Sunday, March 29, 2015

Quote of the Week


"It is not religion but revolution which is the opium of the people."-Simone Weil

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday Video




Countin' on my fingers
Countin' on my toes
Slippin' thru your fingers
Watchin' how it grows

You can love me baby
but you can't walk out
Someone oughta tell you
what it's really all about

Do you ever wonder?
Do you ever hate?
Six feet under
Someone who can wait

You can love me baby
but you can't walk out
Someone oughta,
Someone oughta tell you
what it's really all about

You're never gonna make it baby
Ooh You're just gonna make it crazy
Ooh You never gonna make it baby
Make it baby
Make it baby

Countin' on my fingers
Countin' on my toes
Slippin' through your fingers
Watchin' how it grows

You can love me baby
but you can't walk out
Someone oughta tell you
what it's really all about

Buy another fixture
Tell another lie
Paint another picture
See who's surprised

You can love me baby
but you can't walk out
Someone oughta tell you
Oughta tell you what it's reallly all about

You're never gonna make it baby
Oohh You're only gonna make it crazy
Oohh You're never gonna
Make it baby
Make it baby
Make it baby

You can love me baby
but you can't walk out
You can love me baby
but you can't walk out
You can love me baby
but you can't walk out

Someone oughta someone oughta
Someone oughta someone oughta
Someone oughta someone oughta
Someone oughta someone oughta

You can love me baby
but you can't walk out

Someone oughta tell you
Oughta tell you what it's really all about

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Art of Meaningless Interactions



Nearly seven years of frequenting the multiple hospital systems of the DC metro area has provided me an insight unknown to many others. Last week I had my first medical procedure of two in total and was reminded again of how freely scrub-garbed nurses converse with their patients. Most react in ways that are almost always highly professional but a few like to toe the line. Viewing it for themselves, significant others might be very jealous, particularly same-sex co-workers who lack the same courage.

The female nurses of one particular hospital system are known for their shamelessly flirtatious behavior. I won't lie and say I don't appreciate being treated like a Greek God every now and again. Sometimes, with enough flattery, I even believe I'm as good looking as the behavior these women insist I must be. That said, the preface to last week's surgical procedure began unexpectedly, usually full of banal questions, but instead with intensely flirtatious conversation. It is the kind that left me a little giddy and light-headed by the end, the sort of sensation that even powerful medication, administered through IV, cannot produce.

If I had to reach for an answer of how I'd define what just happened, I'd think of it as a game of a sort, far more than any meaningful activity that intends to reach a lasting conclusion. The nurses behind their glass covered station are always ready for the next attractive stranger to show up, if only to break the monotony of a ten-hour-shift and changing bedpans. I'm sure such behavior is discouraged by some hospitals and the higher-ups in charge, but apparently this is not the case with everyone. At times, for a maximum of thirty minutes to an hour, I believe myself to be very physically attractive, worthy of the treatment and attention dispensed upon me.

I have to be careful of how I word this sort of exchange and share it with others. Put the wrong way, I seem like a delusional narcissistic consumed with chasing women who obviously see me as gorgeous as I believe myself to be. So I'll say it very differently. I don't think this sort of conduct takes place for my benefit alone, or for anyone's benefit, really. I'm merely the latest interesting trial study. None of this is going anywhere. They know it as well as I do. There was a time where I might have believed otherwise, a time where I was much younger and more naive than I am today. The truth is present as I view the latest exercise in meaningless eye candy walk by the nurse's station directly after me. I view the same look on the same faces of the same nurses once directed my way only a few minutes before.

Waitresses have learned to hone the craft of flirtation to improve their tips. Salegirls did much the same thing a couple generations before ours. The difference here is that I know it's all an act. I am not a wealthy businessman looking for an attractive companion or an escape from reality. But I'll buy the fantasy one more time, because the lie feels so good. We will never meet again, but for a time I'll be the most important person in her life, at least until the pain killers wear off.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Fallacy of Celebrity Opinion



Once again, I pause to ask why we care what celebrities think. Even though some of them possess a kind of nominally activist sensibility that is minimally informed by fact, more celebrities speak in logical fallacies and possess as much maturity as an online argument. Aside from supermarket tabloids and a thousand small-talk conversations, I can't understand the need or reason for this kind of discourse.

I follow why we get sucked into this kind of moronic game. Contrary to what we might think, what makes many celebrities appealing is that they look average, much like the rest of us. Some celebrities win fame by being exceptionally physically beautiful, but most that grab our attention are members of a cult of talented musicians, athletes, and actors who look like regular people. Because they look like us, we find it exceptionally easy to identify with them.

By virtue of the fact that people care what they say and care about their opinions, celebrities are given a bully pulpit to convey information to others. Unfortunately, their prejudices and often very foolish beliefs show the limitations that come from being an average Joe or Jane. I have largely ceased to care what ill-informed celebrities speak and say, because they proport to be an expert on a supposed topic and are really nothing more than modestly gifted rubes. I tend to hold the opinions of academics, scientists, theologians, and writers in much higher regard because one tends to find a much higher standard of rational thought.

