Sunday, December 26, 2010

Let's Get Real About Christmas!

Dear Friends,

It's Sunday December 26th and we survived. It's the time of year we have gathered with those we rarely see and some we do, and we all have to just shut up about whatever is bothering us unless you have early onset dementia, frontal lobe dysregulation or are simply a canterkerous asshole.

Gifts are exchanged or not depending on one's employment or public assistance status. Paper is thrown everywhere and trees sigh in the forest. Alcohol is abundant usually and someone is either monitoring someone's consumption or overconsuming themselves.

The underachieving member in the family entangled with the legal system again expresses grandiose ideas about his future. "Donald Trump made a ton of money, so can I!" It's career number ten for that person who laments the legalization of drugs lest his source of underground revenue is taken from him.

Pets are hiding from all the little kids running around scaring the crap out of them. People make snide remarks directed at one another designed to get them in line but really eyes are rolling which makes it hard to take good pictures. The teens are sneaking out to smoke pot and they think no one notices the stench around them when they return. Or they spray themselves with some stinky chemical that chokes you and makes you stand several feet from them.

But hey, it's family and we love them. Who else would dare to put up with this? Or each other? Cheers! -Alison Whiteman

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Crazy Cat Lady Game

I just want to thank Box Top Vintage in Tacoma for supplying me with best board game ever! Yesterday I scored "The Crazy Cat Lady" board game which is going to help me heal from my five year personal encounter with a cat collector. They say you can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends. But ya know what you cannot sometimes choose? Your neighbors! And let's face it. No matter who is in your family, you love them anyway. That's what family is for. But neighbors, well, you have to tolerate them but perhaps love is pushing the envelope.

She seemed benign enough at first. An elderly woman moving in downstairs. I had this majorly cool apartment that overlooked Commencement Bay in Tacoma. Sure, it was only 500 square feet, but who could argue that a water view was not a major score? Plus I had an attic where I could just store stuff. And a pull down ladder so I could get into the attic to retrieve stored stuff. Besides, I am not sure anyone really needs more than 500 square feet if they live simply enough. As a longtime Quaker, this is my lifestyle choice.

My elderly neighbor seemed okay at first. But then she started to walk past me and say things like, "You are weak." I thought she might have attributed this to my handicapped parking space. Sheesh, that didn't make me feel very good. One day I opened up my door to get my mail and she said, "I have been looking at the garbage and the reason you are gaining weight is you eat pizza." Sheesh. At least I had a heads up she was searching my garbage. And those extra pounds, well I wasn't feeling too well about that either.

One day she walked past me and said, "People just don't understand me." I was speechless. Then the entrapment started. She'd stop me on the sidewalk and start telling me these horror stories about her life. Everything from foster home placements to abusive relationships to an ongoing battle with poverty. But she had a major number of cats. She was plucking them off the streets and taking them home. I guess it never dawned on her that all of those cats belonged to someone else. I don't think she cared either.

So, being the nice person I am, I listened to these tales of woe. I have since found out that it really doesn't help a person to listen to their tales of woe. It is far more helpful to direct them to things that will change their present or even their future. Plus, she started attacking my other neighbors about their garbage. "Those shoes," she said to my very nice neighbor, "could go to someone in need! I object to your throwing them out!" My poor neighbor was as frightened of this person as I was getting.

It got so bad that when I came home, she would listen for me, head up the sidewalk and bang on my door to say something outrageously unkind. I chose not to fight back for the longest time. It was not until she banged on my door and asked me if me or any of my friends had stolen her cat I decided a line had to be drawn. "No," I said, "I believe it is you who steals cats." Oh, the downhill slide from there.

Fortunately or unfortunately my kitchen sink stopped working at that point. My elderly landlords were not going to fix that sink. I was told to wash my dishes in the bathtub. Sure, I could have employed the use of all sorts of landlord tenant laws to get the sink fixed, but instead I fled from the entire situation to the east side of Tacoma where my kind partner, Jay and I have joined households for a year. It took me months to get my deposit back from these landlords. It was the only battle I ever waged with them during my nine years as a tenant.

During my move out, though, which I tried to accomplish without the neighbor noticing, she came up the sidewalk to warn me about how Jay was going to beat me. Well, in four years he had never beaten me so I figured this just was not going to happen. She said all of this in front of poor Jay. I had to draw the line with her. "Okay," I finally said, "I am not a therapist. I do not play one on tv. You need to remain five hundred feet from me at all times from now until all eternity as you are now crossing the line."

Months later I get a certified letter from my old neighbor who had successfully tracked me down. I never signed for it. It presumably got sent back to her. "Aren't you at all curious as to what that letter said?" someone recently asked me. Actually, no, I am not. I doubt a certified letter one signs for is anything nice. I wanted her words to go directly back to her. Perhaps it was some kind of threat about her missing cat that I had, in her mind, snatched. I don't know. One must pick and choose battles.

I am just glad she never ran into my car. She told me about fifteen claims she had made regarding her car. Most of us just walk away from scenarios where someone accidentally scrapes our car. Not this person. She bragged about how much money she had made making all these claims. Then she told me how dangerous people with schizophrenia are. "Geez," I thought, "more dangerous than a cat snatching sociopath?" Oh my. "The Crazy Cat Lady" game indeed. Let the healing begin! -Alison Whiteman

Monday, December 13, 2010

This Was Not My Best Year

On New Year's Eve in 1999 I stood in the street on the south side of Tacoma and yelled, "The worst year of my life is over!" Well, was it really the worst year? In many ways it truly was. In the last twelve months tests had finally confirmed I had a life threatening illness: multiple sclerosis. Worse than just plain feeling sick, my brain had actually gone from freeway speed to old country road. People would say things to me and I would stare at them like a deer in the headlights before responding. The brain, it turns out, is a very important organ. But 2010 turned out to be truly bizarre.

In 2010 I had my cell phone stolen and then given back to me by the thief who had for some reason began to suspect I had connections to government officials that gave me superpowers. Now, if anyone had ever really gotten to know any government official, one would know that none of them have superpowers. They are civil servants who generally have large stacks of papers and a complete lack of a filing clerk at their disposal. She used twenty minutes of my air time presumably to get information for a story she then posted on my blog about our county auditor. To my horror, the story was a poorly crafted and bizarre conspiracy tale that I demanded she remove from the blog immediately. She did so, but then lied about having put it up on the blog in the first place despite my having printed a hard copy. Now, you're wondering, why did she have my password? Can you say naive? Please understand the following.

I grew up in Colorado Springs. The city is still ranked the fifteenth safest city in the nation. I did not grow up around savvy criminal types. I knew nothing about drugs or conspiracies or anything of the like. The worst thing I did as a teenager was run a red light on the way home one night because I was late. My friends were nerds about to enter the world as doctors and other white collar professions. I take people at face value. Even though I started out as a reporter at the tender age of sixteen, one must remember it was in a very safe hometown. I wrote stories about artists and opera singers and my Jewish friends taking a trip to Israel. So my phone was stolen, an article posted, and later I find out our auditor has gone completely off the deep end, much like the person who took my phone.

I can't even talk in great detail about the client I was taking care of as a caregiver. Suffice it to say, her family has been involved in crime for generations. I had no idea. The agency I worked for did not tell me. I just showed up for work for weeks taking her threats of "you better not make me mad" as the dribblings of a grumpy elderly woman, not a gun wielding mentally ill criminal.

I moved from the North End of Tacoma to the East Side of Tacoma this year. I really do like it over here. People actually speak to each other quite a bit and the neighborhood pulls together. That has been a good part of my year. Plus, for the first time in fourteen years, I do not live alone. I share a house with my domestic partner and our furry shelter cat. Sure, the cat came from a meth lab house in Spanaway and has stories to tell, but I don't understand them. And that's all for the best I think. I don't know anything about meth labs except for what I see in movies. They blow up sometimes I guess.

My Reiki "Master" turned out to be a fraud and I had to get the money I paid her to train me to do Reiki back from her. I didn't check her credentials, I just took her at face value. Silly me. Well, I changed the password to my blog. Now I am the only one who posts here. Someone recently told me it's a weird blog. He said my viewpoint is not consistent. Oh well. At least I am not running around town with a latex glove on accusing the entire auditor's office of discriminating against my religious beliefs. Nor am I smiling upon hearing of the untimely and horrific death of a city code enforcement officer who merely stepped out her front door to assist another person. My elderly client not only smiled upon hearing this, she said, "She should have minded her own damn business!" What a horrible thing to say. Later, when I told my client I had taken trash out of the recycling bin and placed it in the trash bin, she pointed at me and said, "You should mind your own damn business." Cripes! I was in my own version of "Throw Mama From The Train." I am glad this year is over. -Alison Whiteman

Friday, December 10, 2010

Times Are Really, I Mean Really Bad

Well, today I got the letter from The Department of Social and Health Services. I would love to tell you in detail what was in it, but I ripped it up because I was horrified. The most horrifying section pertained to children with disabilties. The state will no longer pay for the following services to disabled children: occupational therapy; physical therapy; nursing; speech therapy; psychological assessments; and audiology screenings (which just leads to speech problems that won't get treated anymore anyway) among other things.

