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The Two-Faced, Sanctimonious, Festering Turd-Of-Hypocrisy I’m Not Strangling

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The real reason behind the total ban on abortion in Alabama and other backward misogynist shithole legislatures states, or so political strategists on both sides of the aisle tell us, is to set up a challenge in SCOTUS for Roe v. Wade. State legislators know their draconian laws will be struck down by state judges as unconstitutional; thus, the hoped-for trip to up the judicial ladder to SCOTUS chambers.

But so-called real reasons often leave real people and their real stories in the dustbin of history.   I will share some of those stories in this post: a series of vignettes, in no particular chronological order, from my time working in women’s reproductive health care. The stories I have from those years are legion; I’ll attempt both restraint and discretion in relating a just few of them.  [1]

The last one still blows my mind, all these years later. If I were to write it up as a short story I’m sure literary journals would reject it (“Contrived plot,” the editor’s notes might read), but trust me, I’m not a skilled enough writer to have made it up. Once again, reality trumps fiction.

TheBackground

 

From the early 1980s – 90’s I worked for a Planned Parenthood (“PP”) clinic in a SoCal county, a private OB-GYN practice in the Bay Area, and Planned Parenthood clinics in a Bay Area county.

PP clinics provided services determined by geographic need.  Example: because there were several other clinics in the county which performed abortions, the SoCal PP clinic provided a range of health care but referred patients seeking an abortion to those other clinics. Because there were few options in that same county for women needing colposcopy exams,  [2] that PP set up a colposcopy clinic, the patients mainly coming via referrals from the county public health system.

The Doctor (“Doc”) at the OB-GYN office where I worked (“The Practice”) shared the practice with a nurse practitioner (“NP”). Their patients ranged from Silicon Valley execs to welfare recipients (but skewed toward the higher end of the economic spectrum). Doc infrequently performed first trimester abortions (~ four per year), at an offsite day surgery center (he was aware that many more of his patients had abortions, but went elsewhere for the procedure). He told me he didn’t like performing them (“It’s a sad situation, all around”), but what he didn’t like even more was the idea of abandoning his patients when they needed help.

The Bay Area county PP had four clinics in the county, three of which offered abortions services, one to three mornings per week. I worked initially at the main site’s STD screening clinic,  [3]  then at their abortion (AB) clinics.

 

 

The Stories

We (The Practice’s Doc, NP, and I) developed a personal relationship  [4]  and had many interesting conversations on issues re women’s health care. Doc and NP were both staunchly pro-choice, Doc in particular due to his knowledge of what things were like before Roe v. Wade.  He told me stories about The Bad Old Days, about how (surprise!) the rich could always get safe care, no matter what. Back in the late 50s – 60s when abortion was illegal, a Japanese airline had a clandestine (but procurable, if you knew the right people) package deal: the fare included flights to and from Tokyo from West Coast airports, overnight lodging in a Tokyo hotel, and the fee for an abortion performed by a Japanese doctor. Sympathetic American doctors whose desperate patients had no safe local alternatives would refer their patients to someone, who would refer them to someone else, who would refer them to….   [5]

One of The Practice’s OB patients, after a routine exam, asked Doc if he ever performed abortions. Although it was none of her %&!$ business (and moiself wanted him to tell her so) he answered honestly, while tactfully letting her know that he would not be steered down the anti-abortion harangue road she was heading for.  After she’d left, Doc signaled to me to follow him to the office’s back room, where old/inactive patient files were kept.

As Doc searched through the files he told me about a former patient of his who’d sought an abortion, back when the procedure was illegal except for “medical reasons.” This woman had to go before a (male, of course) judge to get approval to have an abortion. Her physicians had to testify as to her mental and physical well-being, and they had lots of material: she had chronic health problems; was depressed to the point of suicide; her husband had left her and their three children…. She’d wanted to get her tubes tied after birthing her second child but could not find a doctor to do so – as per the standards of the time, hospitals would not book a sterilization surgery for a woman unless she met this weird algorithm (criteria included her age, the number of children she had, and other factors I can’t recall).  She also needed her husband’s permission for the surgery, which he’d refused.   [6]

The woman won her petition. At this point in the story Doc had found the patient’s chart, and showed me the transcript from her day in court. He snorted with disgust as he recalled how a grown-ass adult woman had to grovel and reveal highly personal information to male strangers who held power over her life.  Doc re-filed the chart, the ever-present twinkle in his eyes absent as he said, “Don’t ever let it go back to that.”

 

*   *   *

The R- PP clinic site (Bay Area) performed abortions on Friday mornings. The R-PP had two recurrent anti-abortion protesters who hung out on the sidewalk by the clinic parking lot. They were an odd pair: an older woman with an imperious air, always impeccably dressed in a woolen suit, designer handbag matching her designer pumps, her chin-length white hair sprayed into a Doris Bay-type bob, and a tall, lanky young man with wild eyes and a shock of Conan O’Brien-ish, unruly red hair. I called them Snow White and Big Red.

Dateline: A Friday am; the clinic had just opened, patients were in the waiting room filling out forms. One of the four clinic aides motioned for me and the other aides to follow her down the hallway. Looking out the clinic’s rear window, we saw “Consuela” outside, approaching Big Red.

Consuela, a native Mexican married to an American, was R-PP’s AB clinic manager. She was committed to providing reproductive care for Latinas, even as she admitted struggling with her work, due to her harsh Catholic upbringing. Consuela was kind and sweet-tempered, admired by PP’s staff and beloved by PP’s Latina patients, about whom she would tolerantly (but never patronizingly) educate us “white girl” clinic aides. She told us about the vagaries of the male-dominated culture Latina women had to endure, and the stories of her patients who’d had a horrifyingly experience common to impoverished Latinas entering the US were truly heartbreaking. The template: a woman’s husband summoned her to join him in the US after he’d found a job. He’d wired money to pay a coyote  [7] to escort her across the border, and during the journey the coyote raped her. Coyotes often assaulted women and girls with impunity and threatened their lives, knowing they’d be too frightened to tell the authorities or their husbands (sadly, Consuela said, even loving husbands were steeped in their culture’s machismo code, which cast a wife’s rape as a stain upon her husband’s honor…or as a cover for an affair).

Consuela would be in a certain mood I learned to identify – anger muted by melancholy – after working with a woman impregnated by coyote-rape. I often saw her, as her patient was leaving the clinic, slip the patient some money (“For bus fare,” Consuela would whisper in Spanish).   [8]

Back to the sidewalk: Sweet, warm Consuela was also very, very shy. Thus, we (her fellow clinicians, staring out the window) were amazed to see her approach Big Red, speak to him for a few minutes, return to the clinic…and holy crap, Big Red is leaving the parking lot! When the clinic was finished (~ 1 pm) Consuela told me what she’d said to him (paraphrased here):

I know you are here because you think you are doing good, but there is something you need to know. Three weeks ago, there was a no-show at our clinic – that older Latina woman you thought you had talked out of having an abortion. Actually, she left when you confronted her because she was afraid of you; she speaks only a little English, and didn’t understand everything you had to say, only that you were a stranger, who knew nothing about her, trying to intimidate her into not having an abortion.  She returned last week and had the procedure.

She may be poor and illiterate, but she is not stupid. When a woman makes such an important decision she considers all her options, and when she makes up her mind she is going to do whatever it takes.  All you did was make her wait another two weeks; she had to be sick and stressed and distraught for another two weeks. That may not have been your intention, but that is what happened. You caused even more grief for her.

