miércoles, marzo 23, 2005

My Take on the Schiavo-fiasco

First, let me say that the Schiavo case is one that's very personal for me. As for life support, been there, got my last rites, and miraculously came out of it. My injury was somewhat different to hers, as mine did not involve my heart, but did involve my brain, and had my doctors operated on my head 5 minutes later than they did, I would have been in Terri's boat or dead. Now, would I have wanted Reagan, who was president at the time, to decide my fate? Absolutely not. The mere thought of Reagan deciding anything is just frightening. Even if the president or the governor of my state were, say, Clinton, the answer would still be absolutely not. Why? Medicine is not a playing field for nasty politicians, who by the way appoint the very judges who have ordered the feeding tube removed, just so they can then turn around and try to look like God by questioning their morality. Niether is life or the right to end it.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that most conservative polticians, not to mention her own fucking parents who are supposed to be at least somewhat interested in HER wishes, have already trampled all over whatever dignity Mrs. Schiavo was left with, so her right to die with that dignity is not the issue anymore. The issue is solely this: if she were taken off all that machinery, would she be able to live a fulfilling life? The answer is no. I know this because of what I know about the injury, and we all know this because the court-appointed doctors, and the other doctors, have all said so. The only ones who seem to be deaf to this are the Bush boys and the parents.

I don't know of anyone who would want to be kept alive in the condition that Mrs. Schiavo is in. You would have to be crazy to want otherwise. Please, just let her go. That's what she wanted, and whatever state she is in, she is still a human being, and as such, her wishes need to be respected.

jueves, marzo 17, 2005

My Mother, My Self

I am certain that it's OK for me to write this in my blog as no one in my family reads it. I have purposely not given any of them the address to this blog so that I can talk the shit that I want to talk without it becoming a scandal akin to that which ensued after the first time I moved in with a boy. The rest the family don't know about because I'm no longer stupid enough to tell my mother things that mothers do not need to know about their daughters. Actually, I can't remember whether I gave this address to my cousin who I call "Contraband", but he would agree with all this, so that would be OK.

Last night I called my mami to see when she was going to Guatemala next so I could tag along, which will be in July. My uncle and his family are coming from Chile at that time, plus my auntie Carmen is getting old as is my grandma, so a visit is in order. Also, I get antsy/guilty when I haven't been for a while. This is exacerbated when my mom has me call my Grandma, and she says "Ay, amorcito lindo, cuando vas a venir a visitarme? Ya me voy a morir. Apurese." Translation: "Oh, my love, when are you coming to visit me? I'm going to die soon. You best hurry up." You see? The cutest thing is that my mom is going to take a weaving workshop in Atitlan during our trip, which is the main hippie/gringo destination in Guatemala. I can just imagine her at the loom working away, and strangely enough, I wouldn't mind joining her. She is so little, and she looks so nice and sweet and harmless, and she's so elegant and such a lady, but I dare not fuck with her, intentionally, that is, for fear of a beating much worse than any man could issue. Believe me, I still wince just thinking about the leather hippie belt with the novelty buckle she used to use on me as a kid. I know now that I deserved every hit, but I digress....

