Claire is back home in Chicago.
...working at a medical clinic in the Rohingya refugee camp located in Cox's Bazar, a Bangladeshi city on the border of Myanmar, across which over 900,00 Rohingya refugees have fled. (see posts from 1/3/2018, 1/ 4/2018, 1/5/2018 and 1/14/2018).
...as well as with the Bangladeshi medical personnel who worked at the camps.
I Facebook chatted with her around noon on Sunday afternoon Ohio time, which was 11 pm Bangladeshi time. She was in the airport in Dhaka - about six hours into the almost 30-hour trip from Cox's Bazar to Chicago - waiting for her next flight, to Dubai. She looked and sounded tired.
I told her she'd be busy when she returned to her job at Northwestern with the flu epidemic.
"Ah, the flu," she sighed. "There's diphtheria at the camp."
I asked her if she was glad or sad to be leaving Cox's Bazar.
"Sad," she said, "so sad." She told me she'd have stayed longer if only she'd have planned in advance. But on the other hand she had a job, and a life to get back to.
She rubbed her eyes. "But there's so much work to do there."
Many thanks for all your prayers and good wishes.
This past Saturday night I saw "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."
As I was leaving the theater it occurred to me that what this movie really needed was a drinking game to go with it.
- Every time a character assaults another character and suffers no legal consequences, take a drink.
- Every time a character damages or destroys another character's property and suffers no legal consequences, take a drink.
- If the police either know for sure or have a pretty good idea who committed an assault and/or act of destruction and make no arrest, take two drinks.
- If the police witness an assault and/or act of destruction and make no arrest, take three drinks.
- If there are witnesses to an assault or act of destruction and nobody calls 911 (probably because the police never arrest anybody, anyway), take a drink.
- If it's a horrendous assault and/or act of destruction and everybody, including the police, knows who did it but nobody gets arrested, chug the rest of the cup you're working on.
- Every time a person says or does something that nobody would say or do in real life, take a drink.
- If an assault victim appears not to particularly mind that they've been assaulted or hold any hard feelings against their assailant, take two drinks.
- Every time Frances McDormand smiles, take a drink.
-Every time you find yourself wondering how her character can afford to support herself and her son on the job she has, take a drink.
-Every time you find yourself wondering if her job provides health or dental insurance, take a drink.
If you find yourself baffled at how the opioid epidemic managed to miss this place, especially with all the trauma and painful injuries the townsfolk are all the time inflicting on each other, chug it all.
Anyone who plays the "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" drinking game observantly will be sloshed by the end of the movie. But by the end of this movie that's probably the best way to be.
So Aziz Ansari hooked up with a young woman and now his name's been dragged through the mud, thanks to the woman's account of the hook-up told to and published by an acutely distasteful website called "babe." (Or maybe "babe" is not in fact distasteful. Maybe I'm just 'way behind the times).
On the other hand, the mud generated by the article has also splashed back considerably on the girl who made the complaint against Ansari - or would have splashed back on her had the girl been required to give her name instead of being allowed to spill all the excruciatingly clinical details of the hook-up anonymously under the pseudonym "Grace."
In any case, the hook-up that will live in infamy - at least for a few more news cycles - obviously left considerable pain on both sides.
But amidst all the commentary and discussion generated by the incident, a few things seem pretty clear to me:
First of all, "Grace," at 22 years old, was far too young to have already had so many unhappy hook-ups that this one, as she related in the article, left her to tearfully conclude that guys are all the same and that she hated men.
Second of all, Aziz Ansari, at 34, had already had too many hook-ups with too many willing girls to be able to see that this girl, who was more or less going through the hook-up motions, or he thought she was, wasn't asking him for more foreplay or to try some different sex technique; she was trying to drop him verbal and non-verbally clues that she didn't want this date to be just a hook-up. She wanted something more. Some tenderness, maybe? A relationship, maybe? Romance? Love? But he wasn't hearing what she didn't know how to say.
But the clearest of all is that the unhappy outcome of that evening is the sort of thing that
can - and probably does quite often - befall young men and women who've come of age in the Hook-up Culture.
Young men expecting sex without a meaningful relationship. Young women believing that it's expected of them to have sex with men they don't love and who don't particularly care about them either except for sex. Young men believing it's expected of them to expect young women to want to have sex with them. Casual sex. Sex for fun. Sex without intimacy or trust or commitment. Brief, meaningless, loveless, joyless sex. The bottom of the relationship barrel where, as both "Grace" and Aizi Ansari learned, young women are disempowered and young men are ill served beyond a moment of physical gratification.