Glasses are no longer paid for. My independent pharmacy reports supplies for diabetes patients are slashed out of the budget. The letter went on and on really. No more co-pays for anyone on Medicare Part D, the prescription portion of the Medicare program. So basically no assistance with prescriptions for the elderly or disabled who are low income.

At first I was angry. Then I cried. Then I talked to some friends and family. Then I remembered what it was like for me when I taught special education. When I had my first contract in a public school, I had no books, not a single computer, no assistant in my classroom, about twenty to twenty five kids per class, and a budget of five hundred dollars for the entire school year. I had kids with seizure disorders, violent tempers, developmental problems, and one who was so poor he had no running water in his home. Someone recently told me he should have been pulled from that home. "Really?" I said, "because his father was a disabled Vietnam veteran we should have further punished the family by yanking the kid into some horrifying foster care circumstance?" Worse yet, I was sent to a portable classroom which isolated all of us from the main campus.

Have things gotten any better since that first teaching contract in 1995? I am not sure. It depends where you go. Some school districts are highly funded. Some parents can pay for the services that other parents cannot. But mostly we are sinking into a widening class split. And we are turning on one another. I personally cannot do social work jobs anymore. It's just too heartbreaking for me and with my health problem (multiple sclerosis) it is just short of insanity for me to even try. I am very close to tossing my television into the alley where they sit for months and months and no one collects them. However, I do not live alone and this is not a choice I can make. I lived for two years once with no television and internet access was not as available as it is now. It seems to me I did a lot of art projects.

I had a co-worker, a dedicated teacher, who quit teaching and went to live in a cabin with no electricity for a time. That's pretty much what social work can do to one's soul. I lost touch with her. She was an amazing person. I have no idea if my MS medication will be funded anymore. I have to wait until January because my pharmacist is so confused by the changes. I have spent most of my working life fighting battles for others. Now I have no choice but to fight for myself. At a cost of $3,178 per month for the MS drug, I will have to make an appeal to the pharmaceutical company itself if my coverage is impacted. Again, neither my pharmacist or I know if the state has been making payments on my behalf or what that amount may be. The MS society sent out an alarm e-mail. They think they can somehow impact the legislature. I don't think so. I think it's a done deal. Too bad if you're hit with the disability stick in this, the reportedly wealthiest nation in the world. The help is gone. It's just gone. And I don't think it's coming back. Not today I don't think that. And unless someone hits me on the head with an optimism stick, I may never think that again. --Alison Whiteman

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thirty Short Years Ago We Lost John Lennon

I was going to bed. I was always going to bed earlier than the rest of my family. I didn't know why then, but I had been battling multiple sclerosis as a young teenager already and the one thing this disease does is make you very sleepy. So there I was in my soft blue pajamas tucked safely away in my bed. My oldest brother wondered why I was always so tired. He does not recall expressing concern about this recently, but that's because he has been so slammed with the events of his own adult life. I was sleepy, tucked away, and then I heard the noise coming from downstairs.

We had a Zenith television. It was one of those huge televisions that sits on the floor. In those days, you had to actually change the channels by hand. There were no remotes. It was also, as I recall, our first television. We didn't get a television until 1972 mainly because we lived overseas. We lived in Germany and there was no point in watching television shows you could not understand. Before that, I don't recall having a television. I don't think I cared. If we did have one, I don't remember it. Children played outside in those days. Thinking about that makes me feel really old.

So the noise startled me and I stumbled out of bed to find out what the heck was going on down there in the television room. John Lennon had been shot. As a family we were devastated. We had an original copy of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and we all loved, loved, loved The Beatles. We just could not believe it. The next day, apparently, it was all I could talk about at school. I learned this some twenty-three years later at a high school reunion. "Oh," said my former classmate, "I remember you. All you could talk about was the death of John Lennon at school the day after he was shot." It's weird what we recall versus what others recall.

Lennon's death shocked my family. A lot of things shocked us that might not shock other families quite as much. Irish Republican bombings in London scared us to death. We would determine the time and then try to calculate the location of our English family on the tube or subway. Royal family events meant a lot to us and we would get up in the wee hours of the night to watch them because we had to see them live. And one day our basement flooded because one of my brothers had left a hose in the window well during a freeze. The hose exploded and left several inches of water behind. The original copy of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was floating along with books and other keepsakes. No one got angry about this. It was an accident. We just cleaned up our basement and got rid of ruined books and items. The record was just a thing. It's John we miss. -Alison Whiteman

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Hilarious Middle Schoolers I Eavesdropped On At Target

I am not sure what we found the most amusing about middle school when I was a middle schooler, but this is what the boys must contend with these days. Girls get stuck in their jeans. That's right, their jeans. "Her jeans were so tight." said the boy, "I had to help cut her out of them!" It was all I could to do to not snort laugh out loud in order to continue eavesdropping.

"One girl wears her jeans so tight she can't breathe!" said the boy. "She is like on the verge of fainting all day long!" I nearly choked on my horrible lunch: a hotdog. The preservatives from that poor choice of a lunch are probably killing off parts of my immue system. Perhaps my "inside laughter" helped.

As much as I like kids, I am so glad I never had a daughter. I would have been one of those moms blocking the exit to the house yelling, "Too tight! Too low! Too revealing! I am going to shred your clothing if you keep this up!" And facial piercings? There is no way in hell any offspring of mine would have gotten away with that. Some soul somewhere is thankful I am not her mother. -Alison Whiteman

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Monday November 29th At Noon Pacific Standard Time

Dear Friends,

Literally. This was started at the Friend's Meeting (unstructured Quakers) this morning at about eleven thirty in Tacoma, WA. A small group of us eating waffles and discussing the state of the world decided to start a peaceful revolution. We have decided that as many people as possible need to breathe as deeply as possible at noon Pacific Standard Time on Monday November 29th. Why would we suggest this? Well, read on.

Breathing is underrated. In this culture of speed, texing, Facebook, cellular phones, consumption and general stress we forget the simpliest of things. Breathing, drinking fluids, eating right, etc. We believe this could catch on sort of like "Hands Across America" caught on in the 1980s. And we're not claiming it will make a tremendous difference nor change anything. As we sat eating waffles and then breathing inbetween bites though, the five of us felt better. And a good thing is no one choked either. There were more people at the meeting this morning than the five of us, but there are several tables at the meeting house. We didn't have time to share this with the entire group.

So, it's a simple thing really. Take a deep deep breath and pull it to the bottom of your lungs. Do it several times. Change your world. Then, in a state of relaxation, change the world around you. Light One Candle Rather Than Curse The Darkness (Amnesty International). -Alison Whiteman (just the messenger for the message)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The TSA: Keep Calm And Stop Whining

I don't mind high security. This may confuse some, but I am half English. Why does this matter? Well, from the time I was a little girl our trips to England to visit family and our time living overseas taught me many things. One is that people sound different from one another in different parts of the world. Another is Germans love beer. But a most compelling lesson I learned was unattended packages are very dangerous.

England has been hit with the terrorist stick so long it doesn't phase the population. It dates back to 1066 when they had that horrid invasion. You know the one if you went to high school. The subsequent invasions have been horrific to say the least, which I think explains their incredible sense of humor. It's amazing really. People who have been subjected to a tremendous amount of trauma either become complete whack jobs or comedians. There seems to be no middle ground.

From the time I was a little girl there were signs all over England about unattended packages. It has been their ongoing battle with the Irish Republican Army. I don't understand terrorists. I have particularly never understood this terrorist group since England has spent so much money keeping Northern Ireland's economy going. My grandmother had some extremist beliefs about this dilemma. She said England should have pulled the British troops a long time ago and allowed the people to slaughter one another. I disagreed and read the novel Trinity while on a long visit to England the summer of 1983. I read it on the subway or tube as they call it in England. I was too naive or brazen to realize reading this in public was probably endangering my personal safety. I was seventeen. That explains a lot right there.

England has had to beef up security for seemingly forever. I think there is nothing more sobering than looking at pictures of London citizens hiding in the what they call the tube and we call a subway during World War II Nazi raids. Also disturbing is the book my mother told me to get entitled "The Day They Took The Children. My mom was one of the hundredds of thousands of children evacuated from London during the blitzes. Fortunately she had family in the countryside. Many were sent to complete strangers. I am not certain anyone complained much, the Brits just don't complain that much really. My grandmother, for instance, was blown up the staircase after opening her front door during World War II. After that, she dusted herself off and went shopping for groceries.

