Category Archives: life

Pregnancy due to rape is like having a flat tire? #$%$#@$%^

Some days now I’m feeling well enough to think about things other than just getting through the day. On those days I actually allow myself to become LIVID and filled with, in my humble opinion, RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION at the attitudes of some of the so called leaders whom we, the public, are electing or, by abandoning our right to elect, are letting slither into office. Whew! How’s that for a sentence!

Somehow, I discovered a new blog site this morning called The Root. I know nothing about this site or its political leanings. I do know the article that caught my attention did not cast the Honorable Rep. Pete DeGraaf in a favorable light.

Rep. Pete DeGraaf: Being Impregnated During a Rape Is Just Like Getting a Flat Tire

You’ve got to read the whole thing to get the gist of it. Basically, he’s advocating women buying “abortion only” insurance policies in the event they ever get raped and that said rape results in a pregnancy. He claims women should “plan ahead” for such a possibility. He plans ahead. He buys life insurance….and carries around a spare tire in his trunk in the event of a flat tire!

This guy is an associate pastor. That’s right. AN ASSOCIATE PASTOR! I think my skin would crawl if I got within 100 yards of his church…since I am a woman. Where is the empathy and compassion a good pastor needs to console a young woman who might seek him out for counseling?

Can you imagine a theoretical situation where someone pregnant comes to him? She has been raped and cannot tolerate the idea of bringing the rapist’s child into this world. She was brutalized. No one will help her financially. She is alone and in need of comfort.

DeGraaf looks at her and says, ” You should have planned ahead and purchased abortion only insurance.” Are you KIDDING me?

Abortion is such a hot topic. I have never gotten into a debate about it with anyone. This is my stand: I do not favor abortion, but I would never condemn any woman who made that choice. It is not anyone’s job to assume to judge her. I honestly feel a woman should have the freedom of choice. No one should have control over another person’s body.

I have also been in schools long enough to realize the effects of not being wanted. I have seen the abusive parents. I have seen the longing for love in the eyes of the children. I read the news and hear of the deaths of the children at the hands of their parents. I cry.

I have only known two women personally in my life who were concerned with being pregnant without a supportive partner. With the first one, her pregnancy was not planned, but it was not rape. This was way back in the early 70s before abortion became legal. She flew to New York by herself, went to the clinic, and flew back the same day. She did not tell me any details of the ordeal and I did not ask. To this day we have never discussed it. I have never asked her how she felt about it. I never asked her how much it cost and how she paid for it. It was a done deal. I don’t know if I was being her friend or not. I do know her family would have totally turned their backs on her and she would have lost her job. She would have been in an extremely difficult situation even if she had given the child up for adoption.

The second young woman was the victim of date rape. I am totally convinced it was not consensual because I know how completely conservatively religious she and her family are. To have sex before marriage was out of the question. An abortion was never considered. The difference with her is that her family surrounded her with love and support. She was still in college and it was difficult for her to drop out for a semester but she made up the time, graduated, and found a job in her field. Her son is completely beloved by the whole family. She  would not have needed insurance.

She was born into the right family. She is in a very exclusive minority. She would never have been forced to buy “abortion only” insurance but she is one of the lucky ones.

What the male leaders of this country are doing to women is reprehensible in many areas. The women leaders who stand by and let them economically and verbally rape and enchain them are not far behind.

To have an abortion or not is for most women the most difficult decision a woman can ever make. It is not made easily. To tell a woman in such a position she should have prepared by buying “abortion only” insurance whether it was rape or not is incomprehensible callousness. Namaste. Attic Annie

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I am not a Christian

I am going to have my roof replaced starting Wednesday due to hail damage. For whatever reason, I have found talking with the sales rep for the roofing company to be a very enjoyable experience. How I ever thought I could or even should start talking to him about my religious beliefs totally astounds me. He was a complete stranger until last week and I have only seen him a total of three or four times. But I have been close to his last call of the day and he is beginning to unwind so he takes a little more time just to chat.

A couple of days ago he was here to measure my roof line. When he finished that, I just started chatting with him on non-business related topics like we had briefly done a couple of other times. Part of me says he’s just being a good salesman but another part says he just likes to talk. He and his wife parted ways in December and I think he gets a little lonely.

Anyway, how it came about I’ll never know but I started talking with him about my church and my beliefs. I don’t usually even share those topics with life long friends.  It was crazy! I told him about growing up in a very conservative Lutheran church. When I was old enough, I learned I was a LUTHERAN. I referred to myself as a Lutheran and connected all of my religious beliefs with that name. We did not refer to ourselves as Christians. My close friend was CATHOLIC but my father didn’t forbid me totally from associating with her. It just wasn’t encouraged. She wasn’t referred to as a Christian either.

When I began dating my first fiance, I went with him to his church and became a Disciple of Christ. I married in that church. (Not to him) I was a Disciple. We moved to Connecticut for one year and back to Illinois for the next year and we were Congregationalists. After trying to find a fit in Texas, we settled in to attending the Cumberland-Presbyterian church. After the divorce I no longer felt welcome in the couples oriented small CP church so I tried the Methodists. The large church downtown had a huge singles group so I tried that. I immediately sensed I was in a meat market. There were too many women dominating the activities who were prime rib or T bone for me to be comfortable. I have felt my entire life that I’m more the equivalent of hamburger…still hot and juicy but not prime category.

