debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Uncle Bobby fell asleep in the Lord tonight at about 5:35. Thank you all for your prayers and kind messages. May his memory be eternal.
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For all of you who have been praying for Uncle Bobby - we just got word from his doctor that he is in multiple organ failure and will most likely die in about a week. It does not help at all to know that he is cancer-free.

That's your update, folks. I'm just sorry it wasn't better news.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
... was, of course, found in a student essay:

One of personalities which I can introduce myself to other people is that I am organized.

For your enjoyment.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
I'm at work at the moment. Our power got knocked out but good by the thunderstorm and near-tornado on Sunday (people saw funnel clouds, but none touched the ground, thank God). I took my laptop to work today to charge. I love candle light, but I'm well tired of rotting food in the fridge and not having air conditioning (though last night was fine without, actually - until the train whistle blew very early in the morning and I somehow believed that there was a soundproof plastic curtain that I could pull. There wasn't, of course (who has those?), but [ profile] papertigers must have seen me struggling and she pushed the window mostly shut. Otherwise, I actually got a comfortable night's sleep.

Now, I am watching The Perfect Storm and trying to distract myself. I really, really, really can't stand this movie, mostly because it is a completely brilliant film. I have only seen it once before (in a theatre in Santa Monica) and it triggered a panic attack so massive that my father had to almost carry me out and took me to a pub for a Guinness afterwards. When the rescue helicopter goes down, there is one shot that is very nearly exactly what I saw when our plane went down off Point Vicente. Flashbacks like you wouldn't believe.

So why am I watching it?

Well, this happens to be the movie they're showing our students this week. My student is watching it only because I am here. Luckily, I have my little laptop here. I intend to play solitaire for a while and then perhaps spend some time sobbing.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
This from the Having Your Say section of BBC News:

Iceland's people should be ashamed of their head of nation who is married to a lesbian friend.

Please note: while your spouse should be your friend, most people don't refer to their spouses as "a friend."
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Uncle Bobby is doing better, and on his way to feeling a lot better, too. From my point of view, there is this: I now realize that the chances of my uncle surviving leukemia are very, very slim. That may sound like a bad thing - and it is, in its way - but it's also a good thing. I was really, really shocked by the suddenness and severity of the revival of this cancer. It threw me for a real loop. That is not going to happen again. When he goes home (and it really looks like he may go home), we are all going to realize that there will probably be a lot more medical intervention coming. The focus is soon going to be keeping Bobby as lucid and comfortable as possible, for as long as possible.

And that's OK. It's almost good news, really.

Thank you all for your hugs, good wishes, and prayers. Please keep them going.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
This from Alert DC:

FEMS reports the smoke coming from the escalator at the DuPont Circle Metro was a defected elevator.

The smoke from the escalator was not smoke but an elevator?

Even better, where did the elevator defect to? What secrets is it telling? A lot of people with a lot of confidential information take that elevator! Are the Swiss now going to know all about it?
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Today, I talked to Farba Sow (my Mauritanian brother) via Skype. He found me about a week ago on facebook, and we've been writing back and forth a lot since. Apparently, Mali ("book name" Mutar) misses me, and I miss her, too. We used to sit together every evening and discuss things before dinner: cooking, TV shows, words in English and Pulaar, and we taught each other songs and folktales. Farba and Idrissa were mostly away at school (the town had no high school), but home on many weekends and for the summer. Ceerno and Bebe were younger; Bebe (book name Jeri) was one of my students. Ceerno was a little young - he was still in elementary school. Mamadou, who died two years ago, was in Nouakchott being a young rogue. Aissata, who is now an English teacher, was in Nouakchott until she got pregnant with Jellia. It's encouraging to know that she's finished her studies even though she had a husband and kid. Marieme, our aunt, was unhappy with Aissata's pregnancy because she believed it would be the end of her studies and career aspirations. Fatimata is still married to a soldier and living in heaven-knows-where.

Mali has two kids now, a remarkable feat for someone whose husband lives hundreds of miles away and gets back to visit only every couple of years. As [ profile] papertigers pointed out, it only takes a few minutes.

