Friday, April 21, 2017

Rate Your Pain on a Scale of 1 to Kill Me

I am writhing, twisting on the bed, turning in agony from my back to my side, and back again. I never really knew what 'writhing' meant until I actually writhed here, today, in this moment. I'm doing this weird thing with my feet - kind of rubbing them against the texture of my sheets, rhythmically. It's a thing I've never done before and I don't know why I'm doing it now. Comfort? Soothing? I'm trying to soothe myself like a baby who hums softly while they're nursing.

The pain is so bad, I can't see. My vision is fractured as each wave hits me. My hands grasp at the corners of my pillow, squeezing in tight little vice grips.

It occurs to me that I am in labor. This thought is terrifying and amusing at the same time. I've watched I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant, totally in awe of the glassy eyed woman telling the story of how she didn't feel well and had a goddamned baby in her sweatpants.

"What a moron," I'd mumble, unable to take my eyes off the car accident happening between commercials. "Oh, yeah - because the Rhythm Method has worked so well for so many."

How I'd judged these women! And now, here I was, possibly about to poop a baby onto my brand new king size bed. How would I explain that? What the fuck would I name it?

I can't take it anymore, so I get up. The pain shoots into my legs and it occurs to me that I'm dying. I thought I was dying once before: I was in the hospital and had become extremely dehydrated. I sort of wandered into the bathroom, looked in the mirror, and passed the fuck out. I could vaguely hear my hospital roommate yelling for help, followed by the harried voices of several nurses as my body was lifted magically into the air.

"I'm dying," I thought. "This is it."

I wasn't. I just needed a potassium drip.

That death would have been easy - painless; this one is not. It is exactly the way no one wants to die - writhing.

"Take me to" My voice is soft and controlled. My breath is coming out in guttural gasps. He takes one look at me and does this panicked dance before grabbing his keys. He drives like an asshole. We arrive and I stagger into the lobby.

I hate the Emergency Room. I hate it for so many reasons. But the number one reason I hate it is because of the jerk sitting at the desk who you are forced to speak to when you arrive. It's always a lady and she always has a face that implies, I'll be the one to decide if this is an emergency.

"Can I help you?" That's what comes out of her mouth but what she's really saying is, "I can't believe you came to the emergency room."

I tell her that I am in a lot of pain. Like, the most intense pain I have ever experienced. She's not convinced. She asks what I think might be causing my pain.

"Well...I have really terrible periods. And I started my period yesterday but...this is the worst it's ever been. I think something is wrong."

And there it is - the face. She does not think this is an emergency. I sign a few things and she tells me to have a seat. 30 minutes later, I am called back by a skeptical looking nurse. It's time for triage, or, who has to deal with this one? This is where they decide if you're dying or not. It doesn't matter if you feel like you're dying.

I explain the situation - terrible periods for 27 years, always painful but this is extreme. She shows me the little drawn faces and tells me to point to the one that best depicts the amount of pain I am in. I look at them. None of them is split in half with brain matter spilling out, eyes popped out of the sockets. So I tell her, "I am in the worst pain I have ever been in. I have never felt anything like this before."

She's not convinced.

Neither is the doctor who does absolutely nothing for me. Nothing. He tells me he's read my chart and I have uterine fibroids. I confirm this. He smiles slightly, gives a little shrug. He's not taking me seriously. He drifts in and out of the room, finally offering me some oxy. I want to punch this asshole in the face, I really, really do. Do an ultrasound! Do an MRI! Maybe one of those baseball sized fuckers exploded in there or got twisted. Do something. He doesn't.

I can't prove this pain; I never could. There's nothing broken. There's no gunshot wound. No heart attack. For 28 years I've been telling people I have cramps when they ask what's wrong - why am I hunched over, breathing heavily - why is my face twisted like an angry pug?

