Friday, February 23, 2007

Douchebag du jour

There's a reason he's called "Twit Romney".

(Excerpts below from The Boston Globe)
Romney: Marriage needed for school fixes
By Jim Davenport, Associated Press Writer
February 22, 2007

GREENVILLE, S.C. --Republican Mitt Romney recited a schoolyard ditty Thursday to underscore his argument that traditional marriage is essential for improving education.

"First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage," the presidential hopeful told a crowd of about 175 people gathered at a private club.

The former Massachusetts governor said student success is closely tied to married couples getting involved in their children's education.
"Every child in America deserves a mom and a dad," Romney said. "We've got to have marriage before we have babies if we're going to have parental involvement in our schools."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My office smells like gingerbread, burnt things, and poop

"Do you smell something?" my office mate M asked me Tuesday when I was preparing for class.
"Nope, but I just came in and it's cold out. Give my nose a minute to thaw," I responded. I'm usually pretty sensitive to smell. I waited and worked.
About a half hour later, I left on an errand. When I got back to the office, I smelled it. Not strong but bad.
"Remember yesterday how I told you it smelled like poop over in the hallway?" M asked. I said I did. "I think someone tracked it in here" he explained. He then took me on a tour of the stains of the carpet.
I was doubtful that any of them were the source of a new smell as they all seemed somewhat familiar to me. Although who would know a new stain on that carpet?

"They're brown..." M said ominously, gesturing to a set of stains. We discussed the possibility that someone had walked into the room, was able to stand so close as to leave this stain by the door, then went over and stood by my desk, near the garbage can, and then settled with their feet stuck way under M's desk. We acted out various walking in and tracking poop scenarios, none of which seemed likely.

I left for class promising to bring in something to help with the smell. I had just the thing. My good friend cjblue had just visited me this weekend. She got her annual birthday mix CD (Funtastik mix - "with bagpipe action") and I got some very excellent gingerbread scented cleaning supplies. Only a friend who knows me as well as she does would understand that very cool scented cleaning supplies are not at all an odd present for me.

This morning I had to be on campus much later than I should ever be. I had to be in for a 9 AM meeting, which is about 2 hours earlier than I ever get onto campus even when I'm up early and moving fast. The morning is extremely unkind to my body*. Despite feeling like hell thawed out, I managed to get out and going with everything I needed, including my gingerbread scented heavy duty cleaning liquid tucked into my bag. I got in after the meeting and promptly dabbed cleaner onto the carpet (yep, I keep cleaning rags in my office).

"Oh that smells NICE!" M said as we cleaned. We made sure to hit all the stains he worried were the source of the stink. We turned off the fluorescent overhead lights and switched on the incandescent lamps. It felt cozy and nice in there until about 2:40.

At 2:30, my stomach had relented in its super bad cramping enough for me to consider putting food in it. I chose popcorn because it seemed to be the least offensive and immediate option. I remember as I put it in the microwave, I checked to see how long to put it in. I had a small conversation with M and the somewhat intimidated undergrad RA about it. "I have this habit of burning popcorn. The first time I met my mother's biological sister I burned it. It was embarassing, I was like 12 and the only one home when she got there...." I blathered on and in the popcorn went, set on "Popcorn" level. One minute into the cooking, I said "Shit, do you smell that?" My phone rang. It was A asking how I was feeling. "Um, better but I'm burning down my lab right now...can I call you back sweetie?"

I looked at the popcorn. The bag was just starting to puff up, not overcooked. "No really, it smells like wood burning." I decided it had to be the popcorn and stopped it. The bag was black in places and smoldering when I opened the oven. I immediately closed it, not wanting to set off the fire alarm. We emptied the trash can, poured whatever water we could find into it, and threw in the still smoldering and increasingly burnt looking bag. I stomped on it to sink it into the water. Finally it went out. But it still smelled like burning.

After M and I took the bag with burnt popcorn bag water in it out of the can and threw it away outside the building (dripping foul smelling burnt popcorn bag water all the way), we returned to the lab. I put the trash bag I had thrown onto the floor back into the can. While leaning down to do this, I was hit with the stink.
"Woah, it smells horrible!" I said.
" know, I smell the poop again!" M said.

