Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Jodi Arias Trial: Is It REALLY News: What Nancy Gr...

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Jodi Arias Trial: Is It REALLY News: What Nancy Gr...: A. J.  Hammer  on Showbiz Tonight to the Jodi Arias on Showbiz Tonight discussed ten reasons why our nation is obsessed with this case in p...

Jodi Arias Trial: Is It REALLY News: What Nancy Grace, Dr. Drew, and Their Mutualistically Symbiotic Talking Heads Wish for Us to Believe

A. J.  Hammer  on Showbiz Tonight to the Jodi Arias on Showbiz Tonight discussed ten reasons why our nation is obsessed with this case in particular.  I haven't paid attention to ratings, and furthermore, if self-reporting of viewing  and/or Nielsen ratings are the only gauges available as to just how obsessed America is with this case, I question their reliability and validity.   I'm not sure I believe that the American public is as engaged in this trials as are the talking heads of the media. Furthermore, a. J. Hammer hosts Showbiz Tonight. Neither Jodi Arias nor the man she killed were show business personalities prior to the murder. What is it about committing or being accused of having committed a murder that warrants qualifying a person to the distinction of "show business personality"?   It was bad enough when the media chose to try to pass off Kate Gosselin or any of the Kardashians to the rest of us as bona fide celebrities. But accused murderer Jodi Arias? What's next? Should she have a star on Hollywood's walk of fame?

The case and the trial are not without sensational elements. Anything that features much sex -- kinky sex in particular -- will inevitably attract an element of the public. Still, is this trial a water-cooler or copy machine conversation topic?  It seems a stretch to assume that it is. Even though I'm a bit out of the loop in what's happening in my classes since I'm skyping versus showing up in the flesh, the skype kicks in almost ten minutes before class starts each day. I hear other students as they talk, and they occasionally even include me in their conversations. The only reference whatsoever that  I've heard about this case  from my university peers is how tired they are of it and how they wish it was over already. They don't seem to care about the outcome. And they're not out of the loop. The dorms are provided  with free cable access.  The university students have as much opportunity to watch the coverage as anyone else, and they are tired of it. My suspicion is that they're not alone.

I admit to having  been obsessed with other true crime cases, from the Jonbenet Ramsey Casey to the Chandra Levy case  to the Lacy Peterson case to the Elizabeth Smart case to the Caylee Anthony case. Nothing about this case, however, intrigues me or piques my curiosity in the least.  If other regular members of the public feel differently about this, however, and are grateful for the extensive media coverage, such is their right to feel theway they do. If A.J. Hammer, Dr. Drew. Nancy Grace, Jane Velez-Mitchell, and others like them are truly catering to the interests of the American public, they are doing their jobs.

If, however, what they are doing is trying to inject themselves into the news itself - trying to make news of a topic that isn't really newsworthy -- trying to create news for the purpose of creating ratings for their programs, what they are doing is reprehensible.  Just because this apparently has been a slow news month doesn't mean the talking heads have any right  to attempt to make a story more newsworthy than it is simply by highlighting the titillating aspects of it.  Such is reprehensible.

And, as a final note, the semi-regular segment of Nancy Grace's  program where she is shown conversing with herself about the day's issue, framed in a totally blacked-out background with only her head visible,  looking at God knows what but certainly not at the camera,  is odd to the point of preternaturality.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

And Aubrey Was Her Name, and Then It Wasn't

Note: I possess powers of early recollection. I remember some things from when I was two years old and many things from when I was three. Almost anything of significance that happened to me since I was four, I probably  remember. This, however,  all went down in the earliest days and minutes of my life. I have no memory whatsoever of it. It might be interesting to undergo hypnosis and see if I remember any details, but I'll probably never bother because who has time for such things, and beyond that, does it matter all that much?

I mentioned in a couple of earlier posts that Alexis wasn't originally scheduled to be my name.  My parents had decided to name me Aubrey Anne, but my mother took one look at me as she was sort-of nuzzling my swaddled twin Matthew and as my dad was holding me before I was carted off to the NICU for incubation and for whatever it is they do to two-pound-two-ounce babies. "She's not an Aubrey," my mom called out to him as he headed toward the swinging doors to walk me to my new temporary home.

"Can't we talk about this later?" my dad turned and asked her.

"Yes, you can," a nurse and two pediatricians responded in unison as they hurried my dad to get me to the NICU.

"She's not an Aubrey," my mother said one more time to my father as he placed me into an isolette and walked me down the hospital corridor to an elevator that would take me to the NICU.

My brother got the name he was originally intended to have, which was Matthew John.

Eventually my father and mother met up again, and the next day my father took my mother in a wheelchair to the NICU to see me even though she really didn't want to go. She had lost premature twins nearly two years earlier, and the NICU did not bring back fond memories to my mother. Looking at my  skeletal body caused her to think of my brothers before me who didn't make it. One died in the O. R., while the other one lingered for a few days in the NICU before my parents made the gut-wrenching decision to stop life support and not to delay the inevitable. I, however, was nearly twice the size of my smallest brother and was a full  ten ounces heavier than the larger twin who didn't survive.

My mother tried to look away as my dad pushed her wheelchair directly in front of my incubator, but he used his hands to turn her head so that she was directly facing me. She said nothing for several minutes. Eventually she commented, "I still don't think she looks like an Aubrey."

"What do you think she looks like, Erin?" my dad asked her.

My mother thought for a moment. "Maybe an Alexis," my mom answered.

"So that's what you want to name this baby?" my dad confirmed. "Alexis?"

"Yes," my mom answered. "Alexis."

"She's going to make it, you know," my dad told her.

"What does that have to do with anything? " my mom asked him somewhat hostilely.

"You're not refusing to name her Aubrey because you don't want to waste the name on a baby you think isn't going to live, are you?" my dad asked rather directly.

My mom responded by crying. My dad wheeled her back to her room and helped her into bed.

They talked about it again the next day. My mom insisted that I just didn't look like an Aubrey to her. I looked like an Alexis. My dad asked about the middle name. She said that she still wanted to use "Anne," her late mother's name, which she had planned to use also had my name been Aubrey. My dad just said, "Fine." He's not a stupid man, and he probably understood the futility of getting into a serious argument with  a post-partum mother over the name of a baby or, for that matter, over anything else.

I'm not sure how an Aubrey should have looked. Perhaps an Aubrey would be light pink and softly rounded, with a Gerber-ish smattering of hair on top of her head. I, on the other hand, was blue or gray  in some places and very red in others. There wasn't anything soft about me, and veins could be seen through my transparent skin.  Instead of the Gerber-ish smattering of light hair on my head, I had something called lanugo, which is prenatal hair all over the body that is usually shed before a baby's seventh or eighth month of gestation but is still present on premature babies. Aubrey has the face of a tiny heart shape, not too narrow yet not too plump. Alexis, on the other hand, is more like the pound symbol on a telephone. Alexis is a bit spiky.

How might things have  turned out differently for me had I been named Aubrey instead of Alexis? How might I have been different had I been born full-term instead of about eight or nine weeks early? I'll never know the answer to either question.

The following '70's or'80's song was written by David Gates about a girl named Aubrey  and performed by the group Bread with Gates singing lead.  I don't think anyone has ever written a song about a girl named Alexis.

I don't own this video. I hope the owner doesn't have a problem with it being used here.

Mad Dog Buek Died!

I've been crying for almost the past four hours. No one in my family, animals included, has died, and my boyfriend didn't break up with me again. The cause of my sadness is a movie. It's the worst kind of movie where sadness occurs because it happened in real life pretty much the way it happened on screen.

The movie,   The Other Side of The Mountain, is the true story of Jill Kinmont, an American skier in the mid- 1950's who was almost a sure shot to make the 1956 Olympic slalom skiing team.  She was ultimate the victim  of what has come to be known as "The Sports Illustrated Cover Curse." It's become almost legendary that if an athlete's picture is featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated , the U. S.'s weekly preeminent sports news coverage and feature magazine, shortly before an important athletic event, having been pictured on the cover of the magazine will not bode well for the athlete.  Typical examples of the Sports Illustrated Cover Curse are of the nature of Sugar Ray Leonard's career-ending TKO  loss to Hector Camacho in his comeback bout the same week he appeared on the cover, the end of Pete Rose's 44-game hitting streak the same week he appeared on the cover, and Tim Tebow's appearance on the cover of the magazine after a six -game win streak of his team, The Denver Broncos, after which the Broncos immediately lost their next three games.  Jill Kinmont's encounter with the Sports Illustrated Cover Curse, however, was a bit more grim. Competing in The Snow Cup in Alta, Utah in 1955, in arguably unsafe conditions, Ms. Kinmont struck and icy bump and suffered a near-fatal accident that left her paralyzed from just beneath the shoulders.

Ms. Kinmont could have basically given up and watched soap operas and fixed game shows  for the rest of her life, but she didn't. She fought policy in different educational institutions for the right to enroll in programs and to earn a degree and a teaching credential. She was successful in both endeavors. She taught for somewhere around thirty years, mostly in and around Bishop, California, where she grew up.  She wrote an autobiography, A Long Way Up, on which The Other Side of the Mountain  was based.

For those who lived through and followed Jill Kinmont's career and life, the events of the movie came as no surprise. I think I saw a picture of her in a wheelchair somewhere on the DVD cover, so the skiing accident itself did not totally catch me by surprise. I had hopes that she would regain the ability to walk, though.  A particularly difficult-to-take scene in the movie came when her boyfriend at the time, Buddy Werner, also a champion skier, came to the hospital to visit her to see a surprise she had in store for him.  Expecting her to stand up from her wheelchair and walk across the room, he was shocked when the "surprise" was Jill's taking a potato chip from a bowl and eventually getting it into her mouth. Werner walked out, never to see her again.