I decided to go to the Methodist church close to my home. I attended church there but was not involved in any activities. After almost two years, I decided to join the Bible study group before church. I was at the same time dating a guy named Jim. The class was made up of people my age and I was welcomed since I brought Jim with me to the activities. It only took a little while for me to realize this was a COUPLES Bible study. When Jim and I broke up, I sensed from the other women that I was no longer as welcomed, especially if I chatted with any of the other men, the HUSBANDS. I was there long enough for my son to be confirmed. Other political things were happening in the church with which I couldn’t agree, and, at the same time, I was getting more and more unwell so I soon stopped going to church altogether. I was no longer a Methodist.

I became unchurched for twenty years. It was during that time that I realized there was a definite change in the climate and many more people were calling themselves Christians as opposed to the names of the founders of the churches they attended.  There were now Christians everywhere. As I said earlier, when I talked about religion with people I would say I believed I was now very spiritual but did not consider myself religious.

Back to the present and my chat. This guy opened up about this theologian who lives not too far away who professes to anyone who will listen that he is a Christian and a SOUTHERN BAPTIST. I happen to know this gentleman although our paths have crossed only a few times. The roofer was sharing that this man USED him to meet with the insurance adjustor and for all the preliminary paper work and then the following day there was the sign of another roofer in his yard. That reminded me of the Christian contractor who did a miserable construction job in two of my rooms. I had hired him at that time because he was a Christian and I trusted him. I paid him before I discovered all the half-a&^ errors he made. He never did come back to correct the work.

It was then that I blurted out that I did not consider myself a Christian. He got a very startled look on his face. “I wouldn’t be able to say THAT,” he said. I explained that the older I got, the more dismayed I was with the people attending the churches I did and the protestors of several different causes who hold rallies in the name of Jesus to spew their hatred and condemnation. All of these people wear Tee shirts and wave banners, and bracelets and crosses and rings professing what good Christians they are.

My faith in the ONE GOD is as strong as it will ever be.That does not mean I do not believe in Christ. My faith in him has matured and gotten stronger in the past six years than at any other time in my life. I totally believe in following his teachings, but I have found myself feeling uncomfortable around the loudly proclaiming Christians whose actions I observe speak to me in volumes much louder than their words. I guess it would be the Christian thing to do to accept them and love them completely anyway. I’m still working on that.

My cousin was a devoted Joyce Meyer fan. I like to listen to Joyce occasionally as well. She really resonated with me when she said the following:

Sitting in church every Sunday does not make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car

I really am a Christian. I am just not religious.  I just can’t call myself that if it means being like so many of the others who have come crawling out of the woodwork.  Namaste. Attic Annie

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Alpha Males….it’s all in their jeans! (AKA the Arnold and the IMF French guy)

Good morning. I feel so much better today. My brain is functioning somewhat  again but that’s all for another blog. Today I wish to discuss the topic of alpha males and their biological inability to keep from planting their seed where ever they may roam (or try to).

Poor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the IMF French guy! Both are very much alpha males.  I learned much about the alpha male phenomena back in the 70s when I was privileged to pilot a new type of social studies program for my fifth grade students. Part of the year long course that I remember the most was studying baboons. I kid you not. We learned all about the social structure of baboon society. I found it fascinating. Of course they discussed the behavior and role of the alpha male in the troop.

In order for the species to survive, the strongest and wisest of the species must mate with as many females as is baboonly possible. It is not a far stretch to see that even though humans call themselves superior and “civilized” , underneath the epidermis, we are not removed from other mammal species. The evidence is all over the animal kingdom and Nature shows all the time.

The light went on to explain the kind of guys I was attracted to, dated, and inevitably broke up with. They ended up lawyers, judges, and tops of their fields (or at least could have) for the most part. But that’s for future discussion. There were many beta males or perhaps gamma males in my life but I often did not give them a chance because they were “too nice” and really didn’t actually turn me on.

There’s not much about the Middle Eastern and the polygamous Mormon splinter groups that I can admire. But  I think they got one thing right. Alpha males are forced by their inherited genes to procreate prodigiously. They can’t help it. Survival of the species. This has been happening as long as there have been alpha males. They get theirs first and God help the beta guys and all the rest of the gamma, delta, and omega men of the community. I mean look at the Biblical King David who had the husband of Bathsheba killed so he could have her as another of his wives, or the King of Siam, Mongkut,  who wanted Anna even though his flock was quite large already. He had 39 wives and countless concubines (around 9,000 supposedly.) David had eight wives but a huge flock of concubines. Another king, Solomon, supposedly had over 700 wives! Busy man! Today there are many Saudis who still openly have harems.

When we stop to analyze our reactions to alpha males, to be honest, there is open  admiration (wink, wink…boys will be boys) among many of the community of such men, even as they pretend to scorn them. I mean, we hear about Kings Solomon and David in CHURCH! If that isn’t sanctioning alpha sexual behavior, what is?

Look at the TV news coverage on  Arnold (now nicknamed the Sperminator or other similar “ator” monikers).  Or remember Clinton? (Although he needed anatomy lessons if it was his biological drive to procreate.) Or Edwards? Or the IMF chief who in his own country would barely be noticed for his attempts. His mistake was the country he chose to make his move in. We Americans are not as tolerant on the public surface of such behavior as the French society.

