Thursday, March 31, 2005

I feel a little guilty blogging about Terri Schiavo, becuase honestly, I don't think any of what follows is really about her. It's clearly about me: my health, my fear, my anger at my doctors, my current freak-out. And I feel shitty about being just another person who's using her and her family's suffering to further my own agenda, however inchoate that agenda might be. So I'm sorry, to all of the people who have been hurt by this mess, that I'm exploiting their hurt.

So anyway, here's a true story. My older brother was born with pyloric stenosis, a blockage in the stomach. This is a pretty common and not terribly serious condition, but it requires surgery. So when he was two weeks old, my brother had an operation to unblock his intestines.

At the time, pediatricians were convinced that newborns couldn't feel pain. They might act like they were hurt, but that was just an instinctive reaction to stimulus. Studies had shown that their nerves were not developed enough for them to really feel anything. My parents weren't crazy about the idea of subjecting their child to an operation without anesthesia, but the doctors assured them they were being irrational. Insisting on anesthesia would be abusive: there are risks associated with anesthesia, and they'd be taking those risks for no reason, because my brother was too young to feel anything. My parents were putting their uneducated, emotional, irrational feelings over the doctors' scientific expertise. Duly shamed, my folks agreed to allow the operation to be done with anesthesia.

The problem is that the doctors were wrong. Newborns can, of course, feel pain. The current policy of the American Academy of Pediatrics" is that infants should be given painkillers using the same criteria that would be used for anyone else. My brother's doctors were totally convinced that he couldn't feel anything, but they really just didn't understand as much as they thought they did about infants' nervous systems. And as a result, one of my brother's earliest experiences was the experience of being tortured. The operation took about an hour, and he was awake and conscious and in agony the whole time.

On a lot of lefty blogs, people are suggesting that if you don't take doctors' word as Gospel, you're anti-science, and if you don't take the courts' verdicts as the last word, you're anti-law. And I don't buy it. If you don't believe me, look up Buck v. Bell, the Supreme Court case upholding the right of states to sterilize "feebleminded" or insane people. Doctors held that this was necessary to protect the population from hereditary birth defects. The court held that necessary safeguards were in place to prevent abuse. And they were all wrong. Forcible sterilization was a huge evil, a real blot on American history. The fact that it was legally and medically sanctioned doesn't make that any less true.

I really don't know what I think about the Terri Schiavo case, except that I feel huge amounts of sympathy for her entire family. But it bothers me and frankly scares me a bit that people on the left seem so willing to take for granted medical and legal expertise. I know that it's the best we've got, but it's still imperfect. And there's nothing anti-intellectual about pointing that out.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Before reading this post, I would like you to consult the date on which it was published and note that it is actually not April Fool's Day....

A year after it went into effect, pretty much the entire population of Ireland now approves of the ban on smoking in public places.

96% of Irish people think the law was a success, including almost 90% of smokers. 98% think workplaces are healthier.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Oh, and another thing...

I'm back on prednisone. If I seem to develop a completely new personality over the next few weeks, that's probably why.

On Doctors

I've been meaning to post about this for a couple of days, but I've been distracted by work and my pathetic attempts at a social life and by my annual hamantaschen-making extravaganza. (It is, apparently, possible to bake with vertigo, although I'm still finding little bits of prune filling in various nooks and crannies in my kitchen. I can bake while the room is spinning, but it's not particularly tidy.) But the cookies are done and I'm taking the morning off of work, so I'm going to post about it now.

In the course of the Terri Schiavo discussion, I have seen several guys on lefty blogs express shock and outrage that medicine is being politicized and that they wil now need to find out the political beliefs of their doctors. No offense, but on what planet do these men reside? How sheltered could they possibly be? Is there honestly anyone out there who doesn't realize that the practice of medicine is totally political and that the doctor/ patient relationship is frought with power?

I've had a lot of experience with doctors over the past year. I have seen three rheumatologists, two ophthamologists, a dermatologist, an otolaryngologist, a neurologist, an endocrinologist, and an internist, not to mention scads of fellows, residents, nurses, and techs of various kinds. And it's become pretty clear to me that there are two kinds of doctors: the ones who see me as a body and the ones who see me as a person. To doctors who see me as a body, I am an object, not a subject of medical care. They take care of me, and my role in the process is to present myself for inspection and then comply with the treatment they prescribe for me. If I don't like that treatment, don't think it's working, don't think the side effects are worth the supposed benefit, etc., I should keep those opinions to myself. My opinions have no bearing on the process, because the doctors are the experts. My only role is to be acted upon.