For several weeks after Consuela spoke to Big Red, Snow White was the lone protester outside the R-PP clinic.

*   *   *

I’m glad those days (when abortion was illegal) are passed. But I fear the younger generations have no memories of what happened and take their rights for granted, and those of us who lived in those times are dying out, and our stories will die with us.
(paraphrased, from a conversation with Samuel Greenberg, M.D., PP-M physician)

Dr. Greenberg was an older gentleman, retired from his longtime OB-GYN practice, who worked several days a week at the PP main site (“PP-M”). “Dr. G” was the doctor I most often worked with at PP, and I came to admire his expertise, experience, humor, and compassion.

We talked often; Dr. G was concerned that when he and his peers died there’d be no one left to tell about The Bad Old Days, and that people might forget….  Sound familiar? Like many Jews of his age, he’d lost loved ones to the WWII concentration camps. His family’s experiences as Jews in non-Jewish cultures was one of the reasons, he said, he felt so strongly about his work at PP  –– he knew first-hand what can happen when people have their rights abridged by those of differing beliefs.

When Dr. G was a young doctor in the 1950s, doing his OB-GYN residency rotations in two different urban Catholic hospitals, he saw and treated many women who showed up in a the hospitals’ ERs, gravely ill and/or dying from botched illegal or self-induced abortions. Yet he never *once* saw the attending physicians list complications from illegal abortion as the cause of death for a patient who had indeed died from that.  On one such occasion, when Dr. G had the unhappy task of writing the “cause of death” on the patient’s chart, he challenged the doctor in charge who’d instructed Dr. G to write that the patient died of sepsis from an incomplete miscarriage. But, that’s a lie! Dr. G protested. – How can we, as doctors, lie about such a thing – people need to know, and the public health statistics will never reflect the reality…

Dr. G’s boss grabbed Dr. G by the elbow and steered him to the ER waiting room, pointing toward a sofa where the dead patient’s bereft husband and children sat.  He then led Dr. G to an empty hallway and spoke to him, privately and sternly, about the hospital’s non-official policy re reporting abortion-related deaths:  This is a Catholic hospital, with a mostly Catholic clientele. The truth will only bring further anguish, and shame, to a grieving family; also, since abortion is illegal, the police will have to be notified, and the hospital does not want its staff to get dragged into criminal investigations….

I will never forget the patience and kindness Dr. G showed toward all of the women we saw in the clinic, but in particular, to one recovering heroin addict.  Like most addicts, she was hypersensitive to pain, and howled as if she’d been stabbed when I did a simple finger prick blood test to check her iron level. She’d asked for additional analgesics for her procedure, which less than 5% of patients requested and which the doctor had to approve and then administer intravenously. Due to her years of junkiedom, Dr. G couldn’t find a usable vein to inject the medication.  I waited with an impatience I tried not to show, thinking thoughts for which I was later ashamed (What a whining wimp – suck it up lady, this is all from your own doing… you’ll be out of here in 10 minutes, and nobody else begs for drugs….), while Dr. G searched and searched, and searched again, and finally found a usable spot between her toes. After her surgery Dr. G spent additional time with her, holding her hand and encouraging her not to get down on herself or let this be another setback on her road to healing and sobriety.

*   *   *

In the PP clinics I saw a variety of women, from a wealthy Señora from Guadalajara whose IUD “slipped” while she and he husband were vacationing in the US, to a mother of four, in her late 40s and going through a bitter divorce (who’d had been told by a doctor that she’d gone through early menopause and couldn’t get pregnant), to the proverbial teenage girls who seem as if they can get pregnant just by standing downwind from a boy.

As per the coyote story,  rape/incest victims were the saddest cases to see. Those included a preteen holding onto her mother with one hand and her stuffed animal with her other hand (accompanied by a police escort, to retrieve “evidence’ of the assault, evidence they hoped to use to prosecute the family member who’d raped the girl); a woman forcibly impregnated by her estranged, abusive husband (she was told  [9] by a police officer that she couldn’t press rape charges because she was still married to her rapist), girls abused by their brothers/cousins/stepfathers/mom’s “new friend”/youth pastors….

And then there were those who’d been assaulted by non-related acquaintances – scenarios given a term I despise for its downplaying of the trauma it inflicts:  Date rape.

During a patient’s intake procedure we reviewed her medical history, and one of the questions we asked was, What kind of contraception were you using when you became pregnant? That question was not posed to known rape victims, and was a particularly cutting one to hear for sexual assault victims who’d not yet told anyone what had happened to them.  One patient, her tough chick attitude failing to mask her nervousness, threw her hands up in the air and laughed bitterly when I asked that question. Nothing; I was using nothing!  Can you believe that the guy my friend set me up with, the guy who choked me until I passed out, didn’t have the decency to put on a condom before he raped me?!   [10] 

*   *   *

Big Bad Wolves are not always so obvious, Little Red Riding Hood.

 

She was not my patient; I’d finished my first intake and was on my way to place my patient’s chart in the surgical queue. She stood in the hallway outside the clinic’s bathroom, holding her urine sample cup, fidgeting in a way I’d come to recognize as a woman trying to convince herself to pee when she didn’t have to go. She was dressed like a 1950s secretary, with a pleated plaid skirt and a faded, rose red cardigan sweater. She looked sweetly anachronistic, nervous, and shy.

“Let me guess,” I pointed toward the empty cup she held.  “It seems like you have to go every five minutes, then when you need to go, you can’t?”

Exactly!  She flashed me a puppy-eyed look of gratitude. Kelly, my, uh, intake lady, left me here; she needed to talk with a nurse or something.  It might take awhile before I can… she looked askance at the empty cup in her hand. I shouldn’t have gone at my mom’s, before we came here.

I offered to get her a glass of water, and as I walked her back to her intake room she told me how out of place she felt.  I can tell I’m the oldest girl here. It’s so embarrassing. She lowered her voice. I’m twenty-seven.

“I’m thirty-one,” I said. “I win!”

She blushed, and told me she hadn’t meant the age of the staff, but rather “the girls” she’s seen in the waiting room, whom she assumed were, like her, there for an abortion, but unlike her, were probably not virgins… I mean, were virgins, until….

I stopped before entering the intake room, where her mother sat.  Sweet Twenty-Seven-Year-Old-Former-Virgin looked at me imploringly. Can you come in and talk with me?

I said I’d love to, and asked if it would be okay to talk in front of her mother.  She assured me it was.  I sat down with the two of them, and STSYOFV began to spill her guts. 

STSYOFV had flown out from Kentucky, where she’d gone to college and where she lived now. Her mother was helping out, paying for the abortion –  STSYOFV didn’t want to have it done where she lived, in case any of her friends and especially her church friends found out…well, I  really don’t have any friends besides church friends…

As STSYOFV told it, her  life revolved around an evangelical church where she was a member of the choir. STSYOFV ‘s mother discretely shook her head and gave me a look.

STSYOFV said she loved choral music; her church choir met for practice several times a week…and what they would think of me, if they knew where I was now.  I know what I’m doing is wrong in their sight, but my they’d disown me if I was pregnant out of wedlock and I know all my options and everyone here is so nice about reminding me but I wish they’d stop asking I don’t need adoption or pregnancy referrals I know what I’m doing and I can’t bear being pregnant it would destroy me and how could I be was so stupid and ignorant and naïve to stay a virgin until 27 and then get pregnant the first and only time…I feel felt guilty but I’m going to do it anyways, I tried a few home remedies, even thought if I threw myself down the stairs…

My eyes widened at the remark, and STSYOFV’s mother gasped. STSYOFV assured us both that she’d chickened out; I made her laugh when I told her that a miscarriage caused by falling down the stairs only happens in the movies.