We realized the trash can had been the source of the "poop smell" M had noticed. The trash can I had stepped in to put out the burning bag of popcorn. We emptied it of trash and poured in some gingerbread cleaner. And we waited.

At 4:30, when the fluorescent lights were back on, I was on my way out, and the undergrad was flirting with her boss - my recently engaged (and not to her) friend, we were still waiting.

I will reread this blog entry the next time I'm feeling even a little bit guilty about my preference for working at home.

*You can assume this is whiney overly sensitive bullshit, and if you do, keep it to yourself because I don't want to hear it. It's an unpleasant fact of my life and not some indulgent whim.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

4 votes short

Senate Dems. Weigh New Iraq Restrictions
Sunday February 18, 2007
By Deb Riechmann, Associated Press Writer

The [US] House passed a nonbinding resolution Friday that rejected the president's 21,500-troop buildup in Iraq. The vote put Bush on the defensive going into a far more consequential confrontation over paying for the plan.

On Saturday, Senate Republicans foiled a Democratic bid to repudiate Bush's deployment of additional combat troops. The 56-34 vote fell four short of the 60 needed, but Democrats quickly claimed victory, noting that a majority of senators voted against the escalation.

And how did Senator Lieberman (Rat-Conn.) vote on this? If you're familiar with "Joe", I think you'll be able to guess how he voted. If you'd like to know how he and other US Seantors voted on this resolution, follow this link to the Boston Globe story.

Does anyone out there suffer under the delusion that CT is anything other than a rather large golf course for a clutch of robber baron fucks? If so, please allow me to correct that. First off, realize that CT elected Lieberman - AGAIN, despite having a much clearer idea this time where the senator's allegiances were. I suppose anyone with eyes could have seen it before, but you'd have to have deliberately looked a bit and for many reasons (some of them even really good reasons) people sometimes just don't look. But this last time, the true nature of Lieberman was pretty much in the faces of even the less deliberately attentive. And he won anyhow. I know there could be some reassurance in the fact that it wasn't a clear victory for him. There was a nice turn out of progressive voters who gave Lieberman a good run for his money (and it was a lot of money). But lacking any substantive evidence that this group is anything more than a completely unaffiliated set of inconsistent, unstable voters which includes in its ranks a large number of folks who know very little about candidates or races who lack national name recognition, I felt the minor bouyancy of seeing what had to be at best a pyrrhic victory for Lieberman was limited in scope and duration.

So while I am happy about outcomes like Joe Courtney beating Rob Simmons for the US House in the last election (because Simmons creeped me out in an X-files smoking man kind of way) I still feel unimpressed with CT's political leanings. I still feel that CT is a state of rich and/or well off bastards who manage to project a very superficial appearance of yankee-moderate values but who consistently vote craker, and of an unfortunately large number of apparently quite idiotic working poor (hey, I'm in that socio-economic group so yes, I'm knocking my peers here) who consistently vote like it's an act of sympathetic magic which will bestow upon them the affluence and dignity of the american dream they desperately, irrationally cling to.

Rescue poetry

I needed some rescuing and here it is. I wanted to share it with anyone else who might need it.

"This is for you" performed by Isaac Miller and Ulises Dorantes (and Cameron Bartolini, according to the title on the video)
2005 National Youth Poetry Slam Finalists

Saturday, February 17, 2007


The blog has been returned to moderated comments.

I usually enjoy seeing evidence that someone is out there, but if that someone is simply using my blog to sell crap, that's a little less enjoyable.
So, if you're a real person who's not peddling shit, please excuse the inconvenience.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

man of the house

Ever look up your town on Wikipedia? Not long ago, I looked up a place I was living in and discovered what was apparently some intense rivalry between the north side of town and the south side of town. And there I was, a city slicker interloper not even knowing they HAD distinctions like "side of town" in the little bitty antique filled hamlets around my campus.

I have since moved to something more like a city. It has sidewalks here and there, a bus line, and grocery stores it doesn't take a half a tank of gas to get to. Overall, I like my new place pretty well. But having had such an enlightening experience with the prior wikisearch, on a whim tonight I decided to look up my new town. And here's something I found which is really outstanding.

On my town's wikipage, "As of the census of 2000....There were 23,197 households out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.8% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.6% were non-families. 31.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.93.

