Friday, December 23, 2011

Dan Folgerberg, My High School Crush

Dan Fogelberg lost his battle with prostate cancer in 2007 at the age of 54

Dan Folgerberg's voice was soothing, his music beautiful. This album sat in my room in the early eighties and I thought he was the ultimate dreamy man.

He was married three times. That's three times more than I have ever been married. Dan, what was going on with you? My father always told me to be suspicious of musicians and he knew from his own experience.

My father was on television in Colorado Springs often playing his guitar and even entered into near star status when he played backup for Jim Reeves, Minnie Pearl and Ferlin Husky.

It's interesting to hear the stories from my family about the girls going crazy over my dad and calling the television station. He's my dad for crying out loud! I am not certain I can handle that kind of information.

In any case, Dan Fogelberg takes me back to the age of seventeen. At seventeen I was dreaming of a career in writing which actually would have left me unemployed by now anyway since writers don't have jobs anymore. At seventeen I was staring into the dreamy eyes of Dan Fogelberg. -AW

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The First Family. Such a Beautiful Family!

Jules Manson Obama

Alice Hoffman, She Takes You Right Into New England

Alice Hoffman

Sometimes you come across a writer who just astounds you. I recently found this in Alice Hoffman's novel "The Probable Future."

The closest I have come to seeing the east coast is Buffalo and Amherst, New York. In the first few pages of her book I am in New England. The novel is set in springtime when flowers burst through snow and ice melts on ponds.

I can literally smell the roses as the novel progresses into summer. I am in a garden feeling the soil.

Finding a writer you truly love is a gift for a reader. It's particularly a gift when you see the long list of novels she has published.

Thank you Alice Hoffman. Writers like you make me wish I had two lifetimes to read all the great novels I want to finish. AW

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

East Junior High, The Beehive Hairdo And The Teacher With Agoraphobia

If you looked down the hallway of my junior high school on the lower level and paid attention, you noticed it was sinking. The view down the shiny waxed floor literally had a crack and downward tilt. That was just one interesting thing going on in the building.

The rest was just the normal hell of being in junior high. You know what I mean. You cannot get your hair to do the right thing, you think you are the biggest geek in the school and even though though it might be true, the thought consumes you more than homework. Then there are some unforgettable teachers.

My English teacher had a beehive. The picture to the right is not her, but the best example I could find. I am not sure how many pencils she had stuffed into that beehive, but she always had one. She'd whip it out in a nano second to assist you with your work. "Remember," she said, "if you like to read books, you will always have a friend!" I took this to mean even if I had nary a single friend in my entire life, the fact I like to read meant life would be okay. She would also frequently say, "Do something great with your life before you turn eighteen!" I am not sure what the options were. I thought I might write a novel. I did not write a novel. That achievement is reserved for my friend Missy who did write a novel. I wonder if Missy knows where she stashed that novel. It might be the next big thing.

My social studies teacher had agoraphobia. Her fear of floating off into space if not attached to something in the room led to her wandering around the room grabbing onto whatever she could find. She held onto desks, walls, chalkboards, windowsills and anything to stop her from disappearing. She was not shy about mentioning her disorder. I am not certain I learned anything in her class but was utterly fascinated with her incredible ability to find things to hold onto.

The day President Reagan was nearly shot we were dimissed early. It was not due to the national circumstance, but the plumbing. The school's plumbing backed up. Perhaps it had something to do with the tilting floor. I don't know. I was just happy to get out of the building filled with an aura of awkward adolescence. I have never wanted to see anything again at East Junior High except my English teacher. I want to know if she found pencils in her hair at night. I want to know just how she got her hair into that state. I see there are instructions on the internet. It must have been a daily feat for her to get ready for work, let alone work with a bunch of noisy disruptive teenagers. Kudos to you, my English teacher. -AW

Monday, December 12, 2011

Maybe with photoshop and not chopping my hair off again.....

.....oh, and a nose job or rhinoplasty as one commentator on my blog said, I could look like Tina Fey.


Oh Tina, only you could answer this question? Last night I had a dream that all my shoes kept falling off. Kevin Spacey came to help me. Tina, what does it mean? -AW

Monday, December 5, 2011

Why Occupy Tacoma Should Move To The UPS Campus

Look, I love The University of Puget Sound. For weeks now though, I have been driving past "occupy Tacoma" tents placed on the corner of Pacific Avenue and near a freeway pass. I think it's time to go high end, occupiers.

I am the ninety-nine percent. Don't let my fancy degree in English that leaves me bereft of job skills fool you, see that building in this picture? The financial aid office is in that building. I spent a considerable amount of time on my knees begging for more grants, loans, scholarships and just plain pity to make it through four years at this overpriced university. It was also a great place to protest investments in South Africa. UPS was the last university in the state to divest from South Africa.

It's a lovely setting for a protest. Besides the gorgeous buildings, it IS the one percent! The brochure touts the diversity of the student body. Trust me, there is no diversity. I have been there recently and it's about as white as a spilled can of Martha Stewart base coat for your house walls. It's also in the most expensive neighborhood in the city.

Besides all of these reasons, tents would look good on the grounds of the university. The food in the rotunda is excellent and perhaps some students would donate some of their funds to feed the occupiers.

Most interesting to me is what one professor refers to as "the tomb of the unknown donor." This stonehenge like structure sits just past and to the left of the main building in this picture. I think that would make an excellent space for a tent. Go ahead, test the current administration. Tell them it's time to give back to the community. Occupy "U" Pay Us. Occupy the One Percent. -Alison Whiteman

Friday, November 18, 2011

For Those Of Us Who Need To Gain Weight, Whoo Hoo! Thanksgiving!

Some people might get mad at me for saying this, but I need to gain weight.

In the last 24 hours I have eaten the following terrible things: a cheeseburger; chocolate ice cream; a huge chocolate muffin and I did throw in some nicely baked chicken, vegetables and potatoes.

I am still underweight! Well, thank goodness for family and a huge turkey dinner on the way. -Alison Whiteman

Saturday, November 12, 2011

An Hour A Day Can Change The Life Of A Student

Our community is asking for one hour a week. One hour a week will increase the ability of students in our community to graduate from high school. Recently, a 2003 graduate of a Tacoma high school informed me that during matriculation for her school in 1999, an administrator told her to look around her. "One student you are sitting next to will not graduate from high school," he said.

Approximately a thousand students were enrolled in her high school. The graduating class in 2003 was just over four hundred.

An hour a day is about the amount of time we spend on Facebook or watching a television show. A community effort to assist students graduate is very much needed in our community.

If you are interested in helping a local student meet this goal, please call
253-242-3463 or visit the web site -Alison Whiteman

Friday, November 11, 2011

Let's Be Honest, Let's Rename The Social Services Book

"A Guide to community resources for older adults in Tacoma/Pierce County"

I think it is brazen of anyone to print a brochure indicating where one might turn in these times for assistance. Other than family who might or might not have two pennies to scrape together to assist, you are pretty much an overturned tanker. If you are fortunate to come from one of those families, be very grateful.

To test the waters, I called The United Way Helpline (211) just the other day and the message said, "Due to the economic crisis..." right there I knew enough to just hang up.

If there is no way to get help to care for your parents while you are working two minimum wage jobs, my suggestion would be to stay away from any non-union caregiving agency. I will refrain from naming one: LUTHERAN COMMUNITY SERVICES. Unless they have changed their policies, caregivers are placed on the job with no training! This is just one reason we need unions in this country. I would not want an untrained caregiver near my mother any more than a baboon released from the zoo.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) exists for a reason. The protections give by the SEIU protect the client and the caregiver. Think of how unions got started in the first place. On May 25, 1911 a fire started in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. The factory employed people as young as fourteen. The end result, the death of 146 workers, remains the fourth highest number of people killed in an industrial accident in history.

