouds of unhealthy living, a full participant in the culture of American Obesity. Hey, at least I'm amongst friends. But that doesn't help my knees any.

The holidays really should not be an excuse for bad eating or weight gain. I mean, let's look at it. What do we have? Thanksgiving. One day. Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Two days. New Year's Even. One day. Maybe leftovers from any of those days. Let's add two more days. And that equals.....six days, scattered over a few weeks. Can we really justify gaining weight in six days? It seems a couple of weeks of healthy eating would counteract the excesses of the few holidays.

For most people, I think it's more that the holidays push us off the wagon or give us an excuse to pig out. It's really a lame excuse. I understand the wagon thing, however. Over-eating, compulsive eating and bad eating are diseases and addictions. Changing those behaviors is like trying to quit smoking. Except there's no chewing gum in the world that will take the place of a satisfying nibble for whatever reason. The lap band is going to help me take care of this nasty habit. I can't over-eat and I can't nibble because I'll barf. If you knew how much I hate barfing, you will understand why this will be an effective, albeit radical, deterrent.

I worry that I can't change at this point in my life or that I can change but only for a short period of time or that I can change but will put all the weight back on as I did this last time. I have to remind myself that this time isn't last time, that I had trauma that pushed me back into bad eating habits, that things are different now, that this is years later and I don't need the constant physical and emotional reminder of negativity being assaulted caused me. I deserve better and I deserve to give my family the better, more lively part of me. I deserve a long life. I have much too much to do to be slowed down by any of this.

Besides. I kept my "skinny" clothes. They are taking up an awful lot of room in my closet, sitting in trash bags at the back, pushing the "fat" clothes on hangers into the center of the space, leaving us barely room to move in there. I know I will be back into those clothes in less than a year once the stupid insurance company approves of this surgery. Their process is unfathomable.

I've already given up diet soda for this thing. Once you get your stomach banned (no worse than having your tubes tied), you can't let the fizz in there for obvious reasons. I wonder if I DID have soda if I would float up to the ceiling like Charlie did in Willie Wonka. That might be fun in certain cases, but since I have ceiling fans, I wouldn't try it. Might as well stay off the soda. I don't really miss it anyway.

They want you to give up coffee as well, but I can't. I need my morning brew to jump start my day. My brain works better in the morning, but not until I wake up. Without coffee, I think I would doom the rest of my day with headaches and sleepiness. I already have enough daytime sleepiness. I don't need to add to it.

I want to do some scrap booking today. I've neglected the larger book a bit this year because my printer doesn't seem to be spitting out true-to-pic colors. The colors on my screen look wonderful, but the printer isn't translating them. This makes for a disappointing scrapbook. A scrapbook is only as good as the pictures in them, really. I got a new desktop publishing program I want to try out. Maybe that will help.

I'm also working on a scrapbook of my dear husband's life. I have his baby pictures through his high school years until now. I meant to finish it this year and somehow got distracted. I can't imagine why.

I DID make quite a few Christmas cards, however, and even got some off to the Walter Reed patients. And I DID finish a little quilt this year. I have a one-quilt-per-year quota I set for myself even though I'm not very good at it. This year, I took it easy on myself. I did a half-stitch-half-fabric glue piece. I was happier with the results because the glue made the hard parts more manageable.

Cloth is often my nemesis since it slips around on the machine. It's like I don't have the dexterity or something. I also don't have patience. Real quilters take their time with intricate stitches and exact measurements. I can't stand sitting still long enough to get those stitches done. And if I do it a little at a time, it will never get done. Besides, I hate to measure. I used to skip the ironing as well, but since I got myself this little craft iron, I found I used it. The results were much better.

Dear daughters are off to school so I should get started if I want to accomplish anything before I go to my "fat" visit.

Soon I will be calling them my "weight loss visits." Yippeee! That will be a real Christmas present for me and my family. I can't weight.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why NOT a Flat Tax?

Here's the deal: if we don't get some more revenue into this county, we're going to have to reduce our standard of living.

The BOCS doesn't want to increase taxes. This is noble. But they don't want to save our services either. This is neither noble nor wise.

When more services are cut, we know what happens: the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill, the homeless and the hungry are the first to suffer. These people end up on the streets, in the welfare system, or dead. I'm not exaggerating.

The wealthy don't suffer, the upper-middle classes don't suffer, and neither do the politicians. So it's easy for the BOCS to say, "Hey, we aren't going to raise taxes."

There is no reason why the BOCS can't raise taxes $10.00 per month for every tax payer. There is no reason why they can't assess a flat tax increase that wouldn't put the middle or working classes on the streets. And there is no reason why those who earn over $150,000 can't contribute, say, $20.00 a month more to the common welfare of this county.

I am not saying the BOCS shouldn't trim down the government budget or investigate fraud and waste. But leaving our service providers with a skeleton crew isn't an option.

It is inexcusable that the BOCS is not considering other taxing options when they have the authority to find creative solutions.

I, for one, expect better leadership than this.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Plight of the Homeless Poor

The colder it is, the closer we get to Christmas, the closer we get to January and February when we can usually expect even more intemperate weather, the more I think about the homeless and the poor. I look around me and ponder how lucky my children and I am, how I barely escaped that life myself, and how a stable, loving family is truly a blessing that many people don't have.

I've been looking at some scary stats about the homeless. According to Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development 2008 Report, last year 80,000 people were turned away from homeless shelters and support services just in Virginia because the shelters were full.

And make no mistake. As any case worker will tell you, shelters aren't full of loafers. They are full of families, most with working parents who can't make ends meet, especially in this economy.

At least one-third of the homeless are mentally ill. Most of the mentally ill homeless have schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder.

Some have PTSD, such as veterans, especially those who served in Viet Nam. About 45% of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, "...the VA estimates that nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. And nearly 400,000 experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every three homeless men who is sleeping in a doorway, alley or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served this country. According to the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the Urban Institute, 1999), veterans account for 23% of all homeless people in America." Almost one quarter of the homeless are veterans, certainly a national scandal.

If you know anything about bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia, you know first of all that these are biological brain diseases. You know, second of all, that the diseases can be treated medically. And you know third of all that people who suffer from these diseases are not always psychotic. Unmedicated especially, they tend to have episodes, but that doesn't mean they are always irrational.

People with with these two disorders aren't necessarily violent. Though a small percentage do hear voices that might "advise" them to hurt themselves or others, they generally are not dangers to society. In fact, the mentally ill are more easily victims of discrimination and crime than perpetrators. Most often, those with personality disorders, which cannot be treated medically, are perpetrators of violence. We see these violent individuals in the jails and not long on the streets because they get caught and can't be treated among other reasons. We also see them in high security psychiatric hospitals or prisons.

Others on the streets have addiction problems which coincide with mental illness. "Psychiatric symptoms are common among individuals with an addiction, and some of these individuals have both a substance use and a psychiatric disorder." As a disease, addiction is degenerative and lifelong.

Knowing this, why do we continue to have so many harmless mentally ill people on the streets?

Some people, when they are in their high or psychotic states, refuse help. Unless they are committed, they can't be forced into treatment. Committing someone is serious and most health care providers are reticent to do so for good reason. However, there are other options such as halfway and supervised homes that would not be so offensive to some mentally ill. There are not enough of these.

