Saturday, September 24, 2005

I know, this time was REALLY long...

First of all, I apologize to loyal blog readers that i have not been updating lately. There are two reasons. The first is that I still don't have my computer although I have been assured it is being fixed. The second reason is my back pain. It has been getting worse or at least not getting better. I had an MRI last week (a horrible horrible experience, i might add) and hopefully will find out next week how that turned out. I figured out a way to describe how I feel, finally, so that at least half the population can relate. A way beyond describing the massive amounts of painkillers I'm on in addition to the physical therapy and muscle relaxers. Basically, the last month has been like having PMS for the last month - feeling sluggish, moody, and extreme pain
(but in the mid back instead of the abdomen). So yeah, girls, you know what I'm talking about. I apologize as well to anyone who has been on the recieving end of my back-induced bad mood.

On to the next thing, which I SWEAR I would be just as pissed off about if I was not in pain. My sister was nice enough to CC me on an email to a family member who is a priest asking about this horrendous proposed ban on gay men becoming priests which the Vatican is apparently going to approve. The article is at I had heard mumblings about this. I had read what my sister thought about it. But then, after actually reading the article, I got ten times more angry. Here's a quote from the article:

"He said, however, that the ban was not absolute: The very definition of homosexuality, he said, is not fixed. He said there may be cases in which the church decides after discussion with a prospective seminarian that he would still make a suitable, celibate priest."

Apparently the problem with gay men is the "temptation" a seminary would present with their "homosexual tendancies" which one conservative source called a DISORDER!! Okay, good point y'all. You can't argue that heterosexual men would have the same "temptation." How lucky that they get to be taken out of the real world away from the temptation of numerous single women! The blame is being put on homosexuals in general based on cases which were overlooked or covered up by high ranking officials in the Catholic Church. Since some bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and popes decided that sexual abuse in the Church should be hidden and overlooked in many cases (by not removing priests at all from their ministry despite their mortal sins that were also illegal), the Vatican and our new pope are condemning an entire group of people who are not necessarily to blame! So yes, there is more "temptation" in the seminary for gay men but if the people in charge of the seminary did their job in supervising their "flock" and helping them get past "temptation" IF they should happen to find it a problem, those men would be STRONGER IN THE END THAN THE HETEROSEXUAL MALES WHO HAVE BEEN PUT INTO AN ARTIFICAL, WOMANLESS ENVIRONMENT!!!! Every male priest will eventually have to work with women as well as men. According to the arguement posed in this article, that would be temptation and thus background of banning a group of people from serving God.

I am Catholic, as most of you know. This issue and this article incense me to no end. I have been able to reconcile my personal beliefs with the Catholic Church's actions up to this point. I was under the impression that the Catholic Church was against homesexual ACTS but not all gay people!!! I even have problems with that much but have personnally discerned what I believe to be Truth (which is really what every intelligent being who is religious does in some way with his or her faith in a religion).

In my Feminism and Fertility class, we have started talking about how over time religions change with new issues and growth, in particular dealing with views on women, fertility, and the traditional family. History contains many examples of changes within religions that reflect new interpretations of past experiences and texts as well as times that reconciliation and change within the religion is not possible and new theologies and religions are born. Vatican 2 is an example of the first situation; The Protestant Reformation is an example of when beliefs could not be reconciled and radical "reinterpretation" or change occured based on the foundational texts and experiences of Christianity. I'm really curious to see what happens in the next few weeks over this issue, especially the reaction of American Catholics and more liberal churches around the globe.

This proposed "policy" is discrimanatory and irrational. The problem with sex abuse is that the higher powers let it happen. I would be fine if they were proposing more strict entrance requirements, maybe more counseling, and better interviews. Anything that would treat all applicants equally instead of alienating a group of individuals who happen to be homosexual but are BELOVED CHILDREN OF GOD NO MATTER WHAT!!! It is not a sin to be gay, but this policy strongly implies that it is, even without the uneducated and bigotted comments by conservative religion commentators who do not even seem to know the history and laws of nature and the Church. I know I am not the pope or the Dalai Lama or anyone with years of religion study but some of this seems like common sense. Banning a group based on biological differences is equivalent to racism. That is not something I want associated with the religion I follow. It's time for change and this is not the kind of change I'm looking for. For now I'm still Catholic and I hope that I can stay with the tradition and culture I love. But actions like these are despicable and I don't know how many more ignorant choices I can "accept" or reconcile in any way.

