Monday, September 25, 2006

Asshole Doctors

Everyone says that living in rural areas is so serene. There’s no crime, no pollution and everyone knows everyone right? The people who live here are real, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth people.

As someone who’s been exiled to the frozen wasteland and grew up in some of these small, “idyllic” communities, I can say that it’s a load of bullshit. Small towns are petty, ignorant, and full of people who were not smart or skilled or lucky enough to leave so they wrap themselves up in their self-righteous small fish superiority. “Let’s not talk about it” is the memo that everyone gets about anything, which allows the dominant culture to do whatever it wants, unchallenged. Most of the time it’s just annoying; such as the lack of any type of cultural touchstone (museums, restaurant that aren’t sports bars, concerts), but other times, the ignorance and hypocrisy is down right dangerous.

Biting Beaver has an excellent post up illustrating the problems of this ignorance.She had a condom break, and then the run-around she got in her rural environment in order to get Plan B. Read the whole thing, and her follow-up, it’s very enlightening.

I have never had to get Plan B; however, this hasn’t stopped me from having to deal with asshole doctors. One night, soon after I had lost my virginity, I was sleeping at my boyfriend’s dorm and had to go to the bathroom. And as soon I had gone, I needed to go again…and again, after this happened a few times, I started to urinate blood.

At this point, it was about six AM and I was freaking out. I didn’t know if it was a STD or not, even though my boyfriend and I were fascistic about using condoms. I was embarrassed, and I was in pain. I came in, told my boyfriend (who, in his credit, was half-asleep) and said “I’m going to the hospital” to which he replied “It’s down the hall...*snmph snort* snuggle” before rolling over and going back to sleep.

The only thing open at this hour was the emergency. Weighing my options carefully, I decided that bleeding in places that do not normally bleed while in immense pain qualified as an emergency. I drive myself to the hospital, and rushing in. The very bored looking receptionist goes “what are your symptoms?” I, attempting to be mature, but still embarrassed as hell about the whole situation, said “frequent urination and bleeding….down there”.

The nurse, perhaps trying to keep me from being embarrassed, said kindly, “I’m going to need to know a little bit more specifically where “down there” is.”
“You know…I’m urinating blood”.
“Oh,” she said. “You have a UTI. Don’t worry too much about it…we’ll get your blood pressure and the doctor will do a blood test to confirm it. It’s no big deal…it’ll be uncomfortable but not deadly”

I immediately felt better. The nurse looked completely assured that this was what it was, and lots of people have had UTIs. No big deal.

So I’m sent to the doctor’s office to wait. And wait. And wait some more. I’m in pain, pissing blood, and the doctor takes about a half hour to get there. When he FINALLY gets there, he asks me again, what my symptoms are.
I said “Pain, frequent urination, and blood in the urine”.
He then gets this odd look on his face and says “When was your last period?”
I respond “I have no idea. I don’t exactly keep track of them, since they are so erratic.”
“Are you sexually active,” he asks, horrified.
“Yes,” I say, figuring it must be relevant to the discussion.
“Are you sure you’re not pregnant?” he asks.
“I’m pretty sure,” I said, taken aback. “I always use condoms”.
“Hmm,” he said. “Well do you want a pregnancy test?”
At this point, I’m pretty annoyed, tired, and still in pain. I go “Would a pregnancy cause me to PISS BLOOD? Because otherwise, I’d like to get that taken care of first, please”.
He gets annoyed, and says “Well, it may be a STD. I’ll take some blood, and test it, and get back to you.” He then storms off.

I’m left to wait in the doctor’s office. When he finally comes back, the doctor goes “Well, you’re lucky: you just have a UTI. I’m going to give you medication that won’t harm fetal life if you are pregnant. This should clear this up the pain in a few hours. Call me if anything unusual happens”. He then storms off.

I go up to the nurse, because I don’t know where to get the prescription filled. She was much nicer. “It was a UTI, wasn’t it sweetie?” I nod. “I thought so,” she says. “You probably got a medication for it, right?” I nod again. “Did he tell you anything?” I shake my head. “Hmm…let me guess, you just started having sex?” I blush furiously. “I’ll take that as a yes. UTI aren’t uncommon among girls who have just started having sex. If you just make sure to use the restroom after sex, you shouldn’t have this problem again. And also, this medication that you have, it will turn your urine weird colors, so don’t freak out about that. Mmm, the pharmacy isn’t going to be open for about another 20 minutes, but I know the guy’s already there, so I’ll ask him if he’ll open up for you”.