So, yeah, that editorial which I posted before along with my reaction to it was sent by her. I don't know where the fuck she got the idea that she could send it to me and I would agree and call her up and say "right on!" I love my mother more than most people my age love their parents, but I swear sometimes it's like she never gave birth to me, did not raise me to be the little ballbuster I am now, and just does not know me at all. She says this to me last night: "I thought it was a nice editorial, and you know how I feel about those things. I love America and it has given me so much opportunity. I just thought you'd agree with it." A NICE editorial? America gave you the opportunities? I thought hard work gave a person opportunities, after all, that is what she told me in junior high when I was failing physics and chemistry. I admit here that I might have been more intent on attacking the author of the editorial than the editorial itself, who really I don't know, but I know his kind: the hateful, WASP, neo-con asshole. Well, I didn't say this to her, but, mami, when have I ever agreed with your politics? I haven't said this to her either, but I think she's been brainwashed by her husband, also an immigrant, by the way, but from Argentina, meaning he is several things to which he's not willing to admit. One of them would be Latin American, but that's another story. They do not vote, although my mother is now a citizen, so they talk shit all day over baguettes and brie, but they will never do a damn thing about it. I'm not sure what bothers me more: the fact that they are conservatives or the fact that they're so apathetic yet unreasonably strong-willed in their conservatism (I think that's the word). Oh, funny story: over Christmas vacay, me, my cousin and my mom's best friend (who is a liberal potsmoker, by the way. Ain't that a kick in the head???) were talking shit about Bush, and my mom starts in on her shit. I asked "Mami, now that you are a citizen, do you vote?" She looked at me as if "vote" was some ancient Inuit term for snow, and said "no, but I pay taxes," with this smug look on her face like Bush's when he said "Saddam tried to kill my daddy." There was much laughter, and I said "This country that you love so much, ma, do you realize that the American Revolution was fought so that Americans would be able to elect their own leaders and so that their taxes would go to their own benefit?" And that was the end of the discussion. Off she went to bed. As for the brainwashing she's apparently suffered, I can prove that, because my father says that she was never like this when they were going out or when they were married, as if he would waste time on anyone who had lost the ability to be coherent, and still he gets these looks of utter bewilderment that mirror my own after ma has just gone on some irrational pro-Bush propaganda tirade. She needs to learn that while I can take this crap, my father is pushing 70, and although his mind is in tact and completely reasonable, shit's fragile nowadays, so be careful. I don't know if the man can take any more suprises, for God's sake.

So I sent her my reaction to the editorial, and wouldn't you know it, my stepfather opens it up like it's mail to him and begins a discussion with me, I write back, and then nothing. Little do I know it's because he is exasperated by me because of course he thinks that I am just misinformed. This is what he always says to me when I express a viewpoint that opposes his own. "You are misinformed." I am also required to have dates to back up my opinion that complete assimilation is just not feasible. Now someone tell me what date or prominent historical event I need to come up with to sufficiently justify my opinion? I mean, I am wired for that kind of reasoning, and can give you some facts that might make you think about just wiring your mouth shut, but I didn't think I needed to do that this time around. Anyway, my mother couldn't suggest one, nor could he. I also had to explain that the response was not TO him, that it was to my mother, since she sent the article, and to my stepfather's credit, he keeps his mouth shut and doesn't send around crap like that. I also had to swear that mine were not fighting words. After all, to a conservative mind, the ramblings of a further-left-leaning being are always fighting words, but their words are merely "humble opinions."

And this is the truly amazing part: Ma was all "Well, I have to fix dinner," and after we hung up, I felt BAD. I have no idea why, but I think the fact that my mother might be so mad at me as to not speak to me for a month or so, which she has pulled before for other reasons, might have had something to do with it. Pissing her off a little is one thing. Having her hold a grudge against me is another. It's like sanctions, and it makes me crazy and depressed. But then she called me later and said "I am sitting down now. There is beef on my plate. Is there any between us?" I let out a sigh of relief and said "No, mama, not that I know of." "OK, good. I loooove you, " she says, in a very exaggerated tone which means "you are forgiven." And now I can proceed with my life.

My mother is the flagrant loudmouth, which like it or not explains my own flagrant loudmouth ways. She says that I argue with my emotions. Damn, where'd I get that from? You know, like I said, a ballbreaker begets a ballbreaker, so the first ballbreaker need not ask questions as they have no one to blame but themselves. Although ma did catch on to this phenomenon once: I was talking shit about my job and this God-forsaken organization on the phone with her one night, and after I've finished my bitter, embattled tirade, she says "Ay, Maria, you are just like me, with that mouth, always getting so excited about things. So loud, Mari, so loud. I would love to blame it on your father but he's too cold and aloof to have taught you that." Oh no, believe me when I say that when they raised the little monstrosity that is me (my stepfather still calls me "Beastie" after 20 years of knowing me. i guess I haven't grown up as much as I thought), it was definetly the coordinated efforts of two people really in love, for the moment anyway. "But mommmy, you and daddy didn't raise me to keep my mouth shut." "I know, but we thought you'd be more of a lady." Now, I had a similar conversation with daddy about my cursing. I curse all the time, although I can shut it when I have to. "God dammit, Maria, why'n the hell you curse so goddamn much?" "OK, daddy, let me say that back to you..." "Oh, alright, Maria, I get it, Jesus Christ! For shit's sake!" And I haven't heard any more questions about that.

jueves, marzo 10, 2005

How to Avoid Being Overrun by America-Haters.....