"13.0% had a female householder with no husband present?" My god, it's a town full of loose women. No wonder I like it.

I smacked (into) a guy on campus today. I had just come from proctoring an exam of about 13 students for an hour and a half while the professor sat at the front of the room engrossed in an article. He sat and read while I stood and walked. I kept thinking "what the hell did he need a proctor for???" About 20 minutes in, my hip decided this much standing was not ok for us to do. And then my knee got in on the action. When I finished 50 or so minutes later, I was sore and cranky on my walk back to my office. It was then that I met the fellow. He was coming down the middle of the slushy sidewalk, totally failing to acknowledge the presence of another person moving towards him. I have a problem with people who can't be bothered to exercise even that basic level of awareness which would normally cause someone to change trajectory even just a little to accomodate another non-intrusive seeming person. Especially when it's not crowded or congested and there's plenty of room for everyone to have his or her space. And very especially when the other person is walking slowly and stiffly, you know, possibly in pain or something.

I see these men get out of the way of other men. I know they do because I've tried it. I walk with a man on the inside, the fuckheads get out of the way. I walk with me on the inside, they don't. I get very sick of this shit. As I passed this fuckhead today, I didn't squeeze over into the snow drift to get out of his way. He stayed his middle of the sidewalk course and I felt his coat brush my side, the side with the bad hip. So I checked him.

For something like the 80th time, I considered getting a cane. It won't help much in the snow and I have no idea if it would make walking any less painful for me, but it would at least be a signal for people to not expect me to dance lithely around their ignorant, unaccomodating asses. And, should they fail to notice not just another person walking but another person walking with a cane, I would have something to hit them with other than my shoulder or elbow.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Snow day

I am enjoying a snow day. Today's snow cancelled two otherwise likley intolerable meetings on campus - which is well worth the digging and chipping out I will have to do later today or tomorrow.

I slept in way past a decent hour and am currently looking at the pile of quizzes and homeworks I should be grading, looking at but not doing because the snow has slowed so much down that I feel like I can sit snuggly warm in my apartment meandering around the internet, occasionally looking at things that are relevant to my living (i.e. teaching and research) but mostly not.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The sound of music

The hazardous side effects of a new alarm clock include having jimmy fucking buffett stuck in my head all damned day.

Music is still tending to lodge itself in very great detail more often than what had been normal for me. I'm not sure I can do the "hum the themes to Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Star Wars without mixing them up or failing to recall one" trick so perhaps it's faded a bit from where it was a few months back. However, recently beyond the mandatory recall issue, how I experience music when I hear it has changed some. It's hard to describe. Essentially, it's more. E.g., music that annoys me I find is nearly physically painful to continue to listen to. Not a big deal, just turn it off, right? Well sometime's you just can't at that particular moment.

That's what happened today. A few days ago it was the station my bathroom radio was set to started playing some seriously fucked up jazz. And I was stuck in the shower. Although that certainly lasted longer than this morning's blast of margaritaville, the jazz shower was not as bad as today's music misery moment, which has etched each note, each progression, each inflection, and all the unfortunate overlaps and acoustic collisions onto my defenseless early morning brain.

Monday, February 12, 2007

tea bag fuck up

I don't adhere to a whole lot of beauty product. I have stuff, but in general I consider all but a basic moisterizer and a face cleanser which a dermatologist insisted I use (because the regular shit was ripping up my face) more or less dispensable.

So I don't have eye cream, firming gels, exfoliants, royal anything that came out of a bee's ass, lip venom, lightening creams, darkening sprays, and so on.

If I'm wanting to exfoliate or tighten my pores or whathaveyou, I am as likely to make something out of ingredients in my house as I am to buy a product. Usually the results are innocuous if not better than what I'd get with a $50 wee bottle of synthetic goop.

That said, this evening as I was washing my face I happened to remember a completely terrible outcome of a home "beauty aid". It involved tea bags.

You know the classic cucumber slices on the eyes, hair in rollers, mud mask look? Have you ever wondered about the cucumbers? They are supposed to reduce puffiness. Well, there is another version of that putting things on your eyes to reduce puffiness trick which calls for tea bags.