Outside of there not being enough long-term treatment centers and homes for these people, our culture doesn't tolerate anyone who can't maintain a job. This system might work for the able-bodied who are capable of getting a job with high enough income to support themselves and their children. The system obviously doesn't work for the working poor or the mentally ill who can't sustain an income, who work sporadically or who are inconsistent.

Some of the homeless are "invisible." They live in cars. They "crash" at friends' houses for the night and go out during the day, posing as "normal people." They might go to emergency rooms complaining of illness so they will have a bed and shelter for the night. They might even get themselves arrested purposefully.

The homeless might live on credit for awhile so they can feed their families and provide adequate clothing while each night, they look for a place to stay. They might use their credit cards to check into cheap motels, and as we know, some even live in motels long-term because they can't save up enough money to pay first and last month's rent on a lease. The motels don't save them money, but they save the homeless from the elements.

Some people balk at the idea of rental assistance for the working poor, but it should be noted that rental assistance is cheaper than having people live on the streets or filling shelters. In fact, other things like education, job training and financial consultation are all less expensive than the alternatives. By providing these resources on a temporary basis and monitoring the programs closely (to avoid fraud, mostly), the homeless can return to the mainstream and fully contribute to the economy. Supporting these programs, then, makes not only humanitarian but fiscal sense.

There is great discussion among political parties on how to fund these programs, whether they should be through taxes or private donations. Unfortunately, private donations are also inconsistent and not everyone believes in donating to the poor. The result, of course, is more people end up on the streets and eventually threaten the very economy the wealthy wish to protect. Crime, unemployment and mental illness rise. Ideally, if the more affluent supported shelters and educational programs, the problem would go away. We would have stronger families and a better economy. Since we can't mandate people to be generous, however, private groups are left lobbying for government support. It is a lose-lose situation.

This year in particular, our food pantries are empty. Our shelters are fuller. Our homeless are still homeless. Our hungry are still hungry and our mentally ill are still untreated. Homelessness doesn't respect age, ethnicity, gender or even prior socioeconomic status. It doesn't respect disease or potential. It doesn't respect national service. It doesn't respect education when the educated are unemployed.

With so many people from so many walks of life making up the homeless population, it seems a little empathy would spawn more charity from those who have the most. That charity could go a long way, especially in this season when our country supposedly celebrates the joy of giving.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oh Christmas Lights, Oh Christmas Lights

Okay, I have to tell you. I don't really "get" the whole putting up Christmas lights thing. I mean decorating the outside of the house, that is. Don't get me wrong. I do it. I love lights. I love looking at lights. But when DO we see our own lights?

I mean, think about it. The only time we really get to see our own lights is if we drive up to or away from our house in the dark or semi-darkness.

Now if you're like me and you hate to go out on cold nights, this really limits the times during which you might enjoy your own lights. Sure, I know. It's my own fault. I should drive out and come back more to my house, right? But then what? Should I idle the car in my townhouse parking space and just stare lovingly at my railings, sighing at the beauty of my handiwork? I admit I will do this inside once the tree is decorated. And I admit I do it if I get a room exceptionally tidy. Staring at attractive things, as we know, is one thing human beings never seem to grow tired of. But out in the parking lot? Nah.

I guess some people decorate their homes so they can show off to their neighbors (who also only see the neighborhood lights when they go out). And I guess there are some people who do it because they like to drive around the whole neighborhood and just see all the lights including their own. I've done this. But I've never done it so I can specifically compare my lights to my neighbors'.

In fact, while I love to decorate the outside of my home, I admit that our Christmas decor is old and somewhat worn. The big plastic Santa is out of style. He's been replaced by those blow-up vinyl or fabric wind-thingies that run on generators. And our plastic candy canes are so retro compared to those white wired gizmos--you know, the ones covered with clear lights? The ones that look like reindeer move their heads up and down.

Our Santa used to light up from the inside, but two years ago, he and the candy canes zapped us at the electrical outlet. So we disemboweled all of them. Now they don't light up but we still make them stand guard. We'll probably make them do this for the rest of our lives so they pay for shocking us. Let this be a reminder to people: be careful when using old decorations. They short out after awhile, and it hurts when they do it on YOU!

I think they make Christmas lights disposable now. Every year, I buy new lights and use them. And every next year, they don't work. I 've tried buying different brands, different styles and different colors. I 've tried buying them at different stores. I make sure the lights are good for indoor or outdoor and I read the instructions. I don't bump them, throw them, or step on them. I don't let the dogs lick them or the kids tie each other up with them. The results are always the same, however. So every year about this time, even though I already bought three boxes on sale after Christmas last year to replace the dead ones, I end up having to buy more because I never really do get ahead. See? It's a conspiracy.

We still have to put up our Christmas tree and I think we will do it this weekend. We have enough lights because I already did my replacement buying. When we're done decorating, I can sit and stare at the tree from the comfort of my living room and thank God for everything we have including the enjoyment we get from colored lights.

I'm thankful we have things to be thankful for. It's more than many people can say, and it's more than many people can do even if they have a lot.

Merry Christmas, a little early. Be careful out there hanging those lights.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What the HELL??????

Monkey carcasses

found in luggage at Dulles

AP
Published: December 9, 2008

CHANTILLY, Va. (AP) — U.S. Customs officials at Dulles International Airport discovered the charred carcasses of three monkeys in the luggage of a traveler arriving from Central Africa.

The monkeys have been confiscated are being examined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Customs spokesman Steve Sapp says a trained dog alerted authorities to the man’s bag on Friday. The luggage also contained deer meat and dried beef, which has been destroyed.

Sapp says it’s not unusual for foreign visitors to bring exotic foods to the U.S., but he says the discoveries were “a first.“ After the confiscations, the man was allowed to enter the U.S.

The monkey carcasses were inadmissible under U.S. law. Monkeys can transfer infectious diseases to people.

It's Not About Politics in the Winter

The Latino Media Collective & Mexicanos Sin Fronteras Present:

An Evening of Song, Film & Food


Saturday, December 13, 2008, 7:00PM
The Media Center
4132 Georgia Ave. NW, WDC
(One Block North of Petworth Metro Station)

• Three Music Bands
• Two Videos
• Tamales Mexicanos and more

Lots of FUN!!!

$15 suggested contribution
(No one turned away for lack of funds)

All proceeds to benefit the Latino Media Collective & Mexicanos Sin Fronteras

For more information, contact:
John Steinbach 703-822-3485 (English)
Norberto Martinez 202-406-0069 (Español)



El Latino Media Collective y Mexicanos Sin Fronteras Presentan:
Una tarde de musica, cinema y antojitos mexicanos


Sabado 13 de Diciembre del 2008, 7:00PM
The Media Center
4132 Georgia Ave. NW, WDC
(Una cuadra al norte de al estacion del metro de Petworth)


• Tres Bandas Musicales y Ballet Folklorico
• Dos Documentales
• Tamales Mexicanos y mucho mas!

$15 de contribucion
(No se le Negara la entraada a nadie que no contribuya)

Todas las recaudaciones son para el beneficio de el Latino Media Collective & Mexicanos Sin Fronteras

Para mas informacion, por favor contacte a:
John Steinbach 703-822-3485 (English)
Norberto Martinez 202-406-0069 (Español)


Why support? It's not about border ideology. It's not about the immigration debate. It's about compassion and human rights.