That scene,  however, paled, in comparison to what was to come. Somehow Jill became hooked up with the wildly irreverent and politically-incorrect-long-before-the-term-was-ever-invented extreme athlete (again, before the term was invented) Dick "Mad Dog" Buek. He helped Jill through her rehabilitation and the two fell in love. One of my favorite scenes in the movie was his marriage proposal to Jill, where he tells her something to the effect that he's going to build a house with low sinks and other handicap-accessible features, and if she won't marry him, he'll find some other gimp (his word, not mine) to come live in it with him.

Buek was a pilot, and he flew frequently from his family's home in Colorado to Jill's home in  Bishop to visit her. On a planned visit not long before their marriage was to take place, his plane crashed and he was killed. This wasn't Hollywood. It was real life!  How could such a thing be allowed to happen? Why would anyone who controls our destiny allow such a thing to happen? And to Jill Kinmont, of all people, who had already been paralyzed and had her life as she knew it taken from her, and had her boyfriend Buddy Werner walk out on her because she ate a potato chip instead of walking across the room as he had anticipated.=?  And if it did have to happen, why in the world did my parents intentionally show me a movie about it?  Don't I see enough depressing sights in the world around me every day? Don't we all? Did they have to show me something from forty years ago that would make me this unhappy?

It's not as though I was sitting around, feeling sorry for myself, and in need of a cinematic kick in the pants to see that there was once someone else in the world who had it worse than I do. I know I've had my share of bad luck, but I get over it anytime it happens.  Furthermore, I've had my share of good luck as well. Myositis is nothing, and I know it. I'll be back in school in weeks. I'll be in law school or medical school in about eighteen months. I'm not feeling sorry for myself. In the grand scheme of things I have a great life. I was happy until about six hours ago when my parents put on this horrible movie.

For the record, Jill Kinmont went on to find another love of her life. She married him and was with him until she died last year of undisclosed causes. I'm happy that she found happiness with someone else and went on with her life, but in my Hollywood-jaded mind, her life with Mr. Boothe, the new guy, could never have  been what her life would have been with Mad Dog Buek. That's pure conjecture, I admit, but it's one more reason I did not need to watch this movie.

I know that tragedies of more epic proportions have occurred throughout history.  King Herod had babies killed. jesus dies on a cross.  I know all about the Titanic. There's even a movie about it, although if I watch it, I already know how the non-fictionalized parts will end. I know about the Holocaust and the Nazi death camps. I choose not to watch movies on the topic, but if I did watch them, I would know in advance that the ending would not be positive for the majority of the Jewish people incarcerated there. I know about the school shooting in Connecticut.  If anyone ever makes a movie about it, I won't watch it. But even if I did, if the movie were true to life, the tragic parts would not catch me by surprise.

Mad Dog Buek died, and I'm in absolute mourning. It happened about fifty years ago, and I don't care. It's like it happened this afternoon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: A Baby Named Chlamydia

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: A Baby Named Chlamydia: "What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." In a literal sense, considering a rose, it would be diffic...

A Baby Named Chlamydia

"What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." In a literal sense, considering a rose, it would be difficult to debate Juliet's point. (It was Juliet's line in Shakespeare's epic Romeo and Juliet.) How would calling a rose, say, a pemscrote,  in any way change its scent?  A rose's scent, in addition to its physical beauty, is the essence of the rose. Furthermore, despite the penchant of some for talking to their plants on a regular basis, there's no significant evidence that a rose grows any differently because of the way any human feels about it.  As far as we know, roses bloom and fade in spite of anything any one of us thinks, does, or says about the rose as long as we do nothing physically to impact the rose.

Humans,  or even dogs, on the other hand, are more impressionable than are roses.  If a person is perceived differently because of his or her name,  others could treat that person differently than the person would otherwise be treated. This is particularly true in formative years. What cause me to think of this is a story I heard recently from my aunt. According to my aunt's nurse friend, who heard it from another nurse who was supposedly present when the exchange took place (I'm always just a smidgen skeptical when the story comes from a friend of a friend, versus a person actually known to the  teller of the story and from whom the person relating it to me heard the story, which still doesn't guarantee its veracity, but at least improves the chances that it's not one of's latest debunked rumors), a new mother, when asked by the hospital birth registrar what she chose to name  her newborn baby, answered, "Chlamydia."

The register responded, somewhat incredulously, "You know that's a sexually transmitted disease, right?"

The new mother sighed. "Yes, I know, but I don't think that very many other people know that, and it's such a pretty name." As the story goes, the infant girl was given the name "Chlamydia."   Despite anyone;s feelings about personal freedoms and the governmental interference  into our rights as outlined by the Declaration of Independence, dictated by the Constitution of the United States, and clarified and expanded by the amendments to the U. S. Constitution, there really should be a law against such an atrocity. No child should have to go through childhood (and the rest of her life if she lacks the financial means to have the name legally changed once she reaches adulthood) with a sexually transmitted disease as a name because her mother wanted to be different. If her mother really wants so greatly to be different, perhaps she should get a unique tattoo or even change her own name, but leave the poor baby out of the mother's identity crisis. The child is handicapped enough as it is simply by having either a profoundly stupid mother or one who is bat-shit crazy, or perhaps both. At least give the poor baby a name like  Emily or Jessica as her chance at a decent start in life.

I've previously expounded my theory about requiring  parents who wish to give their children highly unusual names having to appear before multi-faceted panels and listen what the individuals have to say about the off-the wall names being proposed for the unfortunate infants, so I will not recount my proposal in its entirety at this time. I will, however, bring up something my dad said. He mentioned some Scandinavian country -- perhaps Norway, but I'm not certain -- that has a list of one thousand names for each gender that are considered acceptable. If a woman has a baby in that country, she may choose any one of the thousand (my dad thinks it's one thousand, but it may be two thousand) names for the child.  It would seem that even with one thousand names from which to choose, if  parents chose carefully, a child would not run the risk of having four children in his or her class every year with the same name as he or she.   A thousand options per gender allows for considerable variety.

This Scandinavian nation that uses the name-limited system, whatever it is, most likely is more efficient than is The U. S. Can you just imagine the politicization involved in even gaining a membership on to the name selection committee, much less what might happen once the committee started selecting names. Committee members would collude and broker deals with one another to have bizarre names included that their respective relatives wanted to use. The list would end up with so many winners such as Gilmore, Halo, Vinique,  Samanda, Zorro, Exodus, Turbo, Vice, and Zaniel that there wouldn't be room for some of the standards such as Kristin, Elizabeth, Julie, Catherine, David, Michael, Joseph, and Paul.  A committee is not the answer, at least not here in the U. S.

I would propose that if we absolutely had to have some sort of a name-selection panel, it could be made up of presidents and their wives, present and past, with the caveat that the presidents and/or their wives be living and that the position not be something that could be passed on like some sort of a legacy to a descendant of a president. (God only knows what names Amy Carter could come up with  on a really creative day.)  Looking at the names of presidential children, the Carters named their offspring John, James, Jeff, and Amy. President Reagan's children,with his two wives, were Maureen, Michael, Patricia, and Ronald. President Bush #1 and his wife named their kids George, John, Pauline, Marvin,  Neil, and Dorothy. While some of those names may now be considered a bit dated, nothing about them would have been considered odd at the time they were given. The Clintons' only child is Chelsea, which was modern but very top-twenty for its time. President Bush and his wife named their daughters Jenna and Barbara --both perfectly respectable names. The Obama children are named Malia and Natasha, who is called Sasha. While the name Malia is perhaps even ethnically influenced (I really don't know), neither name is out of the mainstream. Modern presidents have done well in naming their children. If we have to have a name-selection panel, somehow force them to comprise it. Tie it to their pensions, maybe.

A name does influence the person a child will become. Not every child needs to be named Sophia or Aiden. Having a name that it is too popular carries its own baggage. Still, can't a happy medium  be achieved?   Isn't there some territory midway between the extremes of  the likes of Liam and Olivia and something that has to be so very different that parents must resort to consulting a list of sexually transmitted diseases in order to find a name sufficiently unique to suit  their tastes and to attract the attention they so obviously crave?

If she's for real, God bless Chlamydia, because she's going to need all the help she can get.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Housekeeper 9-1-1

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Housekeeper 9-1-1: After a rather lengthy night's sleep combined with a nap, with no break  between the two, I'm far less tired and much more equipped to deal...

Housekeeper 9-1-1

After a rather lengthy night's sleep combined with a nap, with no break  between the two, I'm far less tired and much more equipped to deal with real-world matters.  I'm not so ready that I'm getting up and cleaning our house, which is something of a bone of contention.  It's not really that I'm expected in my presently impaired state to restore order to this dump in which we live. My parents, imperfect as they may be,  are not slave-drivers and don't expect me to crawl out of my sick bed bed and scrub showers, tubs, and floors.  It's just that without me doing it, much of the housework is not getting done, and we're all growing a bit tense under the strain of living in a virtual pig sty.

When we lived in northern California and both parents were working beyond what would be considered full-time and Matthew and I were young,  we had a regular house cleaner who came in three days a week for four hours each time. That seems excessive by the standards of most people I know who use housekeepers or housekeeping services, but it was the apparent difference between our living like normal people and the health department showing up and declaring our home uninhabitable.