On Saturday November 20th, 2010 I entered Sea-Tac airport fatigued. As you may or may not know, I have multiple sclerosis. I needed a wheelchair that day to get through the airport. The policy of patting down or scanning people had just been implemented by the Transportation Security Agency (TSA). First came the trauma of getting a wheelchair. They were in short supply for some reason. Next came waiting in the wrong line to get patted or scanned. The scanners are too narrow for wheelchairs. I was whisked from one location to the final destination where I met the Nurse Ratchet of TSA agents. She ordered Jay to vacate the area. She left me within a half inch of a cloth strap barrier which for some reason I did not back away from. She was so nasty I started to cry. There's a pill out for MS related crying and laughing which I refuse to take lest I have to get a new liver to deal with the side effects. I plan to laugh and sob my way to my grave thank you very much.

After I began to cry, she eased up. She patted me down, then said she had to go test her latex gloves. I presume this was for residue of some sort related to bombs. The thing is, I am okay with all of this. As long as we are safe flying it's okay with me. The outrage at this in this nation is linked to how recent terrorism is to immigrants. I say immigrants as most of us are the immigrants. The Native Americans were the original inhabitants of this nation. Terrorism is not new to them. A wise poet and Native American once told me there are as many ways to view a circumstance as there are points on a circle. Perhaps my view is not the popular one right now. I just feel lucky my family was never blown up in downtown London by the Irish Republican Army or the Nazis. We were all extremely lucky considering my grandfather, uncle and aunt and others worked in downtown London. I can think of better ways to die than on a plane with a bomb. I think we all just better step up and stop our whining. -Alison Whiteman

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Goodbye To Journalism 101, Hello To Voo Doo

A panel at The University of Colorado in Boulder is considering shutting down the school of journalism? Say it ain't so! Have we become so addicted to Facebook, Twitter and Texting that actual writing is going out of style? In 1984 I was admitted the the CU school of journalism. Instead, I came to the Pacific Northwest to major in Communications and then against the advice of my advisor, made my way over to the English department. Someone should have told me what unemployment is really like. Surely someone should have told me what writing for such low pay that you qualify for food assistance is like. Oh well. The probable demise of the journalism school strikes me as strange, but not as strange as the next story I read today.

Seventeen girls presumed possessed by the devil in Trinidad? Priests called in to get a probable voo doo hex off the girls who are all speaking in tongues? It's the Exorcist times seventeen. Did their heads twist around as well? When do we get to view the YouTube video? I cannot wait to see this one. Given the demise of at least one journalism school and perhaps many others to follow, I was surprised to read this story at all.

The Pierce County Auditor in Tacoma wears one latex glove, spends twenty minutes a day at a shredder and shouts at employees one day and says he has found God the next? He sounds like my editor at my former newspaper in Colorado Springs who sang show tunes one minute and screamed at the reporters within minutes. I don't recall anything about God coming out of that editor though. Maybe we needed priests in the newsroom to get the hex off of him. It's voo doo all around lately. -Alison Whiteman

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

OMG! I Have A Tenth Follower!

Dear ten or so readers, welcome. I sense my blog influence expanding into an everlasting universe of blogsville. I am so not famous like my big brother Michael who seems to have a zillion followers.

If you like, you can check out his blog at: http://www.toomanymornings.com/ He is hilarious and receives personalized rejection slips from The New Yorker. Do you realize what a compliment that is? It means he is being read! My goodness! I aspire to receive a personalized rejection slip from someone besides Demos, the health information publishing company. They sent me a handwritten note. Oh, and I got one in 1976 from Dell Publishing too. LOL Oh bless you my dear ten! -AW

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Free Santa Portraits For Special Needs Children

Saturday December 4th The Tacoma Orthopedic Association (TOA) and the Lisa Anne Viafore Guild is sponsoring free Santa portraits of special needs children from 10a.m. to 4p.m. The event will take place at the St. Patrick School on North 12th and "J" Street.

Portraits are by appointment only so call TOA at 253-381-0260 or contact them via e-mail at sensationalsanta@yahoo.com.  The web site for the organization is http://specialfamiliesofpiercecounty.blogspot.com/

Also, check out the TOA thrift store on Tacoma Avenue North across and down the block from Ranko's Pharmacy. They have exceptional used clothing and wares all for a good cause. -Alison Whiteman

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Thin Sane Line

A strange thing happened when I was in my early twenties. I found myself at a local psychiatric hospital eating lunch on the lawn with patients. I was an employee with a newly minted degree in English and an absolute inability to find a writing job that paid enough to feed me. I was fortunate to find a job as a clerk typist at Western State Hospital in Steilacoom, Washington. I was hired as a temporary during an interim search for the retiring clerk typist. During lunch on the lawn one afternoon, something dawned on me. I am not so different from the patients. None of us are.

Police often speak of the "thin blue line." I think we ought to think of mental health as "the thin sane line." It's not that uncommon that normally healthy people get pushed over the edge by life events and find themselves at the mercy of our mental health system. Lately that system is pretty fractured nationwide. The resources for those who have mental health issues have declined severely. The number of assaults against homeless mentally ill people are at an all time high. In Pierce County, Washington, the solution has been to bring in the HMO of mental health, Optum Health. While Optum promises to make improvements in our mental healthcare system, one hundred and thirty county mental health workers have lost their jobs. Some have been hired by Optum, but at a fraction of their previous salary. One might say Optum is the WalMart of mental health.

Optum's "recovery" model of mental health is a bold one. It's based on the model brought forth by the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The premise is this: employ those who have battled mental health issues to assist those who have mental health issues. It's a great premise, but one that if examined carefully is honestly based on economy. You no longer have to have a degree to be a mental health professional in any county that uses Optum as their mental health provider. You only have to have one year in recovery from a mental illness. Then, after taking a forty hour course you must pass a test to become a "peer specialist." Again, this system has benefits and pitfalls. Like AA, it is likely true that the best people to support anyone with a mental illness are those who have suffered one themselves. If we are honest, that surely includes most of us. Who hasn't suffered a depression after a loss of some kind? But the pitfalls are numerous.

First, the wages are significantly lower for those without degrees. The starting pay for a peer specialist is thirteen dollars per hour. That's actually not bad considering you don't even have to have a high school diploma. However, this has put those with degrees out of work. It has also placed those with high skills out of the profession of mental health care entirely. The impetus for this change has been a national campaign from the President's New Freedom Commission On Mental Health which states the system should be consumer and family driven. Again, this is a fine premise, but the reality is hitting our county quite hard. There is not a psychiatrist in the county that will accept Medicare or Medicaid for psychiatric treatment. Pierce County, like many others, has medication management teams only. Consumers go into these agencies and discuss medications only. So, like our nation as a whole, we have become a pharmaceutical dispensary machine. Even these dispensary agencies have had it with the Medicare and Medicaid billing issues. Some have gone out of business.

I went to the forty hour training to become a peer specialist. There were so many positive things about the training. Gone is the idea that some "expert" tells you as a consumer what to do. Instead, consumers have a say in their own treatment. That's not so bad unless you are in such denial about your condition you cannot make decisions about your treatment. Alas, Optum has a system for that as well. Consumers draft their own plan about their own treatment should they become incompetent. Again, a fine premise as long as you know how to write and articulate such a complex matter.

What bothered me about the training though was the complete and utter disdain for those who have become trained experts in the field. There was a collective anger in the room against anyone who has obtained post high school education. This anger led to my removing myself from the room as if I was some sort of alien being. I have a master's degree in education with emphasis in special education and psychology. Does this mean Optum will shun me? Well, certainly this company would not compensate me for my educational level if ever hired. And what about my colleagues? Would they also shun me as I walked along the hallways of their new facility?

It seems to me we have a dumbing down going on in this nation as a whole. Education is not really valued. I have heard tea partiers rage against our President calling him an elitist. There is no doubt our President is an articulate and educated man. I am not certain why this is held against him. The last time this country held collective anger against the educated was during the McCarthy era when those deemed "intellectuals" were literally stripped of citizenship. I see it going on again. Like others, I am alarmed.

I stayed at my job at the psychiatric hospital until the union made it clear I was not welcomed. The then director welcomed my skills and was heartened I had a college education. The union did not share this enthusiasm. I was told I was displacing other people from the job. I was pulled into a bizarre conflict going on with the union and the state. I also found this later as a teacher. While standing in the staff lounge at the school where I taught, I began to recite a poem. My then colleague said, "I had no idea a special education teacher would know anything about poetry." It dawned on me that I was a stranger in a strange land: America the dumbed down nation. We still don't invest in public schools to the degree we should. We still don't hold our children up to the standards of other nations. And now we have a much more poorly funded HMO running our local mental health care system. These are strange days indeed. -Alison Whiteman

Monday, November 1, 2010

Why We Need To Fear The Fringe More Than The GOP

I don't know about you, but the past year or so has scared me. I have always been an activist, but did not realize how much so until some very troubled classmates attempted to send me a package from a militia headquartered in Oregon. One of them was just stupid enough to give me a heads up prior to the incident. She said she was contacting Oregon.