I am very curious to know what others think about this so comment away! I'll be checking for comments but my back doesn't like sitting at the computer for very long. But I'll try to update again soon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

i'm back. temporarily

Wow, I didn't realize it had been so long since I updated! So much for my trend of almost every other day! I have a good excuse, however. My computer decided it didn't like me and decided not to charge. Ever. So Erica and I made a fun excursion downtown to the CompUSA and entrusted my dear computer to a stoned Tech guy who promised he would send it out to Texas to get looked at and call me in a week. I hope my computer made it to Texas... In any case, not having a computer at my beck and call kind of puts a damper on blogging.

I am using Erica's computer tonight and decided I should update with something but I really don't have a lot to say! A job update though. I have been asked to house manage the LOW fall production, at the smaller venue, which will consume 5 weekends of my fall but I think I just might do it! If they really do pay me the same as they have all summer, even though there will be fewer hours, I will definately say yes. It will be a new experience for me as well.

Classes start next week and I am pumped! My Psych book is supposed to come in the mail tomorrow and I can't wait. I am looking forward to starting acting again but I still have to bite into all of Euripedes and read some background material on the Greeks before I will feel safe facing Bud.

On that note, I'm going to go finish the Theban plays. Catch you later!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Day off

Well, I decided to take a day off today, in many ways. AFter my physical therapy appointment I was in more pain than before so I went to my doctor and got referred for xrays. I'm hoping they figure out what's wrong with my back soon because it is going to be hard to do acting in the fall, much less sit at a desk and write papers and stuff. Hopefully the xray info will be back soon.

I observed something very disturbing in the waiting room at the Evanston hospital Radiology department. When you walk in, they give you hospital gowns to change into and then you wait, they take you back, put you in weird positions, and then take pictures. THen you go back to the waiting room, sit around in the hospital gown a little longer, and finally get to change back into normal clothes and leave. While I was waiting to be called, sitting in my hospital gown, a hospital worker of some kind wheeled in an elderly woman in a wheelchair from where she had just had her xrays. The worker was male and the woman was asking if there was a female nurse who could come help her change back into her clothes. Apparently the relative of another patient had helped her get into the gown and she was hoping she didn't have to impose on a complete stranger again. Instead of being respectful and considerate, the male radiology tech or whatever he was told her there was no one who could help her and then asked the entire waiting room if there was someone who could help her. I can only think of how humiliating that must have been for her! Erica immediately stepped up and volunteered to help her which is just one of the million reasons I love Erica. I would have helped her myself but I was selfish and didn't want to be out of the room when they called me for my xrays.

There are two possibilities to why this elderly disabled woman was humiliated in a waiting room full of people at the hospital. The first is that the hospital really doesn't have enough funds to hire people who can help patients get in and out of hospital gowns in radiology. The second, and more disturbing possibility, is that what Erica and I witnessed was a case of ageism where a staff member decided that he had to get back to his job and couldn't be bothered with finding any female staff member who could spare 5 minutes to help the patient. I really hope it was the first option as that is possible, but I have a feeling it was a little of each and ageism was a factor.

I also took a day off from the news. I needed a break, which is a luxury that so many people don' t have right now. I spent all day thinking about the devastated area in the South because at work, my boss printed out an article about the hospital her sister's uncle-in-law (if there is such a thing) runs in Jefferson Parish, Lousiana. When I told her about my interest in this subject, she printed out an email that her sister had forwarded about this uncle-in-law's personal experience. Hearing about how the government did not do enough to prepare OR respond from a personal experience was amazing and infuriating. This man is the CEO of a hospital down there and in the days after Katrina, FEMA actually hendered aid more than helped. Gary, the CEO/Uncle, was able to call out of town hospital contacts to get supplies in and was able to get them within hours, despite flooding, because of telling them back ways to get to the hospital (while the government was insisting there was no way to get help to the people in Jefferson Parish). When generators were being brought there so that the hospital could have running water and electricity, the government stopped those trucks for hours before sdme of the generators were able to get past. I would have been in tears when I got home except Erica had cooked dinner for me when I walked in the door. The email and the article also talked about how this hospital had done a great deal of preparation for hurricanes and it is because of this rare preparation that the hospital is still up and running, with clean water and electricity. The story can be found at .

OKay, I'm going to go knock myself out with another muscle relaxer or as Erica put it as we were leaving the hospital "let's take you home and get you drugged up and knocked out." Around the same time she mentioned that, we were walking through the parking lot to the El and there was music streaming through the PA system. I thought it was just classical music but Erica made me go back and listen. It was the Northwestern Fight Song. How sad is that.