Women are biologically programmed to be attracted to the alphas. Our society won’t advance in our biological behavior until it becomes mind over biology. It will be only then that  women will be able to change the fundamental social structure of the human community. That isn’t going to happen any time soon. So in the meantime, the alphas will continue to do what alphas have always done: search the herds for appealing potential mates for one night stands or affairs, and if the women are unlucky enough, even marriage. Birth control notwithstanding.

I’m close to celebrating my 50th high school class reunion. Of all the marriages, there are only a small handful  (maybe 2 or 3) of girls from our class who managed to hang onto their alpha males. I don’t know how successfully since I have no access to what has happened to them behind closed doors. Our class was one of the 60s first en masse to cut and run when things became intolerable. Divorce was rampant and 2nd and 3rd marriages common. The truly successful marriages were among the beta and gamma males. Some of them are approaching their 50th anniversaries. You know, they were the “nice guys” but…. category. I don’t know the fate of the omega guys. I never knew any.

With all the genetic modification going on, I think it is a plausible solution to the problem of the “womanizers” in our community to do a little temporary gene-splicing among the procreation age females in our society. Let’s hook up our human DNA with the DNA of the black widow spider and make the ovulating female available to the alpha male. Once pregnancy is established, the natural instincts of the spliced black widow female will take over. Survival of the species, and the “nice guys” get a chance to make the females ( with the genes now removed) happy in an actual love relationship. End of problem. Namaste. Attic Annie

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Should We Be Rejoicing the Death of Bin Laden?

There is no shortage of blogs, newspaper articles, radio or television programming about Osama Bin Laden today. I am certain my one little blog will be totally ignored but I feel compelled to write about him anyway.

I was slightly turned off with all the shouts of joy, the dancing, and the flag wearing of people all over the United States and probably much of the world. People gathered and showed their ecstasy at the news that Bin Ladin was dead.

It bothered me that I could not muster the same joyful response as so many people were showing. It reminded me of the frenzy which occurs with the playing of the Super Bowl. I was troubled by thinking maybe there is something wrong with me when his death has made so many people happy. Why can’t I feel happy too?

Before leaving my house this morning, I checked the messages on Facebook and discovered ONE message from a former student of mine who echoed my sentiments. I really felt a connection to her.

This is what she posted this morning:

The only death in this world I am comfortable celebrating is the death of Jesus; while I support my country &, especially our troops, it’s still tragic that it ever had to come to the point that Americans would so gleefully celebrate the death of another human being.

Upon reading that, I responded, “Well put. I do not sense any joy in my heart over this. I fear Bin Ladin’s work is not over. Revenge and vengeance are double edged swords”.

When I got home and logged on, she had added a Bible verse. Maybe I’m not so wrong in not feeling any sense of jubilation.

Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice” Proverbs 24:17

She is quite the Biblical scholar. I would never have been able to find a quote from the Bible but she had memorized much more than I will ever take the time to do.

One song in the Wizard of Oz that has troubled me since I first saw the movie on TV many years ago was the one sung by the Munchkins, “Ding dong the witch is dead.” Is the celebrating of the death of someone what we should be teaching our children? Even though the story is fiction, the lesson that children learn from that is not one I would prefer they learn.

However, in doing some research before I started to write this, I discovered that our pleasure at seeing someone else punished may be hard wired into our brains. I had difficulty in believing what I was reading in the article called “Revenge is Sweet.” There is a German word, “schadenfreude” which is the pleasure felt over someone else’s misfortune. This is the second time this month I have run into that word. I do not understand how people can find it pleasurable or funny seeing someone else get hurt. (America’s Funniest Home Videos comes to mind.) The article actually states that “Fehr and his colleagues suggest that the feeling of satisfaction people get from meting out altruistic punishment may be the glue that keeps societies together”. I guess that means the more we find pleasure in punishment, the tighter our society will be.  I cannot wrap my mind around the phrase “altruistic” punishment, since altruistic means unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.

There is also the English proverb quote ,“Vengeance is a dish best eaten cold” According to a Wikipedia article, the proverb suggests that revenge is more satisfying as a considered response enacted when unexpected, or long feared, inverting the more traditional revulsion toward ‘cold-blooded’ violence. In early literature it is used, usually, to persuade another to forestall vengeance until wisdom can reassert itself. This sense is lost in recent presentations.

I was always brought up thinking it was not right to seek revenge. Vengeance was not supposed to be taken in our own hands. Some people interviewed today expressed concern that Bin Ladin’s followers will try to seek revenge for his death. To revenge the revenge that we felt. Enter karma and the never ending cycle of retaliation. That was my first thought also, a feeling of “Uh oh. Here we go.”

Because I always seem to have to know the verses which come before and after those that are quoted, I googled Proverbs 24:18. or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him.  The parallel commentary then added, “The meaning is “Thy joy will be suicidal, the wrath of the righteous Judge will be turned upon thee, as the greater offender, and thou wilt have to bear a worse evil than that which thou exultest in.”

I fear we may be entering into the second phase of the conflict with Bin Ladin and his followers. I never fully understood the motive of Bin Ladin when he attacked. It seems it was because the USA and Israel are allies.

 In 1998 Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, (a leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad), co-signed a fatwa (binding religious edict) in the name of the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, declaring:

[t]he ruling to kill the Americans and their allies civilians and military – is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) and the holy mosque (in Makka) from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty Allah, ‘and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,’ and ‘fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah’.[37][38] 

It also seems to be because Manhattan has a very large Jewish population and is also our nation’s financial center. He wanted to hurt the USA as much as possible because he hated this country.

