Sunday, July 31, 2011

Keeping Tabs on Warren Jeffs While Convalescing

I've beeen resting a great deal lately, partly because that's mostly what I felt like doing. My parents really don't want me to do much more than lie around in bed and watch TV, anyway. My surgeon released me with the assumption that I would spend about twenty-two of every twenty-four hours in bed. There's been so little to do that I've basically complied with all requests.

My mother thinks the reason that I've been so compliant is that I am going to ask for something really big, such as the right to make a large withdrawal from my saving account to buy a car. Right now that's the furthest thing from my mind. Driving where we lived before was a more-or-less routine procedure. Driving where I now live, with two-way-streets that suddenly curve and become one-way streets, constant road construction, very old stoplights that are placed randomly so that one would not notice them unless one already knew they were there, in addition to bona fide crazy people stepping into traffic without looking one way, much less both ways, is nerve-wracking to say the least. While I am licensed to drive, I'm not to eager to demand the right here in my present location.

For once, I'm not being cooperative because I want something. I just don't have anything better to do than to cooperate. It takes less energy just to do what my parents and doctors say than to be oppositional at this point. Someday I may return to my rather contrary personality, but right now I lack the energy. Why even think for myself when I can get someone else to do my thinking for me? (This is temporary. I will want my brain back eventually.)

We've been following some coverage of the Warren Jeffs trial. The polyg lifestyle has fascinated me since I first heard of it when I was a little kid. I couldn't believe I was hearing correctly when I first heard mention of it. "Now?" I remember asking my older cousin. "There are men married to more than one lady at a time right now?"

She told me yes and showed me some pictures of modern polygamists in a magazine. The pictures wouldn't have convinced me, even looking like modern color photographs with people wearing clothes straight out of "Little House on the Prairie" though their hairstyles looked vaguely extraterrestrial, were it not for the modern automobiles in the background.

My mom showed me on a U. S. map where the twin cities of Colorado City, Arozona, and Hilldale, Utah are. She told me that the cities were formerly called "Short Creek." Since that time when I was quite young, Warren Jeffs built a more deluxe settlement near San Angelo, Texas. This settlement featured a temple. Jeffs' temple on his ranch in Texas differed from conventional Mormon temples in that right next to the altar was a bed so that temple marriages could be consummated right then and there in the presence of witnesses. (While I'm often the first to criticize conventional Mormonism, I know many people who have been throughout multiple Mormon temples, including my Dad and my Uncle Steve, who are no longer practicing Mormons, and they all say that there isn't a single bed to be found in any one of the conventional Mormon temples. Jeffs also supposedly built up communities in South Dakota, Montana, and Colorado, though none so elaborately as the community in Texas. My cousin lived with an off-shoot group in Canada for several months recently.

Last summer, my Pseudo-Aunt and Pseudo-Uncle took me on an overnight trip to see the twin cities of Colorado City and Hilldale. There wasn't a lot to see, as most of the pwoplw actually lived in gated areas, but my uncle finagled an invitation to a church service for us. My pseudo-aunt was scared to death that one of the polygs was going to claim her as his fourteenth wife or something like that, but the visitation went without a hitch. We dressed like them. I was still in a really heavy orthopedic device between casts, so they thought I was a little crippled girl and they prayed for me. We pretended to be living The principle, except we told them I was ten and my mama died a few years ago and my new mama, who was sixteen (she was actually 22, but sixteen sounded better) was raising me until my father could find another wife to help her. While we were there, we bought some really good fudge from a shop there that makes and sells it. Warren was no where to be found at the time. I think he was already locked up in a jail somewhere.

I really wish his trial would be televised. it would be straight out of "Big Love." as it is, there will probably be reporters standing outside the courtroom, as in the Scott Peterson case, ready to share anything of interest that happens, and I suspect many things of interest will happen.

Even though her face is blurred out, the picture of the twelve-year-old girl kissing Warren Jeffs after supposedly just marrying him (I've seen the photo in a version where the young bride's face was not blurred) is positively sickening. If that photo is admitted into evidence, it would seem that it alone would be sufficient to convict Warren Jeffs. One never knows what juries will do, though. Still, the trial is being held in Texas. The people of Texas don't necessarily look kindly upon one's freedon to practice a deviant religion. warren Jeffs probably should have foud a more "live and let live" state than Texas for the site of his Yearning for Zion Ranch.

I'm very close to my Pseudo-Uncle, Scott. He's eleven years older than I, which is far closer in age than Warren Jeffs is to the twelve-year-old he allegedly married and was seen kissing in the infamous photo. I'm sixteen-and-a-half, which is considerably older than twelve, although I probably look younger than the girl does. Still, the idea of PseudoUncle Scott, who's not a blood relative (as likely as not, the twelve-year-old is probably at least a second cousin in more ways than one to Warren Jeffs)kissing me anywhere other than on the forehead or cheek would be positively repulsive to me or to him. And he's very good-looking. Warren Jeffs looks like a corpse that was dressed up and made up with mortician's putty and then came back to life.

Many people with Mormon roots have distant relatives in either Jeffs' groups or in one of the spin-off groups. My family didn't become Mormon until long after polygamy was made against official practice in the Mormon church, so, other than the one lunatic relative who hooked up with the Canadian polygamous group, I have no particular familial connection to polygamy. Still I'll be watching the trial somewhat anxiously.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Career Options: Nun, CIA Agent, or Stripper: What I want , What My Parents Think About It, and Drawbacks Associated with all Possibilities

As I enter college, it causes me to think of precisely what it is I'd like to do with my life. I've wanted to be an attorney for a very long time. My dad always said that both my argumentative and analytical tendencies made me a natural lawyer, but my dad is a little concerned that I'm possibly wasting strengths in the areas of math and science. I hear what he's saying, but not everyone needs to be a doctor or a scientist.

Regarding my being a nun, there's nothin in my life totally precluding my finding a vocation or calling at this time except that I do sometimes have trouble with following orders form authorities who are giving out orders just to exercise their power to do so. I would think the incidence of that sort of activity could be fairly high in a nunnery. Chances are I wouldn't last long under the average Mother Superior, which is unfortunate, as I probably would've been a very good nun in many ways. The bottom line here is that I have yet to receive the full impact of adolescent hormones. when that happens, it could change my ability or desire to serve as a nun a a very big way. There is still that matter of my entire family having been formally excommunicated. I suspect it could be cleared up easily enough, but it would most definitely atand out a major blight on my appplication.

As far as being a CIA agent goes, I can keep a secret. I've done so on numerous occasions, and even in cases where I probably should not have for the other party's own good but felt honor-bound by my agreement to maintain confidentiality. The main appeal to me in becoming a CIA agent is that I'm bery nosy. I was born nosy. I think I can recall trying to hear conversations between my parents from my shared position in utero. Matthew, my twin, would've at the same time been trying to stretch out in the tight quarters and take up more than his share of the space while sucking his thumb and liberaally drinking up and peeing out as much amniotic fluid as his more-than-six-pound body would allow him, oblivious to actual life happening just a few sacs and layers of tissue away. My dad says this is impossible -- my memory of listening in on private parental conversations from the womb -- but how would he know? He's never even read The Secret Life of the Unborn Child. My mom read it and pronounced it 98% bullshit, so my dad didn't even bother reading it. Still, before he claims to have expertise regarding what I did or didn't hear in utero, wouldn't one think he would at least read a book on the topic before proclaiming himself an expert? My prenatal activities notwithstanding, I've laways liked being privy to information that not everyone has. The more exciting or sensitive the information, the better. Furthermore, I look liike a person to whom highly sensitive information would not be entrusted. That would be an added benefit to my usefulness to the C. I. A. A law degree would likewise be of added benefit to the CIA, so the two possibilities of attorney and C.I.A. agent are not mutually exclusive.

I just threw the bit about being a stripper in for my dad's enjoyment and peace of mind. I would not be a good stripper for obvious reasons. First and foremost, I have serious issues with undressing in front of others. I even hate it when doctors or nurses pull down the front of my gown to listen to my heart with their stethoscopes. I hate it worse when one of them gives me a shot in my bottom. I have frequent conflict with medical personnel - even my dad sometimes -- because of my heightened sense of modesty when it comes to my own body. My dad thinks I'm just being difficult, but I have a strong aversion to anyone seeing me unclothed.

Right now it would be illegal for me to perform as a stripper. Even once it's legal, though, chances are that I'm going to look like it should not be legal for awhile. This would mean that most of the guys who hung around to watch once I started my performance were probably mildly sick in the head, however legal my activity and their observing it and tipping me for it would be. I'm having trouble thinking of a good analogy here. Let's try this one on for size: Say Mr. MacGoogle liked looking at child porn on his computer, but he knew that doing so was illegal. So instead, he looked at virtual child porn, where the subjects were digitally enhanced to appear younger. Mr. MacGoogle wasn't looking at any actual children, so he was not breaking laws, but because he qa looking at the virtual child por, would that make him any less sick than he would be were he viewing the real thing?

Probably not; the legality of what he was doing wouldn't make him any less sick or pedophilic in the minds of many of us. Likewise with me, were I to become a stripper in one-and-a-half years or so, I would in all likelihood not require any sort of digital enhancement to appear to be jailbait, while I would not, any way one cared to configurate the situation, be jailbait. Would that make any guy who ogled my nude body any less perverse than if he were viewing an actual under-age youngster performing? Probably not.

Anyway, it doesn't matter, because if I'm too shy to take my clothing off at the doctor's office, what would make it suddenly easier to do so in front of a live audience. I love money, but before one of my endocrinologist appointments, my dad offered me twenty-five dollars to cooperate and not resist or make any sort of scene when I had to expose various part of my body that are usually kept under at least two layers of clothing. I really wanted the twenty-five dollars, and I knew I was going to have to let the doctor see what he needed to see, but, hard as I tried to force myself, I could not cooperate well enough to earn the twenty-five dollars. Sorry, but I'm not stripper material.