Overall an adventurous day off although not very relaxing overall. Time to call it a night.

Monday, September 05, 2005

the articles I promised to find

I promised I was going to do some research on how much information Lousiana had before the storm as well as their efforts to prevent such a catastrophic outcome. Jay, a good friend of mine, actually needs to be credited for finding a lot of these and sending them to me. Others I found by just looking up articles from before the storm hit. I'm still looking for information on evacuation procedures and help given before the storm if anyone has seen stuff like that. I would like to emphasize that I am in no way trying to diminish the tremendous rescue efforts that are currently underway. I am just supporting my view that not enough was done before the storm to prevent the rising death toll (most likely in the 100os) and the severe damage.

New York Times online - off of there is a great gallery of pictures documenting the actual hurricane in action as well as daily additions of the damage and evacuation efforts in Lousiana, Houston, and Mississippi. I highly recommend going to look at some of the pictures becuase they are stunning. - this blog talks a lot about the same things I"ve been discussing and was actually part of a NYTimes article. I found it interesting to read about the views of another amature weather nerd. - this article cnet ( examines interesting technological indications that such a disaster would occur. Read it. It's very interesting. - this is a "pre-landfall" article which screams out warning signs in really simple sentences such as "Forecasters predicted the storm surge could reach 28 feet; the highest levees around New Orleans are 18 feet high," and "Hurricane-force winds extend 105 miles from the center of the mammoth storm and tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 230 miles. It is the most powerful storm to menace the central Gulf Coast in decades." Looking at the pre-landfall stories tells a lot, I believe, about how much was ignored. Not that I put much faith in commercial and mainstream media but we have to take into account that mainstream media is how a majority of people get their "news." - this is an amazing Scientific American article that Jay found. Although the date at the top says August 31, 2005, we think it was actually written in 2001 or earlier and then reprinted in the latest edition. Dad or someone with a subscription, let me know if we're right about that. Since the article does not mention any storm by name, in particular Katerina, this indicated that it was written before the storm, even though the online publication date on the link is after the storm.

Well, have fun with all that. I'll keep digging and today my goal is to find the NPR station around here. I'm hoping since we now live on the 16th floor and Erica has some sort of special radio antennae, that we'll be able to find it easier than on campus. Listening online is okay but I'd rather be able to just turn on the radio.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

something like a retraction/clarification

Okay, I have talked to several people about what I posted this week and I have some clarifying and revising to do, which is good! This is why I like discussing stuff with people!

First of all, the media is doing a pretty shoddy job of covering what is happening in Lousiana, I'll just put that out there first. They show all these news conferences and show pictures over and over but they are leaving out some stories I've been hearing lately through emails my mom has forwarded to me and things I've read from smaller newspaper stories (as in not front page news, unfortunatly). The relief response to this storm has been tremendous. My mom sent me stories about neighbors helping neighbors and wonderful, positive rescues. I am glad these things are happening. The media is focusing on stories of displaced elderly being carted around like cargo and rampant disease, which are no doubt happening, but they are truly only part of the story and I recognize that.

What I need to clarify, I suppose, is that what angers me is not so much what is happening in the present tense but what didn't happen in the past tense before the storm. I had a heated argument at dinner last night with a good friend about whether or not everyone in the area of mandatory evacuation actually had the CHOICE to evacuate. The city's failure to do more to aid people's exile and to educate the people who may not comprehend the strength of the storm or worse case scenario. I am of course going to try to find some more news stories to support this claim because this is based on what the awful TV media covered before the storm. The LA officials did do wonderful things that all evacuated areas do before storms such as change the highways to one way in order to open up more lanes out of the city etc but there were certainly failures in counting on a best case scenario, a non-direct hit, instead of considering what actually happened which was a catagory 4 storm sitting over the city for an extended time. The predictions couldn't be with absolute certainty but the various possibilities did not seem to be weighed equally.

I think I'm going to leave the subject for now though because I am so afraid of having to stick my foot in my mouth tomorrow or getting into more arguments over dinner for the next couple of days. I will work on more supporting evidence and report back here when I find it.

On a personal note, I am now successfully moved into my new apartment with the lovely Erica. I still have some random stuff to collect from my summer sublet but overall I'm moved and mostly unpacked! It is a really nice feeling to be settled somewhere that I don't have to leave on a certain date or even at the end of the school year! I can put roots down finally for more than a few months at a time and it is really good for the mind and body. I couldn't have done it without my lovely friends helping me move stuff since I'm still kinda incapacitated. THank you guys and I'm sorry if I was in a little bit of a foul mood after dinner. I just needed to unpack enough to feel at home.

