Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm just a little black rain cloud

I'm sort of in a bad mood.
Why?
After five months of dealing with this throat problem, I feel considerably much better today. Normally this would be cause for celebration. But it isn't. It will be later, possibly after a nap or two, but for now I'm annoyed. I'm really annoyed that it has only taken three days of antibiotics for 75% of my problems to disappear. In other words, I'm mad at my original physician for 5 months of a misdiagnosis, when the real problem was not all that complicated to figure out (how many times did I tell her I felt like I had non-stop post-nasal drip going on?!). A sinus infection. That is all it is. A sinus infection.
I'm also in a bad mood because I was on an incredibly minor car accident this weekend. So minor that you can't even see the damage on the car I was driving. (Someone else hit me.) And yet, I still have a painful case of whiplash, and one very sore neck and back.
I'm going to take a nap now, and when I wake up, I'm going to get over this bad mood, and just be glad I'm feeling so much better, and that there was no damage done to the car.
But first... GRRRR!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Follow up on the whole crappy sick thing

A quick post to following up on the whole being sick sucks thing.
it still sucks. But now it still sucks after having gone to 2 specialists this week.
Here's what went down thus far-
Original physician has me diagnosed as reflux, and had me on an ungodly amount of reflux meds, that made no difference whatsoever.
Also, I've never had reflux once in any of this.
The Reflux Specialist I was sent to see declared it most definitely, not reflux. She thinks I have a swallowing disorder, and said I should see an ENT. But scheduled me to get a swallow test on Monday anyway.
The ENT thinks I have a "high up" sinus infection, took a very uncomfortable culture from inside my nose, and said I have very inflamed vocal chords that would explain all the choking. His solution? (other than being rude to me and making me want to cry) Antibiotics for a month. He also told me to go off the reflux meds because it isn't reflux. What paperwork did he send me home with? "How to Live with Reflux." (WTF?) Said to call him if the antibiotics don't make the large lump in my neck go down. He thinks its a swollen gland that will get better as the antibiotics kick in. And had some very wrong, and stupid, ideas for some other issues as well. (Like saying I am having panic attacks that cause the choking, and it is all in my head. No, I am not. I'm panicking because I am choking. I can tell the difference.)
The worst part of going to the ENT? He asked if I am prone to dizzy spells. I said I am diagnosed with Meniere's Disease, and therefore, yes, I have them, but rarely. He explains he's about to spray something up my nose that may cause discomfort, and dizzy spells, oh and maybe choking too, but it would all be in my head. He sprays this awful stuff up there, then leaves me! Shuts the door and leaves me! Was it uncomfortable? Horribly. Dizzy spells? Could not see straight to save my life, could barely even open my eyes. It was awful. And choking? Yes, full blown panic attack sitting right there unable to move because I was so dizzy and felt like I couldn't breathe. I'll be sending his clinic a little note about bedside manner.
It was such a bad experience for me, and I left feeling so awful (pounding headache, horribly dizzy, nauseated, half my head was still numb, and still coming down from the panic attack he disregarded) that I sat in my car and cried for half an hour before I could get my act together enough to drive.
I won't be going back there any time soon.

Monday, April 23, 2012

It was a nice day for a white wedding

A sneak peak from the wedding photos!
A few of my favorite pics found on my phone and camera from my sister's wedding.
Our brother is currently deployed and was unable to be at the wedding. We got to talk to him right before the ceremony, which was a lot of fun, and maybe made a few of us cry just a little bit. To "include" him in the festivities we enlarged the only photo we could find that was a high enough resolution and put him on foam core, and carried him around with us. He may kill me in the end for the not incredibly flattering picture, but he was a huge hit. When I pulled him out (I have to admit "pulling Scott out" and "putting Scott away" got to be very funny) and we explained to the groomsmen what was going on (note- all of them are the groom's fire crew- also standing in rank order-chief to yellow hat) they all cheered for him.
A much more traditional photo- the whole bridal party, minus the ring bearers. The flower girl was stinking adorable.
My favorite part of the rehearsal dinner was a conversation with the little flower girl (whom Steph (the bride) used to nanny for). Steph was wearing a casual white dress during the rehearsal. The flower girl was a little disappointed. We asked what was wrong and she explained she thought that was the REAL wedding dress. So we told her it was just a dress, and that the real wedding dress would be a bigger version of her own pretty ball gown for the wedding. She got all excited and said, "Really? She's going to wear a beautiful white ball gown!?!" We said yes. She got very excited and emotional, clasped her hands under her chin (in a swoony way seen in every Disney princess movie ever), and said, "And then she's going to marry the handsome prince!!" It was too cute for words.
The nephews and Aunt Steph. Doing their best manly poses, or something like that. Porter (littlest one) is actually doing his "very best look."

