And there were some things I learned from Hunter S. Thompson. Most of them wouldn't make my mother very happy, or my wife. Some elicited that, "yeah...but..." response from friends.

"Yeah, but -- it really didn't happen like that." HST admitted in print that he'd never have survived had he actually done all those drugs, which was good for me because most drugs stronger than cough medicine scared the shit out of me. To be a great writer I wasn't going to have to attempt to survive a bout of full-body cramping on pure adrenochrome extracted from cadavers, or enduring a three headed turtle hangover for weeks after swallowing a sea sponge sopping in DMT.

Yeah but -- it was gonzo journalism. It wasn't what happened, it's what he saw happen.

On the other hand, I'd reached the point in my life where most of my friends were scheming women my age or slightly younger. Natural selection dictated they were all writers. Most of them were journalists with a slant toward science.

"Anyway, gonzo journalism is bullshit," said one of my journalist girlfriends to me, recently. We were walking down the shore path at Redondo Beach. I was asking her if she could give me a reference for a job in Antarctica. Actually, I was angling for a slot on her newspaper and I wanted her to know payola wasn't beneath me. She ignored my blatant offer of financial or sexual favors and deftly handled the subject by pointing out my qualifications were substandard, starting with my amateur's choice of favorite writers.

"There is no such thing as Gonzo journalism," she said.

"Really. Why would you say that?"

"You're supposed to report. Unbiased reporting. Some of us go to school for it. For years."

"But that's boring," I said. "You needed four years of training to learn to be boring?"

"Journalists don't make up stuff."

"Like hell. Ever watch Fox News? Ever hear of NPR?"

"You know what I mean."

"Yeah. Like right now. I just want to know how you can sit back and condemn the man's work when you've never read it, Miss Objectivity."

(silence)

"I mean, you've never read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It's an American classic. As soon as we can vote the book burners out of office, it will be required reading for all seventh graders."

"Now there's a rational statement."

"You can quote me. It's journalism."

etc.

In a sense, modern hyper-biased newscasting on both the left and right owe their existence to Hunter Thompson. Before him, networks presented newscasts as a public service. While they took in big advertising money for Movie of the Week and Jack Parr they lost money on Huntley Brinkley and Walter Cronkite. And those guys were journalists. They simply reported. Textbook.

Now the news is a packaged product. There is an advertising sales quota to be met. And I have heard commentary on all-news stations to the effect that it's the "duty" of a news organization to provide the "slant" the audience is looking for. I've heard it said on our left-leaning National Public Radio, and on the stations leaning to the right, like Fox and the independents.

Thanks to HST, the reporter has become the story.

When the Thompson lost interest in covering the Mint 400 motorcycle race, he wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas instead. He found out who won the race by reading the local paper. Meanwhile, he wrote one of the quintessential pieces on the death of the hippie era. It also happens to be side splittingly hilarous, which is a quality most journalism lacks, by definition.

"When you don't see it, you make it up," my blonde friend said to me about my own writing. "That's not journalism."

Oddly, I think she's right. I can't tell what the hell's happening in the world anymore by consuming the offal shit out by the American media. On the right, we're dominated by assholes like Bill O'Reilly or former UPS truck driver Sean Hannity whose only qualification as a broadcaster is the ability to whip his listeners into a froth about random issues of varying degrees of importance from abortion to the logic of applying the death penalty to people under the age of 4. The issues they discuss matter less to the success of these shows than their ability to excite their listeners. And that's what people are looking for. There are no slow news days for Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity. People can be made angry about anything.

What I wonder is how people who consume their dreck regularly can move through life with any degree of peace. I have a good friend who watches and listens to both those guys daily, and will frequently point out to me the absurdly infuriating stories they highlight, along with some of the more serious work. And then he tells me about his drive into work, how awful the traffic was and how many jerks he had to endure to make it in.

I ask him if he sees a connection -- between watching all these right-wing talk shows and feeling like he's surrounded with unfeeling, malicious dunderheads. And he doesn't. Because he knows he is surrounded by unfeeling, left-wing, immoral, malicious, dunderheads.

On the other side of the spectrum is NPR and the historically left-leaning major network news, who enervate their listeners by presenting controversial topics in a wrapper of milquetoast logic. If "a" then "b", if "b" then "c", if "c" then we're all as bad as the National Socialists in 1938. And all it takes is one trip down the California byways to see all the angry white males in their BMWs flipping off each other and jockeying for position to prove to them we absolutely are developing a new cadre of brownshirts.

Because everyone is seeing exactly what they expect.

I hate them all. Maybe I hate them because they won't let me be a part of it.