I've been offered a part-time job at Light Opera Works, the place I've been interning at, and I think I'm going to take it. Since the research job is not a viable option because of the hours and since I most likely won't be any use in the shops until my back heals, I figure I can stay on at LOW for a few months instead since I love the production management skills I've been working on there. I might look into working at the Library or something on the weekend in order to keep up with my work-study allotment but nothing stressful. Those of you who have seen or talked to me this summer know that I love working at LOW so I'm sure it will continue to make me happy.

Well, I'm going to bed now. Please comment if you disagree or agree with me about all this hurricane stuff. I'm anxious to hear what you think, even though I do want to cry most of the time I talk about it or hear about it. But anyways, talk to me. I like that.

Friday, September 02, 2005

too little too late...

When I started writing yesterday, I really intended to write about how angry I am about the way this storm was handled. I should warn you that I haven't read EVERY news story about New Orleans so maybe I'm getting some of this wrong so feel free to comment on it.

When I was watching the weather news about the approaching Catagory 5 hurricane Katrina last week, I knew that something horrible was in store. I have been watching hurricane stories as long as I can remember, as I mentioned in my earlier post. I've seen several news conferences with LA authorities and they seem to be saying that what they did was based on the worse case scenario that they could imagine and they just couldn't imagine this kind of devastation. However, I read today that the levees that broke were only built to withstand a Catagory 3 hurricane. And I seem remember hearing before the storm hit that possible breaches in the levees were going to be diasterous. So what I want to know is why the authorities allowed so many people to stay in the city but more importantly, why more was not done to assist the people who did not have the means to escape the wrath of a catagory 5 hurricane! (I know it was a 4 when it hit completely but it was a five right before landfall too).

THey are now bussing the 20,000+ refugees from the Superdome to the Astrodome in Housten. This is what I mean by too late. There was an interview with a couple refugees at the Astrodome and they had legitimate reasons for staying in New Orleans - the woman's mother had just had a triple bipass surgery three weeks ago and they felt unsafe moving her. I can see why they would be concerned about the mother and grandmother but perhaps if evacuation procedures relating to the areas of the state farther from the hit point were improved, they could have felt safe leaving the most dangerous area to be in for a safe place even just a little farther away. What I'm trying to say is that the people of the South, my brethern, need to find a way to communicate to more people in times of crisis and open their doors more readily. A lot of these people probably did not have access to any news about the hurricane other than maybe some radio reports and the police information given about the evacuation. I am lucky enough to have access to the Weather Channel and 5 other news stations playing 24 hour coverage of the hurricane, tracking it along its path but so many of the people in New Orleans have little more than the clothes on their backs and food to eat. A lot of people probably can't even comprehend what wind at 150 mph means! Don't even get me started about immigrants with language barriers. So not only was there a problem in not helping people evacuate more, there doesn't even seem to be enough education on what these storms can do! The women in the interview admitted that the higher catagory number should have warned them to leave but they didn't understand what just two numbers higher than a 3 could mean in terms of the storm!

I know that all of this is clear to us in retrospect but it's important to talk about failures in this crisis in order to have more success in the inevitable future hurricanes. New Orleans will never be the same, not just because of the extreme damage to the city but also the emotional toll it has taken on the entire country. Every death I hear about is one that I feel could possibly have been saved if Americans adheared better to the Golden Rule.

I don't understand why the city didn't make people leave. I don't understand why the government didn't send in those massive amounts of troops BEFORE the storm in order to enable and encourage people to leave the area. I don't understand why some people don't understand how this devastation feels the same or even worse than that of September 11th. I guess it is because the warning signs of this diaster were not very cryptic and there was no possibility of accidently ignoring warning signs. We knew what could happen and we knew it would probably be worse than many hurricanes in the past but instead of going the extra mile to ensure safety, the same procedures we have used for years for mandatory evacuations were used even though the breaching of the levees would likely cause major problems.

I'm sure Ive been quite redundant in the past few posts and I apologize. I spent a lot of today wondering again what I can do to help both the people of the Southeast and my own mental health. I still haven't figured out what to do for the former but for the latter, my own mind, I can write and try to stimulate conversation and education. At this point, it is all I can do other than pray.