As a result, today he is dead. But is it over? I honestly don’t believe so. The Golden Rule is nowhere in this picture. I am uneasy about the future. I pray my thoughts are without merit and this will be the end.

Namaste. Attic Annie

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Planes, trains, and automobiles…my version

I am traveling to my home town to visit my cousin in Illinois this week. In an effort to try to find the best deal, I searched last week to find costs to fly. The airlines truly take advantage of supply and demand when it comes to the number of seats available.

Last week since it was only a few days before I wanted to travel, the cost nonstop on AA  was over $700.00.  On other travel booking websites it was even more than that with one stop either in Chicago (nightmare to change terminals or gates)  or, depending on home base, other equally out of the way places like Atlanta or Minneapolis. Thus giving the customer the joy of waiting in terminals for connecting flights.

I looked for the same flights today and the cost on AA has been lowered to $512.00. There must be extra seats available. However, on the other airlines that do not fly non stop, the cost was now over $1,000.

As the song goes, that does not include the cost of travel to the airport and back ($60.00) or the choice of driving close to 40 miles (1/3 tank of gas) and parking (last check $7.00/day IF there is space in the remote lots, otherwise $10.00 or more.) Nor does it include the cost of checking a bag. ($25.00 each way) Nor does that include the costs of all the other fees.

The last time I flew, it was raining when I got to the home airport. There were only four people who had checked their bags. The other three received theirs and were gone. I had to wait….and wait…. I went to the baggage agent who tracked it down. Evidently it had been sitting in the rain on the tarmac or other area. My cloth bag was soaked as were all the clothes inside. I complained to the airline. They wouldn’t refund any money  for the cleaning of my wet clothes.(I asked for the price of checking my bag.)  They graciously extended to me 2500 travel points. I fly so seldom those points are worthless. They expire before I have enough to use them.

Then I had to wait for the shuttle I called to arrive. The waiting area was outside the terminal. Thankfully it had stopped raining by that time. There were about twenty soldiers also waiting in the same area, many of whom were smoking. I cannot stand second hand smoke. I smoked myself in my younger days and when I stopped, I developed an allergy. It causes my eyes to water, my nose to run, and my throat to get scratchy.

I waited….and waited. I called….and I called. This is a company that advertises thirty minutes between shuttles. I already had a paid round trip fare. A roving security guard passed by me several times. I explained why I was still there. HE called. Finally, after TWO hours, the shuttle arrived to bring me back to my hometown.

I checked with Amtrak. For a coach chair with senior discount the round trip cost is $280.00. I had a question, so I opted to speak with a live agent. I waited for about twelve minutes before he came on the telephone. After he answered my question, he asked me what the cost was on-line. When I told him, he said, “The train must only be half filled.” Evidently Amtrak depends on supply and demand as well. I just checked and I can’t tell what the cost would be now because the train is full for the days I wish to travel. That means I will have to share the seat with a stranger for over twenty hours. I usually sit next to the window if there is an empty seat next to me. I’ve had the fortune on several trips of having both seats. If I take that seat, every time I need to stretch my legs, I’ll have to climb over my seat mate. If I take the aisle seat, every time someone comes aboard with packages, it means getting hit several times with bags or purses as they travel the aisle.

If I had chosen a roomette, the cost each way is $255.00. I was back up to $800+ for my trip, not including the rental car I would need. The last train ride I took, I “treated” myself to such a place. The bed was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t sleep. The train rocked so much I found myself tightening my back muscles in an effort to keep from rolling. When I arose the next morning, I had no idea if I had a kidney stone or muscle strain. My back was killing me. I did enjoy the roomette for the quiet and privacy that it offered. I dislike full coaches with screaming babies and talking passengers who don’t know the meaning of “inside voices”. I also appreciated that my three meals were included in the price.

The train does not go to my home town. I have to disembark about forty five miles from there and rent a car. Enterprise has assured me they will be there to meet me at the train station. I do hope they keep their word.

On one of the websites there was a catch phrase, “Travel is an adventure.” I used to think an adventure is something to look forward to doing…something exciting. However, look at the first two meanings.

1.a. An undertaking or enterprise of a hazardous nature.
b. An undertaking of a questionable nature
2. An unusual or exciting experience:
I think my “adventures” have come to be closer to being hazardous or questionable either to my health, my possessions, my time, or my money than to an exciting experience.  Does anyone else have any comments to share?

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The answering machine speaks the truth

This video of an Australian answering machine has been through my mailbox more than once, but perhaps some of you have not received it.The video says that it is an actual message to the parents. I would like to think this actually happened. If it didn’t it should have.

As I’ve said before, I was fortunate enough in my teaching experience to teach the majority of my time in a gifted and talented program. As a result, I had few real run ins with my parents.

I do remember one parent.. Her eight year old firstborn was in in my class. He was a nice enough little guy but he was not the most organized. He was supposed to hand in a writing assignment. When it came time to collect it, it was nowhere to be found and he was quite rightly upset. However, he was not upset with himself. He was upset with me because I, in my kind-hearted attempt to show mercy, told him he could do it over again and I would accept it. I did accept late assignments although they started with ten points off the grade to begin.