I frequently paint a verbal portrait of my family that is realistic (in my unbiased view) to the point of being blatantly unflattering.  Thus, I should make one thing clear, which is that  while we're not neat and tidy, we're absolutely not food slobs. The dishes  are done and the kitchen is cleaned following each meal no matter how tired or sick or stressed anyone is. Dishes aren't left all over the house, and food messes are one of the few things the four of us agree upon as intolerable. Furthermore, the bathrooms get cleaned whether or not anyone feels like cleaning them. Usually it's my dad  who does most of the bathroom cleaning. Spending so much time staring through the lens of a microscope has perhaps made him hyper-aware of the evil microbes that lurk even in clean bathrooms, much less in those that are cleaned infrequently. I clean my own bathroom because I like my own space perfect. I have a really cool bedroom/bathroom combo with a wet bar (which, unfortunately, is not stocked with anything very exciting) which is almost like a really cool hotel suite designed for an eighteen-year-old girl. If there were a way I could pack the entire room with me when I move out, I would do it.  Logistics of my plan notwithstanding, what is the point to having a really great room if it looks like a pigsty and smells bad?  I've been paying a friend to clean it for me twice a week since I got sick. If my mom were not so busy she'd clean it free of charge, but under the status quo, with her working full-time and all, she'd ask "What makes your room so special that it should be clean when the rest of the house looks like it got hit by a tornado?"

As my brother and I got older, we were expected to pick up a little of the slack, but we still had someone coming in for two days each week. When we moved to our present location, my mom decided that because she was no longer working full-time, she had little justification for paying for any outside help at all. My dad said, "Who the hell  needs justification as long as you can afford it, and we can afford it. Hire a damned housekeeper!"  My mom dragged her feet on the issue-- all things considered, she'd rather not have strangers going through our house -- and I did as much as I could to keep the place from reaching official hoarder status.  I started taking out all my parents'  laundry except for towels and sheets, which I laundered,  (I  wash my own clothing as well), which made a big dent in the workload. Still, every time we knew company was coming, there was a three-hour mad rush to make it look like the place wasn't inhabited by a pack of aborigines who had never seen an actual house, much less lived in one and knew how to operate its features.

Then came myositis a couple of weeks ago. I can't do my own laundry and the sheets and towels, much less pack my parents'  clothing off to the local cleaners.  My Aunt Ilianna had been helping out a bit because she knows how challenged my mom is in this area, but she's out of town.  My mom is teaching three courses at the university this semester in addition to having four private university piano students and two private vocal students, which is considered a full-time load.  In this case it's not just laziness; she really doesn't have the time and energy to take care of what needs to be done around the house.

Just before she left town, my aunt left my mom with a list of cleaning services, one of which both she and her daughter use. My dad, after making two trips to the cleaners in one week and  after doing one too many loads of laundry himself, called the cleaning service used by my aunt and by her daughter and asked them to come in for a consultation.  We need to prepare for the consultation, as the hourly price the company  quotes you, or even their willingness to take you on as a client, can be heavily influenced in a very bad way by having your house look and smell as though farm animals live inside it with you.

My dad  very wisely took my advice of hiring four of my university friends who are cash-strapped to scrub the place before the cleaning service gets a look at it. This begs the question as to why not hire university students in the first place. The answer is that they're, by nature, flaky. I know this because I am one. I'm  more responsible than most, but even I am flaky. You can get university students to come in any one time and do a job for big bucks, but if you're using them on a twice-weekly basis, chances are that the week of a major event you're hosting at you're home, they'll have a paper due that they forgot all about or will be too hung over to clean your house. A general rule is that the proximity of time between the cleaning appointment and the day the rent check is due is directly proportional to the chance that the university student will show up to clean your house at the appointed time.  Other than that, all bets are off. Some university students , who work at legitimate businesses because they cannot remain in school and keep roofs over their heads if they don't, manage by sheer necessity to beat this stereotype, but by and large, a student who signs on to clean a person's house is going to be flaky. We lived in a university town previously and initially tried using students as housekeepers,  and such was the case there as well, though nowhere is it as true as in the party capital of the west coast.  If you get lucky and  if you pay extremely generously and stock your refrigerator and pantry with truckloads of foods a starving student might find enticing, you may be able to find a decent babysitter from the enrollment of a local university, but don't count on one of them to keep your house clean or your yard mowed  unless you don't mind being viewed by the rest of the neighborhood as white trash (or trash of whatever ethnicity applies in your particular case).

I type this with the full knowledge that every stereotype has its exception.   There are sane Mormons in the world -- few and far between, but if one looks hard enough, they can be found. There are litigants on Judge Alex (the single greatest TV courtroom show ever to grace the airwaves)  who are neither clinically insane nor retarded  cognitively disabled, though one must watch the show consistently for at least  four weeks to come across one. (Watching the show consistently for at least a few weeks is a good use of one's time even if one is not in search of individuals lacking clinical insanity or cognitive disability.) There are divorced couples  with children who can show up together at a parent-teacher conference and not force the teacher to earn her pay three times over by functioning as a family counselor while she's supposed to be discussing the child's academic and social progress with the parents. (A good teacher actually earns his or her pay three times over simply by teaching, but it's all the more true when dysfunctional family dynamics make their way into the topic of discussion at parent-teacher conferences.)  There are extreme conservatives and liberals who can marry and stay married,  James Carville and Mary Matalin as case in point.  Likewise, there are probably a few university students  hiding under rocks somewhere out there who would show up faithfully on schedule to clean your house twice each week and would do a bomb-ass job of making your home appear spotless for the approximately  twenty-minute interval it took before you showed up and started  throwing your dirty socks on the floor and leaving dishes all over your family room.

Nonetheless,  most stereotypes (of the non-racial variety) came into existence because a pattern was observed and was found to be generally true.  University students as house-cleaners  will most likely be inconsistent.  If you live near BYU or Liberty University, your luck may be  a little better than that most people would experience, but if a housekeeper is needed on a consistent basis,  your safest bet is to hire an agency with an excellent reputation or an individual who comes to you with outstanding references from people you know and whose recommendations you trust.

As I type, the four university students my dad hired are scrubbing away at the filth of uncivilization to which my family euphemistically refers as our home.  One of the four students is clearly hung over. My dad offered to drive her home, but she's desperate for the cash, so he gave her an Ondansetron tablet. It's the kind that dissolves in your mouth and works quickly. He had her rest on the sofa for half an hour while waiting for it to take effect. He gave her the anti-emetic medication both because he's a nice guy who can empathize, as he's been hung over more than once himself,  and so that the hard  work someone does in cleaning the bathrooms is not immediately undone by someone else hurling in one of the toilets.

The appointment on Monday is a sort of reverse job interview. We'll do anything under the sun, moon, and stars to make the people who represent this company like us and want to work for us. We'll bake cookies for them and serve them tea. There's probably no cost not above the average hourly wage  demanded by an extremely high-price hooker that my dad would not agree to pay (let's hope that my dad does not know the hourly wage demanded by an extremely high-priced hooker)  in order to once again have our house clean on a consistent basis.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Teleconference Went at Least Adequately

I woke up at 8:00 a.m. when my alarm went off after finally having drifted off to sleep somewhere between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. Sleep experts tell us that when we're lying  seemingly sleeplessly, we're actually getting a little more sleep than we think we're getting, so I presumably slept more than the three hours of sleep for which  I officially credit myself.

I had a whopping thirty minutes to make myself physically presentable, as well as mentally and technically ready for the teleconference.  When it became clear that sleep for the moment was a lost cause, I got out of bed at 4:00 a.m., showered and washed, dried, and straightened my hair.  That way, if I slept late, all I had to do when I finally made it out of bed was to throw on clothing and get my equipment going. Even if no one in attendance at the teleconference had known I was not all that fresh-smelling, it is difficult to bring one's "A" game  to a meeting when one knows  one's hygiene is lacking even if it isn't apparent on camera or over the phone. I'm glad  I took the time while I was awake to make myself presentable even if it was only for my own benefit.

My doctor succinctly but eloquently pleaded my case. The administrator from the Students' Support Services Program Office for Students with Disabilities essentially rubber-stamped everything that my doctor had to say, and offered no resistance.  Most of the professors were there because they had to be. My music professor was exempt from attendance because he stated in writing that there was no possibility of my not receiving an "A" in his class. He said that, God forbid, if I dropped dead next week, my work in the course is already sufficiently complete that he would have no choice but to give me an "A."  My gymnastics instructor also was exempt from attendance. His written statement was that, with my skill level in gymnastics, with a medical excuse, and with make-up assignments for each class session missed  beyond two sessions of each course, I would pass the class. It's a pass/fail class. I've already submitted six make-up assignemnts. (So much for my being able to sell any of them.)

I was quizzed on course content  by my other professors, but their questions were fair, and I answered them all easily enough and to my professors' satisfaction. All professors noted that assignments, both minor and major,  had been turned in far in advance.

The administrator, whose decision was final, ruled that I should be off campus and skyping courses for  the next  three weeks following this week. If at the the end of that three week period my doctor feels  I am unable to return, she ruled, the panel will meet again. Otherwise, the decision was made and the issue was finalized.

I'm confident I'll be ready to return to class in person on March 18. In the meantime, I'll skype and do just a bit of review. I'll be bored when I'm not tired, but at least I'm not being kicked out of the university.  My boredom is temporary. Life is good, and should soon be getting even better as my mobility and strength return.

Smile! You're on Nanny Camera!