Lawdy, Miss Scarlett!

 

My eyes flitted back and forth, from STSYOFV to her mother, who mostly remained silent while her daughter talked.  The mother’s unwavering love for STSYOFV was evident to me, as was her disapproval of the church her daughter had gotten involved with.

STSYOFV said she hadn’t even intended to have sex… I hope god will forgive me but I am going to do this, or if he can’t forgive me, at least I hope he won’t hate me.   If they only knew…they all think I’m a nice person….

“Then that’s one thing they’re right about – you are a nice person.” I placed my hand over STSYOFV’s. She grasped my hand with both of hers, her eyes moist with gratitude. Although a (closeted, at that time) non-believer, I attended a liberal Christian church, and knew what STSYOFV needed to hear. I assured her that her god, that no one, could ever hate her.

STSYOFV smiled at me through her tears. I wish you would be doing my intake, and be with me during the procedure. Kelly is nice, but she’s so young.

Actually, Kelly is 26, I thought to myself.  I also thought about how STSYOFV, with her gentle, desperate naivete and high voice, seems like a 12 year-old in a 27 year-old’s body.

I told STSYOFV I had another patient to help, but promised I’d check on her after her procedure. She hugged me, and said she’d like that.

STSYOFV was the last patient to see the doctor, and when she was out of the recovery room she, her mother and I had a heartfelt conversation before they left the clinic. I assured STSYOFV re how much she had going for her – she was young, strong- spirited and good-hearted, with a wonderful mother who loved and supported her…

She is the best. STSYOFV gazed lovingly at her mother. And she says she won’t let me pay her back, for lending me money for the plane tickets and everything.

“Speaking of which…” I hesitated. “What about the guy who got you pregnant? Why isn’t he helping you with this, or at least paying?”

Oh, no, that would ruin him. STSYOFV shook her head, sadly yet vehemently.  While her mother’s mama bear eyes blazed with rage on behalf of her daughter, STSYOFV told me that the man who’d seduced her was her choir director. He was older, married and with children, and active in the church’s pro-life demonstrations. When she went to him with news of her pregnancy he warned her to not to tell anyone, and told her to “take care of it,” and so STSYOFV had swallowed her pride and telephoned her mother….

*   *   *

Department Of This One Takes The Cake
Aka If I Hadn’t Seen It With My Own Eyes….

I lost track of how many times an AB clinic patient laughed and said, “Until it happened to me, I was against abortion. That” – the patient would indicate the clinic’s entrance, referring to the protesters outside – “might have been me a couple of months ago.” I’d smile, say, “We hear that a lot,” and do my best not to reveal that I didn’t find her admission – that she’d have supported taking away other women’s autonomy until “it” happened to her –  to be amusing.

PP-M had a semi-regular group of protesters who demonstrated outside the clinic’s front entrance. (I never saw them; I parked in the employee lot at the back of the clinic and entered and left through the back door.) Other PP-M employees became quite familiar with the protesters, who were part of some Catholic group led by a perky blond in her mid-thirties. The Vice President (“Veep”) of PP-M went out of her way to befriend the protesters. Veep was an ex-Catholic, and would go outside and chat with the protesters during her coffee breaks, sometimes joining them in reciting The Rosary. On sweltering summer days Veep carried cups of water out to the protesters – one day she even brought them lemonade – and on more than one cold winter morning I heard a fellow clinic aide good-naturedly grouse about how She ( meaning, Veep) is out there, serving them hot cocoa, can you believe it?

Dateline: one memorable Monday, ~ 8 am, at the PP-M AB clinic. As I reached for the first chart in the intake pile, “Cindy,” the clinic’s assistant manager, whisked the chart out of my hand. “I don’t believe this,” Cindy hissed. She motioned for me to follow her to the reception office, where she and the receptionist stared through the  bullet-and-sound-proof plate glass window to the waiting room, and traded incredulous remarks back and forth:

I don’t believe it – can you believe it? That can’t be her…no, it is her…this is got to be a joke…a plant…a set up…no – look at the chart, it is!….

I asked, What’s up? Cindy told me that Perky Blonde Anti-Abortion Protest Leader was in the waiting area, with her 15 year old daughter, whom she’d brought in for an abortion.

I am doing this intake,” Cindy announced. As her WTF ?!?!  expression morphed into that of Compassionate Health Care Worker, she opened the door to the waiting area and called PBAAPL and her daughter back to an intake room.

It was a busy morning; I didn’t get to talk with Cindy until after the clinic was over, when all four of us clinic aides gathered around Cindy to ask, What the heck….?  Cindy told us that she’d started the intake as usual – she led PBAAPLW and her daughter back to a private intake room, then asked the daughter to give a urine specimen. While the daughter was in the bathroom, Cindy introduced herself to PBAAPL, and the following conversation (paraphrased) ensued:

Cindy: I need to tell you something. I recognize you, from the protesters outside. If this makes you or your daughter uncomfortable, you can request another…

PBAAPL:  Oh no; thank you. You’ll be fine.

Cindy: Okay. Uh…now I’m speaking for me, personally, not on behalf of Planned Parenthood.  I can’t help but wonder, what are you doing here?

PBAAPL:  Well, my daughter got in trouble, you know?  And you people here are all so nice, I knew you’d take good care of her.

Imagine, if you will, the sound of four jaws simultaneously dropping to the clinic’s tile floor.

PBAAPL skipped the protests for the next two weeks (there were a few demonstrators who showed up, and only for one day, during PBAAPL’s absence). After she brought her daughter in for the girl’s post surgery exam, PBAAPL returned to leading the protests, trying to deny other women’s daughters the “good care” she’d sought for her own.

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [11]

 The excursion returns next week, having been temporarily grounded this week, due to the appetite-quashing political upheavals which prompted this post.

*   *   *

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1]  We didn’t have HIPAA laws then; still, I’ve altered all names and a few geographical details for privacy’s sake.

[2] A colposcopy is a procedure to closely examine a woman’s cervix for signs of disease, using a special instrument (colposcope). The procedure is most often done due to the woman having an abnormal pap smear, and may be followed by a cervical biopsy.

[3] I worked primarily at two PP clinics  in the county, and twice at a third PP clinic.

[4] Which continued after I left the practice and which exists to this day.

[5] I later heard about this same service from another doctor who was Doc’s age.

[6] Yep, that’s right – he knocked her up a third time, and then abandoned her and their children.

[7] A coyote is a man who makes a living smuggling migrants across the US-Mexico border.

[8] Consuela and her husband ( who was still in college) were far from wealthy, and had two children of their own to support. It probably violated some kind of clinic policy to give money, even your own, voluntarily, to patients; I always saw her look around furtively when she did so.

[9] Erroneously, I believe, although I don’t know the status of the marital rape laws in California at that time.

[10] I stopped the intake immediately and got the patient to speak with someone from PP’s counseling/education department. She was over 18; we couldn’t force her to go to the police, and she refused our advice to do so (she said she’d known someone that had the same thing happen and “was raped again by the cops” (i.e. they didn’t believe her ). After her procedure we set her up with referrals for individual counseling and a rape crisis center…I have no idea if she ever followed through with those contacts.

[11] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.

The Definition I’m Not Making Up

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Department Of They Gave You A What?