He didn’t say anything but obviously he said something when he got home. The teachers in our program often stayed several hours after school because there was so much planning and lesson preparation to be done plus grading of the assignments. These children routinely accomplished in one or two lessons what the regular classroom did in a week or more. Thus more work. I was staying late.

In those days the school did not find it necessary to lock the doors until everyone was out. The mother came directly to my room. It was obvious that she was upset.

She swore up and down that her child had completed the assignment. I never mentioned to her son that I didn’t think he did. She felt I didn’t believe him. (Which may have been the case.) She proceeded to take everything out of his locker and go through it all. Not finding it there, she then attacked his desk and repeated the process. That was difficult for her because she was a hefty woman and the desks at those time had cubbyholes underneath the seats for the children to store all their materials. There was just enough room for books and folders, yet some children had a knack of accumulating a lot of other junk (like graded assignments) stuffed into the spaces around the books.

She sat on the floor and actually cried out of frustration of not finding the essay. It was really quite a show of parental concern. “I know he DID it. I put it into his backpack.” Evidently she still didn’t understand the concept that I would accept it as a late paper on Monday morning. His was the only one missing from the entire class. I swear she was about to accuse me of picking on her child and disposing of the essay he had worked so hard to produce. She didn’t go quite that far that evening to my face. She gave up and on Monday morning her son handed me his assignment.

There were a couple of more incidents with this mother that I won’t detail but the one on Valentine’s Day REALLY set her off. The children were allowed to bring Valentines to class to pass out. As an art lesson we even made bags for them to hold the cards. The bags were all lined up along the ledge beneath the chalk boards. I’ll stop here to say that the children were told explicitly, and were given a note to go home, that they were only to sign each card without putting any other child’s name on it. They were to go to the bags one at a time and slip one valentine into each bag.

Now granted there were some holes in the plan. If a child really wanted to give another child a particular valentine, it would not have been impossible to do it. Also, if the child didn’t wish to give a particular child a valentine, it would have been easy enough to skip a bag. Either way, the plan was not foolproof. The instructions were put into force for two reasons: one, it would have taken almost the entire time allotted for the party for each child to go back and forth trying to find a particular bag. Also, it assured as much as possible that each child would get a valentine from every other child regardless of how unpopular they might be.

If you guessed that the child in question came to school with every valentine addressed to each individual child, you are correct. I told him to take the valentines out of the envelopes and do what every other child in the class knew what to do. Again, the mother was very upset. Her child had spent much time the night before agonizing over choosing just the right valentine for each classmate…and I ruined the whole day for him.

That child is in his mid 30s now. I have heard about many other students but I’ve not heard any more from him. I often wonder if the mother ever let her child be responsible for his own actions or take the consequences of not listening to or following directions. It makes one wonder. This answering machine would have been ideal to answer her calls when she called about his mean teachers.

I cannot remember the time line but it seems soon after that event the old fashioned doors were chained at 3:30. Teachers now had to exit the front door which could be locked without chains. There were no answering machines in those days. It’s too bad. Other teachers had parents who were like that as well. It could have saved a lot of hassle…if this is really how it could be handled. Namaste. Attic Annie

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Pregnancy and Cancer…Impossible choices my mother made

I can only imagine the thoughts my mother had while she was pregnant with me. My family was very close mouthed about her even with me, and I was only able to glean bits and pieces of history about her or her life. We are talking about the late 40s when, if you talked at all about cancer it was in a whisper “Shhhh don’t tell anyone, she has cancer!”

From the way the story goes, she, for whatever reason after my sister was born, was told she would probably never have any more children. My sister was an only child from 1940 to 1945. At that time my mother realized that once again she was pregnant. I was on the way. She was 39. Two months after my birth, she was 40.

There was a problem. Somewhere along the line, she discovered a lump in her breast. She was pregnant. She had a lump. This was 1946. According to today’s rates, a woman in her 30’s has a 1 in 229 chance of developing breast cancer during the next ten years. Have the rates increased in sixty years? That’s a 0.4% chance if my figures are right. It happened to her.

There was very little she could do.  Maybe she could have a  radical mastectomy using ether as an anesthetic. I have been unable to find information on the effects of ether on a pregnant woman or her baby, but the effects on any patient were sometimes not good either. I don’t know what the medical establishment would have done for her then. Would they have refused until I was delivered? Would they have taken the chance?  Could she have had an abortion to save her own life? I don’t know. Abortion was illegal. I don’t know if there were exceptions to the law in 1946 or not.

I wish there were a way to go back in time to be there when she was going through all this. There isn’t.

She delivered me and had her operation. From what I understand, I was kept by my mother’s sister next door while she recovered. Some time during that first year I returned to my mother’s care. She was well enough to ride in the car with me, my sister, my cousin, two aunts, and my father all the way to California and back when my aunt returned home after nursing her through the operation and recovery.

Some time before I was two,  I have been told that she bent over to pick me up and had a horrific pain in her back. The cancer had spread to her bones. She lived another two years or so, dying in April two months before my fourth birthday. She was forty two.

To discover that one is pregnant is, in general, a very happy experience for many married women or unmarried women who intentionally get pregnant. I like to think that my mother very much wanted me to exist once she found out I was on the way. It is very difficult for me to comprehend her decisions sixty years ago. When she discovered the lump, from what I understand, she put off going to the doctor. When she did finally go, the doctor assured her that there was nothing to worry about. Did she agree with him? I’ll never know. Did she want to know anything different? I’ll never know. I do know that the same aunt came back once again to Illinois and took care of her those last two years.