I received a rather odd phone call tonight. My parents actually took the call, as it came to the land line. The call was from the father of two children (and a two-month-old niece) that I had  babysat one night in early January when the two couples went out for dinner and a movie with Scott and Jillian. The man's brother  and sister-in-law (or sister and brother-in-law; I can't even remember which) brought their baby to the house of the two little boys so that one babysitter could manage all three kids. The baby was young enough to sleep comfortably virtually anywhere. Both couples paid me, so I wasn't taken advantage of financially.

Many homes with young children are now equipped with nanny cams. I'm a little surprised after the fact that this one was, as the mother is a stay-at-home mom, and they  rarely have babysitters, as the woman has a mother and four sisters who live within easy driving distance who do the vast majority of their babysitting, and the couple supposedly only rarely goes out without their two little boys, anyway.

I don't know exactly when the couple got around to spying on me through their nanny cams, which are apparently strategically posed all over the house. The father is sort of an amateur techie; I can see him being far more creative than buying one of those teddy bears that everyone  recognizes and would not be fooled  by in the least.  It's been just about seven weeks since I babysat there. Maybe they have twenty of the devices, and it took them a long time, even fast-forwarding,  to get through the footage from all the nanny cams. Or perhaps they saw it a long time ago and just got around to calling. Or maybe the wife saw it relatively soon after but didn't think to show it to her husband -- the one who was most concerned or intrigued by the footage.

Some nanny cams just have video. This couple, with their amateur techie status, of course,  would  have to have audio on theirs as well as video. One would want to know if a babysitter was cursing at the baby as she was beating him, I would suppose.

I've never known for a fact that my image was ever before caught by a nanny cam, and had never given a great deal of worry to the prospect, but my friends and I had long discussed it in terms of  how it would be uncool for anyone to have footage of one of us picking our  noses or adjusting wedgies, or any other such thing on camera, preserved for posterity, or perhaps even posted on YouTube. (I'd like to think anyone with sufficient stature in life to be a parent for whose children I would babysit  -- I'm picky -- would be above such pubescent behavior, but one can never know for certain.). The idea of worrying about being seen stealing the homeowners' possessions, much less harming or even being unkind to a child, isn't something to which I've ever given  a moment's thought. If I didn't want to be around children, I wouldn't babysit. The essence of the matter is that even when the parents pay generously as babysitting wages go, it's not very much money involved. If someone doesn't enjoy babies or children,  much more lucrative ways of earning money can be found.

My friends had brought up the idea of nanny cam abuse, as in strategic placement in a bathroom in order to photographically catch nubile young females in states of partial nudity. I have no doubt that such happens, and again, maybe I'm naive about my clientele, but before I was eighteen, my parents were practically OCD-cautious about anyone for whom I babysat. I didn't do all that much childcare anyway, as I was busy with sports, and I had enough musical gigs, including one that was technically a half-time job, that my time was more valuable to me than the wages I would have earned from babysitting. Still, I did some sitting, but only for families my parents knew well and trusted.  When I took care of the children from the two young families in Utah in January, even though I had already turned eighteen,  Scott and Jillian would never have allowed me to take the job had they not known all the parents well enough to trust them thoroughly.

I didn't answer the phone when it rang even though it was within easy reach of the recliner in which I was sitting because I never answer the home phone on principle. It's never for me anyway-- my friends reach me by cell phone -- and I choose for the most part not to function as my parents' receptionist.  They were mildly hostile to my laziness at first, but their attitudes eventually improved to within an acceptable range.  They have an actual answering machine. Why should they require a human answering machine as well? My father answered the telephone when it rang tonight. He vocally considered letting the answering machine get it (my father thinks only out loud, so everyone within hearing range of him knows every single thought that ever pops into his head) , as he didn't recognize the number but thought that chances were good that it was one of our many Utah relatives, and as likely as not, the person wanted money. On a whim, he took the call anyway.

I don't pay a great deal of attention to my parents when they're talking on the phone because 99.9999% of the time whatever they're saying is almost terminally boring, but the third time my name was mentioned in my father's end of the conversation, my interest was piqued.  I was able to decipher from the context who it was with whom my dad was speaking.. Hearing one end of a phone conversation is similar at times to putting together a jigsaw  puzzle. Sometimes a puzzle doesn't go together just right at first. My initial thought was that I had been accused of wrongdoing of some sort. My mother, too, had grown concerned by the single end of the conversation she was hearing, and picked up an extension to the phone.

Facial expressions and tones of voice gradually changed, and my dad handed his extension of the phone to me. What the man told me was that  his wife had reviewed the nanny cam tapes. He came up with the not-terribly-credible excuse that he and his wife review the nanny cam videos because everyone always tells them that their boys behaved well, but they want to see if such is really the case, because they like to hold them --especially the older boy -- accountable for their behavior while the children are in the care of others, Whatever. I suppose it was more diplomatic than coming right out and saying, "We wanted to see if you were a child-beater or a pervert or a thief." For that matter, maybe he was telling the truth.

Anyway, the man said his wife had been telling him for weeks that there was a part of the video he should see and hear. She said it wasn't urgent and could wait until he had time. Last night he had time.

The two little boys - one a seven-year-old  and one a two-year-old -- went to bed relatively easily. There were the usual requests for just one more story and another drink of water, but as boys of those ages go, they fell asleep quite quickly. I gave the baby girl what was to be her last bottle of breast milk, burped her,  rocked her for  a few minutes, then put her into the portable crib that was set up in the living room. She cried. I gently rubbed her tummy for a few minutes, then gave her a brief time to soothe herself to sleep, but her cries grew louder and more distressed. I didn't want her to wake the boys, and I didn't want to ignore an obviously uncomfortable baby.  I picked her up and check her diaper, which was fine.  I gently burped her again for a few more minutes, which produced a slight belch though nothing all that impressive.  As I was holding her and patting her back, I began to sing a really lame Josh Groban song to her, I  have no idea why I chose the particular song; it just popped into my head. She must be a  fan of Josh Groban's music, because she was asleep by the time I finished the song. I very carefully placed her back  into the portable crib, and that was the last I heard from her all night, other than the soft sounds of her breathing and the sweet little sucking noises she made. I sat in a chair barely an arm's length from her, so I could hear her without even getting up to check.  About two hours after she went to sleep , the couples returned and I went home with Scott and Jillian.

The father of the two boys, whose nanny cams captured all the action, is a professional musician. He composes and arranges music for movies, although he does a few other odd projects on the side.  He found the footage of my singing to the baby "precious" (his word, not mine), and said  I have a very sweet voice. He wants to use me for the vocals (just the singing; the dialogue will be done by someone else who apparently doesn't sing very well) for a cartoon feature for which he's composing and arranging the score. A little might be done during spring break,but the bulk of it will happen in June when I'm on summer break. (I'm not taking summer term classes.)

I will be paid, but not so much that I should be giving up  my day job if I actually had one. This is what I would consider a "Don't count your chickens before they hatch" situation, All sorts of things could come up which could cause this not to materialize. If it happens as planned, great. If something throws a wrench in the works, I'll have a little more time off this summer. I'm trying to look at it as a win-win situation.

And, even if there were no other consolation, at least the man didn't have his nanny cam set up in the bathroom in order to catch pornographic shots of me . . . or at least I think he didn't.

I should have been asleep hours ago, but the excitement is keeping me awake, and I have a father who does not want me to turn into a benzo addict, so I'm stuck with counting sheep. I hope I'm not still counting at 8:30 a.m. when the tele-conference is scheduled to begin.

Dobrou noc. [Czech for "good night," or what's left of it.]

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Unproductivity at Its Highest

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Unproductivity at Its Highest: I've done nothing except sleep and read the tiniest amount in the past thirty-six hours. I finally feel as though I've had enough sleep tha...

Unproductivity at Its Highest

I've done nothing except sleep and read the tiniest amount in the past thirty-six hours. I finally feel as though I've had enough sleep that I can possibly communicate with the outside world in a coherent fashion, wish is a very good thing, as I will be required to speak intelligibly if not intelligently with an academic panel tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow I have to tele-conference with  four  professors,  my rheumatologist, (using my primary care physician for the same purpose would have been far less irritating to the rheumatologist, but my primary care physician is my uncle and shares my surname, which probably would have subtracted credence from anything he said about the severity of my condition)   and some administrator from whatever that center is called that deals with students with exceptionalities. How I love referring to myself as a student with an exceptionality. It sounds like I have dyslexia,  dyscalculia,, some sort of  cognitive disorder, autism, or cerebral palsy so severe that I cannot even write or type well enough to take my own notes.  It's humbling for me, which is perhaps a good thing. What or who is say a cognitive disability or specific learning disability should be any more stigmatizing than a temporarily disabling illness? Why should I consider myself any better than anyone with one of the aforementioned conditions? The answer is that I should not , and I'm trying hard to keep that in mind as I deal with my embarrassment over the situation.

My dad says between my compromised  immune system because of  the ratio of junk food to nutritious  food that I eat and my tendency to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and become injured as a result, I will be dealing with temporarily disabilities for the rest of my life. I pray to God that he''s full of shit. (Was it irreverent of me to use the words God  and  full of shit in the same sentence, notwithstanding the breakage of Commandment Number 4  (of the Big Ten) for the Catholics and Number 5 for Protestants? Jeez, I certainly hope not. As it is,  I'm already far enough from anything resembling a state of grace.without that on my docket of sins.

