Yearly Archive: 2015

Your Doctor is a Corporate Tool (Most Likely), Here’s Proof

I like my doctor alright. He knows the basics of trans issues. He’s really helped me out by writing letters of support for trans-related surgeries. Whenever I say “no” to things like invasive examinations or vaccinations, he doesn’t give me a hard time. He accepts poor people insurance. He’s respectful and soft-spoken. He exceeds my best expectations of Western doctors, which admittedly aren’t particularly high. Fortunately, I have no real need of a doctor anymore except to prescribe my testosterone, because all my health problems disappeared when I changed my diet to organic and mostly raw. But anyway, like I said, I like my doctor alright.

Except… I recently found out he has accepted over $100,000 from drug companies in the last year and a half. One hundred thousand dollars, friends. It is hard for me to even picture that obscene stack of Benjamins. Like, what the hell, doc? My doctor is serving poor people but his bank account is definitely not suffering for it. This information is available publicly on Dollars for Docs, a website that makes sense out of the raw, often jacked up (ie, self-reported by drug companies) data from the government database Open Payments (which I first heard about from the brilliant John Oliver).

What is my Dr. So & So doing for drug companies that could possibly be worth that much? Well, the large payments of $1,000 to $30,000+ were earmarked for “promotional/speaking” engagements. I can only imagine that Big Pharma flies him somewhere to talk to an audience of other doctors (or maybe even patients?) about how wonderful the drug is, or something like that. Many of the other smaller payments are marked “food and beverage,” so probably those are drug reps taking him to lunch in the hopes of getting him to prescribe more of their shit to his patients.

Two of the drugs that he was paid in “food and beverage” to learn more about were androgen gels, which is relevant to me. It looks like one rep bought him a whole cow for dinner and the other one bought him Wendy’s or something. To his credit, he has never brought up changing my injectable prescription to those gels. I cannot do so anyway, because unlike most people, my levels skyrocketed when I briefly switched years ago– which I don’t recall ever telling him.

For shits and giggles, I looked up my previous doctor, who was funny and extremely intelligent, never once tried to push drugs or vaccinations on me, and who I liked more than any doctor I have ever met (with the caveat that I haven’t met Dr. Mercola in person) but who unfortunately does not take my poor people insurance. He has only accepted $128 in dirty drug money for “food and beverage” according to Dollars for Docs over the same time period. I imagine him telling most of the drug reps to fuck off (literally) when they show up in his office, whereas those guys are always hovering around like vultures in my current doctor’s office, trying to look like they just stepped out of a J. Crew catalog to drop off their samples.

For more shits and giggles, I looked up some famous doctors. I am not particularly a fan of Dr. Oz (he gets some things right), but the astronomical amounts of cash reported for him on Dollars for Docs was for promoting medical devices, nothing drug-related, and part of that was donated directly to his children’s charity. My hero Dr. Joseph Mercola has accepted $0 in dirty drug money. My future plans include changing doctors, and being significantly less poor.

This is not to say that my current doctor is a bad person. In his case, I’m sure he believes the drugs are doing something positive for people. I just don’t happen to agree. Drug trials are often blatantly fraudulent. At best I believe most pharmaceutical drugs do nothing positive, at worst they are harmful– and the majority are unnecessary with a proper diet. But regardless of whether pharmaceuticals actually help, as a humanist I believe it’s unethical to make shit tons of money off of anything that supposedly treats illness, because everyone should have access to that. It also makes my skin crawl that doctors are allowed to accept any money whatsoever from drug companies. It brings to mind how the tobacco industry used to pay doctors to say that smoking commercial cigarettes laced with poisons was good for you. Millions of deaths later, the truth comes out.

The Stolen Hamster

When I was in 7th grade, I stole a hamster.