Women express sympathy, which is nice because we're all in this together. But most women will follow that up with something like, "You know what really works for me? Chamomile tea." Oh, that's nice but unless you have a mug big enough for me to drown myself in, tea ain't gonna do shit.
Men react the way you'd expect most of them to react - total shut down.

Several months earlier, I called my doctor and said I needed something for the bad months. She is intimately familiar with my uterus and I knew she understood. But she still needed to ask the obligatory questions a doctor must ask before prescribing a narcotic. Even though I have no doubt she is on my side, I felt like I was in trial. I felt like I needed to convince her that I wasn't planning to crush and snort the vicodin or sell it to middle school kids. She approved it and guess what? It didn't do a damn thing.

Suddenly, I'm a 40 year old woman with a vicodin prescription sitting in an Emergency Room being offered oxy by a man who is not convinced of my emergency. I'm a drug seeking faker. I'm a big fat lying liar. "Menstrual cramps." Right.

I'm not telling you this so that you'll feel sorry for me. I'm just telling you because it's my unfortunate reality. Unlike the glossy tampon ads suggest, I cannot put on a white bikini and enjoy a fucking water slide during my period. I can't play tennis, I can't ride a horse, I can't have a productive conversation. And it's not something you run around talking about. It makes people uncomfortable.

How are you?
"Well, I have the shits. Did you know there's a hormone that ramps up when you have your period that gives you the shits? There is. And I've got it. Right now."

What's wrong?
"Well, I'm wearing a maxi pad the size of an adult diaper and it just failed. Like completely failed. I'm so glad we're at the mall because I need new pants."

You never want to do anything.
"I'm sorry; it's just that moving is not going to work for me because my uterus is literally trying to leave my body and it's very painful."

Why are you so tired all the time?
"Because I'm bleeding like someone shot me in the vagina."

Now you know.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dear Dave....

My father always said, if everyone loves what you're doing, then you're doing something wrong. He used to write for the Star Tribune. Because he wrote about race a lot, he got death threats from time to time. That's back when people actually mailed other people letters. He found them amusing. I found them scary.

Once I went to his house in Eden-Tonka-Burry-Prairie (my father is lily white suburbia's #1 fan) and a package was left in his mailbox. He calmly told my brother and I to go inside the house while he carried the brown paper bundle like it was a sleeping muskrat to the end of the driveway.

"Dad...what are you doing?" I hollered at him from the front porch.

"Stay inside!" He yelled, not taking his eyes off the package.

I can't remember what ended up being in there but it was like an unnecessarily large welcome package from AARP or something. My father returned to the house with a sweat-stache and explained that he hadn't ordered anything and was naturally concerned it was a bomb.


But people don't take too kindly to someone who writes about institutional racism. Apparently, they also don't appreciate the memories of a girl who once kicked dudes in the balls when she was a child.

I logged into my account a few months ago and found a series of comments waiting for me to moderate them. They were all from the same person - let's call him Dave, which is probably his name anyway. Dave's comments started off just sort of grumpy ("That's not a very nice thing to do") and quickly snowballed into some serious psychotic shit ("You should be shot. All women should be shot."). In between A and Crazy, Dave asked me if I was aware of my misandry.

That's when I realized who Dave is.

When I worked for the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, we were part of the annual rally at the capitol known as Violence Against Women Action Day. The idea was to bring awareness to the issue of domestic and sexual violence lest the lawmakers forget that it's a thing. Every year, when we arrived to set up, there would be a handful of men standing on the steps of the capitol or just inside the door, holding little signs they'd written on pieces of cardboard and handing out poorly written, rambling manifestos that called for an end to the persecution of men.

These dudes were always the same dudes: totally nondescript in every way except for the fact that they had zero fight in them. Like wet noodles they were, not speaking, not looking anyone in the eye but wanting you to take them seriously.

I realize it's hard to stop whacking off to porn in your mother's basement and come out into the sun, but for crying out loud, make your case. Explain to me why you're at a rally that's intended to bring awareness to the issue of men beating and killing women asking me to stop blaming men. Isn't your very presence an acknowledgement that there's a problem?