Read this from Woodbridge Workers:

"Today on the streets of Woodbridge and Manassas, the temperature was in the 20s, with the wind gusting to more than 40 mph. Despite this extreme weather, nearly 200 men were huddled outside the 7-11s desperately seeking work. Many told us that they hadn't worked in weeks, and that when they finally found some, they were ripped off by their employers. About a dozen volunteers for Woodbridge Workers Committee and Mexicanos Sin Fronteras put in many dozens of hours purchasing, packing and distributing bundles of food, enough to last an individual 4 or 5 days.

On behalf of Mexicans Without Borders and Woodbridge Workers Committee, I'd like to thank you for your solidarity in support of our struggle. As we continue to confront the devastating human, economic and anti-community consequences of immigrant scapegoating, we urgently need your help. Our ongoing work with the immigrant community is done entirely by volunteers and the bulk of our budget comes out of our own thin pockets. However there are ongoing expenses that require the resources of the greater community. For example, although WWC is a 501c-3 nonprofit organization and member of the National Capital Area Food Bank, It still costs about $800 each time we provide a food bundle for 200 workers. (Our goal is bi-weekly distributions through the winter). To provide a warm cap, gloves and socks, in addition to any winter coats we collect costs over $10 for each worker.

A partial list of our ongoing work includes:

• Helping Coordinate struggling immigrant communities from the Shenandoah Valley to Delaware

• Hosting the first national meeting of The Alianza Nacional de Comunidades Latinoamericanas y del Caribe ( NALACC) this November;

• Helping plan for the first Virginia People's Assembly on January 10, 2009;

• Continuing our work in the Virginia Immigrant People's Coalition;

• Participating in the National Capitol Immigrant Coalition. Here in Prince William County we are;

• Coordinating legal challenges to the immigrant scapegoating; • Continuing our work consulting with the community;

• Conducting "Know Your Rights" workshops with local volunteer lawyers; • Assisting in conducting mortgage foreclosure workshops with local housing groups;

• Continuing our cultural support work with the burgeoning Spanish- speaking Indigenous community;

• Providing English as a Second Language lessons every Monday evening to several dozen students;

• Organizing food and clothing distributions for the Woodbridge day laborers (With the deteriorating economic situation, we're already witnessing a near starvation situation on the streets of Woodbridge);

• Responding to the ICE raids, especially desperate calls from prisoners (and their families) incarcerated at the Peidmont ICE facility in Farmville, VA;

• Operating our MSF Emergency Hotline (Volunteers respond to scores of emergency calls each week);

• Working with and educating the broader community about issues facing the immigrant community; and

• Coordinating volunteer legal support for victims of discrimination. Among our expenses are:

• Approximately $800-1,000 each time we distribute food for 200; • Approximately $1,500-2000 for our annual winter clothes distribution;

• Several thousand dollars for emergency situations like human trafficking rescues, and workplace abuse rescues;

• Ongoing organizational expenses (Office, gasoline, printing, occasional travel expenses).

Other costs are largely covered by our members and volunteers. Once again we are asking you to help support for our ongoing work. Please send your contributions C/O Woodbridge Workers Committee/ Mexicanos Sin Fronteras, PO Box K, Woodbridge, VA 22194. Make checks payable to Woodbridge Workers Committee (tax deductible) or Mexicanos Sin Fronteras (non-tax deductible organizing work).

Thank you in advance for your help in extending the warm hand of welcome and solidarity to these newest, most vulnerable members of our communities.

In Solidarity, John Steinbach, Community Outreach Coordinator 703-822-3485 johnsteinbach1@verizon.net"


Monday, December 08, 2008

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

I can't stand hypocrisy.

I can't stand it when people use religion as an excuse to persecute people and then turn around and brag about their own holiness.

I can't stand when people spout off the "good news" of whatever religion they believe in and then turn around and deface the values of their gods by twisting those beliefs into something evil.

I'm not talking about minor imperfections or faults. I'm not talking about "things we're working on." No one is perfect.

But I AM talking about political leaders, public officials, public figures and civic leaders who espouse some kind of orderly love and then treat people, animals, and the natural world like trash.

I'm talking about these same people who wish to and often do manipulate government so they can exercise their hateful, greedy and disgusting agendas.

I'm talking about people who create and encourage poverty and racism and selfishness and hatred and murder and greed.

This is why many people get turned off from religion all together--too many hypocrites.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Brahma, Great Spirit, all the Gods and all the Goddesses, block your ears.

Either that, or send some lightening down on those who need a good jolt.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Where's the Snow?

How about that smattering of snow last night? Teaser, that's what it is. According to my sources, Massachusetts is getting some real snow. I want some. In fact, I want a genuine snow day tomorrow.

I like snow days. We sit around in slippers, put on the fire and do warm things until the kids want to go out and romp. They don't have snow pants yet, so we're back to the old fashioned days of wearing two+ pairs of pants. The girls are older. I suppose they won't die of exposure unless they stay out too long.

Snow days are also great for other things like doing art, catching up on work, and at this time of the year, getting out the Christmas decor. We're late this year because of my recent illness but that's okay. We still have a few weeks. Besides, we can leave the stuff up until January 7 or so without violating any HOA sensitivities.

No time today to rip out the old stuff. Lots to do and places to go. Time to shower so as not to offend ANYONE'S sensitivities.

Adios and Buenos Dias!

Friday, December 05, 2008

This is funny!!

Dec 4, 8:52 PM EST

Fla. rep. 'flabbergasted' Obama call wasn't prank

AP Photo


MIAMI (AP) -- First she hung up on President-elect Barack Obama - twice. Now Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is fielding calls from angry constituents who think she did it on purpose.

The Miami congresswoman says she and the Democrat had a good laugh Wednesday after she apologized profusely for assuming his calls were a prank.

"I was just flabbergasted," Ros-Lehtinen said Thursday. "I just hung up on the most powerful man on earth - twice." read more...





Usual Friday Drowning

Well, it's the typical Friday flood, that drowning of laundry and housework that has piled up all week and makes me feel like we will never catch up. It seems there is no end to vacuuming, cleaning the cat pans, washing clothes, putting clothes away, doing dishes, sweeping the floor, cooking, cleaning the bathrooms and general picking up. There's exercise to take care of, appointments to make, work to accomplish, and exhaustion to contend with. To boot, it's PMS week. Hey, no wonder I'm feeling the effects.

My fantasy, as usual, is to have cleaners come in on Fridays and sweep away the visual confusion that a messy house brings on.

I know I write about this a lot. I need fresh material. How about those blue tablets that help keep the toilet looking fresh? Now there's a good invention, eh? I wonder who thought THOSE up? I bet that person is a gazillionaire. If I could devise an auto-cleaner with artificial intelligence, I'd be more than a gazillionaire. Then I could give away huge amounts of money, make sure there aren't any homeless people and contribute to the general cleanliness of the nation. I guess they'd call that a robot, eh? And I guess the house cleaners would be upset at me because I would put them out of a job. Well, I don't know. It will take a little more thought, and come to think about it, more technology than I can devise.

I'm having a serious writing week, aren't I? Well, in between, I've been making cards for Walter Reed patients which is relaxing. I did take a walk in the Battlefields (on the day I said I would go to the gym, but I really needed to get outside into the open air despite my just getting over a vicious cold).

So here's something fun: touch your nose with your tongue. Lick your elbow. Stand on one foot and then try to get in a push-up position.

Better yet, watch your younger child feed the "puppy" a chewie bone. That doesn't mean she hands the bone to the dog. It means she holds it while the dog chews on it. Now, if that doesn't give you an indication of how spoiled our pets are, then nothing will!