The hamster belonged to my science “teacher” (using the term loosely). The things I remember about him (the man, not the hamster) are that he had a thick Boston accent, a reddened complexion which I now recognize as one sign of chronic drinking (which makes sense because he was arrested for DUIs several times and often seemed drunk or high), he made dirty jokes in class and shamelessly flirted with 7th grade girls, did not seem to understand basic science or math, coached some sort of sports that I didn’t pay attention to, and apparently had a deal with the devil (or the teacher’s union) because nothing he did ever got him fired– he was even still “teaching” (using the term loosely) years later when my son was in school.

One memorable incident was when a question on one of his “science” tests had the wrong “right” answer. The question was: “John has 5 bananas and trades 3 of them for 2 naked photos of Jack’s sister. How many bananas does he have left?” (I am not making this up.) The answer he said was correct was “three.” So when I could not keep myself from insisting that answer was wrong, I had to stand at the front of the class pretending to swap bananas and polaroids with him so that he could find out how 2nd grade math works. When I told my parents of this, they were incensed at the inappropriateness of the entire situation and went to the principal, who did nothing. He told them the teacher’s defense was that he had gotten that question out of a joke book at Spencer’s Gifts. Because of course that’s where 7th (2nd?) grade science (math?) material should come from, and how could he be expected to fact check such a reputable source? (Or calculate grade school math on the fly?)

Anyway, I stole his hamster. One of the hamsters that lived in his classroom– a sweet-natured, short-haired, creme colored hamster with a white band. On her left cheek was a lump about the size it would be if she had overstuffed her cheek pouch. This lump had been bothering me for a couple weeks as I had observed it mostly unchanging. I told him it was a tumor and he explained, “It’s just got food in it’s cheek. That’s how they store their food,” as if I was as dumb as he was. I said, “No, it’s a tumor” in a tone that meant, “You are a moron.” My friend Lori helped me take her out of the cage and put her in a box so I could take her home. To his credit, he did not try to stop us.

I was hoping I was wrong but unfortunately I was not. After I had taken her home and given her a nice cage in a quiet area, the lump grew noticeably bigger. And bigger. I asked my Dad to take her to the vet– I couldn’t bring myself to go. They told him they would chloroform her for free, because nothing else could be done. That they would not try to operate angered me. I was too scared to go and ask them outright to do so, or to call a hundred vets and ask them as I would do now. I felt helpless. I did not know about natural remedies then. I didn’t know what to do except pray– I was religious back then, and took “thou shalt not kill” literally. As the lump got bigger it moved forward on her little face, until her little eye was overtaken, until her little eye was just gone, crumbled off. On her last day, her cries were horrible, and I will probably never forgive myself for not accepting the free chloroform. I was too scared to let her die peacefully as I should have done.

The kind of man I want to be– rather than passively watching an animal suffering, when there is clearly no hope left, I want to be the kind of man who snaps its neck. Or at least uses chloroform. I wonder if I will ever be that man.

The thing that reminded me about that poor hamster was that my beloved chihuahua recently grew a lump on his head. It became alarmingly huge over the two days I was away from home for Thanksgiving, to the point that the lump was as large as half of his little head. When I got home, I wept at the sight of him. Even though I hadn’t been home long, the lump seemed to loom closer to his eye than a few hours before. I wept at the thought of losing my beloved chihuahua, I wept for his suffering and for the little hamster’s suffering years before, I wept at being a coward, I wept for not working harder so I could afford to feed him raw organic beef every day instead of grain-free kibble most days, and I wept at the unfairness of other animals having to die to keep my beloved chihuahua in good health. My son saw my tears and then tried to hide his own.

I did not want to take my chihuahua to the vet because I’ve had nothing but bad experiences with them. I didn’t want to pay them a bunch of money to tell me he is dying and there is nothing they can do, or he’s dying and they want to give him drugs and radiation, or it was a cyst and harmless. There is not much of western medicine that I believe in, especially where cancer is concerned. I texted a few friends desperately trying to locate some cannabis because I believe that to be the best remedy for cancer, besides baking soda injections. Not being a smoker, I had no idea where to get it or how much it would cost. Two friends quoted me vastly different prices, then Trevor let me know where to buy CBD– basically cannabis with the THC removed– which I did not know was a thing, let alone a legal thing. I rushed out to get some. The kind I got was Charlotte’s Web Hemp Extract, 5mg CBD, by CW Botanicals, 30 capsules for $40, from a local head shop.