As we know, sometimes even the supposed experts fail us, but far less frequently than pop stars and popcorn flick matinee idols. While this is not always the case, as we know, I nevertheless fail to understand why most celebrities are taken seriously and given chance after to chance to form a kind of demented public opinion.

Enough soft news exists already to feed a thousand flame wars and manufactured quarrels between fevered egos. Remove the names and we might as well be talking about any lunch hour in a high school. And admittedly, a kind of Schadenfreude is present here, not simply because we like to see people fall onto a particular part of their bodies. Quite often we, either secretly or not, want to be celebrities ourselves.

The irony of celebrity status is not how difficult it is to achieve it, but rather the reverse, how easy it is to luck into money and to somehow achieve the privilege that gives us great influence over others. But we in the peanut gallery manage to get fooled over and over, not recognizing that wisdom, not facts, is always in short supply and anyone can manage to sound smart and inspiring by memorizing a few key sound bytes.  

The cult of personality we call celebrity is an odd construct. It exists to make money, of course, but it contains as many wanna-be winners as a lottery drawing or a day in a casino. Even if we know the risk involved, we're always ready for one more hand, one more two digit, six number sequence. And should that be our fate someday, all I have to say is this. Do your homework.

Your opinions might make you money, but it's just as easy for them to cost you dearly. Celebrity gives us the delusion that we are somehow in control of our fate, that we are the final spin doctor, and that we get the right to leave the game at a time of our own choosing. Be careful out there, and should you have the hankering to open your mouth, anything you say can and will be used against you.

Quote of the Week


"True friends stab you in the front."-Oscar Wilde

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Saturday Video




Shoot your dice and have your fun, Sugar Babe
Shoot your dice and have your fun
Run like your Mama, when the police come
Yeah Sugar Babe, oh my, Sugar Babe

I got drunk and I fell on the floor, Sugar Babe
I got drunk and I fell on the floor
That's good for whiskey, Mama, and I want some more
Yeah Sugar Babe, oh my, Sugar Babe
Sing it slide

Shoot your dice and roll 'em in the sand, Sugar Babe
Shoot your dice and roll 'em in the sand
Well it ain't gonna work Mama, I know damn that
Yeah Sugar Babe, oh my, Sugar Babe

Put your hand on your hip and let your mind roll by, Sugar Babe
Put your hand on your hip and let your mind roll by
'Cause your body's gonna shrivel, Mama, when you come to die
Yeah Sugar Babe, oh my, Sugar Babe

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Evolving Face of Teacher/Student Sex



In a disturbing and relatively recent turn of events, several female high school and sometimes even female middle school teachers have been arrested and charged with inappropriate sexual behavior. They have been accused of pursuing sexual relationships with their students or other students known to them on campus, each of whom is a legal minor and under the law cannot voluntarily consent to sex. The latest, Jennifer Marie Perry, aged 27 years, is charged with having sexual relations with a seventeen-year-old male student inside a car in a parking lot nearby the school.

The vast number of these offenses are shocking, to say the least. They challenge the cultural assumption that, in matters of sex and attraction, women are always to be pursued and men are always the pursuers. That said, I don't know much personally and in greater detail about such situations like these, save one. It involved a woman, a young high school teacher, who had serious issues with body acceptance. Long thought of as overweight and undesirable by herself and others, the sexual attention she received from a male student led her to believe that even an unlawful relationship would validate her sense of self as attractive and as a worthwhile person. It is a far too common phenomenon, understandable in many circumstances and contexts, but highly unfortunate and risky when it happens in a classroom setting.

If I were to place a bet on the veracity of this case among all the others, this instance would seem the most plausible. In almost every other instance, much does not add up. The female teachers were almost uniformly physically attractive and most were less than ten years younger than their victim. No one is sure about the larger trends that behavior like this portends. Public school systems are notoriously tight-lipped over sensitive issues like these. Only the minimum information has been shared with the media, which is par for the course. Barring a trial or a lawsuit for unlawful termination, more details are unlikely to be forthcoming.

Investigators launched their probe Feb. 24 after being contacted by school administrators. Chief Deputy Randy Christian said Perry went to school officials and reported that students told her there was a rumor going around at school that she had engaged in a sex act with student.
"Our investigation indicates that this was a one time occurrence," he said. "The student was not in any of the classes taught by the suspect."
Perry, who is married and from Odenville, graduated from Jacksonville State University in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in secondary education with a concentration in English Language Arts. She taught freshman English at Pinson Valley High School, and was the cheerleading sponsor.
 "You know it is not an easy process to become a school teacher. Obtaining a degree and successfully going through a competitive hiring process in a school system is a challenge and those that secure a job I know count themselves fortunate," Christian told AL.com. "For the life of me, I can't understand why after successfully navigating such a process that a teacher would risk a career by carrying on such a relationship with a young person entrusted to their care. It's also kind of amazing they believe it's possible a teen will keep their little secret."