Sadly, one of my favorite kids died. Little Zakaria had such personality. Fate has made a clean sweep of that family. While I was living there, his mother died, followed by his tiny, sickly baby sister (my particular pet, only about six weeks old) and his grandfather - all within a few weeks of each other. His dad was despondent, and sat around the compound like so many clothes. The dullness behind his eyes was terrible to see. Now father and son are both gone, too, giving a little more credibility to the idea (voiced by my friend Miranda) that it was AIDS that killed the mother. There's no way of knowing for sure; there was no HIV testing to be had in the village, or even in Kaedi, and in general, when people die and you ask the question "What did so-and-so die of?", people look at you blankly and respond, "They were sick." Malaria? Influenza? Dehydration? Heart disease? Who knows?

Some things have changed, but most stay the same. Jeynaba Moussa and Kadja Silley are still at their regular posts. Their kids are well. Little Aissata must be eight or nine by now, and little Jeynaba as well.

The number of names is limited - I was also Jeynaba in the village, better than my Boghe name, which was a nickname (Boobo) rather than a proper name (their daughter in Nouakchott who was called Boobo was also - surprise! - Jeynaba).

I'm rambling on, but it's been an interesting day. Tonight, I'm going to call Uncle Bobby and talk to Aunt E. a little.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
It's been a tiring, dark, rainy, hugely productive day. I got everything on my "job finding checklist" done. We reorganized the kitchen and did some cleaning up. There was coffee this morning. Unfortunately, it looks like the fireworks in Alexandria are on for tonight, but we're not going. So... no fireworks for me this year.

The cats are agitating for dinner. I need a bath but am a little reluctant to take one because they are still doing water main repairs in my part of Monky Co. Either way, I definitely need to moisturize.

More to do tomorrow, but I think I feel fairly good about things so far this weekend. I will deserve the sleep that is coming to me tonight. To be honest, [ profile] papertigers will deserve hers even more!
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
My Aunt K., whom I bless for so many reasons, has sent me a true update on my uncle's status. Some excerpts from her email:

A. and I were by to see Bobby yesterday. He was up in dialysis (it is a 4 - 5 hour process every day at this point) and we stayed about 2 hours.

Here is what I learned from E.
(Uncle Bobby's wife)

He is most likely finishing chemo today. They test him every day for his platelet count. It has been very low, which means his blood isn't clotting and Tuesday night he had some bleeding.

He has been spiking fevers at night (anywhere from just over 100 to 103+) and that has been a concern but manageable.

Hopefully after the chemo is done his dialysis can be cut back to 3 - 4 times a week again.

I was able to pull up the Care Pages from my phone and share with E. all the comments. Bobby has not been able to really read anything, nor get on the computer. His first post was dictated to C.T. The second was written by
[my baby uncle]* at E.'s request. I told her that people said "he" sounded better and her reply was not what I wanted to hear.

Her actual words were "Oh no. It has to be pessimistic, not optimistic." As A. said, Aunt E. was saying "We hope for the best but brace for the worst." It isn't looking good, but no one is giving up.

Bobby was listening from time to time, but not participating at all ... and when he tried it was hard to understand him. C.
(my dad) and [my baby uncle] will both be visiting this weekend, and E. is not really going home except to change, eat and turn around and come right back.

That is where it is.

If you are praying folk, please pray for my uncle and my family. He is really quite young (in his early 50s) and all of this has been a shock, especially after his seeming recovery. Uncle Bobby is not a glamorous or exciting uncle, but a solid one, always ready to be the pillar of strength, the first person to show my aunts that they were appreciated even though they weren't boys, and the main reason I was always one of my elementary school's top earners in the annual jogathon. He is quiet, maybe sad, and very stable - the calm point in a stormy family. He and Uncle G. (who is in fact a cousin who was raised by my grandparents) are the only ones of my fifteen aunts and uncles on that side that I've never seen angry.

*my pet name for my youngest uncle, who was 15 when I was born
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Mr. Miles)
This was quite a weekend.

On Saturday, we moved Sean and Carol.

