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Sun May 04, 2014 at 07:01 AM PDT

Just A Kiss Away

by Avila

I write along a single line: I never get off it. I said that you were never to kill anyone, and I meant it.

                                                                                            —Kenneth Patchen

madness . . . .


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Good evening, and welcome to Monday Night Cancer Club.  If you've been diagnosed with cancer, or have a friend or family member who's been diagnosed, are undergoing treatment, or have joined Club NED (no evidence of disease), welcome.  If you're here for the community and kinship, (and with peregrine kate, a courageous, innovative activist, with a smile and kind word for all, and the seriously hilarious, smart and compassionate Zen Trainer), to name just two, this is the happenin' place to spend Monday evening) again, welcome, to one and all.

This evening, maybe I'm not the only one who needs to decompress after the long Thanksgiving weekend.  Although chronic stress isn't exactly healthy, living with  cancer, or watching someone you love struggle with cancer, or even making the decision to forgo treatment for cancer,  it's inevitable.  Stress and cancer are interrelated.  Sometimes you don't realize the extent of how burned out and tore-up-from-the-floor-up you are until someone or something else draws your attention to it.

Stress and ways to deal with the often overwhelming emotions that seem to be inseparable from cancer, are different for everyone. Friends?  Well, more on that subject in a bit.  Here at MNCC, you are entirely free to be who you are, as you are, and speak your minds (within the auspices of the site rulez, of course).  This is a safe haven, a place where you can relax and find how others have survived cancer-related stress, some suggestions, some humor, and most of all, a true reverence for each person's well-being.  Please join me over the fleur-de-lis, for decompression and some suggestions on how to minimize holiday stress.

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Good evening, and welcome to Monday Night Cancer Club.  Have you been here before? If this is your first visit with MNCC, welcome and please be comfortable.

If you've had or have cancer, or someone you care about has been diagnosed, most of us have been here:  

After your followup appointment; during which you took meticulous notes, and tried to concentrate on the voluminous information your oncologist discussed with you?  Your notes are illegible.  Your hands were shaky. I understand.  You can't remember exactly what the doctor said about a particular treatment being pro or con for you.  You're exhausted.  You're overwhelmed.  Even if you were feeling tip-top, this is just too much information to think through . . . . and your memories of the conversation aren't any too reliable.

After you've had some therapy, or decided not to, you have a weird pain or a quirky symptom, the kind of thing you wouldn't think twice about under normal circumstances.  That said, normal circumstances are squarely in the past tense for you and I.  We can't slap a Dora band-aid on a little cut that simply will not stop bleeding, or allow a cough to linger on and on while our minds work overtime with thoughts of "oh my God, it's nothing . . . . but I'm a shivering wreck.  Will they think I'm crazy if I go in for a check-up and I just have a cold?"

You don't understand.  And that ain't on you, amiga or amigo.  You are a blameless victim of (among other things) both too much information and too little information.  

Monday Night Cancer Club is a Daily Kos group focused on dealing with cancer, primarily for cancer survivors and caregivers, though clinicians, researchers, and others with a special interest are also welcome. Volunteer diarists post Monday evenings between 7-8 PM ET on topics related to living with cancer, which is very broadly defined to include physical, spiritual, emotional and cognitive aspects. Mindful of the controversies endemic to cancer prevention and treatment, we ask that both diarists and commenters keep an open mind regarding strategies for surviving cancer, whether based in traditional, Eastern, Western, allopathic or other medical practices. This is a club no one wants to join, in truth, and compassion will help us make it through the challenge together.
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Feed a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime.

"Hunger and malnutrition can never be considered a normal occurrence that we should be become used to, as if it were part of the system. Something must change in ourselves, in our minds, in our societies."

—Pope Francis, in a World Food Day message to the director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization

It is truly an honor for me to participate in the Butterfly Woman Blogathon for Food Justice.  Have you read all of the incredible posts in this series, by some of the best writers and advocates imaginable?  I'm going to catch up and I understand, everyone's busy, and there's just not enough time to do all we want to do, for most of us, but this is a series worth your time.  You'll never be sorry that you have read the phenomenal contributions by Daily Kos diarists and some rather extraordinary (and at least one Honorary) guest posters.  

Food justice, as you know, is not an issue we can remain passive about.  That's the insidious nature of hunger in America.  If you haven't known it, someone you know and care about has.  

I'm reminded of a song written by Bruce Springsteen, We Take Care Of Our Own.  You remember this, don't you?  I heard it just after Hurricane Sandy, but I remember, because these words are relevant to just about every problem in the human condition.  

Do we take care of our own?  If we don't, who will?  Before we examine some ways to address the issue of food justice, I'll tell you what "our own" means to me, and I hope that you'll add your definitions in the comments.  