In 1915, the New York State Committee labor laws report led to the organization of The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Sweeping changes led to labor reforms so no one had to face this atrocity again. Right now we are seeing a surge in discussion about the care of elderly citizens due to the aging populations. In January of 2010, the number of baby boomers turning 65 hit ten thousand a month.

A non-union agency organzied to "assist" the elderly exists entirely without protections for the workers or the clients. The only way citizens in this state have circumvented agencies like Lutheran Community Services is the passage of Initiative 1163 which will result in drastic changes. First, the number of hours to train an employee will increase from 28 to 75 hours. Background checks will be FBI checks, not just in-state checks. They way funds are distributed to the agencies will result in changes. The distribution of payments will shift away from upper management to the workers. Why there has been such opposition to this bill is simple.

Agencies like Lutheran Community Services have been making an absolute windfall off the backs of seniors and the disabled. The money has not trickled down to the front line workers. One can argue we do not need unions anymore until you take a good hard look at caregiving agencies. Do you want a fully trained worker caring for your loved one with a FBI background check or would you prefer a baboon? Our Governor argued this was a union backed and political move to force the state to pay the SEIU more money to train workers. However, this is the same Governor who has run our state into complete near bankruptcy along with a legislature that has written in state constutional measures to protect all agencies from cuts except for social services.

The director of The Department of Social and Health Services, Susan Dreyfus,  is fleeing at the end of this year. She's only been here two years. I think I would jump ship too and hope for a nice solid piece of wood to float safely away. -Alison Whiteman

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Pheasant And The Neuro-Linguistic Programmer

Nothing happens in the Cotswolds. When I asked the a local reporter what crimes had happened in the last year, he said someone had broken into the phone box for change.

In the bucolic setting of a tiny village in the Cotswolds, England I learned to walk strongly again. My parents, understandably annoyed with my attitude about my then two-year diagnosis of multiple sclerosis took me there to be with my mom’s family. “We think you need cheering up,” my parents said. Oh no kidding! I had been torturing everyone from my parents to friends to even the police who came to my apartment door to ask me to plug my phone back into the wall and stop ignoring those who care for me. “We know it is devastating to learn you have a debilitating illness, but please don’t cut off everyone. And Alison, the door to your apartment was unlocked.” Fortunately I was on the third floor of a secure building or I might not be writing this.

The flight to England was eventful. I was sitting separated from my parents next to a man who did not stop drinking until he threw up and passed out. I hope the laws have changed regarding how much alcohol can be served on an international flight. His disturbing ten-hour drinking binge combined with my inability to rest may have contributed to my losing the ability to walk off the plane, but it’s hard to tell.

It was in 2000, prior to all the security changes implemented following the events of September 11, 2011. A helpful man in Heathrow airport got a wheelchair for me but he scolded my father. “Sir, if you don’t sit down, my supervisor will think I am getting this chair for you for no reason and I will get into trouble,” he said. My father cleared his throat and replied, “It’s for my daughter. She has multiple sclerosis.” The apologies were embarrassing for all of us. His face turned bright red, he kept fumbling about and we told him it was okay since one does not think of thirty-two year old woman who looks healthy as a person with a disability.

The subsequent visit with my family resulted in a much needed and fierce confrontation about my attitude. I credit my cousin with forcing me into her car and scaring the hell out of me driving some ninety miles an hour down a very narrow hedge lined country lane to world renowned Neuro-linguistic programmer Diana Beaver. To say her cottage was eccentric is an understatement. The place was a mish mash of knick knacks, antiques and uplifting sayings posted about her kitchen. I plopped down on a plush frayed couch and she confronted me right away. “What is you want, Alison?” “I want to be well,” I said. “Well, that’s easy enough. I want you to say out loud that you are well.” “I am well,” I said. “Good. We have that covered.”

The change in my thinking continued. “Please tell me what MS looks like to you and tell where around you it is placed.” I told her it was a black cloud to the left of my head. “Well, replace it then. What is a place you love?” I thought of Sherwood Forest where Robin Hood did all of his good deeds as well as the lovely lush green trees. “And where is Sherwood Forest located around you?” I told her it was to the right of my head. “Then look to the right and forget the left and if you traverse to the left, move to the right.”

It sounds simple enough. Then the work with Diana become more complex. She took me into her backyard with my cousin. Diana’s yard was surrounded by a brick wall built hundreds of years ago surely by underpaid non-union slaves who broke their backs lifting up all those stones. A festive looking pheasant ran back and forth across the wall the entire few hours I spent with her. It is interesting what happened next.

It’s hard to imagine that we live in an adult body stuffed with various ages of us. All human beings do. Sometimes we break out that five-year-old and get goofy, other times we are thirteen and self-absorbed and self conscious. Dianna had me walk around the yard leaving bits of me at various ages all over the garden. Then I was instructed to speak to each piece of me. “That three-year-old,” she said, “really needs some reassurance. You have completely scared her. Walk over there and pick her up and tell her you are going to take care of her.” I did exactly what Dianna told me to do.

This walking about the garden talking to myself at all ages sounds bizarre. However, it worked. I was walking all over the place after that. I even booked a flight to Dublin and spent nearly a full week there on my own. I had no need for a wheelchair, cane or anything. I came home about fifteen pounds lighter and person after person said I looked as though I had completely changed.

Was it the Neuro-linguistic programming? I have to say unequivocally it was just that. The connection between the mind and body is so incredibly strong. I had decided I had had enough. However, let’s not neglect the pheasant. There is a law in England. If you hit a pheasant you cannot pick it up and cook it. Only the person behind you can pick up the peasant and cook it. This is to prevent pheasant murder. I just thought I’d throw that fact into this story. –Alison Whiteman

Dinner and stew! Only if you are second behind the murderous car though. It's the law.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Murray Morgan Bridge Will Have An Elevator!

Breaking news! For those of you who have not had the absolutely flat out terrifying experience of climbing the massive number of stairs to the top of Tacoma's infamous Murray Morgan Bridge, the City of Tacoma has plans for an elevator!

One day families will not be able to terrify children afraid of heights by taking them up the seemingly endless staircase. One look down and it's your mortality staring right back up at you from the depths.

I did extensive research via Wikepedia to find out the bridge was built in 1913. It took five minutes out of my life to do this research. Once called the 11th Street Bridge, it was renamed after historian Murray Morgan. But get this! Wicked-a-Pedia only mentions Morgan's infamous book called "Skid Road" which is about Seattle! Tacoma gets shafted again via Wicked-a-Pedia! What about all his books discussing the extensive history of Tacoma?

We have a plan for you, oh Wicked-a-Pedia. You must come here and climb the stairs to the top of the bridge in one swoop thirteen times with a black cat crossing under a ladder for extra bad luck for shafting us in your little blurb. Actually, we don't know who wrote the blurb on the page about our bridge, and I am just too lazy to find out. If you want to find out, have at it! Meanwhile, Tacoma remains forever bitter about the rail lines that landed in Seattle versus Tacoma. But heck! We are getting an elevator! Who knows when, as no one knows, but it's in the works. -Alison Whiteman

Friday, October 28, 2011

Making Fun Of Someone's Suicide, How Low Can A Company Go!

Hello Sylvia...She was one of America's most talented poets. She became and an exile to England and married a Ted Hughes, one of the most pathetically talentless poets to roam the earth.

His philandering combined with her struggle with her mental health led her to kill herself by taping a room shut and filling it with gas.

Near his death, Ted Hughes published one of the most pathetic and horrible books of poetry ever and it this book he exploits Plath again. He was not just a philandering man, but one who abandoned his own children to pursue other women. Now this company dares to sell this on a t-shirt.