McNeil/Lehrer is probably the only truly unbiased news source left in America, and they have a viewing audience of about a hundred, and most of them are McNeil's relatives who like watching him on television, or the politicians in the federal government of either major party who admit it's the only broadcast they trust for accuracy.

We have my hero, Hunter Thompson to thank for this mess, in part. And the bastard blew his brains out with a .45 ACP Gold Cup.

Etc.

*



There's a law of nature that I was unaware of. It goes something like this:

If you are alone with a woman downing shots of Herradura Anejo at a bar at 2:00 in the afternoon, she will sleep with you.

There are no exceptions or corrillaries. It's a law. Like Newton or Galileo. It simply is.

All women know this, apparently, and so if you happen to mention to one that you've done the drinking part, in their minds the fucking part is simply a matter of you having located a place of sufficient comfort and privacy to have carried out the inevitable.

It's inevitable, you see, because when a woman makes it clear to a guy who has been drinking that she's going to encourage that activity males are generally incapable of refusing.

This may seem obvious to all of you who are a bit more savvy than me in the cultural arts. Those of you who have been in this situation may just roll your eyes and make a loud "tsk" sound.

And I was on the phone with a woman with whom some time ago I was in a bar, alone after friends left at the seemingly innocent family oriented hour of 2:00PM on a Saturday when she said to me, as mad as if she'd just finished watching an installment of the Sean Hannity show:

"You have no idea how women think."

"Ok, how do women think?"

"Well, what do YOU think?"

"I think -- are you meaning to tell me that if I had asked you'd have come back to my hotel room with me right then and there?"

(silence)

"Does this screw up my chance to get a job on your newspaper?"

(silence)

"Is it because I make up too much shit?"

"You never had a chance."

Etc.

Frank Chin, the author of “Chicken Coop Chinaman,” the first Asian American play performed on a legitimate New York stage, would say that without embracing one’s identity, it’s like saying you’re a bean—one of the millions and billions of beans in the world and not even a black or yellow bean at that.

About a month ago, I was invited to a small dinner party with an English teacher and my poetry professor at the University of Michigan and poet Li-Young Lee who was having a reading at Southern Oregon University on the following day. The next morning, Mr. Lee wrote a short poem for me, which read:

Brother-flower,
Fellow pilgrim,
Our original voice
Lies under every Petal.

Truely, I am a pilgrim from across the Pacific, much like Li-Young Lee who traveled from Jakarta, Indonesia. He remembers his father who spent a year as a political prisoner in President Sukarno’s jails before fleeing Indonesia. In much the same way, I remember my grandfather in India who spent five years as a prisoner of war in Stalin’s Siberian labor camps before repatriating to India. He was part of Subhas Chandra Bose's revolt against the British for the freedom of India. We have the voice, as the children and grandchildren of war-torn generations, to reflect on and portray the perilous and grim experiences our families went through. We have the voice to trust that our hope, our words, and our experiences will influence our surrounding communities, be it in our small towns, in our nation, or even in our larger world, to develop a broader perspective.

I will share anecdotes: stories from elementary school, when I broke my nose by running into my classmate playing tag, then being hospitalized for several weeks with a strangely benevolent mobster, who fed me a first season watermelon, bragging that it cost him over $20,000. I will talk about how I have had a rocky experience with standardized testing in America, the first American standarized test I ever took when I was 9 years old, when I couldn't even yet read the questions in English, going home in tears—mortified—deathly scared. I will talk about my experience in elementary school in America, when a classmate asked me if I spoke Spanish because he thought I looked Chicano, recalling him say, “Shame on you!” when I said no. “You don’t even speak your native tongue?” I will talk about my memories in ESL class, when I learned English with kids from Mexico, Korea, Japan, and Uganda. I will talk about my first experience of xenophobia in America when kids in my 3rd grade class called me a Indian *** because I wore a shiny vinyl backpack to express my cultural background. I will talk about my grandfather in India; how he describes his experiences in the Siberian labor camps and speaks about how he hopes this grim history will not repeat for his grandchildren. I will talk about the time when Broc, a poetry graduate student at the University of Iowa, a tall and lanky man with cigar-stained teeth, Buddy Holly glasses, and arms tattooed all over with the paintings and words of William Blake, wrote me a letter, a letter to help me sort out what sort of a bean I am, saying:

I’m writing you a little note because I thought when I met you the other day, I recognized something in you I went through once...once you’re out of the woods, the world becomes much friendlier, I promise. Listen: every jock and housewife and fireman in this country has a poem buried in their sock drawer. They are ashamed of it and embarrassed by it and sort of proud of it too. But those people lack courage. They can’t share. Have courage. Share.