When I got notice of two packages from Oregon, I traced the origin of the package to a city in Oregon which happens to be headquarters for a nationwide militia movement. I guess it was the nearest one to Tacoma. I quickly made some additional phone calls. I had already been making reports about threats to my physical safety these three former high school classmates had made to Colorado and Washington officials, the Tacoma prosecutor's office and the FBI. Why was their rage targeted at me? There were a couple of reasons.

One is that I am disabled with MS. Despite this, they feel I am a burden to the system and should basically be eliminated by either violent means or an absence of any government resources to assist me. The other was outraged to find out one of my brothers has not died from AIDS complications. Her brother and my brother dated in high school and her brother passed away from AIDS complications some years ago.  I cannot fathom this logic.

All three of my classmates were victims of child abuse. All three have obviously never addressed their own issues and their hate level, much like the untreated Beck and Hitler take it out on those they perceive to be weaker than them. In this case, it was me, an MS patient.

By the time I got to the post office to retrieve the package, it had been taken by the postal inspector. I high fived the postal clerk informing him this was the best course of action as I did not need to see the hate literature or threats they had sent to me. I hope they are all now on the FBI watch list. They are troubled. But worse, they are violent and troubled. And this is what scares me the most. Untreated survivors of troubled childhoods unleashing their wrath on others. This is what Hitler accomplished. This is what we should fear as Americans. This is why we need to encourage those we know to address any painful personal issues before they become entrenched in fringe politics.- Alison Whiteman

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Please Forgive Me Allen Ginsberg

In honor of an independent film titled after Allen Ginsberg's infamous poem "Howl", I have written the following. This is for you Tacoma and nation.

Drither

I see the disturbed minds not necessarily of my generation destroying the election by a lack of needed therapy, medications, and rehab,
Dragging themselves with no regard for others through the streets of Tacoma and this nation at all hours in an angry state,
Devil like ambitions aching for a cure for what ails them with no real certainty as to what that might actually be,
With three-ringed binders containing dribble about our prosecutor's office not caring about the strangulation of women,
Beck baring all about his past consumption of alcohol and current obsession with rage at the machine like horror tactics,
Tea partiers with a terrible sense of grammar and spelling and mostly pale like the lily white founders of this fine nation,
Who continally get busted in some discussion perhaps about the Constitution and the separation of church and state,
Of which they know nothing and yet know plenty about once casting spells on others for reasons unfathomable,
Giving horrible speeches in places Martin Luther King once stood as if they are cloaked in his much needed and absent compassion,
Attack ads abundant in times when teenagers burn cigarette holes into sidewalks and talk cynically about a future job at Walmart,
Some still raising their collective voices above the fray to say, "Yes We Can!" countering Boehner's
"Hell No You Can't" -Alison Whiteman

Uh, Mr. LaRouche, Have You Considered An Anti-Psychotic?

The thing that scares me the most about this article is how LaRouche fails to see that he himself is completely insane. -Alison Whiteman

Sodom and Gomorrah knocking at the door!
THE NECESSARY ORIENTATION!
by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

We have entered the breakdown phase of "the promised world-wide breakdown-crisis." As is usual for such qualities of relatively exceptional, and more or less global social circumstances, the onset of such a specific type of crisis prompts wild-eyed reactions throughout populations, probably now the world-wide population, which people will tend to read, mistakenly, as personal aberrations of individuals or very small groups, but which are, in fact, only expressions of mass phenomena, such as global mass phenomena. These are the legendary effects which arrive in the guise of wild-eyed reactions by individuals, reactions which seem to some as sudden eruptions of insanity-like behavior by individuals or small groups, but are, in fact, global phenomena of a type which strike under conditions of the outbreak of some form of "new dark age."

In such cases, it is often necessary to treat the aberrant behavior of individuals or small groups as if that behavior were specific to the individual, or small group, but which are actually localized expressions of more or less global mass-phenomena.

The first rule of sane behavior in such an exceptional mass development, is not to lose one's head, not to presume that the genesis of the aberrant phenomena is that of an individual, or small group, when, in fact, it is an integral part of what has come into being as a mass social phenomenon of something approaching, or actually reaching the state of a mass, purely global effect. The individual aberrations are to be considered, primarily, as a mass phenomenon, akin to a global storm of exceptionally great force.

The fear such developments bring to the local grouping must be recogenized as being essentially just that. The local phenomenon in itself will cause behavior in which the victims of the tumult will tend to seize hysterically on aberrant forms of behavior which react to the global storm as if it were a local effect with specifically local cases, rather than merely appearing to some as an effect with specifically local causes, when, in fact, it is a more or less global phenomenon with global causes and global effects.

For example, in such cases, look for the situation in which, in an awesomely quieted moment, there is a rising incidence of essentially inexplicable local "freak-outs" by a speckling of cases of isolated small groups or individuals. The weather of that moment is awesomely quiet, except for the seemingly isolated cases of the grip of a madness like banshee shrieks and sudden homicidal outbreaks by isolated individuals or among small groups. This is the nature of the presently onrushing global storm which is affecting individual cases in this special sort of pattern.

In such situations as this present one, there are no actually individual causes of the pattern of crises of persons; there are personal aberrations which occur as products of a more or less global social phenomenon.

In such situations, a period of isolated mass effects which begins as individual behavioral anomalies with touches of madness, builds up into something akin to the presently ongoing mass-strike process in France. Then, a rising storm which takes over society as in the height of the rising tide of terror in Summer 1789 France.

As the coming week now approaches, the outbursts of individual or localized incidents of lunacy, as that of U.S. President Obama, do, in fact, reflect latent factors of approaching mass-insanity, but they are not significant for their aspect as isolated developments; they are already the mass effects of onrushing general madness. They must be recognized as, and treated as mass-insanity; do not make the potentially fatal mistake of interpreting what are actually mass effects, for a mere incidence of local insanity.

Think of a pandemic like that sweeping through widening regions of Haiti now. A pattern of analogous social forms of a spreading storm of mass-insanity, is now emerging around the planet. The pattern already resembles the pattern of mass behavior during the onset of the mass- death phenomena of Europe's Fourteenth Century, as in Hieronymous Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights."

Remember this: Mass effects require mass remedies; these are no times for ordinary "social workers."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hello! Planned Parenthood Does Not Perform Abortions!

I don't know why I would try to have a civil and sane conversation with this group. I only got to ask one question before I was nearly shoved off the sidewalk. I asked one question: "Have you ever adopted a child?" I did not get to ask other imperative questions like the group's stance about abortion if a woman is a victim of rape or incest. I also didn't get to point out their protest in front of Tacoma's Planned Parenthood, an organization that does not perform abortions, makes no sense at all. -Alison Whiteman

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's Very Hard To Be Funny About This Topic

My partner Jay told me a story today about my family I had never heard. Apparently my father's cousin had a pacemaker put in his heart. The pacemaker then malfunctioned while he was at a bar and knocked him clear off the barstool. Now that's funny, but this is where the funny part ends.

Twice in one year my sister-in-law has had heart attacks. Her problem is congenital. She had her first heart surgery when she was merely twelve years old. My mother told me once my sister-in-law thought no one would want to marry her because she had scars on her chest. Well, my brother obviously did not care about that at all. They married quite young. They were nineteen year old college students at Colorado State University when they got married and they are married to this day. They are now fifty years old, which makes all of us old come to think of it.

Kerry and Michael, my sister-in-law and brother, adopted four children. All of the children have had challenges, especially the two girls. They adopted two sisters who had incredibly challenging childhood histories. The boys, also brothers, arrived to Mike and Kerry so traumatized they hid food under their mattresses because they thought they'd run out. It took some time for them to realize they had plenty of food with Mike and Kerry.

The girls are now in their twenties. One lives in a group home now, but the other is still with my family because the state of Colorado has cut all funding for group home placements. It's not an issue of not loving my niece, it's just that my family is tired. On the ballot not too long ago was a request to raise a tax some tiny amount to help get more group home funding. But Colorado voters turned it down. It seems people with disabilities still get the shaft in this country despite the slight amount of progress we have made.

Now my sister-in-law has a bad heart. But obviously has a good heart to have taken on four children the way she has. She is also an occupational therapist by training. My brother is a professional writer. Last Thanksgiving during our annual Colorado visit Jay had an upset stomach after our meal. Kerry whipped out an herbal remedy right out of her purse for him. She's very nurturing that way. It strikes me as odd that the kindest people on the planet seem to consistently get stricken with the worst challenges. It's a very strange and unfair world we live in. Kerry, Michael and all of my nieces and nephews are in our prayers. -Alison Whiteman

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

WTF? Is He Talking About?