As one who has read all of her work and even tried to read her journals, though they were so indicative of her mental illness I could not finish them, I find this just despicable and indicative of how far the culture has not come in understanding neurobiological disorders.

Had Ms. Plath had the medications we have today and a support system to help her realize Ted Hughes was nothing more than philandering bastard with one-tenth her talent, we would not have lost her nor her work. She was only thirty at the time of her death. She left behind two children.
sylvia plath
Sylvia Plath on a brighter day in her life with her children.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Debris Headed To The Washington Coast From Japan

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the auzure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Into a Nike shoe his foot rots;
A shoe made in a factory by little tots,
Underpaid non-union slaves
Pieces of feet upon the waves.

-Tennyson in the modern age

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The New York Times To Cut 100 Positions

I went to The News Tribune lobby in Tacoma this week. It's a nice place. Despite the earthquake unfriendly sculpture in the lobby and instructions to run to that part of the building during a disaster, I suggested that plan be revised. Hide under your desks, reporting team. I don't think it's a conspiracy your publisher wants that sculpture to hit you, I suspect they don't even know it is there.

An editor and I talked about how the news business has changed. When I got my first job in Colorado on a daily, smoking was still allowed in the newsoom. People think reporters make a lot of money. That is just not true. People also think newspapers do a bad job of reporting stories. However, with staffs slashed to next to nothing, it's a dying business.

I am not the true reporter in the family. That title belongs to my brother who has received so many awards for his writing I don't even think he knows where they are. He's not a trophy display case kind of person. My experience was rather limited after the daily I worked for was bought out by a rival daily. After that, I refused to move all over the country working for newspapers in a threatening line of probable actual tornadoes. In other words, the middle of the country sounded about as appealing to me as eating sandpaper.

I did actually spend one semester in the middle of the country. I enrolled at The University of Nebraska Lincon school of journalism. The instructor was a cynical man who also chain smoked. It was still legal to smoke in classrooms at that time. He said in his scratchy probable early stage of lung cancer, "You are all picking a very hard profession. Most of you will end up being alcoholics." After informing us of this, he just sucked down some more cigarette smoke.

I've never received an "F" on any single assignment in my life except in his class. I think all of us got at least one "F" from him. My final grade was a "B" but that "F" stung. I had been a "A" or "B" student all of my life. I was mostly a "B" student, and that was okay with me. I had a life outside of studying actually. It may not have been the most exciting life since it did not involve alcohol, but it was a life nonetheless.

I left the middle of the country after a math instructor at the same college challenged me one day. I had entered the classroom on a day snow was falling down quite hard. I announced, "I love it when it snows!" This instructor looked at me and said, "You love the snow? You do? Then you go home and tell your child you love him? Then the child does not know you love him more than the snow!" I laughed. He was not joking. I decided right then and there to flee the middle of the country. However, the truth is, there is no fleeing flat out weird.

It's odd to me print journalism is dying out. People complain about the shrinking size of the newspapers that land on their porches. I suspect younger generations will never know what it is like to have newsprint on your fingers in the morning. People will not curse when they spill coffee on their newspaper. A hundred people in New York City are now out seeking jobs. Are there any jobs for writers anymore? I don't think there are many. In fact, if I live long enough, I suspect young people will be speaking in text or 140 characters because of twitter. Or they won't be speaking at all because they will just be texting one another while dining, dancing, showering or doing anything actually. -Alison Whiteman

Friday, October 21, 2011

One Lawyer For Approximately Every 250 Residents Of The USA

How Many Lawyers 2 Tile Coaster
A lawyer was surprised this year when I informed him the Americans With Disabilities Act and the subsequent battles since the 1990s
is a civil rights movment. Another lawyer asked me what PTSD is. She is a family lawyer. Oh great. A family lawyer with no background in psychology. We need nurses, doctors, teachers, social workers, engineers, high tech workers, construction workers, and people who can actually do stuff. I don't think I am alone in feeling that lawyers have become quite useless. And considering how many of them are unemployed, perhaps they ought to consider a real job.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How Our Culture Destroys The Confidence Of Girls

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

Admittedly I have not read this book. I have read books like them. I had a roommate in college who majored in feminist studies. Her thesis to graduate with her bachelor's degree includes an in-depth look at Seventeen Magazine. I subscribed to that magazine as a teenager. I don't think was good for me or any young teenage girl.

Teenagers without strong female models in their lives don't seem to comprehend that pictures in magazines are air brushed and fake. The pressure for girls to look perfect starts so young it really is pathological and rampant in our culture. The most beautiful young teens and women I talk to often put themselves down for not being pretty.

I can't watch television shows where little girls are paraded around like objects. The mothers who do this to their little girls really ought to be forced into therapy for projecting their own unexamined issues about appearance onto their daughters. The indie film "Little Miss Sunshine" fully and appropriately addresses this issue. By the end of the film, the eccentric family comes to the realization of what really matters to girls.

We need to encourage girls to read, develop their minds, and not base their self-esteem or sense of power on appearance. Our culture pathologically demands women fix their noses, get facials weekly it seems, have their nails done perfectly, apply makeup or never leave the house, adhere to constantly changing hairstyles, and wear the right clothes. It's all about consumption. If women buy into this culture of lies eventually they have an extreme amount of credit card debt, attract a man who only cares about appearance and dumps her for a younger model if he can.

If women don't collectively stop buying into the culture of appearance pressure, plastic surgeons win. Men who treat us like objects win. We will continue to earn seventy cents for every dollar a man earns. Any woman who informs me she has had some procedure done to her face cannot fool me into thinking she is a strong woman. She is not. She has not embraced herself as she is nor has she examined the culture of lies. I object to little girls and these horrible pictures of them in makeup and clothing and the moms that take them to beauty pageants. I always will. The fact that the mainstream television shows promote this makes me want to toss my television out of the window. However, I do like to watch the BBC news and other news stations so I guess I will keep that noise box and continue to flip pass the pathologically ill stations promoting pure lies. -Alison Whiteman

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Fire, A Melted Kitchen Aide, And A Cold December Night

What can one think about when you are driving happily to a destination and when you get there the house is gone? I mean, the house was gone. It was burned to the ground gone. The only thing remaining were firefighters and the bricks where the fireplace remained like a semi towering remnant of happier times.

It was late December and my friend had failed to inform me her stepfather had been threatening to burn her house down. I am not sure if anyone reading this has ever arrived at the scene of a total disaster of this magnitude, but the brain does strange things.

At first, I thought it was odd a fire could get so hot it would melt a Kitchen Aide. I mean, those things are heavy! They are made for the serious cook, not the lighthearted pansy cook! I was searching for the thing. It was gone, baby, gone.

After the shock set in, the two of us began singing fire related songs. You know, "Burning down the house" by The Talking Heads. We remembered the song about "someone burned my underwear" that kids sing. I remembered a church camp song about how it only takes a spark to get a fire going and how that relates to the love of God. The firefighters suggested after several hours of us behaving like this that neither one of us drive anywhere. But we did. We arrived at Albertson's at about 4a.m. My friend bought essentials: a toothbrush, floss, paste, powder, deodorant, etc. The clerk then said, "Is there anything else you need?" I am not making that up. That is exactly what he said. We completely lost it laughing. "YES! WE NEED AN ENTIRE HOUSE!"

Needless to say, the entire event was not very funny at all. Losing everything you own is not a small loss. My friend coped by becoming quite anti-materialistic. She didn't like Nordstrom's anymore. Despite this, she thumbed through magazines with pictures of living rooms and bedrooms in them. She became a minimalist. Her stepfather was never charged or convicted of arson. He claimed the bag of fertilizer sitting too close to the furnace was an accident. He had cleverly planned it to be a fire only versus the murder of anyone by making certain no one would be home that evening.