Many years ago when I was living in Michigan, I developed a seasonal allergy. It involved my eyes pretty much exclusively. They'd puff up so bad they were practically swollen shut every morning for a few weeks in the late summer. Having never had seasonal allergies, it took me some time to realize this was what was going on. In the meantime, I was just stuck with puffy sore eyes. I thought "Oh I read something about putting tea bags on your eyes when they are puffy" and I promptly got some tea bags cooking. I let them cool off, then applied them to my eyes.

After a short time I took them off and looked in the mirror to discover bruise-like rings around both of my eyes. No, they weren't tea dyed. They were covered in dark purple-red bruising. I showed my (now ex) husband, Dr. Flounder. He was horrified and amused, but could offer no explanation. "My god, people are going to think I hit you!" he exclaimed. Ah Bob was a sensitive soul.

It didn't take long for the bruising to go away. It's possible a different tea wouldn't do that but you know, I'm just not planning to go there again.

So I'm wondering. Anyone ever heard of this happening ever? Possible explanations will be entertained. Post them in the comments section.

Friday, February 09, 2007

I don't want you to think...

My sister has very correctly pointed out that any apology which includes that phrase is not an apology. When someone says "I don't want you to think..." in an apology, it's tipping the hand which holds things which, if you thought critically about them at all, you'd notice are pretty much contrary to the stated position of the apologizer.

I also recently read another blogger's rant about what is NOT an apology. In it, she points out that things like "I'm sorry if you..." are usually not good ways to start a sincere apology.

So how about this apology for the CCSU student paper's "Rape Only Hurts If You Fight It" editorial, which according to the Hartford Courant was "posted on a bulletin outside The Recorder's office in [CCSU's] student center"?
"We didn't know the campus community as well as we thought we knew, and because of that that's why we're getting this backlash and we're sorry because of it," Rowan wrote in the apology.
What immediately springs into my mind on reading this is the Pee-wee Herman character yelling in a childish parody of sarcasm (or a parody of childish sarcasm) "I'm so SORRY!!!!!" It's not just how poorly phrased this statement is which makes it hard to see as a sincere and carefully considered apology. It's the structure of the propositions which really drive home the point - a point I could accurately paraphrase as "you people don't know how to take a joke."

Talk about adding insult to injury.

Ever witness someone try to tell a joke and fuck it up, a lot? And have you ever witnessed that when it's just not a funny joke to start with? I mean, it's painful enough when it's just some stupid pun or on the scale of a knock-knock joke but when it's an "off color" joke and some moron is fucking it up nine ways from sunday, well my god you just kind of want to crawl out of your skin, don't you?

That's is what I see having happened here. And as is the case in the situations where the racist/sexist/homophobic moron is inflicting an unfunny, poorly crafted "joke" on an audience, the response should be that he is booed off the stage or out of the spotlight. No, don't fire him. Boo him. Everywhere he fucking goes. He wanted attention? He should get it. It will help him learn the apparently too subtle for his sensibilities difference between "bold satire" and childish mocking.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Yep, they still suck

I first read about this editorial in the Hartford Courant. It's called "Rape Only Hurts If You Fight It" by John Petroski, Opinion Editor for the CCSU student newspaper (The Recorder). The most recent issue of The Recorder online is currently the January 31 one, so I couldn't find the text of this "bold satire" (not my words) there. Fortunately, it was up here. Since I'm a firm believer in reading the source material, I've pasted it here for your consideration.

Before we get to that though, I wanted to add in a few other "rape is funny" clips from the liberal world of higher education. Like this date rape cartoon from Dartmouth. I can't find the cartoon to link to (because you need a subscription I guess) but here's the cartoonist's response to the outcry over his rape cartoon from still another New England university (if you're super interested in tracking it down, his name is Raja Das and the cartoon is called "Dingleberries"). That same university had another rape cartoon later in the same'd you like to be on that campus?

Rape Only Hurts If You Fight It
John Petroski
Opinion Editor
Most people today would claim that rape is a terrible crime almost akin to murder, but I strongly disagree. Far from a vile act, rape is a magical experience that benefits society as a whole. I realize many of you will disagree with this thesis, but lend me your ears and I’m sure I’ll sway you towards a darkened alley.

