Sister Novena's PortaPulpit
freedom, liberalism, movies, and truth

Friday, December 31, 2004
Another Year I'm Not Sorry To See The Back Of

People who know me socially will likely have already heard this rant; I ask them to bear with me, since this is the last time I'll get to use it (I hope).

I'm sick to death of the whole Year 2000 thing. We're halfway through the first decade now, and frankly I'm beginning to think that the whole "new enlightened age," complete with jet packs and futuristic clothes, just isn't going to happen. Instead, we get this evil mix of all the worst parts of the 50s, 60s, and 70s... why I should have to cope with both an unpopular foreign war AND low-rise flared jeans again is beyond me.

I spent NYE 99/00 in an attached house in Basingstoke with two old men -- one of whom, my then-boyfriend, was only 35 at the time, but who acted more like 65 -- while all my friends were partying down in Trafalgar Square. I remember stepping outside alone at midnight to listen to the revelries elsewhere and thinking, "this isn't a promising beginning."

Every New Year's Eve since then, I have said a quiet little prayer: well, that was a shitty year, here's hoping the coming one is better. And every subsequent year, while not without good moments, has fallen decidedly below expectations. We dodged the Y2K bug without so much as a stumble, but look at everything we walked straight into: hate, fear, rage, vengeance, intolerance, dishonor, war. We didn't know it, but the computers were the least of our worries; all the really dangerous stuff was stewing our own collective unconscious.

If I could go back to address my then-self and the rest of the world on New Year's Eve 1999, my message would be a simple one: don't go. Turn back. Nothing good waits for you on the other side. Let it be 1999 forever, for this way lies madness. But as far as our little consciousness is concerned, there's only one direction available to us; we can only move forward. So, fate, I'm asking again: we all really need something a bit better this year. A little peace, maybe some tolerance, perhaps even a little new love if you're feeling generous.

2004 was a shitty year, though not without its good moments -- here's hoping 2005 is better.
6:05 PM ::
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Wednesday, December 29, 2004
More On The Tsunami

In my previous post on the subject, I mentioned my buddy Ismail from the Maldives. It's such a tiny country, a group of something like 1200 islands -- some no bigger than a typical American suburban house and yard -- that most of the other students at the film school had no clue where it was. He'd point to a place just south of India, an invisible country floating on the sea. He told us good-naturedly about the inevitable doom his country faced... as the oceans rose, eventually his family would have to emigrate elsewhere entirely (they already divided their time between the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and London) as the islands that made up the nation disappeared under the surf; it was part of Maldivian conventional wisdom that their country wouldn't last another century. He anticipated that it might happen within his lifetime, although I doubt he expected such an abrupt preview:

The Asian tsunami has delivered unto the Maldives that nation's worst nightmare, a disaster foretold: being drowned by the sea. Located just southwest of India, the Maldives form an archipelago with an inhabited area a bit larger than Washington, D.C. On Wednesday, two-thirds of the capital city, Male, was flooded, the waters having easily breached a 6-foot-tall breakwater. At least 63 people have died, 72 are missing, and 12,000 people have been moved from the country's outlying islands to the capital. A quarter of the Maldives' 80 tourist resorts have been destroyed, and dozens of the 1,200 islands are still under water. In some of those, says Ahmed Khaleel, counselor to the Maldives' mission to the United Nations, "the tsunami hit from one side of the island and left from the other. Everything was wiped out."

Salon

I haven't heard from Ismail as of yet, so I have no idea whether his family was among those affected.

Also, I know everyone's linking to this today, but it's really worth a look. WaveofDestruction.org is supplying not only videos and photos of the disaster, but also links to a large number of relief organizations. I have to say, it's pretty incredible to see what a tsunami actually looks like from the beach where it's about to land. The posted video from Phuket is particularly striking. There's a restaurant being invaded by waves, the camera pans outside for a moment, and when it pans back everything inside the restaurant is just... gone.
10:37 PM ::
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Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Why The United States Needs A Better Health Care System

I'm not a big fan of stairs; as a clumsy person, they make me nervous -- you never know when a step will betray you. And last night I was reminded of why after I took a fall on the stairs at the house where I'm house-sitting.

It wasn't a terrible fall, but it was enough to do a pretty good number on my right knee and ankle. I've got a moderate sprain, a bit swollen, pretty damn painful, but not so bad that I can't walk -- albeit slowly and carefully, with intermittent sharp pain when something moves outside of a very, very limited range. In short, this sucks, but it's not bad enough to require a visit to the doctor.

And that's all for the best, since even if it were bad enough to need medical attention, I wouldn't have any good way of getting some. I have no health care insurance, I don't qualify for any state medical aid, and I certainly don't have the money for a doctor's visit. In my particular situation, I am fortunate that if it were really bad, my mother could be relied upon to front the dough, but if it weren't for family help I'd be up the proverbial creek.

Another example: when I was about sixteen or so, I got a shard of chicken bone stuck in my foot. The dog had brought it in and left it on the floor, I stepped on it, and a small piece broke off deep inside my right heel. It hurt like hell, but I couldn't get it out. Mom didn't have coverage for us back then, and I knew she sure as hell didn't have money for a doctor (she was working an awful supermarket job at the time), so being a dutiful daughter... I just didn't tell her. I was reduced to performing minor surgery on myself in my bedroom with tweezers and a pocket knife, and couldn't manage the job. So I walked around with a foreign object from the garbage stuck in my foot for six months. It was often excrutiating. I managed to fend off one impending infection, and finally after long months the bit of bone came out on its own, to my great relief.

Nobody should have to fucking live like that in what is supposed to be the richest country in the world. In fact, nobody should have to live like that, period, but the fact that even this very wealthy nation can't provide even the simplest medical care, even for kids, is disgusting.

I live in a city where much of the population frequntly has to let a child's fever rage unchecked -- often until their situation becomes so dangerous that permanant injury is a possibility -- until they can take them to a doctor; and when they do, the debt they incur in the process makes it harder still for them to take good care of their kids even when they're well. In Memphis, the only doctors to which many people have access are those working in the emergency rooms, where they can't turn anyone away... there are no GPs, no annual checkups, no preventative care for these people.

My knee and ankle are going to be fine even without a doctor's care; a few days of hobbling around are probably all this involves. But it pisses me off that if I were more badly hurt, without familial help my only option would be to sit here and suffer... and it pisses me off that there are lots of people in this city alone who are in exactly that situation. I'm not going to advocate any particular approach to health care in this post, but I will say this: any system in which anyone is excluded is a gross failure.
3:57 PM ::
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Monday, December 27, 2004
Getting Interesting

Well... I'm not quite sure what to make of all this yet, but I'd say it's definitely worth mentioning regardless of what comes of it.

John Kerry has filed with the state of Ohio to protect "evidence" regarding the recent election.

Simultaneously, the Ohio Secretary of State, Kenneth Blackwell, has requested that he be exempt from having to answer any questions regarding the election.

Coincidence?
8:41 PM ::
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Sunday, December 26, 2004
Killer Wave

Earthquake, tidal waves hit SE Asia.

One of my best friends from film school, a beautiful guy named Imsail, was from the Maldive Islands and grew up in Sri Lanka. Much of his family still lives in both places; I hope they're all okay. The chances of Ismail reading this are slim, but on the off chance he does, my thoughts are with you, Ismo.

How long till Pat Robertson starts gloating, d'ya think?

1:05 PM ::
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