The back of my head. Just so you know, my hair rocked. And Rachel did it for me.

Looking forward to the photographer (our awesome cousin and award winning awesome photographer Jon) posting the real pics soon!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Need something to read today?

Random pics found on my phone.
Something is slightly off about this picture, and yet I love it. (My nephews at the funeral.)

Random things you see near my house- wild turkeys. Sometimes incorrectly called a hokie.

Porter has a 2 second energy low during which he decided to move the salt and pepper shakers with his mind.


What's on my bookshelf right now-

Bay and Her Boys: Unexpected Lessons I Learned as a Single Mom by Bay Buchanan. I worked for Bay while I was taking a break from college. She has been a huge influence on me politically and professionally. And my family loves to call her a good friend! She is a political expert that can regularly be found as a "talking head" on CNN, Fox, and others. She's also currently a spokesperson for the Romney Campaign. Her book is about raising three sons as a single mother, being LDS (from a Catholic family), and her very public and challenging career. I can't wait to dig in to this book!


Hello Life by Kristen Marie. Another book written by a friend! Kristen and I were friends back in Utah (and still are). She's a fabulous writer and editor. This book is a memoir of her journey as a single woman and mother through dating and coming in to her own regarding her beliefs and religion. She was the editor and compiler of Don't Forget the Pepper Spray, a book I had the fun of contributing to.

 I'm reading both books on my Nook. Don't you just love e-books?

I also recently read The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith by Joanna Brooks. It is an easy read I finished in just a few hours. Her book may irk and annoy some Mormons, I found it interesting. I found much to relate to, and yet really want to emphasize that she's not like most Mormons.

If you are looking for a short, quick, and informative read, check out my Motley Fool blog piece about how the Facebook IPO could really change investing. If you don't understand what that means, you should definitely read the piece! Because you are exactly the type of person I think could potentially be changed!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a wedding to attend!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sleepwalking in my Sleep

I suppose this proves my sleepwalking experiences could be much worse!

A few days ago I decided to buy myself a little treat. I bought myself a real pair of "grown up" earrings. Expensive earrings. The kind I've always wanted but have never wanted to spend that sort of money on myself for before. But with the wedding this weekend, and a little extra spending money in my pocket, I decided to go for it. I earned it. I wanted it.
So I found a versatile, high quality, beautiful pair of silver and gold hoops, and paid more than I usually even pay for a nice dress, for these earrings. It was just time to finally do it.
(Also, I'm horribly allergic to most earrings. To find the kind that doesn't make my ears balloon up instantly is not the easiest thing in the world to do.)
I wore my earrings for two full days. I love them!
Last night I accidentally fell asleep fully dressed on my bed several hours early. A phone call from my dad woke me up around 10:30 pm. I vaguely recall going back to sleep, getting back up, and then going back to bed again.
It is funny how sleepwalking can work. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and instantly know I was sleepwalking. Other times it takes a trigger, like it feels when you hear or do something that reminds you of what you dreamed about the night before. Other times I just figure out I was sleepwalking again by realizing something is missing, or discovering things are really out of place.
Tonight as we were leaving for dinner I quickly changed clothes and thought to put on a necklace and earrings. And that is when it hit me. The trigger. My earrings. Something was strange about my earrings.
I could (can) vaguely recall a strange dream-like memory from last night. I knew I needed to take my earrings off and put them in a safe place. I even recall taking them out and looking for a safe place.
Of course, I had no memory of the safe place. That would be too easy.
After dinner we came home and I searched my room for my earrings. My vague dream-like memory told me it had something to do with my bed. So I pulled the blankets off and shook them out. And I looked under my pillows, and under the bed. That was when I noticed my fitted sheet was very skewampus. In fact, it was barely even on the bed. My sleepwalking self has never been very good at making the bed, closing refrigerator doors, or even turning off faucets or lights, so I took that as a big clue.
Sure enough, I pulled the sheet off the bed and found my earrings on the mattress. Why my sleepwalking self thought that was a safe place to keep my earrings I will never know.
Tonight I will be making extra sure to put my earrings in my jewelry box. And to put my jewelry box in a safe place.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Family Fertilizer

A little cousin at the funeral this past week. He's reading the headstone of what is probably his 6th great uncle.


