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    You're what, again?

    Monday, January 12, 2009, 5:19 PM [General]

    Lately I have seen a big problem with labels, and not with people labeling other people, surprisingly.
    No, the problem that has been picking at me has been folks not allowing others to label themselves.  Granted, this is a bit of a slippery slope.  Someone calling themselves the Pope who is not Benedictine is not going to cut it, obviously.
    But on the boards, where I probably spend about 80 percent of my free time, I have noticed an inordinate amount of the "not reallys" going on.  This person is "not really" a Christian.  That person is "not really" a pagan.  So help me, I even saw a thread commenting that someone was "not really" an atheist.  I knew there was a problem when I saw the atheist taking part in the free-for-all.
    To combat this problem, some of the lovely people on the boards have coined the terms "SDC," self-described Christian: SDP, self-described pagan; and so forth.  This really doesn't make anyone happy, but it does stave off a number of protests that person A doesn't really belong to group B.
    And what those folks don't seem to realize is, Telling me that person A is not a member of group B doesn't really do anything. 
    1. I don't care.
    2. I don't follow other people's religions closely enough to believe one person over another as to who is actually a member and who is not.
    3. Did I mention that I don't care?
    The SDC labels aside, this problem is really multi-layered, and I think should be addressed at the source, rather than with a flippant dismissal.  After all, very rarely does "not really a pagan" get tossed around on a whim.  Doctrinal differences aren't usually the cause of all this.
    Usually this begins when a member of the "community" does something embarrassing.  In public.  In front of the police or a news crew.  You usually only have to look in your local newspaper or watch the morning news show to see these stories. 
    Initial response from the community?  Denial.  Excommunication.  Rather than fixing the problem.  Rather than saying, "These actions are not acceptable behavior by a member of our community, they deny the person completely.
    It sometimes seems that there are no bad Christians, no bad Pagans, no bad Jews.  You screw up, you are out, until your spin doctors can fix your reputation, and grovelling, you are allowed back into the circle.
    I don't know that I really have a solution to all of this.  Certainly, though, disenfranchising those who believe differently than you is not the correct one. 
    I don't believe that I am explaining myself very well, but that is again, part of the problem we face.  We all live in our own skulls, and therefore we interpret things the way we see them with our own eyeballs and interpret them with our own brains. That is a big reason that fights break out; misunderstanding.
    So here's is what I have decided.
    You call yourself a Christian?  Fine, you are a Christian.  You call yourself a pagan?  Okay, you are a pagan.  You call yourself a Muslim, Sikh, Jain, whatever?  Fine, that is what you are.
    You pagans out there do something that embarrasses me?  Then I will tell others that I don't do that.  I do something that embarrasses you?  I expect the same courtesy from you.  After all, my foot lives in my mouth.
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    A pagan at a Christian funeral

    Saturday, January 3, 2009, 9:29 PM [General]

    Bear with me here, folks; I am rambling a bit, and so even I don't know where this will end up.

     

    My grandfather passed away on  January 1.  He was on a downhill slide from sometime in October. People turn weird when someone dies, and I would just as soon the would act normally.  Folks you haven't seen in years come out of the woodwork.  There is more food now at my grandmother's house than any small starving nation could eat in a month.  Of course the food situation is compounded by the fact that when my grandmother is stressed, she cooks. 

     

    Everyone of the folks who have magically appeared on the doorstep seem to be present or former preacher types, and they all want to pray with my grandmother about how my grandfather is in heaven and we will all see him "on the other side."  Two words that have become nonspoken in her house are "died," and, curiously enough, "heaven."

    As the lone pagan in the family, the prayers mean very little to me, except having to stand in a circle, holding hands, wondering how the preacher in question lost his leg.   That was how one of the prayers today went for me, so that is why I use it as an example. 

     

    As I believe I said on the boards, I think my cousin thinks I am a bitch.  I looked at my grandfather's body at the morturary, and all I saw was a shell.  My grandfather wasn't there, and I am not sure if he ever was there.  It was like a cosmic joke that the old man had played on everybody.  I think, if the room he was in wasn't so somber, I would have laughed.  My husband would have likely seen it as hysteria.  

    I don't know where my grandfather went. He never said much about what he believed.  He seemed to go to church for the socialization, and to pacify my grandmother.   In many ways, my grandfather will always be a mystery for me. 