The doctors who see me as a person, on the other hand, recognize that I am a partner in my treatment. They are willing to admit that they don't have all the answers, something that is nice considering that they don't really have any answers. (My condition is so rare, and my particular presentation so staggeringly rare, that nobody really knows what treatment works best. And my diagnosis is still provisional, so they don't even know if I actually have the thing they're treating me for.) They recognize that any treatment is a calculated risk: we're weighing the possibility of a favorable outcome against the the possibility of debilitating side effects. They realize that as the medical experts, they are best able to determine how likely something is to work and how likely it is to harm my body, but that ultimately I have to be the one to decide whether the risk is worth taking. It's my body, and I'm the one who has to live with the outcome.

This is a political issue, if you accept that the exercise of power is always political. Doctors are people with power: the power to dispense or withhold drugs, for instance. They also have extraordinary social power. It's very difficult to defy a doctor; it goes against a whole lot of social conditioning. I've had enough doctors dismiss me as silly and irrational to know that my first instinct is to feel stupid and ashamed, rather than furious at the asshole for thinking he or she has more right to control my body than I do. And it's an issue that intersects with all sorts of other power relations. Doctors are much more likely to see some people as able to make rational decisions than others. It matters a lot, for instance, that I am young and female. I don't think my otolaryngologist, who is old enough to be my grandfather, is capable of seeing any woman my age as a rational creature in charge of her own destiny. It also matters a lot, I suspect, that I am highly-educated and white. I have realized that my doctors are much more likely to treat me like a person rather than a body if I present myself in an adult, professional manner. I make an effort to dress up for doctors' appointments. I wear makeup. I am careful to speak in complete sentences and to modulate my voice so that I don't sound too young or overly-emotional. I treat my doctors' appointments like a job interview.

I think that for a lot of healthy people, and especially healthy straight white guys, the Terri Schiavo case has been something of a wake-up call: it's made them realize that on some level, medical care is about power. In this case, it's about the power to decide when to end someone's life and who, if anyone, ought to be able to exercise that power. But for sick people and for people who can't take for granted that their doctors or the larger society will respect their judgement and autonomy, the power relations in medicine have always been evident. We've never had the luxury of thinking that medicine is apolitical.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Scenes from a Quiet Revolution

I've noticed, over the past year or so, a quiet change in the way the media depicts gay families. There are still big, exploitative stories about "the contraversy" over gay parenting: I know I can't be the only person who saw that awful episode of Wife Swap where they had the lesbian mom switch with a fundie. (It was some of the most painful T.V. I've ever seen, and I usually like Wife Swap.) But it's much more significant, I think, that we're starting to see more shows and articles that take gay and lesbian parents for granted, that actually treat them as normal rather than loudly pronouncing that they're just like everyone else. That, I think, is why conservatives were so horrified by the Postcards from Buster that depicted lesbian parents: the problem wasn't that the show acknowledged the lesbian moms, but that it didn't even bother to point them out. Slowly but surely, the media is beginning to treat gay parents as normal, unremarkable families. If you think the media has any influence on the culture, and I do, this bodes well for those of us who believe that real family values don't discriminate.

This week's example comes from Elle, which is not generally thought of as a progressive journal. The article is called "Bailing Out Your Parents," and it discusses Gen X-ers who find themselves financially supporting their parents at exactly the moment when they are taking on increasing financial obligations of their own. Their main example is a guy whom they call "Matt Swann." I'll let the article tell his story:

"It was right after my wedding," says the 38-year-old New York production manager. "My mom has a knack for hitting me up following a big expense, like when I bought my first apartment. This time, she said she was trying to pay down a credit card. I'd helped her out with small amounts-- $500, $1000 at a time. So I asked, 'How much do you need to take care of everything? What's the total? She was sort of like, 'Well, a few thousand.' Then, 'Okay, maybe around ten thousand.' Then, 'Maybe twenty.' That's when I got it-- this wasn't just one credit card."...

After he learned how much trouble his parents were in, Swann called a family conference among his parents, one of his sisters, and his partner, Tom. After sifting through the bills, they came up with a game plan. The sisters, younger and more financially strapped, would pay for an accountant to straighten out their parents' business; Matt and Tom would use their savings to buy the house from Matt's parents. Where would the money come from? Three years' worth of savings that they'd been planning to use to adopt a baby.