At least my dad didn't say my injuries were as a result of clumsiness. Other than the time I cut myself with a broken glass I was trying to conceal from my mom when I was two, and most people are willing to cut two-year-olds a little slack n terms of injuries incurred that might not have happened to a more graceful individual, my relatively few injuries were pretty much as a result someone else invading my space. The other hurdler tripped and sent her hurdle into my lane and fell on top of me. Two separate videos of the accident  corroborate that everything happened in my lane. The attack in the school restroom couold not under any circumstances be attrbuted to a lack of physical coordination on my part. on the contrary, my ability to push the 911 button on my phone while I was being kicked and slapped indicates a decent level of coordination.The minor foot injury I incurred was a result of Tevye stomping on my foot. Everyone neraby including Tevye agrees I was not in his way; he got caght up in the moment  and was ad libbing.  My auto accident was as a result of the other driver changing lanes too hastily, losing control of her vehicle,   and (totally unintentionally) ramming my car in the rear, sending me into some oleanders and an off-ramp side railing. My most recent [very minor]  accident, when I fell down the stairs, wasn't the fault of anyone else, but it was caused by muscular weakness rather than lack of coordination.  That's still not exactly something about which to boast,, but it s offers no evidence that I'm a klutz.

The panel tomorrow will not care about muck klutziness or lack thereof,  though.  The concerns will center upon the necessity for my not attending class in person and the degree to which I'm keeping up with the rest of the students in my class. The burden of proof concerning  ability or inability to travel to the university and navigate my way across the vast expanse of the campus from one class to the next  is all on the shoulders of the rheumatologist. He's a friend of my dad,  so I expect he'll do his very best to plead my case.   I'd like to think his friendship with my dad would have nothing to do with his effort, but I live in the rel workd with everyone else.  I'll be orally quizzed by each professor about anything covered or assigned up to this point in the quarter. just to be safe, i won't take as much as an Advil before this tele-conference, but I have relative confidence in my ability to handle whatever they throw at me.

I'd like to get a decent  night's sleep, but I'm not overly optimistic. Once the teleconference from hell is over, and if the outcome is satisfactory,  I'll rest, watch junky  TV, and review a few texts that I've already read twice just to demonstrate, if only, to myself, my worthiness for their faith in me. If the decision goes against me, I'll rent a wheelchair and will be wheeling my way around campus by Friday at the very latest.

Either way, life will go on.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

An Explanation, and I'll Try to Be Brief for a Change, But I'll Probably Fail in That Regard

I'm tired of writing about myositis, and so I've neglected to mention something from a couple of days ago. Because of the benign acute myositis, my muscles are not very strong right now. They're ordinarily as strong as anyone else's  muscles, and  in a matter of time will again be just as strong as they're supposed to be. Right now, though, I'm struggling a bit.'

I'm mostly supposed to remain in bed, though I can get up to use the bathroom, and I do take one bath a day. I haven't been expressly told to stay off the stairs, but at least one of my doctors felt that it went without saying.

On Friday afternoon, I desperately needed a change of scenery. I tried opening my curtains and blinds in my bedroom, but it was still my bedroom. I could have gone to my parents' room or to the library on the second floor -- the same floor as my bedroom --  but neither seemed sufficiently stimulating to ward of my almost terminal feelings of boredom. My cousin, who is twenty, was at my house, but he was asleep in his bedroom after a long week of work and classes. I really didn't want to wake him.

I chose to very carefully make it on my weakened legs down the stairs to the living room. I might have been successful in making ot down the stairs safely had my right leg not chosen the worst possible moment  -- when I  sneezed -- to go totally weak to the point of limpness. Had I not been so well-encultured with modern concepts of hygiene,  I might have hung into the banister wile sneezing, in which case I would have been fine.  However, years of being told to cover my mouth and nose when I sneeze are not easily overcome even when a good reason to ignore them exists. About two steps from the very top step, I released my hold on the banister with my right hand in order to cover my mouth and nose,  My left hand, feeling the effects of the myositis more than is my right hand, couldn't hold on by itself. The force of the sneeze caused me to release my one remaining hold on the banister and to go tumbling head over heels  down the stairs.

The noise of my fall, which my cousin said sounded roughly the way he would expect an earthquake to sound (he's not a native c=Californian and therefore has yet to experience the real thing) woke him immediately. i dind''t even have to holler out his name. One lesson I learned from this is that I might just have well have saved myself a lot of pain and everyone else a lot of trouble by waking him in the first place for help down the stairs, since I ended up waking him anyway.

My cousin wanted to call 9-1-1 immediately, but I was sucessful at convincing him that such was not necessary. My uncle Michael, who lives five minutes away, was not yet home, but his wife, my Aunt Joanne was. On her way, she called a physician friend who lives just a block from us, who was at my door in about two minutes. Five minutes after my Aunt Joanne arrived, my Uncle Micharl, who had been called, showed up. My Uncle Scott arrived at about the same time. My parents, who were at my brother's baseball game in Los Angeles, were notified as soon as there was anything of significance to tell them.

The consensus after examination was that there was no spinal cord injury and no badly broken bones. No ambulance would be needed. I tried with my best persuasive skills to convince all the doctors present that their expertise was more than enough and that a hospital visit would be a redundancy. No one was convinced. I then tried the "I'm eighteen years old and am capable of making my own medical decisions," line but that contention was approximately  as persuasive as was  the "no hospital visit is needed because of all the doctors present" argument.

My most inured-appearing limbs were splinted. the consensus was that my Aunt Joanne'sMercedes SUV would be the most comfortable ride, so I was driven to the hospital by her.  my Uncle steve, who is my primry care physician, was already on his was to the hospital from his town of residence and location of practice in a small town roughly forty minutes away, because he visits patients in the hospital here at least once a day. His family was with him because they were tired of their "hick town" [their words, not mine; I think it''s a nice little town]  and had invited themselves to spend the long weekend at our home instead.

So by the time i got to the hospital, my Uncle Mkichael,  Aunt Joanne, Uncle Scott, Uncle Steve, Aunt Heather, who is a nurse practitioner with privileges at the hospital, Dr. jeff, my shrink who is an MD, and Dr. Smit, my rheumatologist, were there. many of these doctors and/or nurses, also had children with them, who were essentially redecorating the hospital, and not in such a way that any hospital administrator would approve. My cousin took the kids back to our house with the guarantee that within an hour someone would be there to relieve him so that he didn't spend the entire night babysitting.

I underwent a few neurological tests, a couple of X-rays, and a CT-Scan. The expensive scan and Xrays told me that i have 9drum roll) /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\ BRUISES! I do have two broken ribs, but in the grand scheme of things, what area couple of broken ribs? God actually removed an entire rib from Adam in order to create Eve, and the Bible doesn't mention a single accoun tof Adam's  pain or disability as a result, and we all know just how well men tolerate pain.  An ankle has a very slight sprain, as does my right shoulder, but the most prominent of the injuries, in addition to the ribs, are the bruises. I also have what is likely to be a slight concussion. The only thing that changes is that I won't skype classes for a week. Notes will be sent to me,. I won't even be allowed to see them until Monday the 25th of February. If all goes well, I'll be back in class in the flesh by March 4.

I may seem more verbose than usual, because I am.  I'm bored stiff, so I'm, writing about anything and everything I can think of each day until my computer is taken away. I  may even write an unauthorized biography of Mitt  Romney. If anyone has any smut on him, please forward it to me so that I  may include it in my volume.

This, too, shall pass, and in the words of the late great General MacArthur, "I shall return,"  although I haven't actually gone anywhere.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Yeast Infections, Brine Shrimp, Non-Floaters, and ...

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Yeast Infections, Brine Shrimp, Non-Floaters, and ...: On one of my family's numerous and infamous  trips to Utah, my father decided that an experience  every person should have at least once in...

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: My Take on the Concept of Mormon Missions

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: My Take on the Concept of Mormon Missions: I'm not "officially" Mormon,  never have been, and never will be, but through having a large potion of my vary large extended  family as me...

My Take on the Concept of Mormon Missions

I'm not "officially" Mormon,  never have been, and never will be, but through having a large potion of my vary large extended  family as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I'm relatively well-versed in its origins, traditions, and beliefs. I will offer my take on the LDS missionary program and on what might be done to  make it a viable institution.  No practicing Mormon, my relatives included, will agree with me, but then, I'm not here to write things just so people will agree with me.

The "Golden Age" of Mormonism was from the Post World  War II period of the late  nineteen-forties until the early nineteen-seventies, when the fallout from the Civil Rights movement came to the forrefront. Prior to WWII, the LDS associations with Joseph Smith, seer stones. Brigham Young and his merry band of wives, not to mention his merry band of  Danites, the mass exodus to Utah, and the general weirdness associated with all things LDS,  was too close to general consciousness for Mormons to be taken seriously.. Mormons were beginning to branch outside the Mormon Corridor (or Morridor in common RFM lexicon), but, by and large, the word  Mormon conjured up all sorts of weird images.  Then came the reign of LDS President David O. McKay, who was born, lived, and died,  long before I made it onto the planet, but must have had enviable  public relations skills. Under his leadership it became not quite normal or mainstream to be a Mormon, but it was somehow considered less sinister in the eyes public perception to have  association with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   The Church already had a missionary program in place by this time, but  it was greatly increased during McKay's era.

It was at that point that the missionary efforts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints began to flourish. People - normal people, even -- began to investigate and join the Church. This happened in many parts of the industrialized world, in the U.S,  in Australia and New Zealand, and in many parts of western Europe. I'm not suggesting that Mormons were poised to take over the world, religiously speaking, but joining up with the Mormons had ceased to become something that would cause everyone one knew prior to his or her conversion to shun the person. It was at the end of this era that my grandparents became LDS.

