A (Not-So) Tiny Sacrifice

I had IVIG treatment today. For the next couple days I will feel fuzzy and foggy — a small sacrifice to endure for a treatment that has given me my life back (and will continue to for years to come because I’ve been doing this for fours years, every four weeks, and there is no foreseeable end). Four hours of lying in a bed with an IV stuck in my arm is a tiny sacrifice to endure to live again.

How did it come to be known that IVIG (Intravenous Immunoglobulin) would help immune deficient patients battle whatever disease is attacking their body? This therapy has taken the body that has fallen off a couch, too weak to lift itself up off the floor, the body that has fallen down stairs, legs not strong enough to reach the top, and has transformed that body into one that can walk, do yoga, and swallow with no fear of choking.

I’m so grateful, but today, I lay in that hospital bed and wondered about the animals, chimpanzees, in particular.

I volunteer at an animal shelter. I feel empathy for neglected, abandoned, and abused animals. I want to take them all home with me and show them what love feels like. I want them to know hands that comfort, and not hurt. I want the dog who has lived its life tied to a tree to know the feeling of the warmth of a bed with soft blankets. I want the dog who almost died from thirst to know there’s a bowl of fresh water, in the same place, anytime he wants it.

I want all these things because I hate suffering. I participate in protests against puppy mills, and those pet stores who by from those horrible places (which is most pet stores) because I hate suffering. I changed my eating habits to a (mostly) compassionate diet because I hate suffering. I research companies who test on animals and buy a different brand because I hate suffering. I do all of this because I hate the idea of contributing to the suffering of another living being, and yet, I don’t know if the treatment I go for every month has been tested on animals.

A chimpanzee has a 98% genetic similarity to humans. If the therapy I get was tested on an animal to see if it would benefit patients with my disease, (I haven’t yet checked because I don’t want to know. I’m not ready to know. I’m a coward like that) it most likely would have been a chimpanzee. Ironically, my most beloved animal growing up. Stuffed monkeys crowded my room as a kid. My favorite was one where the hands velcroed together so you can sling the arms around your neck and pretend like the monkey was clinging to you. I carried this chimp around my hip all the time.

So how fitting would it be if the suffering of a chimpanzee is the reason I feel better?

Not fitting at all because the only way a company could test if IVIG would work for my disease (and any disease) is to take a species with a similar functioning healthy immune system and make it sick. Yes, make a healthy and vibrant animal sick for the benefit of a human life — my life — possibly.

I don’t believe that animals are here for humans to do with them what they will. Maybe the Bible states Man’s dominion over animals, but I don’t believe everything in the Bible anyway, so I’m comfortable disagreeing. They are not our trophies in a one-player sport, or our entertainment performing a display of tricks while enduring cruel treatment, and, some argue, they aren’t even here to be our food.

They are living creatures who know pain and fear, and experience joy and sadness.

I’ve heard the heart-wrenching screams of a mother cow as she watches her calf being dragged away only seconds after birth. I’ve watched terror take over a pig when it knows it’s about to be killed in a brutal way — thumping — the industry calls it. I’ve seen cows and Beagles, who have spent their entire lives in cages inside factories, without ever once feeling the sun on their skin, frolic joyfully in the grass for the first time. And when given an option to lay on the floor or a bed piled with pillows, my dog will always choose the bed. Why? Because it’s more comfortable, and animals, even farm animals, recognize comfort over discomfort.

Which one do you think they prefer?

Today, I lay in a comfortable hospital bed while receiving the fluid that will help my body function as normally as it can, but what conditions were the chimpanzees living in when they were (are) experimented on? I imagine they were forced into small cages, in a bland and cold room, locked up like a prisoner, frightened and sick, not knowing why they are there because they’ve done nothing wrong — except to have the unfortunate luck in sharing enough DNA similarity to perhaps the greediest, self-entitled, and morally inept race alive today.

And cowardly, too. That’s my race. That’s me. And maybe some day I’ll be brave enough to know how much suffering (sacrifice) a living being endured so I can have my life back.