So I'll most likely finish undergraduate studies and complete law school as well. I haven't totally ruled out my dad's suggestion of medical school, though I do not see myself as doctor material. It's not that I'm totally lacking in feeling for my fellow human beings, but I doubt that I would empathize to the degree that a doctor sometimes must, or must at least pretend to empathize. My brother wants to be a physician, but he's a fairly one-dimensional and transparent character. He can't even fake sincerity well enough to break up with a girfriend without her often hating him as well as every member of our entire family. (It's a miracle I was only beaten up in a school restroom only once, and the once had nothing to do with Matthew and his former girlfriends). This has been the case even when the breakup was over a girl going off to explore whether or not being a nun was in the cards for her. That one was a no-brainer, and he screwed it up to the point that her family to this day doesn't speak to my family.

Suffice it to say that if I really wanted to become a doctor, I probably could do it. My dad suggested for me some branch of medicine like radiology, where I would look at Xrays all day and have limited contact with patients. That is something I could probably do, but I'd really rather carry secrets around for the CIA, with or without a law degree. The law dregree would come in habdy, though, in the event that someone outed me as a secret agent, as happened to Agent Valerie Plame in an ugly political maneuver. At least I'd have my law degree on which to fall back in the event that some Karl Rove-type bureaucrat had a grievance with me or my husband and chose to leak my identity to a few journalists in retaliation for God knows what. Keeping multiple options open is a very smart strategy in the process of entering the job maarket.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ruining My Parents' Careers or Social Lives by Airing Their Secret Opinions

My parents are concerned that I could cause problems by publicizing their views on religion, politics, social issues, or anything else. Isn't this a Gawd-damned hoot and a half?

Seriously, is there one person who reads this semi-anonymous blog who cares in the least what my parents think about ANYTHING? I didn't think so.

Here's a possible scenario runnning through my father's mind. He hasn't actually told me this, of course, but I'm trying to get inside his head and see from where he could possibly be coming. OK, so here goes it: President Barack Obama is looking for a new surgeon general. Someone suggests Dr. John Rousseau (not even our real surname). Then President Obama happens to be trolling the WWW one night in his ample leisure time, and he comes across one of my blogs. He doesn't like what he sees, so he keeps reading more. Eventually he makes the connection that Dr. John Rousseau (not even his actual last name) is the father of that quasi-terrorist Alexis, or that rabid Anti-Mormon Alexis at the very least. He knows the Mitt Romney camp will make deviled Spam out of him if he dares appoint the father of a known anti-Mormon, who is himself somewhat anti-Mormon, to such an esteemed post as Surgeon General of the United States. The nomination is withdrawn before it is even submitted.

Or, looking at things as they might be from my mom's perspective: She decides to ditch the public sector once and for all and work in private practice as a theraapist even though she knows that half of her salary will go to henchmen attempting unsuccessfully to make collections for her. (It's got to be tough to maintain rapport with a client when that client knows that the rottweiler who is harassing him or her at home, at work, and on his or her cell phone, was sicced on him or her by his or her therapist. wouldn't you say? They could even make a reality series out of the activities of therapists' collection agents. It would make Operation Repo look tame by comparison.) Anyway, my mom starts private practice again and is lucky enough to build up a clientele right away because there happens to be a buttload of crazy Mormons living within walking distance of her office, and my mom leaves toys and cookies in the waiting room so that the Mormon ladies' four-year-olds can more easily babysit the three-, two-. and one- year-olds, as well as newborns in the waiting room while Mommy is talking to her shrink about the unknown stressors that make her want to step directly into the path of a speeding bus. Then one of them finds out the therapist is the mother of the dreaded Alexis. What one Mormon knows, they all soon know. There goes my mother's clientele, still stressed but in search of a therapist who doesn't think Joseph Smith was a pedophile and Brigham Young was a megalomaniac. Can you picture this? I can't either.

My brother, on the other hand, is gratefu; for any publicity I give his views oabout virtually anything. Unfortunately, he doesn't have any interesting views. Neither do my parents, but in their egocentric minds, they think someone might be interested and make the connection.

If you think I am endangerng my parents' employment status or state of well-being in any way, please comment. If you have any thoughts related to anything else, please also feel free to comment.

Ciao!

Alexis, who walked the perimeter of a large city block today. Carpe diem!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Mormon Experiences: Chapter One - Necro-Dunking

As I mention from time to time, I am a baptized and confirmed Catholic (who thinks for myself and makes my own choices) but because my father's rather large family converted to Mormonism when he was young, anytime I am with that side of the family, I am exposed to elements of religious practice or culture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'm usually a bystander, but on occasions I've been right in the thick of things. I've already written about the time I was blessed in an LDS church. http://alexisar.blogspot.com/2010/03/my-blessing.html I will begin an I-don't-know-how-many-chapter series that may or may not be consecutive featuring my other major mormon experiences. I will begin with something I rarely think about, but has come to the forefront of my mind since I wrote about it very briefly on the RFM bulletin board.

I was baptized for the dead. I know. I haven't even been formally dunked for myself Mormon-style -- the Mormons recognize neither the sprinkling done by the Catholic church nor the priest who sprinkles-- so how could I be baptized on behalf of some dead person? For that matter, why was I even allowed inside a temple? Here's how it all went down.

The summer I was 12, I somehow got stuck staying with some of my LDS relatives in Utah for a week or so after my tennis camp ended because my parents' cruise still had to make its way back around Cape Horn and up the Pacific coast. I was spending nights with an aunt whose husband, my uncle by marriage, was a stake president, which is the rough equivalent to a Catholic bishop. The LDS bishop of his ward (the rough equivalent to a catholic parish priest) was another uncle by marriage. The stake was to have a Youth Temple Day on Friday of the week. All the youth ages 12 to 18 who were worthy of entrance in the temple would travel more than one hundred miles south to be baptized for the dead in the Manti Temple in Manti, Utah.

I initially mistook this ordinance as "Baptism of the Dead," wherein the Mormon youth would be charged with unloading dead bodies from stretchers, bags, or coffins, and dropping them into the pools of water supported by fake oxen heads that I had seen in pictures. Once again I was ever so glad not to be an official Mormon and not to be worthy to participate in this somewhat gruesome mission. The idea of even looking at a dead body, much less actually touching it, and helping to drop it into a vat of water, then towing it out, gave me a severe case of the creepy-crawlies. I wondered if someone attached ropes to the bodies to make it easier to hall them in and out of the giant tubs they referred to as "fonts." I wondered a little about the logistics, but mostly I was just glad to be left out. Then I heard I was expected to tag along on this most macabre of field trips. While still less than thrilled to be dragged to Manti for this purpose, I was greatly relieved to learn that the dead were to be baptized by proxy, using our bodies.

The relatives seemed to have forgotten that I was never baptized ("Of course you were baptized! We would never have let you get this old without baptizing you!") As it turns out, all I needed were "interviews" with my bishop and a member of the stake presidency in order to determine my worthiness to enter the House of the Lord. I'm not sure when or why these people suddenly changed their minds concerning my character. On a normal day, any one of my father's siblings or their spouses * * would have told you that I was a first-degree spawn of Satan, not worthy to color in a coloring book with pictures of LDS temples (because my colorbook renditions of temples always looked liked haunted houses when I colored them) much less to set foot in an actual temple. The truth of the matter is that they do look like haunted houses or spooky castles in real life to many people. When my family visted Washington, D.C., someone had spray-painted, "Surrender, Dorothy!" on an overpass on the Washington D.C. Beltway right where the Mormon Temple comes into view in obvious reference to that temple's resemblance to the castle in Oz. . To paraphrase Billy Joel,I didn't start the fire. I was hardly the first person to notice a resemblance between L.D.S. temples and scary places
in general.

Almost before I knew it, I was in an oversized van with a load of other kids from my age to eighteen, nearly all of them at least twice my size. My aunt had thought to grab a baptismal jumpsuit from the ward baptismal font in hopes that, since it was made to fit an eight-year-old, it might not swallow me whole. It pretty much did anyway, but I wore a snapping white one-piece shirt, sort of like a Onesie, under it and my aunt stitched up the collar a bit so that I wouldn't slide out of the neck hole every time I was dunked and puilled up again. The baptismal jumpsuits in the temple were made for twelve-year-olds and older, so there's no way one of those would've remained on my meercat-shaped body in the water.

There was supposed to have been an interview process, but no one asked me a thing, because I certainly wouldn't have told them that the Book of Mormon was true or that Joseph Smith was any sort of a prophet. Someone handed me a form just before we walked into the temple. One uncle had signed, perjuring himself to state that he had interviewed me as bishop, and another had done the same in the Stake Presidency spot. I had in a bag my white Jesus jumpsuit made out of quilted fabric, sort of like an old-fashioned mattress cover, my white Onesie and my little piece of paper stating I was worthy to enter the House of the Lord. (I still have it, with no expiration date. I could get into one off those temples any time I wanted to, as if i'd ever want to.)I hadn't eaten anything since dinner the night before because fasting was required before temple baptisms.

We entered the holiest of buildings to a locker room and put on our funky white mattress-cover jumpsuits, with mine being slightly funkier than average. We wandered into the large basement baptismal room where there was a large font of water held on the backs of fake oxen. Two men, wearing white pants, shirts, and ties, walked up the steps, then down some more steps into each font of water. They would apparently do the dunking. The temple supervisors lined us up, There were two lines - one line of girls and one line of boys. The girls would be baptized by proxy for females who had lived and died on this Earth at some time in the past, while the boys would perform the same function for males.

I quickly found my way back to the girls' line and watched as a man in white garb held his hand up and uttered some prescribed words about baptizing someone in the name of whatever the dead person's name was in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Two men were watching each baptizer and baptizee to ascertain that the person went all the way under the water at the same time. If the person didn't, the procedure had to be repeated, with the name said over and the prayer said again. They were very official in their process. With larger girls or boys, the baptizers seemed to tire after dunking them more than a few times, and baptizers would have to switch off. Additionally, I noticed that the more physically developed girls received fewer dunks. One particularly buxom girl, whose buxomness became more apparent through her increasingly clingy and eventually transparent jumpsuit with each dunk, received only about seven dunks. This did not bode well for me. I kept moving to the back of the line, encouraging girls who had already had turns to take additional advantage of this opportunity to serve the Lord.