I did what any friend would do. I gave her some clean underwear. Nothing was the same after that. Nothing. -Alison Whiteman

Monday, October 3, 2011

Time With Friends And Family Versus Television

When I lived alone, I gave away my television. It was not a very big television and none of the places I lived in prior to moving into the house I currently live in were very large.

I liked not having a television. It's a noise box with weird shows on it. I think the shows are getting increasingly weird. It could be my age, no, the shows really are weird. I think they reflect total social breakdown and the demise of the family.

As a culture we celebrate shallow appearances (Keeping Up With the K's), pregnant teenagers (Teen Mom and Sixteen And Pregnant), the prison industry (Locked Up in various states), COPS (almost constantly on our television), violence (so many violent shows I cannot name them all), compulsive shopping (QVC runs all day long and all night long), An addiction to drama (The Lifetime Channel for Women implies all men are stalkers and sociopaths new to town  and female teachers are diabolical), and we insist that appearances mean everything as dictated by adherence to current fashion trends (What Not To Wear).

I say toss the television or watch far less television and return to a time of outdoor games with kids, board games, walking in the woods, walking in general, anything but hours spent in front of the box. In addition to all the shows I have named, television has been proven to make structural changes in the brain and cause addiction much like alcohol or drugs. In Sweden, the television is not even on for as many hours a day as children in this country watch it. -Alison Whiteman

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Thank You Andy Rooney

File:AndyRooney (cropped).jpgAndy, your topics were things I never would have thought about. You made anything interesting.

Per your request, if I am ever in New York City and see you having dinner or just walking around, I will neither ask for your autograph nor speak to you. Nor should anyone else either. In, fact, I probably should not even make this post on my blog. -AW

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My History Of Closed Head Injuries

Whiplash - Traumatic Closed Head InjuryUh, ouch!

1989: A man in a large station wagon failed to yield and turned left. I was going straight down Pacific Avenue in Tacoma and when we hit, the impact was so hard it broke his axle. Both of our cars were a total loss. He got the citation for failure to yield. It hurt a lot, but I still went to a gathering to honor the priests shot in Central America that day. I sure did.

1991: A drunk driver hit me on Highway 101 near the Black Lake exit in Olympia, WA. He was fish tailing in his 1979 Ford pick up truck going about fifty miles an hour. Major, major ouch!

2011: Paratransit Services managed to delete me from their system so my transport to Swedish Neuroscience was denied. It takes six months to schedule and appointment with my neurologist. I decided to be superwoman and get there by express bus, a transfer and a train ride home. I hit my head on the luggage bar in the train due to MS fatigue and lack of balance. It's a hollow bar. I recommend testing it for say pitch. Perhaps it is some kind of unintended tuning fork for musicians. Uh, major ouch!

Nurse Ratchet at the ER today lectured me about using the ER for something unnecessary. Due to the pain level and her patronizing bullshit, I got mega snarky. She told me I am irresponsible. I tried to explain the unlikelihood Paratransit would get me up the freeway to my University of Washington doctor that I see for a number of reasons not excluding I am in a clinical trial at The University of Washington. Given Paratransit's history of approving me, denying me, approving me, wiping me out of the system, perodically actually helping me, I decided to get myself to the ER.

Fortunately it is a closed head injury versus something worse. However, I have this bruise moving down my head to my eyebrow and the prediction is my eye might turn black. Nurse Ratchet, you major beeeoootttchhhh! As for the rest of the staff, I commend you on the amount of kindness you showed me today to make her seem like spec of sand in a sea of kindness. -Alison Whiteman

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Proposed Cuts To Services In Washington State Aimed At Most Vulnerable

Susan Dreyfus, Secretary of DSHS in Washington State
Susan Dreyfus, the Secretary of The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Department does not like the proposed cuts in services looming in the wake of an ongoing recession. Dreyfus has worked in Washington since 2009 and was candid about her father dying of alcoholism. Dreyfus spoke to an audience that flowed into the hallway at Tacoma's Catholic Community Services headquarters Tuesday, September 27th. One pending cut would eliminate all alcohol and substance abuse services except to pregnant and parenting women. This cut would impact 55,000 people.

The cuts examined on a large level do not have the impact of personal stories. One woman sat with her gravely disabled son she cares for daily. She shared her story of choosing to stop working at a job paying sixteen dollars an hour to make ten dollars an hour to keep her son out of a group home. She said it was more important her son has someone who knows and loves him with him daily than to keep her job and utilize state funds to care for him in a group home. Instead of group home funding, she relies on state funds to care for her son and keep both of them housed and fed. The cuts, she noted, would put both of them on the streets.

Another man talked about having to possibly displace all the residents of a 200 bed in-care patient facility for Alzheimer's patients. Also displaced would be 120 full time workers and 120 part-time employees. His facility is ninety percent funded by Medicaid. Washington has ranked second in the nation for the best long-term care and that rating may soon end.

Oddly, the state's Constitution does not prevent other programs in the state to be cut, only social services. Even pay to legislators is protected by the state's Constitution. The legislature is Constitutionally required to balance the budget, and this could potentially victimize the most vulnerable which would have far reaching economic impacts. Front line workers such as police and fire fighters would be forced to handle the release of dementia and traumatic brain injury patients from Western State Hospital in addition to hundreds of mentally ill people. Our criminal justice system would be filled with patients who need mental health care, not imprisonment. Layoffs would actually result in less revenue for the state as formerly employed residents would no longer be spending money and paying taxes. If one thinks the state has not already made cuts, this is not true.

Since 2008, there have been three thousand DSHS employees laid off which amounts to a fourteen percent reduction in staff. Allegations adminstration is the drain on the budget is also not true. Administration accounts for one percent of the entire budget. Reduction options include suspending all pharmaceutical benefits for eighteen months to adults, at which time federal funding changes are to take hold. This would amount to a savings of 127 million dollars. Other cuts would include eliminating the Basic Health Plan, eliminating maternity support services, and all non-emergent dental health care. In fact, dental health care has already been eliminated.

The disability lifeline, money people rely on while trying to obtain federal social security disability benefits would save the state 110 million dollars but leave people who have no safety nets with nothing. With no address, SSI and SSDI claims would be denied since homeless people would not receive mail to inform them of the oftentimes confusing appeals process. Only one-third of all SSI/SSDI claims are approved initially. Right now the state has such a backlog of claims, they are being sent to other states due to a shortage of adjudicators to examine them.

Controversial and debated cuts include 34 million dollars in savings for immigrant and undocumented children when a national welfare reform act included citizenship as a requirement to obtain Medicaid. Ten states currently provide interpreter services and eliminating this service would save the state 4.8 million dollars. A proposed cut to payment methods to hospitals would save 33 million dollars, though specifics of such changes were not clearly stated in this presentation.

The definition of "most vulnerable" is crucial to this entire looming budget proposal. DSHS defines this class of people as "persons whose poverty, age, health, disability or language leaves them unable to care for themselves and susceptible to physical, emotional or financial exploitation."

If anyone has a personal story they would like to share with DSHS which will also be shared with elected officials, please send them to: Shapley said he wants stories. The final decision will be made at a legislative hearing in November. It is important citizens speak, those who cannot speak for themselves must have representatives speak for them, and the voices of the people must outweigh a legislature that has written in protections for their own salaries versus the needs of the citizens they represent. Many legislators have given up portions of their salaries to date, but not some of them. Those that have not ought to be contacted.

Start with Jeannie Darneille, 27th District State Reprentative who not only has a retirement and salary from her current job, but a spouse who is an attorney. Since she reportedly recently called a member of the Tacoma community who has schizophrenia a slanderous and unkind name on Facebook, perhaps she could donate funds to mental health services, another service on the chopping block. Her number in Olympia is: 360-786-7974. Darneille is seeking a higher office and is running against longtime civil rights attorney Jack Connelly. The choice for the person to fill that higher office is quite obvious: Connelly. -Alison Whiteman

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thank You R.E.M. For Thirty-One Years!