Identity and culture is not about eating sushi or bowing. It’s about experiences and understanding. It’s about becoming cognizant of where one stands in the public. It’s about letting people know that one’s experience can be part of a larger world. That is why I share—stories of immigrant life, stories of finding and working through the difficulties of fitting into the duality of two cultures, stories of the goodness of living in the “betweens” of cultures. All of this, I hope, is presented in such a way that is pure and guileless. I will share my stories of affection and love, gentleness and strangeness, ignorance and desperation, intelligence and grace—all in a way that is awake. Much like the authors I admire, I try to see through the material image to the real thing, through human surfaces to the strange, comical, and at times lamentable truth that changes a fool to a great solemn hero. Everyday, I am looking under every petal, looking for that strange truth, where our original voice lies, enveloped by my experiences, my identity, the being that I am.

What was said:

  • Her: hey so last night you said that you wanted to talk to me, was that just a drunken thing or do you still need to talk to me?
  • Me: I dunno, I'm just confused as to where we stand in our relationship
  • Her: i think just friends
  • Me: ok, I'm completely fine with that
  • Me: it's just that things get fucked up when we drink, and I'm not sure how we should handle those type of situations
  • Her: i think we should just try to be friends in those situations too
  • Me: ok
  • Her: is that ok?
  • Me: yeah
  • Her: ok
  • Me: I'm sorry again for last night, things got fucked up
  • Her: yeah its ok, i wasn't even mad at anything you did, it was just that last phone call
  • Me: the whole thing really got to me, but it's just the state of mind that I was in
  • Her: yeah

What should have been said:

  • Her: hey so last night you said that you wanted to talk to me, was that just a drunken thing or do you still need to talk to me?
  • Me: No we really need to sit down and talk about things, like where do we stand in this relationship?
  • Her: i think just friends
  • Me: even after all the great times we've had? You take one fucked up weekend and interpret it as destroying our relationship? And I just know that the next time you get trashed you're gonna come back again and make things even more awkward than they already are.
  • Her: i think we should just try to be friends in those situations too, is that ok?
  • Me: you're manipulating me, and I'm taking it because I'm a sucker. You say that we should be friends and then you go and drink and end up wanting something more and you get me to think that that's really what you want, but then you go and do this all over again. I'm sorry again for last night, things got fucked up, but it's not like I'm not trying to make things better, you just refuse to listen to me. Every time we say we're going to talk I just back down and let you win and end up paying dearly in the long run, and that's what's bothering me. Things need to change.

Sorry to make this such an emotional node, I don't normally do this sort of thing, but I'm really depressed right now and had to get this out there. Drinking really fucks things up, which makes me want to quit altogether

Thee Morning After.

A lone strand of cobweb floats in the corner of this bright, morning sunlit brewery. It's been a long and feverish night. Bruises and cuts on my hands and leg stand as proof. I'm still scanning my blurred memory for the reason this large grass stain is on the knee of my jeans. Can these things be explained by using adjectives like "drunken" and "careless?" Probably... I'd say more "stupid" than anything. Either way, this warm and buzzing coffee house is a nice retreat. To tell the truth, I've no idea where I am. I've never been to Athens, OH before. The folks I'm visiting aren't up yet and I couldn't sleep. Somehow I rambled my way here. It's astonishing how comforting a place like this is after a night ridden with insanity. Ominous flashbacks of industrial ladders being thrown out of open, two-story windows and far too many cigarettes being smoked.

I must look so shoddy here. I'm unshaven, not showered. I've stained clothes, greasy hair and a greasy face. Fortunately the patrons seem to be taking no notice of me. I'd call myself a 'patron' but when I arrived here I found, not to my surprise that I had no money. I decided to settle for a free cup of water. Such activity at 10:00 a.m. on a Sunday. Label me a "typical college student," but there are many weekends that I don't see this hour. A couple of women to my right are talking about AIDS and HIV. They seem concerned, anxious. To my left there's an old couple, intently shuffling papers between each other. I cast my gaze straight ahead and there sits a rather heavy woman, blonde hair and a muumuu, sipping some sort of smoothie and dropping crumbs from her blueberry muffin on her USA Today. Looking to my North-East there's another woman in a brick red knit sweater, sipping a obsidian liquid from a mug while reading a book with a large Granny Smith apple on the front.

For some reason, I feel inclined to assume that three-fourths of these people are going to or coming from some sort of church. I don't touch that stuff myself... Some have taken notice of me, looking at them and scribbling in this notepad. They cast an inquisitive yet disapproving eye. Maybe my paranoia is just setting in. Things are getting crowded in here. Soon I'll make my departure.