Well, off to the wild world of....something. I have to figure out how to begin....or where to begin. Sometimes, beginning what seems overwhelming is the hardest part of all. Break it down into segments, Katherine...come on. You know it's easier that way!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Fat Chronicles

Brrrrrr is it ever cold today! I know this because the bird bath is frozen solid. Most people know it when they scrape off their car windows at five in the morning, preparing for the hellish Northern Virginia commute. Yes, I'm a lucky brat. My education has paid off, if not in money, in convenience. Working contract from home means the most I suffer from is cold feet easily remedied with a pair of socks (which for some reason, I keep procrastinating on putting on).

Subject switch: my six months' of appointments prior to being approved for bariatric surgery are finally DONE! This is part of the insurance requirement which is stupid. Do they really think visiting a regular doctor for six months will somehow yield different results from years of huge weight swings? Nothing against my regular doc, but what is she going to do? Staple my mouth shut? While that would make some people very happy and it might work for temporary weight loss, it wouldn't be very comfortable. If I wanted pain like that, I would pierce my lip and get it over with.

I've been told I am fortunate that my insurance covers this surgery in spite of their ridiculous process. That's true because without it, I would continue down this winding road, up and down hills that eventually will cause me to fall head first into a gully. Still, some of the insurance requirements seem self defeating. If they want to save money, wouldn't it be easier to just read my medical history and get on with it? Then they wouldn't be paying for visits that accomplish nothing other than the doctor saying, "Yes. She's still fat." DUH! I KNOW that!

So the next step is seeing a bariatric nutritionist to prepare my body for the surgery. I want to lose 100 pounds. This is pretty sad considering I've lost this kind of weight twice already in my life only to put it back on within the past three years (for physical and emotional reasons). I know I can do it again, but I need the loss to be permanent this time. I'm getting older, my knees have been crap for years, and swinging with that much weight is horrible for the heart, never mind the rest of me. The good news is I like to exercise and I love vegetables. The bad news is I'm not a meat lover and I will to go on a high protein diet. Can I eat eggs and spinach for the rest of my life? That would be okay. Shrimp is good as well.

Besides a deterrent (which the lap band is) I need structure. The ADHD and working from home don't help me any with my structure. Throw in the kids' schedules and you kind of have a recipe for not so good eating. It's not for a lack of trying, mind you.

Having a lifelong weight problem isn't something I would wish on anyone, especially my kids whom I am trying to teach good eating habits and exercise. I have told them they never want to get to the point where I am now. I don't want to traumatize them, of course, but they need to know that as you get older especially, obesity can really cut your life (and breath) short.

I am somewhat comforted but at the same time alarmed that I'm not the only one in this situation. With more than one-third of the overweight American population, I'm in good but unhealthy company. Being fat is somehow more acceptable (though it's still used as an excuse to persecute and discriminate). Socially at least, it was worse in the 80's when I was growing up, when there were no such thing a mainstream large-women magazines and catalogs. Teen clothing never came in super-size. These overweight, cultural updates make me feel normal but still not healthy.

It's worse when you lose as much weight as I have and gain it back again because you get used to feeling better, looking healthier, and maintaining a more active lifestyle. Suddenly, I feel like I've lost a limb or something. I can't do as much as I used to for the length of time I used to. In the past, I could hike for about two hours without getting sore. Now, if I do 45 minutes, I'm glad. I can deal with being out of breath for awhile, but outright pain isn't something most people can hike with for very long.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not whining. I'm planning. And I'm wondering how I am going to get through the preliminary dieting meant to shrink the liver. I am guessing I have to make a lot of appointments which is better because then I won't forget what I'm supposed to be doing. See that's a problem with me. I start out okay and then somehow fall off the wagon either because I get busy or unmotivated. I need a cheering squad. I guess most people do which is why Weight Watchers and other groups are so popular. I'm beyond Weight Watcher's however. At some point, someone stops watching and I put on the blindfold.

This program requires pre-work and post-work. The center mandates support group attendance for quite some time post-surgery, and I intend to be supported. There's no way I want to go through surgery and then put this weight back on as I've heard some people actually do. The only way to make sure that doesn't happen is to maintain constant internal and external monitoring.

People who have never suffered from weight problems don't understand this. "Just stop eating," they say.

Some of these same people will say other things that are nastier. They have no clue what it's all about and they don't want to have a clue, which is too bad. Either that, or they intend to hurt by focusing on what really is a disability of sorts. People with disabilities make easier targets, so why not go for it in their minds? (I'm waiting to the "usual suspects" to read this and send their nasty-grams, which once again, I will not publish so they needn't bother.)

In any event, being fat doesn't equal being ugly, stupid, weak, lazy or any of those other things. Intelligent people recognize this and tend to be more accepting of various body shapes and health conditions. Unintelligent or mean people have their own issues that the rest of us really don't need to deal with. We have enough on our plates so to speak! HA!

So that said, I'm off to get socks and go to the gym. I would love to hike, but this damn cold and my damn cold prevent it this morning. Still, there is ample opportunity both in my schedule and in my lifestyle to work on my health. And for that, I am extremely grateful. Too many people will never have this option. I remember them today and keep them in my prayers as I pray for myself to get better.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Important Statement from The Anti-Defamation League

Remarks by Michael Lieberman
Washington Counsel, Anti-Defamation League

Press Conference, National Council of La Raza
November 24, 2008
Good Morning.

Reasonable people can and will disagree about the parameters of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

But make no mistake. There is a direct connection between the tenor of this political debate and the daily lives of immigrants in our communities.

It is no accident that, as some voices in the immigration debate have demonized immigrants as “invaders” who poison our communities with disease and criminality, haters have taken matters into their own hands.

ADL has documented a growing atmosphere of bigotry and xenophobia and a disturbing increase in the number of violent assaults against Hispanics, legal, and undocumented immigrants – and those perceived to be immigrants. Across the nation, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis have exploited the immigration issue to advance their own agenda.

But we at ADL have also become increasingly concerned about the virulent anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric employed by a handful of groups and coalitions that have positioned themselves as legitimate, mainstream advocates against illegal immigration in America.

As previously mentioned, the FBI has documented that reported hate crimes against Latinos increased in 2007 for the fourth consecutive year.

The demonization of immigrants has led to an increased sense of fear in communities around the country and created a toxic environment in which hateful rhetoric targeting immigrants has become routine.

What should be done?

First, we need to remember that America is a nation of immigrants. Many of the groups before you today have come together to challenge state and local anti-immigrant laws and ordinances that have been a proxy for race and national origin discrimination. We need to make progress toward reform of our immigration and asylum laws with an appropriate balance of fairness, compassion, and national security awareness.

Second, public officials and the media must tone down the rhetoric in the immigration debate. It is impossible to overstate the importance of civic leaders and law enforcement officials speaking out against efforts to demonize immigrants – and using their bully pulpit to promote better intergroup relations.

Third, the incoming Congress and the Obama Administration should move quickly to pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act, legislation that will permit the federal government to assist local authorities in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.

Words have consequences. And we must use our words, our power of persuasion, our political clout, to condemn scapegoating, bias crimes, racism, and anti-Semitism and to press for fair and workable immigration reform.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

On Cooking (or not)

I read other blogs where writers post their delicious recipes and pictures worthy of cooking mags.