"When we walked out of closing on my parents' house, Tom said to me, 'Well, we don't have any of our adoption savings left, but we do have a house in upstate New York that we don't live in,'" laments Swann. "I wouldn't say we've fought about it, but we've had some discussions."...

Just last summer, Matt and Tom found that they had saved enough money to look into adoption again, and at Christmas they became the parents of Lucy, a newborn. As with many of their cohorts, the biggest lesson they're taking away from their parents' situation is: Don't let it happen to you.

"We're going to see a financial planner and have her tell us what we need to do to make sure that Lucy is set," says Swann. "We're very aware of the necessity of a nest egg. Watching my parents has made us borderline cheap."

So there you have it: a normal, responsible couple that makes painful but unremarkable sacrifices to help one of their families and then decides to make sure they don't require the same sacrifice from their own kid. It's the kind of challenge that could happen to anyone. And that's exactly the point.

Monday, March 21, 2005

I have finally put my finger on what's been bugging me about the Terry Schiavo case. Maybe someone can clear it up for me.

I don't get what animates the people who think Schiavo's feeding tube should be removed. I understand their position that Schiavo is not really alive. I even think they might be right. I certainly understand and sympathize with Michael Schiavo: I think it must be horrible to be emotionally tethered to someone you consider a corpse. I get why he has fought passionately and tenaciously to bury his wife so he can move on. But I do not understand why people who do not know Terry Schiavo and who do not have an intense personal interest are so vehement that her life should be ended. I do not understand what principal is at stake here.

I really do understand why people would vehemently argue that Schiavo should be kept alive. I don't know that they're right, but I understand why they care so deeply. I understand why many disabled people feel threatened by the argument that some people are so impaired that they are actually not alive and that therefore it's ok to kill them. I don't think it's crazy to think that once that precedent is set, we could see considerable movement in the line that distinguishes a disabled person from the living dead. I understand why some folks don't buy the concept of living death and don't like differentiating between people who it's ok to kill and people who it's not. As a dyed-in-the-wool death penalty opponent, that argument makes sense to me.

But in other instances I'm willing to put those considerations aside because there are compelling arguments for the other side. I believe in organ donation, even though I'm not convinced that "brain death" actually exists. I'm not a pacifist, either: I believe that there are occasionally times when it's necessary to kill in self-defense, although they're few and far between. But I don't understand the compelling arguments here. What do we lose if we allow Terry Schiavo to continue her current existence?

If Schiavo had made it clear that she wished to die if she were in this sort of situation, I would understand the principal at stake. People have a right to make their own choices about their medical treatment, and they have a right to die on their own terms when it comes to that. But she didn't make her wishes known, so I don't see how that right is threatened here. Is it about protecting the centrality of marriage in our culture and legal practice? We've got rid of the ugly aspects of coverture, in which at marriage possession of a woman was transferred from her natal family to her husband, but we still assume that the marriage bond trumps all other relationships. I'm not sure, though, that's a concept that I, as a feminist, want to fight to protect. Is it Michael Schiavo's very real suffering, and if so, why does that trump the suffering of Schiavo's parents? Is it that it's expensive to keep someone alive on life support?

Assuming that Schiavo really is dead, it doesn't matter to her what happens to her. She isn't in pain, and she can't mind that her body is being kept alive after her mind is gone. So what do we lose if she continues to be fed and kept as alive as she currently is? Why would that be such a terrible thing?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy Green Beer Day!

As careful readers of my blog may have figured out, I am a bit of a Hibernophile. Oh, heck, who am I kidding? I'm totally obsessed with Ireland and have been since I was ten. I saved my pennies to go for a summer program in Dublin when I was 15. Two years later, I conned someone into paying for a "peace activism conference" that was supposed to solve international conflicts but ended up being a two-week-long drinking session fueled by lots of cheap Russian vodka. In college, I did a junior year abroad in Dublin. I've been back twice since, once for two weeks and once for a month. I don't at all consider Ireland a second home and am not even sure I could live there permanently, but I'm deeply enamored of the place. I don't know where this comes from: I'm not Irish-American, and I don't think I've fallen for the whole sentimental shamrocks and leprechauns thing. My obsessions are as mysterious to me as they are to anyone else.