When the Civil Rights movement reached momentum, it eventually extended itself into the arena of college athletics. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints fell under a microscope in the civil rights matter because of its racist teachings, some of which were official doctrine, while others fell more under the category of Mormon folklore. Regardless, at that point, male individuals who were determined to have African-American lineage were denied the right to the LDS priesthood, for which even  otherwise "worthy"  non-African American  twelve-year-old boys would be considered eligible. Likewise couples, at least one of whom possessed African American lineage, were denied the privilege of sealing their marriages in  LDS temples.   Reasons for this doctrine -  some probably real and others which more likely came about as the result of LDS prophets speaking as men and not as prophets -- ranged from blacks being of the seed of Cain to the blacks' fence-sitting status in the Great War in Heaven.

When the LDS church's discriminatory policy toward blacks became common knowledge, African-American athletes took offense at being required to compete against Brigham Young University's teams. Talks of  banning the school's athletic teams from the NCAA took place but never progressed very far.  The primary result of the Civil Rights movement's impact on Mormonism was that people who might otherwise have possessed the slightest chance of ever becoming Mormons  essentially slammed their doors in the faces of Mormon missionaries.   It took some time for the trickle-down effect to reach the trenches of the missionary program, so a few more good years of missionary work would take place before the full impact of The Church's racist practices would drastically interfere with the success of the missionary program. (In truth, because of the racist beliefs of some of our nation's and world's unwashed masses, anti-African American policies may have made the Church seem more appealing to some of the dull and ignorant among us.)

In addition to anti-African- American  bias, other non-mainstream practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints were  again  undergoing scrutiny.  Bizarre information concerning the LDS church's origin and practices initially  drove them from place to place, led to the death of their original prophet and president, and sent them packing all the way across the Great Plains to the Rockies, in some cases in the dead of winter.  Somehow the LDS Church overcame much of this and achieved almost (but not quite) mainstream status. Then, beginning  with the allegations of racism  as a result of  BYU athletics and the Civil Rights Movement, furthering itself with charges of  bias against women through its opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment,and perhaps culminating in its vocal support of and underground financial support of California's Proposition Eight Defense of Marriage Act, which banned same-sex  marriage in California  (the proposition was passed but was later overturned by California's Supreme Court) much of the positive public relations work that had been painstakingly accomplished was being systematically eroded.

While the LDS Church's actions in all of these political matters, which they deem as moral and not political, shone light in previously dark areas, the single greatest hindrance  to the success of the LDS missionary program is the medium of which I'm making use at this precise moment. The Internet  slowed the LDS Church's missionary program to a crawl, just as the Internet may one day end the LDS Church as it currently functions.

Church members were told before not to discuss outside the temple what goes on in the temple. It's not "secret," but it's "sacred."  Changes took place in the temple ceremony on numerous occasions. Because such things were not discussed outside of the temple, many LDS temple-goers who attended for the first time after the early nineties knew nothing of the oaths and penalties that were made as a standard part of each ceremony.  The alleged "naked touching"  that was, according to many, once a part of the initiatory rites of the temple, is a matter about which  more recent  temple attendees would have known nothing prior to the Internet's ease of dispersal of such information. The truth, as it now comes out through  records available on the Internet, is that the "naked touching" under open-sided "shields"  is mild compared to the forms of washings and anointings that took place in the LDS temple ceremonies of the distant  past. With the wealth of information dispersed through popular media in the current Information Age,  the LDS Church will be doing well to hold on to  its current membership and to a portion of those current  members' posterity.  massive growth of church membership, or at least growth in the form of converts who will remain in The Church, is not probable.

Secrets concerning church history, official but seldom discussed doctrines, and  "sacred" practices cannot be maintained for any length of time in this Information Age. If allowed inside the respective countries' borders on a large scale, The Church might do well under the controlled-Internet regimes of China or North Korea, but in the freer parts of the world, the truth shall set most people free.  Traveling door-to-door will no longer be a viable option  in terms of building church membership numbers. A few unfortunate souls in need of a good meal may turn up from time to time to take advantage of the Church's welfare program, and a few bona fide conversions may even take place, but, for the most part, the days of LDS missionaries being invited inside homes, asking  prospective converts The Golden Question,  getting the right answer, and baptizing  the families, who will from that point forward remain faithful members  of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is a fairy tale.

If a missionary program is to be maintained, how best might it be salvaged?  Change the focus from one of salvation and conversion to one of service.  Call and send young people who are willing to feed the poor and hungry, or to teach the uneducated who desire to be taught,  Use The Church's massive financial resources to  uncover ways of developing safe water systems, and use the young missionaries as the manual labor needed to put such systems into effect. Missionaries could help individuals living in unlivable conditions to bring their abodes up to some sort of code, even if it's only helping them to put non-leaking roofs atop the ramshackle buildings. Train disaster response teams who will travel to hurricane, tornado, tsunami, flood, or earthquake-stricken locations, to name just a few, to provide much-needed relief. I acknowledge that local missionaries assigned to serve in areas that are then hit with calamities are being utilized in clean-up efforts, but a much more organized approach could be taken.

My suggestions are a mere drop in the ocean in terms of what could be done  to make The Church's  missionary effort viable if  it is to continue. I have ideas concerning mission homes located in prime real estate areas that I have not yet begun to share.

In summation, wouldn't it be better for the image of The Church if,  people were  to see its missionaries and to think, "There are those nice young people who come at their own expense to help people in need," as opposed to, "Here come those  $^@*$  Mormon missionaries again! Turn of the TV and pretend we're not home."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

To Be, or Not to Be (a Mormon Missionary): That Is the Question (With Apologies to William Shakespeare)

My more-than-friend Jared is right now facing the decision of his life. Later in life he may be faced with even more momentous choices, but for the present, this is about as life-impacting as it gets. No, he's not deciding whether or not to pop any pertinent question to me.  We may both be young and stupid, but our stupidity has its limits.  Education needs to be a priority for both of us for a few years, and while we're on academic scholarships, neither set of mommies and daddies would be all that thrilled about keeping a roof over our heads while we simultaneously played house and attended college.

Jared's monumental decision concerns whether or not to serve a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  The obvious answer would be just say no. In going, he would be throwing more than ten thousand dollars of his parents' money away (at least his parents are willing to foot the bill; some families expect-- even demand-- of their sons that they fulfill missions, but then the parents expect the sons to earn their own way, starting their savings as young as elementary school with paper routes, mowing lawns, and such, and working their way up to more substantial employment. (Other families build a family mission fund with individual and group supplemental employment, all of which lnds in a joint fund from which the missinaries draw to pay their expenses. The problem with ths is that in the families I've known that employ this tactic, the girls are expected to contribute every bit as heavily as are the boys, yet girls are no required as are boys to serve missions.) In Jared's case, his parents have done well enough financially that they are willing to pay for both missions and bachelor's degrees for their six children.  Thus, Jared's personal finances are not impacted in a very direct way.

Jared's issues with serving a mission are mostly concerned with  essentially isolating himself from the outside world for two years and with freedom to make choices for himself for two years being nonexistent. Two years may not seem like a terribly long period of time to some, but to a person who's eighteen, it's more than ten per cent of that person's life. It's a substantial chunk of time to give up when one is unsure as to just how much he wants to do it.

When one agrees to serve a mission for the LDS Church, one fills out papers an submits them to Salt lake City. Depending upon whom one chooses to believe, each individual application is prayed and pondered over before a decision is made as to where a prospective missionary will be sent, or applications are randomly placed into stacks, and the stack into which a prospective missionary's application is placed determines where he or she is assigned to serve. The reported exception (heavily denied by spokespersons within the LDS church) is that offspring of prominent Mormons are often sent to safer, "cushier," or otherwise preferential mission sites. (Mitt Romney, for example, served in France. My father served in Argentina,where the water was not safe to drink.)  No one would argue that it is universally true that the children of wealthy or influential Mormons always end up in the more desired locations. Token children of Mormon leadership are sent to the more remote and less civilized locations just often enough that it can be stated that preferential treatment does not exist.

A Mormon missionary receives no financial compensation for his service (or for her service ; women are allowed, though not required to serve, although they are not allowed to go until they reach the age of nineteen. The minimum age for women to serve had been twenty-one until October of 2012. At that time, the minimum age for men to serve missions was lowered from nineteen to eighteen ).  On the contrary, the parents, or in some cases the local congregations, are required to send an amount of money that I believe is four hundred dollars each month to the Church. From this money, rent is paid, a small allowance for food is given, and an even smaller allowance for incidentals is provided.  Depending upon where the missionary is stationed, the living quarters are often slums into which no parent in his or her right mind would allow a young adult child to live if he or she actually laid eyes on the place. (By contrast, the Mission President and his wife, who are the couple who preside over all aspect of the mission with some degree of delegation, live in typically comfortable conditions in the "Mission Home." Also sometimes living in the Mission Home are privileged missionaries, known as assistants to the president.  These young men (always men; females are not permitted to fill these positions) sometimes are elevated to the positions because of success in the mission field. Sometimes the positions go to them because they descend from LDS royalty.

One reason missionaries are given comparatively small food stipends is because they are expected to be  invited to homes of local Mormons to partake of meals. Sometimes this happens, and sometimes it does not. Sometimes even when an invitation is issued, the young missionaries show up for the dinner invitation only to find no one home.  Missionaries, depending upon where they serve, sometimes have a great deal of difficulty maintaining weight while on missions.