Blast From the Past- Making Family Fertilizer (also known as, "your family has rules about who can be buried in the cemetery??") Originally posted in August 2007!


So you think your family has issues? Allow me to introduce you to my family and our by-laws. Yes, my family has by-laws. Not just any bylaws. We have by-laws on how and who can be buried in the family cemetery. And according to the new rules, I am not eligible.
Let’s start at the beginning. And by beginning I mean 3 generations back when my great-great grandfather had five children and one mountain in Southern Virginia. Those five children went on to produce nearly 2,000 descendants, with over 1,600 currently living (no polygamy for us, thank you very much!), most of whom still live in Southern Virginia. And on that mountain there is a cemetery which is rapidly filling up with my gene pool.
While a family cemetery on the family mountain sounds quaint, there's a little problem. They only built a cemetery with space for another 355 people. But we have over 1,600 warm bodies waiting to get in, so a few rules were set. First, “double stacking” will now be implemented in the future. Double-stacking?Yes, it’s what it sounds like. Forget six feet under, we’re going ten feet under. We’re getting deep dirt for doubles. When you signed up to marry that person till “death do we part,” you are no longer getting a reprieve with death. You are will now be buried in the same spot, one on top of the other. This isn’t walking side-by-side through life (or death). This is a king-sized grave, tag-team resting place. An all you can eat worm buffet. Shared family footage. Tomb sharing. An eternal time share, if you will. The eternal double-decker bus. It’s not just kicking the bucket, it’s kicking the barrel. When it’s your turn to buy a pine condo, expect to sleep in the basement.
But even with double-stacking we’re still short on space for everyone to take a dirt nap. So we’re building a vault and encouraging cremation. Family members without a spouse to be their eternal sleeping partner are encouraged to consider cremation and be placed in the vault. The family that couldn’t let me forget I wasn’t married in this life now won’t let me forget it in death either. Can’t you just see it now? A whole shelf in the family vault dedicated to all the single cousins, maybe even in matching urns, taking up as little space as possible. I picture a shelf in the back with a marble plaque hanging over our urns, reading, “Did not find happiness in this life,” or maybe, “Did not return with honor,” or “Couldn’t find a date for the big dance so she’s here with her cousin.”
How will I explain that one when I finally meet my eternal companion in heaven? “Sorry, but I’m here with my cousin. We weren’t kissing cousins until after we died. Now I can’t shake the guy.”
(I have put in a request that I be placed in a lovely cement vase with daisies placed in it. If I’m going to be cremated and put on a shelf, I still want to push up daisies! Preferably next to Colette, Michelle and Mark. I think we could have fun raising a little hell together.)
Now let’s say that, sadly, a child dies. Will the child be doomed to eternal damnation on the Singles’ Shelf? Stuck on a shelf all alone? No. They may be buried in a triple-stacker arrangement with their parents. (If you are suddenly and inexplicably craving Wendy’s, you are not alone. Just sick in the head.)
Even with all of these arrangements there are still a few more rules you must comply with for a place in the Ferguson Family Bus to St. Peter’s. All of the obvious rules- such as your headstone must be made out of one of the approved types of stone. Graves will be assigned by the Family Trustees, because apparently we have Family Trustees. No reservations or dibs may be called in advance. And last but not least, you have to be current on your family dues. Yes, family dues. Apparently birthright and bloodline just isn’t good enough around here. Now you have to pay to be in my family. (I haven’t paid my dues. Ever.)