On Sunday, we went to Ikea and grilled food.

Today, I did Things With Cars (preparatory to selling our car to a certain redhead), vacuumed a bit, got the laundry done, bought hardware, and helped set up curtains and shelves and nets so that we unpacked a bit more, and the new place is looking a bit more like home. That's the part that makes all of this worthwhile. the bathroom suddenly looks less crowded and less industrial. the living room looks brighter and warmer. The bedroom has some floor space at last. Every little bit done is a little bit less stress for us.

The temperatures hit 98 here today, with hotter weather to come in the next few, and two more days of Code Red air quality. This means that I'll be taking the bus to the Metro instead of walking for a couple of days. [ profile] papertigers is going to pick me up in the evenings.

Miles is lying on the couch next to me, an exhausted heap of cuteness. Cats are good for the soul.

Other things I find good for the soul include: giving compliments, helping people find the Metro or the zoo or some other location, watching silly British television, cooking, and hard work for a good cause. Tiredness can be good.
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Here is Part Two of yesterday's list of short biographies of the people I've been quoting throughout the month of June.

Irshad Manji, b. 1968, is a Canadian writer and commentator who promotes a progressive vision of Islam. An out lesbian, she works to inform the international community on gay and lesbian issues in cultures informed by Islam.

Ailbhe Smyth is an Irish feminist and lesbian author who has been an activist since the 1960s. She is deeply involved in radical politics, including the antiracist movement in Ireland. She is a professor at University College Dublin.

Urvashi Vaid, b. 1958, is a scholar and activist. She served as Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force until 1992. Her particular focus is the elimination of institutionalized homophobia.

Morris Kight, (1919-2003), was a peace activist and one of the founders of the gay rights movement in the United States. The Stonewall Democratic Club was one of many organizations that he founded or co-founded.

Staceyann Chin, b. 1971, is a Jamaican performing artist and poet. She lives in New York City and works for the rights of gays and lesbians in Jamaica and the United States.

John Amaechi, b. 1970, is the first openly gay former NBA player. He is a sportscaster and a British citizen.

Patria Jimenez, b. 1957, is the first openly lesbian Senator in Mexico's Congress. She is also the head of a lesbian rights group in Mexico. She works for peace with the Zapatista movement in Chiapas and is an advocate for victims of domestic violence.

Pat Parker, (1944-1989), was a black lesbian feminist poet. She was involved with the Black Panthers and issues of women's health. She was a powerful early influence in the lesbian feminist movement.

Robin McGehee is a longtime activist for gay rights. She lives in Fresno, California with her wife and their two children. She is currently Co-Chair of GetEQUAL, an organization that aims to create a society that is committed to equality for all. She has been advocating for a comprehensive ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act).

Barney Frank, b. 1940, is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. An openly gay politician, he is the chair of the House Financial Services Committee. He has championed gay rights legislation since the 1980s.

Barbara Gittings, (1932-2007), was an early organizer for the Daughters of Bilitis. She began protesting for gay rights before Stonewall, in 1965. She was deeply opposed to the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness, and organized the discussions that led to its being eliminated from the APA's list of mental illnesses.

Armistead Maupin, b. 1944, is a gay veteran of the Vietnam War who once worked for former Senator Jesse Helms. He is best known for his Tales of the City series, first published as a newspaper serial starting in 1974, which featured several LGBT characters, including one with AIDS in the 1980s. He has worked in the gay rights and AIDS activist communities.

Cherrie Moraga, b. 1954, is a brilliant author, professor, and playwright. She has worked as a mentor to at-risk queer youth. She is also an essayist and feminist.

Bayard Rustin, (1912-1987), was an openly gay civil rights organizer who worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr. on techniques of nonviolent resistance. He served on a chain gang for breaking segregation laws and organized the 1963 March on Washington. Later, he worked as an election monitor for Freedom House and testified in favor of gay rights legislation.

Judy Grahn, b. 1940, is a poet and founded common spaces, including book stores, for gay women on the West Coast. She has influenced many feminists, including Adrienne Rich and Ani DiFranco.

