Simone de Beauvoir

Monday, March 18, 2013

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” ― Helen Keller

Relationships. We all have them. Friends.  Family. Family of origin. Family of choice. Those that we share our deepest, darkest secrets. The same people who we tell our goofiest, most embarrassing moments, confident that if we ever want to re-live those moments, our friends will be right there with us.

There are hundreds of thousands of books about how to create them, save them, and even end those that are no longer important to us. The important thing is to have them and treasure them.

Muhammad Ali once said that “Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not somethingyou learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.” 
I am happy to say that I know the meaning of friendship.

My friend Susan has been diagnosed with cancer. The nasty tumor--she's shared photos courtesy of her surgeon, who, in my humble opinion, needs to stick with surgery and not consider a career in photography--is growing in  a region near her lungs and heart.  It is, according to Dr. Photographer, the same width and length of his hand. 

Susan had her procedure Friday morning. She had faith and confident in the skills of Dr. P. She also had friends at the hospital waiting for her as she was wheeled into her room from recovery. It was those loving women who broke the news. 

The tumor was too big to remove.

When I heard the news, I was reminded of Helen Keller's quote "“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”  

To many, Susan may seem alone. Her beloved husband passed away years ago, her daughter lives across country, and her other daughter may not even recognize her own mother at this point due to mental illness. But being alone is hardly a way to describe Susan. 

The next day, Susan's "Army of Women Friends" as her daughter lovingly refers to us, was ready to accomplish their mission. One drove Susan home and stayed the night. Another ran to the store and picked up prescriptions. A third delivered a homemade meal. OK, so I cheated and purchased dessert, but it's the thought that counts.

A changing of the 'guard' happened the following day and more meals were delivered.  

Later this week, Susan will meet with her oncologist and together, they will work up a plan. A battle plan. 

Susan will undergo treatments (chemo and radiation) to reduce the tumor and when appropriate, Dr. P. will do his thing again. In the meantime, a friend is looking into a permanent adoption for Susan's cat.  Others will visit, bring food, drive her where she needs to go, and support her.

Most importantly, they will be a source of love and comfort. They will give of their strength so that Susan's  fight against cancer is stronger than were she fighting alone.

Some of these friends are the same that rallied around Susan when her husband passed away suddenly. Others have been in her life only a short time. Regardless of length of time, it is the love they feel for her that's important. 

In his book The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey, Henri Nouwen wrote “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” 

Susan's army consists of those kinds of friends. By supporting Susan, we support each other. We laugh together, we enjoy naughty humor, and we love each other. 

And so, as we walk with our friend Susan in the dark world of battling cancer together, she is reminded that she is never alone. She has many, many dear friends who love her. Together, we will fight her disease.

We  will do a lot for Susan because we know she'd do the same for each of us if need be. 

As this post draws to a close, I'd like to share one more quote that seems befitting of my friend Susan who swore that she'd dine on steak and chocolate should her prognosis not be a lengthy one. It's from Linda Grayson, who wrote “There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Her Life Was Not Without Controversy

From The New York Times September 29, 2005

Whose life is? Really?

And so what if it is? Controversy builds character. Don't let it tear yours down.

What matters is how you respond. A wise friend once shared "what others think about you isn't your business and what you think of them, isn't theirs". Seems I have an intellectual friend after all. Just one more thing I share with Simone.

What Would You Ask Jodi Arias?

Jodi Arias is on trial for killing her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander years ago (2008, I believe).

I watch the trial live thanks to HLN (Head Line News) and InSession. Truly it can be a day of television between morning reviews of the previous day's testimony, actual court coverage, and then a re-cap. Panels consists of attorneys and Nancy Grace, Ryan Smith, Vinnie Politan, and Mike Brooks. Jane Velez-Mitchell also comments.

Sometimes I feel like a voyeur. Sitting comfortably at home (eating lunch, doing laundry, chatting with other Arias trial watchers) and I learn things about our judicial system (who knew lawyers have strategies?). An interesting side note is that jurors serving on a trial in Arizona (where Arias is on trial) have the chance to ask questions of witnesses). The jurors have 100 questions for her and lawyers will review them and state their objections prior to Arias responding.

I've learned, too, that the family of Travis Alexander is sitting in the courtroom. His siblings sit and listen to testimony that describes--in graphic detail--his sex life. Days upon days of various kinds of sex. They also see crime scene photos including his decomposing body. The body that was stabbed almost thirty times, shot, and had its throat slashed from ear to ear, almost to the spine.

Arias has admitted to killing Alexander claiming self-defense. She claims she was defending herself.

Like many others, I have concerns, questions, and doubts.

My concern is for the Alexander and Arias families. They don't want to hear detailed descriptions of sexual acts performed by two consenting adults, one in her twenties and one in his thirties. Frankly, I grew bored after the first thirty minutes. I, for one, cannot imagine my parents listening to stories of my sex life. I don't want to hear stories about what my siblings are doing between the sheets, on the kitchen table, or wherever they find themselves engaged in sex.