One older woman eventually noticed me. She thought I was merely reticent, so she took me by the hand and walked my up the stairs, telling me, "There's nothing to be afraid of, dear." "Here's a new one," she said to the baptizer. The man showed me how to put my fingers over my nose. He said the scripted words, dipped me backwards into the water, then lifted me out. Typically the two men in the font alternated, with a man telling each of them a name to recite for his next dunk as the other guy was dunking his proxy. The two men soon figured out that I was such a lightweight that Man A could easily dunk me twice in the amount of time it took for Man B to dunk his boy once. They also probably noticed my absence of physical development, which might have made it awkward for them to continue baptizing anyone else so many times. There was certainly nothing about my physique that would make any man feel awkward to see me in wet clothing.

Boys kept coming and going in the line next to me while I was dunked repeatedly, two dunks for every single dunk of the boy being dunked by the other man. I became seriously afraid that these people were trying to drown me. No wonder my relatives had been so eager to perjure themselves on my temple recommend. I finally grabbed the guy's arm before he could dunk me again and told him to slow down because I needed to catch my breath. He looked at me apologetically and said,"I'm sorry, honey." He helped me up the stairs and I walked across the ramp and out. As I was making my way to the locker room, still attempting to catch my breath, I heard one of the men say, "How many times did you baptize that little girl, anyway?"

Another one said, "I'm not sure, but it must have been close to a hundred. I think that's some kind of a record."

I hurried into dry clothing and on into the cafeteria to grab just a bit of food before we made the long trip back to my temporary home. My parents returned home a couple of days later, and I caught a plane from Salt Lake City to California. My dad picked me up at the airport. "What did you do in Utah?" he asked me.

"Do you know what 'Baptism for the Dead' is?" I asked him.

He looked at me for moment, then said, "No way!"

I shook my head yes.

He asked me if they baptized me in a regular church or swimming pool first. I told him no, they hadn't, and explained about the paper with my uncles' signatures, and the Onesie, and the jumpsuit that had to be practically sewn onto my body, and the apparent record number of dunks.

He just sort of looked straight ahead and whistled but didn't say anything else to me. As soon as we got home, he pulled my mother into their library before I even had a chance to greet her. I couldn't hear what was being said, but my dad's voice was getting more and more agitated, while my mother just laughed harder and harder.

Eventually they emerged from their library. My mother hugged me and said, "I heard you got baptized."

"Almost a hundred times," I told her.

"Either you must have sinned a lot or you must be really in a state of grace, " my mother said.

My dad said he was going to call the temple and tell them that it was a mixup and that I was a non-member, because the baptisms I had done would need to be done over.

My mom asked him then if he really believed it made any difference.

"Not a damn bit," my dad replied.

"Then why don't you just leave well enough alone?" my mom asked him.

"OK," my dad answered, "but I'm also not leaving my kid with any of them again. They could marry her off in one of those damned temples before she's fourteen."

All was well until he forgot about his promise never to leave me with any of them again, but that was already thoroughly covered in another blog.



* * with the exception of his sister Cristele and her husband Mendel, and his brother, Steve, also an apostate, and Steve's wife, Heather, a Nevermo, but not quite as bad as inherently eveil as my mom because she's Lutheran and not Catholic, and therefore not part of the Great and Abominable Church; Martin Luther had the right idea about the Catholic Church with his Diet of Worms: he just never found the Hill Cumorah , the Angel Moroni, and the Golden Plates. Had he, history might have been written very differently.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Alexis Is Back with a Vengeance!

Actually I do not have any particular vengeance; I'm just back. This should be my final night of incarceration. I've been told that if nothing highly unusual happens before tomorrow morning, I should be sprung from this joint by tomorrow.

I've had my computer back for an hour or so, and I've read comments, tweets, emails, etc. Thanks for the support of so many of you. Amelia, Amy, Aunt Becky, Cara, Catherine, Faery Chaos, Kristine, Matt, Maria, Rebecca, Rachel, Saints Timothy and Titus, sort-of-cousin Peter and his sort-of wife, and anyone else I've missed, thank you so much for your kindness.

To Dr. Drew (not THE Dr. Drew, by the way; I have no sex issues or addictions at this point, although I'll have a better idea if this is really true when they try to take my Vicodin away): Thanks for paying attention during medical school, escpecially when they taught the unit about how to removed ruptured appendices. Thanks also for keeping various human pit bulls at a safe distance from me.

To Pseudorelatives: Thank you for once again coming through for me.

To Uncle Jerry and Aunt Ilianna: Thanks for flying to CA to help take care of me and Auntie j.

To Timmy: Thanks for the comic relief.

To Mom and Dad: Thanks for showing up before the hospital finished me off. Seriously, I enjoyed your company.

Words of wisdom for anyone planning an extended hospitl stay:

#1 Bring your own sheets.My mom had a Kennedy obsession when she was a kid and has half of a library of books written by or about the star-crossed family. When I was in timeout as a kid, I was limited to the books in my parents' library, so I'm walking around with far more knowledge relating to the Kennedys than is normal or healthy. In one book I remember reading how Ethel took satin sheets to the hospital for the birth of her last child. I found her actions elitist and ridiculous. Then I had an extended stay in THIS hospital. Satin sheets, or at least cotton sheets with a thread count higher than 16, would've been a great source of comfort. I've spent extended time on another floor of this hospital. They must've given us better sheets on that floor. Maybe they figure people in this ward are so sick they won't even notice that they've been relegated to convalescing on sandpaper.

#2 Bring your own toothbrush. My gums are so messed up that my dental hygeinist is going to think I have gingivitis or some similar malady at my next checkup, when the real culprit is the hospital-issue toothbrushes.

#3 Be suere that friends from the outside world bring you contraband food. I would most likely be dead of starvation if I had needed to rely solely on the food from the hospital kitchen for sustenance. It's not that I mind eating glue and cardboard; it's just that I can only get so much of the stuff down in one sitting. As it is I've lost far too much weight. I would seriously be a skeleton if cousin Peter's ex and a few others had not come to the rescue.

#4 Make friends with the guards. I failed to do this with my first guard, otherwise known as the resident physician. I did much better when she was replaced with someone from the human species. A few times when the nurses would've let me die, he came to the rescue.

#5 Figure out which nurses are human and treat them well. They may save your life while everyoe else is sitting around drinking something from Starbuck's.

#6 Make most criticisms of the institution in which you are incarcerated inside your head. Choose your words wisely and censor your criticism well because you will pay dearly for any negative comment that makes it to the administrative level.

#7 Don't walk one step more than is medically necessary. Do what your doctor says you need to do in order to recover, but as far as any additional walking, remember that there's a perfectly good reason why God invented wheelchairs. I have a nasty multicolored bump on my forehead because I failed to follow my own advice in this regard.

#8 Keep a cell phone handy. This is particularly crucial if you are underage and the staff thinks they have the legal right to perform any procedure or prescribe any medication without your express consent. Hospitals kill people every day. Don't be a statistic.

#9 Keep extra provisions on hand. An additional remote control is a handy thing to have in the event that a nurse takes away the one you have. Additional snacks (with sugar and not good for you)within reach are a good thing to have, as are bandaids and dental floss. (IF everything else fails you, you can use the detal floss to braid a rope and climb out a window of the hospital to safety.) Don't count on ataff to bring you something as basic as lotion within twelve hours of the time your request it. Be prepared, like a Mormon with a two-year supply of food and essentials, only make it compact enough to fit in a suitcase.

#10 Avoidance is the best proactive measure. Stay away from hospitals in the first place if you can. Stay healthy enough that you do not have to worry about any of this stuff. Only venture inside a hospital if you are fairly certain that you face imminent death if you stay away.

Thanks again for your kindness. Stay well and sane.

Alexis

Alexis Couldn't Stay Awake Long Enough to Dictate Her Post Tonight

Alexis, in addition to having her abdominal drain removed, had quite a lot of activity today. Her painkiller dosage was raised a bit because of soreness at the wound site, but she still managed to do quite a lot. Other than her prescribed walking, when she was closely supervised to ensure she didn't lose her balance or otherwise fall, she was mostly confined to sitting.

Alexis made good use of her wheelchair today. She spent several hours upstairs with her friends on the floor where she received her PTSD treatment. They had some sort of a liars' game going. In the time I was up there they were all spouting complete madness.

My husband took Alexis in her wheelchair for a ride around the neighborhood just to get a little fresh air. It sounds like a cliche, but breathing the outside air really did put color in her cheeks. Scott and Alexis were only out for about twenty minutes; the length of the ride was probably perfect for her.

The director of the mental helath wing, who attended medical school with Alexis' father and remains a close friend, ordered a family-style take-out meal, which we all ate on a hospital balcony. The weather was lovely -- it dropped into the 60's when we were outside, which caused most of us to need sweaters or sweatshirts. My mom bundled Alexis in blankets after she had finished eating and put her on an upholstered swing that was soft and the size of a small sofa. She fell asleep as her father and my husband were playing guitar and everyone was singing along. She was carried back to her room, and her mom had to wake her to brush her teeth, but she went right back to sleep. It bothers her to wake up in bed and find that she's been carried there because it makes her feel childish, but I've told her to enjoy it while it lasts because she may not always be light enough to be easily carried to bed by an ordinary person who's not a body builder. Then again, she may always be light enough. I take a free ride to bed anytime someone offers it, I told her.

My husband says there's no sign of the fever coming back yet since the drain was removed, which means that the antibiotics are probably adequaitedly handling any remaining infection in her system. The next step will be to remove the IV tomorrow and to switch her totally to oral fluids and injected antibotics. If that change doesn't cause a return of any fever and if her lungs remain clear, she should be released by Wednesday at the latest. She's hoping for Tuesday.

Thanks again to Alexis. Matt, Faery Chaos, Amelia, Amy, Aunt Becky, Aunt Maria, Marianne, Rachel, Rebecca and family (including adorable Benny, who hand-lettered the beautiful sign, then smiled for a picture to be sent along with the greeting) Catherine, Cara, Kristeen, and anyone else I've forgotten, for all the prayers, positive thoughts, and words of support. You've all greatly accelerated her recovery.

