Mid-Life Ramblings; Sanity Optional

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Then again, maybe it's just me...

Twice now I’ve walked away from a funeral angry or upset because of a preacher using the funeral for grandstanding.

The first time was a number of years ago. A friend had moved back to town and although he didn’t tell us up front, it was soon obvious that he was dying. My friend was dying of AIDS and he’d come home to do so. We had a grand old time as long as he was healthy enough. In the end it pneumonia that defeated him. Kevin had always been this fun, funny, guy who never sat still. I’d known him since our high school days in band. Losing him was hard.

His funeral service was at the local Baptist church where he and his family had been members all their lives. His dad was a hard working man whom I’d worked for when I was just out of college and was a cashier at the local A&P. Thomas is a big, gentle man who raised two children alone for years after his wife died. Kevin was his only son.

As we sat in that church, the preacher began to talk about Kevin not being right with God, having chosen to live a life against the teachings of the Bible. Although he didn’t use the exact words, he pretty much told us that Kevin was in hell. I was sitting alone in the balcony with another friend who had been close to Kevin and also happened to be gay. This friend was a very involved member of this church and was working sound for the service. He too had been raised in this church that was supposed to be his spiritual home. Here we sat, him being gay and me with a gay brother. I turned to him and he was crying. I was angry – so angry I almost stomped down those stairs and out of there. I couldn’t believe this man was putting Kevin’s family and friends through this. Not to mention that he was dead wrong.

It was a horrible experience and one that I’ll never forget. Yesterday wasn’t quite so bad but it bothered me nonetheless.

I happen to believe that a funeral is a time for remembering and saying goodbye to the person who has passed. I have attended some wonderful services dedicated to honoring that person.

Yesterday at Angi’s service, the pastor spoke very little of her. What he said was very nice but it wasn’t the focus of his sermon. Instead he chose to try to save souls. He expounded on all the reasons that we should be prepared to die by accepting Christ as our savior because that’s what he says is the only way to get to heaven. He finished by asking everyone to bow their heads while he asked by a show of hands if there was anyone there who was not prepared for death but wanted to be. Then he asked how many were already prepared. I did not raise my hand for two reasons – 1. I don’t believe it’s any of his business and 2. I don’t believe Christ is the only way to heaven (think of the Jews, Muslims, Hindis, etc.). I was not the only one who didn’t raise a hand. He finished by sternly warning those of us who didn’t raise our hands about not being prepared because it meant that if we died we would never see Angi and other loved ones in the hereafter. (Insert me rolling my eyes here)

Next he asked everyone to start from the back of the chapel and come up and pay our last respects to Angi as we filed out the door up front. He then stood up there next to the casket for folks to shake his hand and thank him for his sermon and basically keep the focus on him. Since I was in the second pew, I got to see everyone behind me go up there and do this. Some didn’t even pay attention to Angi but just shook the pastor’s hand and gave him an attaboy. As I walked toward the front, I stopped to hug Troy then walked up to say my final goodbye to Angi. When I finished, I turned my back on the pastor without a glance and went instead to Angi’s family – her mother, father, sister, and sister-in-law – who were the ones along with Troy and the girls that should be the main focus. They were hurting over the loss of Angi. It was the time and place to honor that rather than the man that had used the opportunity to grandstand.

I’ll never understand preachers like this. It’s one of the many, many reasons I could never attend a church with that type of pastor.

On a happier note, we were able to honor Angi on Tuesday night. Several of us sat around telling Angi stories and I could almost hear her giggling along with us. Godspeed, Ang.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Wherein Life Continues To Turn On A Dime

Just as I arrived home yesterday afternoon, I received a phone call from D letting me know that our friend Angi had passed away.

I know I talk about my college roommate M pretty often but I actually had two college roommates. M and I only shared a room for the first semester before we threatened to kill each other. This stemmed from the fact that, with the exception of classes, M and I did everything together. All this togetherness cramped into a 10 X 15 dorm room got to be a bit much. After I threw my John Travolta “Saturday Night Fever” trash can down the hall at her, M and I decided that continuing to share a dorm room would be a huge mistake.