I only had one opportunity to ask my aunt questions sometime in my early 30s. When she talked about Dr. Malcom, who was my mother’s doctor, she still blamed him for her beloved sister’s death. She said very little, but even after thirty years, I still remember the hate of that man in her voice and the pain she was feeling even talking about my mother. She never realized, and I didn’t say, that I was interpreting her reaction as having preferred my mother to live rather than me.

Being pregnant and having cancer at the same time must be a special kind of hell on earth. The questions that a woman has to face are monumental. Should I continue with the pregnancy? Should I have an abortion? Should I have chemo while I’m pregnant? Should I wait? Is it known yet what future effects the chemo might have on my child or on me? Will I live long enough for this chid to remember me as her mother? Will my husband love this child or will he resent it for all her life for his losing his wife? What effect will losing me have on my baby?

I have a cousin who survived breast cancer about four years ago. I’m not sure exactly what year it was since I deliberately avoid thinking of the year when I hear news like that. I never say anything like, “Oh, it’s 2007. My cousin was diagnosed with cancer this year.” I think when I was in her home last year she said something about having survived three years with no sign of its return. She was looking forward to the fifth year. I think if a woman survives that long, the likelihood of the cancer returning is very small.

Her breast cancer still has not returned. Instead, she now has an aggressive form of leukemia. In some women, the chemo and radiation received to stop the breast cancer are responsible. She had the option of checking herself into the hospital and undergoing very aggressive chemo. It’s spring. She was told she would not be able to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. She would not be able to be around any living plants. She would be in isolation.

She checked herself back out of the hospital the next day. She said no. She wanted to finish the rest of her life surrounded by her family. It’s springtime. She wants to be around the flowers she loves and to watch all the birds in her back yard. She didn’t like the odds of a successful survival being only 40 % or the possibility of the leukemia not returning of only 15%.

It is not for anyone else to question any mother who is pregnant and has cancer. The current legislature is trying to pass laws prohibiting abortion once again even if it means the life of the mother. It is impossible to choose. No other human being should criticize any woman’s choice in a matter such as this. No other human being has the right to tell the woman what to do. She can only listen to her inner voice and make the best choice she thinks is available. Namaste. Attic Annie

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Grandmas stealing jobs? I resent the implications…

http://money.msn.com/how-to-invest/video.aspx?vid=5ca2e532-6d15-4303-8180-0f0ae5d50e2f&from=en-us_msnhp

This title of this video “Grandma stealing jobs?” REALLY pissed me off. Why? Let me count the ways.

My first thought was that it would incite teenagers in an age war. AGEISM is already rampant. Hormonal teens don’t need very much stimulus to go ballistic. The graphs show that as female workers over 55 increase in the work force, teenage workers are decreasing. If teenagers don’t stop to analyze why the grandmothers are working, they may start retaliating. “Hey, I’m supposed to be able to get a job!” In this overly emotional time, I can see verbal and possibly physical attacks when frustration levels peak.

No one can “steal” a job. Rather, in the case of older workers, in many cases in this economy a secure retirement has been stolen from them. Also, companies seek to find the most qualified person they can for the job. There is such a thing as dependability, reliability, knowledge, etc. that older workers may have that teenagers don’t exhibit.

Yes, some older women do obtain jobs for self-fulfillment, but they are far outweighed by those who just wish to survive. The recession with its loss of pension funds and retirement accounts are forcing women to do the best they can, even if it means talking themselves into low paying jobs if they are able to do it.

Seniors are being pushed out the door in ever increasing numbers because they are usually at the top of the salary scale after having been with the company the longest. It is many times suggested they take “early retirement”. Often to me, that is code for “You cost too much.” The older teachers in Dallas ISD just this month were offered incentives to leave their jobs for just that reason.

Companies are laying off, going bankrupt, etc. Once grandma is out of a job, “displaced women are 18 percent less likely to find a new job at age 50 to 61 than at age 25 to 34, and 50 percent less likely at age 62 and above.”

Also, “older displaced women who become reemployed also suffer sizeable wage losses“.

There was a couple about my age in my church over  two years ago who were in pretty dire straits. He was self employed in a field that was greatly affected by the economy. He did not offer a service that was absolutely necessary. Thus, people turned to other sources and his clientele and income shrank. Even though he did excellent work, he just lost business. At the same time, his wife lost her job. They were eking by for over eighteen months without any benefits before she was finally employed again. I don’t know what job she was able to obtain, but I know they were very thankful she found it. Should she be accused of STEALING a job? I don’t think so. It was a matter of survival. Nothing else.

Just yesterday on NPR I listened to a program on education where they talked of eliminating the older teachers in favor of young new ones. This is happening all over the United States and it is not just in the field of education or in Dallas.

When I first retired in 2004, I did so with the idea of getting a part-time job for several reasons. I was not yet ready to stop working, just to stop teaching. I still felt my services were of value. I obtained a part time job for a year then the job was eliminated. I soon discovered that being 1) over 55, 2) semi-computer literate 3) non-Spanish speaking, oh and 4) a woman were things that were not in my favor. I finally gave up. Finding a full time job would have been hard enough, but a part time job was even more difficult.