As a sad, sick Hibernophile, I have generally not been a big fan of St. Patrick's Day. It's too plastic, too commercialized, too dependent on creepy Irish-American stereotypes about Ireland rather than anything genuinely Irish. But I'm slowly begining to come around. Part of it, I think, is that I've stopped being hung up on authenticity. There's nothing really Irish about St. Patrick's Day as celebrated in the U.S., but it is truly Irish-American, and Irish-American culture is an interesting phenomenon in its own right. And there's actually something a bit fascinating about how ethnic cultures get commodified in America. It's not a new phenomenon at all, and it's an important and understudied part of American ethnic history. Instead of being annoyed about green bagels and shamrock shakes, I'm going to see it all as part of the way in which ethnicity gets mangled and recast and sold back to us as something totally new.

So in honor of my new tolerance for St. Patrick's Day, here are some of my favorite Irish links. Sorry there's no green beer or leprechauns.

First of all, as part of their St. Patrick's Day Project, the Institute of Irish Studies at Queens University Belfast wants to know how (and if) you celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Fill out their questionnaire and send them pictures!

Even if you don't like Irish traditional music, you should check outMartin Hayes and Dennis Cahill .They're true to the tradition, but they're also influenced by their classical, blues and jazz training.

On a similar note, Fermanagh-born, Chicago-based flutist Laurence Nugent is awesome.

And lest you think I only like the diddly-dee school of Irish music, I give you The Undertones. (Warning: that link has music. Mute your computer if you're in the library or your boss is around.)

I haven't yet been able to make Phantom FM's internet stream work for me, but maybe you'll have better luck. It's supposed to be a great way to hear new Irish (pop, not trad) music. Phantom is currently pirate but has been issued a license and will be 100% legit starting this summer. Why isn't there more pirate radio in the U.S., by the way?

I think that Hob Nobs may actually be English, not Irish, but I practically lived on them when I was in Ireland and every time I go to Ireland I bring an extra duffel so I can take loads of them back. They are the biscuits of the gods, and they are even better dunked in tea.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

How To Succeed in Journalism by Towing the Anti-feminist Party Line

There's exactly one female columnist currently working for the Washington Post. She is Anne Applebaum, and she would prefer we not mention that she is the only woman columnist at the Post. She would also prefer that we not point out that women are grossly underrepresented on editorial pages across the country. You see, it makes her feel bad. It makes her feel like a token. She worries that now that the issue has been raised, women who do get columns will wonder whether it's because they're women, not because they're smart. Of course, she's not overly concerned about all the smart women who are wondering whether they didn't get columns because they're women. After all, Anne Applebaum played the game right: she's right of center, she writes about appropriately tough, "serious" issues, and she only writes about feminism to dismiss feminists as silly and frivilous. She's got her column: why shouldn't she concentrate on her own fee-fees, rather than considering whether that opportunity is open to any woman who deviates even slightly from the tough, right-wing, anti-feminist stance that women must adopt if they're going to have any chance of being taken seriously by the big boys?

The thing is, Anne Applebaum isn't wrong to worry about being perceived as a token. She rightly points out that it's unfair that women are expected to write about "women's issues," for instance. But that wouldn't be true if there were more women op-ed writers. It wouldn't be assumed that the one woman must be filling some sort of women's slot. The solution to her problem is to get more women op-ed writers, not to make the frankly ludicrous suggestion that we should all shut up about how few women editorial writers there currently are. One wonders on which other subjects Applebaum thinks we should practice self-censorship, or for that matter on which subjects she censors herself. And you've got to wonder how competent she could have been when she was covering real news. Journalists are, it seems to me, in the business of airing information, not covering it up for the good of society. If she doesn't want to be a token, she should worry about why she's the only woman columnist on her paper, not shoot the messenger who pointed out that fact.

So I saw Nanny 911 the other day for the first time. For those of you not up on your reality television, Nanny 911 is a Fox ripoff of a CBS reality show, which may itself be a ripoff of a British reality show. In it, fucked-up American families with out-of-control kids are visited by British nannies, who stay for a week and show them how to make their little monsters into well-behaved children. It's highly compelling television, in a sleazy, Fox-reality-show kind of way.