“Thank you,” I say gratefully.


Saturday, September 16, 2006


Sorry, faithful readers (both of you) for not posting lately. The begining of the school year has taken a chunk of time away from me.

However, one thing has really been bothering me lately. First, my bike was stolen (thanks a lot asshole, I hope you like your 50-dollar, three-year-old bike with a busted back break a lot). Secondly, the weather has been wonderful, and I can't enjoy it like I want to.

I would like to be able to walk from my house to school in the morning. I want to be able to enjoy the nice warm weather that sadly will sensibly move south for the next season (some doubt my sanity in staying here after the snow, and because of my addiction to alliteration). Unfortunately, to get to school from my house, I have to walk down University Avenue, past many, many fraternity houses. And how do I loathe the frats.

Aside from the fact that I think the Greek community adds nothing to campus life and reinforces the status quo, I loathe the frats in particular because it seems I'm not allowed to walk by them unmolested. Stares are not uncommon, and neither are catcalls. Occasionally I get snide remarks or noises.

Although it shouldn't make a damn bit of difference, I am not wearing anything particularily revealing OR unflattering. Jeans, and some sort of t-shirt are my "style" as it were.

I don't know why guys like these feel they have the right to stare at me, or feel the need to make comments. It's annoying, and it shows a level of entitlement that goes well beyond rude. I have just as much right to walk down a public sidewalk as them.

So, for every random frat boy who's shouted out to a woman, or for every guy who felt moved to remark "nice rack" to a perfect stranger: stop it. It's not a compliment, it's not flattering, it's not nice: it's annoying, rude, and overly entitled. Quit pretending to be macho at my expense. Quit feeling like my day will not be complete if you don't remark about what you feel my attractiveness level is. We're in college now, arguably as adults, and you are still acting like you have to impress your friends by pulling the girl's pigtails.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pandagon recently did a post about poverty. Many people, of course, came in with their self-righteous, "I did it, so can you" smug stories of how the "worked hard" and made it. I hate those stories, mainly because they can't see their own blessings, just their own challenges. I posted about poverty before, so I don't need to repeat myself.

But one thing just popped out at me, and this was a comment by Flat Out Running.

My family has always been poor. It’s a socialization issue. Mom had 11 siblings and lived in tents, houses with no plumbing, and moved around all the time because her dad got odd jobs and went where the (hard, dangerous) work was. She married someone smart and had intelligent kids, and my brother is a manager in a department store, has a wife and adopted boy, and while they don’t spend so wisely as they could, they’re doing okay. Me, I got through college (parents contributed a grand total of 2k, I worked and took out loans for the rest of the more than 13k/year tuition/room/board cost - private school 20 years ago), worked anywhere I could making less than 12/hr, paid off loans, got into a loser marriage, got out, got stuck with some debt he wouldn’t pay - I knew that the battle would be long and arduous so I sucked it up and paid more than I should have of the collective debt, it was far cheaper than the alternative because lawyers are beyond me. Once all that was over, I got back into school and got a 2 year masters in four years, because I was also working full time on top of the schooling and could not quit my job for summer term; classes ran four hours a day for three weeks, with four three week classes per summer, and there was no financial aid available for summer either. So automatically I paid way more for my education than most of my classmates, who were married and could get by, or older than I am and switching from more lucrative careers, and saved up for it better than I could.

And now I have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, and I’m still pretty much where I started financially, though I do have savings (small potatoes but it’s there) I’m trying desparately not to use. I have a temporary part time job and a roommate. I can’t even get a clinic to take me as a volunteer so I can gain experience because I have very little of it, just the fieldwork I was doing as a student. What I do not have that classmates do is the savvy and connections — it’s taken me a long, long time to learn about things like networking and being professional and sane, because my previous history taught me how to be codependant, noncommunicative, angry and helpless. And I have no network of family buddies and so on, like so many people do - no directors of clinics, or their daughters, on my list of friends.