Medical care while on missions has been a major bone of contention. Often medical care is unavailable or is substandard. Depending upon where the missionary serves, insurance may or may not be provided by the church. If a missionary becomes seriously ill or injured while on a mission, the LDS Church tries to persuade the parents to pay the cost of the medical treatment. If the parents refuse, they church has no recourse but to pay it. Sanitation conditions, among other things, often cause missionaries living in third-world conditions to become ill.  Persuading those in charge to seek medical care for such missionaries has been known to be very difficult.

A cousin of mine came home from South America before the scheduled completion of his mission last spring because of a severe case of amoebic dysentery. He ended up losing a large section of (I think) his ileum. As ill as he was, he was given no assistance to get to a hospital or to travel home. My uncle (not the missionary's father; the father had wanted his son to stick it out in South America despite his life-threatening illness, but the missionary's mother's brother, himself an active member of the LDS Church and an MD as well) traveled to South America, located my cousin, traveled with my cousin to the Mission Home and demanded his passport, which had been denied when my cousin asked for it earlier. My uncle gave the Mission Home staff a deadline of twenty-four hours before he would travel to the U.S, Embassy if the passport was not handed over.  It took almost the full twenty-four hours for the Mission President to return to the Mission Home and open the safe to retrieve the passport.

The Mission President still did not want my cousin to leave. My uncle, concerned before he even left for South America  about the condition of my cousin's health, took four units of safe A+ blood (my cousin's type) for a worst-case scenario. The Mission President tried to talk my uncle into admitting my cousin in a hospital located in the city of the Mission Home.  My uncle was very concerned about the integrity of the blood supply there. He transfused my cousin with two pints of the blood and saved the rest in the event of a bleedout or other emergency. It ended up being needed before they were able to make it out of South America.

My cousin was flown to a hospital in Miami, where he was stabilized until he could be flown to California for surgery. My cousin's father had stopped paying insurance premiums on him, so the surgery, if possible, needed to happen in California because our family had enough connections that most of the services would be comped.

About eight months later, my cousin has regained forty of the sixty pounds he lost while on his mission. He was far from overweight when he left. Because he left before completing his mission honorably, he is not eligible for the BYU missionary scholarship on which he had counted to complete his education.  He lives with my aunt and uncle in California and attends a university here. My parents and two other aunts and uncles who live here split the cost of his tuition. His parents refuse to help him in any way because he left his mission before its completion.

My cousin's case is extreme. Jared's parents would not expect him to remain in a foreign country receiving no or substandard medical care, and if he needed to come home, they would still pay for his college tuition.  Still, Jared is weighing the pluses and minuses very heavily. If he goes, he'll be two years behind in college when he returns, He plans to go to medical or dental school.  If he doesn't go on a mission, he will be 22 when he earns his B.S. If he serves a mission, depending upon the timing of the mission, he'll be between 24 and 25 by the time he ears his B.S.. That would have him finishing dental school at 27 or 28, or completing medical school at 28 or 29.  The age of twenty-nine doesn't exactly qualify one for an AARP card,  but if he didn't go on a mission, he'd be out of medical school and starting a residency at 26.  It's a pretty substantial difference.

Jared then needs to consider reasons why he should serve a mission.  The first reason is that it would please his father. Sorry, Jared's dad, my dad, or anyone else's dad, but two years of one's life is a whole lot to give up just to please one's father. Were the depth of Jared's religious convictions such that he felt compelled, that, along with the desire to please his father, would be sufficient reason. Without the religious call, however, the reason is flimsy at best.

Another reason Jared might benefit from serving a mission is to learn another language. My father learned to speak Spanish fluently while on a mission in Argentina. He has found the skill invaluable. My Uncle Scott learned fluent Spanish in Colombia. He, too, says he'd do the mission over again even though he's no longer a believing Mormon if only for the acquisition of Spanish.
On the other hand, here;'s no guarantee Jared will be sent to a Spanish-speaking country. The forms that prospective missionaries complete ask about previous languages learned and about where one might choose to serve, but far more often than not, the actual assignment does not reflect the missionariy's answers to those questions in any way.  Furthermore, not all languages are of equal value for a prospective doctor or dentist in California. Jared's dad served a mission in Norway. While learning any language is a valuable experience and can be a real novelty,  Jared's dad used his ability to speak Norwegian six times in his twelve years of practicing medicine in Utah, and used it  zero times in practicing medicine in California.  Jared could end up spending two years of his life trying to convert people to Mormonism in the Great State of Oklahoma. Or who's  to say Jared wouldn't be sent to somewhere in the Great White North where an obscure native Canadian language is spoken. Just how valuable would that be in his future medical or dental practice?

My advice to Jared is that if, for whatever reason,  he wants to go on a Mormon mission, he should go. If he doesn't want to go, he should skip out on the whole experience. If he's totally undecided, he should  complete the paperwork and submit it. If,  when he receives his "call" in the form of a thick white envelope from Salt Lake City, he should open it, look at where it is the church proposes to send him, pay close attention to precisely when they want him to report, as in a lousy reporting date can kill two semesters in addition to the four that he would miss anyway while he's off riding a bicycle and handing out Books of Mormon. He could then either report on the appointed date or say to the big boys in Provo (where the mission Training Center is located), "April Fools! I was only kidding!"

If he goes and ends up in an unhealthful or dangerous situation, he has at least three uncles and a mother who will do whatever it takes to rescue him from whatever jungle in which the church has stowed him away, so he has a tremendous advantage over many prospective missionaries.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Myositis, Jared, Matthew and Future Plans -- Both Matthew's and Mine

I'm slowly but surely beating this myositis thing. This evening Matthew and the newest love of his life, along with Jared and me, got into the hot tub for awhile. My dad didn't want me in for too long because the whole thing started with a flu, so it seemed contraindicative to get into a really hot place for too long and potentially bring a fever on again. We stayed in for half an hour, which was probably about right. .It seemed to make my muscles move a little better. The boys were doing the back and forth between the unheated  pool  and the hot tub, Our pool has the capacity to be heated, but we don't heat it in winter except for special occasions because it's really costly to do so. I would not have wanted to do that anyway in the winter even in a relatively mild weather locale such as hours.  i=It did it a couple of times in my younger and stupider days (near Sacramento, where it's much colder in the winter) , and it's painful.

Matthew had a baseball game in the LA area earlier today, but he's finished for the weekend. I think he's getting tired of it all. He needs to maintain the 4.0 GPA for med school, and it's tough to do so when you're having to miss class so regularly. With the various things that go wrong for me, I miss more class than is optimal myself, so I can relate, but for me it's unavoidable. I know Matthew likes the scholarship thing and that his education isn't costing my parents much if anything, but they've been putting money away for awhile,  he doesn't HAVE to play baseball if he doesn't want to. He also has the option of graduating after three years, which would be in spring of 2014. That's when I'm graduating. His manager and coaches would not be happy with him, as they weren't pleased when he refused to redshirt. If he checks out after three years, it will make them angrier. It will free up a scholarship for them, which is a plus for them, as opposed to if he simply dropped out. I don't know how confidential anything like that is. It seems unlikely he could process his paperwork to graduate without the athletic department learning about it.  If he decides to graduate early and they learn about it,  it will cut into his playing time in a big way.

My dad suggested that he graduate at the end of next summer  (2014)so that his baseball program could be kept out of the loop.. He can still take the MCAT. Most likely he could still get into a good medical school. If he didn't, he could pick up a quick master's in biochem or some related field, then reapply to medical schools the next year as a much more competitive candidate. Something tells me he won't have to do that, anyway. He'll get into a really good med school without even having stellar MCAT scores.

I'm not feeling particularly competitive toward Matthew where med school is involved. We'll each be accepted wherever we're accepted. Chances are that his school will be better or at least more prestigious even though my course load is more impressive and my MCATs should be considerably higher, but that's life. Besides, participating in intercollegiate athletics while maintaining a 4.0 has to be worth something, and finishing early, if that's what he does, makes it all the more impressive. I'll finish early, too, and with a double major plus, but more is expected of female candidates even though no one comes right out and says so. It would be just as well if we didn't end up in the same med school. My tendency would be to want to help him, but it would be stupid to help someone so that he could finish higher than I did even if he is my brother.

Decisions can be tough, including my decision as to whether to choose law school or med school, which has been more or less made though not finalized, but, as Judge Alex said to me, it's a really nice problem to have.  I haven't actually ruled out obtaining both law and medical degrees. there's a doctor who works with my dad who has both, and he did the law school part of it while practicing medicine and raising six kids. the main issue is I don't yet know what wuld be the advantage of dual doctorates in that regard. i suppose i could defend myself in  a malpractice suit, but she who defends herself in a case has a fool for an attorney. I don't know whatwould be the implications as far as medical research would be.  I'm also considering that it might make me a really high-priced attorney to have the MD in my credentials, if practicing law were my ultimate goal. I would not work in the plaintiff side of medical litigation, but it might make me a hgighly qualified defender in medical malpractice suits.

I'm getting way ahead of myself here. I haven't been accepted into either medical or law school, and now I'm talking about completing both programs..

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: A Disclaimer of Sorts- Not ALL My Relatives are Po...

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: A Disclaimer of Sorts- Not ALL My Relatives are Po...: When my brother and I were  very young my mom developed Graves' Disease and later, thyroid eye disease. My mom had enough sisters and siste...

A Disclaimer of Sorts- Not ALL My Relatives are Pond Scum

When my brother and I were  very young my mom developed Graves' Disease and later, thyroid eye disease. My mom had enough sisters and sister-in-law living nearby that most of them took turns coming to our home to care for us there. Our lives were only minimally disrupted.