Being sick sucks

A few weeks ago I mentioned I've been dealing with an annoying and difficult medical issue. It has been a strange experience dealing with it, and I haven't wanted to discuss it. But now I've reached the point where I need more help. I need to share it because I need to know if anyone else has ever experienced anything similar.
I personally think that I was misdiagnosed a few months ago. Here's why-
Back in November I got several sinus infections. One after the other I felt like I spent 1-2 months congested and miserable. Lots of coughing, lots of cough syrup, and antibiotics. By Christmastime I was starting to notice that my sinuses were clearing up, and I didn't feel congested anymore, but my sore throat was persistent. I felt like I had a constant post-nasal drip situation going on that wouldn't stop with any decongestant. And I kid you not, I have tried every single thing on the market, plus several homeopathic, natural, etc., remedies. Not one thing at all has made any difference.
By mid-January my doctor decided I had reflux, and a strange little condition called "globus." It sounded reasonable to me. The answer meant taking prilosec, zantac, and claritin or zyrtec. No big deal. I read up on globus, and it sounded like a good fit. The main symptom is feeling a "golf ball" is lodged in your throat. The idea is that the acid from the reflux has gotten up into the esophagus. The golf ball description sounded perfect for me. That was exactly how I felt. It also is very difficult to swallow even just the regular, normal, natural amount of saliva in my mouth. It feels like it refuses to go down, or that it is stuck in my throat.
I've had reflux many times in my life. But not once ever in any of this have I had any reflux or heartburn that I felt or noticed.But the globus description sounded good.
By mid-February I wasn't getting better. I can't say I was worse either. So the doctor doubled my prilosec and zantac. Still no change.
By mid-March I was flat out desperate. Every single day for four months I have felt like I am choking. I've learned to just deal with it. The only thing that stops the choking feeling is to talk or sing. So I actually had to force myself to start talking to myself all day. I hate doing it, but somehow it helps. Around mid-March is when a few new symptoms kicked in as well. My neck (not throat) is constantly sore and painful. Also, I noticed I can't cough anymore. Even when I feel like I am choking on something, I can't cough. If I try really hard and force out a cough, it sends all of the muscles in my throat, neck, and tongue, into spasms. And those hurt more than anything!!
I frequently get short of breath. To me it seems I'm short of breath because I'm always at a fairly high level of pain. It is exhausting to be in an unrelenting amount of pain all day long. My doctor also again doubled my prilosec, and told me to just start taking it every time I feel worse. Well, if I actually did that, I'd have taken in a whole months' worth of pills in the first day. I have not once felt like the prilosec has made any difference.
I always have a headache. This is a new and annoying problem. My headache is just a given. There hasn't been one day where I can say there wasn't a horrible headache involved. Thankfully Advil or Excedrin (or both together) seem to knock it out.
Amount of meds I am now up to- In the morning, crazy huge dose of prilosec (80 mg I think?), zantac, allegra-D, and Advil Cold and Sinus (this may be the only drug I actually feel like is doing something for me). After four drugs, there is almost no difference in how I felt before I took them and after I took them. At night I take another 80 mg, and Benadryl. I figured out months ago that the only way I can sleep through this choking sensation is to take a Benadryl. None of these meds seem to make a difference, but I keep taking them anyway. I'm not really sure why.
Other oddities- I used to be able to drink sodas all the time. In fact, I liked sodas because I liked how the fizzy feeling seemed to knock down any congestion in my throat. Oh how I wish I could do that now! But instead, a few weeks after I started the reflux meds, I actually got my first reflux symptom. From the very second the soda goes down my throat, it is a miserable, awful experience. It hurts so bad that it is never worth it.
I can eat or drink just about anything (except carbonated drinks). Spicy, greasy, etc, you name it- all fine. Nothing makes it better or worse. Except for hot and cold! If any food is too hot or too cold, it sets off either spasms, or the golf ball feeling. I rarely ever drink milk. But the few times where I thought I would sip some and see if that helped my throat (because it should have if I had reflux), it actually made everything worse. I instantly felt like I was choking on something too big to swallow.
And now for my last and grossest symptom. Somewhere in the past month or two, I've started having serious troubles swallowing. Solids go down just fine. In fact, solids go down great. But liquids? Ugh. It is miserable. I swallow, wait a second, and suddenly it's just back in my mouth- mixed with bile and mucus. I don't choke, gag, or cough it up. I don't vomit it up. All liquids just slide right back up. I hate it.
Other odd possible symptoms- every time I swallow I hear a crunching in my ears. And my ears pop a lot more than they used to. My throat usually hurts so bad that I can feel my pulse in it all the time.
I tried a neti pot this weekend for the first time. It didn't make matters better or worse. But it did make that constant post-nasal drip thing taste very salty. And now when I "spit up" whatever liquid I tried to drink, it tastes like saltwater too. I feel like I am swimming in the ocean. (Also, word to the wise, if for some reason you know you might be crying soon (for me it was a funeral yesterday), I highly recommend not trying a neti pot. Brought a whole new meaning to salty tears.)
So I'm convinced it is not just reflux or globus. In fact, I know it isn't. I've gotten worse and worse to the point where it isn't just a sometimes a day problem, but is a non-stop, never goes away problem. Every minute of my day is affected by it. I'm constantly exhausted, and on the verge of a meltdown from the pain.
I called my doctor last week for more help. She said she would double my prilosec again. I am so sick of her doubling a drug that seems to have no effect on me, that I finally called to get a second, and third, opinion.
I've put my symptoms into WebMD and the Mayo Clinic. The results are very mixed, with one constant between them. And that option seems very likely, but it is almost too obvious. So obvious that it seems strange that my doctor would be missing it so wholly. Which makes me wonder if she's ruled it out and I don't know about it. Either way, I've made an appointment with a specialist in that area for a few weeks from now. And my doctor did finally refer me to a specialist for the supposed reflux. I spoke to that doctor over the phone. He completely agrees with me that it doesn't sound like a straight across case of reflux. I won't get to see either of my second opinions for a few more weeks yet. That is, if I can keep from running madly into their offices and demanding help NOW, in the meantime.
I'm exhausted. And like I said, I kind of live right on the edge of my emotions right now. I know it is hard for everyone else to see that I am in pain. But the pain honestly doesn't stop, ever. I haven't gotten hoarse, or lost my voice, during any of this either. But I do feel and recognize that I am losing a little bit of control over my voice. Tonight I noticed that I was struggling to keep my voice even-keeled, and at the right pitch. That has happened a few times recently where I feel like I can't quite control my sounds perfectly (especially while singing).
So like I said, I'm putting this out there, just on the off chance someone has heard of something like this. I'm not crazy about what WebMD and the Mayo Clinic have suggested. And I hate self-diagnosis from the internet as well. It is rarely right! If you have any ideas please let me know!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wedding Crazies

