Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Legacies of Words

 I've lived around writers, artists, and musicians for most of my life. Every event, no matter how major or minor, was immortalized, displayed, and performed. No one just died. They went out in one last superbly scripted, choreographed, and wrenched from the guts of creative angst-inspired performance art. Very often this art was created in the final months, weeks or days of life. We saw only the end result, and rarely, unless we were close to the artist, the process that created it.

But blogs changed all that, especially for writers. The personal became the painfully blogged, and the inner torment, the doubts, the rage, the fear, the sadness, and the acceptance became a shared journey. I remember the first time a friend sent me the url to what she called her Cancer Blog, there was this initial moment of horror, this feeling of voyeurism, this sense of intruding into what seemed far too personal to share.

It was also terrifying as I was still recovering from coming up against my own mortality. There were issues, fears, and doubts I was still resolving inside myself and I was afraid my own pace would be disturbed if I ran alongside someone else's race against time.

Nearly a decade later I've said goodbye to far too many wonderful writers and artists who left us way too early. Most of them kept blogs, especially the writers, and I've come to see their words, their months of describing a journey we all have to make at some time, as a valuable gift to the world left behind.

 Even though everyone approaches illness and death differently, it is the process we all seek to understand. We want to know what it feels like the moment when it becomes inevitable. We want to know the questions we would ask, the answers we would accept, the words we would struggle to say and share with our own voices. We want to know what it feels like to die.

I still feel like a voyeur, a fraud with my health, my future still ahead of me, when one of my friends starts her own personal cancer blog and asks me to read it. But I've come to understand illness and dying are two separate sides of the same goodbye and it helps them to know I am there reading their words, that there is a place all of us in their lives can go and be updated, shared with, and comforted.

 There are things that are universal, and there are things only experience can teach us. But with the amazing courage of these women who described their illnesses and then their paths to dying, we have an insight into what was once only an intellectual description found in textbooks. We now have the personal from the initial diagnosis, through treatment, through hope, through despair, through the moment when each blog entry grows closer to the end and the reality sinks in that it's not just a novel, it's not just words on a screen. It's yet another woman, another friend, another writer, another courageous human being sharing her final journey in order to make ours less lonely.

Within the despair, the tears when days have passed and there have been no new posts and then suddenly there is one, but it's a family member instead writing the last post, there is also something very important that has grown from the millions of words. Through years of writing about their experiences, the dying have left behind a library of information related to treatments, options, financial and psychological assistance, and the many details that are so important to saying a clean and uncluttered goodbye.

They've given support and much needed understanding to women who find themselves diagnosed with a serious and often terminal illness. From the blogs have grown websites with forums dedicated to the issues first written about and shared among women and a handful of friends and family. No one has to die alone anymore. No one has to feel they haven't exhausted all the options out there. There is a community of the newly diagnosed, the long term treated, the terminal, the family, friends, and left behind. We have shared something that never used to be shared so completely.

It is a form that is still evolving. One of the curious things to me as person, is how strangers start following a dying person's blog and become part of the community. As a writer I understand it perfectly. There are blogs I read just because the person is so fascinating and what they have to say so unique and educating, that it doesn't matter if I know them or not.

Usually they're not dying, but a couple times in the last year I've been directed by a dying friend or two to blogs that are followed by thousands of people. It's as if a fascinating new person has moved into the neighborhood and is a superb writer who manages to catch us all up in the fascinating process of her dying. We all sit down to tea and listen and get caught up in her life, her treatment, her dreams, her hopes, and when it all comes crashing down to the reality of death winning most of the time, it's as horrible as if she really did live next door.

And in this way, I believe the world grows a bit more human. If we can share the most intimate part of our lives in such a way, if we can leave such a gift of community behind, such a legacy of all sharing the same hopes, the same dreams of a miracle cure, the same sense of loss when the inevitable family member post appears, then maybe through our dying we can finally learn to live as one people on one planet.

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Sunday, June 03, 2012

Yo, Douchebags!

After weeks of watching Republicans pander to the most disgusting of bottom feeders to convince them to vote for their brand of heaving, stinking, steaming pile of thieving crappery, I've reached the upper limits of disgust. This used to be a decent country where people cared about each other as fellow human beings. It used to be a place that prided itself on being the melting pot of the world, a beacon in the darkness for the persecuted to find welcome and shelter.

But now it's perceived by most of the world and many of us who live here, as a pit of corporate influence where even the Supreme Court has become a mockery of justice and the law, where an ethically and morally bankrupt country of greedy and selfish douchebags masquerading as Congress, shit all over each other over in the name of money, greed, and power.

But it didn't get this way overnight. It was douchbagged into existence by some of the most disgusting slime to ever pass as human beings. The list is long and ugly, but a few players rise to the top as the prime douches floating around the bag.