Just when I think I might be the most insane person I know, along comes LaRouche. I don't know how I got on his e-mail list, but there I am. Read this and help me figure out what he is saying. Or fix yourself and nice drink and forget about it. Life is hard enough. It begins below:


In the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the U.S. Congress seriously took up the issue of Presidential succession and the process by which a sitting President could be removed from office, on the basis of incapacity to serve, due to physical or mental illness.


The U.S. Constitution was vague on the precise issue of succession and incapacity, and on several prior occasions, it led to potential crisis. In 1841, when President William Henry Harrison died in office, his Vice President, John Tyler, assumed the Presidency, even though the Constitution only provided for the Vice President to be "Acting President." When President Woodrow Wilson had a mental breakdown (widely attributed to a stroke) 18 months before his term expired, the First Lady and key White House advisors ran the country, without ever officially acknowledging that the President was incapacitated.

In 1963, Senators Estes Kefauver and Kenneth Keating proposed a Constititutional amendment, to authorize the Congress to legislate Presidential succession and rules for removing a President from office for incapacity. That effort was blocked out of fear that Congress could abuse the power. However, on Jan. 1, 1965, Senator Birch Bayh and Representative Emanuel Cellar introduced a Constitutional amendment, spelling out the procedures for succession and for determination of a President's incapacity. The amendment passed both Houses of Congress on July 6, 1965, and was sent to the states for ratification. On February 10, 1967, the required 38 states ratified the amendment.

The relevant section, dealing with Presidential incapacity, read as follows:

Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

On two occasions, there was serious consideration of invoking Section 4: On March 30, 1981, when President Ronald Reagan was shot by would-be assassin John Hinckley, there was brief consideration of invoking Section 4, and an ad hoc group of close Presidential advisors, at Reagan's bedside, following his surgery, concluded that he was mentally fit to remain in office. In 1987, when Donald Regan was replaced by Howard Baker as President Reagan's Chief of Staff, Baker was urged to make a determination whether Reagan was still mentally sharp enough to serve out his term. After an initial White House meeting between the President and the new staff, Baker concluded that President Reagan was perfectly capable of continuing as President.


Paid for by the Lyndon LaRouche Political Action Committee

P.O. Box 6157, Leesburg, VA 20178, www.larouchepac.com

and Not Authorized by Any Candidate or Candidate's Committee

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Look, Their Jobs Are Hard Enough Without Your Sniveling

This sign can be found at the jury room in the Pierce County Courthouse. I think we need to adhere to the law per the sign because let's face it, who EVER wants to be in a courthouse.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

He's EVERYWHERE! He's our prosecutor and HE'S EVERYWHERE!


I just went to get some medicine today at Ranko's Pharmacy in Tacoma and there he is AGAIN! It's Mark Lindquist, our county prosecutor. He's tall, he has piercing eyes that make you want to behave, and he's all over the place. He was on the cover of our arts magazine not that long ago. I did not write a hot check, Mark! I paid with a debit card! Okay? Back off! LOL


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So You Want To Be A Social Worker Of Some Sorts? Read This!

Dear readers, all nine of you, sometimes life hands you lemons and although you want to make lemonade, you just can't muster the energy to do. My last job was so horrible that at last week's training to be a peer support specialist, my new aquaintance, who by the way wears dark glasses so you can never see his eyes, asked me to tell him to write about the worst job I have ever had. I wrote out two pages about my last job. It was a horrifying experience to write it out on paper.

I was hired last summer by a local social service agency to be a caregiver. I actually liked my job. I like it because I naturally like caring for people. What the agency did not tell me, is that the client they placed me with had gone through about twenty-four caregivers in the last year due to her deteriorating mental health. Now, you would think the intake sheet indicating she had been married four times would have been warning enough, but being the wounded healer type my therapist informs me I am, I  took this to mean she just had not met the right man. Her fourth husband reportedly shot his head off in front of her one night shortly after she qualified for his social security benefits. The law says you must be married for ten years to qualify for those benefits. I am not going to speculate that making it to the ten year mark was paramount in his decision, nor conclude that she may have actually shot him, because that will just result in an increase in my medication dosage, which seems to be increasing daily.

My client was fairly violent verbally. "You better not make me mad," she said. "You don't want to see me mad," she repeated. She told me about her four children and how they would bury objects that she hit them with in the back yard so she'd have to find more objects to beat them with. I just kept ignoring her and making her lunch and stuff. At one point I even got down on my hands and knees and cleaned her filthy carpet with a sponge. It was filthy because she had had an accident in her Depends. She wore them constantly and mostly, from what I could ascertain, because she was too lazy to get up from her chair to use the bathroom. She didn't want to miss a second of her soap operas.

It was about the time I inquired about the locked box by the side of her chair that things really went downhill. I wondered why she had a locked square box. I was actually stupid enough to ask. "It's just papers, dear," she said. While she was in the bathroom, I found out those papers consisted of a heavy single metal object that slide side to side. I quickly put the said object down. I then asked her where the key to the box was. She said it was around her neck at all times. "It's money," she said, "I have to hide money from the state or they will disqualify me for services. Don't say nothin' to anyone." I said I wouldn't. But damn, that was the heaviest metal object money I had ever encountered. The next day the heavy metal object had been relocated. I could not find it anywhere.

Then came time to fill her medisets. I could not do this task per my state mandated training course which said only nurses or nurse delegates or family members can fill the medisets. So I refused to fill them. She began a course of abuse that lasted until the last day of my employment. It culminated with her throwing her bath water and the table the bath water was on into the television set. I cleaned up the spilled water, replaced it, and gave her a sponge bath. She never bathed claiming she was afraid of drowning although she later said she had a history of participating in water aerobics. This puzzled me. When she asked me to go get her mail downstairs, I took all of my belongings with me because she had been shredding my state mandated paperwork which consisted of writing skin condition reports. She said I was saying nasty things about her on those papers. I finally just let her read the papers in an attempt to get her to stop shredding them because I was tired of rewriting them. I wan't writing anything nasty, just reporting the condtion of her skin.

When I returned from getting the mail, she raged at me about taking my belongings with me to get the mail. What she did not know, is that I had alerted building security and the building social worker that I was pretty scared. I said I did not know where the heavy object in her locked box had been moved to.  The social worker had contacted the crisis team in the meantime and when they came knocking on the door to evacuate me, my client was screaming at the top of her lungs. "Who is at my door? Who is at my door?" The social worker said to get out of the apartment immediately as I was in immediate danger. I was told to not even go back in for my purse or anything. Well, I did bravely dive back into the apartment for my purse.

Then, when I reached the first floor and the safety of the social worker's office, I began to hyperventilate. When my supervisor finally arrived, she didn't even ask me if I was okay. She said I had generated a lot of paperwork for the agency and had not followed protocol. I asked her what that protocol is. I later read their entire manual on protocol and there is nothing in it about what to do when one's personal safety is in question. There is only information about client safety from us, the lowly paid workers. And I must say that most of the workers for this agency don't even speak English so how the heck would any of them even know what their rights are anyway?

I continue to seek treatment for the trauma this has caused me personally. It has just brought to surface a whole lot of issues for me. I take Klonopin now. I started out at 1mg per dose, but am now down to .5mg per dose because the 1mg. dose made me sleep for about twelve straight hours. My ageny fired me of course for not following their non-existent protocol. Oh, and I had to have them sign paperwork for my health insurance indicating I have MS. So they fired me forty-eight hours after that. And also the night after I was appointed to the city's disabilities commission. I am certain this is all just a coincidence?

The main thing is they still have the client on their caseload so they still get state money to care for her. And so I imagine that daily workers go in, figure out the situation is insane, and never go back. So dozens of caregivers go in and out of this apartment. And one day she might shoot one of them. But hopefully in the ankle or something rather than a life-threatening shot. That way the worker will get some time off, a worker's compensation payout, and perhaps some retraining in a better paying job due to the ankle injury. Then we the taxpayers will all have to pay to have the client institutionalized which is where she belongs anwyay.

A laid of mental health worker for the county, by the way, informed me that this client has a decades long history of suicidal and homicidal ideation with the community. That's just super. And her Depends are paid for by the taxpayers as well. As well as all her medical and all the crisis teams calls she makes daily because she says her life is so awful. And all her psychiatric hospitalizations. Still, it must be cheaper to keep her in her apartment versus placing her in a therapeutic environment? She had been out of heart medications for months, by the way due to previous caregive negligence? Family negligence? Or did someone want her heart to fail? Novel to come shortly. It will be a murder mystery involving her Cherokee Indian heritage, the Great Depression, how to pilfer the system your entire life and how co-signing on loans for your drug addicted daughter who never pays them back actually works for Wells Fargo Bank but not so much for all of us who have to bail the banks out for making these loans. -Alison Whiteman

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Was Talking To Some Lawyers Tonight.....

No, no, no, I have not been arrested again. I was at a memorial for Jay's friend at the Washington Athletic Club in downtown Seattle. The attorneys all work in Tacoma. I merely suggested that on their breaks they visit Mad Hat Tea Company in downtown Tacoma for some creative relief. Jay said something smarty pants like about the tea house being populated with slackers.