My son and I treated the lump with hydrogen peroxide, the CBD mixed with coconut oil, and we also gave him water mixed with baking soda to drink, and peanut butter mixed with CBD to eat.

In the middle of the night the cyst burst open. It was not a tumor. His eye is OK. My little chihuahua is still with me, recovering with a wound on his little head where the cyst was. I am still shaken from the thought of losing him, which I understand is inevitable someday. When it is time for him to go, which hopefully will be when we are both old, I hope for the strength and the bravery to alleviate his suffering, if it comes to that.

Dear Nature

“Dear Nature”
by Basil Sunshine

Dear Nature,
Why are you so horrible?
I can’t deny you any more than I can deny
my own skeleton creaking under my own skin, not any more
than I can deny my will to carry on subjecting myself
to this magical misery of yours.
I can’t deny you but I hate you sometimes.

Today we were delighted to meet some piglets that you made.
Who had fuzzy black faces with white spots here and splotches of mud there.
Who shoved wet noses at us and nipped at us for treats.
Who had floppy dog ears and warm human eyes.
Who had, with their little curly tails, about six months left to live.

The farmer said about them, they will be “a lot of ham and bacon.”

And we wanted to weep, didn’t we? Didn’t we want to weep?
Why did we not weep, Daniel?
Looking into their sweet faces, running fingers through their warm fur,
feeling their joy at being alive? And knowing, just knowing.

Because we are so…we have that…je ne sais quoi…yes, yes, because
we are so worldly, we are so hip, we are so downtown, you know, we are
just so full of shit.
Aren’t we?

The truth is we are so stupid that we thought they were pets.

The farmer, why did he say such things?
There were children around, cooing and petting the… the merchandise.
I wanted to scream and claw the golden buttons from his shabby coat.

Maybe he was hungry.
It’s not his fault, Nature.
It’s yours.

I have said over and over, until I am blue in the face,
that I have no quarrel with you.
That I accept you.
Even when you are not kind.
Which is often.

But for the love of all that is holy, there is no good reason
that living things should want to eat each other, is there?
All I want to know is why.
What is the purpose in making corpses taste good?
Why do they contain nutrition? What the fuck is that?
It didn’t have to be this way.

It’s stupid, I hate you, and whoever made you like this
is an asshole.

WWJD? Protest the color of a paper cup and deny refugees haven, apparently

Two recent news stories have been weighing heavily on my mind. One, how Starbucks’ holiday paper cup design was so plain-looking this year that it enraged some people to the extent that they declared it a “War on Christmas.” Two, how refugees from Syria are being denied entry into state after state in Amerika, mainly by political figures who loudly declare their Christian faith and largely with the public’s approval, in a nation with the majority being affiliated with some form of Christianity or another.

Last time I checked, Christmas was supposed to be a Christian holiday that marks the birth of the allegedly non-mythical Jesus. But mostly I have observed it being celebrated in the most un-Christlike ways possible here in Amerika, featuring plenty of at least three of the seven deadly sins– greed, envy and gluttony. I feel fairly confident in saying that if Jesus was an actual person and he was magically here today, he would not only be appalled but might show up with a bullwhip to his own birthday party. [Reference: John 2:13-17]

Does the painful irony not even occur to these faux Christians that their own religious figure was from the Middle East, and also a refugee? [Reference: Matthew 2:13-15] Maybe not, since people are so fond these days of depicting Jesus as a white guy with blue eyes (which is improbable, to say the least). Many Christians I’ve spoken with do not even know that Jesus was Jewish, according to the book that many of them carry under their arm but do not actually read and/or comprehend. [Reference: Matthew 1:1]

I hate to be the one to inform you, but if you think the most important problem with Christmas in Amerika is the wrong color coffee cups and that Syrian refugees should be turned away, you are not a Christian. You’re a shitty human being, and definitely not a Christian. To be a Christian, I think you have to ask yourself at least once in a while (like maybe before taking a serious position on an issue), what did Jesus command that I do in this situation? And if there was nothing written about it in the book you consider holy, then maybe take a minute to consider what Jesus might do in a given situation, based on the themes of that narrative.