Maybe the Hook-up Culture is just the poor dregs of the Sexual Revolution launched by my generation. So maybe the time has come to launch a new Sexual Revolution, the first campaign of which should be the demolition of the Hook-Up Culture.
I did a double-take when I saw the picture on the front page of yesterday's Columbus Dispatch: It was a photo of Republican Senator Susan Collins and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin:
Senator Collins and Senator Manchin were celebrating the agreement the Senate had just made to end the two-and-a-half-day government shut down.
But here's the news: it was a bi-partisan agreement; even more amazing, a cordial agreement.
According to the Dispatch, after the agreement was reached, "Republicans and Democrats chatted amiably with one another" on the floor of the Senate before the vote.
Democratic senators, including Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, were optimistic and "hopeful that the agreement would be the beginning of a new era of bipartisan compromise...and seemed heartened that the agreement would mean not only fewer short-term spending bills but possible compromises on pensions and other issues."
Democrats and Republicans getting along. The Republicans ceding the Democrats the funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program. The Democrats deciding to trust Republican Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell to keep his word on his promise for debate on a DACA bill. Optimism and trust on the floor of the U.S. Senate!
Ah, be still my heart!
My heart beat even happier when I read that the details of the agreement were worked out by 30 moderate, centrist, willing-to-compromise Democrats and Republicans who called themselves the Common Sense Coalition; and that this coalition met in Susan Collins' office and carried out their negotiations using, per Senator Collins' prescription: an African tribal talking stick.
Only the person holding the stick was allowed to talk, and when one person finished talking that person then passed the stick to the next person who wished to talk. This modus operandi worked amazingly well at keeping the conversation civil and productive, even when Republican Senator Lamar Alexander threw the stick across the room at Democratic Senator Mark Warner, accidentally missed and broke a little glass elephant figurine on Susan Collins' shelf.
Senator Collins, perhaps sensing greater things at stake than a broken trinket, took the mishap in stride and traded the stick out for a rubber ball.
Anyway, a deal was made to keep the government up and running for a few more weeks, at least.
But less important than what was agreed upon was the bi-partisan gemütlichkeit, the good-old-fashioned All-American can-do spirit ― something that's been missing for too many decades in our Congress ― that accompanied the agreement.
Let the lawmakers on the fringes of both right and left, along with the Spotlight politicians,
...continue to find reasons to criticize each other as they seek to score political points over the government shutdown and the deal that brought the re-opening. And let Donald Trump gloat like a middle-schooler,
From the common-sense heartland of the United States Senate came a reason for all Americans to celebrate. At least a little.
...because Donald Trump, elected President on the his self-proclamation that he was the greatest deal-maker in the history of existence, turned out to have a glaring lack of talent for deal-making. Except in some cases.
But what's the use of worrying, right? It never was worthwhile.
Instead pack up your troubles like I did last night and go see "The Greatest Showman,"
...and a phenomenal assortment of actors and actresses as the members of "Barnum's Circus," as he calls his troupe of "human curiosities."
The film is heart-gripping, heart warming, and entertaining as it tells a magical story of P.T. Barnum's rise from a poor orphan to a master showman interwoven with love stories, stories of friendships, of overcoming adversity and standing up to ignorance and hatred, and of an uplifting affirmation of the beauty and worth of every human being,
...told with beautiful colors, dazzling costumes, great music and the most awesome dance scenes.
Go see "The Greatest Showman." It'll make you smile, smile, smile. I promise.
Dear Members of the United States Senate,
For crying out loud, don't shut down the darned government again!
Senators, if you're doing this high-noon budget drama just to impress your donors and your base, please know that we are not impressed and we're getting sick unto death of all the psychotheatrics rolling down from Capitol Hill.
At least I am.
Not that that sort of thing is going to end any time soon as long as this guy's emoting around the White House between trips to Mar-a-Lago.
...instead of staying in the White House taking care of the People's business.
Anyway, what I meant to say - before I digressed - was that even though President (and I choke on that word) Donald Trump's non-stop theatrics aren't going to end, ever, Congress doesn't have to put in their two-cents' worth, which is what they're doing with this budget/shut down circus.
And I don't only say this because I have skin in the game - or had skin in the game back when my hubby Tom, here with us all back in the day,
...worked for the Federal Government.