Enter Angi. She was from the town just south of mine. She and Dee had graduated from the local Catholic high school together and were good friends. She was dating a fellow band geek and good friend of mine Troy. She needed a new roommate and wanted out of her original un-air conditioned dorm. We spent the next two semesters in roommate bliss. We were excellent friends but because we weren’t up each other’s ass 24/7, we could live together in peace and harmony. Or at least as much peace and harmony as a pack rat and a neat freak can live with. (Hint: I’m not the neat freak)

Angi was one of the smartest, wittiest, cutest girls I knew. We laughed so much in that year. We were smart college girls and we were having a great time. I remember when the movie “Kentucky Fried Movie” came to the theater in the student union. It ran for a week and we happened to catch it the first night it was there. We laughed so hard that we went back the next night. We kept catching things we’d missed the first time so we saw it every night that it ran, laughing each time as if we’d never seen it before. I actually have the video of this movie and I bet I’m one of the few folks who do.

I left school after only three semesters (only true regret of my life) but Angi stayed on to get her degree in English Journalism. She was a fantastic writer and had a great career ahead of her. She and Troy wound up getting married pretty soon after she graduated. We were all living back home and would see each other as often as we could. D had moved back home and I remember one night when the three of us girls had a slumber party at D’s. This is before Angi and Troy got married. Troy showed up and we ended up riding around town, all three girls in our pajamas, drinking Boone’s Farm Tickled Pink and T J Swan’s Steppin’ Out while Troy drove us around in his Trans Am.

For reasons of their own that I never fully understood, Troy and Angi began to isolate themselves. They moved away and joined a church that became their entire life. They had two beautiful daughters, Victoria and Katherine. Our communications became sparse. The spirited Angi of our college days was gone.

At the end of 1990, as I was recovering from a hysterectomy at the age of 29 thanks to uterine cancer, Angi was discovering a tumor in her right cheek just in front of her ear. It was malignant and wrapped around a facial nerve. When they removed it she sustained a minor bit of damage to that nerve forever affecting that side of her face. She went through her treatments and the cancer was gone. She and I both had lots of life ahead of us, cancer free.

Until about five years ago. Angi found out that she had several abdominal tumors and the prognosis was not good. With no treatment, she had a matter of weeks. With treatment, she had maybe a year. She went through a round of treatment but the results were not promising. She made the decision for quality over quantity of life. She’d always home schooled the girls and wanted to spend as much time as she possibly could with them. She did see a holistic doctor and the tumors began to shrink.

We saw them not long after she’d gotten sick and got to enjoy a long visit and lunch with them at K’s that day. She looked great and was eating only the healthiest of foods per the instructions of the holistic doc. I did hear that they took her to Mexico for some treatments several years ago.

Apparently they’ve been living here in Baton Rouge for some time. None of us even knew until we got the word that Angi died yesterday. I have to say that I’m sad and even hurt because I would have wanted to spend time with her. Maybe she didn’t want us to see her. Maybe she just wanted her last days to be spent with Troy and the girls.

So that’s how we come to today. A beautiful 45 year old woman who loved her little girls with everything she had is now gone. I can’t say that I hate cancer often enough. If you can, please say a little prayer or send a good thought to Angi’s family as they begin to deal with losing her. I know they can use it.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Workin' Man

The news is good in the Barefoot household. E started a new job today working for a local sporting goods chain. He's excited and so am I.

In other news from the homefront, I'm sunburned from my weekend spent in the pool but it was well worth it.

I still can't stand the Chimp-in-Chief and his minions. And I'm really pissed that LA Senate Health and Welfare Committee sent this crappy anti-choice bill to the floor for a vote. I will not be voting for Senator Heulette "Clo" Fontenot because I know he's going to support this crap. In fact, when he's up for re-election I'm going to work hard against him for whatever Dem decides to run.

Anyway, ours was a good weekend and I hope yours was the same.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

It's Official

After two 90+ degree days, the pool was a balmy 79 degrees this afternoon. E and I took our first dip of the season. All I can say is, "Ahhhhhhhh..."

Monday, April 17, 2006

Congratulations to my brother Keith and the Staff of the New Orleans Times-Picayune!