What did Jesus say about the design of Starbucks’ holiday cups?

He said, “Verily I say unto you, thy coffee shall be contained unto a shitty single-use paper cup, upon which thou shalt place graven images pleasing to the Lord your God.” Just kidding. He said fuck all about that.

What did Jesus say about refugees?

It turns out he said a bunch of shit. The most important of which, in my opinion, is that those who give food, water, clothing, refuge, shelter and care to the humans with the least status are actually doing those things to Jesus himself. Further, those who do so will go to Heaven and those who do not are to be sent to that other unsavory place. [Reference: Matthew 25:31-46]

What do you have to say to that, John Kasich and all you other fake Christian assholes?

Yes, we can easily know you are not a real Christian, because it says in your own book that we will know you by your fruits. [Reference: Matthew 7:15-20] Your fruits, sir, were clearly shat out by a monkey with a stomach virus.

Here’s something for the Starbucks cup whiners to chew on: If you can afford to pay two or three times the going rate for a cup of coffee, your life is probably not that difficult. Let’s take a moment to close your eyes, breath in the heady aroma of your grande Pike’s Place, take a loud slurp so that you can properly experience the rich compounds of the aerated coffee over your palate, and finally, for a millisecond try to realize just how fucking privileged you are. Think of all the hardships that millions of people around the world are facing. Does the color of the fucking cup you are going to throw in the trash really matter that goddamn much?

Nevermind. I know that this is an exercise in futility because people who think like that are immune to reminders to empathize with other people. Just keep guzzling your overpriced coffee, not giving two shits about anybody, and ruining the Earth by not recycling your mountains of displeasingly uncheery coffee cups.

PS, Fuck You and Merry Fucking Christmas.

In regards to putting my penis in your daughter

Recently a fellow on the street asked me for some change and I gave him what was in my pocket, as I always do whenever I have any change on me. But before I could continue on my way, he started talking– well kind of ranting, speaking at an inappropriate volume (as Italian people like myself sometimes are guilty of doing) and showing the whites of his eyes– about religious topics. My son later told me he would have asked for his change back at that point, which I think is a pretty funny response, but I would never have even thought about doing that unless he was being evil toward me. Probably not even then, because I clearly had advantages in life that he did not.

The first thing he started with, looking pointedly at the rainbow keychain that I wear hanging from a belt loop on my pants every day (and which does fuck all to get people to recognize my queerness usually)– was that the advice he gives “these LGBT people is to try being heterosexual first, then you can at least know that that doesn’t work for you.”

My mouth fell open but nothing came out. I didn’t know whether to laugh or not. Before I could gather my thoughts and respond that most heterosexual people don’t need to try being gay to make sure it doesn’t work for them, he continued, “It’s all in the Bible. It’s about a man and a woman because it’s all about reproduction.”

“Well, back when the Bible was written, there was not overpopulation like there is now. I think God understands that, and that’s why there are gay people.” (I normally do not use the word “God”– I use the word “Universe” to represent the divine force I perceive, unless it is for the sake of communicating quickly/effectively with someone.)

“There’s a book. We’re not supposed to just do different things from what it says.”

“Well we have to do some things differently. The world is different now.”

“I just don’t want it on the streets. Heterosexual people, them too, nobody. People need to keep things in the bedroom. I don’t want my children influenced.”

“Well it’s not legal to have sex in the streets here,” I said. “So that’s not a real problem.”

He nodded and moved on to the topic of marriage.

I wish I could reproduce his epic rant about the holiness of two people joining together as one as God intended, etc. etc., but he was talking a mile a minute.

Then I felt the conversation took a distinctly wrong turn.

“If you put your penis in my daughter, I don’t want you putting your penis in my daughter, because then you can back out. People shouldn’t be doing things until it’s holy first.”