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You remember the Welfare Queen, don't you? The welfare queen stereotype (circa 1976) is a picture that some whites still have in their heads about black women.

The Welfare Queen lived very comfortably (after all, she had 35 different IDs and 35 monthly checks from welfare, plus child support), and raised her many children without a husband or partner.  All of the children had different fathers.  The pervasive stereotype was that black women are unwilling to work, unwilling to control our insatiable sexual appetites, and unwilling to better ourselves (because the world, or the federal government to be precise, owes us a living).    

As a young girl in New Orleans, I wanted to meet the Welfare Queen.  She drove a pink Cadillac, and I'd heard much about her while my parents watched President Reagan on Jim Lehrer's News Hour.  In my sometimes lonely, only child mindset, I daydreamed that the Welfare Queen would adopt me.  I'd have lots of sisters and brothers to play with.  I'd have all the dolls and toys I wanted, because the Welfare Queen made $150,000 a year without even working.    

Every day, I looked for The Welfare Queen and her pink Cadillac. I never found her, and eventually, I learned she didn't even exist.  It's not hard to "troll" a little kid, but how many Americans fell for Reagan's Audacious Act?  Too many, until it was too late and he had been elected and re-elected.

By then, though, President Reagan, the smiling, ostensibly lovable elderly man whom most adults I knew seemed to approve of, was a man who frightened me.  Why?  I knew nothing about government, politics or current events, but I knew Reagan wore a mask (maybe from his movie days), and he laughed and told jokes that even a child could recognize as vicious, cruel, and at the expense of others.  Like this one:

"People who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless . . . are homeless, you might say, by choice.” (National Housing Institute)



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This will not be much of a diary, but it explains so much to me, and hopefully, to others.  

Judge Debra Nelson did not instruct the FL v Zimmerman jury that:

an aggressor cannot claim self-defense and that a person who aggressively follows another person is an aggressor.
Notice this instruction is absent from Judge Nelson's instructions to the jury, which I'll quote below the Fleur-de-Kos.
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Good evening, and welcome, one and all, to Monday Murder Mystery.  I am very honored to try to substitute-hostess for the brilliant and inimitable Susan from 29 this evening.  

When considering books for discussion, I contemplated a review of Gillian Flynn's two novels predating Gone Girl (compelling review by Susan from 29 here.)  I was also tempted by William Landay's Defending Jacob, a novel which has often been compared, fairly or not, with Scott Turow's contemporary classic Presumed Innocent, (1987). (If you're interested in either the early works of Gillian Flynn, or Defending Jacob, please let me know.)

How many of you have read Presumed Innocent or seen the movie?  How many have seen both?  In 1987, Turow's (an attorney, and once a prosecutor, as is his protagonist, Rozat "Rusty" Sabich) first novel was An Event. Booksellers, reviewers, and readers have have called it "the best book ever written."

Before publication, Sydney Pollack bought the movie rights for $1 million --- an amount unheard of at the time. There were ads on the sides of buses. There was the hard-working-boy-makes-good personal story of the attorney-author writing his first novel over seven years, every morning from 4:00 A.M. to 7:00 A.M. before he went to work in a downtown Chicago law firm.

There was the hype, and there was the book itself --- a legal thriller, a story of lust, murder, marriage and political corruption set in an invented Chicago-like place called Kindle County. Among the twists in the story: The county prosecutor, Rusty Sabich, is the one charged with the murder of his colleague-lover.

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Apologies in advance for the quickie diary, but I'd feel worse, even remiss, if I didn't take a moment to share a little of Jon Chait's The Case For Obama, online today in New York.  

Chait was a lukewarm Obama supporter in 2008.

Unlike so many of his supporters, I never experienced a kind of emotional response to his candidacy. I never felt his election would change everything about American politics or government, that it would lead us out of the darkness. Nothing Obama did or said ever made me well up with tears.

Possibly for that same reason, I have never felt even a bit of the crushing sense of disappointment that at various times has enveloped so many Obama voters.

I can't say the same, having had a deep emotional investment from the moment I heard Barack Obama speak at the 2004 Dem convention.  But I get it, Jon. I understand the more reasonable, neutral stance.  

Actually, it seems almost familiar.  From time to time here at the GOS, I've read similar sentiments, strong disapproval of the President's actions, bitter disappointment in his failure to measure up to someone's expectations, and though I, too, would like a word with the man (just one word: Guantanamo), it's never occurred to me to decline to vote.  Sit it out? No frackin' way. Nevah happen. (I have already voted, first day of early voting, thank you.)

From threads of long-ago disappointment and disapproval, I recall some talk of "sitting it out."  

Don't be that guy or girl.  This is no time to brick it.  I'll let Jon tell you why.  (/Kanye's-gonna-let-you-finish ;)

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