Rebecca, you've succeeded where many have failed in gatting my husband to talk about religion. It's normally not a topic into which he ventures. He served two years in South America as a full-time LDS missionary, took the required religion courses to graduate from BYU, then took the adult confirmation classes to convert to Catholicism. He usually tells anyone who asks him a religious questioned that he's discussed religion enough for a lifetime already and politely declines to answer. I'm amazed that you were able to engage him in a discussion of theology.

Tomorrow evening Alexis should be awake long enough to at least dictate her blog. After that, who knows? If she's a good little patient, she may get her computer back on a limited basis.

Thanks again to everyone for helping.

Alexis' Auntie Jillian

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I'm at Least Allowed to Dictate Tonight

I still don't have my computer back. One would think I had done something terrible and was being punished by the way I'm being treated here. I'm pretty sure, though I've never done actual time there, that the prisoners at Gitmo have more privileges than I do. As it is, I'm lucky to have my wonderful favorite aunt, Jillian, typing for me. (If that last sentence didn't sound entirely like my wording, it must be sheer coincidence.)

Today I walked down the corridor six times, and between one-third and halfway back five times. A wheelchair or someone strong enough to carry me had to transport me the rest of the way. My Uncle Scott and the intern assigned to my case say I'm lazy. They complain when I don't eat enough, then they complain when they have to carry me because I'm too heavy and I'm going to give them disc problems or hernias or something bad along those lines. I wish they would make up their minds whether or not they want me to eat more. The inconsistency is killing me!

Uncle Scott told me that Rebecca said it reached 112 degrees where she lives yesterday. It doesn't get that hot where I am now for the most part. I know there's a place near here where winds that are like the Santa Ana winds but less famous come and temporarily heat up the place dangerously and very rapidly, but I think it's just that isolated spot and I believe it happens exceedingly rarely. Where I used to live in northern California (parents are selling the house and I probably won't go back before they're officially out of the place) temperatures were pretty high in the summer, but not usually Death Valley-like hot. If's you're not afraid of tsunamis, mudlides, flooding, earthquakes, gang warfare, or incredibly high cost of living and property taxes, among other things, the California coastal areas are good places to live.

I would like to thank Matt, Faery Chaos, Amy, Amelia, Aunt Becky, Cara, Rebecca, Rebecca's family, Aunt Maria, Saints Timothy and Titus, Kristine, and Catherine for their kind words of support. Conspicuously absent from the list of people I'm thanking is Judge Alex. If you want to know why his name is not on the list, ask him. I would also like to thank my Aunt Jillian for calling and texting me constantly and never allowing me to get any rest. Rest is for sissies anyway. Who needs it?

I heard a rumor that the nursing staff is planning a party for the moment I leave this place. They should have been more discreet, because I would have left the rest of my Baskin Robbins Clown cones for them if they hadn't been so rude as to let me know of their plans for a celebration in honor of my departure. I'm going to ask someone (I'll bribe an intern because most of them are ditch-bank-Okie-poor and thus easy to bribe) to bake a nice batch of Ex Lax chocolate chunk cookies. Do they still even make Ex Lax? If not I'll have to think of something similarly disgusting but not something that will get me, or the intern, thrown into jail.

I just hope that I'm out of here soon. I heard that I have four more days left on my sentence. The nurses would like me out of here sooner, but such things aren't up to the nurses any more than they're up to me. My surgeon feels my pain and would like to get me out of here as soon as possible, but he says it's better to stay one more day and not have to come back because I checked out too soon.

By the way, for anyone truly interested in the workings of weak and bizarre minds, my twenty-six-year-old cousin who joined up with the Blackmore polygamous clan in Canada is now back in the states. She lost the child that she was carrying but is apparently recovering nicely. As soon as she is physically and mentally ready, she will relocate to a part of the globe that does not label a woman as either a prune-faced hag or lesbian (not that there is a thing wrong with being a lesbian, or even a prune-faced hag, if that's what someone is; it's just that the label shouldn't be applied randomly to any female age twenty-six or older who is not married)if she reaches the age of twenty-six without being lawfully wed or at least shacking up with a member of the opposite sex. (If she chooses the "shacking up" option, she will, of course, be branded a slut, but in that neck of the woods, being branded a slut is probably less stigmatizing than being identified as originating from the Isle of Lesbos.)

Peace!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Night Update

Alexis is developing some serious attitude, which, as long as it doesn't cause her to be evicted from the hospital before she's physically ready, is probably a good thing. Her point of view is that, had they done their jobs properly, she would have been out of there for good a long time ago, so if she happens to be a tad unpleasant in the interim, they'll just have to deal with it. Her surgeon is inclined to agree with her, so she's being very cooperative with him. The resident assigned to monitor her is earning every penny he's paid. She says to say that she would like to be typing her own messages if we would just give her computer back to her, but Dad says not yet. Surgeon is defering to Dad. Resident assigned to monitor her doesn't think she should ever get it back.

Some patients on the floor where she received her inpatient PTSD treatment have been allowed to visit, which has helped her outlook somewhat. She's still eating one Baskin Robbins clown cone each day, and is managing to eat a bit more regular food. She's burning up a lot of calories by being so obnoxious, and it's increasing her appetite. She says to thank everyone who has sent messages of support.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday PM Update

This is Aunt Jillian reporting on Alexis' progress. Today, for the first time since surgery, Alexis supported her own weight while walking. She also sat up for dinner and fed herself. Her appetite isn't great, but what's new in that regard? She willingly ate an entire Baskin Robbins clown cone. She said to tell everyone that all the Judge Alex cases currently being aired are repeat episodes and are hardly worth watching.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Update from Aunt

This is Pseuso-Aunt jillian again. Alexis is eating a bit. It's only been jello and sherbet so far, but that's better than nothing. Her mom and dad are back from (seriously) helping their niece, Alexis' not-too-smart cousin, escape from a polygamous compound in Canada. They had to come back to be with Alexis because she was too sick and the psycho chief resident who created this problem by ignoring Alexis' complaints wouldn't even let my husband see her. If he went near Alexis' room in his off hours, the witch would tell him that if he was going to spend his hours off at the hospital, she would be the one to decide what he did during them. Tomorrow, or by Friday at the very latest, she'll be history in her present capacity, and Alexis' Uncle Scott will have much comp time coming.

Alexis perked up a bit when her mom and dad got to her. She's still very sick and weak, but she at least looks like she wants to live, which is a big improvement over yesterday. She's a tough little cookie and will be fine in a couple of weeks, no thanks to the evil doctor.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sorry! No New Insights on Hospital Sex or Pubic Lice for Awhile

This is Alexis' PseudoAunt Jillian. Some of you may have known that Alexis was in the hospital with pneumonia. Her fever eventually went down enough for her to be released (paroled is how she expressed it). What you may not have known, and what I certainly didn't know, is that appendicitis can be a relating factor, or even a cause, of pneumonia.

After she came home to my house from the hospital, as her parents are handling an emergency family matter that truly is an emergency, we have to keep reminding her, or they would be with her right now , she got up in the night and was behaving strangely even for Alexis. (Sorry, kid. I couldn't resist.) We checked her temperature and found it to be 105.4 Her PseudoUncle Scott was working at the hospital, but we were able to reach him. He told us to put her on the floor of a cold shower for a few minutes, then to get her out and dry her. By that time, he said, he would be home to take her back to the hospital.

A few blood tests and scans later it was discovered that her appendix had ruptured. She went into emergency surgery and came through it fine. She still has a drain at her wound site because there was a great deal of poisonous matter that released itself into her systerm when her appendex burst. The doctors cleaned things out as well as they could, but now, with the aid of antibiotics and a drain in her abdomne, her body must do the rest of the work of ridding her body of those nasty toxins and mending itself.

I can say this because no lawsuits will be filed in relation to this case, but Alexis complained repeatedly to the doctor assigned to her care that her tummy was hurting. Eaach time she was told that her problem was constipation; she needed more fiber in her diet, the doctor said, or perhaps the nurses could give her an enema. This was ironic in that all the antibiotics being given to her had actually caused her to have diarrhea, so whatever was causing her tummyache obviously wasn't constipation. The doctor had instructed the nurses not to take seriously any of Alexis' complaints of abdominal pain. Alexis had been branded a whiner, so she eventully stopped complainining about her tummy. Then the appendix ruptured. The doctor in charge of her case has egg all over her face and is no lnger in charge of Alexis' case.

Doctors who do not listen to patients are in the wrong profession. My husband, who is in his first year of medicl residency, told me that one night last week, 3 pediatric patients came into the emergency room with suspected appendicitis. In each case the symptoms were actually caused by constipation. He said that such will be the case more often than not, but the doctor has to forget the statistics and treat each case as though it was the first of its kind ever seen. The one time a doctor doesn't properly heed the symptoms may be the time it actually is appendicitis.

Alexis has greatly apppreciated messages from those who have sent them through various forums. Please continue to send cheerful messages. She's unhappy right now and we're not exactly sure what the problem is, but a few more "Get Well" wishes may snap her out of whatever it is that's making her unhappy.

Thanks!


Alexis' PseudoAunt Jillian!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Random Thoughts on Pubic Lice

How much do you know about pubic lice? If you're the average person, you probably don't know a great deal about them. You probably know that they are a form of lice, and if you have reasonable intelligence, you may have deduced that they inhabit primarily the pubic region of the body. Beyond that, what else is there to know? How much do you really want to know about this topic? Why do you want to know whatever it is you desire to learn about pubic lice? For now, we'll leave these questions unanswered and address basic information relating to pubic lice.

Before we proceed any further, take a close look at the word pubic.
If you look at it closely, you may notice that it has a strong visual resemblance to the word public. In terms of spelling, only one letter differentiates the two words, yet there is a world of difference in the pronunciation, and an even larger world (think Mercury versus Jupiter) in the meaning of the two words. If you are ever asked to read aloud at a public function, you do not want to confuse the words pubic and public. If you do make the error of saying pubic when what you should have said was public, people will begin to wonder about you and just what is on your mind. It might even be a good idea to repeat over and over in your mind, or quietly while standing in front of a mirror, before giving a reading containing the word public in front of a group of people, almost as a mantra, "Don't say pubic. Don't say pubic." Say this over and over in your mind until the concept is firmly locked into your brain and onto your lips.