Now, Dave, it might be hard for you to distinguish between a pile of goo and a woman, but it's not difficult for me to distinguish between a man who is a sadistic shithead and a man who is not. Does the fact that I found it hilarious to kick a boy in the nuts when I was 8 years old and knew nothing of biology or what harm I might be causing mean I hate men? No. Do your death threats mean that you're a sadistic shithead? Yes.

And by the have nothing. to. complain. about. The fact that things don't always work out for you is not the fault of the female gender, Dave. Maybe your failings in life are the result of your twisted mind. Perhaps you can't hold a job because you're socially incapable. Maybe you've never had a girlfriend because there's something wrong with you.

If I could be a middle class white heterosexual male for 24 hours - oh, the things I would do! I'd get married in every state. I'd be taken seriously in all retail establishments. I'd apply for every credit card I could find. I would go to clubs in an Ed Hardy t-shirt with my big watch and have a scotch on the rocks (ever tried to order a scotch on the rocks when you're a woman of color? It doesn't work). And I would pee everywhere. Everywhere.

So relax, Dave. Have a scotch on the rocks. And maybe call a therapist.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Who do we want to be?

Tomorrow is Voting Day and THANK GOD because if I have to hear that giggly, husky “I’m Michele Bachmann and I approved this message” one more time, I’m going to start smearing my shit on the walls. How is it possible that the sound of Mary Hart’s voice made some woman have seizures and the sound of Michele Bachmann’s voice hasn’t made the head every man, woman, and child explode? I ask you.

One of the things we’re voting on in Minnesota is whether or not to amend our state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. By defining it as such, we arm ourselves for the day that gays and lesbians (and presumably polygamists) will undoubtedly rise up from the pits of hell, move like a horde of zombies to the state of Minnesota,  and try to fucking get married. “Oh no,” we’ll say. “Our constitution says you can’t do that!” The power of our constitution shall strike down those who attempt to poo all over the sanctity of marriage and we will be forever safe. Or something.

Rather than leave you in suspense, I’ll come right out and say that I plan to vote no on this ridiculousness. I’m not scared of the idea that my state might someday legalize gay marriage and, in fact, I’m surprised that we’re even having this goddamn conversation. It’s 2012. It’s almost 2013. I don’t care who you are or who you marry and I believe it’s fundamentally wrong to try and limit anyone’s freedom to marry whomever they choose. But beyond that, I’d like to remind everyone that we’re repeating history.

My parents were married on May 27, 1972. My mother wore a black wedding dress. She also had an afro (for crying out loud…).  They look happy in their wedding pictures. They also look like they’re in high school, which they practically were. Some hippie played “Morning Has Broken” on her guitar while my mother walked down the aisle. There was a cake. My grandparents were there. It was a legal marriage between a black man and a white woman. Believe it or not, this celebration of hairstyles and love used to be against the law in many states. 

Anti-miscegenation laws (laws which prohibit marriages and, in some cases even co-habitation, between a white person and a person of a different race) go way back. In 1776, seven of the 13 colonies forbade marriage between whites and people of other races. Most states declared interracial marriage illegal between the 18th and 20th centuries. Guess what they used for their argument? The Bible (some things never change). The argument was that God separated the races geographically and, therefore, obviously didn’t want them to marry or (God forbid) have children.

In 1948, California declared that anti-miscegenation laws violated the 14th amendment. After that, many states began repealing their laws banning interracial marriage. That’s not to say that everyone was suddenly on board with interracial marriage. Most people were still very much against it. But some very brave women and men refused to back down – like Mildred and Richard Loving. They were married in Washington DC in 1958. After their marriage, they returned to their home state of Virginia where they were promptly arrested because, in the super progressive state of Virginia, interracial marriage was punishable by law. The judge told them they wouldn’t go to jail as long as they left Virginia and didn’t return for 25 years. So they left. But then in 1963, they were both like, “This is bullshit. We should be able to live wherever we want.” So they took their case all the way to the US Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously:

"Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not to marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State."