I recall that first government shut-down, orchestrated by Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich in an effort to stick it to Bill Clinton, when Tom was furloughed for work and we were so nervous about how long he'd be off work and whether he'd be paid. We had beaucoup mouths to feed back then, not mention a passel of expensive music lessons to pay for.
But after four-and-a-half days Tom was called back to work and was paid for the days he had off and we wished we'd known he was going to get paid for the furlough, as he could have enjoyed it as a paid mini-vacation.
My point being that the government shut down will simply inconvenience millions of people - except maybe government contractors, who will lose income that won't be made up and people who planned vacations to national parks, which will be closed during the shut-down - and will cost several billion dollars in start-up costs.
Not to mention all the national angst and weltschmerz these sorts of Congressional shenanigans cause the American public. At least me.
Democrats, it appears that the ball is in your court. The House has passed a temporary budget, good for four weeks and not including a resolution of the DACA issue.
Democrats, take it. Bend. Give in. True, it's not the budget of your dreams or the dreams of any of us liberals, but it does finally finance the Children's Health Insurance Program for the next six years. And though you and we all balk at having the fate of the Dreamers kicked a few weeks down the road - and believe me, no one's more concerned about the plight of the Dreamers, now in limbo, than I am - if the budget doesn't get passed and the government shuts down that won't improve their situation any. Whether you allow the government to shut down or agree to the current budget
deal, DACA won't get settled today.
So, Democrats, vote in the budget, keep the government running, save us billions in otherwise wasted tax dollars and the grief.
And then go back to bat for the Dreamers tomorrow.
"That is so mean! " was my initial response to the crude obscenity Donald Trump used last week to describe African countries and Haiti before stating his preference for immigrants from countries like Norway.
"How disgustingly racist," was my second response. "How amazing," was my third.
Amazing, in that here is a man whose racism is so ingrained that he thought he could, as President of the United States, drop a vulgar racist slur without consequence during an important meeting with lawmakers on the subject of immigration reform.
Donald Trump is such a racist he's blind to the fact that his is one.
Still, that being said, I do believe that what Donald Trump is, first, foremost, and above all, is mean.
But how did he become so mean? What twist during his privileged formative years made this celebrity billionaire, who's never in his life missed a meal or a golf game,
But I believe that meanness is what defines Donald Trump; it's what drives his foul mouth and behavior and what feeds not only his racism, but his sexism, his misogyny, his cruelty, his xenophobia, his homophobia, his bullying, and his narcissism.
Or maybe it's Trump's narcissism that feeds the wellspring of his meanness; but I guess it doesn't matter, the two sins likely living in close symbiosis in the pit of his soul.
How true this has proven to be with Donal Trump. The meanness he exhibited before he was president, bragging about assaulting women, calling them pigs, slobs, and worse, making up belittling nicknames for his opponents, cheating the contractors and workers he employed, defrauding the students who attended his bogus university, insulting Muslims, Latinos, and African-Americans, demeaning John McCain for the suffering he endured as a prisoner of war,
But alas, they did.
And now we are a country with a president who has brought meanness in its many expressions into style.
And all the while Donald Trump's supporters close their eyes to - or celebrate - his execrable language and behavior and his cruel, racist agenda and praise him for the current economic boom in this country and the ever rising stock market.
Do you suppose the stock market will rise up so high that it will serve as as a stairway to Heaven?
My daughter Claire is currently in Bangladesh with Medglobal giving medical care to the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar (see posts from 1/3/2018, 1/4/2018 and 1/5/2018).
Claire is doing well, if exhausted at the end of each long day of treating endless lines of very sick children and adults.
A few days ago she sent me the following piece that she wrote and some pictures, which I'll now share with you:
Cox’s Bazar is a lovely resort town in eastern Bangladesh known for its 125-mile-long beach, the longest beach in the world. Cox’s Bazar has recently become the destination for the 800,000 to one million Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar after being tortured, murdered and driven across the border by the Myanmar military.
This morning I ride in a van with my fellow MedGlobal volunteers who are here for the same reason as me: to provide primary care to those living in the refugee camps outside of Cox’s Bazar, near the border of Myanmar.
We drive through rice paddies and see the local Bangladeshis hunched over in the fields. We reach the edge of the camps and pass by the food distribution points as refugees wait in the sun for their allotment of food.