ID-10028278

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Looking for Someone Other Than My Wife.

On March 26, Indiana Governor, Mike Pence, signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law. There was no secret that this bill was being voted on in the Republican-controlled Indiana House of Representatives. The only question was whether Gov. Pence would sign it.

And the answer is, “Yes. Yes, he would.” And he did. And then the $hit hit the fan.

Pence attempted to extinguish the outpouring screams of bigotry by stating that this was the same bill President Bill Clinton passed in 1993. No, Gov. Pence. It is not. Under the law Clinton signed, a “person” doesn’t include a business or a corporation, whose rights of religious freedom are protected from being oppressed and thus, can use the law to protect itself while denying service to a customer based on religious beliefs.

The intent of the RFRA Clinton signed was clearly to protect REAL people, the ones with a pulse, from being religiously burdened by the government. This act specifically targeted “Native American religions that are burdened by increasing expansion of government projects onto sacred land. In Native American religion, the land they worship on is very important.” (Wikipedia)

Only in Indiana did the law state a business is a person.

Most people saw this law for what it really was — a legal way to discriminate against the LGBT community. I need to point out that in all states that have passed a RFRA, all of them offer legal protections to gays and lesbians. Indiana does not, and Pence stated only days before he signed this bill that adding legal protection to the LGBT community was “not on his agenda.” So he signed a bill into law that would leave a group of people vulnerable to discrimination. And when the public, including CEO’s of major corporations, let him know how they felt about it, he promptly called for revisions to the law. He remarked that he was surprised the law created such an outrage, but what I believe he really meant is that he was surprised so many people cared about the rights of gays and lesbians — people Pence clearly has no concern for.

The revised law now denies businesses the right to refuse service to anyone based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but the act of discriminating against the LGBT community in other areas like Housing is still legal in Indiana, which is both sad and scary.

During this debacle, one of the owners of a pizzeria in Indiana called, Memories Pizza, announced she wouldn’t deliver pizzas to a gay wedding. The publish backlash was so bad, the company had to temporarily shut its doors. A fund was started by those empathetic to the establishment, and collected over 800,000 dollars in donations.

Obviously, there are many strong opinions on this subject from both sides.

I wasn’t going to write a blog about this law, despite how much it infuriated me. If I had intended to, I would have written one weeks ago when the subject was headline news. But a few nights ago, I was at a friend’s house and a commercial came on. A bunch of really happy guys were singing a song with overly, creepy smiles on their faces. My friend (who is married) sighed and commented how much she hated this commercial.

“What’s it for?” I asked.

“Ashley Madison,” she responded.

“What’s that?” I innocently asked.

“You’ve never heard of it? It’s a website for men to cheat on their wives.”

No, I hadn’t heard of it and the line these men were gaily singing was “Looking for someone other than my wife.” I couldn’t make out the second line, but I don’t think it really matters. It’s $hit like this that really pisses me off. Websites for cheating spouses, casual marriages (Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian), and shows like “How to Marry a Millionaire” take a big dump on the sanctity of marriage, yet, I don’t hear the outcries from people, concerned about preserving the purity and holiness of marriage, screaming about this as loud as they do when the words “gay marriage” are uttered.

The entire fiasco of the Indiana law really came down to businesses not wanting to be forced to provide services for gay weddings. Whether that be in the form of catering, providing flowers, baking a wedding cake, or designing a dress. Businesses wanted to be able to use religion and the Bible to turn these “sinners” away. How do these self-righteous companies feel about serving adulterers? I don’t know because I haven’t heard a peep about it. Crickets.

I have yet to read a passage in the bible that states clearly the way God viewed gays, but I sure know how he felt about adultery. THAT was pretty darn clear. The act made it into the list of Ten Commandments of what “thou shalt not do.” Nothing about being gay made it onto that Biblical list, yet, it seems people are willing to push this aside because NOT committing adultery doesn’t fit today’s lifestyle (for some people).