Last week marked MH’s 25 years with The Company That Shall Not Be Named Right Now. Twenty-five years. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around that, until I look in front of me and to my left. Hanging from the walls of our home office are just some of the framed awards for product design and launching, and plaques for the patents MH and fellow various team members hold.[1]  I read the dates…yep…it’s been that long.

When MH had been with TCTSNBNRN for five years, his then-manager took MH’s entire work group out to a Very nice restaurant © for lunch. For this auspicious occasion – a quarter of a century of creativity, loyalty, [2] diligent, sometimes family-life sacrificing or altering work – MH’s now-manager provided cupcakes for the work group, and a cake for MH.

From Safeway.

A single layer, 7 inch diameter, $8.99 cake. [3]

 

No, Martha, it's not.

No, Martha, it’s not.

 

Can you say, appreciation-fail, boys and girls?  I knew you could.

MH stayed up late last Sunday, baking a double batch of his family specialty: kringle, Norwegian pretzel-shaped buttermilk cookies. On Monday he emailed every person in the company (well, those who are still with TCTSNBNRN) with whom he’d worked over the years, thanked them for their help and camaraderie, and invited them to stop by his workstation so that he could thank them personally and share some cookies.

I’m thinking, How sweet that is! How classy is that?  – thoughts I hope will, eventually, push Twenty-five years and they gave you a !#?@% cake?!?! out of my mind.

 

kringle

*   *   *

Department of I Lie Because I Say I Care (But Still, I Lie)

Many centers across the country provide what mainstream medical experts say are misleading accounts of rare abortion complications, and of disproved longer-term effects….. at least one brochure in the facility flatly says that abortion causes “an increased risk of breast, cervical and ovarian cancer.” …. But the National Cancer Institute states that “women who have had an induced abortion have the same risk of breast cancer as other women,” and that abortion has not been linked to other cancers, either.
(from the front page article, Pregnancy Clinics Fight For Right to Deny Abortion Information, NY Times 2-11-16)

CPCs (“crisis pregnancy centers”) have been prevaricating their asses off for as long as they have been in existence. When I worked at Planned Parenthood I was both amused and astonished at the stories I heard from women who had visited a CPC, about what had been presented to them as factual information. [4]

My favorite such story: Rachel [5] was told by a CPC “counselor” that during a physical exam a doctor could tell just by looking at a woman’s cervix if a woman had ever had an abortion (lie #1), and thus, because most doctors are adamantly opposed to abortion (lie #2) if Rachel had an abortion, for the rest of her life doctors could refuse to treat her (lie #3) or, even if Rachel found a doctor who deigned to see her as a patient, that doctor would give Rachel substandard care (lie #4).

Four whoppers in one sentence – that’s gotta be the record for a non-politician.

I’ve long considered the Right to Life moniker to be a misnomer. The removal of just one consonant would reveal their justification of their zealotry: Right to Life = Right to Lie.

*   *   *

WTF Spock

 

TWENTY FIVE YEARS AND HE GETS A FUCKING CAKE.

 

*   *   *

Yesterday was the seventh anniversary of the death of “Chet-the-Jet,” my beloved father.  Back in September, when we were discussing the passing of MH’s father, my friend SCM remarked about how it was a milestone event for our family: the first time our son K and daughter Belle had to deal with the death of a grandparent.

Uh, actually, I reminded her….

SCM was horrified by her omission (I wasn’t). It was an honest and completely understandable mistake, as per this comment she made when she apologized. I found her observation quite touching:

You speak of him so often, it’s as if he’s still alive.

 

May 1978, Chet Parnell, celebrating his and Marion's 25th wedding anniversary.

May 1978, Chet Parnell, celebrating his and Marion’s 25th wedding anniversary.

 

*   *   *

angryman

 

TWENTY FIVE YEARS AND HE GETS A FUCKING CAKE. AT LEAST YOUR FATHER GOT A TROPHY.

 

 

*   *   *

Happy Year of the Monkey

monkey-year_3551486a

 

I find it suitable that I was born in a Year of the Monkey, as You little monkey! was one of several endearments my father bestowed upon moiself, his second-born child.

At my Qigong class this week, someone posed a question about the lunar zodiac calendar: What does it mean, to be born in the year of the monkey? I told her I could ask my SIL, who is Chinese, who’d likely say, “Nothing; it doesn’t mean a thing. It’s a superstition.”

From what I know of my brother’s delightful wife, she holds no superstitions – not those from her country of birth, nor those of her adopted country. She does, however, honor and acknowledge celebrations of culture. Thus, when I emailed her Gung Hay Fat Choi wishes on Monday, she winkingly told me that wearing red would ensure good luck during the coming year.

On Monday I did indeed wear red. I also visited Uwajimaya, my favorite Asian supermarket, and returned home with the fixings for a Lunar New Year dinner: veggie spring rolls; cucumber peanut salad; hot and sour fish ball soup…and this Indonesian snack, from a company whose marketing department needs a translation lesson.

 

titi

*   *   *

 

TWENTY FIVE YEARS AND HE GETS A FUCKING CAKE.

 

sob

*   *   *

Happy Darwin Day!

Today, February 12, we honor one of the greatest scientists ever, Charles R. Darwin (Feb 12, 1809 – April 18, 1882).

 

Yeah, thanks, but over one hundred and thirty years dead and I don't even get a cake?

Yeah, thanks, but over one hundred and thirty years dead and I don’t even get a cake?

*   *   *

 

The story I’m currently working on involves a character who regularly thumbs through an actual (vs. online) dictionary. Thus, I am doing the same, an activity which brought back a fond memory.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, MH [6] lived in San Jose and I in Palo Alto. One weekend fairly early on in our dating relationship, MH hosted a game night at his apartment. MH and I and a group of about eight friends were playing a word game called Fictionary. [7]   When it was my turn be to Selector (the player who provides an obscure word for which the other players would have to make up a definition), I opened MH’s dictionary to a random page, and was immediately struck by the top of the page heading – you know, the one in a dictionary which lists the first/last words on the page:

blowjob/bluff

Now, I can’t honestly remember what the second word was, but I’ll never forget that the first word was blowjob. And, of course, I had to share my discovery with the other players – most of whom, as I seem to recall, were from our church’s young adults social group. [8]

 

dictionary

 

MH, who hitherto had no knowledge of that page’s heading, seemed mildly embarrassed that he was in possession of what I subsequently and for all eternity referred to as The Blowjob Dictionary. Or perhaps his embarrassment came from the fact that his girlfriend couldn’t stop pointing this out to anyone who would listen.

Blowjob?!  At the top of the page?! “Blowjob” is at the top of the page and no editor or publisher caught it? You have a BJ dictionary [9] This is amazing…a mild-mannered engineer with a Blowjob dictionary, who knew?!  No, I am so not making this up – look, it’s right here, it says, blowjob….

Reader, he married me.

 

*   *   *

 

TWENTY FIVE YEARS AND HE GETS A FUCKING CAKE.

 

Of course, it could have been worse (or better, depending on your POV). He could have received a package of

 

titi2

*   *   *

May your significant anniversaries and accomplishments receive worthy acknowledgements;
May the calendar and lunar year bring you health and happiness (and interestingly titled snack foods),
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

 

[1] The framed awards ones having to do with microprocessor design are like works of art.

[2] He has been head-hunted over the years, by other companies.

[3] Yes, the price tag is prominently displayed on the plastic cover

[4] Other equally horrific/entertaining stories came from my fellow PP clinic workers, several of whom had undertaken to do their own “undercover” sessions by going to a CPC and pretending to be pregnant, to experience firsthand what kind of (dis) information they would receive.