Porter practicing to be the ring bearer at the wedding.

It is a crazy week around here, folks! My mother, sister, and nephews are all in town. My dad and other sister will arrive in a few days. I drove up to DC and back yesterday for Serena's funeral. And we have my great-aunt's funeral on Saturday. Then there is the bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, and a wedding! Somewhere in there my brother-in-law arrives in town as well. Plus there's all that fun wedding prep stuff, like haircuts, new shoes, fittings, etc. And trying to keep up with my 2 work-from-home jobs, while my home is full of wedding crazies, and gremlins posing as my nephews.
Confession- today I resorted to bribing my nephews with cash. It worked until I ran out of ones, and only had twenties left. I wasn't willing to pay with twenties, but they were more than willing to do the same "work" for me for higher pay. Yeah, not going to happen. ("Work" often includes, "Hey, Porter, will you run down to my room and bring me my ...")
I'm exhausted! (And I don't really know why.)

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Try, try again

For anyone who has ever tried and failed- you need to read this. It's just flat out awesome.

(don't be fooled by the title, it is so much more than the title suggests)

The Dirty Little Secret of Overnight Success

Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Life of a Writer


For anyone who cares, I did a little bit of writing in places today!
I posted not once, not twice, but three whole times over at SwingStateVoter.com. And I even managed to remember to post at Cutting Back and Going Green about toilets for the first time in over 2 months. And as usual, I've written about all sorts of things for the Motley Fool, including this post about Burger King.
What I haven't managed to do today- get out of bed and get dressed. It's almost 3 pm, maybe I should do that soon.