God bless America. Please.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I'm having trouble finding words for how I'm feeling right now so I'm going to try to figure things out by writing. I grew up with hurricanes. Some of my earliest memories are of losing power during Hurricane Hugo and watching the tree blow about as if they were no longer attached to the ground. Everytime a hurricane threatens any of the coasts, I glue myself to the news, the radio, and the internet to keep track of where it is headed. I had a hurricane tracking map (which of course was reusable throughout the season) on the wall so I could enter the coordinates and try to predict the path myself. But when Hugo came the biggest diaster I could see was that it was my brother's birthday and all of his icecream was melted. There was also an eruption in the yellow jacket population that year and we had to go down to my dad's work apartment in South Carolina for awhile because my granddad who was dying of cancer and visiting us at the time needed a heating pad at all times. I was five. I remember all those things but it was easy to get through because the entire world consisted of my family.

Now Hurricane Katrina has devastated other parts of my family. My Southern family, my American family, and my "family" I adopted along with a lot of my friends at NU in Jonestown, Mississippi. I also have an aunt and uncle in Lousiana not to far from New Orleans and even though no one has heard from them, my mom tells me not to worry to much. I was so happy today to talk to Erica because she also is worried about the people we met last year on Spring Break working for Habitat with our Catholic center. We met so many blessed people in this little town who don't even have a proper sewage system and most of the houses look like they were constructed out of hurricane wreckage to begin with. Jonestown is in the northern part of Mississippi but since Memphis, TN got a great amount of flooding and wind damage, I can only imagine that Jonestown got washed away. I wonder how Sister Kay is doing with her carpentry workshop and after school programs, and the Burnetts with the new church library. And what really gets to me is how helpless I feel.

I think I'm talking about Jonestown because it's a tangible part of this diaster I can hold on to. I really feel connected to Jonestown even after just a week of service work there. But at the same time I feel just as helpless about helping them as I feel about the entire region which was hit by this storm. I try not to watch the news reports much anymore because I just start crying. As I"m writing this I'm crying because I just finished reading about death tolls, damage estimates, cultural damage, and people who have lost many relatives. The NY Times article I read said that this could be the largest lost of life to a natural diaster since the San Francisco earthquake and fires in 1906. My favorite book when I was younger was about those fires and the earthquake and at the time I read that, I couldn't imagine anything worse.

I'm feeling a little small minded to because of the Tsunamis which hit last winter. Those were catastrophic as well and I know every year there are horrible natural diasters, not to mention the manmade ones, which devastate millions. My heart is with all those victims but despite what people may think about my political views, I'm a patriotic girl and when the people in my country are suffering, it means a lot to me. I won't go into how that supports my political views because frankly, hurricanes are nonpartisan and that's what I want to focus on.

It's all I can do not to walk across the street tomorrow and tell the registrar I'm dropping out of school so I can take a bus down to my South and help in any way I can - take care of orphaned children, pick up debris off the streets, anything. I won't drop out of school though because I am trying to hold on to that idea that with my education I will be given even greater opportunities to help people, which is my ultimate career goal in life - helping people. But even so, the immediate need to do something is hard to satisfy. I hardly have enough money most of the time to get by myself without asking my parents for money so financial aid is out of the question. I"m praying a lot so I've got that covered. But I still want to do something more. Crocheting scarfs and hats isn't going to do much since its 100 degrees down there and I don't even think they'd appreciate a nice blanket! Donating food poses the same problem as money and I'm a little to far to pick up an debris.

To me it seems a lot like how I felt after September 11th, honestly. That helplessness that we all experienced at first at how fast so many people died in so short a time. Of course anger set in later but initially the shock is all you can think about - even though that diaster was caused by human beings, the same helplessness was felt. In addition, I lived so far from NYC and DC that there didn't seem like much to do except pray and help collect supplies at school. I started volunteering at the Red Cross because I couldn't even donate my blood because I was "too young."

So I still can't find words for what I say. I have written a lot but I can only hope that out of my vague mutterings someone out there in the great big world can understand how helpless and unhelpful I feel. A few days ago my biggest worry was how to get all my stuff to my new apartment with my back injury. Now I'm more worried about how the city of New Orleans is ever going to recover and how those thousands of people with out jobs, homes, or anything are going to survive. I feel guilty for being alive and healthy in Chicago, away from that devastation, at a Big Ten school spending my nights in my dry, comfortable home.

So I'm going to bed now in hopes of getting some of this off my mind until tomorrow. I think I'm going to see if we can put together some kind of vigil or prayer service at Sheil for the victims of this storm as well as some sort of relief effort beyond collecting money on Sunday. And most of all, I want to see if Tim, our campus minister, can get ahold of our friends in Jonestown to see if there still is a Jonestown for us to go back to next spring.