[5] Pseudonym.

[6] MH, as regular readers of this blog know, stands for My Husband, who of course was not in fact my husband at the time of this incident, but the privacy acronym stands.

[7]  Fictionary is a game in which players guess the definition of an obscure word. One player selects and announces a word from a dictionary. After the other players confirm that they indeed are not familiar with the word, they each make up a fake definition for it, while the Selector writes down the dictionary definition. The Selector collects the fake definitions, reads all definitions aloud, and players vote on which definition they believe to be correct. Points are awarded for correct guesses, for having a fake definition guessed by another player.

[8] Yes, happy heathens MH and I met at a Lutheran church. Now, there’s  a story for another time.

[9] Actually, I think it may have been American heritage?  I wish I could remember the name and the edition…I’d pay good money for that one…which for some reason never made it the the marital assets, when we combined households.

The Spanish Class I’m Not Taking

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There is no I in quitter.

Turns out, there is.

¿Come se dice Homework sucks en español?

Guess I’ll never know, unless I look it up myself. On Monday I dis-enrolled moiself from the Spanish class I’d so been looking forward to.

 

REALLY

 

Yes, really.

I’d been a little put off by the cancellation-without-notice of the class’s first meeting, (mentioned in a previous post), an incident which, on the second meeting of the class, [1]  la professora seemed not at all concerned about, even after several of us told her we had showed up to an empty, dark classroom. [2] But hey, okay, no big deal in the whole scope of things, right?

I was also a bit put off when la professor told her estudiantes that she was not fond of the textbook for the course, a book we had all purchased as instructed (a book that was, what, assigned for her class against her will?). What was the point of mentioning that?

I liked the other students in the class just fine and dandy. [3]  And then it came time to do the homework assignments.

Something in me balked. I did not find the assignments difficult; in fact, I was encouraged – given that I’d enrolled in an “accelerated” beginner’s class – by how much of the material was familiar to me. But…I… just….

 

 

homework

 

 

I found myself reacting as if it were one of those committee meetings I so loath.

Homework.

Been there; done that, for sixteen years, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away…

Why again, I asked moiself, am I taking this class?  And why am I still typing moiself instead of mi mismo if I am supposedly interested in improving my español?

*   *   *

Department Of That Is So Not The Correct Response

Whilst using the self-checkout line at the local grocery store, the sopping wet bunch of scallions I’d picked up from the store’s why-do-they-spray-the-vegetables-every-five-seconds produce section leaked through my reusable bag. Water dripped all over the scale, and this apparently/somehow obscured the scanning device. I turned to face the clerk’s station which was right behind me, the station manned by the exceedingly tall, dull-eyed, slack-jawed lucky employee whose job it is to oversee the store’s self-checkout lines.

“Hello/Excuse me.” I smiled my best, Affable Customer Needs Assistance ® smile.  “One of my produce bags leaked water all over the scale. I’m unable to scan my last item, and….”

The clerk said, “Okay.”

Okay?

That was it. He said it somewhat expectantly, as if he were waiting for me to finish a not-very-funny joke.

I paused, awaiting the offer of assistance that was not forthcoming. I restated my dilemma, more succinctly the second time, and received a blank stare in response. I tried a third recitation of the situation, this time pointing toward the roll of paper towels at the clerk’s station, paper towels which are there to – wait for it – wipe the scales. [4]  He grabbed the roll, shuffled over to my checkout station and slooooooooooooowly wiped off the scale,[5] all the while shooting me several  Why are you telling me this? glances.

Silly moiself. Why did I tell the guy whose job it is to help the self-checkout stations that I needed  help with a self-checkout station? WTF, dude, I just decided to share this with you because I’m having a lonely night.

 

grocery

*   *   *

Department Of Sushi Politics

MH and I had a lovely sushi lunch last Friday, with two administrators (the President/CEO and Chief Development Officer) from the local Planned Parenthood chapter, who wanted to thank MH and I personally for our year end donation, and pick our minds about our history of supporting the organization, etc.

We’ve supported PP [6] at both the local and national level for years, although I removed the national organization from my donation list many years back, [7] a story I got to share with the PP Ladies. And although I am so grateful for the services PP provides to the community, I also shared my disappointment [8] with the decision by the political wing of the National PP organization to break a long-standing tradition of neutrality to endorse a presidential candidate during the primary races.

The PP Prez made an articulate, well-reasoned and passionate case for the national PP board’s endorsement – a decision I found not surprising and certainly understandable in these trying times for supporters of reproductive freedom. Still, I agreed to disagree with the endorsement, in part due to the story I’m about to share with y’all.

Another long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I worked for Planned Parenthood of San Mateo County (CA). One morning at the beginning of my shift, as I walked down the hallway which led from the PP building parking lot through the administrative offices, I was greeted by PPSMC’s vice-president. The Veep was on her way to the employee break room for her morning coffee, and her attention was caught by the button I’d affixed to the strap of my purse:

 

lobotomy

 

Veep flashed me a wicked, I-am-so-going-to-love-this smile and asked,

Do you think I should have a lobotomy?

Gulp.  Uh, no, ma’am.

Turns out PP Veep was a longtime Republican, and as she accompanied me to the clinic wing of the building she treated me to a PP history lesson. She pointed to the pictures of the clinic’s founders and major financial sponsors, pictures which hung in the hallway I’d traversed every day I came to work – pictures I heretofore had given nary a second glance as they all seemed at first glance (to moiself) to be a bunch of “old folks” who looked like they could have been the disgruntled bridge partners of my Aunt Erva.

 

Of course I support your reproductive choices. But if you choose to bid one heart again I'm going to kick your ass.

I support your reproductive choices. But if you choose to bid one heart again I’m gonna choose to kick your ass.

 

The majority of the clinic’s founding donors were political conservatives and/or Republicans who, the Veep explained to me, had the highest respect for PP’s mission statement – that the family is the bedrock unit of society; thus, the ability to plan one’s family is a fundamental and most personal decision that should be free of governmental interference – and that that was the true conservative’s position, and anything I’d heard to the contrary was the result of political and religious fanatics hijacking the authentic….

You get the picture.

And I got the button off my purse strap. [9]

My dear and recently departed FIL was a staunch Republican, who made it a point over the years to tell MH and I how he’d consistently (and successfully) fought to procure and maintain the donations to PP from the many charitable foundations on whose boards he’d served. He and my MIL – pro-choice Republicans [10] – might seem to be an endangered species, but I know there are more of them are out there.

Again, I get PP’s decision. The current crop of Republican presidential candidates is particularly dismal, and it’s been a tough political row to hoe for the pro-choice movement.

But, it’s been that way for a loooooong time. Fiscally conservative/socially progressive Republicans who are teetering about their loyalties…I fear the endorsement of Clinton by PP might just be the “nudge” to get those R’s thinking that they have to choose sides once and for all on this issue, and that the fanatics are correct – only those liberals support reproductive freedom.

  *   *   *

Department Of Object Lessons

I follow the blog Epiphenom: The Science of Religion and Non-Belief. The blog came about as per its author’s curiosity regarding…I’ll let him tell you in his own words:

Hi, my name’s Tom Rees I want to know why some people believe in gods, and what the psychological and social consequences of those beliefs are. I read the research, and when I find something juicy I write it up and post it here!
I’ve been blogging on the psychology of religions belief (and non-belief) since 2008 – this blog has its origins in a paper I wrote published in 2009 on the link between personal insecurity and religious belief. I’m a medical writer by profession, and have a PhD in biotechnology.