Joan Nestle, b. 1940, is the co-founder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives. She is a writer who focuses on oral history.

Happy Pride, everyone. Please remember those who worked hard and risked so much to create a little more freedom in the world.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Poets. Runaways. Loudmouths. Drag queens. Queers. Trannies. Perverts. Leather daddies. Outcasts.

Forty-one years ago today, these people took to the streets to defend their right to exist. I owe them my average, middle-class suburban life, a life in which I can walk down the street hand-in-hand with [ profile] papertigers and no one stares. This month, in recognition, I have been posting a daily quote to my facebook account. Now it's time for me to give a little more information about the people I quoted (and the people I will quote tomorrow and Wednesday). I will do these in small groups, since it might be overwhelming to read otherwise.

Harvey Milk, (1930-1978), was the first openly gay person to win an election in the United States. He worked to make San Francisco a city in which gay people could walk around without harassment from police, and was instrumental in defeating the Briggs Initiative, which would have made firing gay teachers and any school employee who stood up for them mandatory. He and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated in November 1978.

Audre Lorde, (1934-1992), was a poet and feminist who criticized the feminist establishment for its focus on middle-class white women. She was one of the first thinkers to recognize in her work that oppression is an interlinked system and to advocate coalitions of oppressed peoples fighting oppression together.

Harry Hay, (1912-2002), was a cofounder of the Mattachine Society, one of the first gay rights groups in the United States. Later, he founded the Radical Faeries, and spent much of the rest of his life trying to preserve a place for those marginalized by mainstream gay politics.

Adrienne Rich, b. 1920, is a poet and activist born in (I have to mention this) Baltimore, Maryland. (Go Maryland!) A radical feminist and anti-war activist, Rich has written both poetry and essays. I learned to write a good essay from reading Adrienne Rich.

Cleve Jones, b. 1954, is a gay rights activist, an AIDS activist, and the creator of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Recently, he has formed a coalition between the gay community and UNITE HERE! to create the Sleep With The Right People campaign urging gays and lesbians to stay in hotels that treat workers well.

Rainbow Grannies (Carrie and Elisia Ross-Stone), born sometime before 1952, are longtime partners, mothers and grandmothers, who rode their bicycles across the United States in 2003 and 2004 to educate the public about the need for marriage equality. They are also the founders of Rainbow Law, a website that offers legal document preparation (Living Will, Power of Attorney, etc.) for free to the gay community.

Lynn Lavner is a lesbian comedian and musician.

Rev. Troy Perry, b. 1940, is a minister and founder of Metropolitan Community Churches, a Protestant denomination that was established as a safe place for gay men and lesbians to express Christian spirituality.

Martina Navratilova, b. 1956, is a Czech-born naturalized American tennis player. She was one of the first openly gay athletes and has played professional tennis for more than 20 years.

Frank Kameny, b. 1925, was one of the Stonewall protesters. He was fired from his government job in 1957 because he was gay. He filed a protest with the Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case. Another cofounder of the Mattachine Society, he has just had a section of 17th Street Northwest (in the heart of DC's Dupont Circle gayborhood) renamed "Kameny Way" in his honor. The government officially apologized for his firing in 2009.
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Is it rude for someone to pick up one of your books without asking and start reading it? What relationship would you have to have with the person to make this OK? Would it be different if the book wasn't yours? Or if it were your computer or Kindle instead of a book?
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
This is my first Pride Report for 2010. (I will, of course, be making the annual post on the anniversary of Stonewall). We went to the Baltimore parade yesterday and the festival today, and at both we ran into this coalition of hotel workers and gay rights activists. What an excellent idea! Communities that fight for people's rights should work together; we should recognize that, as Desmond Tutu has said, "My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." I encourage you all to visit the website, take the pledge, and boycott Hyatt. If you are travelling, Unite Here! has a great tool for finding hotels that treat their workers justly. That can also be reached through the website.

Happy Pride, everyone, and remember to do good for others, as often as you can, wherever you are.
debboamerik: (Sapphist)
This week has been particularly quotey, and I feel that I haven't shared enough with you lately.