    I miss him, and I am sorry that he is gone. But I don't mourn him.  I don't think I can explain it more than that.  I hope my friends here understand, but I can't say for certain.  I am not sure even I understand.  I am tired of folks expressing their sympathies.  I am tired of dealing with the funeral director. I have spent the day picking at nits, watching the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called The Body.  I don't share the feelings with the characters on the episode, but I can't seem to stop watching it. 

     I think I have reached that point where I am ready for the whole think to be over.  I don't know what kind of person that makes me, but there it is.

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    Farewell, Grey kitty

    Sunday, May 11, 2008, 7:52 PM [General]

    My cat. Grey, died today. Over the past couple of months she had dropped about 6 pounds. Which doesn't sound like much until you realize she was only a 10 pound cat to begin with. Her liver failed. The vet suggested it was probably cancer, but we didn't do the tests to be sure. We had been hand feeding her, with limited success, for weeks. Finally, this morning, her bladder control failed. We took her to the emergency clinic, and the vet told us while we could keep fighting if we wanted, he didn't think it would do any good. So we petted her and loved her as the doctor put her down. We didn't want her to die alone.

     

    Now she is buried in the family pet cemetery, next to the massive gold fish grave. I think she would like it there. It is peaceful. And I hope she is much happier now than she has been in months. Rest well, my lovely baby.

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    Doctors make mistakes, too.

    Saturday, April 26, 2008, 9:45 PM [General]

    About two weeks ago, I went to my doctor with a bronchial infection. He precribed me an antibiotic, and something to dry me out. The antibiotic was okay, didn't bother me that much, but the other stuff, called phrenephryn, I think, left me with the world's worst dry mouth.

    I took the whole perscription anyway, since my doctor had instructed me to, and then the wierdest thing happened.  On Thursday, the day of my last pill.  I went blind.

     Seriously.  Everything within four feet of my face was completely and totally fuzzy, and everyone told me my eyes were completely dialated.  My husband said that I looked like I was on LSD.   He also panicked, but that, I suppose was understandable.  

    Anyway, we called our optomitrist, since, at the time, we weren't sure what was causing it, and told him all the different medications I was on, and he made some calls and did some research.

    Everything is fine, now.  He said it looked like my eyes would return to normal when the medication left my system and he was right.  The funny thing is that this reaction is only listed in side effects under overdose.  So it looks like my GP gave me too much medicine.  I have since told him, I never want to take the stuff ever again. The dry mouth really was quite horrible.

    And I have learned something. My eyesight is incredibly important to me. I knew that before this incident, but the side effect drove it home.  Take care of your eyes, folks.  They are the only ones you've got.  

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    An open letter to my family

    Sunday, April 20, 2008, 9:03 PM [General]

    I haven't actually sent this to anyone who I have thought about sending it to. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't. Maybe I need to. Maybe I just need to cool down. Let me know what you think.

     

    We don't talk. We never talk. I know, I am just as guilty of this as anyone.

    When something is bothering us, we suck it down, deep in ourselves. Afraid to tell each other how we really feel. It ends up coming out in biannual screamfests where nothing actually gets solved. And we have another scream time to pretend never happened.

    Now I am going to talk. And you are going to listen. Or you are going to stop reading, and things will stay the way they are. This is me, putting the ball in your court.

    I feel as though most of the time, you don't want me to be me. You just want the me that you want me to be. I have committed the greatest sin our family has. I stopped going to church.

    This is a great shame to me. Not the me not going to church part, but that not going to church has become such a great evil. I am a good person, and nothing you say to me can convince me otherwise. I treat people decently. I think of others. I try to help people when they need it. But I am human, so occasionally, I screw up.

    You all are human as well. You screw up, too. This is why I am okay with it when you are cruel to others, which I have seen. When you don't think of others, which I have seen, and when I see you avoid helping people. I have seen that, too. You can't deny it happens.

    Going to church proves nothing. It just gives you a place to go on Sunday. Christians are just as mean as everyone else. They treat people just as poorly.

    And I really don't need the partly line of "Christians aren't perfect; just forgiven." To non-Christians it sounds like a load of hooey designed to make Christians once again feel like they are better than non-Christians.

    And I count myself as a non-Christian. I know I haven't spoken to you about this. Like I said, we don't talk. And, I have been afraid. Afraid to hurt you, afraid you will judge me. But I am starting to get past that. I hope you can, too.

    When I married my husband, I found a bonus I never thought I would have: the ability to breathe. His family consists of recovering alcoholics, multiple-times- divorcees and what not. Terribly imperfect people, who took me in and loved me as me. Not as the person they expected me to be. Any facade I tried to put up was broken quickly. I had never experienced anything like it, and it frightened me at first.