Friday, April 06, 2012

2 Funerals, 1 Wedding, Easter, and Lots of Babies


Last night my cousin K-A and I went out for a little girl talk and cousin time. We had many things to catch up on, including lots of major family events coming up soon. Our great aunt passed away last week, and her funeral will be next weekend. This will not be a sad funeral, but a happy one. She was quite old and ill, and missed her husband who passed away many years ago. Our conversation turned to laughter as we talked about everything and anything (which is how our great aunt would want it). Eventually she said, "Is it bad that I look forward to funerals because they always turn into fun family reunions?"
The more I think about it, the more I realize she is right. While I hate funerals, and I do truly hate them, (I have been to way too many of them), I can't help but agree with her. Sometimes the "not sad" funerals really are just wonderful days. I love getting to see all of my cousins at an event where we are all just there to love and support each other.
But before my aunt's funeral I will also attend my friend's funeral. And while I will try to be happy she isn't sick anymore, it will be a sad funeral. My heart is just completely broken for her. This will be the third (and fourth) funeral I will attend at Easter time. Several years ago one of my best friends died on Easter morning. I admittedly have not been a big fan of the holiday ever since. It just brings up too many emotions for me.
This whole month will be full of emotional life events- funerals, births, and a wedding. That's a lot of conflicting emotions to process at the same time! There's a loud voice in my head saying, "Yes, but it is also Easter, and the peace that comes from the Gospel. Let that be the overriding emotion!" And I want it to. I will try very hard to let that be the focus- my knowledge of the gift of the Resurrection, knowledge of the Gospel, Atonement, and the blessings that come from knowing and accepting that I am a Child of God.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

So Long My Friend


A friend of mine passed away today.
I'm not really sure where to begin. My heart and head are full of so many emotions right now. I feel like a terrible friend. I didn't know she was even sick. I hadn't paid enough attention to her Facebook posts in a long time. I only found out she was sick a few hours before she passed away because of someone else's Facebook status.
When I had originally logged in to Facebook it was to post a whiny rant about a medical issue I have been dealing with. I'm sick and tired of my situation, and am ready to go public with it, in hopes that maybe someone out there will have some clues or leads for me. But just as I was about to post it I saw my other friend's status about our ailing mutual friend. I never did post my own status and immediately began to think about my sick friend.
Learning how sick she was suddenly put my own problems into perspective. (her liver was very sick, and she did not qualify for a transplant. She thought she had up to 2 years to live, but within days of the diagnosis she took a turn for the worst. She went into the hospital on Monday, and passed away on Wednesday.)
Yes, I have a significant medical problem. Yes, I still need to see a specialist. But no matter how bad we think we have it, there is someone else out there who will have it worse. Tonight my heart goes out to the teenage daughter she left behind, and all the friends that will miss her. I can think of dozens of times she was a listening ear and confidante for me. And I can think of dozens of times I wasn't a good enough friend for her.
But I also have dozens of happy memories tucked in my heart I can pull out and remember tonight. I had a conversation with her in my heart tonight. I want to make it to her funeral very much. I owe her that. She was a very social person, and I know how much it would mean to her to have tons of friends at her funeral. And I want to think that when she looks down from Heaven on her funeral that she will see a room full of love all for her. I don't have details yet on when or where the service will be. But I do know that if it is very soon I will have difficulty making the arrangements to travel with my family visiting, finances, etc. And I had that conversation with her in my heart, and I could loudly hear what she would say to me about what my priorities should be. And I could hear her loudly telling me to stop being stupid and get my medical situation checked up on, and to stop wasting my time.
She was always a great cheerleader for me. The kind of friend that even when I wasn't the best kind of friend to her, she remained loyal and loving to me.
So long my dear sweet Serena. I will miss you. And I will see you again. But until then I will find it in my heart to be grateful that you have escaped the limitations of your mortal body. And I promise to help make sure your children are okay. I know you would do the same for me.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Judge not

When I picture my future daughter, she looks like this.