.....or, "Why Being Anti-Bush-Regime is Not the Same as Being Afraid of Patriotism". This is in response to an editorial from a Tampa newspaper. I won't say here who sent it to me lest she be further ridiculed. Also, I've attached the editorial after the response I wrote.

"There are some in this country that are targeted as being anti-patriot because we have a few disagreements with the Government. Do not forget that our right to dissent from the Government is guaranteed to us by the Constitution of the United States. That is one of the freedoms America seeks to introduce to other countries. Just as Bush supporters get to proclaim their love for him whenever they like, so too should non-supporters, especially if they are American citizens, and if they are not citizens but have lived here for a long time or are fleeing regimes much worse than anything we can imagine, I don't see why we can't grant them an opinion as well. After all, we can't just kick them all out, so best that we all get used to reality. This does not mean that we are against flying the American flag near our homes or that we are offended by patriotism, and let me say, anyone who is offended by patriotism in their own country or another is just a fool. I think it is important that every country's citizens have a certain amount of pride in their nation, and that is a right that comes with sovereignty.

We live in a country of immigrants, as the author does well to recognize, with many different beliefs and ways of living. It is unfortunate that we all can't respect each others differences, and it is even more unfortunate that people write entire editorials to foster hate, so that they can write more editorials later on denouncing all the hatred in the world. Just as the author implies, if you don'tlike what the reality of the world has become, best to discover a new planet and set up your home there. He is right there, and he should follow his own advice. It is funny that he starts out being very politically correct, issuing the statement "I am not against immigration" in an attempt to cover up the fact that his whole editorial expresses hatred for immigrants and anyone else who isn't exactly like him. I especially love the ending "if you don't agree, delete it," meaning, "if you don't see things my way, shut up," not one complete sentence after he says "It is time for Americans to speak up." Exactly the response I would expect from a conservative like himself. Far be it from him to be constructive. And I hope that as an American citizen, no one will begrudge me my opinion. Furthermore, the author's reasoning that America's multiculturalism has diluted thesovereignty of this country is the response of the weak. Pride in your nation is something you must take yourself. If you want to save yourself from being overrun by "America-haters", respond with more pride, but make sure you don't turn that into hate. Make it constructive, and see how your detractors dare to respond to that. I humbly think that what is diluting America's sovereignty is people spending too much time whining instead of taking opportunities before them to change what they don't like about their environment. For example, if you have been granted the right to vote in this country, I would suggest that you take that right and vote rather than whining about how the Democrats make bad leaders, or vice-versa. Voting in open, free elections is the cornerstone of democracy, and I agree that that is one of the great things about the US that other countries envy, and a right that I am not prepared to have compromised, for it is the right to control, or at least attempt to control, my owndestiny. Furthermore, political "dissidents" and critics exist in every country, and indeed, America would be nothing without them. Having just returned from the UK, and from working at the United Nations where I am exposed to news from many papers from across the globe, I can make a safe guess that some of the other developed countries don't have such a huge problem with other cultures living in their country as the US does, and maybe one day someone can write an entire editorial about why that is. Perhaps someone can write an editorial about how the inevitable process of globalization has contributed to everyone bending over backwards to not offend everyone else, or maybe one on how it is just common decency to tell a Jew Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, and we shouldn't waste time complaining about that. Respecting each other is a talent, not a defect."

And now, the original editorial:

IMMIGRANTS, NOT AMERICANS, MUST ADAPT. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Americans. However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the "politically correct! " crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others. I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to America. Our population is almost entirely made up of descendants of immigrants. However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand. This idea of America being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Americans, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom. We speak ENGLISH, not Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language! "In God We Trust" is our national motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan.. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture. If Stars and Stripes offend you, or you don't like Uncle Sam, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don't care how you did things where >you came from. This is OUR COUNTRY, our land, and our lifestyle. Our First Amendment gives every citizen the right to express his opinion and we will allow you every opportunity to do so! But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about our flag, our pledge, our national motto, or our way of life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great American freedom, THE RIGHT TO LEAVE. It is Time for America to Speak up If you agree -- pass this along; if you don't agree -- delete it!