I'm jealous.

Just as I was feeling proud about the broccoli-stuffing casserole I made from the recipe on the back of a Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup can (on sale at the dreaded Wal-mart for 60 cents with tomato and cream of mushroom so I bought a case), I perused Dive's Seafood Paella and Blur's teriyaki chicken steaks, yong tau foo (meat parcels) with even a recipe for the dog. I am ashamed of my kitchen skills and lack of motivation for culinary creating.

I'm not sure what it is. I guess, first, I am not organized enough to list necessary ingredients foe recipes I might want to try. Plus, it seems wasteful to buy ingredients for a one-time dish. I get to the supermarket and find I always buy mix-and-match items which, ultimately, I love to combine to the horror of my family members who prefer their food groups separated.

But it's easier to blend foods into casseroles. I don't use as many dishes that way, I don't have to time each course, and I can get all the food groups with hefty amounts of vegetables into one plate. I don't use those pre-fab casserole ingredients such as hamburger helper (yuck--the salt alone will put you in the hospital), and I can get a little creative, sometimes to the detriment of the dish. My family doesn't appreciate these attempts at piecing together meals like a culinary crazy-quilt, however.

Have I mentioned I hate going to the grocery store? I don't know why. I guess it's the whole checkout, loading, and carrying in the grocery thing that bugs me. I'm neither lazy nor rich nor busy enough to justify those grocery delivery services, and anyway, it's good for me to feel the fruit before I buy it. My husband often goes for me, but I find he doesn't buy the things I would. He gets things like fish sticks and frozen raviolis which don't help our diets any, no matter how easy they are to cook. He also gets chicken breast which is good, and he will buy as many frozen vegetables as I ask him to, but if I don't give him some guidance, I end up missing some staples of my mix-and-match. Besides that, he buys more snacks than I ever would because I try not to eat them.

I am more cognizant of my cooking failures this morning because the refrigerator is empty, I haven't felt well enough to shop, and I dread sending my husband both for the reasons I've stated above and because I have guilt. I don't think shopping should always be his responsibility, and he is the one that ends up going to Costco to purchase the industrial sized products that are boxed not bagged.

If hubby goes, I will make a list so at least I won't have that hanging over my nutrition conscious head.

And perhaps I shall crock-pot some beans today. Then we can not only dine as a family, we can exchange gasses after and recall that beautiful bond only begotten by spending time together.

I suppose it's a start.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

BLAH

I won't bore you with the saga of my week long disease. So I will move on to other topics such as.....

You know what? I have an excrutiating headache.

I think it's time for a blog break.

BLAH.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday Blues

I don't really have anything to say. I'm writing for the sake of writing. The leg is bouncing, the nose is still rebelling on me (when is it going to stop?) but I took a trip to Wal-mart today and at least it didn't end up being like the NY Stomp Exchange.

How sick is that? If you were part of that crowd and bought gifts, would you give those gifts? I'd have to return them. Bad omen, bad behavior and one more reason for the world to hate capitalists.

Because I only had to get medicine, tissues and pet products, I got in and out of the store fairly quickly with only one person ahead of me in the checkout line. The girl verifying receipts at the door laughed when I asked her if it was busy enough. She said she had to elbow her way in to get to her post this morning. Poor thing! She had a great attitude considering the shoppers pouring through the doors like so many tons of water escaping through a hole in the retaining wall.

Is that what Christmas is? A running from the every-day into the embrace of a store offering goodies at low prices? How fast will we run? Fast enough to run someone over? Apparently.

Outside, the Salvation Army man rang his bell. I had the girls slip a little cash into the bucket. He smiled and thanked them. The girls looked pleased but on the way in, asked why he kept ringing the bell over and over. I told them, "That's what Salvation Army guys do so you know they are collecting money for the poor." They have to ring a lot louder to get these crowds to listen. And they have to ring a lot longer this year to help those who can't make it to a Wal-mart even for necessities. There are more poor this year, there is more desperation, and it makes me wonder if that makes people freak out at places like Wal-mart.

This is what I want for Christmas this year. A cheap pair of dark sunglasses and a container of perfume-y powder, the kind with a big puff that you dab into the pile and then onto your armpits. I want the house decorated with all our old stuff, the whole family to sit around and sip cocoa by the tree, the pets to nibble on the branches so we can tell them not to, and laughter from everyone.

That's a lot to ask. It really is. It's more than what you can get at Wal-mart or Best Buy or any old mall.

We have about a month to make it all happen. I think if we start now, it just might come together.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Random Thanks This Morning

I'm waiting for my nails to dry before I get ready for the big day. Of course I probably will ruin them on the keyboard, but not so much as I would in the shower or in the kitchen where I will cook the peas. I've already had to scrape one nail free of a dog hair. This is why I hardly ever paint my nails. It takes far too long for them to dry even after I spray that dryer stuff on them. My nails must hold moisture or something.

Such problems on this Thanksgiving morning, eh? I am lucky those are the only ones. And they really are. We have peace, love and joy in our household. We have two beautiful girls who are still sweet for the most part. David and I are in love and we laugh before we go to sleep. We have crazy friends. We have family to visit and a 22-month-old puppy chewing part of the stuffed animal population that greatly needs reducing. (We decided she really is still a puppy the way she prances and chews and bounds around.) We have a Shiba Inu who cuddles at our feet and close to our behinds in bed. We have a big puffy kitty who feels good to squeeze (but not too tightly because then she doesn't feel all that good) and a black kitty who meows and purrs and loves constantly. They are all getting along if not splendidly, then well.

We aren't wealthy by any means (punny eh?) but we aren't poor either. I don't want to go down the "we are rich in love" road because it's a bit of a cliche. So I will say something like, I don't know.....our love envelops us all like the animal hairs in our house?

My thumbnail has air bubbles and bumps, my big toe has nail fungus covered in dark polish, and my pinkie nail has grown long enough to be elegant. My mind still (partially) works and my breasts are ample. What more is there?

I could go down the "there's a little TOO much there in my behind" road but it's Thanksgiving and I don't feel like being negative. Besides, in another land, in another time, I would be the ideal female. To feel better about my body, I shall soon visit an art museum. I am thankful for art.

My husband is playing a game where his character must enter a stinky outhouse. The gnome or whatever it is screams as the dilapidated building emits a greenish smog. David's laughter is contagious.

I'm random and I'm thankful for that as well. It makes for some interesting connections.

My nails still aren't dry but I need to fart around a bit and inflict some family conversation now.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Be as well as you can.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Recall the Grateful List












Enter, Rejoice and Come In....

http://luxuriouschoices.blogspot.com/2008/01/grateful-list.html

A Joyful and Safe Thanksgiving to All,

Katherine

US Government Supports Student Debt, Not Higher Education

In case you haven't heard the news, the next lucky winners of the bailout games are student loan lenders. Yes, folks, these people who will lend you as much money as a college education plus living expenses as demanded by our economy yet are not burdened by conscience or consumer law, the people who can claim your disability checks, pensions, social security, and living wages if you don't pay up, are on the receiving end of government generosity and corporate welfare.

What happens to individuals suffering under the economy? They are made slaves to private corporations who literally can assess any fee or interest rate they want if students are late on even one payment. They can ensure students go into default which in some professions, leads to revoking of professional licensing and/or security clearance leaving students without jobs.