Well, I am a slacker of sorts. As a disabled middle-aged woman I find myself about as employable as a toddler. That said, I think I left the attorneys wondering why I know so many attorneys in Tacoma and so many people in law enforcement in general. Well, let them wonder.

I think my explanation about my involvement in the civil rights movement for disabled and mentally ill offenders was sufficient explanation. I informed them I had just completed forty hours of training to work with the mentally ill as a peer support specialist. But let's face it, who is going to hire a middle aged woman with MS. Oh well. It's nice to dream. And dream I do. And dream I might do right now as I am going to sleep. -Alison Whiteman

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Peer Training Is Going Well. If You Want To Be Cleared Of The Demon Delusion, Though, You Must Come To Us

Demons may exist, but if you see them all the time and think people are splashing blood in the bathroom of your business as a result of their possession, it is highly likely they are just messing with you because of your extremist beliefs.

If you or anyone out there reading this wants help to get out of any religious cult, call the crisis team in Pierce County. There are lots of nice folks who will hook you up with temporary housing, assistance, counseling and the like so you may adopt a more sensible outlook on life and regain some balance.

Have a blessed day! -Alison Whiteman

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pasado's Safe Haven A Sanctuary For Animals

Right here in the Pacific Northwest we have a sanctuary for animals who have all kinds of needs. It is Pasado's Safe Haven, named after the donkey who was harmed by human beings the details of which I am going to skip because I have not taken my anti-anxiety pill this morning.

Look, Pasaso's safe haven offers all sorts of services for animals to include free surgeries for people with documentation of public assistance and low cost for all others. They have spay stations all across the region. At the present time, we do not have these for people, although a decrease in indiscriminate breeding among people might not be a bad call, right? I am not going to take a stance on the right to life on this web site as I do not wish to get pelted with rotting fruits and vegetables. Let's stick to animals.

If you want more information about spaying and neutering, contact Pasado's at http://www.wesnip.org/ or 360-733-6459 or here: http://www.pasadosafehaven.org/  -Alison Whiteman

Monday, September 6, 2010

The National Foundation For Wheelchair Tennis

I had no idea this organization exists. My tennis career may not be over just yet. I can still play for about a half hour on my feet. My backhand continues to be my best shot. Check these folks out! They do a lot of good work in the community! -Alison Whiteman


http://www.usta.com/Play-Tennis/Wheelchair-Tennis/Wheelchair/

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Brother Called Me A Flaming Liberal

If you doubt me, check out his blog at http://www.toomanymornings.com/ and read the comments section on his recent article about grammar.

Well, he can call me names, but you know what? Mike was adopted. You know how I know? Mom and dad told me way early in our lives and said he came from The Humane Society. It's true. We could never go into airports when we were young because of the "no pets allowed" sign.

Mike was adopted. We love him, but he was dumped by his meth addict owners during a SWAT team raid on the family he lived with originally. The owners of my brother had no teeth left, were quite emaciated and could not care for him.

We tried to get Mike therapy but my parents were small business owners and had no insurance for such intensive care. Flaming liberal, my ass. Excuse me, I have to go to a Sierra Club meeting now. Peace To All! -Alison Whiteman

People Just Continually Shock Me

After nearly forty-five years on the planet and many trips through newsrooms I don't know why I am still shocked by the behavior of other human beings.

I even taught school and am still shocked by the behavior of other human beings.
I have had my car totalled twice by negligent drivers, one of them drunk and I am still shocked that drunk driving still exists.

I have been stalked by a DSHS colleague and even though that entire office turned their backs on me and let the abuse continue I am still shocked. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dinged them pretty hard on that one.

I am still shocked a public official, Jeannie Darnielle, did nothing to assist me even though I was being stalked by that DSHS employee. She did nothing to assist me. Nothing at all. Now she is going to be reelected. My stalker employed five aliases among other things. She is going to get reelected. Why?

People still shock me. I guess this is a good thing because it means I have not given up. I still see the light in others. I still believe people are doing the best they can. This little light of mine, I am indeed going to let it shine. -Alison Whiteman

Thursday, September 2, 2010

No Sniveling Allowed Per R.C.W. 86.35.600

This sign can be seen at the Jury coordinator's office in the Pierce County courthouse. Let's be clear about this: sniveling in the courthouse in not allowed. The maximum fine is $50 but there appears to be no jail time involved. So you, and you know who you are, no sniveling. -Alison Whiteman

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Little More History On My Journalism Background

In 1985 I was hired by the now defunct Colorado Springs Sun newspaper to work as a summer intern. This was a libertarian newspaper which really did not mean that much to me, I was just happy to get a paid job as a writer. It was minimum wage pay so I worked a second job at my mom's retail candle store in the evenings. My then boyfriend said he admired my dedication to working so hard and for so many hours. He is an engineer. His father is an engineer. Does he think I was working all these hours because I really wanted to or because perhaps because neither my father nor I are engineers? Oh well.

Then then editor of the newspaper was in the midst of some kind of emotional breakdown. Unknown to me was the fact the paper was for sale to the largest rival in the city: The Gazette Telegraph. The editor would come in the morning singing show tunes and by mid-morning he was already screaming at reporters in a rage. I was never the target of his rages. I was the target of the obese reporter in front of me.

I don't know what it is with women and weight. Oprah is obessessed with the topic. She has eating disorder experts on her show continuously. It annoys me. I want to have my eating disorder in peace. I don't need to be pelted with her parade of experts and the like. Oprah, I hereby ban you from my house. You have been silenced. Anwyay, the obese reporter spent most of the summer making comments about my size. I was and remain fairly tiny. She also chain smoked. This was long before smoking was banned in newsrooms. I spent the summer thankful for assignments that got me away from her smoking and her eating disorder issues.

When I was a reporter in Eatonville, Washington on a small weekly in 1990, my editor had effectively alienated the entire law enforcement community. I would go to the police station to get reports and get pelted with infomation about what a beeeoootttccchhh my editor was. They said I was an excellent writer, which they said would result in my demise at the paper as she would be threatened by me and let me go as she had a string of reporters. I stayed until she said they could not pay me anymore and then I left. I was glad to be free of her leering bizarre jealous fests in which she questioned me and yet also told me I was a great writer. Sometimes she even gave me a byline for my articles and photos.

On a local weekly the publisher asked me to lunch to introduce himself to me. I was looking forward to a nice lunch. While eating, he informed me that he used to be a real sleazy man, having slept with many women. I informed him that I am a reading whore, having read nearly everything in site. This was an excellent subject change and the rest of the lunch was tolerable.

At a weekly, it was a total fun fest. The editor of The Tacoma Reporter knew I have a wicked sense of humor and he let me use it to its fullest extent. We spent one morning calling public officials and asking them when they were available to talk to us. The officials gave varying answers, most indicating they were not available at all. One even hurled an expletive, which I then quoted in my story. He later apologized to me stating Mondays are not his best days. Our article was headlined, "Why I Don't Like Mondays." My editor wrote the most consistent funny headlines.

Right now I am an upaid blogger. This is what it has come down to. My massage therapist says I am writing but for no pay. I told him it's like training for a race. I am in training for the paid bit. I will get paid again. Let me get in shape first. And I am giving myself my own byline. -Alison Whiteman

Friday, August 27, 2010

The University Of Puget Sound In Tacoma Washington Sees The Light

Today I wandered onto this pristine north end campus with the goal of having a fresh spinach salad with high protein beans on top of the vegetables. I achieved that goal. However, on the way to the salad I saw a wall called the "green spot" that has been placed there by the associated student body of the university. On the little green spots were these fabulous messages about domestic violence. I wanted to add a message.

Along came the director of the associated student body, I recognized him from my stint on campus as an undergraduate. He seemed to be completely out of his body when I asked him about the green spots with messages on the walls. He indicated he was on his way to a catered lunch. He gave me no useful information about who put these messages all over the wall. He was jovial and obviously hungry and not willing to discuss, even for one single minute, domestic violence. Still, it is refeshing to see it is talked about at all.

My experience as an undergraduate at UPS were mixed. The academic program was rigorous no doubt. But during my time there, I was sexually harassed by two English professors. One of them is dead and I can use his name. He and his heirs can sue me if they like, but I have no assetts. Still, perhaps I will refrain from using his name. He repeatedly asked me to come to his apartment to meet with him. He looked me up in the student directory and sent me cards and notes and birthday notes and more cards and even personal drawings. He was creepy. In a later encounter, he said he knew I was really far away from my family. Upon learning about my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, he said, "Sex after fifty is really good, Alison."