This one I couldn’t possibly respond what I was thinking. Besides the fact that it was worded too personally for comfort, talking about penises and daughters in one breath is pretty much what’s wrong with the world, not a lack of marriages. Men (primarily cis hetero men) attempting to control/guard the sexuality and reproduction of women is a mark of lizard-brain thinking. That is, using that tiny, primitive portion of the brain to make decisions instead of using the reasoning of the higher mind.

“Marriage is between two people, then nobody else tries to come in there. Males are not going to be fighting anymore. There’s peace because they become one flesh and everyone respects it.”

“I see what you’re saying, but I don’t necessarily believe in marriage. People can still be kind, and not fight, and take care of each other. It doesn’t have anything to do with being married. I have two partners and I take care of them both and they take care of me.”

“Well then it’s between your two partners and you, and nobody else comes in there.”

I didn’t really know what to say to that. The belief that other people are a threat to my relationships is one that I’ve discarded.

I shook his hand before I went on my way, and told him it was nice talking to him.

Stuffing of Rage

My boyfriend J and I had a stupid argument.

His fatal mistake was asking how I felt about “stuffing.” He wanted to make an organic, gluten-free stuffing from my favourite sprouted grain bread to serve at the Thanksgiving party he has been carefully planning with my other boyfriend D, his husband.

To say that I dislike stuffing is putting it mildly. I also hate the entire concept of holidays and have not celebrated much of anything in years. Well, I usually briefly observed New Year’s by partying “wildly” on my back porch with a cigar and a jar of alcoholic kombucha for twenty minutes.

So I was, regrettably, not kind about it. I did not thank him for his thoughtfulness in trying to make something I would enjoy for his Thanksgiving celebration. Being thankful, ironically, did not enter my mind during this conversation. I remember feeling irritated at having to think about holidays, and a bit sick to my stomach because the word “stuffing” was said so many times. Having a vivid imagination is a curse/blessing. Certain food items that I consider particularly disgusting nauseate me if I think about them. Once I vomited because I saw a picture of a chicken pot pie and I couldn’t help but imagine how it tasted. It did not taste good.

Anyway. I said how I felt about stuffing was that it made me want to throw up in my mouth. That could have been worded so much more skillfully.

Further, I started ranting about holidays. I explained that I follow the Buddhist notion of every day being special and holidays being superfluous. I tried to explain that I had unhappy memories from my sad childhood. I said I don’t do holidays, and I’m sorry. I said I would help with preparing food if they told me what to do. I said I wanted to see his friends and family that would be there. I felt miserable for not being able to be excited about something he cared about, for raining on his parade, and for not finding a better way to talk about it.

He was upset. He cried. He said I didn’t have to come to the party and he accused me of thinking he’s a stupid hipster for being excited over Thanksgiving. Of course I didn’t think that, but imagining that he thought I was just being an asshole to him set me off. I started yelling and I hate to yell. I was mad that he was crying and making me feel like my feelings weren’t acceptable, and mad that I had made him, a boy I love dearly and want very much to please, cry. Of course my shouting did not stop his tears at all– quite the opposite. That seems distinctly more intuitive in retrospect.

Somewhere in the middle of yelling I realized maybe I don’t celebrate holidays anymore not because I have Buddhist leanings or because I have unpleasant memories associated with holidays, but because I don’t want to feel certain things. Sadness. More so, regret. I realized that not celebrating holidays won’t keep me safe from uncomfortable feelings. I tried to unpack this emotional crap I didn’t want to deal with, while stuck in a car full of pregnant silences, staring up at the stars.