A recent post on the Epiphenom blog is worth a look for all you Freethinkers, or anyone, no matter how you label yourself, who is concerned re the influence of religion on education.

The world’s first scientific renaissance took place not in Italy, but in the Arab world…
Which makes it all the stranger that modern Islamic nations have such a lamentable record in science. Where did it all go wrong?
(from How Religious Schools Led to the Decline of Arabic Science, Epiphenom, 1-14-16)

As per the following excerpts (from the same post), replace Sunni revival with Evangelical or Conservative Christian…and feel free to shudder away.

And once religious traditionalists took control of the education system, they shut down most lines of scientific inquiry. Not only were there fewer scientific works after the Sunni Revival took hold, but those that were produced in were cited less often – indicating that they had less impact on other scholars….. So, this is a simple case of power and control. Once the Sunnis became dominant, they clamped down on any potential challenges to their authority. And that included rational inquiry – dealing a fatal blow to the region and causing lasting damage that persists to this day.

Christianity vs. Science

*   *   *

 

Okay. Enough with the Serious Stuff © .

Department of Morning Surprises

Oh, crap, no!

I espied a suspicious dark blob on the floor by the kitchen table and dropped to my knees for further inspection.

What is it? MH asked cautiously.

We both feared another thinking-outside-the-box incident, for which one of our cats is notorious. Instead it was only (and oddly) the top of a jalapeño – a trimming from the previous night’s dinner – which had somehow escaped from its (intended) journey from the kitchen counter to the compost bin.

MH recoiled reflexively as I dangled the so-relieved-it-is-not-a-cat-turd object in front of his face.

“It’s a jala-poo-ño,” he declared.

 

jalapoo

*   *   *

May your mornings bring only pleasant surprises;
May your requests for assistance bring only appropriate responses;
May you enjoy a realization of freedom that is one of the few unmitigated pleasures of aging (hey, I don’t have to do this thing if I don’t want to!);
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Uh, which was then actually the first day of the class.

[2] A simple, vaguely apologetic, Oh, how inconvenient for you, would have sufficed.

[3] And in age-reporting fairness, as per my being the youngest in the other class I’m taking (which I mentioned in last week’s post), I’d estimate I was one of the two oldest in the Spanish class.

[4] I have seen other clerks do this. I have seen, and I have believed that it is possible.

[5] It took three paper towels. That store believes in soaking their scallions, lemme tellya.

[6] Translate: yearly $$ donations.

[7] Due to my dissatisfaction with their non-response to my repeated, reasonable and well-stated concerns re their constant dunning for membership dues. Someone’s yearly membership is not “in desperate need” of renewal eleven months before the expiration date.

[8] I’m pissed off, I believe, is the genteel expression I employed.

[9] I still wore it. Just not to work.

[10] At least, ones willing to be vocal about it.

The Blog Post I’m Not Occupying

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Occupy The Antis

No, not the Aunties....

No, not the Aunties….

 

Antis, as in, anti-choice protesters. As in, the ones at Portland’s Lovejoy Surgicenter

One week ago today, after dropping off her daughter at Audubon Camp, SCM [1] drove past the Lovejoy Clinic on her way back to what was going to be a productive work day at home…until the product turned out to be not what she’d planned. She saw a small but visibly determined group of anti-choice protesters occupying the sidewalks around the clinic entrance, a sight which frosted her butt and prompted her to call moiself.

The possibility of protesting anti-choice protesters was something SCM and I tossed about many months ago, when she’d mentioned that she sometimes saw anti-abortion demonstraters outside the clinic. I had never seen protesters outside of Lovejoy, [2] but told SCM if she ever wanted to offer some spontaneous support to the clinic, I’d be there if I could.

Dateline: last Friday am. My phone rang (??? What? A phone call – no text?), and it was SCM. There were protesters in the sidewalk outside Lovejoy, she was stopping at a nearby office supply store for poster board and Sharpies, and did I want to join her?

Within 35-40 minutes I

–  changed out of my workout clothes [3]
– dismissed my computer reminders (the list of things I was supposed to be doing)

– found sign-substitute paper (alas, no poster board) in my daughter’s art stash
-hastily scribbled three signs
– drove to the corner of NE 25th & Lovejoy.

For the next couple of hours, SCM and I, according to a supportive passerby, “Occupied the protest.”

SCM told me over the phone that two of the protesters were holding signs which read Women Need Support Not Abortion. Therefore, one of my signs had to be

 

support

 

Our counterprotest was more…fun…than I’d thought it would be.  SCM and I had nice time people-watching and conversing on a variety of subjects, despite the periodic interruptions by the Antis, who just had to try to witness to us, every ten minutes. (Really – they were quite regular. I think they used an egg timer).

The Antis were a small group, totaling maybe seven white bodies: four or five women ranging in age from late twenties to sixties, and two middle-aged men. The men patrolled further up the corner sidewalks and seemed to be keeping “lookout.” The womenfolk took turns holding signs, and one of them playing pointman, trying to engage anyone entering the clinic. [4]

I’d had previous experience with anti-choice protesters, when I worked at three different Planned Parenthood clinics in the [5] Bay Area. Those encounters were sporadic and mostly benign. The Lovejoy Antis were not using the Bat-Shit Crazy Screaming Fundy ® approach;  instead, they followed the glowing smile, “You are beautiful – don’t you know you are beautiful…may I ask you/show you something?” method of chat chumming, and Pointman Woman complimented my posters:

Pointman Woman: “Your signs are so funny!”
Moiself: “And yours are so boring!”

I felt my pulse rate gallop the first time one of the Lovejoy Antis tried to start up a dialog with me. Despite their outward, assertively serene manner, I knew what those people were and are: fanatics who believe they are doing their god’s work by invading other people’s private business. Which makes them crazies, IMHO. And in the  Good Ole U.S.A. , everyone with a pulse – including and especially the crazies – has access to guns.

My pulse, however, quickly realized it had gotten a workout for naught, and returned to normal. Turns out the only weapons the Antis were packing were the verbal and intellectual gaffes with which they shot themselves in their own feet. [6] 

footshot

 

҉    Things I Learned While Occupying the Antis    ☼

* The four way stop sign intersection at 25th and Lovejoy is a dicey spot for cyclists and pedestrians. Yo, wealthy NW Portlanders: stop signs mean drivers are supposed to stop, y’all, not cruise through while checking your reflection in the mirror of your Mercedes SL convertibles (admittedly, you who occupied them did look fabulous) or dictating some jive-ass drivel into your burnt orange Blackberrys.

*  It was almost too much fun to watch SCM school the Antis on American religion; i.e., Pilgrim and Puritan and immigrant European (redundant, that) Christian theology and history. We hadn’t planned on speaking with the protesters and did not initiate conversation, but they would make some asinine comment that begged for clarification…and they were not prepared for how incisively intelligent SCM is (and how ignorant they sounded).

* I almost completely underestimated the entertainment value of watching passing automobile riders’ lips move as they tried to read SCM’s and my signs.

* After said lip-readings we received bemused looks and thumbs up, and some rolled down windows and Right on! s – from drivers who showed down and/or stopped long enough at the intersection to read our signs.

 

make that, NOT

make that, NOT

 

* We also received a couple of, er, favorite finger salutes, from a couple of male drivers who drove as quickly as they could through the intersection without even glancing at our signs. When I heard a few choice epithets [7] one of the bird-flippers tossed along with his finger, I realized that he and others like him, who probably drive through that intersection regularly, to and from work or whatever,, and didn’t even bother to look at SCM’s and my signs, assumed we were with them  (the Antis).  Thus, the next time I engage in such a venture, for clarity’s sake one of my signs may be a variation of the classic t-shirt message: I’m NOT With Stupid.