This creep dropped dead just shortly after I notified the university of his harassment, which would have been about ten years after I graduated. I am certain his death had very little to do with me. I think he had a bad heart, both literally and spiritually. Still, the UPS campus is delightful. The buildings are consistent with one another. They are gorgeous brick buildings with ivy growing over some of them. In the fall, the changing colors of the ivy coat the walls with a diversity not really seen on campus. With a tuition rate of thirty-seven thousand dollars per year, there really is not much diversity on this campus. Still, they were good to me. I got a lot of financial assistance.

When I got violently ill, they even sent me a personal note discharging me from my debt to them. It's not the fault of the university they had a creepy English professor. No one knew the full depth of his mental illness. Only recently have I run into other English majors who were also his target. He lived, apparently, in a crummy basement apartment with no windows. He was never tenured despite multiple attempts. He finally quit teaching and went to work for the government where he reportedly contiuned to torture people with his angry rants, horrible academic and confusing writing, and his bitter personality.

The UPS campus is and remains a place of hope. The wall today reflected cultural changes going on even in the upper class of our society. People are talking about domestic violence. People are aware it happens even in upper middle class homes. It doesn't take a creep living in his basement to spread the darkness. It could be the work of an impeccably dressed upper middle class white collar worker. Kudos to the students involved in this project. Light one candle, Amnesty International says, rather than curse the darkness. -Alison Whiteman

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Making Art To Fund A Higher Education



Emily Meyers is selling these handmade dolls at Mad Hat Tea in downtown Tacoma from $2.50 t0 $6.00 to help fund her college education.  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Long Spotty Career In Journalism

My former high school classmate brings up the issue recently of my aspiration to be a journalist, a desire of mine that has been going on since I was a mere sixteen years old. So I am going to pelt you with this sometimes funny, sometimes tragic story of my career in journalism.

I began my career at The East Junior High School newspaper in Colorado Springs. I was a reporter on the staff. Mrs. Peak ran our newspaper staff. Mrs. Peak and I often found ourselves in a tangle of conflict, as I often was with authority figures then- and even now I suppose. Mrs. Peak had  a pencil in her beehive hairdo. I don't recall much about what I wrote to be honest. I passed her English class.

In high school, I applied for a got a position as a stringer for the local daily newspaper. It was a libertarian newspaper, the now defunct Colorado Springs Sun. I didn't fully realize the impact of this unwitting political move on my part, they just said they would pay me to write and that was good enough for me. My first article was about my Jewish friends who had taken a trip to Israel. It was my first paid writing assignment. I was the youngest reporter in their newsroom at the age of nineteen as an intern. A colleague sent me an illegal drink at a bar once. I think I drank it. It's long past the statute of limitations to convict me on my underage drinking, don't even try.

In college I worked on The University of Puget Sound newspaper staff. We had lightboards back then. This means we had exacto knives and paste too. We would stay up all night pasting the newpaper together and crawl home at sunrise with letters affixed to our clothing. I remember many happy nights filled with much laughter. Then we sould finish  our newaper by  pasting it  down and barely in enough time for publication.

After college I accepted a part-time paid reporter job in a Washington state logging town. I wrote news stories, took police reports and photos but there was a crack in my Honda's manifold. This was distressing to me as one cannot repair a cracked manifold. So I did what any hack writer does, I bought a ton of spark plugs and kept swapping them for bad ones when the leaking oil fouled out my spark plugs. A girl has to get to her writing assignment. I did so until the paper lost a one page advertiser and could not pay me my minimum wage salary. No more meetings with angry loggers who wanted to kill spotted owls for me. I was out.

I took other jobs along the way mainly because I was hungry and refused to move to Kansas, as do most beginning reporters. I decided I was a woman of the west coast, or "a woman on the edge" as my oldest brother used to tell me. In each of these jobs I continued to be a reporter rather than a special education teacher, state worker, federal worker, and sometimes moderately paid slave. This did not earn me many friends as you can imagine. Can you say misappropriation of funds? Corruption? Bizarre policies? I knew you could. Too bad I am so inquisitive.

I worked on two Tacoma weeklies. One is defunct and that editor gave me trememdous leeway. The most fun I ever had was crashing the religious group The Promise Keepers meeting in The Tacoma Dome. Now a group of men cannot exclude a woman from attending an event on public property. They tried and I wrote a scathing 2500 word article about their treatment of me and my transgender friend who appeared way more terrified than me that night. She had reason to be scared, and perhaps I should have been as well, but I was just taking notes.

I wrote for the Puyallup Tribal newspaper and for some reason got paid double the rate per word of the weekly I was also writing for at the same time. Both newspapers were owned by the same publisher. I had to write under a pen name at the tribal newspaper. Just read my name at the end of this article and you will understand. I covered my first murder trial. It was a strange experience. I took a lot of notes and even did some caricature sketches of the judge, lawyers, defendants and such in my reporter's notebook.

Here I am blogging. I am afforded the luxury to write in an odd fashion. I have multiple sclerosis and get SSDI money from the federal government. I also get some medical assistance. If not for these two things, I would be slogging away full time at a job unrelated to writing because I refuse to move to Kansas and let's face it, not even the people in Kansas have writing jobs anymore. Writers are just plain unemployed or employed in other fields or in these times, not employed at all. So MS has afforded me the chance to write again? A potentially life-threatening condition enables me to write and nap as needed? Is that a small price to pay or one at rather high cost? -Alison Whiteman

Monday, August 16, 2010

Support The Olympia Food Co-Op?

The following is printed on the back of a publication called "Works In Progress" a free newspaper available to all citizens wherever you can scrounge up a copy. On the back is a box which reads:

"On August 11 the Olympia Food Co-op's board of directors is hosting a free public comment forum on the recent decision to boycott Israeli products. Zionist groups from across the Puget Sound are planning to attend to sway our local vote. Make your voice heard! Join millions around the world who are saying NO to genocide. NO to racism and NO to the Israeli apartheid."

Well, it is clear this was planned to be a non-bias discussion, right? I mean saying there are "Zionist" groups planning to attend  is pretty open-minded, right?. I guess the Co-op doesn't want to deal with say the hungry folks right in Thurston County. Oh no, that is like way to close to these touchy feely liberals with a serious agenda. Furthermore, they donated their Israeli products that lined their shelves to local food banks. Well, how about donating some food to local food banks? How about some consistency in donations by sending the products to the Palestenians themselves?

How about you just pour yourself a big old bowl of mind your own business and stick to selling organic and locally grown produce instead of meddling in complicated and controversial affairs that you really don't care that much about? Or even know that much about? If you had hearts, co-op, you would be feeding local hungry people. There are a lot of them. -Alison Whiteman

I Didn't Mean To Scare The Crap Out Of Senator Murray's Senatorial Assistant

This morning I made call to Senator Murray's office in Washington D.C. mainly because I am too lazy to write a letter in this heatwave and we have unlimited long-distance. I explained the nature of my call to the assistant. "It's this Senate Bill 510- The Food Modernization Act. It really bothers me," I said. "They are saying it's about Homeland Security and is for our protection because terrorists could taint our food supply." I mention it was introduced by Senator Durban, a Democrat of all parties. I had contacted his office prior to Murray's but he was golfing or something, I really don't know for sure.

Senator Murray's assistant was alarmed when I pointed out the Food And Drug Administration would have the right to raid private vegetable gardens without a warrant if this bill passes. I informed him it's not about Homeland Security at all, but the corporatizing of our food supply. "This," I said, "will put small famers and even people like us who have a raised organic vegetable garden at our house out of business." There was a long silence.

After a time, I said, "Dude...like, good morning." He snapped out of whatever funk he was in and said "I will pass this on the Senator." I thanked him. He is on his way to a Washington D.C. based pharmacy as we speak to get some trazadone to calm down. On the way he will get a freshly squeezed organic juice from an immigrant run vegetable stand and/or juice dispensery. Okay- I made that last bit up. Everthing else is true. I scared the crap out of the assistant. I didn't mean to. Bills pass the Senate all the time and no one but maybe the person who wrote it ever knows what is in that bill. -Alison Whiteman

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Let's Not Deal With Social Ills, Let's Beef Up Our Police Force!

With some training from the schools listed in this link, you too can become a fairly poorly paid patrol officer. The rewards? Dealing with complete and utter social breakdown while on foot. Apparently our government has plenty of funds available for this training as they keep spamming my mailbox. Don't they know people with MS cannot patrol on foot? Perhaps in a scooter with ice packs to cool us down, but not on foot. Go Team USA! Let's not address issues like unemployment, poverty, starvation, desperation, drug addiciton, homelessness and other social ills. Let's just keep feeding the police and military regimes.

http://sn131w.snt131.mail.live.com/default.aspx?wa=wsignin1.0

KOYAANISQATSI A Way Of Life Out Of Balance, A Hopi Indian Word

The Hopi Indians have a word for a way of life that is out of balance. The 1982 film of the same title is out of print due to copyright issues, however, Wikipedia has information about the 80s movement and film and here is a link to the poster that was made from that film which mainly details environmental destruction.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Koyaanisqatsi_poster.png

Saturday, August 14, 2010

An Extensive, Not Inclusive List Of Senior Services In Our Region

Seniors stood in line today at The Beacon Senior Center on South Fawcett Avenue in Tacoma for a delicious free meal. A voice boomed over the speakers in downtown Tacoma which reminded me and the Tacoma Fire Department of high school. "Keep your voices down!" said the person on the speakerphone. I wanted to leap to the microphone and announce who was prom queen, but I do employ good self control in situations like these, so I didn't do it. Hundreds of seniors were participating in Senior Citizen Appreciation Dance or SCAD. The event was presented by the City of Tacoma Senior Services- Human Rights And Services Department and sponsored by several local senior service agencies and area businesses.