    What did these people want, I thought.

    I quickly realized they didn't want a thing except me. I will never lose that, so if you can't accept me as me, well, it will be your loss, because, as much as I want you as a family, I won't let you hurt me any more. And I have more family to turn to, if I need it.

    I know you will likely reassure me that you still love me, all the while trying to pressure me back into Christianity. I know that you will even mean it when you tell me you love me. But I have seen the way this family operates for 30 years, and I am tired of it. All of it. The back-biting, the gossiping, the bitching about each other behind their backs. It's childish, and I am done.

    And it is not how I think Christianity would prefer to be represented.

    I love you, but like I said I am done with this childishness. I am willing to admit my imperfections and start talking. Are you?

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    Declaration more than just history

    Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 8:29 AM [General]

    This is an opinion piece I wrote for the newspaper I work for. I hope you all enjoy it.

     

    EDMOND When I heard that an original copy of the Declaration of Independence was coming to the University of Central Oklahoma, I was almost giddy. Ask anyone who knows me.

    I am something of a history buff. Don’t get me wrong, I was never a good student in history classes, but there is something about events that have happened in the past that gets my mind churning.

    Things could have gone so differently than they did. We still could be subjects of the crown. We could have declared our independence, only to mess it up and have somebody else come and take over. We could have created for ourselves a totalitarian government who would crush us for breathing the wrong way. These types of near misses are just why history is so important.

    Every day new history is being created by us. As we look back on history, things invariably end up just as they are supposed to, but it is never that easy when we are actually in the middle of it.

    Just writing the Declaration of Independence was an act of treason at the time. That took enormous courage from the folks who signed their names. Other countries have had their own Declarations of Independence, some before ours, many more after. Ours was the great success story. Not only did we declare we were free and independent, we were able to hold our ground and stay that way.

    The Declaration of Independence wasn’t just empty words or symbolism for us. We have those original signers to thank for that.

    Saturday’s event was arranged as part of a larger movement designed to get people to register to vote, but I don’t have a lot to say about that. Like everything else under the sun, I think those who are going to vote are going to vote, and there is little you can do to convince those who won’t that it is a good idea.

    I actually think voting takes a lot of guts. It is expressing an opinion, opening yourself up to criticism for whatever views you may hold. And no matter what you say or when you say it, there are folks who are going to criticize.

    The signers of the Declaration opened themselves up to far more than mere criticism. They opened themselves up to jail time and maybe even death for holding what the crown viewed as traitorous opinions. But thanks to their efforts, we can now hold and express opinions that others could consider traitorous, blasphemous or just plain wrong.

    There likely are folks out there who don’t think we should have the right to hold those opinions. That’s OK, their opinions are covered, too.

    It all began with this document. And I got the honor of seeing it right here in Edmond. And it got me thinking. Maybe, when faced with something overwhelming, something where we have to confront someone, and open ourselves up to possible criticism, instead of hiding away and waiting until the confrontation passes, we should ask ourselves, what would the signers of the Declaration of Independence do?

     

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    Pee for enjoyment, not for employment

    Wednesday, March 5, 2008, 1:13 PM [General]

    Most of what follows are suspicions and may have no actual basis in fact what so ever. 
    Here are the basic facts in the case:  My immediate supervisor like the odd drink at lunch. This has never been a problem for me, because it actually make her much easier to work with.  Yesterday, the big chiefs at the company gave us this booklet to sign basically stating that if we were found to be drunk or drugged up at work, they could fire us, and they had the right to piss test us, should they have their druthers. 
    As an inherently paranoid individual, I am immediately connecting the two, even if there really isn't any connection to be found.  But at any rate, today she is snarly and demanding that I turn my copy in with my signature.
    If I am completely honest, I am tempted to tell them I want my lawyer to look it over first. 
    The whole thing really bugs me. I work at a newspaper, and you know we tend to rebel against such things, even though it is becoming more and more common, even at newspapers. It's not that I do illegal drugs, or drink on the job, ever.  But, you know, I see my pee as mine, and the idea of peeing in a cup because I am a bit off one day is a bit humiliating. 
    It also bothers me that they want me to sign it.  What is the end result if I don't?  Well, I know they would likely fire me; I live in a right to work state, after all, but would this mean they couldn't piss test me if I didn't sign?  The document expressly gives the company permission to piss test me, and I have to wonder if they could legally do it if I didn't sign it? 
    Maybe I should take this document to my lawyer.
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    Done, done and hopefully, done.