If it weren’t for rape, Western Civilization might not exist as we know it today. When the Romans were faced with a disproportionate ratio of women to men in the early kingdom, they had to do something, lest their fledgling society die for lack of sons. To solve their little dilemma, they did what any reasonable man would do: they threw a festival for their Sabine neighbors, and then stole and raped their women. It’s quite logical; in fact I don’t understand why the settlers at Plymouth didn’t do the same to the local Indians—it certainly would have saved on shipping costs.

Obviously, in the case of the Rape of the Sabines, rape was a tremendous help to society. The Sabine women, for their part, didn’t seem to mind so much, as they threw themselves between their brutish old Sabine husbands and their charming new Roman ones to prevent bloodshed when the Sabine men came to reclaim their wives. Yet even when society was totally against a rape, the raunchy act has benefited society too. Where would the Romans be, after all, if it weren’t for the Rape of Lucretia infuriating the people to the point of overthrowing their last king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus? If it weren’t for that event, the world might never have had the Roman Republic for a pristine example of a flawless government.

Rape’s glorious advantages are not, however, exclusively found from 2,000-year-old examples. In actuality, rape’s advantages can very much be seen today. Take ugly women, for example. If it weren’t for rape, how would they ever know the joy of intercourse with a man who isn’t drunk? In a society as plastic-conscious as our own, are we really to believe that some man would ever sleep with a girl resembling a wildebeest if he didn’t have a few schnapps in him? Of course he wouldn’t—at least no self-respecting man would—but there in lies the beauty of rape. No self-respecting man would rape in the first place, so ugly women are guaranteed a romp with not only a sober man, but a bad boy too; and we all know how much ladies like the bad boy.

Ugly women are not, however, the only people who benefit from rape—prisoners enjoy its many perks too. What, after all, could possibly be more boring than spending years of your life confined to some tiny cell 23 hours a day? The answer, of course, is spending years of your life confined to some tiny cell 23 hours a day and never getting some hot action.

With rape, prisoners never have to worry about that. Instead, they merely need worry about treating their rapists with enough love and respect to earn a quick reach-around.

But if there is one bread and butter reason for why rape should not only be accepted, but even endorsed, it is because our news editors are in dire need of interesting stories for our front page. Bookstore stories? Fossils? One dollar coins? Please. Now, some saucy circle-jerk rape action? Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

People suck

Kinda feeling today like people suck. I'll get over it. Tonight I'll go to bed and fall asleep next to my favorite person in the world. Tomorrow I'll go to the pet store and play with the kittens for adoption. I'll buy giant cupcake tins so my brother can continue his cupcake kick this Friday when he comes down. I'll try to find a comedy I haven't seen that wasn't written for 4th grade boys. I'll talk to people I like. I'll try to remind myself that some people were apparently toilet trained at gunpoint or forced to sing "good ship lollipop" for perverse uncles at family get togethers and that some of these people's shit which they casually slosh onto others is not entirely 100% their fault (not the sloshing but the shit itself).

But for now, today, people suck.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

tea room

Or tearoom.
Here's something I found amusing. I ran across a poem about the same tea room exhibit my blog is named after. The poem is by a woman named Tania Strauss. I'd reprint it but I don't want to do that without her permission, so for now I'll just point you towards it. Ms. Strauss's poem Please Do Not Enter The Tearoom can be found in Spires - intercollegiate arts and literary magazine, Fall 2005, page 11.


Saturday, February 03, 2007


I found this recently. Thought it would fit in here.

November 20, 2004
Friday afternoon talk

The speaker asks “Is proprioception of
where is your hand necessary?”
And says, “The relative velocity vector
should be added
to the desired
velocity vector
Multiply it by Time to Contact to get
the interception point”

It was an overcrowded room. There was this one seat at the table.

I am breaking a rule, as unknowledgeable youngster sitting at the grown up table. I try to look like any of it is remotely interesting. Not stultifyingly boring and far far over my head. Mopey love songs drift through my head. I notice Professor C____’s red sweater, very close to me. I want to reach out and touch it but not her.

Some folks are sleepy. Prof. M_____'s eyes cross and drift, his will power is visible. He squints hard to stop the comfy lure of sleep.

One man in the back, next to Prof. W____, tilts his head back just a bit, mouth open. He could almost be looking pensive, dubious, investigatory. He could be inspecting the slide by looking at it down his nose. Look again. His eyes small, smaller, smaller, now nearly shut. He is a lullabye to watch. I can’t look.