You see, the US Supreme Court recognized that anti-miscegenation laws were only there to uphold this idea of white supremacy. So now, let’s bring it home. Minnesota never had an anti-miscegenation law. Yes, this is your moment to bask in the glow of how amazingly liberal we are here in the frozen north. Minnesotans take every chance they can get to point out how far removed we are from the south. But then here we are, proposing a law that would limit the freedom to marry in our really progressive state. You can tell me until you’re blue in the face that this law is to “uphold the sanctity of marriage” but truly, it is crystal clear to me that the sole purpose of this law is to continue to perpetuate homophobia. 

I believe it is fundamentally wrong to limit an individual’s right to marry. It is a decision that is completely motivated by fear and utterly devoid of basic humanity. The question is: who are we? Who do we want to be?

In 2007, Mildred Loving issued a public statement to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia. She had this to say regarding same-sex marriage:
"Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

God's Plan: It's complicated, with a hint of Fox News

“It’s God’s plan”

So says  George Zimmerman, a man charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black 17 year old boy, during an interview with Fox News. He has no regrets, he says. It was all God’s plan.

I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit.

Now there’s a lot of talk about “God” – what God looks like, where God is, what God’s doing, what God’s plan is for all of us, etc. Many people don’t believe in God; others believe in “something” but they aren’t sure what that is; and still others have a very strong, concrete idea of God and what role God plans – or should play – in our lives.
I wonder if it was in God’s plan for George Zimmerman to shoot an unarmed child.

Let’s really think about this. I’m going to use the bible here since it’s such a popular text to throw at everything. Yes, I’ve actually read parts of the bible. And I gotta tell you – none of this is God’s plan.
Here’s what God’s plan was: to create an amazing, fruitful, peaceful land of plenty, followed by a dude and some animals. Then later, he saw the dude getting restless and created a woman. The man named all the animals and everyone was naked. God hoped that the man and the woman would procreate, build, and harvest.  And he also said, “Hey don’t eat no apples off this one tree, ya dig?”

Meanwhile, in heaven, there was an angel named something other than Satan – I can’t remember what his or her name was pre-evil. I must admit, I didn't pay super close attention to the whole religion thing. Anywho, this particular angel was bored as shit and decided to make trouble. As a result, s/he was banished from heaven by God. Naturally, s/he went to Earth and convinced Eve to eat some delicious Granny Smith’s from the forbidden tree. That’s pretty much when everything hit the fan.
If you believe what the bible says, we’re currently in the middle of a battle of wills – the will of humans, which is tainted by the presence of Satan, and the will of God. Who do we blame? If George Zimmerman had said, "This all happened because of Satan," people would lose their minds. I'm not saying that's why this happened - the truth is, I don't know why it happened. But what I find disturbing is that it's become acceptable to tie a big God-bow around every situation and expect that to somehow lessen the severity of the crime. Sometimes you just did a terrible thing, and I’d have some actual respect for you if you’d just admit it.

I don’t know what I believe in – I believe in "something" and it’s personal. But whatever it is, I don’t use it to justify being an asshole. I don’t know if people like George Zimmerman are truly delusional to the point of a kind of  arrogance that prevents rational thought or if they are so terrified of the person they’ve become that they are desperately trying to justify their actions. Whatever it is, let’s just hope the justice system doesn’t buy it either.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