    Saturday, February 9, 2008, 8:56 PM [General]

    The surgery took place on Wednesday. While I posted a bit yesterday (probably a very bad idea), I am now feeling well enough to report on everything, as it were.  Post surgery drugs are very, very good drugs.

    My husband had packed his laptop computer and a DVD of My Hero season one when we got ready to go to the hospital.  I think he was trying to keep me distracted up until the moment they drugged me and took me away.  

    The anesteologist was a very nice man, even though I only understood about every third word he said. When I told him that in the past, I had had a lot of trouble coming out of the anesthesia, he suggested a femoral nerve block, which apparently they did.  And apparently I was awake when they performed said femoral nerve block, because the paperwork he gave my husband after the fact says they need the individual in question to be awake during the process. Apparently I had to answer some questions during the process.  But you know, I can't really remember that much about it.  

    They took me back to a surgery room, and were getting me all set up for the femoral nerve block; that I remember clearly.  I also remember a monitor on one of the walls that had to be at least 42 inches big.    I actually think it might have been a television set up to act as a monitor, but that probably doesn't matter.  

    The monitor in question was attached to some sort of pc, and had an "earthwise" type photo on it.  I turned to tell the nurse that I liked the photo they were using as their desktop, and the next thing I knew I was waking up in recovery.  But, since it is pretty clear that I am suffering from memory loss, I really don't know what happened after that.  

    When I got back into the room where I met up with my family, the nurse, Sally was her name, told me I could go home once I was able to lift my leg.   My parents left pretty quickly afterwards, but my husband and I were stuck there for quite some time.  I actually fell asleep a couple of times while waiting for them to release me, but since I couldn't actually lift my leg yet, it was probably just as well. 

    When Sally told me that I had to lift my leg to be released, I thought "Oh, that's easy."  And it was easy to lift my knee.  But my foot felt weighted down, and it seemed to me that Sally was cheating.  

    Notice to all who have never had the pleasure of bedpans: Avoid them if you can.  A couple of hours later, I woke up needed to go to the bathroom, and, believe it or not, I was drugged up enough to think this was my way out.  I told my husband that I needed to pee, thinking that he would help me over to the bathroom and that would prove to everyone that I was okay to go home.  Instead,  he went and got a nurse, who went and got me a bed pan.  So after all that, I had the indignation of having to use a bedpan, and since my underwear got left on me during the surgery, and I didn't get my underwear down enough, I wet my underwear a little.  It was completely unpleasant.

    When I finally was allowed to leave, I tried to move from my bed to the wheelchair and would have fallen on the floor if it hadn't been for Sally.  She wasn't kidding when she said my leg would be weak.  She said it was because of the femoral nerve block.  I didn't get all the feeling back in my leg until fairly late Thursday afternoon.

    So now that crisis is over. I go back to work on Monday.  I have my follow-up appt. with the doctor on the 19th.  And I hope at that point I will be able to say goodbye to this angsty, medical-filled part of my life.

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    All is well, my friends.

    Thursday, January 31, 2008, 5:14 PM [General]

    Well, for once, I had a doctor's appointment go right.  My new doctor, the Orthopedic Oncologist, looked everything over, and after talking with me, decided to do surgery on my right leg, because it is the part of me that hurts.  Everything else, she said, looked okay, and didn't need to be messed with, since it wasn't hurting me. 

    I have surgery on my knee on Wednesday, and I need to take the rest of the week off to recover, but then, all should be back to normal!  This is a lot better ending than I had anticipated.  I am pretty happy, all things considered.  

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    More referrals

    Monday, January 28, 2008, 8:43 PM [General]

    So I got to the doctor's appointment this morning and checked myself in.  My first clue that all was not right was when the doctor himself came out to get me.  He told me that  the bone spurs they had sent me to get the MRI and bone scan for were growing, and they had found others that were a problem as well in my knees and right ankle.  So he is referring me to a doctor who is "the best doctor in Oklahoma for bone tumors." 

    Strangely enough, that didn't calm the husband down at all.  I know, amazing that he was upset, huh?  But anyway, they handed me all my x-rays, told me to pick up the bone scan and MRIs at the hospital, and have called to make the referral.  I haven't yet heard from the doctor in question.  

     So it looks like I am probably going under the knife, possibly in six different places.  Assuming she doesn't find any more!  Anyway keep me in your prayers, folks!  I will surely appreciate it!  

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