I feel a lot of sympathy for the relatives and friends of Travis Alexander who listen to Jodi Arias trash the reputation of their loved one as she attempts to portray him as a sexual deviant. Travis seems to have been an intelligent, fun-loving man who loved women and appreciated his healthy sexual habits.

The questions I have are these: if the defense wanted to make a case that Travis Alexander was a sexual deviant, was it necessary to take weeks to do so? Even if his sexual practices were considered by some to be outside the norm, how does that justify taking his life?

My doubts are simple: I think she committed pre-meditated murder. She planned it. She had motive and opportunity. It couldn't be self-defense. There is no evidence (except the word of a person who has changed her story three--maybe four--times) to support her claim of domestic violence.

I fully doubt that she lived in fear of this man. Instead, she chose to participate in an on-again-off-again relationship with Travis Alexander. It could be described as 'friends with benefits'; that is if you think friends can murder one another. Afraid? Hardly. When she was arrested, she smirked for her mug shot, explaining 'that's what Travis would have done'.

What I truly take issue with is the portrayal of domestic violence that the Arias defense team is arguing. I find it offensive. There are thousands of true victims of intimate partner violence--both male and female--that suffer physical and emotional abuse at the hands of controlling, manipulative individuals. Jodi Arias is making a mockery of those individuals. People have died at the hands of their abusers. Children are living without parents because of domestic violence related incarceration and death of the other parent.

Victims often struggle with coming forth about their abuse. They are frightened of the judicial system as well as facing their abusers in court. These people are to be encouraged to come forward so that abusers can bear the consequences for their actions: arrest, hearings, incarceration, perhaps therapy. When they do press charges, they slowly regain their self-esteem and power over their own lives. Their abuser slowly loses control and the power to dominate. 

So my questions for Arias are these:

how do you justify tearing down the courage of genuine victims by professing to be one of them?
do you realize that if convicted, you could face the same fate as abusers of these victims?
what is it like knowing that come October, when the nation recognizes the victims of Domestic Violence you will not be thought of?

May justice prevail.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Long, long ago, the whole WWJD? craze began. It was a reference to 'what would Jesus do' and it was intended to make people think about their behavior. Was it appropriate? Kind? Christian? Argumentative? Dishonorable? You get the idea.

Since my last post was last year, I thought I'd better get blogging. But what would I write about? Where have I put my research on Simone--you know, the French feminist with whom I have so much in common--and what moment of her life can I connect to in mine? What Would Simone Do? OK, it's not that catchy. Nor will there be a bunch of bracelets and t-shirts emblazoned with the cheeky slogan.

Maybe I need to hang out in my local cafe with intellectuals like she did. The problem with that is my dislike for intellectual conversation. My brain needs stimulation, but not the kind where I have to think. It needs for me to make reactionary comments. Just keep firing them off. Whatever pops into my head and out of my mouth. BAM!

I'd rather trash Jodi Arias and her pathetic attempt to portray herself as a meek, innocent woman.She's the reason why victims of domestic violence, intimate partner violence and family violence don't want to press charges against perpetrators. She is making a mockery of this crime and for that alone she should serve life in prison...with a mean @$$ cellmate.

I'm open to discussing possible reasons why Nancy Grace wears that confounded bobby pin in her hair. Or why she interrupts people. Does she interrupt people in the line at the grocery store? I bet she doesn't even go shopping because she'd be mobbed by fans.

If those categories aren't of interest to you, how about Mike Brooks. He's the former law enforcement hottie on InSession. The guy's got sass and a cute face, to go with his 'tude.

Yeah, Simone is probably trying to hack into my blog and remove her name from the title right about now.

I get enough brain exercise with the work I'm doing. But I need balance, so I go to People magazine for a diversion. You see, when a friend and former co-worker is diagnosed with Stage IIIB colon cancer at 37 years old, intellectual conversation can wait. What becomes a priority is silly conversations, laughter and friendship. Discussions about setting up single friends with doctors or what color stripe to get in her wig when the time comes are better for my brain. Do ostomy bags come is different colors so it can be coordinated with an outfit?

Since she's battling colon cancer, the potty jokes are endless.

Colon cancer is a pain in the @$$.  Wipe away colon cancer. Bottoms Up (the new motto for a colonoscopy).

These silly, mindless thoughts create endorphins. If laughter is the best medicine, then my friend Claire has kicked cancer in the colon.

Like she says, 'you can laugh or you can cry'. I say laugh because crying leaves you with red puffy eyes that sting when you close them and a nose that would make Rudolph jealous. Laughter leaves you exhausted and sated...and if you do it right, you'll start laughing all over again at the craziness of your behavior.

It's loco. Claire's loco. That's why a 5K benefit was created in her honor. Simone has a bridge, but Claire has a road race. People came from Kentucky and Tennessee to run for her in Georgia. In January when colder than a mother-in-law's kiss as they say. Nobody ran for Simone. There were 130 people who ran in Cocoa Loco and many more will run in the next one on January 4, 2014.

Want to know more about Claire? Check out her blog! Just don't blame me if you laugh until you cry. She's like that, you know!!