Now the speaker is on to how to catch in virtual reality.
The difference in the artificial environment vs. the real world
Late starts, fewer retreats, but more inaccurate
More fluent, straighter path but imagining (?)
in a virtual environment is not an accurate predictor
of how to catch and hold and grasp in life.

I let go.

I carry it around with me. It’s like having a whole city in me. When I was young, I could feel it coming, feel life coming. So much energy, good and bad. Boston was invisible from my window. But there was a glow that made the night horizon look like perpetual sunset. Highway sounds floated in through the windows at night. As cars passed on the street below us, headlight squares drifted across my ceiling in strange and unnatural paths. They used to frighten me when I was very little. I didn’t relate the sounds and lights with their proper causes and was left to wonder what they were. I would hold my breath until they passed. These nightly intruders were terrifying and unpredictable. I didn't hide under the covers because I believed someone had to watch, to be on guard, or at least to witness.

At some point between childhood and adolescence, my fear shifted to excitement. A thrill at the thought of a world completely separate from me continuing as I slept. The evidence of these places intruding into my small life was still a little frightening but becoming also tantalizing. I imagined I could feel the whole adult world, the real, the actual, and the possible an unfathomable number of lives already in progress out there on the other side of my flower papered walls. My walls were covered in small red flowers, arranged in rows which merged and split to form a pattern of brick red bars. I cannot wait to get out. I knew someday I would, but knew also that I'd always feel that moment, all of those moments, of heightened awareness, of anticipation, of screaming building giddy and horrifying and elated blooms of potential life.

My trip ends. I am returned to my seat, entirely in this room. It’s been at least a half hour. 4:48. The sleepy faculty are all fully awake, sensing an end nearing, alert for the final lap of the talk. A young woman I’ve never seen inspects her finger nails. I think it is a woman. The speaker says there’s three unexpected results. I would have guessed more.

The woman to my left strokes the back of the man to her left. She is also someone I’ve never seen.

The young woman (?) is still picking at her hands. She stops, glances this way, and I notice she looks amused. Or it could be that she’s chewing something, holding it in her front teeth and prodding it with her tongue. My wrist hurts. I’m writing on an old playlist. I wonder what people think I am writing, then realize that I don’t sense that anyone in here is thinking of me, my writing, or what it is.

Also, someone in here smells like low tide.

The speaker’s talking about “gaze centered movement” and I hear “gay centered movement”.

Prof. L____ lurches around in his chair. It’s 4:56. Prof. M____ hums assents and nods here and there. He’s warming up for questions. My hand hurts terribly but I still write or I will sink, drift, and spread out across the room. Then when we are done, I will have to spend extra time gathering myself together, pulling myself together. I’d rather not drift so far to start with so close to the end.

It is 5:00 and the speaker has started a NEW topic. He’s gone from catching to hitting. I want to jump up and scream HOLY SHIT! “I still have ten minutes I fink” he says in what now seems to me to be something he must believe is a charming accent. Several people glance at their watches.

The woman (?) is sitting next to another woman who is every bit as sallow and orange haired. But the other is older and more clearly feminine. The side of her face that I can see shows a raw doughy fullness common to many middle aged white women. Her clothes include a lavender mock turtle neck and a grape blazer. The two of them seem to be sharing a joke. I am quite certain at this point that the younger one is stifling a giggle and not chewing a seed or a finger nail. The older one has gum, but between the rhythmic swings of her soft sizable jaw, her lips are perturbed by mirthy tugs and squirms.

It’s 5:07. I am rapidly losing my patience and I start to diffuse. My center has dropped, not out but shifted. I feel the space in the pit of my stomach, around my diaphragm. It’s hollow and shakey, and spreads to my head. A physical uncertainty, like I could fly apart at any moment.