Grandmas aren’t STEALING jobs. They are participating in job searches just to survive. Glib analysts like Steve Liesman ought to choose his headlines more carefully.

OK…it’s not the coolest way to start a post by just printing a url, but I have run into another problem. The above video was aired on this morning’s CNBC Squawk Boxand I don’t know how to embed it into my blog. I know how to go to You Tube if it is there, but this is so recent, I can’t find it.  I tried to find information on wordpress help but what I found was like reading Greek. I asked a computer literate friend of mine how to do it. She suggested using Control-V but that did not work for me. If anyone knows the secret, please let me know.

In the meantime, this unemployed grandma-aged woman is going to make some hot tea and get off the computer now. No teenager is going to have to worry about me STEALING a job. I’ve just learned to live very frugally and pray that my pension lasts longer than I do. Namaste. Attic Annie

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On the Road again…can I travel it again so soon?

I have several cousins and a sister, but there is only one left with whom I am in contact with very often. She was three years ahead of me in school. When we were very young, we played together frequently. This blog is not necessarily in chronological order.

I can’t remember walking the mile home from grade school with her very often because she moved on to high school after my fifth grade year, but I know we did.  My sister graduated to high school when I finished second grade so my cousin took over the job of walking me home safely.

One day she tripped and got some cinders in her knee. The whole village was a massive coal area. We could never fall down anywhere without skinning our knees and ending up with black flecks forever embedded in our skin. She kind of limped the last four or so blocks to my house and I took her upstairs to the bathroom. She sat on the landing with her feet on the steps while I washed the injury and applied the Watkins petroleum jelly. Why would I remember that? Because she thanked me and told me I did a good job helping her. I didn’t hear praise in my house. I tended to remember those moments.

She was much more a sister to me than my biological sibling. I can remember a few things from our childhood. I was a semi-frequent dinner guest. I believe it was in fourth grade when I was sitting at the table using my spoon as a shovel. My aunt noticed and made the comment, ” Aren’t they teaching you ANY table manners at home?” The truth was that, no, no one was paying much attention to me in any area of my life. I think she was more frustrated with the absence of any parenting but I took it as a failure on my part. I remember feeling my face turn hot and glancing at my cousin who just kind of put her head down.

We would play in the living room with my cousin’s toys while her mother played the piano. I used to love to listen to her playing and signing.  We played in her bedroom. One day I attempted a summersault and my heel hit her in her chest. It must have been when she was first aware of becoming a woman. She said, ” If I can’t breastfeed my children because of this, I’ll never forgive you.” She clutched her hands to her chest. That was my first lesson in female biology. I had no idea what breastfeeding was about. I never asked her about that when we were older.I carried that guilt and fear that I had permanently injured her for years.  She has two sons in their forties. I guess their infancies turned out alright.

For the earlier part of my childhood the road ended after her house. There were many wild berry bushes and we would spend many summer hours picking those berries. Eventually the road was constructed through the berry patches and across the ditch to extend it another couple of blocks and new houses were built further down the road and the wild berry picking days were over.

We made mud pies together in her back yard when it rained. Her dad also had berry bushes back there and we would pick the sweetest red raspberries and blackberries and take them into the house. We’d set ourselves down at the table and eat those berries with sugar and whole milk and think we were in heaven.

Her mother saw to it that I had a few outings since there was no one at my home all week who would take me anywhere. I remember the sled trip to the park and sliding down the hills. I also remember attending the children’s theater held in the auditorium of the junior high school. There were 3 D movies and trips to the drive-in complete with sacks of popcorn popped on the stove by my aunt.

Her parents gave her a 45 rpm record player and she had at least a couple of Elvis Presley records that we would sit on her bedroom floor and listen to. She began playing clarinet and I would listen to her practice. Her first three years of high school we didn’t really do that much together. Then when I was a freshman and she was a senior, we were both in band and she would provide the transportation to band events. Afterwards we would drive into the south side of Peoria and go to something called a drive-in where we bought a 15c hamburger, 10c French fries, and a 10c coke after the games.

Too soon she was off to college out of town. We wrote letters occasionally but seldom saw each other. Then I was off to college too. She married and within a year or so had a son during my final year of college. I visited her once and we sat on the swing of the house she and her husband were living in. We’d see each other at family gatherings maybe a few times a year but at that point we were leading separate lives.

She and her husband built their own home while her two boys were still quite young. She was leading her married life and I was the single 70s teacher. Our lives couldn’t have been much further apart. I married, moved away, and wrote once in a while to her father who would relay news between the two of us.

The last time I saw her for many years was at a family Thanksgiving when my son was not yet two months old. The two of us took a walk after lunch. I confessed to her I felt  that having my son was the only thing I had done right in the world. I could tell her that because I knew she would understand.

I guess it was about fifteen or so years ago when the cousins started to meet every two years for a family reunion. She and I gravitated towards each other once again. The only reason I would go would be to see her. Somewhere along that time line something was developed for mass communication called email. She was reluctant to get a computer but was finally yanked into the end of the 20th century. Long distance rates plummeted to where they were reasonable and at last cell phones.

We had ways of communicating now that kept us in touch far more often than before. We became close again. Sometimes I think we are closer now than we have ever been.

Some time in the not too distant future that closeness will end. She had breast cancer about three or so years ago and every year was a milestone that it didn’t return. In some people the effects of the chemotherapy and radiation she endured causes an aggressive form of leukemia.