"The King could decorate a song and built a sail."

"I prefer planned tours because I don't trust myself."

"When I took it out, I thought, 'Oh my God, it's a shoe.' To find a shoe has always been my dream."

Two of these quotes are from students. One is not (hint: it's in a New York Times article). I challenge you to figure out which is which.
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We had a hellish four-day weekend of it. Each day felt like a century; at the end of the day, we found ourselves referring to that morning as "yesterday." We are moved in now and very, very slowly unpacking. The kitchen is about 70% unpacked. We have rearranged the furniture slightly once and not slightly once. The cats have basically settled in, and are even staying out of trouble for the most part.

I inhaled a lot of different kinds of evil dust: potting soil, mulch made from Feline Pine kitty litter, plastic, even Roach Prufe, and the effects on my respiratory system have been bothersome. I can't breathe well; I cough a lot.

I expect that the walk to and from the Metro every day will help me to establish and maintain an exercise routine that suits me better. I like having a little time to walk and contemplate in the morning.

We had upwards of 32 boxes of books. Most of these were banana boxes, apple boxes, and flower boxes, which are fairly large.

Good shelves, appropriately placed, are helping us to squeeze into this smaller space.

I am still very, very tired.
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I thought, reading this book, that calling it "Bill Moyer's show" was a simple misprint, but then the error was repeated. The sentence is so typical of everything I hate about the book, and at the same time so unintentionally funny, that I thought it worth repeating here:

"Moyer was one of the handful of people whom Mack would love to meet; a brilliant and outspoken man, able to express intense compassion for both people and truth with unusual clarity."


This isn't even the most incoherent part of the book. In the next line, the author seems to think it's possible to have visions of gravity. Which I suppose it is, in a quantum physics sort of way, but that's not how he meant it.

The book is The Shack, and please don't read it if you want to keep any of your brain cells or faith in God. Madeleine L'Engle once said that God finds bad art painful, just as we do, and that bad religious art is sacrilegious, and I agree. This book is sentimental to the point of being maudlin, ungrammatical, fulsome, and entirely lacking in humanity or complexity. It tries so hard to be a great spiritual tale that it practically hits you over the head with it. In short, this is the worst book since The Notebook, which I consider the worst book I ever read. (I didn't have much choice but to read The Notebook all the way through; I was young and needed the money. In other words, I was in Africa with very few English-language books available to me.)

I am thinking of burning this book instead of giving it to The Book Thing of Baltimore. I can't bear to think that other people may be polluted by it through my fault.
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I love Freecycle. I love, love, love, love Freecycle. You don't have to haul your things out to the thrift store. You get to meet the people who need and want your old things. You get, really, the double pleasure of giving things away and having fewer things. It's wonderful.

We have been using Freecycle a lot lately, as we are moving on Thursday to a much smaller place.

It's Mothers' Day. Today after church, I brought Myra an azalea (actually two azaleas, one pink and one white) for us to plant. That way, two of our earliest-blooming spring plants will be hers and we'll have a nice show on the patio. I also brought bacon and biscuits and blood orange Italian soda, so we had a nice little brunch at home. We spent a good part of Mothers' Day at the Old Country Buffet in Gaithersburg because S., C., & Z. were there, along with a moderate portion of the V. family in general. Several were out-of-towners. It was a good time. Z. learned my name; we drove them home since their hotel is near where we live, and at the end of the night, I said, "You're going to go to bed with Mummy and Daddy now," and Z. replied, "And [ profile] papertigers!" She started to doze against my shoulder and was quite reluctant to let her mother take her. I tried to steal her, but they're going to the hospital for S.'s radiation tomorrow, and C. needs to have her baby with her, understandably enough.

I did not call my mother, but this is only unusual in the sense that I am with [ profile] papertigers (who always made me call my mother in years past). Before that, I never called my mother. My mother vocally scorns Mothers' Day as a commercial holiday designed to force people to spend money.

Overall, a nice break from the endless round of packing stuff up. Back to the salt mines tomorrow.


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January 2011

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