Like so many others I have been thinking a lot about race and the Trayvon Martin case. When the story first came out I found myself getting scared over people jumping to conclusions about race, and the media sensationalism of the case. And those issues till do bother me. But as time as progressed, I've found myself thinking more and more about racism. On Monday night I watched the first part of the CNN special on how children view race, and found myself absolutely astounded at what the children said and how they reacted.
I find racism abhorrent. Period. There is never an excuse for racism. I do find that I will fall into "profiling" without realizing I am doing it. Not necessarily racial profiling, but more image or cultural profiling. "People who dress a certain way want you to treat them a certain way." I'm trying not to do that, and really have worked hard to correct my own assumptions and shortcomings in this area. While it isn't as harmful or bigoted as racism and racial profiling can be, I deal enough with people looking at me and making assumptions about the type of person I am. I look considerably younger than my age, and thanks to the blond hair, people do have a very annoying habit of treating me as if they expect me to be young and irresponsible. Again, it isn't harmful or bigoted, but I do know how annoying that can be. I figure what I am dealing with is 1/10th of what other people deal with when it comes to racial profiling. I can't imagine how awful that is to deal with.
I have never made it a secret that I plan to be a foster parent someday. Hopefully sooner rather than later (see yesterday's post on goals). And along with that, I have no expectations of getting a little white girl from an upper class family. All racism and profiling aside, that just almost never happens in the foster care system. I expect to be given the privilege of parenting a child of another race and background. As I have said many time before, I expect my children to be every shade and color of the human race. And so when I hear President Obama say, "If I had a son he would look like Trayvon," it resonates with me. Because even though it hasn't happened yet, I hope to someday have a son who looks like Trayvon. (My dear friend Lindsey at the R House blogged on this same subject today. Her 2 adopted sons are not Caucasian, and she is rightfully scared.) 
There are moments when I get angry that people jump to conclusions about race. And yet there are moments where I completely understand where Pat Buchanan is coming from. But more than anything, I want to get mad that boys like Trayvon live up to the stereotype. I want an end to racism and profiling, but I also want to hear that Trayvon wasn't suspended from school for marijuana possession. I am scared for Lindsey's boys, and my friend Sara's 2 adopted children from Ethiopia. But then, there are moments my conflicted heart isn't worried about them, because I know that their dear children will not be raised in a culture and home where crime is glorified, or certain activities and appearances even allowed. I with boys like Trayvon didn't say what he said in his Twitter feed. I wish more mothers were like Lindsey and say that their boys won't wear hoodies so they won't be mislabeled and stereotyped. (No, I don't think the hoodie is at fault. Read her post.) I wish more mothers cared about the culture and image her son portrays.
I love to travel the world for the eye-opening experiences, and for the education I get when it comes to accepting other cultures. Sometimes it can be hard to accept other cultures here at home, but when traveling abroad you learn to love those cultures. I fully support cultural identity and colors. But my heart is torn about supporting this growing African-American culture in our country. I want them to hold on to their culture and roots- I truly do. But I don't agree with this thug and crime lifestyle that is glorified in some aspects of it. If you don't want your boys to be mistaken for thugs, stop promoting the culture that encourages them to look like thugs. If you want to be treated equally, start treating your own equally. (Have you seen the comments by the New Black Panthers?)
I keep wondering what can I do? How can I help stop racism? And how can I continue to improve my own shortcomings in this area? I am scared because, like Lindsey and Sara, I worry that someday a child that I haven't even met yet, but will be mine, will be stereotyped and profiled for the color of his or her skin. I'm scared because I know that someday someone will think the worst of my child because of the color of his or her skin. And I think it is even worse that someday someone will forgive the child who didn't do anything wrong when they see that mommy/I have white skin. And maybe even worse yet, someone will be proud of me for "taking on" a child of a different race, as if it is a hardship.
A child is a child is a child. The only thing that should matter is that the child is taught right and wrong, and is prepared to live a life defined by right and wrong. There should never have to be a justification for what is right or wrong based on skin color.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Making a List and Checking it Twice

Just 4 more days until Captain Underpants and Super Diaper Baby (who are much more grown up now) come to visit me for 3 whole weeks!

I am making a personal list, and yes, I plan to check it at least twice. I hope I check it a dozen times over every day.
Ever since last October after I got back from Cambodia, and things started to go south with the Peace Corps, I've been lost at sea. Things have gone well for me, but I've been adrift with no real direction in life. Stay here? Go there? What is my next big dream? What do I want to be when I grow up? All that kind of stuff has been floating around my head.
For the last few months, especially in February after losing the PC for good, I've struggled to figure out what comes next in my life. And let me get this out now- I still don't know. But one thing has started to change for me- I'm starting to find (and remember) things to put on my bucket list.
For the first time in about two years I set a goal for myself again this week. Something I can control, something I can make happen. And that feels pretty good.
I started doing the research on it, making a few initial phone calls, praying, and really pondering it. It feels good to be setting my goals on something big again. I like moving forward!

Working Girl

Recently, I've been picking up work as a background extra on various projects. In the past month or so I've worked on 3 different m...

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