But it gave me pause. Obviously, all reality shows are sleazy and exploitative on some level. But this one exploits little kids. Even though the nanny made clear that the kids were horrid, nasty little monsters because of their immensely inept parents, not because there was anything inherently wrong with them, you've still got to confront the fact that the entire premise of the show is that the kids are totally out of control. Can 8-year-olds really give meaningful consent to have their family dysfunction laid bare on national television?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Brief Medical Update

The good news is that the doctors conferred and decided that I should hold off on going back on prednisone, at least for a couple of weeks. If I do go back on, it will be at a lower dosage than last time, when I was on the highest dose that someone my size can take without checking into the hospital for an IV. The bad news is that they came to this decision because they had me do a bone scan, and I'm well on my way to osteoparosis. Prednisone thins the bones, for some reason, so in the future they're probably going to be a bit more careful about prescribing it to me.

I'm a little confused about why they didn't think about this last time, since I have every conceivable risk factor for osteoparosis, but apparently it just occurred to them on Monday that I should have my bone density checked. I've got to be more on top of this stuff. I should have asked them to do the bone scan a year ago.

Also, vertigo + sinus headache is a very odd sensation. So odd, in fact, that I'm at a loss to describe it.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Did anyone else hear Frank Deford's creepy Morning Edition story about the "Miracle League," which was created to give disabled children the chance to play baseball? At least, it seemed creepy to me. It was partly the tone of the whole thing: there was a pervasive idea that it's a "miracle" when "broken," "unlucky" disabled kids get to do perfectly ordinary things like play sports. It would be nice if disabled kids playing sports would be considered normal, not miraculous. But also, the kids in the Miracle League don't actually get to play baseball. They get to pretend to play baseball. Here are the rules, according to the Miracle League's website:

It seems to me that competition is kind of the heart of youth sports. Part of what you're supposed to learn is how to be gracious in victory and defeat. You're supposed to learn that sometimes you work your ass off and lose anyway, and that sometimes working your ass off matters more than whether you win. You learn that your teammates are still your teammates when they drop the ball. All of that stuff is supposed to benefit you later in life, and you can only learn it if you're allowed to lose. But the Miracle League assumes that disabled kids are so special and fragile that they can't handle competition. It's not just that they need the sports to be modified to meet their physical needs: in fact, there don't seem to be a whole lot of modifications involved in the Miracle League. Instead, they need to be protected from the very essence of sports. And I can't help but think that it's partly because it's assumed that they don't need to learn all those sports-related life lessons, because they're not going to do much with their lives.

There is, of course, another model, and that's the Paralympics. The Paralympics isn't about "special," "miraculous" people playing fake sports in a highly protected atmosphere: it's about athletes being athletes. It's also largely ignored in the U.S. Maybe next time Deford could do a piece on the Paralympic Academy, the youth outreach organization of the U.S. Paralympics.

An even more radical model might be Bankshot Sports, which were designed not to favor either people who use wheelchairs or people who don't. Feminists have pointed out that most sports were designed to stress the areas in which men tend to be stronger, thus reinforcing the idea that women are the weaker sex. It would be possible to create sports in which women would be equal to or even better than men. Similarly, it might be possible to invent sports that would allow disabled and non-disabled athletes to compete equally. A real "Miracle League," I think, would be one where disabled and non-disabled athletes played together and nobody thought it was a big deal.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Weirdest Doctor Exchange of the Day

So today I had a conversation with an ophthamology resident that went like this:

Ophthamology Resident: Do you have a thyroid disorder?
Me: No.
OR: But you've been tested, right?
Me: Not that I know of. Should I have been?
OR: Yes, because of your bulging eyes.
Me: I have bulging eyes?
OR: [somewhat sheepishly] Well, yeah. Don't you?
Me: Um, I hadn't noticed. My eyes look pretty much the same as always.
OR: Oh, ok. You probably just have kind of bulge-y eyes.

WTF?! I am reasonably angst-ridden about many of my features and body parts, but I think I have perfectly lovely, not-at-all bulging eyes. If he'd mentioned my overbite, or my stumpy fingers, or my thick ankles, I would have to grudgingly admit that he had a point. But must he make a medical problem out of my one good feature?