At the top of the shit heap of hate are the Koch Brothers. As the link reminds us, the John Birch Society, an organization devoted to spreading hate and bigotry, has been a part  of the family since it climbed out of that festering pile of hatred to infect America. It's why they labeled President Obama  a communist, a socialist, a liberal, all kinds of scary words to avoid what they really wanted to say: he's black.

 It's not his agenda they hated, it was and continues to be his skin color. Every day when they wake up and are once again reminded America elected a black President, their hatred grows stronger not only against him, but against those who put him in office. They blame the liberals, the democrats, the unions, the middle and working class, the poor for ruining their ugly little white world. All the money they are spreading around like manure on a garden of shit, is purely for payback. They will not rest until they've destroyed the lives of those who dared to elect a black man to what they consider the exclusive realm of rich white men.

But they couldn't do it without hiding behind the most pathetic of losers, those mouth breathing morons who hung on every word oozing from the slime of hate radio.  These pathetically stupid wastes of skin were easily manipulated into believing the Tea Party, a front group funded by the Koch Brothers to help them spread their bigotry across the country, was their own idea instead of yet another noose they helped knot around their own necks. By appealing to their ignorant racism, bigotry, and rampant paranoia about anything or anyone different,  they got these knuckle dragging fools to vote for corporate control over their entire lives from the bedroom to the grave.

But the hate spewing from their radios didn't just grow overnight. It was was scripted and funded by rich haters and bigots to spread blatant propaganda falsely and deceptively labeled as news. They created disgusting  media personalities to infect the country with a new genre of propaganda: Hate Radio. They relied on Mitt Romney's Bain Capital to fund and feed that drug addicted douchebag, Rush Limbaugh and just about every so-called "conservative" with a show aimed at the dumbest white people in America.

Yes, Romney's wealth funded the hate spewed into the ears of paranoid, pathetic knuckledraggers who foolishly believed they were something other than the carefully manipulated tools of the rich and hateful. His wealth paid to stir up their bigotry, their hatred, their paranoia so they would  turn out like good little sheeple and vote in more Republicans to fuck them while they stole the rest of this country's wealth to stash in their overseas bank accounts.

And the worst of the hate, the worst of the bigotry was created and funded by the most morally bankrupt bigot and racist in existence: Rupert Murdoch. The Fox News empire on a daily basis spews more hatred and lies than any other media. It's deceptive, biased, and outright lies rival only that of the former Soviet Union, proving that in Murdoch's case, he became the very evil he claims to have vehemently opposed because nothing is too much of an enemy or too evil if it can put a dollar in his pocket.

But none of this carefully packaged and promoted hatred and bigotry would have gained a foothold without the help of its absolutely evil and ethically perverted partner: religion. Without the churches telling and training their members what group of people to hate, what politicians shared their hatred of specific ethnic groups, the white hooded politics of the Koch Brothers, the Romneys, the Limbaughs, the Murdochs would have remained on the fringe of other lunatic crazies. It was the churches in America, those breeding grounds for bible sanctioned cruelty and misogyny that brought it out from  the rocks it hid under for so long.

However, the effect of being so out in the open is now working against them. The problem with putting all your faith into the hands of people who are so consumed with hate is at some point they begin to believe they are the majority voice. They don't understand that being given a voice by a controlled, propaganda driven media is not the same as having a majority voice. And eventually, the pushback begins from those who truly are the majority and who are tired of some raving crazy's  hatred,  bigotry, and religion-fueled intolerance interfering in their right to live by their own morality and beliefs.

And as stupid and mean and greedy as the douchebags are, they know there is only one thing that can defeat them: a united populace. It's why they work so hard to divide the country from each other, because that way it's easier to split up the groups into manageable chunks of easily controlled stupid people. But they're starting to lose control of their crazies. The mouth breathers aren't happy to find out they're expected to drag their knuckles for the RomneyBot. The douchebags anticipate trouble and so they're making sure only those who will vote their way are allowed to vote, a lot like those dictatorships they're always going on about.

 The best and only way to fight back against the millions of douchebag dollars, the lies, the propaganda, the disgusting greed and ethical wasteland they shit down upon us, is to get out and vote against their candidates.  Vote against Republicans. Democrats aren't perfect, but at least they won't force their religion on you, they won't demand you adhere to their version of morality, they won't inflict misogyny on the women, they won't promote racism, bigotry, or have a paranoid, delusional and insane need to control every inch of your life  like the Republicans will.

 And please re-elect President Obama, if only to know that the Koch Brothers and all their hater buddies will wake up the next morning with a headache they spent millions on to make go away, and it's still there stronger than before. Honor still wins over money, so be honorable on election day and take our country back from the douchebags before there's nothing left to take back. That will give you something to work with that still values your voice instead of finding ways to silence it into submission.


Lord, Save Us From Your Followers: Why is the Gospel of Love Dividing America?