I'm not really looking forward to going back to that musty, cramped dorm room and looking at my friends passed out on the floor. They'll be snoring, half covered with blankets, heads almost completely off the crushed pillows they were given. I'll be bored out of my mind until they finally awake and we can return to OSU. I recently read an "anti-drinking rant" written by our own DeadEyes. He has good points. There are so many other things we could be doing with our time. Furthering our skills, practicing the things we love. Instead we drink the opportunities away. Upon pondering this, a random thought floats through my mind. If I hadn't have gotten drunk last night and woken up at 6:30 unable to go sleep, would you still be reading this (that point is as valid or invalid as you want it to be)?

I know I'll be asking myself all day, what exactly did they do today that made last night worth it? Or what did they do to make last week worth it, or last year, last nineteen years? I don't think they could give me a valid answer. Hell, I might not be able to give a valid answer.

After 27 hours of flying back with the exquisite Singapore Air I am back in the East End of London: It is impressive how the East End continues to evolve: Every time I land in London City Airport, you can see new features, new buildings, old buildings being renovated. Although Stepney still has the feeling of a busy town somewhere in the third world around it, changes are everywhere: dilapidated houses are being renovated, the odd posh bar is appearing, the cars are getting less run down. THe area will always have a large amount of state housing, so it will never become Richmond or a little village in the Cotswolds, but nevertheless: things are palpably changing.

If things are changing in the East End, revolutions are taking place in the eastern part of the docklands: Since I stayed there last year, apartment buildings have jumped sky-wards out of nowhere around the London Excel, old warehouses are being converted into luxurios lofts and new roads have materialized. It seems that London's appetite for expansion isn't slowing down, on the contrary: flying over the south-eastern part of the Thames it seems that the city is continuously expanding eastward, with existing villages being swallowed by the expansions.

London: A magnificent beast.

< | @ | >

Oh look! Exactly a month since I last daylogged.

WTF?

Am I actually in twenty-first century Britain, reading this?:

Black boys separate classes plan

Black boys should be taught apart from their peers, the head of the Commission for Racial Equality suggests.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4323979.stm

Do I really need to comment any more on this?

Noding

My noding of the European constitution is not going well at the moment. Why is this? Well, I wrote myself a little perl script to help me, you see. It cleans up the really bad HTML that the website I found it on used and put it in a nice E2able format. Then I read through and added hard links. Yes, I could have made the script do that too, but I wanted to read it... that was sort of the point.

The problem is caused by the situation I was in at the time. I was using my parents computer (they were on holiday and have free net access). They use windoze and they use firefox. They don't have perl, so I sshed into my Exeter University account to run the script there. I copied the text from firefox, pasted it into vi in the ssh window and ran my script on it. That checked an html file into my public_html at Exeter which I then picked back up using firefox and pasted into Everything.

This means that I can't node from home (I use gentoo and, although I have firefox the cut and paste works differently). I can't node from Uni (They either have linux with firefox or windoze with Internet Exploder but not both. So to continue, I have to either go back to my parents house or write another script.

Having written this, I found that there are windoze PCs with firefox here, but there's workshops running in it all day, so I can't use them. Note to self: Next time you write a script like that make it work on the HTML source not the cut-and-paste malarky

Random Wibbling

I like lists. Everyone likes lists. They're easily consumable information. They don't have to be important. They don't even have to be in any order. In fact, they don't even have to be correct. Just think of the normal sort of lists you make, because someone asked you: “What are your top five, all time, favorite films in the world, ever?” Or something similar. The films you come up with mean nothing. I could list my favorite films for you now. I could even node it and get it instantly deleted for being GTKY; and this would be right because it's all crap. Ask me tomorrow; I'll tell you five different films because I'm in a different mood.

But I still like lists. I use loads of <ul>s, <ol>s and <dl>s in many of my nodes, even in some of my daylogs.

I was going to use this as an introduction to some lists about me at the moment: what's pissing me off1, what CDs I want, etc. But I can't be bothered now. I mean, who cares? Maybe I should move away from the discrete to the continuous. If I wasn't so obsessed with forcing everything into list form, maybe I could see things in a more interesting way. More analogue, less digital. Not as much Yes/No, a bit more possibly. Try and look at the bigger picture instead of breaking it down to features I can look for logic in. Maybe I should stop yabbering on in this daylog and do some work.


1: Number one was going to be the fucking awful mouse on this PC.

< | @ | >




Caught in the medical machine

WARNING:
Detailed medical information ahead, don't read it if you don't want the gory details.
Void where prohibited.
Not valid in Connecticut or Nebraska.