This is why you're an asshole

I realize that I have my period, but when I scrolled through Facebook this morning and came across a picture of Rhianna with the hilarious caption: “We fell in love when he punched my face”…oh, oh my God, I’m sorry; I just shit myself laughing again. Yeah, no, actually, words cannot describe how done I am with this.
First of all, I’d like to address this issue of posting and reposting pictures with captions. Some of them are indeed funny, and yes, I’ve reposted a few. But stop. Just stop. Put that shit on Pinterest. I’m tired of looking at it.
Also, let’s be real: the Internet is a free, open area for people of all nations to expose how truly ridiculous they are. I can’t quite remember but I think it was better before we had a vehicle for our passive aggression. But then again, if it weren’t for the Internet, I would not have the opportunity to tell you how amazingly stupid you are.
Yep. I’m judging the shit out of you for thinking it’s hilarious to make jokes about the fact that Chris Brown beat the crap out of Rhianna. There’s really nothing you can do about it, except offer something vastly unintelligent and offensive in the comments section from the confines of your Mom’s basement. There’s also nothing I can do about you and your twisted idea of what’s funny. This is the Internet; it’s a fucking free-for-all.
You know when domestic violence is hilarious? Never. Know when it’s really not hilarious? When it happens to someone you love. Know when it’s fucking devastating? When someone that you love dies at the hands of their abuser. The National Network to End Domestic Violence did a 24-hour census of domestic violence shelters and services to capture a snapshot of what’s really happening out there.  In one day, 3 men committed suicide; one after murdering his wife, one after attempting to murder his girlfriend and one during a police standoff while holding his partner hostage. 3 women were murdered by their intimate partners. 36 babies were born to women living in domestic violence shelters. Over 70,000 people sought domestic violence services all over the country. That’s a lot of fucking people.
Maybe your sister was one of them. Maybe I should take her picture and create a hilarious meme which I will then post to Facebook. Oh, what? That’s not ok? You don’t want me to do that? OF COURSE YOU DON’T.

I’d like to leave you with a stark reminder of what you’re laughing at: the police report from the night Chris Brown beat Rhianna. I’d like to thank my good friend Maya for reminding me just how brutal and real this is. Enjoy.

“Brown was driving a vehicle with Robyn F. as the front passenger on an unknown street in Los Angeles. Robyn F. picked up Brown’s cellular phone and observed a three-page text message from a woman who Brown had a previous sexual relationship with.
“A verbal argument ensued and Brown pulled the vehicle over on an unknown street, reached over Robyn F. with his right hand, opened the car door and attempted to force her out. Brown was unable to force Robyn F. out of the vehicle because she was wearing a seat belt. When he could not force her to exit, he took his right hand and shoved her head against the passenger window of the vehicle, causing an approximate one-inch raised circular contusion.

“Robyn F. turned to face Brown and he punched her in the left eye with his right hand. He then drove away in the vehicle and continued to punch her in the face with his right hand while steering the vehicle with his left hand. The assault caused Robyn F.’s mouth to fill with blood and blood to splatter all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle.

“Brown looked at Robyn F. and stated, ‘I’m going to beat the sh– out of you when we get home! You wait and see!’

” The detective said “Robyn F.” then used her cell phone to call her personal assistant Jennifer Rosales, who did not answer.

“Robyn F. pretended to talk to her and stated, ‘I’m on my way home. Make sure the police are there when I get there.’ After Robyn F. faked the call, Brown looked at her and stated, ‘You just did the stupidest thing ever! Now I’m really going to kill you!’

“Brown resumed punching Robyn F. and she interlocked her fingers behind her head and brought her elbows forward to protect her face. She then bent over at the waist, placing her elbows and face near her lap in [an] attempt to protect her face and head from the barrage of punches being levied upon her by Brown.

“Brown continued to punch Robyn F. on her left arm and hand, causing her to suffer a contusion on her left triceps (sic) that was approximately two inches in diameter and numerous contusions on her left hand.

“Robyn F. then attempted to send a text message to her other personal assistant, Melissa Ford. Brown snatched the cellular telephone out of her hand and threw it out of the window onto an unknown street.

“Brown continued driving and Robyn F. observed his cellular telephone sitting in his lap. She picked up the cellular telephone with her left hand and before she could make a call he placed her in a head lock with his right hand and continued to drive the vehicle with his left hand.