The disabled who are denied discharges, even if they qualify for disability under social security, owe until they die and have their small payments garnished, all legal in this system that is guaranteed to make money and put people of all ages into lifelong poverty.

This is no exaggeration, folks. This is a national travesty that students should be aware of before they borrow one cent from any lender.

______________________________

November 25, 2008

U.S. Government Intervenes, Again, to Shore Up Student Lending

Washington — In a move aimed at increasing the availability of consumer loans, the Federal Reserve Bank announced today that it would lend up to $200-billion to financial institutions that hold securities backed by student loans, auto loans, and credit-card debt.

The Treasury Department will back the loans with $20-billion from a $700-billion financial-rescue fund approved by Congress. The goal, according to a statement from the Treasury Department, is to “enable a broad range of institutions to step up their lending, enabling borrowers to have access to lower-cost consumer finance.”

Details of the plan came less than a week after the treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., said the $700-billion program, which was originally aimed at mortage-backed securities, would be expanded to include other types of credit markets.

That news was welcomed by student-loan companies, more than 60 of which have stopped offering private student loans in recent months, but it was opposed by public colleges and student advocacy groups, which sent a letter to Mr. Paulson saying that students “need safe and reliable [financing] options, not more of the same risky private loans.” The new plan is geared toward private loans, but could help providers of federal loans as well.

In an interview today, Lauren J. Asher, associate director of the Project on Student Debt, said her group was “disappointed” by the secretary’s decision to proceed, and hoped Mr. Paulson would at least require recipients of the loans to provide basic protections to student-loan borrowers.

In an e-mail message, Kevin Bruns, executive director of America’s Student Loan Providers, called the program “good news for families who rely on student loans to pay for college.”

“By increasing liquidity, it should further guarantee that federal student loans will continue to be funded — and, therefore, continue to be readily available this academic year and beyond,” he wrote.

Congress and the Education Department have already taken steps to shore up the federal student-loan system, including by buying loan portfolios from student-loan companies. —Kelly Field

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Story

I've decided to begin working on my fiction again. Therefore, you will see a new "fiction" label in this blog.

I thought I would start with a revision of this story I did long ago after sitting in a welfare office waiting to be approved for food stamps. It's not a final revision by any stretch.

I guess some of this is fiction and some not in that the office really did look like the description and some of the dialog is real. The salesman really did come in to the waiting room and people really did make the remarks I included. But make no mistake...I am NOT the narrator nor have I ever owned such a dress as described. Still, I'm not sure what you call this kind of fiction. Realistic? I'm quite sure Crane's and Hemingway's fiction wasn't always purely fictitious.

In this time of Thanksgiving, I am thankful transitional assistance is there but that I no longer need it. It's a worthy program and success stories often come from it. I'd like to think I am one of those success stories.

The story below isn't really about success, though. I will leave it to you to decide what is IS about.

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone.

--Katherine

__________________________

Public Welfare

They don't call it "welfare" anymore. It's the "Department of Transitional Services." But that doesn't make it better. The benches are still hard and worn, the smoothed wood glaring through the remains of honey colored stain. The floors are still tiled in 1960 charcoal grey with white swirls. The walls are still ivory, smeared by the dirty fingers of a million children, and the lighting is still fluorescent, flickering in the windowless waiting room. And me. I am still there after three hours of waiting. A monument to the system. Still jobless. They keep telling me I will find something. But there is nothing out there for me.

How I came to be there is a long story, which I will only give a synopsis of. At eighteen, I divorced my husband, handed over my eight month old girl to him and took off to start over, earn my fortune. I worked for Macy's. I was a cashier. Every day, banging figures into the register while these pretty women in $90.00 shoes frowned at my polyester dress and press-on nails. I just couldn't take it anymore. All those beautiful clothes that I could never buy even with my discount.

I didn't know they had such good store security. I thought a few dresses, a pair of nylons, I would be satisfied. I didn't think about how I would actually wear the stuff and have to answer where I'd bought it from.

A year later, I stood in front of the judge, the words "ten thousand dollars" screaming at me. I didn't have to do time. I did community service--for free. For two years. But I still had to pay off the debt. I still owe on it. I don't even have most of the clothes any more. They made me give back the stuff that had tags on it. So I did. But I still have criminal record.

There was this one dress I could not stand to give back, I love it so much. I remember this day at the welfare office because I was wearing this dress. It makes me feel special to wear it. It's navy blue with a sailor's collar and has a smart looking red bow in front. The skirt is pleated and long and it's made out of some material that can only be dry-cleaned. I never have for dry-cleaning, so I have had to hand-wash it a few times. It has shrunk a little, but it's still okay.

I wore the dress with some off-white pantyhose and cheap patent leather shoes I'd gotten at the Salvation Army thrift store. I can't believe some of the good stuff they have there. The shoes were almost new. I washed them out with Ajax scrub in case they had fungus in them. They still shine even now. I was careful not to scrub the patent off.

My pantyhose had a little run in the ankle that day and I didn't have any clear nail polish so I used a drop of red from a drying up bottle. But I was afraid it would show so on top of that, I put a little school glue just to make it white and reinforce the job I had already done. I looked nice. Respectable. I like to look respectable when I go there. I don't like the employees to think they are handing out charity to a freeloader.

I sat on the bench waiting for them to call my number. I sat very still and straight with good posture, thinking. There is a man that comes in every time I am there. He is about my age but his clothes are dated and he stoops. His hair is long and greasy and looks like it should be blond. He looks at least ten years older than I do but he's not that old. He slings this ripped army bag around his shoulders and slumps in. His shirt always catches in the strap and his hair, the few parts that aren't greasy, looks wild from the static the bag gives off. I always think when I see him, "Thank God I don't look like that."

Some things always happen the same way when you come to this place so I thought I would see him again that day. It's so much the same sometimes I start to lose track of what day it is and how long I've been going there because it's like my history repeating itself. It's not a good history really.

I pressed my back against the wood and stared at the clock. It's one of those white faced clocks with a black plastic frame, the kind you see in schools. I find if I focus on something, I don't look like I really belong there. I know because I practiced this in the room I rent. I look more removed, like I am thinking some very important thoughts. If you think that much, you must not be a client. You must be a lawyer or a case worker waiting for an interview or something. But you definitely don't belong there.

I play the clock game a lot. Of course, it doesn't work on people like the real case workers and the attendants and the man I always see there. They see me every month. So obviously I am a client. But more of the others are complete strangers or they have bad memories or they don't care or they just aren't very smart. So I know it works on them.

Gloria, the lady behind the window, has a face like a sunflower--round, gritty and yellow. Her curly dyed hair reminds me of the petals. But she is not sunny at all. She doesn't smile and I think she has said "please" only once since I've been coming which has been something like three years now. My time is almost up. They'll boot me out of the system and then I don't know what I will do. No one will hire me. I have a record.

The person Gloria said "please" to wasn't me. It was some mailman or delivery guy. He didn't come in that day, though, so there was no "please" to be heard out of her mouth. That day, Gloria wore a white, shiny shirt printed with huge teal and gold and red diamonds. Very ugly. But she never has to worry about style. She doesn't have to impress anyone. I don't think she is married and I doubt she has a man. Who would want to go out with Gloria?