May you live in interesting times.
(Chinese curse)

p.s. remember when I said I'm not here to talk about my boobs?

I lied.



When we left off last week, our fair heroine was waiting for the results from the first biopsy. wertperch added the addendum, that indeed they did find cancer in my biopsy, and now I'm on to the next steps, talking with a team of doctors, and more follow-up tests.

The first step was a second biopsy - there were a few tiny specks in Thursday's mammogram, and having found cancer in the first biopsy, they decided to check the others. Again, reassurance comes first - "95% of these are benign, we just want to make sure." (I find that amongst other things, the process of having cancer diagnosed is rapidly turning me into Han Solo: "NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS.")



And, again, the news was bad. They did find cancer in the second biopsy. I learned this last Wednesday, when I met with the surgeon. This changes the diagnosis, and I did not have the brains to ask if that means it had spread, or started spontaneously in two places. The fact that I discovered it from finding enlarged lymph nodes makes the surgeon 95% certain that the lymph nodes are involved, which puts me at the least at stage IIIB.

This week I'll be going through several more tests, to try and get a few more details, and then deciding on a course of treatment. First will be an MRI, to get a finer scan, and make sure there is not something that the mammograms missed. Good answer would be that there IS nothing the mammogram missed, and the cancer is still confined to the right breast. Bad answer would be that they find more cancer, which would definitely mean a mastectomy, and if they find it in the left, we can wave that one goodbye, too.

The second test is in progress. They are currently testing the earlier biopsies to see if the cancer is estrogen receptive. This one is the whopper of mixed blessings. If they are estrogen receptive, I will, amongst the mix of other dandy treatments, take tamoxifen. (For the dirt on tamoxifen production, see doyle's w/u under The One-Boobed Systyrs of the Apocalypse. I couldn't have said it better me own self. end digression.) Tamoxifen = good because that can make the tumors go dormant, sometimes permanently. Tamoxifen = bad, because if I take estrogen out of my system, what I have is menopause. Probably permanently. With all the side effects of THAT. Sheesh. I'm sorry I used the phrase, "But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?" in another writeup, I need it more now.

The third test will be genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes - if I'm positive for either of those, as I understand it, it whoppingly increases my odds of cancer, in general. Something like 40-80% of women with those genes will get breast cancer, and one of the signs is early onset (before menopause), aggressive (fast growing) cancer. It ALSO significantly increases the odds for ovarian cancer, which is generically more deadly than breast cancer. Remember this one? So tesing positive for either of these would make it likely that I will have both boobs removed, oh sorry, a "bilateral mastectomy", AND and oophorectomy, and if that's spelled wrong, I don't care. Ovaries removed.

So. I meet with an oncologist later this week, the surgeon on Friday. At a minimum (!) I suspect I'll be having a mastectomy, I will definitely be having both chemotherapy, and radiation. Yes, we are still planning to get married on the first of May - I'll be the cute bald bride.






However, I'm starting to think Kevin should have looked much more closely at the fine print in the warranty.....








(R) breast and (R) axilla - Caught in the medical machine - Going Amazonian - When the Breast Fairy Comes - So there we were, in Oncology, wishing for Star Trek technology - Weddings, and other Sundrie Diversions - Support the Amazons: A Dual-Function Ninjagirls Bakesale for Boobies - Seven Down, One to Go - 1950s technology meets 21st-century woman. - Getting better, but cancer SUCKS - An Open Letter to Macy's regarding Tits

What is the deal with all these songs lately coming out with the title "Breathe?" The past two years I've heard five songs with that title, two of them are the same damn song sung by two different artists. Melissa Etheridge is one and I cannot remember the name of the other (please /msg me if you know of which I speak). The latest is one by Anna Nalick. It's a fine song, not awesome but not bad, but it's tainted in my mind by the fact that there are already songs named breathe by the aforementioned Etheridge, Erasure, and Michelle Branch.

What, did they all recently attend a musician's conference where one of the talks was "Get played on the radio: Come out with at least one song entitled 'Breathe?'" Anybody with me here?! If one more musical artist -- and I use the term loosely -- comes out with a song called "Breathe" in the next five years I will just...just...well, write them a nasty letter. OK don't get me wrong, Michelle Branch and Melissa Etheridge are talented artists (and maybe this Anna Nalick chick, but I have to hear more of her to have a clear verdict), but surely, wich the exception of the first one to do it -- not sure which -- they all had to be aware that there were a bazillion other songs out there with the same goddamn title! Was this not a concern of theirs??

Maybe I should calm down. Maybe I should just...breathe.


Serenity now!!

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