* One of SCM’s signs – The Flying Spaghetti Monster Hates Anti-Choicers – was our litmus test of sorts, for identifying the Cool People Who Get It.

 

shelleyprotesst

 

* Okay, the following is not technically a Thing I Learned While Occupying the Antis, in that it is not news to me. Rather, it could go into the category of a sad fact reinforced: people who think they have the Christian god on their side have no qualms about breaking one of their god’s rules about bearing false witness.

SCM and I saw a police officer park his cruiser on the NE corner of Lovejoy. Meanwhile, the spineless lying asshat one of the male patrolling Antis, whom SCM had seen speaking furtively into his cell phone a couple of minutes before the cop car arrived, high-tailed it around the corner as soon as the cop car arrived.

The officer exited his car and approached the clinic. I called out to him, “You’re at the perfect place if you want to do a traffic sting!” and started to tell him about the stop sign scofflaws, while SCM wriggled with excitement and gushed, It’s not really a protest without the police arriving!” The officer gave us a regretful smile, told us nah on both accounts, and said he wasn’t here about the protest or the traffic, but to check out a call they (presumably the cops) had received. He asked us, rather laconically – as if he already knew the answer but had to go through the motions – if we’d heard anyone yelling for help from inside the building.

yeahright

Of course we didn’t, because nobody had. “You’ve been set up,” I advised him. Officer Nonchalant tried to stifle a cynical grin from spreading across his face as he entered the building to check things out. He exited the clinic a minute or so later, just as I wondered aloud who had made the false police report. Within a minute of the cop car leaving, the spineless lying asshat the suddenly-disappeared- male-patrolling Anti returned to his post on the sidewalk.

* One of my signs was quite popular with drivers who had children in the car. Not only that, the sign seemed to motivate the female sign-holding Antis to change places on the sidewalk, so as not to be on the pointing side of my sign’s directional arrow. People who think they’ve a sacred obligation to tell other people how to live do not want to stand next to you when you’re holding up a sign that treats them with all the seriousness they deserve:

lovejoy1,jpg

 

* Yo, anti-choicers: If you’re going to attempt to proselytize you need to know your religion’s basic terminology. I’m not even talking complicated theological constructs, ala transubstantiation or theodicy or Catholic vs. Protestant soteriology. Jesus Christ up the creek without a paddle! – know your basic vocabulary, or shut yer yap.

Examples: When Pointman Woman declared that “we are all sinners,” I asked her to define sin. She ummm-ed and ahhh-ed before throwing the question to one of her older comrades : “It’s kind of…well, how would you explain it?”

 

facepalm

 

They finally settled on anything that “offends the holiness of god.”

Oh, like my fucking potty mouth?
(from the Department of Things I Almost Said)

During another slow moment on the sidewalk (no clinic patients to pester), Pointman Woman, already tantalized to discover that SCM was a minister’s daughter, asked me what my “faith” was. I offered up Happy Heretic and Avid Apostate, and told her she could use whatever term she found most entertaining. It quickly became apparent – and she admitted, when I asked her – that she didn’t know what either heretic or apostate meant.

Later in the morning another Anti made yet another attempt to engage me with a “May I show you something?” entreaty. She’d already flashed me her (supposed) aborted fetus pamphlet, and she was reaching for a blue velvet lined-jewelry case, which, as I’d seen earlier, contained fetus trinkets laid out in charm bracelet fashion.  I countered with, “May I show you something?” and removed what was intended to be my morning snack – a small baggie of almonds – from my pants pocket.

Moiself: “Would you like to scrutinize my nut sack?”

Anti:      “I don’t understand.” (She looked genuinely confused.) “How does this relate…”

Moiself: “Since you are so interested in policing other people’s bodies I thought you might like to examine an intimate part of mine….”

Anti:      ???

Her expression, to a tee.

Her expression, to a tee.

 

DANG! A perfectly good pun, wasted on a proselytizing pudding head.

Laaaaady ?!?! You’re standing outside a medical facility trying to tell strangers what to do with their reproductive organs and you don’t know what a nut sack is?

 

REALLY

 

Every so often, two or three of the Antis women put down their signs and formed a group to murmur, pray, exchange Jell-o salad recipes or whatever. Once, three of them began to sing the hymn Amazing Grace. SCM joined in – and of course, she knew more verses than they did. [8] Not to be outdone, I chimed in with the Mary Tyler Moore Theme song.

 

 

Possibly The Best Answer to a Question, Ever

We stayed until the Antis left, then entered the clinic. The Ladies of Lovejoy got quite the kick out of our signs and expressed their grateful for our support. We chatted with them for several minutes, trading protester stories and shop talk. [9]  As per the latter, one of the clinicians mentioned that the clinic had expanded their services to include male healthcare, and that she “really enjoys” doing vasectomies. I, of course, had to ask her why she found vasectomies so enjoyable. After working with women’s health all day, she replied, “it’s a nice change of scenery.”

*   *   *

After our counter-protest, SCM and I treated ourselves to sushi lunch in the Pearl district. Driving on home from Portland, I passed a guy, apparently hoping to hitch a ride to the coast, standing by one of the freeway entrance ramps, holding up a sign which read

SEASIDE
PLEASE

I caught myself wanting to yell out the window, that’s a boring sign!

*   *   *

May you take the opportunity to express your Anti-Anti convictions,
may your signs always be entertaining,
may you enjoy an occasional change of scenery,
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] She of the multiple slash identities: friend/attorney/fellow writer/wit and snarkstress extraordinaire….

[2] However, it’s not like I’m in that part of Portland on a regular basis.

[3] No time to shower, but I thought my exercise B.O. could be yet another turnoff for the protesters. As for SCM…she is a most tolerant friend.

[4] Actual in-and-out clinic traffic was quite spotty.

[5] Although the clinics I worked at were rarely picketed, and the picketers hadn’t figured out where the back doors were, where the staff entered.

[6] Let’s just pretend that was a smoother application of the shoot yourself in the foot idiom.

[7] Along the “mind your own !#$*! business you #@&$% asshole fanatics” line.

[8] They got the first two verses, then began to mumble/sing, like when you forget the lyrics and substitute whatever you think rhymes.

[9] A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I worked in women’s reproductive health care, both in a public clinic setting and in a private OB/GYN practice.

The Birds I’m Not Strangling

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I am, really and truly, trying to keep shiny happy thoughts in my head about our neighborhood’s avian inhabitants. But they start singing outside my bedroom window at 4:10 in the morning, and WTF’s with that, tweetie pie?

♫ I know you're in there.  Get up and feed the cats. ♫

♫ I know you’re in there. Get up and feed the cats. ♫

 These Kids Today

Dateline, July 3:  The University of Puget Sound  sent its Class of 2018 students a list of dorm supplies the students need to bring with them.  Belle asks me if I would go with her tomorrow to shop for items on the list.

Moiself:  “Sure. But remember, tomorrow is July 4th.  Have you checked to see if the stores you want to visit are open?”

“Why wouldn’t they be?” Belle looks confused.  “It’s not as if it’s a national holiday or anything.”

