Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ruth Espinoza, My Grandma 1933-2007

About a half hour after I got to work this morning, my cell phone rang. As soon as I saw that it was Mom, I knew what she was going to tell me. I left the NOC room and wandered outside, away from prying ears and eyes.

Grandma's gone.

I sniffled and got misty while talking to Mom for a bit, but I composed myself as best as I could and went back to work. My bosses were understanding and were willing to give me what I needed.

I finished out the day, making the necessary arrangements schedule-wise. Since my temp plates on my truck expired yesterday, I had planned on going to the DMV to clear that up immediately after work. I did.

And when I got home, I finally took a few moments to myself and cried. A flash flood of memories, emotions, feelings washed over me. Those I will not describe.

But this picture is one of my favorite pictures of my Grandma. I took it myself from the couch, my cousin Cori combing Grandma's hair, which was she had grown long in her later years. Though you only see her in profile, there's something about the way she's sitting, her head held up high, the beginnings of a smile on her face. It doesn't capture her image so much as her spirit.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Fair Game Plame

Woops, it's officially settled and all the speculation can be put to rest. Valerie Plame was, in fact, covert when she worked for the CIA.

Kind of gives new meaning to the phrase "Fair Game," doesn't it?

A Rant Against the Media...And Our Culture At Large

If you watched cable news all day like I did, then you might be under the impression that it was a slow news day. Today, the video wall was on MSNBC, which I didn't mind because the anchors are hotter than CNN's. (Amy Robach, hubba hubba. Contessa Brewer? Oh my god, where did you get those veneers?!) Sadly though, today on MSNBC it was all Lindsey Lohan, Rosie O'Donnell, the trapped whales in the bay area, Miss USA falling on her ass (they showed the video at least twenty times today, just in case the initial embarassement wasn't enough). No Iraq news. Nothing about the US-Iran talks over the weekend. It was truly pathetic.

So when Cindy Sheehan in her goodbye-to-protesting letter writes,
Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives.
...that is the truth!

Think about it: Lindsey Lohan got more press for getting drunk and passing out at the wheel than the 8 soldiers who gave their lives in Iraq on Memorial Day. There's something not right about that.

So whose fault is it? The media? If you listen to Paul Wolfowitz, it is. I don't think so.

The media is a business. They make money by giving the people what they want. And the people don't want to know about how fucked up things are in the world. They want to be distracted from their banal existence, even if for just a moment, laughing at Miss USA, shaking their heads disapprovingly over Lindsey, recoiling in horror at Rosie's obnoxiousness. So let's not point fingers at the media.

It's our fault.

Between tracking the injured whales and dishing on Lindsey, MSNBC also ran a story about "overwhelmed" border hospitals forced to dish out care to illegal immigrants. The crawl said "Illegal Immigrants Cost the US $6 Billion a Year." Of course, you're supposed to see this and say to yourself, Jesus Christ! $6 billion a year? For these bums?

But if you were to divert the funds being spent on the war in Iraq to providing care for immigrants, that $6 billion a year would last almost 80 years! A lifetime of healthcare for millions of people!

And you're going to sit there and tell me that a better use of that money is waging a war we can't win? You're going to sit there and tell me that $6 billion dollars for medical care for human beings is an outrage?

Fuck you!

The outrage is our perverted "values" as a culture, as a society. If pushing for a war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and simultaneously trying to deny other people healthcare is "good and right," then I'd rather be bad and wrong!

Speaking of perverted values, one thing I noticed today about Amy Robach, former beauty queen current MSNBC anchor, is her wedding ring. I can't think of a time when I have seen such a vulgar display of materialistic pride as that golf-ball sized rock she's lugging around on her left hand.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I understand the urge to buy such baubles of vanity (thanks, Dracula). Her husband is marking his territory, challenging all the other males who might have designs on his woman to "top my rock, bitch." Robach, herself, of course gets to parade it around saying, "See? He really loves me. He spent twenty grand on my ring."

But I still find the whole thing disgusting. How many Africans gave up their lives or limbs so Amy Robach could feel like a princess? How strong is her marriage if it must be propped up by pretentious status symbols?

We get it, Robach. You're better than us. Now will you please shitcan all the Rosie, Lindsey, whale stories and give us something important. Give us something that enriches and informs our lives, rather than catering to our basest desires.

No? Okay then. Can you at least fill your time slot with Seinfeld reruns? Seinfeld's an NBC property and it's definitely more entertaining than the lame paparazzi shots of Lindsey and the fiftieth slow motion ass plant of Miss USA you gave us today.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

Ah, Memorial Day. I didn't get the three day weekend that most working stiffs got, but I was able to enjoy the fact that there was a three day weekend.

I talked to my Mom, who just got back from a vacation in Sedona. The highlights: she was falsely accused of theft by the hotel she stayed at, when they charged her for missing towels. Trust me on this. My Mom does not steal towels, alright? She also spent some time with my Uncle Henry, which is always time well spent. At one point, I'm told, she stood in four states simultaneously, too.

Of course, after the highlights of vacation came a much darker subject, the dire medical condition of my Grandma. Things are bad, and if I had the scratch, I'd be buying some plane tickets right now. That's the hard thing for me, the distance.

Losing my Grandma will be a tragedy, but it's somewhat alleviated by the fact that I had her in my life at all. That doesn't just count for something. That counts for everything.

Mom hopes she'll "rally" (Mom's word) but I'm not so sure. I'm overly pessimistic by nature, but in this case, it's just being realistic. There is a certain point where the body says, "I will go here, but no further," and at that point, there is no argument. You're done.

A few years ago, I saw this documentary on dying cancer patients. The name escapes me, but it was one of the most poignant and sad things I have ever seen. The people in that movie will never leave me. One man, angry at leaving this world, tortures his family before he slips off into eternal peace. Another man, guided into the next world by his daughter, is so decent and nice that his caregiver develops an unexpected emotional attachment to him. One woman, desperate to find something to see her through, seeks out a bevy of new age treatments, none of which save her life but in a sad pathetic (that is, deserving of sympathy) way provide her with spiritual comfort.

The most affecting story, and the one that can still inspire tears, is of a 19 year old girl receiving hospice care in her small home at enormous expense to her working class family. To watch someone so young, so vulnerable slip away was sad. Watching her father come to grips with his loss was heartbreaking.

I wish I knew what that thing was called. I'd like to watch it again. The first time, the experience was vicarious. This time, it's real life.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cynical or Just Honest?

From an op-ed in the Washington Post by Andrew Bacevich called I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose:
Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.'s life is priceless. Don't believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier's life: I've been handed the check. It's roughly what the Yankees will pay Roger Clemens per inning once he starts pitching next month.