The 20 Best R.E.M. Songs of All Time

I started listening to R.E.M. when I was sixteen. Their initial albums were quirky. You could not understand what they were saying, but the beat was good and the music was upbeat and fun to dance to.

I was an eccentric child and teenager. I was studying classical violin and loved to go the symphony with my parents. I think part of my attraction to R.E.M. was their use of many instruments. If you play in a band or orchestra or have a passion for classical music, I think it sticks with you for a lifetime. I can still here single instruments in just about every song I listen to.

I loved the response the band gave to critics regarding people not being able to understand their lyrics. They put a snarky MTV video on that had subtitles with a bouncing ball following each word.

Later, in college, I grew to appreciate all the music I skipped listening to as a teenager. I became interested in Boston, AC/DC, Dylan, Credence, Bruce Springsteen, etc. I was a late bloomer. I am forever grateful to one of my three elementary schools for encouraging me to start playing the violin in the third grade. I am particularly thankful to my parents who transported me to and from lessons for many years. My parents also provided me the opportunity to go to the symphony. I hope they know how much I appreciated everything they did for me, particularly since they were small business owners who worked far more hours than corporate or government employees. Thank you to mum and dad. Thank you R.E.M.! -Alison Whiteman

Troy Davis Set For Execution Based On Circumstantial Evidence

Troy Davis Case Appeal

Please call the Gov. of Georgia to demand a stay of exeuction as Mr. Davis is set for lethal injection at midnight tonight.

The number I have tried is busy, of course, and I already called The White House comment line and spoke to an asistant. Even the FBI does not support this execution and leaders around the world are watching our nation with disdain.

It is not likely he is guilty and he should have a chance at another appeal. I will provide two numbers here. The Georgia Gov's office is: 404-656-1776. The White House is: 202-456-1111.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

These Women Represent Real Housewives?

Image: The 'Real Housewives of New York' cast (© Bravo)

Do I live in some kind of surreal world? This is a television show? I have not even heard of this show. Does anyone out there have a housewife that looks this way? What kind of housewife is she? Does she have a makeup artist come to the house every day? Does she cook?

What the hell kind of reality am I living in? Why does the television make no sense to me? I have been in Sun Valley, Idaho several times in the past six years. The women there wear diamonds that could feed my entire city for months. I never say anything to them lest I get dented in the jaw with a diamond, but I do think the economic disparity in this country is getting more and more bizarre. I also find the televison to be an annoying unrealistic noise box. I have issues. My issues have issues. I don't care. -Alison Whiteman

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rutka Laskier Must Never Be Forgotten

Scholars say this book reads like The Diary of Anne Frank. Rutka Laskier writes from January to April of 1943 before she is taken to a concentration camp because she is Jewish.

We must never forget. -Alison Whiteman

Friday, September 16, 2011

Charismatic Men Are Red Flags!

An Education

How many times must women learn the same lesson? He seems amazing at first, but after a whirlwind tour, you find out you've lost yourself and been wrapped up in a web of lies.

Set in the 1961 in Britain, sixteen-year-old Jenny must choose between charisma and a chance to attend Oxford University. I am not sure but I suspect a vast majority of women have made this mistake at some juncture in their lives.

I made my mistake in the spring of 1986 when I left The University of Puget Sound to chase what I thought was love. I spent a miserable semester in Lincoln, Nebraska and was quite literally unable to keep food down I was so out of place. I also discovered the love of my life was not, in fact the love of my life and to this day he remains the love of no one's life. What drove us apart ultimately though was my intense disdain for Ayn Rand's bizarre philosophy. We fought over the phone about Rand and I ended the relationship. He has never married, never had children, and once bragged to me about being with dozens and dozens of women. He follows her philosophy of all for one and one only to a tee. I am completely unlike him and have been my entire now half lived life.

I escaped with what matters the most. I escaped with my soul. I came back to a place I love. The Pacific Northwest with its fog and water, islands and writers is my home. The large trees and mountains ferries and seagulls make it my home. I love soggy days when my feet sink into the mud or get sucked into the mud. I love slugs and green grass at Christmastime and snow melting leaving sprigs of green grass poking through the white. I loved studying English Literature and Writing and getting my degree at The University of Puget Sound. I graduated just slightly off schedule. I graduated in the summer of 1988 versus the spring of 1988. I was on campus today for Homecoming weekend. I live within fifteen minutes of the campus that was and remains my home. -Alison Whiteman

The Symbolic Loss Of My Earring

I bought these earrings as a reward for making it to my third MRI at Swedish Neuroscience in Seattle a few weeks ago. I have been in a flare of my MS which seems to be subsiding.

I lost the other earring. I take this lightly and yet seriously. My MS is going back into remission. I might be able to run again soon.

I do not need this earring as a reminder. Perhaps I will turn the remaining one into a distant memory. I think it would make a great Christmas tree decoration or funky thing to hang in the bathroom or office. -Alison Whiteman

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Really Want This T-Shirt

Hooray for Becky, The Retiring Assistant For Gov. Gregoire

I would highly recommend not ticking off a disabled unemployed constituent. However, Becky, who answers the telephone in Olympia, Washington basically told me she does not care about anything anymore because she is retiring. She didn't exactly say that, but she did say she is retiring.

My response to this was atrocious. I said, "Oh you think you are retiring until the state goes broke and you have no retirement funds." Becky hung up on me. However, after a seven hour battle to get transport to medical appointments I am unable to drive to due to a flare of my multiple sclerosis, my transport was approved. This makes it the second time my transport is approved. I got approved, then not approved, then approved. Oh thank you State of Washington. I think our state has been mismanaged into the ground and perhaps below the ground into some kind of dysfuctional coffin. Our schools are a shamble. The programs that have been slashed pertain primarily to people or children with disabilities.

As long as my fingers still work, I will not try to stop this trainwreck. Becky, congratuleffinglations on your retirement. However, you have some bad karma now. I have no idea if my half dozen calls to her made any difference in my being approved or not. I just know I did get approved. I did note Becky did not respond when I said I know she gets paid more to answer the phone and thwart constituents more than teachers get paid. She just hung up on me. Give Becky a call. I hope she is six or more months out from her retirement. Let's make her last days her best days. Her number is: 360-902-4111.

I wish more public officials would just realize it is best to work with Alison than tick her off. I guess I must not be that well known yet. -Alison Whiteman

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tina Fey And Her Book "Bossypants"

Click to view full size imageTina Fey is one of the most hilarious women to ever live. I thought the poet Dorothy Parker was hilarious, and Parker certainly is hilarious with her snarky poetry that was far ahead of the curve of the women's movement.

Tina Fey's book "Bossypants" is so funny it makes you laugh until it  tightens your abs. The descriptions of how women are supposed to look and how cultural norms shift are totally spot on. It starts with girls who read too many magazines and buy into air brushed expectations which continue into the adult lives of women. I hope to see the day women collectively refuse to purchase such magazines and certainly redefine what is beautiful in our culture. I hope to live to see the day when nose jobs and plastic surgery on faces disappear.

Fey had her face slashed by a stranger when she was a young girl. The ongoing odd comments about her scar are just that: bizarre. She handles this with such grace and total humor. For me, it's how I am learning to handle bizarre comments if I used a disabled parking space or cane because I have MS. If someone says I don't look sick enough to have a cane, I have learned to simply say "thank you." If I get screamed at by some ignorant shopper if I park in a disabled space, I just keep walking. If someone wants to know why I have disability I just say, "I have a disability." If I say I have multiple sclerosis, people most often think I am one of Jerry's kids. Worse, they want to know what MS is. Explaining MS is so hard I think it is not worth my valuable time. If they truly want to know, which they generally do not, I refer them to the National MS web site and just move along.