Huh

SPOCK

*   *   *

Total Surprise of the Week
aka, Mum’s the Word

I’m sure you were as shocked – shocked! – as I was to learn that another conservative politician [1] who champions Abstinence-Only “education programs,” and also opposes the ACA’s contraceptive mandate, now has to do the I-supporter-my-daughter-who-will-be-facing-many-challenges tap dance; i.e., the announcement of his 17 year-old (unmarried) daughter’s unplanned pregnancy.

"That, like, so never happens!" 

“That, like, so never happens!”

When I worked at Planned Parenthood, some of us snarky experienced clinic worker bees had a term for the Abstinence Only gals. We called them MUMs [2] in the making.

 *   *   *

It’s Still Working

The sound of footsteps at the front door is accompanied by the sound of muffled voices in consultation, followed by the sound of…nothing.  Yet another knock and/or ring of the doorbell was averted.  I can only guess that they, who/whatever they are, saw The Sign.  And they took The Sign as a sign, and did the right thing. [3]

I work out of a home office, and have come to loathe the interruptions from door-to-door salesfolk, proselytizers and petitioners.  Even so, I never wanted to post one of those NO SOLICITING signs by the front doorbell.  This is FAVOR, [4] including

*  such signs seem hostile, or at least unsociable, and I want my neighbors to feel welcome to stop by;

* several friends and neighbors who have posted No Solicitors notices told me that their signs are often unheeded; [5]

*  in My Ideal World ® , such signs should be unnecessary.  Why should I deface my house because some presumptuous blowholes think my family needs their opinions as to which imaginary friend we should worship and/or which political issue we should support?

MH and I vowed that we would not harass our neighbors when it came to underwriting K’s [6] and Belle’s school and extracurricular activities.  I can count on the fingers of one finger the times we allowed either of them to participate in those dreadful fundraising drives.  Suffice to say, we were not the most popular family amongst the school fundraising organizers. I discretely but firmly explained to a series of teachers, administrators and PTA Nazis (make that presidents) that while we while we supported ___ activity (if, indeed, we did support it) and would contribute the expected per child amount for our own child to participate, we would not send our children door to door, imploring our neighbors to purchase toxic-to-pets-and-infants, Go Team USA! made-in-China plastic water bottles and unrecyclable gift wrapping paper to finance the school’s lacrosse team mouth guard fund.

nosoliciting

Many other families apparently held no such sentiments. Thus, over the years there were a series of disappointed kiddie solicitors leaving our porch.  We were kind to the children, even as we were irritated to be put in the position of honing our gracious, “Oh, sorry, no thanks” response on wide-eyed eight-year olds. [7]

I wanted to get the point across, firmly and directly, but with humor.  My first solution, several years ago, was in the form of a topical Non Sequitur comic strip.  I was so pleased when I saw it (this is perfect!) I contacted the strip’s syndicating organization and paid the fee to receive a copy of the panel, which I laminated and posted under the doorbell.

The panel has long since been destroyed by the elements. I can’t find a copy of it online (how can this be?!?!?!?), so a description will have to suffice.  It was a single panel comic: a couple of solicitors pause on the sidewalk, outside of a house which has a sign on its front yard gate. The sign, which read something like, “Welcome, we love solicitors! Please, do tell us why your religion is better than ours!” is posted above an iconic coroner’s chalk-mark on the sidewalk that outlines where a body has lain.

After we posted the comic strip sign we let certain families in the neighborhood know of our policy (and the rest, I think, caught on). For families we actually knew/liked/recognized, [8] their children were welcome to pitch us their fundraisers, and we would support the activities if such activities were in line with our interests and values (e.g. nothing in which plastic swag was involved, nothing promoting religion or divisive politics, nothing where money would be funneled through non-legit “charities,” and nothing just plain lame-ass stupid).

As mentioned previously, I work at home, and used to get a lot of visits from the door-to-door crowd.  The comic panel sign worked…but only for about 50% of solicitors. The rest would smile broadly as I opened the door, and would immediately point out that sign and say, “That’s great!” or “That’s really funny/cute!”

To which I would respond, “And you think it doesn’t apply to you, do you?”

Most people would sheepishly and graciously retreat at that point. However, some did not, and would attempt to get in their spiel about how they were not actually selling anything – oh no! – they were giving away good news, for free!  I was surprised by the sheer lack of self-awareness and brass balls persistence of those who believe they have something their gods/political gurus/10,000 Friends of Oregon want them to share to people who have specifically and repeatedly said, no way/go away.

So.  I came up with the following.  The graphics, used with permission (and even encouragement) are the logo for The Brights. The text is my own.  And, it works. [9]

brights_icon_100x100

Welcome, friends and neighbors!
All others:  No doorspam, please.

Translation: No soliciting.
Nope, none at all, be it
political, religious, or otherwise.
(Yes, this means you)

*   *   *

The Future Is In Their Hands

This week Belle and five of her high school friends (two boys, three girls) [10] went on their first no-adults overnight trip. [11] They drove up the Columbia Gorge, stopping at Multnomah Falls and Hood River before crossing the Columbia to head for their final destination, a cabin in the mountains belonging to one of the girl’s parents.

Belle was quite conscientious about providing MH and I with Required Parental Details ® , including the names of the cabin owners, [12] the location and phone number of the cabin, the names of the other attendees, their departure and return plans and time frame, and the description of the vehicle they’ll be riding in.  Belle didn’t know the vehicle’s license plate, so when her friends arrived Tuesday morning to pick her up, I went outside to say hello/goodbye/have fun, and wrote down the license number.

Contemporary, non-vanity Oregon driver’s licenses consist of three numbers and three letters. “You’ve got an easy one to remember,” I said to the driver and another passenger, who stood outside the vehicle while Sadie squeezed her duffel bag between back seat passengers.  I pointed to the minivan’s license plate.  “DDE – those are a president’s initials.”

The two girls looked at me blankly, their eyes only lighting up in comprehension when I followed up with, “Eisenhower – Dwight David Eisenhower.  You know, the WWII general; the one with the ‘I like Ike’ campaign slogan?”

“That poor man,” Passenger Girl laughed.  “His parents probably named him Dwight David ’cause they thought, ‘Who could ever make an embarrassing nickname out of that?’, and he ends up being called, ‘Ike.’ ”

*   *   *

 May your nicknames be campaign-worthy and your proselytizers be mock-worthy, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

[1] This time it’s Bill Cassidy, state congressman, Louisiana.

[2] More Unmarried Mothers.

[3] i.e., they left skidmarks as they fled our porch.

[4] For A Variety of Reasons.

[5] The proselytizers say, “Oops, I didn’t see it until I’d already rung the bell….”

[6] Our kids turned out to be like-minded, imagine that. One of the first intentional profanities I heard son K utter had to do with his declaration that he wasn’t going to do any of that “@#!& fundraising #$!?^.”

[7] And had we said yes to a mere fraction of the solicitation the financial outlay would have been substantial.

[8] It’s amazing, how many of the kiddie funraisers were not from our neighborhood, but trucked in from miles away. Yep, I asked if I did not recognize the kids, and yep, they told.

[9] Except in the case of about 4-5 people who have said, as I opened the door, that they were going to leave  when they saw the sign but really wanted to tell me how much “I really love the term ‘doorspam,’ ’cause you know exactly what that means, and I’m leaving now, I promise….”

[10] Revealing the mixed gender makeup of the group prompted a totally unsolicited reassurance, from Belle to her bemused parental units, that there was no kind of romantic interest amongst any of the parties.

[11] They’re all eighteen, so legally adults, but…really. How many adults take Disney animated movies with them to sleepovers?

[12] Who will not be there, as it’s a kids young adults-only vacation.