Monday, March 07, 2005

And the blog name again becomes accurate

I went to the internist today, and she wants me to go back on oral prednisone. I am extremely unexcited about this. I'd be willing to do it if I had any faith at all that prednisone would make me better, but I don't. And it's 100% guaranteed to make me miserable.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The weird thing about having vertigo is that it's difficult to know when you're hungover. I have the spins, but I always have the spins. I'm a little quesy, but that could be because the room is whipping around me. My stupid body doesn't work properly, which makes it very difficult to gauge why it's not working properly at any given moment.

So anyway, as per usual after my mortifying alcohol-related incidents, I'm thinking again that I need to quit drinking. The bad thing about this mortifying alcohol-related experience is that I actually think I was totally in the right. I didn't want to get into the damn argument. I tried to get out of it once I was in it. The person I was arguing with was both obnoxious and wrong. And yet I can't get rid of the feeling that I've made a total fool of myself.

I really need to stop drinking.

Please remind me not to get drunk at work-related things. Furthermore, please remind me that when I get drunk at work-related things, I should by no means allow anyone to goad me into a discussion of Zionism or anything having to do with the state of Israel.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

I have all the usual objections to women's history month: it's a ghetto; it suggests that women can be relegated to a single month; it brackets women's history off from everything else. It suggests that the study of women is about identity or women's self-esteem, rather than the real stuff of history. So this isn't really in honor of women's history month, unless you'd like it to be. But I stumbled across this today, and it reminded me so much of women's contemporary struggle to get our issues regarded as "serious politics" that I thought it was worth noting:

From Jailed for Freedom, Doris Stevens's history/ memoir of militant women's suffrage, written in 1920:

A few days later the first deputation of suffragists ever to appear before a President to enlist his support for the passage of the national suffrage amendment waited upon President Wilson. Miss [Alice] Paul led the deputation….The President received the deputation in the White House Offices. When the women entered they found five chairs arranged in a row with one chair in front, like a class-room. All confessed to being frightened when the President came in and took his seat at the head of the class. The President said that he had no opinion on the subject of woman suffrage; that he had never given it any thought; and that above all it was his task to see that Congress concentrated on the currency revision and the tariff reform. It is recorded that the President was somewhat taken aback when Miss Paul addressed him during the course of the interview with this query, "But Mr. President, do you not understand that the Administration has no right to legislate for currency, tariff, or any other reform without first getting the consent of women to those reforms?"

"Get the consent of women?" It was evident that this course had not heretofore occurred to him.

"This subject will receive my most careful consideration," was President Wilson's first suffrage promise.

He was given time to "consider" and a second deputation went to him, and still a third, asking him to include the suffrage amendment in his message to the new Congress assembling in extra session the following month. And still he was obsessed with the paramount considerations of "tariff" and "currency." He flatly said there would be no time to consider suffrage for women. But the "unreasonable" women kept right on insisting that the liberty of half the American people was paramount to tariff and currency.

There was a lot wrong with Alice Paul and the National Women's Party. If you know anything about the history of first wave feminism, you can probably fill in the next bit. They were fixated on the vote and ignored many of the problems facing non-elite women, even as they worked to include working-class women in their movement. To their eternal shame, they were willing to sell out African-American women. But you've got to give them credit for insisting that their issues were real issues, and that they shouldn't have to take a back seat to tariffs or currency reform. They insisted that it was hypocritical to tell them to shut up and concentrate on winning a war to make the world safe for democracy, since they themselves were denied the vote.

So it's been almost 90 years, and we're still hearing the same bullshit. We're still hearing that there are no women political bloggers, because feminism isn't thought to be real politics. Somewhere, Alice Paul is rolling in her grave. Somewhere, Alice Paul is telling us to go raise hell, chain ourselves to the White House gates, get arrested, make them hear us whether they want to or not. Somewhere Alice Paul is reminding us that half the human race is not a "special interest."

It is my own damn fault for watching The View, but I just witnessed the following horrifying segue. They were discussing Michael Jackson, and Elisabeth (the young, vapid, reactionary one) changed the subject to The Bachelorette finale. And she said, "speaking of assault, I was assaulted by The Bachelorette I was raped of three hours of sleep."

Crap on a cracker. What on earth made her think that was in any way an acceptable thing to say? And did someone tie her down and force her to watch three hours of stupid reality television?

So far the frontrunner in the cane Olympics seems to be the ones made by the Cane Lady. I'm still not totally wild about them, though. They're awfully floral. Doesn't anyone make canes with lovely insects painted on them? My friend M. thinks I should get a cane that is painted to look like a candy cane.

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