MS is an energy robber. I don't have the energy to explain it. In fact, I am not going to explain it anymore unless I get paid to explain it. I am important and I am tired of wasting my time. At my age, I don't have a ton of time left. Tina, I applaud you for making a very nice life for yourself and for making so many people laugh. In times like these, we certainly need to laugh. You are the pro, Tina. -Alison Whiteman

Sunday, September 11, 2011

One of the most powerful films I have ever seen about addiction, post-imprisonment and the struggle to rebuild one's life. I come late to films since I never never pay full price in a theater. This 2006 Sundance nominee presents an incredible performance by Maggie Gyllenheal. It is an honest portrayal of life after prison, rehabilitation, trying to find a job with a felony conviction, living in a group home and being under the watchful eye of a parloe officer. As if that is not enough of a struggle, Sherry attempts to build a relationship with the child she had to leave behind, and fights to rebuild relationships with the incredibly dysfunctional  family that led her to make bad choices at the tender age of sixteen. I give this five stars! -Alison Whiteman

Friday, September 9, 2011

Just Thought I Would Stir Up Some Controversy

Ask Me About Herbalism T-Shirt

Yes, I am getting sick of MS pain. I would like to treat it with medical marijuana in moderation.

If more government officials would get MS, then I suppose it would be legalized by the federal government. -Alison Whiteman

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

An Example Of American Grammar: Note Found On The Ground

I probably should post this on the "things found" blog that already exists in cyber space, but this is my blog.

I am going to tell you what it says. I want to keep the names confidential, and if you can see the names, I apologize.

I think this note illustrates quite clearly we are not teaching our children grammar. Boot to the head to our school system! Okay, that was ranty. Well, I am known to be ranty so why stop now? The note, typed verbatim is below:

"(Name confidential) I'm not sure if I want to get the gr friendship necklace because I'm not sure if we are friends

I dont care if there reading this If they are I want them to know there ditty little brats

right now I'm probiby cryin

I hope you still my friends

Your friend (name removed)

PS I cant wait till next friday at 3:30 - Girls Play"

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lip Service Volvo Liberals

This is a classic Volvo, not really the ones driven by lip service liberals in high income neighborhoods who work in high paying jobs. I want to talk about lip service liberals.

Lip service liberals talk about racism, but never talk to people who are different than they are.

Lip service liberals don't volunteer at local food banks or serve food at missions. Many of them are highly educated but unemployed because quite frankly, they have interest to live off of from their trust funds. 

Lip services liberals put their kids in private schools with trust fund money and don't have to send their kids to the public school because they had no students loans to become who they are.

A lip service liberal drives her Volvo with her kids to a gas station, sees a homeless person and flees in a panic because she does not realize that statistically, lawyers are more dangerous than homeless people. In fact, the homeless are more likely to get injured or killed than a lip service liberal.

Yes, I am a little angry about this. My brother is not a lip service liberal. He adopted four children. Two of them are not caucasian. I mean, four children! He and his wife have cared for four children, two who will need group homes for the rest of their lives.

Damn be to the lip service liberals who are likely getting manis and pedis or talking about how they are going to get their kid into the best pre-school. -Alison Whiteman

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Night We Nearly Got Squished On The Bridge Post, 1990

There was a time Tacoma only had one bride. Galloping Gurtie was her name, but because it had a major engineering design flaw, it blew down. The only victim of the bridge blowing down was a reporter's dog. The reporter did not have time to get the dog and the dog flew into The Puget Sound. I have long thought the second bridge should have been dedicated to the deceased dog, but it was not. I am not sure what the dedication is or if there even is one. I am, quite frankly, too lazy to research that right now and I want to tell the harrowing story of nearly dying one night on a sailboat while going under the original Narrows bridge to the left.

First, I should confess I was dating a man seventeen years my senior. I commend my oldest brother for not flying out here and beating the crap out of the man because honestly, he deserved it. Mike, my oldest bro probably would have at least threatened to do this had he not been living in Denver. My parents were allowing me to make my own mistake and my other brother, well, I never want to talk to him again. He just called me a filthy name instead of thinking about protecting me. Quite frankly, the rest of the family ought to beat the crap out of my other brother, but we don't. He certainly deserves it the piece of shit.

The point of this story is this. The current under the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is very strong. Good sailors and motor boaters have no problem getting under it. The former need a solid wind, the latter a good motor. Sailors without a strong wind need a damn good motor. Our motor quit on us. That's right, our motor quit. You know what happens when your motor quits in a strong current and you are heading to a large post? You're about to die! However, I was young, about twenty-three, and obviously stupid to be dating a man who was forty, and I thought I could just push the boat away from the post.

The man, a lawyer of course, because so many of them are just effing idiots, began yanking furiously on the starter and screaming, "Jesus Fu---ing Cr--st!!!!" He said this numerous times and just before we hit the post, the motor started almost as if Jesus himself heard him and forgave him or was protecting me since he nearly qualified as a sex offender to be dating me. Neither one of us died that night. Unfortunately he did live and I only say this because now he reportedly dates a woman ten years younger than I am. I mean, how young can this man go? Does he card his dates? "Let me see your identification, please. Oh, You are eighteen. Good."

I have said so many offensive things in this blog I just don't know what to say. Sue me, Mr. no longer licensed lawyer. I have no assetts. Sue me asshole estranged brother of mine, I have no assetts. Furthermore, the likelihood of him reading this is so slim it would be like finding an ice sculpture in hell. The lawyer dumped be likely because I turned twenty-five I presume. I was going to graduate school to be a teacher so he decided to see if he could get into the same school the same year as me. He did not get admitted. He went somewhere else, thank God. The best thing that ever could have happened that he just moved on to other young victims though I do feel sorry for them. Those crafty lawyers and their crafty large words and lying ways. I could tell lawyer jokes here because just last year a complete stranger and I had a lawyer joke smack down. It was hilarious. There was no clear winner. -Alison Whiteman

Thursday, September 1, 2011

This Is A Brain, And This Is How Much My Brain Has Cost This Year

Photo: Lateral view of human brain

It has cost taxpayers $18,415.33 to treat my multiple sclerosis with medications only. This does not include the cost of appointments, transportation, and rehab. Let's please cure MS. It is too expensive and I really want to work again. Namaste!

Wasson High School, Class of 1984, Twenty Year Reunion in 2004

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Six Hour Tour And Near Death Experience At Point Defiance Park, Washington

In December of 1991 a friend and I decided to talk a walk along the beach at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Washington. Point Defiance Park is the largest inner city park in the nation after Central Park in New York City. I agreed to go on the hike weeks after nearly being killed by a drink driver. The drunk driver hit me on September 19, 1991. I did not know I had MS at that time and I was still recovering from the accident. All I know is I love being near water, love the outdoors, beaches, the Pacific Northwest climate, and I put full trust in my friend’s navigation skills because she is very outdoor oriented and was studying to be an environmental biologist.

Everything was fine at first. The light was beginning to fade from the sky, however, and then the horrific truth hit us. We had gone too far along the beach. The tide had come in and we could not turn around without swimming through the water of the Puget Sound. The water level ahead of us was much lower than the water in front of us and we also knew we could climb up embankments as necessary to prevent swimming in the water and hence risk getting hypothermia.