“Brown pulled Robyn F. close to him and bit her on her left ear. She was able to feel the vehicle swerving from right to left as Brown sped away. He stopped the vehicle in front of 333 North June Street and Robyn F. turned off the car, removed the key from the ignition and sat on it.

“Brown did not know what she did with the key and began punching her in the face and arms. He then placed her in a head lock positioning the front of her throat between his bicep and forearm. Brown began applying pressure to Robyn F.’s left and right carotid arteries, causing her to be unable to breathe and she began to lose consciousness.

“She reached up with her left hand and began attempting to gouge his eyes in an attempt to free herself. Brown bit her left ring and middle fingers and then released her. While Brown continued to punch her, she turned around and placed her back against the passenger door. She brought her knees to her chest, placed her feet against Brown’s body and began pushing him away. Brown continued to punch her on the legs and feet, causing several contusions.

“Robyn F. began screaming for help and Brown exited the vehicle and walked away. A resident in the neighborhood heard Robyn F.’s plea for help and called 911, causing a police response. An investigation was conducted and Robyn F. was issued a Domestic Violence Emergency Protective Order.”

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sara Raspberry, Public Relations

Hi there! Sara Raspberry, public relations. Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me this afternoon! You’ve got a beautiful office, Mr. Jones. Oh – ok, Glenn. Haha! Boy, how about this weather we’re having? It’s been…just nuts, right? You never know if it’s going to rain or…what! Seriously! I’m like, just what the heck is going on, anyway? Hahahaha!
Is that a picture of your family? Well, your children are just adorable. You must be so proud. How old are they? Oh, my…I just love the name Dakota. It’s’s breathtaking. I went to the Black Hills once and it was…it was, you know…just beautiful. Your daughter is a lucky girl to have such a…such an inspiring name. And how did you come up with your son’s name? Oh! Oh, that’s great. I’ve actually never read The Hobbit.

Ok, so. I suppose I should tell you a bit about why I’m here. First, just for some background…I went to Northwestern where I majored in journalism – go Wildcats. Haha! Graduated top of my class in 2005, and went on to get my Masters in communications management from USC. Public relations is, you know, a really diverse field. I find that I have a lot of opportunities to…you know, meet a lot of people and see what’s really going on out there. It’s been just…great to work with so many amazing organizations over the years. So…yeah! That’s a bit about me. Just so you have some background.

So…the reason I’m here today, Glenn, is because I represent an organization that would really like to partner with you on the construction of the new pediatric cancer center at this hospital. My clients feel really good about…you know, creating that special place for children struggling with cancer to…get well, and, and have a place to really…relax and get the proper care. This hospital has a stellar reputation, and the organization I represent would very much like to create a partnership that could help…bolster their reputation in the community.
Of course, a significant monetary contribution would be made. We understand that Saint Stephen’s has run into some financial difficulties with this project, which, in these economic times, is pretty much par for the course, right? Yeah! So we’d like to offer our financial assistance, which would benefit you and the construction of the pediatric cancer wing, as well as help us as we begin to forge some community partnerships.

Now, I’m not going to mince words, Glenn; my clients have had some difficulties over the years. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misrepresentation of this organization in the media. A lot of activities and events have been…twisted and misinterpreted. The truth is who are we to judge? You know? I mean, people in glass houses…right? My clients have been erroneously labeled as trouble makers and we’d like to educate the community. We think partnering with Saint Stephen’s is the perfect way to get that started.