For winning not one but two Pulitzer prizes.

2 0 0 6

Two Prizes: The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.

The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, La.

Staff of The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, La.

Keith can now claim a share in two Pulitzers. He and the rest of that staff deserve them both for their work and dedication after Hurricane Katrina. Just watching my brother's life change in the aftermath of that storm has been a heck of an experience.

Keith has moved on to become a reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune, now a member of a staff that also won a Pulizter today.

I called to congratulate him just now and this is a bittersweet moment for him. He's thrilled about the awards but sad that he isn't there to celebrate with the people he bonded so closely to as they lived through the moments of that storm and the aftermath.

So grab some champagne, Keith, and celebrate. You guys worked hard for this

Monday, April 10, 2006

We have the potential to become this...

Louisiana recently became the 12th state to follow in South Dakota's footsteps in proposing legislative bills that would make abortion illegal here. We now have two pending bills; one in the House and one in the Senate. Because of this, I will be joining others for a volunteer night at Planned Parenthood here in Baton Rouge tomorrow night to help with a letter writing campaign and other actions to fight these bills.

In support of the pro-choice position, I offer this article from the New York Times Magazine dated yesterday. It's about El Salvador in the years since 1998 when, thanks to a huge push by the Catholic Church including a visit to Latin America by Pope John Paul II, the government there made abortion illegal in every situation, including rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother.

I'm going to pull some good quotes below but I encourage each of you to read the entire article, regardless of what side of the abortion fence you sit on. Do we really want this in this country?

There are other countries in the world that, like El Salvador, completely ban abortion, including Malta, Chile and Colombia. El Salvador, however, has not only a total ban on abortion but also an active law-enforcement apparatus — the police, investigators, medical spies, forensic vagina inspectors and a special division of the prosecutor's office responsible for Crimes Against Minors and Women, a unit charged with capturing, trying and incarcerating an unusual kind of criminal

I had a child already. I told the father. He said he didn't want another child. He didn't want to deal with problems like this. My mother told me she would kick me out if I ever got pregnant again.

I started talking to my friend. Every day was so hard. I cried, and I didn't do anything. I didn't want to see anybody, and I didn't sleep. My friend told me to go to a man, and he gave me some pills. I was two months pregnant. He said that I could put them in my vagina. I did, and after that I just bled a couple of times. Two months more went by. I was still pregnant. I cried and didn't know what to do. When I was about four months along, my friend told me one of her friends lived near a house where there was a woman who did abortions. I felt so worried. I didn't know what to do, whether I should go talk to the woman. But then one day, I went.


When we got to the woman's house, there was so much disorder. It was all a mess. We talked, and she felt my stomach and said: "Yeah, I can do it. Come back in four days." I asked how she would do it, and she said, With a probe.

On that day, I came in and was told to lie down. It was not even a bed. There was just so much disorder. She asked me to take off my clothes, and she put a shirt on me. She came with a piece of cloth and put it underneath my nose, and I felt a little numb. She came back with a long wire, like a TV antenna. It was not like a doctor's instrument. It was just a wire tube with another wire inside it. She put some oil on it and told me to breathe deeply.

She put it in. And she was scraping around. I was supposed to be asleep. But I felt pain. I told her it hurt. She said, "Yeah, we're almost done." But she kept scraping around, and I said: "No, no, stop. It's hurting me." Then she said, "It's done."

She said I would have a fever and I should not go to the doctor or they would report me. That night everything was O.K. So I went to sleep.


Several days later, I was back at the doctor. They did some tests and called an ambulance. At the hospital they asked me what I had. I didn't want to say. I said I felt bad. They did tests on my urine, blood and lungs and found I had a severe respiratory infection. They did an ultrasound and found my kidneys, lung and liver were infected. And the ultrasound showed something else. They asked me: "Why do you have a perforated uterus? What have you done?" Then they did a vaginal exam, and it was the most painful thing for me in the world. They put something in me, and I cried out. They had two doctors holding me down. They said they knew I had had an abortion because my uterus was perforated and big and they would have to operate immediately. All I remember was going to the operating room, and then I don't remember anything because for the next six days I was in a coma.