It’s 5:10.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


There are ribbons for everything now, right? Red for HIV. Or for HIV awareness, or research, or living with HIV. White is confusing, especially when there is a purple ribbon in the mix. And pink is for breast cancer, or for breast cancer survivors. I realized last night after I made the mistake of typing "breast cancer" and "support" into a google search that I'm not sure who gets the ribbon. Certainly a very large number of the sites were for survivors, fewer for "women who have survived or are currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer", and none that I got to which were exclusively about or for people right in the thick of it - which, I realize now that I think about it, may have as much to do with those folks being too sick and too tired to maintain any kind of dynamic web presence. Doesn't it seem like the nice thing to do would be for the survivors to maintain a site for people who are surviving but maybe not done enough to be survivors?

The country loves a survivor, more than they love an underdog in fact. Underdogs who don't bust out are just losers. Survivors are something much better. Survivor means you lived through it and then you came back. The coming back is crucial. What you come back to is of course defined, perhaps implicitly even to themselves, by the people who are making the judgment.

What? That's not fair you say? Yeah, I suppose it's not.

Do you get a pink ribbon if you survive your cancer but you're pissed off? Do you get a pink ribbon if you survive but you don't make a huge comeback, you don't get all the way back up on whatever horse it is the world thinks you should be on. Do you get a pink ribbon if your breast cancer goes into remission and you decide your husband's idea of "support", which included grudgingly washing about one sinkful of dishes per week and saying things like "hey sweetie, I sure hope you get better soon 'cause I miss your turkey pot pie" is as worthless as he is and divorce the bastard only to end up making less money and needing your friends' and family's support again? Do you get a pink ribbon if you don't come out BETTER than you went in?

I wonder about these things.

Yesterday, Molly Ivins died, my sister had a biopsy of a lump in her breast (which was not the lump my sister found on her self exam but a lump the doctor found after dismissing the one my sister found), and I was told a good friend of mine has breast cancer.

My sister's test was negative. No pathology, but apparently based on the mechanics of the thing they've declared her boob nontumored. I truly and deeply believe if they had stuck a needle in a man's nuts (or even just the one nut) that what was removed would have been sealed up and shipped off for cytological testing, a background check, and held on $100,000 bail until a judge and jury of the most overpaid experts could determine it was totally not dangerous. Since there were no nuts involved and just titties, the people doing the biopsy were able to discern all was normal and good just by looking at the fluid and at the way the mass collapsed post, er, specimen collection.

Thank god the diagnostic protocols for breast cancer spare the patient's insurance company the difficulty and discomfort of a not terribly expensive glance at some boob fluid under a microscope.

My friend did not have normal good results. She is very independent and prizes her solitude. I called her after hearing from my (our) advisor (C____) and I got her voicemail. Because she is even more direct a communicator than I am, I figured no point in pussyfooting. My message went something like "Hey....I talked to C___ today and I heard you have breast cancer."

Because what the fuck else are you gonna say? I tried to wait to call her until I could say the words without feeling my throat close up. I know, treatment's better these days, earlier detection means a better prognosis. I know that. I also know that she's very independent and has a very hard time asking for or accepting certain kinds of help.

I've spent the day since I heard about this alternately mad (for not much identifiable reason) and sad. A very large amount of my reaction, I am embarassed to say, is quite selfish. I want to be strong enough to say (and mean) "I will do whatever you need me to, whenever it is needed" to her. And I couldn't.

Hence my internet search.

I do not want to commit what I personally believe is one of the cardinal sins of offering or giving token help. Also, I don't want to end up trying to give more help than I am physically able and getting fucked for that (yeah, it could happen, like the time I went up to boston to help my brother out and ended up too sick to drive home...this particular friend in fact was the person who came to my rescue that time). Since these days I'm about 1/3-1/2 of what I used to be in terms of sheer physical usefulness even to myself, I was trying to think of what possible ways I might be useful for my friend. What can I offer her that is useful, needed, and that I will be able to do?

So I hit the internet looking for some seriously practical info on what folks "in the thick of it" find helpful in terms of support because while I can try to imagine what I might find helpful (and then try to decide what I can even do of that set of things), that speculation would be based on my subjective experience and my subjective experience does not include being diagosed with or treated for breast cancer, so it's insufficient.

Let me tell you, there's a lot of not terribly practical information out there. Even here, which seemed to fit the bill and where they at least mentioned "practical assistance" along with "emotional support", I found more generality and vague references to support as a sort of concept and state of being than I found actual useful information. How about an article like "'A list of best ways people helped out during my chemo', by someone who has/had breast cancer"?