I got over the helpless early; it’s the rest, the ability to travel gracefully in white collar circles and communicate with those folks, that’s taken me forever to get. I’m much, much better but I still have a ways to go. Working at nonprofits sometimes when I can helps, but as a wage slave in social services jobs, you still get looked down on. It’s subtle but it’s there, just like racism. I was taking karate, swapping office services for lessons after my day job, and had bruises up my arms from blocking kicks (I bruise way easy). One of the Junior League ladies noticed and got this horrible ‘poor you’ thing going - she didn’t believe the karate story. I wondered if she would if I weren’t low rent, wearing thrift store clothes. I’m decent, hardworking, honest, and no one’s victim - but I’ll never be Junior League. On the other hand, I am also not poor, but I am a gnat’s eyelash from it if I start to give up. And frankly, I’m starting to wear myself out worrying that I won’t catch a break, that there won’t be jobs to get me the intern hours I need so I can get a license and start my own practice. People who know people who know people get them first. Classmates I still have contact with who have jobs say things like “I talked to my mom’s friend who - ” and classmates who are unemployed like me say things like “I don’t know why I can’t get them to call me back.” Maybe it’s just the place I am - but I can’t afford to move, either.

The ceiling hurts. Can someone up there open the window? I’ll climb the outside of the building if I have to. Fingernails grow back. Please let me do what I want to do, so I can pay for the cost I paid to do it. My loans are due soon.

This makes me feel, by turns, like crying and then extrodinarily guilty. You see, for as hard as it is for me to make ends meet, and as much debt as I'm going to accrue, I will have the connections. I've already had internships I had from networking, and jobs I've had because they were a friend of my mom. I found cheap places to live because I had connections with my friends. The bank I bank with charges no fees, and in fact waived a few of my overdraft fees because they knew me so well. I am damned lucky, but should I be taking advantage of this luck? Should I take my parents' and my friends' help?

Simone Weil paid her parents rent, refused to eat food that the poor couldn't have, and worked factory and farming jobs instead of higher paying ones. She felt the need to live her morals: no benefits because of a random chance of fate.

She also died alone and young.

Monday, September 04, 2006


The lovely Happy Feminist has tagged me to completely a book survey. Since I have a huge blog-crush on Ms. Feminist, I could not turn her down if she asked for all my worldly possesions; so a short survey is no problem. Onwards:

1. One book that changed your life?
Childcraft: Once Upon A Time

When I was little, my family had limited means (or to put it another way, we were poor-ass broke). However, my mom still wanted to make sure that I was getting a good start in life, so she sold encyclopedias for childcraft. This meant that I got to field test all of the new toys, but also after she sold a certain number, she got a set free. Then, on top of that, she read to me every night: I had the book memorized (including where to turn the page) before I ever knew how to read. I think this contributed to my reading comprehension abilities and my love of learning, but the book also represents my mom's ingenuity.

2. One book you have read more than once?
The Handmaid's Taleby Margaret Atwood

This book still scares the ever-living daylights out of me. A feminist's nightmare, but really a nightmare of anyone who values humanity and autonomy. I get scared every time I see the parallels between this dystopia and the world some groups are trying to create.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
I absolutely refuse to answer this question on the grounds that it is impossible. This is like asking which is my favorite sibling, it just isn't done.

4. One book that made you laugh?
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Friend

This is a semi-blashemous story seeking to explain where Christ was between the ages of 12 and 32. It is narrated from Biff's point of view, and it is a lot closer to the version of Christ I always thought of back when I was Christian. I laugh out loud every time I read it; it has some great dialogue and running gags (Oh look, a seagull).

5. One book that made you cry?
I get so involved with books, that most of the sad ones make me cry. But, the first one that made me cry (that I can remember and even though it's cliche) is
Where the Red Fern Grows.

6. One book you wish had been written?
The Dummy's Guide to Feminism, or "Feminism for Baby Boomer Rural Men". I still haven't found anything useful to give my dad as a primer.

7. One book you wish had never been written?
Oh, I'm going to catch a lot of flack for this one. I wish that most of the Bible hadn't been written. If it was up to me, I would cut out Hosa, Elijah, Isaiah, anything written by Paul, and Timmothy. I hate their work with a undying passion becuase they are the ones that contribute to dumbass things like "Women cannot have headship over a man" and "Women are less valuable then men (and given a dollar amount)". Ick, get rid of their hateful screeds, and I'd like the Bible better.

8. One book you are currently reading?
FAA FAR/AIMS. What, I'm a Avit 102 student, so sue me.

9. One Book you have been meaning to read?
I wish to read more feminist scholarship.

Well, I'll tag:

DVD Pirate