So there was Gloria behind her glass, the little slot cut out at the bottom so she wouldn't get breathed on by the rest of us and could pass papers to us like we were prisoners and she wasn't. The greasy haired man did come in around one o'clock. I still sat waiting for my number and for the hundredth time, just for something to do, tried to catch his name when he checked in. That's the weird thing. All this time and I still never his name. He kind of mumbles and every time, Gloria has to say, "You have to speak up sir," in a voice that would make most people want to whisper instead of doing what she says. She's just that kind of person.

Greasy Hair finished his business and sat down, right next to me in fact, the first time it ever happened. Usually, he sits across the room. I crossed my legs and looked at the clock harder. If I had something to read, something smart looking like a leather bound novel or legal textbook, I would have taken it out to make myself seem more unapproachable. Instead, I had to sit there and cringe because this guy kept looking at me. I hoped he didn't want to start a conversation because I wasn't up to it. Not with him anyway.

More people walked in and it started to sound like a class of tenth graders in there. A line to the counter formed and I watched through the corner of my eye as people settled with Gloria, got a number, and found a place to sit. When there were no more benches, people started sitting on the floor or leaning against the wall. "Dios mio, fucking line," a Latino woman said and not quietly.

"Yeah," said a white guy in overalls too short for him. He wasn't wearing socks with his sneakers. "Sucks today, don't it?"

"Sucks every day," a petite black lady said and gave a deep chuckle that made me wonder where in her little body that voice came from.

The good thing about this place is that all kinds of people come in here. The thing we have in common is we're all poor. But I don't really want that in common with them so that's a bad thing.

A couple of kids about five years old sat in the middle of the floor. "Let's see how long we can hold our breaths," the chubby, pale faced kid said.

"Okay," said the other kid, yellow faced and thin looking. Their cheeks puffed out and both faces began to turn red. It looked better than their original colors.

Once in awhile, a bleach blond head would poke its way out the hollow wooden door at the side and call the next number. They were on 35. I looked at my ticket. 49. And I'd already been there three hours. I think they try to get you to leave like this, making you wait so long.

I'd started that annoying habit I have of picking at my fake nails when the front door opened and in walked a man in a sleek tan suit. I guess he was about forty. He was tall and thin and looked like he spent a lot of time dressing. He had blond hair, probably the same color the guy next to me would have if he ever washed it. He carried a black leather bag bigger than a briefcase but smaller than a suitcase. He went to the center of the room and just stood there for a minute. He cleared his throat.

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen," he said. It was more than just loud because the room hushed like he had started to strip.

"I'm here to offer you some exceptional values today," he announced. "And I think you should take advantage of it because these are limited items at wholesale prices. What I have here," and he dug into his bag, "is a hi-fi portable music system that will make you feel like you are in the theater."

Everyone just stared at him silently like zombie high school students. He didn't seem to notice or if he did, he didn't care because he just went on, opening a box.

"This model," he said, carefully pulling out a plain black plastic square looking thing, "is good for traveling and walking. It can be plugged into any stereo system, earphones or speakers and has phenomenal sound no matter where you use it. Allow me to demonstrate."

He walked towards a wall with a painted-over outlet. He leaned over and plugged the thing in. Because everyone was now looking at this guy, I could afford to look at him too. For a second, I wondered where he got the things in the first place.

Gloria finally noticed but by that time, the sounds of ocean waves struck the room. It was kind of nice. He held the stereo thing in his open palm, raising his hand above his head so we could all see where this amazing sound was coming from. A group of people actually got up for a closer look. They were in awe like he was holding up a statue of a god or something.

"SIR!" Gloria bellowed, practically sticking her head under the glass slot that kept the workers separated from people like us. "What are you DOING?"

Now people didn't know if they should stare at Gloria or the salesman. I stared at the clock again so I could disappear into my aura of self importance. I watched from the corner of my eye again and listened.

The man ignored her, lowering his hand, messing with the knobs and dials on the sound system. He hummed the classical tune that played behind the ocean waves. The group grew and some leaned in for a closer look. Gloria leaped from her chair and rounded a corner behind her glass. When she reappeared, it was with a security guard.

The guard was old and had completely white hair, droopy eyes and nose hairs. He hurried as quickly as he could to the side office door that led to the waiting room. "Excuse me, sir," he called in a shaky voice, much quieter than Gloria's.

"Sir," he made his way through the spectators and closer to the huckster. "SIR!" he said louder this time.

The salesman finally turned. "Hello," he said. "Can I interest you in this sound system? I sell at wholesale prices and even offer a guarantee."

"This is a state agency, sir," the guard said rather firmly. "There's no soliciting here."

The ocean waves crashed. The violins sang. The security guard reached over to the salesman's hand and turned off the mini stereo.

"Oh," said the man. It was quiet in there now. He honestly looked sad. I kind of felt bad for him. "Well, I'm sorry then. I don't suppose you know anyone else who might be interested?"

"No, sir, I do not," said the guard. "Now please leave."

I wondered if the guy was going to give the guard any trouble, but he didn't.

The group of spectators returned to and wall space and floor. The salesman smiled bravely at the crowd, making eye contact with anyone he could. He waved. "Thank you, everyone!" he said. "Have a nice day!"

The glass front door shut.

"Dumb ass," the greasy haired man next to me murmured. "Goddamn stupid prick."

I didn't say anything, just stared at the clock.

Finally, they called my number.

Hope for Immigrants Yet--McCain Agrees

November 24, 2008

Deal Is Reached on Immigration Bill Affecting Students, Says Senate Leader

Washington — Momentum appears to be building in Congress for passage of immigration legislation that could make some illegal immigrants eligible for certain federal programs, including student aid.

In an interview with the Gannett News Service that was published over the weekend, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, a Democrat of Nevada, said that President-elect Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, a Republican of Arizona, had reached agreement on how to proceed with a comprehensive immigration bill. Senator Reid said that he did not expect “much of a fight at all” over the legislation, which would overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.

Congress tried to pass an immigration bill last year, but it failed for reasons unrelated to the education provisions. Those pieces of the bill, which were taken from the Dream Act, would have created a path to permanent residency for immigrant students and would have made it easier for states to charge cheaper in-state tuition rates to some illegal immigrants. —Kelly Field

http://chronicle.com/news/index.php?id=5555&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en


My Commentary:

This issue with helping undocumented children obtain financial assistance is that some people feel they are being denied assistance as a result. There is no relationship between the two. Just because these immigrant children have access to funding doesn’t mean they will get it. It means they qualify if they have been here for years.

Better access for all to financial assistance is a national problem that must be remedied through funding and support for higher education. Right now, most students only qualify for student loans which serve to put them and their families under the burden of huge debt. Yet, student borrowers have no consumer protection.

Consider this: these immigrants will now have the opportunity, just like the rest of us, to get into debt and struggle to pay their loans. Is this really an opportunity?

For us to get what we need, we must stop resenting immigrants, give them a path to citizenship and start focusing on the real issue—in this case, the underfunding of higher education and indeed of all education.

Whining Again

In the larger scheme of things, my cold (hoping not sinus infection) is trivial. People are dying of war, disease, hunger and lack of love. And in the words of my father, "Ten million people in China really don't give a damn." Kind of puts it into perspective, doesn't it?

Still, it's amazing the way head, chest, and throat can get in the way of things like, oh, talking and traveling. My couch is my best friend at the moment, probably because it doesn't try to speak to me. I write when I am sick because there's no reason not to. I don't have to stand in the cold to do it, I don't have to drive to get to my computer, and I don't have to expend much physical energy.