The food (using the term loosely) known as “stuffing” reminds me of my beloved Aunt J. She is one of the kindest people I know and also one of the worst cooks. While it’s true I have never enjoyed that incomprehensible use for bread, Aunt J’s squishy substance loaded with chunks of pepperoni and unplaceable herbs was deeply unsettling to me. Further, I always choked it down to be polite because I love my aunt. Which leads us to another aspect of this issue– I feel it is very rude to refuse food, I hate to be rude, and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. In recent years I have sometimes reacted to food offerings (or even hypothetical food offerings) with anger, which is surely the quickest way to hurt someone’s feelings– the exact thing I am upset at the prospect of doing. And sometimes I still eat things that I don’t want to if I think someone’s feelings will be hurt, even if I know it will make me sick. This is ludicrous and I’m working on it.

Anyway. I always thought Aunt J was Italian, being dark haired and married to my uncle, but when I was doing genealogy research, I found that her maiden name is distinctly non-Italian. How sad is it that I have never asked her about her family or heritage? I could have at least asked her where her very creative stuffing recipe came from. But it’s not even really about stuffing. Who cares about that?

I miss my Aunt J very much and need to go back to the place where I grew up to visit her. She and my Uncle J were so kind to me in my largely unhappy youth. I will never forget that when I was in high school they told me I could come over to their house any time. They said this pointedly, with the unspoken bit being that I could come there to escape because they knew I was having trouble getting along with my parents and siblings. And by that I mean they treated me like shit, though back then I did not tell my aunt & uncle (or anyone) what they put me through. When I started testosterone to affirm my gender in my early twenties, my aunt & uncle said my new name as if it had always been mine, while my parents and siblings did what they could to make sure I understood how disagreeable me being comfortable in my own skin was to them.

My Uncle J passed last year. There is a pain in my heart when I think about him, mostly because I did not go back to visit and I barely kept in touch. A couple years ago I wrote to my aunt & uncle to tell them how much it meant to me how good they were to me in the darkest times in my life and that I would never forget it. I stated that again in a letter when I found out that Uncle J was given only a short time to live. My horrible mother could not resist the urge to email me to tell me that Aunt J had let her read the letters. I knew that my mother hoped that I would be upset with Aunt J for letting her read them. But unlike my mother, my aunt would never purposefully violate my trust. Unlike my mother, my aunt is a sweet person without any deception in her heart.

Part of the reason that I did not go back to visit before was money being tight, and not having a car. But I really have no excuse for not writing very often, and never calling. Being an introvert is not a good enough excuse. Not wanting to visit the town where I grew up and where my parents still live (I think) is not a good enough excuse. Nothing is. And life is short. I need to visit Aunt J.

Regret is the real stuffing.

It was after my beloved Italian grandfather passed in 2003 that I stopped celebrating holidays. I deeply regret not spending more time with him in his last few years on Earth. There are so many things I wish I could ask him that never occurred to me to ask him when I was a dumb kid. He was such an important person to me that I feel like a part of me died with him. I’m not sure what it says that I don’t even enjoy celebrating my own birth anymore. Though I’ve never been a person who does things much like other people do, I was excited about holidays and my birthday when I was a little kid. Maybe someday I will be again.

My boyfriend J was only trying to make me feel like part of the family. The last thing he wanted was to upset me and I certainly did not want to upset him. Even if we never see eye to eye on holidays, much less stuffing, I hope we are always family.

This is a blog about nothing

Every time I try to write a blog about “something” I get bored of it after a couple weeks and abandon it. Instead of trying to “power through” it yet another time, I’m just gonna write a blog about nothing. By nothing I mean any random thing I am thinking about (though thinking is an activity that I consider highly overrated). Fair warning: I may get bored and abandon it after a couple weeks.

When I was younger, I blogged. Well, more like, threw up all my emotions all over the interwebs. It’s no secret that my life was a bit of a trainwreck when I was young. I have spent a lot of time trying to make it better, to make myself better. At some point I “grew up” and stopped myself from sharing so much. But that’s stupid in its own way. Maybe I could find a happy medium. Sometimes there are things I want to share…to make people laugh, inspire them, help them in some small way by talking about the things I have learned…maybe mostly to leave a record that I existed, and was as happy and as miserable, but mostly happy, as any human has the right to be.

Plus I just turned 40 and I’m out of fucks about what anybody thinks. Not that I ever had too many of those.