Now, concerning facts about pubic lice . . . there really aren't many that you have to know. They're sometimes called "crabs." This has seafood ramifications, as in when you're ordering at a restaurant. If it's crabs that you want, say "I want crabs." It would be better not to say, 'I'll have crabs," because that sounds a whole lot like, "I have crabs." Do you really want to announce to a waiter or waitress, along with a table full of people, that your crotch region is infested with pubic lice, which are normally contracted through sexual intimacy? If you are married, does your spouse have crabs as well? Or did you catch them during some extramarital liaison? Or, if your spouse has them, did he or she become infested with them during a bit of extramarital activity on his or her part, and then bring them home to you? One thing is almost certain: if either you and your spouse have anything resembling normal intimacy in your marriage, if one of you has crabs, the other does as well. If you do not wish for your dining companions to spend the duration of the meal looking strangely at you and your spouse and wondering which of you brought the crabs home to the other, or if you perhaps participated in some sort of orgy wherein you and your spouse contracted the tiny critters simultaneously, remember, don't say "I'll have crabs." (It sounds like "I have crabs." Or even more importantly, don't say ."We'll have crabs," because it sounds like "We have crabs.") Then again maybe you shouldn't say either "I want crabs" or "May I have crabs?" because all who hear you may think you're requesting to have sex with someone who will transmit tiny blood-sucking insects to your pubic region. Order lobster or tilapia instead. If you don't like it, learn to like it. In the long run it wil save your reputation as well as that of your spouse.

Back to the subject of vital information about pubic lice. Pthirus pubis is the scientific name for pubic lice. They are not (DUH!) true crabs, who are decapod crustaceans of the infraorder Brachyura. They are distant cousins to the infamous head lice (pediculus capitis) and body lice (pediculis corporis ) all of which are technically insects. Head lice and body lice are more closely related to one another than either one is to pubic lice. Pubic lice are the cousins that even other lice refuse to acknowledge.

How are pubic lice contracted? The answer to this depends upon whom you ask and, likely, whether or not that person has ever contracted pubic lice. One cheerleader at my school said. "You know when we have to do those routines where we do splits on the floor? Well, there must have been a pubic louse just sitting there waiting for a crotch to hook up to." Right; we all believed that. With all the splits I did before I was banned from gymnastics, I could very easily have contracted pubic lice thousands of times. It must have been all the Windex that the gym employees were always spraying all over the mats and apparati that saved us all. Additionally, it's more difficult for prepubescent individuals to contract it because pubic lice (hence the name) are partial to pubic hair. In a pinch they'll attach to underarm hair, or even eyebrows or a mustache. It's not beyond possibility that lice could be contracted through sharing of towels or underwear, or conceivably even bedding, depending upon what one wears in bed (or upon what one does in bed and with whom; one could, I suppose, be sexually intimate in a bed with someone who already had pubic lice, then claim to have gotten it from the bed linens, and it might even be true; it's a "chicken or egg" sort of thing).

Despite claims people have made, it is virtually impossible to contract pubic lice from a toilet seat. I'm not advocating that one expose one's private parts all over every toilet seat he or she encounters just to prove a point, because there could be other hazards associated with doing so. Still, the famous line "I got it from the toilet seat" from the satirical Frank Zappa song, is a lame excuse. One would almost have to deliberately work at it to get pubic lice from a toilet seat. Pause for the visual image. Is that really how you want someone to think you got pubic lice? Likewise, it is theoretically possible to get it from sharing underwear. Anyone else is free to hold any opinion he or she desires, but I think I'd just as soon have others believe I had sex with someone as that I share unwashed underwear on anything resembling a regular basis.

Allow me to end with a few final words of caution. First, repeat to yourself, ideally in a quiet voice in front of a mirror, "Don't say, pubic," before reading any passage containing the word public. Second, when ordering crabs in a restaurant, proceed with caution. Almost anyway you say it may arouse suspicion in the wait staff as well as among your companions.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

SEX IN THE HOSPITAL

When I first checked in to the hospital (actually, I think the preferred terminology is "When I was first admitted to this hospital;" I've spent so much time in hotels recently that they've become my new reality) I was told it was just an overnight stay. Then it became a two-nighter. I'm now on my fourth night in this satellite station of hell. If I'm going to live, let me out! If I'm dying, allow me to do so in the comfort of at least a three-star hotel. Four-star would be preferable, but I'm in no state of denial regarding my parents' spending habits, and I'll be lucky, if I really am dying, not to take my final breath in a Motel 6. Tom Bodette will leave the light on for you in case you'd care to show up to pay your final respects.

So tomorrow I'll be sprung from this joint whether it be through general discharge or the infamous AMA (againsy medical advice). You may think that AMA discharges are for adults only, but believe me when I tell you that I have my ways.

Assuming that the worst-case scenario hasn't materialized and that I'm not actually dying when I get out of this place tomorrow, my parents will drop me off at the Pseudos' condo when they pick me up from the hospital. My parents are having a brief romantic get-away (I know; the thought makes me gag as well) and then will be preparing our home in northern California for transfer to its new owners. I will spend most of the summer with my Pseudos. If I become substantially ill with anything communicable via airborne means that PseudoAunt doesn't also have, I'll go to stay with Dr. Jeff's family. PseudoAunt has a weakened immune system and cannot be exposed to pathogens any more than is absolutely necesary.

I was actually mildly happy to be in the hospital today. It seems that a male doctor and a female nurse, both of whom are married, had been carrying on some sort of extra-curricular activity. They were so serious that they had made tentative plans to leave their respective spouses, or that's what the intern assigned to me told me after the fact. Then it ended up that the nurse, who is attractive but not THAT hot, was having extra-extracurricular activity with another doctor. The doctor (her original extracurricular diversion) demanded the ring back. (I guess they really did have tentative plans to dissolve their respective marriages.) She first told him he couldn't have the ring back because A) it was a gift and B) he was the one breaking off the relationship. She eventually changed her mind, apparently. She took the ring off and threw it at the doctor, but her aim was exceedingly poor. He glanced in the general direction in which she threw it, but didn't see it and walked away. The intern assigned to me said that what we had just witnessed was at least as compelling as anything we were likely to see on "Grey's Anatomy" reruns, and we didn't even have to wait through any commercial breaks.

The nurses were huddled around the extracurricularly active nurse, patting her shoulder as she cried, as though she was a woman scorned. Eventually someone needed a crash cart and the drama, as do all things, eventually came to an end.

When nurses were changing shifts and my intern was taking a break a few hours ago, I snuck out of bed, dragging my oxygen and IV tubes and pole with me. I walked, slowly because that's the only way I can walk right now, to the approximate spot where I thought the ring might have landed. I got down on my hands and knees and began searching for it. Eventually I became tired, so I took a bit of a nap right there on the floor just beyond the nurses' station where carts of supplies are kept.

Someone must have looked for me in my bed. Eventually my intern found me asleep on the floor behind a cart of supplies. "What are you doing here?" he asked

I told him that I had gotten up to take a short walk but had become tired. He gave me a puzzled look, then smiled and said, "You were looking for the ring, weren't you?"

I nodded in assent. There wasn't much point in lying about it by then, anyway. "Want to go halfsies on the reward if we can find it?" I asked him.

"Sure," he answered, and we shook on it. (I'm actually giving all of whatever I get to him. The doctor will probably be generous with a kid, but wouldn't give the intern anything, because attending physicians more often than not treat first-year residents (intern are first-year residents in most programs) as though they are axe murderers and/or pedophiles who are HIV-positive and are bleeding profusely out of all orifices. This intern doesn't have much money and needs every cent he can collect.) I found the ring about three minutes later in the bottom shelf of a cart between plastic bottles of isopropyl alcohol. It was too big for any of my fingers, including my thumb, which was just as well because a nurse might have thwarted our plans by noticing it on my finger during the night. It fit nicely into a buttoned pocket on the overalls of a stuffed kitty that I always sleep with and that I'd brought with me to the hospital. The plan is that when the doctor shows up tomorrow morning, my intern or whoever else is around will tell the doctor I have something to say to him. I'll give him the ring. If he doesn't cough up a suitable reward, his colleagues will harass him until he does. (My intern held the ring up to the light to make sure it wasn't a zircon. He said the doctor in question was enough of a tapeworm that he'd try to pass off a zircon as a diamond, but the intern concluded that this particular piece of glass was, indeed, a diamond.) We're not trying to make a killing here; in fact we could probably get a lot more than the standard reward for such a ring just for promising not to return the ring to the doctor's lawful wife. All we want is fair and just compensation for the time we spent crawling around on the floor looking for the ring.

Tomorrow night when I blog, it should be from the relative comfort of the Pseudos' sofa in the den of their condo.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why can't hospitals be more like spas? No one recovers in standard hospitals.

I would recover from any illness or injury faster in a spa-like environment than in a typical hospital. Wouldn't you? As it stands, I finally go to sleep because my mom rubs my back while my dad plays guitar for me. Then some half-wit technician comes in and injects me with something that's supposed to help me sleep, which wakes me up for the next ninety minutes. Then my lungs get all congested. Someone calls the repiratory therapist and she comes in with her apparati that makes me look like R2D2. The stuff that goes into my lungs also makes sleep difficult to come by, but I bear ill will toward neither the therapist nor the nurse or doctor who ordered his procedure, because my lungs cannot be left congested. So then my mom rubs my back and my dad plays music on his guitar and I doze off until some nurse comes in and says she heds to check my vital signs. It went on like this for hours until my dad put a "Quarantine" sign on my door. I have heart and blood pressure monitors, as well as instruments that tell the content of oxygen in my blood. My dad is smart enough to read the instruments and tell someone if there is a problem.

I'd like to get out of here tomorrow, but it's looking like one more day here. Some of my friends from the loony bin came down to visit me. They kidnapped me and took me in a wheelchair back up to the crazy ward. We had a good time for about an hour until I was found. My mom was picking up my dad at the airport, so neither one even found out. Dr. Jeff said he'll rat me out if I make one more false move. I don't need to make another false move. I've already had my fun.

Now I just want to sleep, but no one will let me. I want to go to a freaking spa.