This may well be the only definitive information the public receives. As I've said, school systems are content to brush things under the rug, whenever possible and while wielding great restraint. Yet, in this circumstance, are we obscuring the truth if the full truth is not known? A story exists. This instance, like so many before, was technically consensual, but the motive is unknown. Does it matter who made the first move, how this situation proceeded, and would that give us additional information to which we are deserving?  

In my years as a card-carrying feminist, I've come to understand that our society often removes the right of women to take charge of themselves as fully sexual beings. Speaking in a heterosexual context, men make the first move and women respond to it, but women are routinely hesitant to come on too strongly or too forcefully. In that regard, they do not possess a shred of agency. As a teenage boy, this caused me consternation and frustration, to always have to work up the courage to make my inquiries and to try again, though in fairness not every woman I encountered made her desires so opaque.

Alabama is one of the most conservative states in the country, and if such events were to occur in California, no one would be shocked. The larger trends are entirely unknown, though I doubt they are only found in one small Southern state. It makes me wonder whether these sorts of crimes are commonplace everywhere, especially when school systems pretend they never existed.

A pattern does show itself with repeated confrontation of the facts. Nearly all of the young women accused and then convicted were married and violating their marriage vows. Is this at least partially symptomatic of unhappy nuptials, or is that too simplistic an explanation as well? Having now entered the land of hypotheticals, I'll stop my inquiries. Our sample set is not large enough. That said, I don't see this trend ending and neither do I see a set of plausible reasons why unless this problem gets farther and farther out of hand.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Surgery Over for Now, Until Monday



In my ongoing effort to demystify the American health care system, I will share with everyone the only mildly catastrophic events of yesterday. For starters, I thought the surgery would not be a big deal. After signing and then initialing the requisite ten sheets of paper, I was taken back by a quirky Filipino to exchange my street clothes for two heavy surgical gowns. The clothes I wore to the procedure were placed in a series of clear plastic bags.

So far so good. The problem, I'm afraid, manifested itself rather quickly. Because of the number of medications I take, I am easily prone to dehydration. Before being put under, one cannot eat or drink anything after midnight. A nurse noticed I was severely dehydrated upon arrival, evident by my severely chapped lips. Three separate nurses working in tandem for half an hour could not find a vein. I was stuck at least seven times, then told that the time and location of the procedure would have to be rescheduled until Monday of next week. The site of the new surgery contains a machine that uses ultraviolet light to locate veins that the human eye cannot detect on its own.

There's no way to say "colorectal" and disguise the nature of the problem. As I'll explain in more detail, I arrived with two separate problems, a fissure and a series of growths found both inside and outside the colon. The growths inside my colon will be removed in surgery, but there's a chance they might be precancerous. One or two of them will be biopsied, and ten days later the results will be known. Cancer or not, I've been warned the procedure will be painful.

The best case scenario is that no precancerous growths will be detected and the process ends there. The worst case scenario is that precancerous growths are found and the process of biopsies must continue. Each subsequent surgical procedure is scheduled out two months at a time, to allow for healing. At this point, I am far too annoyed to be worried. I will resume being annoyed if this process lasts a year from start to finish.

Fortunately, at least one portion of the procedure was completed. The inside lining of the colon tore, which is called a fissure. Healing a fissure is usually accomplished by injecting it with Botox, which immobilizes the muscle. The injection was not painless, but it was quickly completed, and I was allowed to remove the hospital gowns and get dressed. Prior to that, I'd had both of my legs up in stirrups, which reminds me of either childbirth or a gynecological examination, two procedures I will never actually experience for myself, thank God.   

Before I go any further, I promise that this site will never become an after school special. I'm more angry at myself than anyone else, more angry at me than bad luck or risky behavior. Though I couldn't tell you who or when, the growths that have developed are as a result of having unprotected sex with another man or with other men. I am not contagious, but my fate from here on out is to periodically need to have several growths removed at a time for the rest of my life. The next go round, minus the worst case scenario, will likely be in another five years or so. Though this is wasted energy and only keeps me upset, I must admit that my mind keeps fixating on likely culprits.

This could be much worse. No, really. I mean it. But it's always a bit unnerving when the surgeon greets you with the phrase, You're HIV-, right? The anesthesiologist, openly gay and extremely kind, was sympathetic. I appreciate living in a city where I don't have to disguise who I am with coy code words. I am fortunate to live as part of a younger generation where, as we know well, other queer men twenty years older were not as lucky. It was for that very reason, which doesn't seem very reasonable today, that I didn't insist upon my sexual partner using protection when I should have. The very act itself doesn't seem as appealing today.

I will now resume staring at the ceiling in a catatonic state under the effects of Vicodin. I've written under the effects of caffeine, nicotine, psych meds, marijuana, alcohol, but I don't think I've ever tried to put something coherent down in words while on a narcotic. That said, if I can, I will. If I can't, I'll try to have a little bit of something up here from time to time. I wasn't aware this process was going to be so time-intensive. The first part of next week is going to be a wash, just FYI.