I feel a little guilty because I hiked in the cold last week (or was it Monday?) so I kind of feel like I deserve this. But I love to hike in the cold! When you get as hot as I do, you appreciate winter so much more. It's not that I was under-dressed. I was wearing my heavy coat (the one my dog puked in but yes, I have washed it since then), gloves, and a hat. I was wearing a sweatshirt and a t-shirt underneath. When I got hot, I didn't fully take the coat off, just opened it and let my shoulders hang out. The only thing cold on my body was my chin which I guess is my throat. Should I feel guilty for that?

I'd rather blame this on my daughter who had a cold last week but then I feel guilty for blaming her. So I will just shut up and blow my nose.

Boy, I'm whiny today, aren't I? I hope no one reads this. Pathetic!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cider Sipping and Such

I kind of wish it would snow. Dive has been talking about working from home and his own bout of British snow, and since he has taken such lovely photos of it, I am starting to become envious. Besides, if I am going to be sick, I might as well look out the window, enjoy the light white blight and snuggle up closer to the fire with the pets.

This arrangement, however, would not work so well for Thanksgiving when a gazillion people drive or travel to their places of piggery. So perhaps after the eat-fest it will snow. Of course by THEN, I better be better! Then I could really take some great pics, some of the kids loving their snow days.

I don't mind snow days. They are cozy and I am thankful for them. But when it's cold out like it was the other day--and I mean REALLY cold--I automatically think of the homeless and the poor. What will become of that man sleeping on the park bench? What about that family living in their car? And that little girl who doesn't have a winter jacket....what about her?

The Salvation Army reports a grim year with more unfortunate than fortunate.

I don't think we ought to forget that as we sip our warm cider.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Boo Hoo Sniff

Such big plans thwarted by a head cold.....alas, the frailty of humanity, the wicked nose that threatens the throat, the stuff that flows from forehead to cheeks to tongue to paper to waste basket--ah, yes, we are indeed mortal. Chilled, we shiver, and weak we sleep, modifying serious life, reducing ourselves to prisoners of the pillow, shelving the books of our lives at least for a week. How is it we could ever boast godhood?

See, you, what reading The House of the Seven Gables might do to the suffering soul betrayed by a season of cold? Whence comes this melodramatic tripe that stiffens the back and offends poetic ears? Could it be the diction of mucus speaking through the nasal passage? Or is it merely delusion?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Squirrel, squirrel in the park













Here's an old poem that reminds me of an old friend who recently caught up with me after about fifteen years! I'm glad she is well. And I believe she might still remember this poem brought to us by the sisters in Catholic school:

Squirrel, squirrel in the park
Your tail is like a question mark
Your little nose is black and bright,
Your eyes are glimmering with light.
When you run, you run in jumps,
Up the trees around the stumps,
Over the grass and clover, then
Scooting up the trees again.
Squirrels, squirrels, stop and see
What I brought along with me.
Something that is brown and sweet,
Something that you like to eat.
Squirrels don’t understand,
Here’s a peanut in my hand.

Why does Virginia need reform?

I’m thinking of the KKK fliers in residents' mailboxes…fliers persecuting and endorsing the persecution of gay people while naming "suspected gays."

I’m thinking of the vandalism of 100+ cars on which racial slurs and slurs against homosexuals were plastered across Manassas.

I’m thinking of BVBL where minorities, the disabled and gay people are bashed routinely.

There are many people in the state of VA who DO welcome diversity.

But because our government, in particular our local government, condones and supports hate groups rather than equality, I maintain that anyone “different” (minorities, gay people, and the disabled) are targets here and across the state if for no other reason than there are no state laws protecting them. State laws that DO provide protection are not enforced. Resident complaints are ignored.

Some other examples:

Recall the axing of the local elderly daycare center?

Outside of the immigration resolution put out by a hate group and protested by thousands who were ignored by the BOCS, recall the attacks against Hispanics prior to this resolution?

How about the local KKK attacking Muslims?

Do you know if a judge ever declares you mentally incompetent, you cannot vote in Virginia?

So….if you are elderly and have bouts of senility leading your children to court to declare you such, even if you are lucid enough to make a voting decision, you cannot vote in the state of Virginia.

If you had a manic episode, were declared mentally incompetent and released, you cannot vote in the state of Virginia.

All states need reform, but Virginia is one of the worst offenders when it comes to protecting its diversified populations and protecting the rights of minorities. Our state government ignores our local government.

Our local government persecutes whomever it wishes, be it through social or fiscal policy recommended by more than just questionable members of appointed committee members.

That is why Virginia needs reform.

And that, dear people, is why I will never, ever shut up about it.

You see, I've been on the receiving end of abuse privately and publicly.

I don't think anyone should put up with it.

"If you want peace, fight for justice."


Friday, November 21, 2008

First the "Illegals"....now you.

First, they came for the "illegals."

Now, they come for the disabled and elderly.

They scapegoat the disabled as "illegal."

They support hate groups.

They take policy from hate groups.

They disregard and humiliate their constituents who have different opinions.

They appoint racists.

Make no mistake.

You're next.

DiRT Slings it again....

So if you want to read ignorance, take a look at the comments addressed to the author of this letter who was refused an answer from your local racist BOCS member, John Stirrup. Not only is this poor constituent service, that Stirrup goes on to call Alanna an "illegal apologist" instead of admitting or denying his affiliation with a racist, nativist hate group, he calls Alanna names in public. Talk about a loser who doesn't deserve his position!

No one on AntiBVBL calls anyone who supports PWC's immigration resolution a "Nazi." I have openly said HSM members and their hate-mongering selves act like Neo-Nazis and I refuse to take that back. Why? Because Neo-Nazis are white supremacists, and that's exactly what HSM promotes. Their agenda has nothing to do with rectifying illegal immigration. It has to do with, as Stirrup has said on numerous occasions in filmed, public meetings, "defending OUR culture." Recall this is the man who left Arlington and moved into a wealthy white neighborhood so he could escape Hispanics. Anyone who doesn't want to be seen as a racist, a radical hate-monger, a nativist or an ignorant bigot would be best off leaving the group.

These people, whose leader showed up wearing army fatigues at a 7-11 to intimidate immigrants, who said he would show up later armed, are nothing but vigilantes. DiRT is most likely one of them.

DiRT (who calls him/herself "Do the right thing" as if s/he has any idea of what the right thing is--this is the same person who mocked me for having ADHD) maintains that BVBL never called anyone "dog food" on the racist blog. Well, readers have screen shots of it and pictures. These postings were not edited out, but people posting other ideas WERE. Citizens testified to this fact at a BOCS meeting. DiRT for some reason feels the need to protect John Stirrup and the hate groups in this area. Perhaps this poster IS John Stirrup.

Personally, I think this person is a bored malcontent. S/he is on the comments section bashing anyone who disagrees with his/her ideas on immigration. S/he attacks and cuts down and does whatever s/he can to belittle people. Then s/he accuses others of doing it.

There are those who can disagree in the immigration debate without being racist, bigoted, mean, and generally vicious.

Then there are those like DiRT who have nothing better to do than sling the dirt and call it "the right thing."

Please, readers, don't believe this person, John Stirrup, or any hate group represents the majority of this county.

We are not all a bunch of unthinking, unfeeling hate mongers.

(I'm waiting for the personal attacks from DiRT and a couple of others whose grudge with me has nothing to do with the immigration debate. They needn't bother, however, because I won't publish their DiRT.)