Yes, I’ll get to that in a minute, Glenn. But first, I’d like to tell you that sometimes, we hear a brand…or, we hear the name of a brand…you know? And we automatically think of certain words or phrases that go along with that brand. For example…when I hear 'S.E. Johnson', I think 'a family company.' Or when I hear 'McDonald’s', I think 'I’m lovin’ it.' Those are just a few examples of some of the brands that really speak to us, as Americans. But what about when a company or an organization gets associated with negative things over the years, through the actions of a few bad apples? Is that fair? Should the organization be judged based on the media’s relentless smearing of their good name? I don’t think so. I think companies like Enron and Chi Chi’s Restaurants were good, solid companies. But a few minor mistakes and the manipulation of those minor incidents eventually ran them out of business. It’s that kind of mob mentality that my clients have faced for decades. I think that you, being CEO of Saint Stephen’s Hospital, understand what persecution really is.
Do you know much about the patron saint of stonemasons? I didn’t. I’ll admit, I haven’t been to church since my 1st communion, haha! But when my clients were looking for an organization to partner with, I did my research, Glenn.

I understand that, and I really appreciate you taking the time to meet with me. But I really think this is important. After all, this hospital is a tribute to Saint Stephen who was stoned to death because the enemies of The Church of Jesus lied, and said he had spoken sinfully against God. But, in truth, Saint Stephen was simply stating his beliefs. He believed that God was the one and true Holy Father, just as my clients believe that the white race is superior to other races.

Just a minute, Glenn; hear me out. Are my client The Imperial Klans of America? Yes. Should we rush to judgement? No. And here’s why. Glenn, if you’ll just let me…ok, Mr. Jones; if you’ll give me two more minutes of your time, I’ll explain why this partnership could work. Yes, my clients have a checkered past. Yes, they do. But if people would open their minds, they’d see an organization that cares about people. They do! They genuinely care about white people all over this country. We understand that your pediatric cancer wing will indeed admit non-white children and you know what? We’re ok with that. Because we don’t hate anyone, Mr. Jones. Cancer affects us all. Our past shouldn’t be a factor in our commitment to end pediatric cancer. The Adopt-A-Highway people didn’t believe we want to clean up litter on our highways, but we do. We want to help people, Mr. Jones.

I really…I really just don’t think that’s relevant. You’re talking about an incident that occurred nearly 50 years ago. How do the murders of civil rights activists allegedly committed by my clients impact their desire to bring an end to childhood cancer? I just don’t see the correlation, Mr. Jones. Ok…ok, there’s no need for that, sir. I’ll leave on my own. But before I go, I’d like to leave you with the words of Saint Stephen himself: ‘Which one of the Prophets did your fathers not persecute, and they killed the ones who prophesied the coming of the Just One, of whom now, too, you have become betrayers and murderers.’
Thank you for your time, Mr. Jones. Here’s my card; you’ll see that I also do some freelance party planning. So if you ever need a hand in that arena, just give me a call.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Let's Make Some Yummy Shit

When I was a kid, I looked forward to that goddamned Sears Christmas catalog every year. My siblings and I would fight over it as if we were fighting over the actual toys. I’d thumb through the pages and pages of shit I’d never have and daydream about what I would do with all those fucking toys. I would never stop playing. My playtime would be fucking endless.

There was one toy that I wanted more than anything, and that was the goddamned play kitchen. It came in various layouts and sizes and they were all awesome. They came with all kinds of play food, like empty boxes of Jell-O, egg cartons, milk bottles, and plastic oranges. Some were simple – just a stove, some cupboards and a sink. And some were enormous, extravagant luxury pimp kitchens, with a refrigerator, a stove, an oven, a fucking microwave and a dishwasher. One of them even had a goddamn phone! I closed my eyes and imagined preparing a pretend pot roast dinner while wearing a gorgeous apron and cradling a fake phone between my ear and shoulder, talking to no one. Oh yeah…that’s some good shit right there.

I have no idea why I wanted a play kitchen with such unbridled passion. Maybe it was because the pretty little white girls playing with the kitchen looked so fucking happy. One of them kneeled in her blue corduroy jumper with a plastic cup poised under an ice maker – an ice maker for crying out loud! Her little expression was pure joy, like she was saying, “Yeah, bitch, I’m getting’ ice from my ice maker. This ain’t my mommy’s ice maker; this shit is mine!” Another little girl was stirring something on her little stove, making all kinds of pretend food for her dinner party while her younger brother looked on, like, “Let’s make some yummy shit.”