Times have changed, I guess. When the Bible was written, there were a lot less people in the world. There weren’t as many options as there are now. Men today are tempted in a way Adam never was. An apple? That’s child’s play.

Maybe God will understand the dilemma today’s man finds himself in. Women don’t look the way they did in Biblical times. They wear make-up, short skirts, stiletto heels. They get boob-jobs and tummy-tucks, liposuction and lip injections. All of this, to look sexy and appealing to men.

Come on, God. Change the rules for these guys, will ya? It’s tough out there for a married fella. Serpents are everywhere!

I’m being sarcastic, of course, but for whatever reason, committing adultery doesn’t come with the same stigma it once did. But I don’t see how one sin that was clearly written as a sin gets a pass, when a sexual orientation that was never clearly deemed a sin, creates so much hate that people have killed over this bigotry, and others have killed themselves because of this bigotry.

Today, the company Ashley Madison announced it wants to go public.The company declared it has over 34 million members worldwide. I’ll buy that stock and probably make a lot of money because it’s obvious straight people aren’t so perfect after all, no matter how much they (some of them) love to judge others.

ID-10011776

P.S I know women cheat, too, but men were the only people used in this commercial. Also, I know that not all people in marriages cheat. This post was not meant to generalize one group of people.

Photo Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

I Ain’t Sinatra

Unlike Sinatra, I have more than a few regrets. Enough to mention, but I won’t in detail. Not here. My regrets stay locked tightly inside me and I fear if I accumulate any more, my insides will burst like the overflow of a shaken carbonated bottle. But my lid sits securely in its place–for now.

Some of my regrets I couldn’t control, but most, however, were of my own-doing. My past is filled with chances I didn’t take when I should have and chances I did take when I shouldn’t have. I quit when I was meant to fight and acted brave when it was best to walk away.

Live and Learn.

I meditate. Being still helps calm most of my mind’s chaos, while teaching me to accept my past knowing that I can’t change it. The part of my life already lived will not be given back to me. I’m tilting toward the brink of forty. If I’m lucky to live to see eighty, my life is already half-over. Half-lived.

Time may minimally ease the sting in the cuts of a person’s deepest regrets, but the guilt and shame in not feeling any sense of accomplishment in one’s life is a heavy burden to carry.

Luckily, that burden was lifted from me the moment I signed my first publishing contract. I waited twenty years and I would have waited twenty more because getting published is the validation most writers seek, and I was no exception to that need of validity.

In 1999, I was fresh out of college — an English major who didn’t want to teach. I want to be a writer, I’d say, and being a teacher sounded too permanent. So I took a job selling cellphones. I sold cellphones before I even owned one. I didn’t know how to power-on most of the phones I was meant to sell, let alone answer technically-specific questions about them.

“Is this a NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) battery or a lithium-ion?”

“Um…let me check on that for you, sir,” I’d say, and sneak behind a front display and whisper to my manager, “What the #uck is a nickel metal something battery and lithium something another?”

These exchanges happened often. I’ll never forget the $hit I caught from a customer when I told him a charger he wanted to buy was an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) Motorola product when it was actually an after-market brand. It was an honest mistake, but because he owned stock in Motorola, he was furious. And he let me know it.

I was a terrible salesperson, but that was the appeal. The only job I wanted to be good at was writing. The downtime waiting for customers was spent writing. But I didn’t yet know how to write and my first rejection letter proved this. I was around twenty-three years old and all I wanted was to be a published writer. I took the rejection well. I didn’t expect it to be easy, but I also didn’t know it was going to be so hard.

But the hard is what makes the moment so sweet when you finally get it right.

I signed my first publishing contract early last year and my book came out the following summer. Though I may have felt validation as a writer, that moment, a year later, has created one of the biggest regrets in my life, and that’s saying a lot. I know I can’t bring back the past, no matter how far I reach back. Like all my other regrets, this one has to live through its course, and will be felt every inch of the way.

ID-100213981

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net