Love You Forever

When my mom was being treated in a southern California hospital for leukemia, I was spending most of my time in Florida. I had become seriously ill from malnutrition and related complications. My father's best friend, my Uncle Jerry (who was neither an uncle by blood or by marriage) and his wife, whom I call my Aunt Ilianna, took care of me. Uncle Jerry was the OBGYN who was present when I was delivered. (My dad actually removed me from my mom's uterus,while Uncle Jerry lifted Matthew out during the Caesarean delivery.) In any event, when my father was very concerned about my health, he called upon his friends Ilianna and Jerry to fly across the country and take me home with them to Florida. He knew that, despite their own four kids they were busy raising, they wouldn't allow me to die. This freed my dad up to focus on my mom and to ensure that she received the very best of care.

About every three or four weeks, I would start to miss my mom. Uncle Jerry and Aunt Ilianna first tried to console me out of my homesickness for my parents, but soon realized that no amount of attention or sympathy was going to cause me not to miss my mother to the point that it made me sicker. They gave in and decided to buy round airplane tickets from Florida to Los Angeles and back once every three weeks. Aunt Ilianna would bundle me up in fresh pajamas and a clean blanket and would carry me onto the plane. I would spend two days in bed with my mom, with dad nearby to remove ne from my mom's bed when medical procedures needed to happen. After two days Aunt Ilianna would dress me in another set of clean pajamas and swaddle me in another clean quilt, and I would return to Florida until it was time for the next two-day visit.

I don't remember a great deal about the visits. Both mom and I were pretty sick and slept much of the time. One thing I do remember is that someone had brought a basket of children's books that sat on a shelf out of reach of my mom's bed. She would ask someone to hand the books to her. One book that I remember her reading to me almost every night was a Robert Munsch book, Love You Forever. It was a bit silly in that a mother went through her son'a entire life with the mother sneaking up by his bed to see if he was really asleep. If he was, she'd pick him up and sing the same lullaby to him each time. Eventually the mother was too old and frail to pick up her son, so he picked her up and sang it to her. Robert Munsh had a set melody in his head for the lullaby, but he said that readers should make it their own and should sing their own melodies. My mom sang it to the Welsh folk song "The Ash Grove."

I can remember being worried if my mom was going to become weak and frail too early in our lives for either Matthew or I to pick her up and hold her as we sang the lullaby to her. It was clearly about the cycle of life, and it reminded me all the more of all of our mortality but especially of my mother's. I wondered why she chose to sing it every night when she had to know (I know now that she couldn't have known) how much it bothered me. Still, I had to hear it each night I was with her. If she didn't choose the book, I did.

I learned not too long ago that Robert Munsch and his wfe hd lost two babies, as my parents had. Although I don't know the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the Munschs' babies, I assumed they were too early to make it as our babies had been. Maybe my mom knew this as well, and perhaps it made he song more personal to her. Then again, maybe she had no idea.

Tonight I was in a pediatric ward, someone had left a basket of books in the room. At the very top of the books was Love You Forever. My mom asked me if I wanted to be read to before I slept. I told her yes, and she chose Love You Forever. I pretended to fall asleep so she would sleep. Then I grabbed my computer to make a few notes. I'm so grateful that my mom made it through leukemia and is still around to read and sing it to me, along with the many other songs she sings and things she does for me when I'm sick and even when I'm not. I'm so lucky to have my mom.

Hospital Politics at the Lower Levels

I watch "House" religiously, while my dad endeavors with equal religious devotion to reinforce to me that what I'm seeing is not in any way a realistic portrayal of any facet of a functioning hospital. What my dad says about Dr. House's dream team of diagnosticians is absolutely true. Even the wrold-renowned Mayo clinic, famous for its collective diagnostic capabilities, could never afford to have an eccentric but Einstein-like disostician with a merry contingent of followers only a few IQ points below that of of their boss, all of whom akulk around avoiding clinic duty while waiting for a patient to show up with a sensational and mysterious illness, the diagnosis of which is typically elusive until the end of the hour-long program. I wish such really were the case. Wouldn't everyone who's ever been seriously ill love to believe that a group of sub-specialists also specializing in diagnostic medicine (I'm not sure there is such a specialization; I think that's ordinarily what specialists in internal medicine do) ia on his or her case in just the way maggots are on the food my brother leaves in his room if my mom is not careful to insist that he clean it and carry his dishes to the kitchen on occasion?

On occasion, hospital politics are shown. Those shown are usually the ones happening at the higher level of hospital operation; the board and hospital director meet periodiclly, In almot every case someone important either threatens to quit or threatens to be fired. That sort of thing may or my not happen; it's so far removed from anything that i see that I ould have no way of commenting intelligently on the degree of reality depicted in that aspect of "House." The political activity I see is more likely to be between doctors and other doctors, or between various therapists, interns, nurses, and others endeavor to do their jobs or to do as little as possible of their jobs while forcing the bulk of their duties upon someone else. the politcs I'm seeing now revlove mostly around doctors and nurses. Doctors are clearly considered superior to nurses in the chain of command. They've had more schooling and have a higher levdl of certification. They give the orders. It is up to the nurses to see that the orders are carried out. The chain of command at times becomes a bit blurry or ambiguous, particularly at a certain time of the year - right npw -- whena new class of first-year residents is ontroduced and takes up the spots formely held by the newly promoted second-tear residents. First-year residents, with few exceptions, are considered pond scum -- the lowest of the low -- and have to prove their mettle even to those who are theuretically beneath them on the chain of command. This practice is both pejorative and dangerous, but it is what it is. To quote a a portion of an old Protestant liturgy, "As it was in the beginning, is now, amd ever shall be." No one knws why it is tis way. Doctors know they went through it and that each upcoming batch of doctors will wade his or her wy through the same muck when the time comes.

My Uncle Scott came by my hotel room to check on me because I've been sick. My dad, who would ordinarily check on me, is working in northern California. My Uncle Scott didn't like the way my lungs sounded and wanted me to go to the hospital. I tried to to convince him that my mom could take me there before and after my classes for repiratory therapy and that I could even have intravenoua antibiotics as an outpatient. I suggested that he could call in a change of my antibiotics that night, and that my mom would drive me to the hospital so I could receive an injection. My Uncle Scott didn't like any of my ideas, so I'm in the hospital tonight. My Uncle Scotr and the attending physician both said if things go really well I may be released as earliy as Thursday.

Since it's the same hospital that houes the loony bin, I asked if I could be admitted to the isolation unit of the loony bin. The doctor said no because I need more regular monitoring and care than I would receive there. As much as I am loathe to admit that he is correct, the nght staff there probably wouldn't do much for me. They're maybe good for a Klonopin or an Ativan in a pinch, but that's about it. Right now I really don't need either Klonopin or Ativan.

Because of doctor's prders I was able to bypass most of the usual admittance procedure. I had a respiratory treatment right away. The treatment usually involves having stuff puffed into one's lungs and also forcing one to breathe to a certain level of strength as measured by an instrument. I must admit that I really don't know as much as I should about this procedure because I'm seldom coherent when it happens to me. After an IV bag with a different antibiotic than the one I've been given by injection, I'm somewhat awake and feeling vaguely human. For now the hurses are letting me stay up, but they say if I'm still up in an hour, after my next breathing treatment, I may have to have something that will make me sleepy.

I'm concerned about my classes because, being summer-term courses, they're extremely short, and attendance is mandatory. My doctor told me he would speaa to the preofessors and set up skyping sessions, although he's not certain if I'll be up to participating much, depending upon my state of pharmaceuticalization, if there is such a word. Reggardless, I'm sure any readers understandss the intended meaning.

My mom is here with me. My dad is coming here tomorrow. Their policy is that we, meaning my brother and I, do not spend nights in the hospital without at least one parent present. If they're both out of the country when one of us is hopitalized, the person or persons acting in loco parentis stays in the hsopital with the one of us who is admitted to a hospital. This is especially true, my dad says, at any teaching hospital in the month of July, when much treatment is handled by very green rookie first-year residents who are also very exhausted. My dad knows this for an absolute fact because he was once a very green and exhausted resident ohysician. Tired and inexperienced physicians, my dad says, are a perfect equation for major and potentitally life-threatening medical errors. My dad would prefer to be here, but since he can't, my mom looks at every medication and the dosage, then calls my dad for an OK before it is given to me. Dr. Jeff offered to come in and spend the night in my hospital room as well. Pulmonology is pretty far removed from his specialty oif pediatric psychiatry, but he has kids, so he's had to learn about such things. All MDs have a very basic background in every aspect of medicine, but ib general, one with chidren has leanred a good deal about anything condition that has ever affected any one of his children. Still, to be treated by someone within his or her speciality is the optimal situation for a patient.

I've been assigned to a female first-year resident who is spending the night at the hospital. This is better than if she were at home and being woken up by phone calls about me every hour or so, At that point, physicians, whether interns or fully certified specialists, become overly tired and irritated about being disturbed too frequently. This can lead either to the physician making an error or the nurse on call becoming afriad to call a physician even when the call is warranted. At times the nurse even calls the physician when a call is not necessary simply to irk him or her, which can led to a situation much like "The Boy who Cried Wolf." this is why it's better to be assigned for now to a doctor who iS already here.

The doctor is nervous about caring for me because she has been told my father is important in medical circles. Uncle Scott tried to reassure her that it's a routine case and that I'm only here as a precaution, and that, furthermore, she can call him at home in addition to calling the attending physician if anything at all about my condition makes her nervous. Beyond that, she is free to call my dad or my Uncle Steve.

One thing I've noticed is that there seems to be friction between the first-year residents and the nursing staff. It seems to exist mostly in the form of a power struggle. Many of the nurses feel that they've been at their jobs long enough that they know more than the first-year residents, In some cases this is conceivably true. On the other hand, the doctors, first-year residents or not, are ultimatly in charge of making decisions regarding patient care. Sometimes the nursing staff disagrees with the deisions made by doctors. If a doctor makes a decision that could result in serious medical harm to a patient, as I see it, the nurse has a few options. The dirst and most obvious is to attempt to calmly discuss it with the first-year resident. If the nurse is confident that she is correct and that the first-year resident is wrong, the next option would be to appeal to a higher authority -- one with an MD following his name, and not another nurse. If both of these fail, the nurse can appeal once more to another MD with more authority of either of the others already consulted -- and these important MDs are hard to come by in the wee hours of the morning. That failing or that option not available, the nurse has little choice but to document that her conerns were duly noted, follow the doctor's orders, and be prepared with a crash cart in the event that she was correct in her original assessment.