The MedGlobal clinic is on the edge of the Balukali camp. I know that the patients will be lined up and waiting for us when we arrive, as they always are. The waiting area has benches for about 100 waiting patients. Those without a seat will squat in the shade as they wait outside.
I walk into the clinic and am immediately directed to the procedure room by the local midwives,
who have been registering patients while waiting for us to arrive. A young woman is lying on the
stretcher, moaning and dry heaving. The midwife tells me that her blood pressure upon arrival
was 60/40. I feel for a pulse, which is rapid and weak. I grab the blood pressure cuff and take
another pressure. She does not have a blood pressure in her right arm. “No pressure” I tell the
field coordinator and the doctor in the room with me. I try the other arm. No blood pressure there
I prepare to start IV fluids and the doctor begins the process of learning the patient’s history through the interpreter. She has been having diarrhea and vomiting for the past several days. She’s gone 12 times today already. She hasn’t urinated since yesterday. She starts to vomit and I sit her up. She loses consciousness so I lay her back down and turn her head to the side.
The field coordinator is on the phone with the field hospital about 25 minutes away to see if they
will accept the patient. The local transportation coordinator readies the ambulance, which is
really a van with a bench and a siren.
I apply the tourniquet and begin looking for a vein to start IV fluids. Her veins are small and she is massively dehydrated. What she needs is an ICU I think. She needs a central line and vasopressors to bring up her blood pressure. She needs to be placed on a ventilator. She needs IV antibiotics. Nutrition. Clean water. A roof over her head. A secure place for her children to grow up.
After two tries I place a tiny IV in an impossible vein. I start the IV fluids and the field
coordinator gets the OK to send her to the field hospital. The patient’s husband gently lifts the
patient from the stretcher and carries her to the ambulance. The doctor rides with her in the back.
As the ambulance pulls away I look around me.
Several Rohingya children have made kites out of trash and are busy flying and chasing them around outside the clinic. They shriek and giggle as the wind blows the kites into the trees.
I walk back inside and see 100 eyes watching me. Tired eyes, hopeful eyes, eyes white and blinded from years of vitamin A deficiency.
As I have been working a line of patients has formed who have been sent to me for various
treatments. Some need nebulizers, some IV fluids, some a shot of antibiotics. A few need
additional testing for malaria, UTIs, pregnancy. Others need wound care for countless traumas
suffered at the hands of the military, or while struggling up and down the dirt cliffs of the camp. I start with “Ken Acho,” a Rohingya greeting for “How are you?” My poor attempt at speaking Rohingya gets a smile from a few of the waiting women, the intended response. We get to work.
...continued from yesterday:
On Thursday morning we drove north up the coast to La Jolla, a popular resort town crowded with visitors where the packed restaurants were surprisingly not plentiful for the amount of people, like us, seeking out brunch.
Though the service was not great and the wait for our food was excruciating, it being nearly lunch time by the time our brunch arrived, the food, once it finally arrived, was great.
Romaine ordered the Eggs Benedict,
The restaurant also had a bakery offering the most gorgeous pastries, but, alas, we resisted.
Then we headed back to Imperial Beach, arriving as "heavenly shades of night were falling."
The following morning we ate breakfast at a cute little eatery across from our hotel called The Wave,
...that served the best omelets and hash browns on the planet.
After breakfast we headed north again, this time to the beach town of Encinitas.
From the beach we walked all around the town,
On our drive back to Imperial Beach we were treated to some beautiful views of San Diego Harbor,
Romaine stayed one more day in San Diego,
...Continued from yesterday:
On Tuesday, January 2, it was good-bye to the Los Angeles palm trees and hello to the San Diego palm trees,
...which are also lovely.
...and a living room with a very comfy pull-out-bed couch which I slept on.
The view from outside our door.
As we arrived at Imperial Beach several hours before check-in time, we decided to first seek out some lunch. By fortunate happenstance we found down the block from our hotel a great little restaurant called the Coronado Brewing Company that served the best food.
Romaine had the Grilled Fish Tacos with slaw,
...while I had the Seared Ahi Tacos with fries. Everything was soooo goood!
We returned to Imperial Beach and checked into Pier South in time for the hotel’s free-hor's d'ouevres-and-wine happy hour on the 5th floor terrace overlooking the ocean.
…then returned to Pier South,
…and planned the following day’s itinerary.
To be continued...
by Patti Liszkay
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by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
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The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.