Monday, February 22, 2010

Thoughts on Codine

So I took a massive dose of codine about 30 minutes ago and am waiting for the said "amazing" effects to kick in and punch my lights out. But they haven't yet, so while I wait for said unconsciousness, I thought I would take a few short moments to write down some of my thoughts. Because I can. It's my goddamn blog. I can type whatever I want. On whatever drugs I want.

1) Maybe codine just makes me edgy and hostile.

2) Or maybe it's the fact that this is my second sickness in a month. Two weeks of February spent being sick. That is fucking. ridiculous. Doesn't my body know I've got shit to do and people to see and things to study? Doesn't it know that all the time spent indoors instead of outside in the sun means a spiral into late-winter SAD???? WHAT THE FUCK IMMUNE SYSTEM?! COME ON!

2a) I also find it really interesting how sensitive I am to the comments about how I am "always" sick. Seriously. If you want to piss me right off, tell me that I'm always sick. I had swine flu in November and then I've been sick for two weeks in February. Maybe to SOME people that's "always" sick, but to me, that's called winter. Working in a hospital. See how defensive it makes me? Why is that? Is having a shit immune system somehow equated with being a "weak" human being in my brain? I'm also sensitive when people rib me about taking medication when I'm sick. Like toughing it out through an illness is so much better than taking some fucking Mucinex and being able to function. Why do people think that toughing it out is better than taking meds? Do they think that if some future apocalypse should hit and the pharmaceutical companies should be blown to smithereens that suddenly I would shrivel and die upon catching cold, while they would laugh heartily in the face of illness and go do something tough, like chop wood and birth babies? Or maybe both at the same time. Guess what? Toughing it out through a fucking flu virus doesn't make you Paul Fucking Bunyan.

3) Today we were talking about gender differences in healthcare. Which sort of bothers me. It's kind of like this destructive cycle. You take a researched little factoid like "men are less likely to be diagnosed and treated for depression" and we talk about reasons why that might be. We talk about how men are socialized to ignore pain, socialized to "not talk" about their feelings, socialized to not go to the doctor for psychological illness, socialized to think mental illness is a weakness, etc. And then we talk about public health initiatives that might encourage more men to go to the doctor. But what's problematic to me is that by building upon stereotypes in order to extend care (someone suggested creating a support group for depressed men but disguising it so that it wouldn't involve the words "talking" or "feeling" and would instead use the word "doing"), we're just further contributing to the stereotypes that have created the problem in the first place. My professor didn't particularly care for this observation btw. This however, is the man who described all women as "empathizers" and all men as "systematizers." He's got his positive points, but gender neutral conceptualization isn't one of them. God, gender stereotypes piss me the fuck off. What pisses me off even more is when people in my life actually ABIDE by them. Blurg. Blurg indeed.

4) I now have a Facebook friend who is also a school colleague. For some reason, that makes me feel vulnerable. I have no idea why. Good thing there aren't that many people in my program.

5) I think Top Gear is one of the funniest television shows of all time. Seriously. I watched an episode tonight and laughed my guts out. Who knew that three British dudes talking about cars could be so funny? I've also learned a lot about cars and can now say big impressive car words like "Bugatti" and can tell you that an M5 is faster than the new Jag due to the fact that the M5 doesn't waste speed (whatever that means), but that the Jag has 80 pounds more torque than the M5 does. Are you impressed with my car verbage? No? You should be. I drive an 11-year old Toyota Echo. It's the only car I've ever owned and the most work I've ever done on it personally is to help change the brake pads and once I replaced a tail light. Weeeee. Cars....

6) I think my favorite food is the french fry. Honestly. Or, more honester (wahahahaha! grammar!), the sweet potato fry. Those things are the BEST THINGS EVER. And I never have them. It's like the tease of the food world. I rarely eat at places that offer fries and when I do, I rarely get them. But god they are good. Sooooooo delectable. Michael Pollan says that you should only eat junk food that you make yourself, mostly because it's all so goldarn difficult to make, that you'll only make it once in a blue moon. He's right. Good fries are hard to make. Also hard to make but delicious: eclairs. I once had the dream of swimming in a vat of eclair cream, like they do in jello in that Disney adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Alright, it's now been 64 minutes since the taking of the codine and I'm not feeling at all tired, but I'm stopping because I ran out of coherent and interesting things to talk about 6 numbers ago. (Takes a bow)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Nostalgia and future nostalgia

I have moments where I wish I could go back and relive things a certain way, just to see how they would turn out. My life, like I'm sure it is with everyone else, has presented so many divergent paths over the last few years. Not just the kind of paths where you wake up one day and hey! you're an accountant and how did that happen, but the kinds of life-changing decisions where you have to sit down and weigh your options and try to go with what feels best at the time. Agonizing, painful decisions where things can't remain the same and so you have to go forward.

I kind of wish life were like those Choose Your Own Adventure stories from the 80's. You know, the ones where "If you choose to go down the secret corridor, turn to page 86; If you choose to go back and eat a sandwich, turn to page 93." I'd like to be able to turn to page 93 of my life--the page that I'll always have to skip because in real life I chose page 86 instead-- just to see how it turns out. Am I happier? Where am I in the world? Have I made more money? Have I been run over by a bus?