My initial reaction was to call out to the Coast Guard. There was no Coast Guard presence that evening. It was December, the sky was going completely dark and the idea of a rescue was a ridiculous idea. We made the determined decision to keep walking around the point of the park until we came to the safety of a waterfront community called Salmon Beach. It took six hours to reach that community and I think at times I thought we might die, but we did not die. My friend made certain we did not die. She unwaveringly encouraged me to keep going. At times, we waded in water levels up to our chests. We saw baby seals resting on the sandy beach. I saw phosphorescence coming off her shoes as she stepped into the sand. The greenish glow coming from her shoes encouraged me somehow. I began to narrow my focus. I began to view this problem as a one step at a time venture. I began to realize we would not freeze on the beach that night in the cold. Most terrifying to me was the idea no one would even know we were missing as I was house sitting and my friend was spending the night with me. No one would know to call for days. We had no choice but to keep moving forward.

Six hours passed until we emerged at the Salmon Beach community. We climbed up a set of wooden stairs to safety and a young man with wire rimmed glasses passed us asking how our evening was going. It was far past evening. It was the middle of the night. We could not even respond. We just looked at one another and began laughing hysterically. It was the hysterical laughter of two women who could have lost their lives that night. However, we did not lose our lives. We kept going forward. All of us have to keep moving forward. I recently read that the reason the rearview mirror in a car is so small the windshield is so large is that we are driving forward, not looking backwards. I am no longer in contact with my then friend. Friendships sometimes go that direction. It was not the hiking issue that drove us apart, it was life circumstances. She moved to another state to pursue graduate studies and we drifted apart like driftwood floats around in the water from location to location. I always hope she is well. I am certain she is. In my mind she is well. In my mind we are both continuing to be the strong women we were and continue to be and we are both moving forward. –Alison Whiteman

Monday, August 29, 2011

My Longtime Tacoma Neighbor, Former Governor, And Death With Dignity

Former Governor Booth Gardner

I lived across the street from former Governor Booth Gardner for nine years. He lived in a very nice high rise condo and I lived in a five hundred square foot apartment. We had a lot in common though. We both have serious neurological diseases and we both had a view of the Puget Sound. I used to see Gardner out exercising with his walker alone or with his caregiver. I was either often asleep with profound fatigue or out pushing myself to walk or run as able. Gardner has Parkinson's and I have multiple sclerosis. Oddly enough, prior to moving to the north Tacoma location, I lived for five years in a building where his mother had previously lived. It seems we were meant to trail one another, though I am certain he does not know this. I figured he deserved his privacy, so I never invaded it. My neighbor went to visit him, but she cut the visit short because she felt uncomfortable. I wish I had visited him. I could still visit him. I want to visit him. I would not be uncomfortable at all because that's just the way I am. I once had an entire conversation with a MS patient at The University of Washington by reading her lips because she was not able to speak anymore.

A friend of mine told me today he is planning to end his battle with Parkinson's soon. This startled me. It scared me. I tried to hide my tears and fortunately a colleague came into his office and said it was time for lunch. I cried all the way out of the building. I was still crying when I went to buy the Vitamin D I take in a very large amount to combat my disease. I fully support my friend's decision because a late state neurological disease is pretty horrifying. Hollywood films depict death as a peaceful passing. Most deaths are not that peaceful. I have a friend who is paralyzed in a poorly funding nursing home. She shares it with dementia patients who scream unless they are asleep. My friend is trapped in a body that no longer works and her pending death is anything but dignified.

In November of 2008, Gardner was instrumental in passing The Death With Dignity Act in Washington State. The act legalizes physician assisted death with some restrictions. The measure is not without controversy. There are some who say it is up to God to decide when it is time to die. Others say they can make a deal with God about dying. Some say God does not exist. These are not the specific provisions in the measure, however, just the philosophical discussions I have had with people lately. In fact, the decision to die under the act must be approved by two oral and one written requests, two physicians to diagnose and determine the patient is competent, a waiting period and verification of the patient's decision. All involved who are acting in good faith are immune from civil and criminal penalties.

My friend has had a long and tremendously successful life. He recently held his first grandchild. He is a kind person. He is a good person and I think it is his decision about how long he wants to continue to battle an incurable condition. I do believe in God, but I also believe God does not punish anyone for making the decision to continue living under intolerable circumstances. I have no children. I live very far away from family members. I do not want to die of late stage MS in any nursing home. I have made a deal with God. Should it get severe, I will be able to choose to die versus continuing to live in a very undignified manner. Thanks to all the work Gardner has done, this Dignity With Death Act will be available to me. It won't be available to me anytime soon, however, because I am still fighting. In fact, I am not even close to dying. For that gift, and it is a gift, I thank God. My next move is to check up on Gardner like I should have done during those nine years. So many people are terrified of death and disability. The odd thing is it happens to all of us eventually. We may think we can cheat it, but so far we cannot. I think facing the fact we are going to die is actually making a choice to live boldly. It sure changes your priorities. What legacy do you want to leave behind? Since I have no children, I want to be remembered if even for one day as someone who fought tirelessly for people with disabilities. In fact, I would settle for fifteen minutes of recognition. Or maybe I don't need that recognition at all but just the chance to leave those footprints of justice on the earth. -Alison Whiteman

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Survived A Drunk Driver in 1991, In Honor of Sheena Blair

I am writing this to honor Sheena Blair, a young life taken far too soon by a drunk driver. I don't know why some of us survive this horror and some don't. I just think life is flat out unfair. This Saturday August 27th, there will be a DUI prevention summit at Jackson Hall, located at 314  MLK Way in Tacoma from 10a.m. to 3p.m. hosted by Frank Blair among others.

On September 19, 1991, I headed down Interstate 5 on my way to a seminar at The Evergreen State College where I was working on my Master In Teaching degree. I was twenty-six years old. My advisor and I had just had a conference with a teacher in The University Place school district and had made the decision to move me to a different location becase she was quite racist. We bravely but calmly confronted her about her racism, and she cried and told us she could not be racist as she was the daughter of an oil tycoon and therefore well-traveled. Well, that convinced us that she was racist for certain.

It was sunny and dry that day. It was a true typical Pacific Northwest September day. I was listening to a tape in my Honda's stereo. It was a tape of the Black Crowes. I was so close to the campus when my life took a change forever. I saw a long line of red tailights ahead of me and everyone was slowing down. I had to slow down, but I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a large truck fish tailing and heading right for me. I was trapped. I could not move to either the absent shoulder nor the left lane as traffic was moving quickly. I panicked. I thought I was going to die. Mr. Walsh, the drunk driver, hit me going about fifty miles an hour fish tailing. He was driving a 1979 Ford pick-up loaded with firewood.

He hit the right rear bumper very hard, slammed me into the next lane and I was swiped on the driver's side by a semi-truck. I continued in a forward motion slamming head into a Subaru. The next thing I remember is a voice outside my window. "I am nurse! Don't move! You have been hit very, very, very hard!" I tried to get my door open but the car was too smashed on the driver's side. I panicked. I just wanted to get out the car. The nurse pleaded with me to stay in the car in case of internal injuries. People were removing firewood from my car. A piece of firewood had smashed into my windshield and yet it managed not to smash my head to bits. I undid my seatbelt and crawled over the stick shift and got out of the driver's side. Everything after that became quite odd. I was very thirsty.

The pile up of cars Mr. Walsh caused was quite significant in number. I was the most serious victim, and yet I was wandering around on the freeway in a state of total shock. At one point, I refused medical care stating I had to get to my seminar. Later, I was placed in a police car with Mr. Walsh until he explained I was the victim, not the DUI driver. I asked the tow truck driver to drop me off so I could go to my seminar. He agreed to do that. So that is what I did. In a state of total shock I arrived at my seminar and told my classmates I had been hit by a drunk driver. "Why are you here then, Alison?" someone asked. "I had to come to seminar," I said. It was promptly detemined I was in a state of shock due to the complete lack of color in my face and my deep need for water.