My mother's thyroid condition itself was treated with radioactive iodine therapy.  The radioactivity ablates the thyroid essentially rendering it without function, and the iodine causes the radioactivity to travel more or less directly to the thyroid. The patient  then takes supplemental thyroid in pill form to offset the effect of no longer having a functioning thyroid.  My mom also developed major eye symptoms. My mom's eye symptoms were treated with radiation to combat the swelling and with several surgeries to improve the function of her eye muscles, as double vision tends t result, and with exophthalmus, which causes a patient's eyes to protude. Years and many treatments later, my mom's eyes look normal and function relatively normally.

About four year after being diagnosed with Graves' Disease, my mother was diagnosed with leukemia. My father believes that, while the treatments for Graves Disease didn't necessarily cause the leukemia, in his opinion they were probably a contributing factors. In the grand scheme of things, it matters little. My mother didn't want to have her thyroid glad surgically removed because she's a singer, and the surgery takes place so near the vocal chords that irrevocable damage to them can be done. Furthermore, she's prone  to keloid scars, and didn't wish to have a prominent ugly scar right across the front of the base of her neck. Other reasons, including recovery time from a surgery while she was caring for babies, figured into the decision. As far as the radiation for the swelling in her eyes, at that point there was little choice, as she didn't wish to go blind.  There isn't conclusive proof that the treatments my mother underwent contributed actually contributed, much less caused her to develop leukemia. Both of her parents died of different forms of cancer. She may have held a genetic predisposition.

My father's suspicions related to her Graves' Disease treatment and subsequent development of leukemia would be little more than a husband trying to explain to himself why such a thing happened to his wife. My father, however, is an oncologist and hematologist  who works primarily in the fields of research fo lymphoma and leukemia cures. His views carried more sway than would that of the typical concerned and grieving husband. This was his field. While his objectivity might have been compromised, he knew and continues to know more than did almost anyone about the subject.

Once the diagnosis was made, there was a certain amount of second-guessing as to whether the correct courses of action had been undertaken with regard to my mother's Graves' Disease. Most time and energy, however, was devoted to finding the best place and method of treatment for my mother. My father was fortunate in that his line of work allowed him to conduct his research at virtually any hospital with adequate lab facilities. My parents flew across the country to    investigate a few course of treatment, but ended up mostly in Los Angeles. Our family had been living outside a small town in the San Joaquin Valley at the time, but my Godmother, who would have been the logical person to care for Matthew and for me, had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.  She was having to farm out her out children to relatives from her husband's side of the family as she sought treatment of her own. We couldn't remain there. The decision was made not to move us to Los Angeles with my parents, as we had no support system living there at the time. We instead moved back to a small suburb in the San Francisco Bay area where we had lived before moving to the San Joaquin Valley. We still owned a house there that we had been renting out, and the lease would be up in September, which was the time for school to start.

I've spent a great deal of blog space complaining about, criticizing, poking fun at, and generally denigrating some of  those who cared for my brother and me during this time.  The people I've criticized have earned every bit of negative press they've received from me,

One person in particular, a twenty-four-year-old sister of an uncle by marriage,  was hired by my father to begin caring for Matthew and me at the very first of September.  She was paid  very generously to get us to school each day, watch us after we returned from our school's after-school day-care program ended (and there was really no logical reason we needed to be at the after-school day-care program in the first place, as this twenty-four year-old woman was not holding down another job or attending college while we were there. she was merely at our house sleeping, eating, watching television or running up or long-distance telephone bill. When we were there, she didn't even cook  for us.  I was forbidden by my father to use the stove, as I was just five, and couldn't even reach the kitchen water faucet without pulling up a kitchen chair and standing on it. I  can remember a few times tearing open and eating packages if raw ramen noodles out of sheer desperation.

Matthew an I got ourselves out of bed using my brother's alarm clock while the babysitter  slept, ate cereal if we had time, and threw on whatever clothing we found. Any laundry that was done was done by us. Even though she was given the use of my mother's car, along with a credit card in order to keep the gas tank full, we walked the ten blocks to and from school, almost always while she was still asleep. Some days we would have to ring the doorbell and pound on the door for five or ten minutes in order to wake her up when we returned home following the after-school day-care program we attended. On more than one occasion neighbors took pity on us and brought us into their own homes.

This woman's employment with my family came to an abrupt end when it came to my father's attention through the school that I has stopped eating because nothing was prepare to eat. I had begun it as a sort of adventure, eating nothing but candy. Eventually even candy lost its allure. Since no meals were being prepared for us (the babysitter was using the grocery budget to drive to fast-food restaurants to order burgers and other things for herself but not for us --usually while we were at school and at night when we were n bed-- no food was available on a regular basis for us. My brother was using his allowance and savings from birthday money to buy milk and cereal from the QuickStop Market on the corner, on which he subsisted for most of the three month that the babysitter worked for us. His diet was far from balanced, but the milk and cereal was keeping his going with some degree of efficiency.

My experiment ended abruptly when I fell asleep at my desk and could not be woken. An ambulance called, and that was the end of the uncle's sister's employment with my family.To this day, I don't think she acknowledges she did anything wrong.

I've written about this babysitter before, so there;'s not much else I  really need to day about her. What I should say was that the summer before school started (a little before summer officially started in fact, as my mom's treatment began before school for the year ended) we were packed up to Idaho to live with my mom's sister Colleen and her family from the end of May until the day before Labor Day. My Aunt Colleen had four children of her own. They ranged from a high school to a fourth gradeer. ( Matthew and I were five and were preparing to start first grade.) She and her husband lived on the outskirts of Pocatello, Idaho. Colleen's husband, Uncle Douglas, was a pediatrician. Colleen gave a few voice and piano lessons, and directed a private children's choir that charged a small fee to the parents of the children. The money went to purchasing music, costumes, paying a small fee to an accompanist, and money for gas to transport children to performances. I don't think Aunt Colleen got rich off the venture) but mostly kept the house clean and transported all the kids to the various activities.

In addition to taking her own kids to where they needed to go, My Aunt Coleen personally gave us swimming lessons in her backyard pool, and gave me piano lessons. (I was Matthew's piano teacher. He couldn't learn from anyone else.) We did minor chores every day, including making our beds and helping the older children with dishes and yard work.We were taken to a riding stable once a week for horseback ridging lessons.  We played informally with neighborhood children and had organized play dates with the children of friends and of my Aunt Colleen and with relatives on her husband's side of the family. We held lemonade stands. My uncle borrowed bicycles and helmets from one of his pediatric practice partners whose kids had outgrown them so that my dad wouldn't need to have our bicycles shipped all the way fro California.  I continued with my gymnastics at their little podunk facility, and Matthew participated in some sort of little pee wee baseball league.

My Aunt Colleen is the one of my mom's siblings who was and is LDS, though neither she nor her husband ever seemed so fanatical about it as did the relatives on my dad's side.  They held family home evenings, but they usually consisted of a picnic in a  park each Monday evening. We did the three-hour marathon of LDS meetings each week, as well as a daytime primary activity twice each month,  but we also dd our Catholic mass. Sometimes we attended with Douglas and Colleen's Catholic neighbors, but if that didn't work out, either my aunt or my uncle went with. Once in awhile one of the other kids would come along.  CCD wasn't held in the summer, so that  was a non-issue.

Aunt Colleen and Uncle Douglas were not exactly rolling in cash even though Uncle Douglas was a doctor, as they were saving money for their four children's educations and for their three boys' missions, but there seemed to be enough money to do anything they really wanted to do, and paying extra for Mathew and  me was never an issue. We went to an amusement park in northern Utah once. My dad had sent money to pay for Matthew and me because he knew in advance that we were going, but my uncle mailed it back to him. They wanted no money for our expenses or for taking care of us. I think the only thing they took any money for the entire time we were with them was for our fall school shopping.  My dad was worried about the logistics of getting it done, and my aunt said she'd take care of it and that he could pay her back once she knew how much she had spent. Thank goodness she took care of that for us. If the babysitter had been entrusted with the task, she probably would have kept the money fo herself and left us wearing the previous year's clothing and shoes. Since we'd been in Catholic school and wearing uniforms the year before, we would have stuck out like sore thumbs.

My Aunt Coleen says one of her biggest regrets ever was that she didn't insist on keeping us in Idaho for the year and enrolling us in school there. The rationale was that if we were in the BasiArea, we would be able to see a one of of older cousins, who was a single fire fighter, and our Uncle Steve, who was in medical school nearby,  both of with whom we were close at least every week or two, and that it would be a quicker trip for my dad to hop on a plane and visit every two weeks or so in California. We never saw the cousin or the uncle because the babysitter was supposed transport us to see them, and she always found excuses as to why she couldn't make the trip. When my dad came home, he was so exhausted, he didn't notice anything amiss, and the babysitter usually did a little  shopping right before he came to make it look as though things were normal,

My Aunt Colleen feels that she could have kept me from getting sick if I had stayed in Idaho for the year instead of being under the care of  Mahonri's lazy sister babysitter. The main reason I went to Uncle Jerry's and Aunt Ilianna's house in Florida when I got sick instead of going to Idaho was that I had, among other things,  a serious case of pneumonia, and they all decided that winter in Fort Lauderdale would be more conducive recovery than would be winter in Idaho.

The main point to this rather ponderous post is to share that not all my relatives are deadbeats, and that some of them were extremely helpful to my family when my mom was sick