How frequently these conflicts occur depends both on the nurse and the first-year resident involved. Personalities often get in the way. In some cases it is a first-year nurse who is at odds with a first-year resident, which is a usually a clear idication of a problem between the physicians and the nurses at a given hospital. Even though doctors -- especially first-year residents -- ar human and, as such, fallible, in no case should a first-year registered nurse, who typically possesses either an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree along with her nursing certifiction, presume to have greater knowledge than a physician, resident or otherwise, who must complete, as a bare minimum, a bachelor's degree and a four-year course of study at an accredited colleg of medicine. It is only through many year's of experience that a nurse should ever presume to know more than a doctor about anything related to medical treatment. A rookie nurse is lower on the food chain than is the lowliest first-year resident. Even if he is wrong, in absence of doctors to whom to appeal, it is the firt year nurse's obligation to follow orders and to be prepared to take action if the orders given were wrong.

The nurse assigned to my case is a first-year-nurse. If I had't otherwie known it, the lack of skill she demonstrated in inserting my IV would have made her lack of experience and expertise perfectly clear. My Uncle Scott took the iV kit away from the rookie nurse -- against her protestations -- and inserted it himself. As it is, I'll have bruises on my arms for weeks in the regions of various veins she tried unsuccessfully access. If Uncle Scott hadn't intervened, she's still be looking for veins and i'd be bleeding internally or externally.

the rookie nurse has attitude. She's giving my forst-year resident all sorts of shir, unaware that most of the orders my first year resident id giving are coming directly from either my pulmonologist or my dad. my Uncle Scott has shown up a few time to overrrule her. he's a male, so she grants him slightly more respect despite his own shade of greennes when it comes to the profession. The rN tried to blcok my most recent repiratory therapy, which my dad and the pulmonologist had ordered. If she weren't sucj a complete bitch, my Uncle Scott or the other first-year resident might have clued her in on whom I am related to nd who is giving the order tht she;s ignoring. It appears that the remander of the nursing staff doesn't think all tht highly of her, either, s most of them have some clue that my father is influential , but no one is telling her. She tried to gove me a steroid injection that was contraindicated by what I had inhaled and wasn't ordered by any doctor charged with managing my case. My mother had to physically precent her from giving me the injection. I hate to see someone new blow it so horribly, but I fear that this nurse will be called in by personnel tomorrow morning and relieved of her duties at this hospital.

Dr. Jeff has come into my room. He's concerned that my mom won't get any rest with the status quo. My mom is resting on the extra bed in the room. The nurse had told her to get off of it because it is for sick people, but Dr. Jeff told her to get back on it. He has banned the rookie nure from my room.

Now tht I've finished another repiratory therpy treatment, I'm finally getting sleepy. I'll check in with everyone tomorrow.

P. S. Regarding hospital politics, nurses can only hope to precail against any doctor unless he or she is truly incompetent and/or if they presnet a united from. Neither i the case here. The nurse is Toast.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Surrogacy - Should I go that route?

Many of us in adolescence struggle through identity crises of sorts. Exactly what does one what to do with one's life that will make a difference in the world? I've deciding against whatever my distinction is having anything to do with Casey Anthony. New laws may be enacted as a result of choices made by her, but the new laws or causes won't be championed by me. I'm so over Casey Anthony that if she showed up on my doorstep asking for a package of microwave popcorn, I might conceviably give it to her, but I would tell he to go next door or across the street to microwave it.

My latest idea is that perhaps I should become a surrogate mother - a rented womb, so to speak. My parents, predictably, think this is a bad idea, or even worse than a bad idea. This, alone, makes the concept worth consideration at the very least. I haven't seen such a reaction from my parents since the very first time I announced I was contemplating joining a polygamous cult. My parents now no longer even bat an eye when I bring up the possibility of signing on with the polygs. It's time to move on to bigger and better ideas. Even my threat of becoming a nun no longer gets a significant reaction from my parents.

I could rent out my uterus only to the rich and famous, most of whom insist upon the surrogate signing multiple clauses of confidentiality. Clauses, schmlauses. Clauses, in my opinion, are drafted to be broken,or at least challenged. Then again, I could look for people notable in their respectable fields who are not necessarily Hollywood starlets. Or I could just randomly produce babies out of wedlock and give them to deserving couples. I could be, you know, a slut.


I'm sure this will make my parents the most proud of all. Think of all those childless couples longing for at least one baby to call their own, and think of how proud my parents would be to have me strutting my stuff in various states of gestation all around whatever location in which they reside. For the sheer mystery of it all, I could even claim immaculate conception.

When my brother and I were very tiny, as in probably by the time we were two years of age, my mom was constantly preaching the value of education to us, brainwashing us with the idea that we would go to college before we really had much of an idea of what college even was. My brother changed his desired occupation about once every three hours back in those days. His future job of choice was usually something really high-brow. I can remember when he wanted to be a carney for a few hours. Then he wanted to be a beer taster. Once when it was a clown he wanted to become, he cut off my mother before she could even issue her caveat, with, "I know, Mommy. I have to be an educated clown." So I'll add my concession to my mom: I know, Mommy. I have to be an educated slut.


My life is an unpainted canvas. I can do almost anything I choose to do. Perhaps making babies as a career, or at least as a serious avocation, should be my mission in life. Then again, I could raise lizards instead. These times of life-altering decisions get to the core of one's very soul. A weaker (and more physically mature) female would probably already have gotten pregnant just to deal with the stress of indecision.

You Can Check Out Anytime You Like, But You Can Never Leave: Breaking away from the Mormons

My father used to ba a Mormon. That was after he was Catholic the first time but before he was Catholic again. My mother has always been a Catholic. My brother and I were baptized, first-communicated, and confirmed Catholic, but we were also blessed as LDS children. This laying on of hand was against our will (okay, against MY will; my brother couldn't have cared much less) and without our parents' knowledge, but it still somehow makes us Mormons as far as the LDS church is concerned.

Most churches pretty much let members or attendees come and go as they please. Someone might show up at a church on most Sundays for the better part of a year. The person may even go so far as to formally become a member of that church. The rituals associated with becoming a member of a church vary from being baptised by immersion (I've heard the Moravians dunk you three times, face forward) to baptism by sprinkling to simply agreeing to some sort of general creed, often the essence of which is that the prospective member agrees not to kill anyone except in in self-defense or to steal or commit adultery except among the most extreme of circumstances. Sometimes the member sticks with the church. Other times the person decides he or she has better things to do with his or her Sunday mornings or whatever day the church worships, which may or may not involve attending another church. Some people take joining a church about as seriously as filling out a membership card for the P. T. A. (My parents once signed our Golden Retriever up for membership in the PTA because they didn't have correct change for just rhemselves and didn't want to send a check.) Other people change religious affiliation with about the same degree of regularity that some people change their underwear. I have no problem with any if it, except withthose who don't change their underwear regularly. The framers of our constitution guaranteed us freedom of religion. While not everyone agrees with me, I would interpret this as freedom from religion as well. In any event, most churches do not send their own ecclesiastical equivalent to the CIA after individuals who choose to no longer participate in churches with which they've been formerly associated.

Then there's the Church of Jesus christ of Lattter-Day Saints. . . My dad uses a quote from an old Eagles' hit, "Hotel California," in describing how easy it is to sever ties from the LDS Church: "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."

That has been our family's experience, and things we've heard from other families who were once LDS but decided to no longer continue the practice lead us to believe that our experiences have been far from unique.

In the olden days, such as the 1980's, whenever Mormons tried to break away from the fold, it was the duty of other members of the congregation to fellowship, harass, or otherwise brobeat them into returning to full activity in the church. (In the really olden days of the Church, such as when Brigham Young was still in charge, individuals acting on Church authority use to literally kill those who tried to leave.) Lately, we've noticed a change in this trend (both the trend of using local members to re-fellowship backsliders and the trend of literally killing dissenters.). Whether it's becuase Mormons simply refuse to harass their neighbors and co-workers into returning to church because it's a socially awkward practice, or whether it is because the world is a more dangerous place than it once was, and it is no longer safe to send ninteen-year-old boys or twenty-one-year-old girls door-to-door in search of potential converts, full-time missionaries now have taken over the bulk of the job of luring lapsed members back into the fold.

Whether this approach is any more or less successful than the previous approach of delegating the chore to the local rank-and-file members, it's decidedly less discommodious both for the local membership and for the full-time missionaries. It must certainly be less embarrassing for local members not to have to badger co-workers, parents' of children's friends, or casual acquaintances in the name of religion. At the same time, it must be slightly less daunting for full-time missionaries to knock on the doors of former members than to seek out total strangers in a similar manner. While the former members more likely than not won't be all that receptive to anything the mishies have to share, chances are that neither will the former Mormons invite the young mishies in, chloroform them, and dismember them with chainsaws. I'm not suggesting such a thing happens often to missionaries, or even that it has ever happened to to any missionary in the history of the LDS church, but the way we've all grown up with warnings of nefarious strangers and the fates even worse than death that we might suffer if we speak to them, much less enter their homes, the thought has to be lurking in the minds of at least some of the mishies.

My brother and I have been directed never to answer the door to anyone we don't know, which includes most LDS missionaires. If they appear when my dad is nearest the door, he usually hits the mute button on the TV and tells us all to shut up. On the rare occasion that he has opened the door expecting someone else, only to find two youmg men in suits and ties facing him, he tries to politely tell them that he's not interested, nor is anyone else in the house. He's been a nineteen-year-old missionairy himself, and he won't be outwardly rude to them. If they look hot, he'll offer them bottled water and allow them to sit on the swing on our shaded front porch until they feel sufficiently rested to go about their duties. Sometimes the missionaries have hung out on our front porch for hours. If either missionary looks especially pale or hungry, he'll load them down with bags of fruit, beef jerky, and granola bars.