Sears called it a dream kitchen, and that’s all it was: a dream. I would never perch on a plastic stool under a pea green awning and chat with my neighbor while brewing a pot of fake coffee. I would never gaze out a window to nowhere while I washed dishes in my little plastic sink with no water. The dream kitchen was out of reach because that motherfucker was a hundred goddamned dollars.

 We weren’t poor or anything but we sure as shit didn’t have $100 extra bucks lying around so that I could bake pies that no one would ever be able to eat. It was 1983 and my parents were separated, which meant they were paying a mortgage and rent on an apartment. I’m sure when I sidled over to my mother, lugging that giant Sears catalog behind me, and asked sweetly for a dream kitchen that cost as much as two electric bills, my mother was like, “Are you fucking insane?”

 I certainly don’t want to give the impression that my parents never got us fun stuff. During the Cabbage Patch Kid Frenzy, my mother stood in line with a bunch of other crazy bitches and ran through Toys ‘R Us in her pumps so that my sister and I could have them. My father took us all to Disney World when I was 12 and made me go on Space Mountain, which was kind of a rite of passage for me at the time. But the fucking play kitchen eluded me. Eventually, I got over it and set my sights on a pink and mint colored Swatch phone.

About a year ago, I was in Toys ‘R Us with my mother, sister-in-law and nieces. Just so you know, Toys ‘R Us is a miserable place. If you’ve ever been in FAO Schwartz in New York City, then you know what a toy store is supposed to be like. Toys ‘R Us is the exact opposite. It’s like going to Walmart at 2am when you’re wasted: the lights are very bright, you can’t find anything and all you want to do is lie down and take a nap. For the first few minutes, it’s kind of fun to watch my niece get all jacked up about every single thing in the store. But after about 20 minutes I just want to get the hell out of there.

On this particular trip, my mother started closely examining the play kitchens. There they were, in all their plastic glory, mounted to a wall. I gazed up at them and immediately felt like I was 7; I wanted that fucking play kitchen. The draw was still there, even after all the shit I’d seen and done; all the raw moments where I was socked in the gut with the way life is; all the shots of tequila, all the Irish Car Bombs, all the double Captain Diets; all the road trips and airplane rides; all the therapy; and the cartons and cartons of cigarettes.  I still wanted to have an imaginary conversation with my neighbor Sally whilst preparing orange blossom muffins for my imaginary husband.

Why? Had I unconsciously conformed to sexist norms despite my years of rallying against them? Did I see a simpler life reflected in the shiny plastic refrigerator? I mean, I had a real kitchen with real stuff in it but I didn’t want to go play in there. I wanted to play in the place that didn’t really exist: a land of mixing bowls that never got dirty and knobs that turned whatever way you wanted them to, and as far as you wanted them to turn.

“Why are we looking at these?” My hands had begun to sweat.

 “Well…I’m thinking about getting one for the girls.”

 I gasped. “What?! That’s bullshit! I wanted one of these so bad when I was a kid and I never got one!”

My mother looked at me like I was crazy, which, at that moment, I was. I was a crazy 30-something woman, standing in Toys ‘r Us, yelling at my mother because she never bought me a play kitchen. My mother raised her eyebrows at me and said, “You still want one?”

Telling her the truth – yes, I did still want one – would have ramped up the crazy a whole bunch, so I sort of laughed and mumbled no and drifted over to the Barbie aisle. I sulked all the way home. But then I knew that I didn’t still want the stupid Sears catalog dream play kitchen. I just wanted to be a kid again and have a wonderful fucking time in my play kitchen. But let’s be real; I know too much. I’d strap on that apron, start mixing air in my mixing bowl and get bored in 2 minutes.

“Hi Sally; it’s your neighbor. Just whipping up a batch of – oh for… I gotta go. This is bullshit. I have an iPad for Christ’s sake.”