I like life the way it falls. I'm even silly enough to believe that things are exactly the way they are supposed to be right now. (Maybe that makes me delusional??) But it would be interesting to get a peek at the alternate realities that I could be living now, if for no other reason than to appreciate this exact moment in time.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Foreign Aid

Just a quick note to voice my thoughts on a discussion concerning foreign aid that I heard on NPR this morning. Many participants had called in voicing frustration that the federal government continues to donate billions of dollars in foreign aid when people here in the states are suffering from economic crises.

My thoughts:

1) Our donations abroad equate to approximately 0.17 percent of our GDP, which is less than pretty much any developed nation. Last time I checked, the numbers were around 13 billion dollars per year. Our military spending is close to 500 billion dollars per year. So the money, while it's still a lot, is not even a drop in the bucket comparatively. It's America and these are our priorities (apparently), but stopping both wars we're in would do FAR more to help the people here at home than refusing care to suffering Haitians.

2) Of that 0.17 percent, 40% of that aid goes to two countries. Care to guess which? ISRAEL and EGYPT. We basically pay billions of dollars to each country to keep them from killing one another. I could go into this a whole helluva lot further, but I'll just leave that little factoid with y'all to ponder. So a big fat chunk of this money isn't even going to countries who qualify as "third world" or are in need of it. Getting control of our lobbyists would probably help this money to be better spent.

3) I have really conflicting thoughts on foreign aid, as I have alluded to in prior postings, but basically it comes down to this: We, the United States of America, substantially contribute to the general fucking-over of many downtrodden nations. And if we're not actively contributing to this fucking over, our past actions have done so. We have a moral debt to pay. We should pay it. And it should be more money than we're paying out now, irregardless of how many people in the US are hurting. However, that money should be carefully monitored to assure that it reaches people who need it and governments who will allocate it with wisdom and integrity.

4) All that being said, I think it's totally understandable that people are frustrated and angry.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Global Health

So I'm going to Thailand for a month. Just got the official notice today. I'll be there for a month starting the second week of June through the second week in July. I have no doubt that I will be writing lots more about this in the future months, but the point of telling this is to note that as a part of this study abroad, I have to take a course on Global Health. In the class we talk about what it means to be a public health professional in an international setting.

When I was younger, I dreamt of saving the world. I saw the photos of children in Africa and Latin America and listened to the news of wars and famine and poverty and I would daydream to myself about how I was going to one day travel to those far-away places and help suffering people and how the world was going to get fixed and everyone would live happily ever after. I can't even tell you how many times I've daydreamed about this sort of thing, but let's just say that it was FAR more time than I ever spent thinking about getting married and having babies and a house with a white picket fence. In fact, much of my life has been directed around figuring out a cheap way to get "international" experience in order to boost my resume so that I would be a good candidate one day for some U.N. post somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. This dream has led me to volunteer work, refugee studies, and a whole host of experiences that I felt would expand my horizons in ways that would someday help me "save the world."

Today, I am here to report, that the dream is on its deathbed.

It's on its deathbed because, quite frankly, I'm a ginormous ignoramus. Oh, and I'm not God. I don't even believe in God.

I think the dying process of this dream really started when I started falling in love with my home. For me, falling in love with Utah and with the United States of America has been an evolutionary process that's taken many years, a political science degree, and a few bruises. But I do. I love my home. Love, however, does not mean that I am patriotic or nationalistic. I think this country is fuuuuucked up; I refuse to look away from that. But love is the reason I don't look away, or move to Europe, or become completely cynical and jaded.

However, loving one's home is a matter of really trying to "know" a place. To know the names of the mountains that surround me and the good places to eat downtown. To know the demographics and the politics and the issues in my neighborhood. To be familiar with the seasons and the plants that grow here and the good coffee shops and the times of all the festivals. It also means trying to understand the people who live here. And, if you're a crazed feministy atheist liberal, trying to understand the conservative Mormon culture here is a stretch. And I was Mormon once! Trying to understand the people and the culture of the place I call home is goal that I am still working on, and probably will be for the rest of my life. God forbid I eventually move somewhere else and have to start over again. (and yes, I probably will move elsewhere) :)

The point of this is that I have miles to go before I will really feel like I understand America. And I have even more miles (read: infinite) to go before I really feel like I've really got an understanding of America's problems (lack of health care, poverty, poor education, misogyny, racism, etc) and can solve them all. And until I can solve all the problems with my place, I'm just not feeling all that qualified to go to other people's homes and tell them how to fix their problems. What do I know? Yeah. Not a lot.

This doesn't mean that my heart doesn't absolutely burst every single time I hear about the tragedies occurring globally. I pretty much can't even think about the Democratic Republic of Congo without tearing up. Nothing gets to me like poverty does. It absolutely rips me up inside to know that people are suffering needlessly. These days I console myself with the knowledge that people in need are people in need and helping people in need in my own neighborhood is just as good as helping people in need around the world. Every human life has worth.

It also doesn't mean that I disparage the many people that travel around the globe trying to make a difference. Many of those people are experts in their fields and have means to back their directives. And many more people are just trying to do something kind to try and give back and alleviate the pains of a suffering world.

I chose the Thailand program because it's an education program rather than a service program. We're not going to try to solve any problems. We'll be under the tutelage of doctors, epidemiologists, hospital directors, monks, and government officials from Thailand who are getting paid to teach us what they know. They're going to show us what's up. And I'm excited to learn. But the objective here, at least for me, is just to learn. Hopefully they'll have something to teach me that I can take home.