The missionaries strike gold when my mother answers the door. She briefly invites them inside. She explains to them that we're staunch Catholics. (This is semi-true; my mother a relatively staunch Catholic with the exception of her objection to people who have neither the financial means nor the child-coping skills to breed like cochroaches relying upon Natural Family Planning as their sole means of birth control. I'm somewhat adherent to the faith, at least as far as believing in Jesus and treating people decently are concerned. My brother picks one of the ten commandments and follows it each week until he's covered all ten, then starts over, or that's what he says, anyway. My dad attends mass most weeks, donates money to the Church, and otherwise keeps a low enough profile as far as the Catholic Church is concerned that no one who hasn't spent enough time in our home to hear his rather extensive R-rated vocabulary questions his devotion to Catholicism.) Anyway, my mom explains that while my father formerly had ties to their church, and that the two children in the family were indeed blessed though without her knowledge or consent, that their time as missionaries would be better spent trying to convert Paris Hilton or the Kardashians than any of us. On the other hand, my mom explains to them that she would be more than happy to invite them to dinner at our house soon. The ground rules for this meal taking place are that one of the missionaries may give a prayer to bless the food, and that someone can even say a closing prayer just before they leave if it would somehow make them feel more justified in spending time with us. Otherwise, religious proselyting is off limits during the time they are with us. The missionaries have taken my mother up on her offer more times than I can remember.

The missionaries usually show up at about 6:00 and eat hors d'ouvres. They're not supposed to watch television. If an important sporting event is in progress while they are there, it's usually on a TV in another room. It is their prerogative to watch or not watch. Uusually at least one of the two mishie wants to watch. If his missionary companion (that's waht they're called" "companions") is a complete tool, the other one usually stays away from the TV. If both missionaries are somewhat cool, they usually watch along with my dad and my brother.

Most of the evening after dinner is usually spent playing and singing music, as that is something that one companion cannot get another companion into trouble for as long as the music doesn't venture too far into rock territory.

My mother serves the missionaries an elaborate meal with dessert. She tries to make enough food that she can send leftovers home with them. She has also told them that if they ever run out of money to buy food, they should call our house 9she gives out our number), and we will deliver food to them. She usually doesn't come right out and say this to them, but if she gets the feeling that it's an appropriate thing to say, she tells them that if there's ever a reason they need either to be in contact with a member of their families or if they need to go home and have no other way of getting there, they should come to our home and she will help them. My mother has actually driven one misionary to the airport and put him on a plane to Hawaii, mostly at her own expense. While my father doesn't get actively involved in my mother's effort to aid and abet in the escape of missionaries, she has his full support.

The Eagles' line, "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave," continues to apply, but my mom has put a different spin on things.
The LDS Church knows nothing of the nature of the missionaries' dinners with my family. The young missionaries know a good thing when they see it. My mom says she hates to think of kids just a few years older than my brother and I being so far away from home with so few creature comforts.
Still, even when we move, the LDS Church will not let us go. They'll track us down with their usual CIA-like precision and continue to visit us. If the missionaries there are as smart as are the ones here, they'll take advantage of my mom's hospitality and keep their mouths shut.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Crazy Grandfather Called My Mom about Polygamist Cousin's Escape Plan

My grandfather had tried calling my dad and my uncle Steve first, but neither of them ever takes his calls. My mom is kinder and feels sorry for the aging and senile old geezer. He called her to warn them off the "mission" to rescue my cousin from the polygs in Canada. "Let it be, Erin," he counseled her. "Just let it be."

My mom should have thanked him for his input and hung up on him, but she was curious as to his motivation for not wanting my parents and other relatives to rescue my cousin. My mom asked him if he had a better plan to get her out of the place. "No," he answered her. "Some things are best left alone."

"So you think she should be left there against her will?" my mom asked him.

"She made her bed," my grandfather responded.

"But she probably had no idea just how many people would be sharing that bed with her," my mom countered.

"Erin, she's not ours anymore. She belongs to the Blackmores now," he insisted. "The less said, the better."

"That's what your're worried about!" my mom exclaimed. "You don't want anyone in Salt Lake City to know about this. You'll sacrifice your grandaughter to keep the family name out of the newspapers."

"You can't put a price on a family's good name and reputation," my grandfather stated firmly.

"I'm not sure sure what it's worth," my mom responded, "but it can't possibly be worth as much as the freedom of a twenty-six-year-old woman."

"She made her bed," my grandfather reiterated. "So just when is it that you plan this reacue operation?"

"August first, " my mom told him. She didn't want to take any chance on sabotage by my grandfather or like-minded relatives. If anyone is reading, the REAL date for the operation rescue is August 3rd.

This entire conversation took place outside my "Western Religions" classroom with the door open. (My mom is babysitting me in my classes because I'm still sick.) The professor stopped lecturing and openly listened. After the conversation ended, the professor asked my mom if she would mind sharing anything about the situation. She gave the class the Reader's Digest condensed version of just how criminally insane my dad's family is (it's easy for her to tell the story in public becaue she' not a blood relative) and how one branch of the family made their daughter feel so inadequate for being unmarried at the ancient age of twenty-six that she hooked up with a polygamous cult. If there had been a hole in the floor large into for me to have crawled into, I would have gladly taken up refuge there.

Polygamy/one of my cousins hooked up with a group that is a off-shoot of Warren Jeffs' group, and now wants out

I blogged much earlier about one of my cousins, who was declared an old maid at the age of twenty-six. Her way of dealing with it was to join up with the some segment of the Blackmore cult up in British Columbia. If you're well-versed in the history of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, you'll know that the Blackmore group broke away from the Johnson/Jeffs group in the not-too-distant past and still retains some ties.

My cousin's parents weren't sure which was more humiliating: having a twenty-six-year-old daughter who was still single, or having her join up with the polygs. This in and of itself and without furhter evidence, plenty of which is available, epitomizes just how screwed up my dad's side of the family is. (Being hooked up with the polygs at least proved their daughter probably was not a lesbian, which made her choice of lifestyle perhaps the lesser of two evils, her parents thought. Becoming a heterosexual prostitute might have lent evidence along the same lines, but would that have made selling her body a viable option?) My grandfather, who is a relatively high-ranking mainstream (although calling any portion of the LDS church "mainstream" seems somewhat oxymoronic, akin to being a known as "a gifted tone-deaf singer") LDS official, has chosen to ignore the situation. (I have to admit that, as sorry as I feel for my cousin, it's gratifying in is own unique way to have someone in the family rank lower in the pecking order than I do for once, however temporary the status may be.) I will offer as a disclaimer that we all know Mormons who are good, upstanding, and apparently sane people. My relatives on my dad's side are not among that faction of the LDS church. My grandfather, who holds a relatively high-ranking poition in the LDS church, has convinced the rest of the family to join hom in his state of denial. (The state of denial and the State of the Deseret, when represented in the form of a Venn Diagram, show a large circle depicting the state of denial, while a much smaller circle, representing the State of the Deseret, lies almost entirely within the larger circle representing the state of denial, with only a tiny shard to the right of the larger cirle as you face it representing the State of the Deseret extending very slightly outside the circle representing the state of denial.) My dad's family does not occupy that tiny shard to the right extending outside the state of denial.

My parents and my Uncle steve have been concerned about this situation ever since they initially became aware of it. My Uncle Steve received a letter from my cousin last week. She said she wants out. She's not sure if they'll let her out. They have supposely told her she's free to leave as soon as her baby is born as long as she leaves her baby. (I forgot to mention that she's pregnant. I don't know how far along she is. For that matter, she could be experiencing a hysterical pregnancy. I've never actually known anyone who's had such a condition, but leave it to her to be the first.) Some church and municipal authorities (one and the same thing where she lives) have supposedly also told her she's free to go at any time and does not need to wait for the birth of her baby before leaving. My cousin told my uncle in the letter that it's not safe to attempt to correspond with her at the compound. There's supposedly a bar fifteen or so miles down the road where mesaages can be left for her.

I've seen Blackmore (his first name may be Winston; that somehow rings a bell) on a TV interview, and he presents as a far more reasonable man than do any of those nutcases I've observed on news programs in either Colorado City/ Hilldale or the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas. If I had to trust one of them, he's the one I would trust. Furthermore, this cousin of mine has typically by choice started off most games of Uno with more than a few cards in excess usual startubg amount of seven. (Uno's one of ths egames where onw wanta to be rid of one's cards as soon as possible; it's no advantage to steal extras. That would be like adding strokes to your golf score.) Between Blackckmore and my cousin, he could easily the more lucid of the two.

Still, she has claimed at least once that she's not being allowed to leave until the birth of her child, and not with the child once it's born. This seems worth checking out. Beyond that, she may be thousands of miles away from home with no means for getting home. This alone is a cause for concern. Her parents say she got herself up there. Let her get herself back. I'm not sure it's that clear-cut. She's a simple soul, despite a bachelor's degree, and her options are limited.

This young woman was made to feel that everything about her was so sub-par that she was willig to take a rather desperate step in order either to mke herself more socially acceptable or to get out of the situation that made her feek as miserable as she felt about herself. She is clearly in need of assistance. My parents, my Uncle Steve and Aunt Heather, and a sixty-year-old great Uncle on my maternal grandmother's side who still retains Canadian citizenship are planning to travel to British Columbia to bring her home nd help her to get her life back in order. They admit they have no idea how difficult or how dangerous this may be.

I'm a bit nervous about my parents undertaking this operation, but glad they're not doing it alone. I wish my mother and Aunt Heather did not need to go, as it seems that it could be potentially more dangerous for them. What if, for example, the polygs take a liking to either of them. My father says that the women will not accompany the men to the compound, but are instead there in the event that either ompetency is an issue or that my cousin may be in sohat hteolme sory of danger being released to the company of just three men. Still, what if some extreme polygs find out in what hotel my mom and my aunt are staying, I've seen those polygamous wome, and by comparison, my mom and my aunt are Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz.

This operation will take place early next week. I'm still sick, and my mom will not leave until my fever and most of the symptoms are gone. This whole thing makes me terribly apprehensive, and I wish there were a simpler and safer way of getting my cousin out of there. I've seen too many episodes of "Big Love" not to be afraid of the bad things tha could happen. On the other hand, just think of the stories my cousin will have to tell when she gets out of there,