She called me a few of days ago to tell me she was going into the hospital and about all the aggressive therapy they had planned for her. She called me last evening. I had planned to give her a couple of days to get into the routine of the hospital stay before I called her but she beat me to it. Her voice sounded more firm and energetic like she had already gotten some energy back. She told me that there was a 40% chance that she could go into remission. I thought that sounded somewhat positive because she had fought so hard during her earlier chemo days. Then she said there would be a 15% chance that it wouldn’t reoccur. It dawned on me suddenly what she was telling me. She said she checked herself back out of the hospital and would be spending the rest of her days with her family.

I just walked down this same road with my oldest childhood friend whom I lost in November. It is not going to be easy. I promised I would giver her time with her family before I flew back up to see her and spend time with her. She talked about the peace and calmness that her decision gave her. She’s ready. I’m not. I’ve got to work on that so when I do see her we don’t spend the time crying. I’m hoping she can provide me with some memories I have forgotten. We make each other laugh all the time. That is my prayer that when I see her we will laugh until we cry one more time.

 

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The Road More Traveled Did I Choose the Right Path?

I have been gifted with the opportunity to follow the blog of a former student who is now an aspiring writer. She is living in NY City and is a nanny for a day job while she pursues her ambition of becoming a published writer.

Today she talked about her high school and her interest in the drama department. It took me back to my own elementary and high school days. The earliest I can track my interest in “the theater” and writing was  third grade.

Members of the class were divided into teams based on neighborhoods so we could get together outside of class to create individual “plays”. There were four of us.  I remember how much fun it was to create the play and perform in the classroom. At Christmas time I directed my first Nativity play. I remember leading a group of classmates at lunch time (without anyone’s permission) to my church parsonage about four blocks away to ask the minister’s wife if we could borrow the costumes I had seen worn at church. I discovered they all belonged to the people who played their own parts, so we resorted to the usual bathrobes. The teacher gave us encouragement to be creative and we were given permission to present our play at the Christmas party.

In fourth grade we repeated our same performance with different cast members. After we performed in class, I started to lead the group downstairs to the third grade. The teacher stopped us and told us to return to class. That was my first cancellation.

In fifth grade we were divided into groups to share our creative writing stories. That was the year I got my first laughs as a writer when I spoke of the turtle biting me in the behind as I floated in an inner tube. That laughter  was a real treat and gave me a real sense of power with the knowledge I could make people laugh.

In eighth grade I developed a comedy routine for our graduation party. I can only  remember one act. The revue was an all male show. I got one of the boys to dress as a caveman and sing “Alley Oop“. He was the quietest guy in the class. He was great.  Little did I recognize my ability to be a leader and director.

In high school I tried out for our school play my freshman year. I didn’t make the cast. I did write the Homecoming skit however and wrote myself  a lead part  as a Japanese grandmother telling her two granddaughters (the shortest two girls in the class) about the glorious high school football game of my high school days.

I think I tried out my sophomore year as well and again failed to gain a part. I settled for being on the props and make up committees for the next three years. I did have a part my senior year in Spoon River Anthology playing Dora Williams, the milliner’s daughter. Our director chose to have us all dress in black on an unlit stage which was great because I had such stage fright. When it was our turn to speak, we would be in the spotlight. When we performed in front of our school the audience sat silently while we all spoke. Our school classes were still naive and rather unsophisticated in our rural community compared to the city kids. We took our one act play to one of the city schools.

There was one line in my part that was received with blank faces in my home school. When I repeated it at the city school the whole audience roared thinking it was very funny. It threw me for a moment.

” A gray-haired magnate went mad about me–so another fortune.He died one night right in my arms, you know. (I saw his purple face for years thereafter.)  There was almost a scandal.”

My second chance at acting was also my senior year when we put on “Finian’s Rainbow”. I was in the singing ensemble. We sang a song called “On that Great Come and Get it Day,”. My solo line was, “Come and get your gravy with TWO meat balls!”

My college career took me far away from any kind of writing other than term papers. There was no more opportunity to be part of the drama crowd. When I started teaching and working on my my master’s degree, I took a course called “Creative Dramatics for Children”. One of the requirements was to participate in a play to be performed in front of a college audience. It was a story of a village in the polar region. I don’t remember anything about it other than I got to play a non-speaking part of a BEAVER in the background! I did get to dance in a group. The young woman who lived downstairs in the apartment house was a newscaster for a local TV station. She threatened to wish “her neighbor the beaver” to break a leg on the evening news. Fortunately, she didn’t. I never would have lived that down.

Unfortunately, my contact with the theater ended then. Life went on. I just wrote for my own entertainment and my own sanity. I started a novel which has sat in the desk drawer for over thirty years. I have unpublished poems, short stories, songs, a child’s play, etc. all in various stashes around my home never to see the ink of publishing and will probably see the inside of a trash can or the delete button before then.

Yes, I envy my student’s drive and desire to be a published writer. I wish her my best.

Did I take the right road?

Unlike Frost,

I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence:  Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

I took the road more traveled by and became a teacher. Some days  I wonder what would have happened if I had been adventurous and had taken the riskier road less traveled  by and tried to become a published writer. I often question whether I made the right choice. Maybe in my next life time I will learn what it is like. Namaste. Attic Annie

 

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