Today, Article 1 of El Salvador's constitution declares that the prime directive of government is to protect life from the "very moment of conception." The penal code detailing the Crimes Against the Life of Human Beings in the First Stages of Development provides stiff penalties: the abortion provider, whether a medical doctor or a back-alley practitioner, faces 6 to 12 years in prison. The woman herself can get 2 to 8 years. Anyone who helps her can get 2 to 5 years. Additionally, judges have ruled that if the fetus was viable, a charge of aggravated homicide can be brought, and the penalty for the woman can be 30 to 50 years in prison.

Abortion as it exists in El Salvador today tends to operate on three levels. The well-off retain the "right to choose" that comes of simply having money. They can fly to Miami for an abortion, or visit the private office of a discreet and well-compensated doctor. Among the very poor, you can still find the back-alley world described by D.C. and the others who turn up in hospitals with damaged or lacerated wombs. Then there are the women in the middle; they often rely on home-brewed cures that are shared on the Internet or on a new underground railroad that has formed to aid them.

When we get a call from a hospital reporting an abortion," said Flor Evelyn Tópez, "the first thing we do is make sure the girl gets into custody. So if there is not a police officer there, we call the police and begin to collect evidence." Tópez is a prosecutor in the district of Apopa in San Salvador, a part of town noted for its poverty, crime and gang violence.


When the woman is first detained, the form of custody can vary. Wandee Mira, an obstetrician at a hospital in San Salvador, told me that she had seen "a young girl handcuffed to her hospital bed with a police officer standing outside the door." In El Salvador, a person accused of a major crime is typically held in jail in "preventative detention" until the trial begins.


As they do in any investigation, the police collect evidence by interviewing everyone who knows the accused and by seizing her medical records. But they must also visit the scene of the crime, which, following the logic of the law, often means the woman's vagina.

"Yes, we sometimes call doctors from the Forensic Institute to do a pelvic exam," Tópez said, referring to the nation's main forensic lab, "and we ask them to document lacerations or any evidence such as cuts or a perforated uterus." In other words, if the suspicions of the patient's doctor are not conclusive enough, then in that initial 72-hour period, a forensic doctor can legally conduct a separate search of the crime scene. Tópez said, however, that vaginal searches can take place only with "a judge's permission." Tópez frequently turned the pages of a thick law book she kept at hand. "The prosecutor can order a medical exam on a woman, because that's within the prosecutor's authority," she said.

In the event that the woman's illegal abortion went badly and the doctors have to perform a hysterectomy, then the uterus is sent to the Forensic Institute, where the government's doctors analyze it and retain custody of her uterus as evidence against her.

A policy that criminalizes all abortions has a flip side. It appears to mandate that the full force of the medical team must tend toward saving the fetus under any circumstances. This notion can lead to some dangerous practices. Consider an ectopic pregnancy, a condition that occurs when a microscopic fertilized egg moves down the fallopian tube — which is no bigger around than a pencil — and gets stuck there (or sometimes in the abdomen). Unattended, the stuck fetus grows until the organ containing it ruptures. A simple operation can remove the fetus before the organ bursts. After a rupture, though, the situation can turn into a medical emergency.

...Carmen Climaco. She is now 26 years old, four years into her 30-year sentence. She has three children, who today are 11, 8 and 6 years old.


She'd had a clandestine abortion at 18 weeks, not all that different from D.C.'s, something defined as absolutely legal in the United States. It's just that she'd had an abortion in El Salvador.

Is this what we want our nation to become? Is it?

Thursday, April 06, 2006


I just got 2 skeins of this:

and 2 skeins of this:

for a ridiculously low price on ebay.

What am I going to do with all that delicious alpaca yarn? Why I'm going to make a couple of these:

Can't wait 'til the mailman delivers my goods.

Oops! I should have posted that the pattern can be found here at www.honeylanefarms.com. They say it's free with a purchase. I acutally got it from my Knitting Pattern A Day desk calendar.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Crabby. Cranky. Tired. Grumpy.

That's me today. I love daylight savings time but it takes my body a couple of days to adjust. Because of that I'm a bear today. Loads of fun to be around.

I'll be better tomorrow.