I wove my way though the crowd and picked up some free information which I am happy to share with the community. I was careful not to block the oncoming throng of seniors coming in an orderly line to get their lunch. "Be sure not to stand in that aisleway," said two very nice Social Security Administration employees who then gave me a free new mouse pad for my computer. They told me quite gleefully that they are near retirement. They work across the hall from the law firm where I once worked fighting their disabilty claim denials. It always amazes me how well one can get along with the opposing team. You can find these nice SSA employees and others at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/. You will find information about disability, retirement, widow's, benefit amount, Medicare prescription drug coverage, replacement Medicare cards and information about how to sign up for or change your direct deposit information.

The AARP gave me a fan to cool myself with as I walked through and visited with vendors. Some of those vendors included the following:

Always Best Care Senior Services of Tacoma/Gig Harbor at www.alwaysbestcare.com/tacoma 253-534-9596
Cascade Park Communities- memory care, assisted living and adult day health at: 253-475-3702 or http://www.cascadecares.com/
Certified Senior Advisor of Lakewood at: 253-534-9596 or pnatsiopoulos@abc-seniors.com
Puget Sound Health Partners at 1-866-789-7747 or http://www.ourpshp.com/
Crime Stoppers of Tacoma Pierce County at 253-798-4936 or the anonyomous tip line at: 253-591-5959
The YMCA of Pierce County with several locations at http://www.ymcatacoma.org/
The Healthways Silver Sneakers program at various locations at http://www.silversneakers.com/ or 1-888-423-4632
The Korean Women's Assocation of Washington State at 253-535-4202 or http://www.kwaoutreach.org/
Cascade Park Gardens Memory Care at http://www.cascadecares.com/ or 253-475-3702
Catholic Community Services of Western Washington at http://www.ccsww.org/ or 1-877-870-1582

Puget Sound Health Partners provided me, a very non-pill taking person, with a package of bandaids, towelettes, miralac (not even totally sure what that is to be honest) and Cedaphrin ( I really don't want to take this at all since I don't even know what it is).

My twenty minute jaunt through the Beacon Senior Citizens Service center was frought with the anxiety of thinking I might get trampled by those seniors patiently waiting in line for lunch. But I was not trampled and I have lived to provide you with some contact information. -Alison Whiteman

Friday, August 13, 2010

Let's Keep The Mail Safe! A Guide To Safe Mail Brought To You By The US Postal Service

Most of us would know what we cannot place in the US mail because of plain old common sense. Because of litgation, however, some federal employee had to design a brochure for us outlining the items we simply cannot mail. Your children are not mentioned, however, despite how tempting it may be at times to simply mail them to say some east coast camp for the behavior impaired.

There are nine classes of things you cannot mail according to a US Postal Service brochure. The categories include: 1) Explosives; 2)Gases; 3) Flammable Liquids; 4) Flammable Solids; 5) Oxidizers and Organic Peroxides; 6) Toxic Materials and Infectious Substances; 7) Radioactive Materials; 8) Corrosives and lastly 9) Miscellaneous Hazardous Materials.

You are supposed to be questioned about any package you are mailing, according to a postal clerk at Ranko's Pharmacy in Tacoma. This makes it difficult for the average mail carrier if you leave a package on your front steps and you are not home. I think the US Postal Service issues some x-ray glasses for that task. It's a sticky wicket issue there. The funding for those glasses is quite low during the economic downturn.

Just to mix this up and make this fun, please do match the following to the above listed categories: products with a radioactive label on them; self-inflating life saving devices; lithium batteries; matches; fireworks; paints or inks; ammunition; model rocket engines; nitrates; swimming pool chemicals; magnetized materials (pacemakers- well, I just made that one up there); some cosmetics (like botox?); peroxides. irritating materials; signal flares (for Uncle Joe who is stuck on I-5 in northern California in the dark without AAA towing); scuba tanks; and air bag inflators. And you 80s hair freaks? Hairspray cannot be mailed!

So does that clear things up a bit? Can you match the products to the categories? It's sort of a fun task, much like doing the word jumble in the Voter's Pamphlet. I know. Why is there word jumble in the Voter's Pamphlet? Well, I just don't have an answer for you. Go ask GoodSpaceGuy, candidate for US Senate in 2010. Maybe he knows. -Alison Whiteman

Ranko's Pharmacy On Tacoma Avenue- One Of Tacoma's Possibly The Nation's Only Independent Pharmacies

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Well, Somebody Must Have Needed The "R" Perhaps An "S?"

GoodSpaceGuy in chalk in downtown Tacoma South 17th and Pacific Avenue



Supreme Court of Washington, Ralph Seeley Respondent, v. State of Washington, Appellant, argued Sept. 25, 1996, decided July 24, 1997

Many of us do not remember this case, but it was the case that was pivotal in the decision of voters to pass an initiative for medicinal marijuana. I must preface this story by stating that Ralph Seeley was a friend of mine. I met him in the summer 1987 when were were employees of The Tacoma News Tribune. I was a work study student in the marketing and communications department, he was a columnist. We did not hit it off immediately as friends. He had written a controversial article and I had signed a petition in protest of one of his many controversial articles. Seeley came down to the marketing department to meet me in person. I was the only employee in that department to sign the petition. Others expressed concern about backlash and crossed their names off the petition.

Shortly after my brief stint in a field I did not feel suited for, I went to work for Associated Ministries in Tacoma and alongside Mary Plante, an AM employee. We headed up a student group addressing racism and sexism issues in the Tacoma School District. Seeley wrote a very nice article for our group. We met again as employees of an aviation newspaper at which time he had found out he had chordoma, a rare cancer that begins at the base of the spinal cord. He was often in a tremendous amout of pain. One evening he contacted me at home and asked me if I would accompany him to the emergency room at the UW in Seattle where he received treatment. Always thinking of others, Seeley insisted we stop at the UW bookstore and purchase a novel for me to read in the ER waiting room. Ralph was a champion of causes. He was fired from The Tacoma News Tribune but went on to finish a law degree at The University of Puget Sound School of Law. He finished despite losing one lung in the process. He was applauded by his mainly working class classmates who also had day jobs and went to school at night.

In the Superior Court of Pierce County, Seeley was granted a summary judgment by Rosanne Buckner and the state directly appealed. The decision of the Supreme Court case was written by Judge Madsen who held that 1) privileges and immunites clause of the Washington Constitution does not provide greater protection than the Fourteenth Amendment of the Federal Constitution in the area of drug classification, and thus independent equal protection analysis based on the constitutional provision was not required; 2) statute was appropriately analyzed under rational basis test; 3) plaintiff failed to show that legislature's decision regarding the classification of the drug was arbitrary and obsolete; 4) the Washington Constitution does not create a right to use marijuana for medical treatment free from lawful exercise of government police power. In short, Seeley was not able to legally use marijuana. So he continued to use it illegally, as do most terminally ill patients who opt not to take controlled FDA approved substances.

Judge Sanders issued a dissenting opion on this case. In February of 1998, Seeley passed away at one of his infamous dinner parties at his house. He died before voters approved the initiative granting one the right to use medicinal marijuana. He died the same month I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I treated my pain at that time with one does of drip steroids. I have since not needed any painkillers. Last night at city council chambers activists and I testified about the reported SWAT team raids that took place in our city last week. One citizen reported that the door to her house was smashed, handles torn off her cabinets, and medicine scattered. I have not read any police reports. I have little to say about this except that federal laws trump state laws. Police Chief Ramsdell spoke to me in city hall and said the federal laws will be upheld in our city. The three TPD officers with him in the hallway concurred.

I had a vision of my friend Ralph on his wedding day at the now defunct bar Kelley's downtown on Tacoma Avenue. He was eating a brownie while shaking hands with his guests. Ralph was really happy that day. He was going to beat his cancer. The doctors had given him one year to live, he had lived twelve years. He had won the largest civil rights claim in history in an unrelated case, a decision that would be reversed after his death. I can still recall the evening we flew over this city in his twin prop plane. It was the day before the FAA yanked his license to fly because of his health problems. Point Defiance Park looks really dark at night from the air. But there was a lot of light coming from our city. There still is. -Alison Whiteman