Three of my classmates took me the emergency room. I was turned away from the first one for not having the right insurance. That hospital knew about the accident as it had made the news, but still, I was told to go to another ER. In the x-ray room the technician hit on me. He asked me what I do in my spare time. I told him that normally I moved my head side to side which I could no longer do. The following day was the worst. I was in so much pain I thought I might die. I had contusions on my chest from the seatbelt. I could not turn my head. When it was over, I had ten thousand dollars in medical bills for therapy to restore my neck to a somewhat normal condition. I had to use my own liability insurance to cover all damages as Mr. Walsh was both unlicensed and uninsured. In fact, the title to the truck was not even in his name.

Mr. Walsh hugged me on the freeway that day. He smelled like a whiskey glass. The scent of whiskey came from his entire body. It was disgusting. It was even more disgusting as I had just ended a relationship with a man who was a terrible alcoholic. I thought God might be punishing me, but that was not the case. America is just littered with drinking problems and drunk drivers and it just doesn't seem to be improving that much.

I honestly did not know what happened during the accident. A few days later in a dream I flew over the scene and saw it happening from above in my mind. I later matched my dream to the police report. It freaked me out that my brain knew what happened in an unconcious state, but I did not know what had happened until I had a dream and read the police report. It's very odd how the human brain works.

I remember one of my classmates telling the entire seminar the reason I had lived was that I was an "angel." No, that is not why I lived. I am not an angel. I was just lucky. Sheena Blair was not lucky. Neither is her family to have lost such a beautiful young woman to such a tragic event. I think Sheena was an angel because the activism of her parents has led to significant changes in DUI laws. All I did was go to a MADD meeting and tell the entire room off. "I don't care if you drink until your liver fails you," I said, "but don't you EVER get into your car drunk and drive again." A man came up to me and said, "You made me really mad saying that." I said, "Well so what. Be mad then." I walked away. That was far from angelic. I was outraged. When I feel my crunchy scar tissue on my shoulderblades to this day, I am not so much angry as wondering why I am still alive. I am not sure I will ever have an answer to that question. -Alison Whiteman

Welcome Aboard Australia!

According to my blog stats, I am getting hits from Australia now. Well, I just have this to say. In America we say, "In Australia, sorrow goes down the toilet in the opposite direction." A high five kangaroo to you readers in Australia! -AW

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's Hot Oustside

I don't think I have any right to say that because I live in the Pacific Northwest. Oh just arrest me then. -AW

Keeping It Real!

Relationships take a lot of work. Having  disability is a lot of work. Throw the two together and you have a soup mixture that might be quite distasteful depending on what ingredients you use.

 I have had symtoms of MS since the age of fourteen. That's since 1979! Okay, I am getting old! However, in 1979 there were no MRI brain scans like we have now. I got tested for a brain tumor and that was ruled out. My opthomologist noted I had one pupil larger than the other and found that odd, but he didn't know why either. As an adult, another opthomologist noticed the same thing and said, "You ought to have some brain tests." Did I have brain tests? Absolutely not. I just kept falling over and thinking, "I am mighty stressed out for some reason."

In 1998, the left side of my body went numb and I still thought I must have the flu. My then boss said, "This is not the flu. Go to a doctor right now. I am ordering you out of the office." Seven days later I was in utter shock. I was told I have multiple sclerosis.

Well, there is a lot more to say, but who has time to read my entire life story an anyone's entire life story particularly if that person is not even famous? Let's just say I was thirty-two when I found out. The most humiliating thing was not being able to hold a job. I tried and tried and tried and tried, but twenty-one years after The Americans With Disabilities Act, it is very hard for a person with a non-static disability to hold a traditional eight hour a day job. It's not only hard for the worker, it's hard for the employer.

I have had some incredible remissions. In 2005 I had been literally running around my old neighborhood listening to music and loving every minute of it. I once went running in an intense sideways rain storm past a team of large high school football players who looked at me like I must have been out of my mind. Well, that's another subject entirely.

This year I slipped into what they call a MS flare. I don't know when it is going to stop. Yesterday I finally realized this is really bothering me. I mean, it took me months to realize just how much it is bothering me. I just have this incredible way of stuffing feelings until they all burst out like a carbonated drink someone shook and accidentally opened. It's just a mess! I now have a mess to clean up! OMG! Well, let the cleaning begin! -Alison Whiteman

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Two Separate Discussions With Three People From Kenya In Two Days

Sometimes things are just a coincidence.

However, in the last two days I have talked to three people from Kenya. All of us are in agreement about America. The pace over here is too fast. The focus is too superficial. Americans want money, fancy cars, things that appear to be nice even if they are not paid for.

All of us feel like strangers in a strange land. I have pretty much felt this way since I returned to this country in 1972 from England and Germany. Although things are certainly changing in the European Union lately, I am certain the pace is still nothing compared to the pace of America. It really hit me in 2000 when I was out of the country for eight weeks. When I returned, even the aggressive sounding voice over the airport speaker startled me. I am not ashamed to say I am a sensitive person even if quite outspoken at times.

You can see kindness in the eyes of some people. All three of the people I talked to from Kenya have kind eyes. One of them gave me a hug. We get each other. We know that in America polticians get elected not by the content of character, but by appearances. Then after time, those appearances crumble and we see the truth. Or, the sad thing is, some people don't see the truth because they are too wrapped up in maintaining their own appearance. Some young adults I spoke to today work for low wages in retail. However, they were all really good people. All of them said most young adults could care less about politics or the world. They only care about themselves.

So my country has lost its credit rating. The people that prop themselves up as false prophets under the guise of assisting others when what they are doing is exploiting people for profit will be brought to justice eventually whether it is in this life or the next. I just cannot worry about it anymore. There is one non-profit in Tacoma and the CEO makes 100K a year. That is not charity, it's exploitation. There are others working under the guise of assisting others who make a lot more than the workers I spoke to today. They will have to face the truth someday. They will be found out and it is not my job to make it known. It is their problem.

What puzzles us is people do not realize you cannot take fancy things with you when you die. There was a popular saying on bumper stickers many years ago. It read: He who dies with the most toys still dies. We are all going to die someday. It's a sad truth, and having the fanciest of things or the best looks doesn't change that fact. It also does not change the fact that at any moment any of us could be the victim of a very serious disease. No one is immune to disease. I know I'm not. I have multiple sclerosis and for those who are glad I have this disease, well, it could happen to you too. It could happen to someone you love. I think that might be even worse. I think it would be for me. -Alison Whiteman

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Positive Comment About A Shift In Teen Clothing

I went to the mall today. First, there was no SWAT team exercise. That was a good thing. Second, I noticed clothing styles are changing. Specifically, skanky clothing for teenage girls is going away. A nice conservative trend seems to be coming into place.

I hope this means we are going to stop showing shows like "Sixteen And Pregnant" and "Teen Mom." I am tired of the exploitation of girls and boys who ought to be studying, not making babies. My sympathy level for pregnant girls is quite low. I feel for the parents particularly in a time when resources to care for these children are going away. I actually have some hope for America based on the shift in clothing.

Perhaps I am being too optimistic. I just hope this trendy trend to have babies as teenagers ends. I never had a baby. I have never even been close to having one. I knew it would be too hard for me. People ask me if I am sorry about this. Are you kidding? Everyone I know who has had kids but for a few say it was a kind of a nightmare.

I think the elderly woman I cared for last summer said it best. "You did not have children?" she said, "well, I don't know whether to say sorry or congratulations." Her four children rarely visit her and when they do, it's to borrow money. She's eighty-one years old! One of them is in a state management level position! It is quite evil of her to take money from her elderly mother. My former client ought to get into her scooter and mow those four children down flat like a pancake. Kids, meh. I like to spend time with other people's kids. They can lie to me all they want about how great it is. I know the truth. (Okay, not all kids are so bad, just the majority of them)-Alison Whiteman