KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Friday, March 31, 2006

Sandwiched In

Part of the sandwich generationPlease pass two whole-grain bread slices. Now that my husband Ed and I are part of the sandwich generation, it’s time for us to crawl between them.

We live in an intergenerational household: he and I and our two sons, Neil (11) and Jared (4), on the upstairs floor of our home, and Ed’s parents, A and D, in the downstairs apartment. Our 23-year-old daughter, Becky, lives in a nearby town with her fiancé. I work full time, in a home office, as a freelance copyeditor. Ed commutes just over an hour each way to his job as a cabinetmaker. A and D help me by taking Neil to his weekly guitar lessons and Jared to his preschool three time a week; this allows me to get in enough billable work hours each week.

A, who’ll turn 70 near the end of May, needs knee-replacement surgery. The degeneration of his knee joint gives him so much pain that he waddles like a penguin. Before he can have the surgery, though, his doctors have required him to undergo a series of tests: blood work, stress tests, and prostate biopsy—the latter because his prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, levels have been astronomically high for years and the docs want to make sure that they won’t be doing surgery on a man with cancer.

Meanwhile, D, who’ll turn 71 in just 9 days, has been having neck pain, making it difficult for her to drive, bend in various ways, and even sleep. Her doctor suspects damage to the discs in her neck or a pinched nerve. She needed to undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) so she could get her condition diagnosed.

Tuesday was Allan’s prostate biopsy. Foreshadowing: The procedure was done at the local VA (Veterans Affairs) hospital.

D drove him home afterward; everything seemed fine. He even dropped Jared off at preschool Wednesday morning.

But not long afterward, he started to shake uncontrollably. D called the hospital and was told to take his temperature. It was 103°F. Time for him to go to the hospital ER; he had an infection. How did we know? The same thing—at the same hospital—happened a few years ago after the same procedure.

D had to drive A to the hospital. I lost work because I had to pick Jared up after preschool was done. But before I could do that, I had to pick Neil up from middle school because otherwise, no one would have been home for him when the school bus dropped him off.

A didn't end up staying at the hospital. He complained so much about how much the hospital would charge him to stay—“Eight hundred dollars they’ll charge me! I don’t have that kind of money!”—that the docs released him AMA (against medical advice) the same day, after pumping him full of antibiotics intravenously.

Yesterday was D’s MRI appointment. Though A was feeling a bit weak, she didn’t want to reschedule, because her neck pain has been going on for a few weeks now. So I took off work again, this time to drive her to the appointment and let A stay home and rest. I brought along Jared, for whom it wasn’t a school day. I knew that the scan would take a while, so I made arrangements for Neil to go to the next-door neighbor's house if I got back home after his bus arrived. Jared was fine the whole 90 minutes; he and I sat in our van, all the windows open and the side doors open to catch the breeze, and played with the Etch A Sketch, read, and talked. (Jared, like his sister before him, is a very easy child.) Meanwhile, I was sitting there thinking that I'll have to work this weekend to make up for all of my lost work time so that I can meet my clients’ deadlines.

We got back home 10 minutes before Neil's bus showed up. Jared and I decided to wait in the front yard for Neil. Meanwhile, D came out of the house to say that she had taken A's temperature, and it was 103! Back to the hospital, this time to stay for a while. But I couldn’t drive him, because I had both boys, and even easy Jared wouldn't last through a 40-minute drive to the VA hospital, getting A admitted, and then another 40-minute drive home. I didn’t think D should drive A because of her neck problems and the muscle relaxant she was given so she wouldn't freak out during the MRI. I called Ed, and he left work early, at 3 p.m., so he could take his father to the hospital. You’ll recall that it takes just over an hour from his job to home.

Poor Ed—and poor A. The VA hospital got A catheterized pretty quickly, but they didn’t start pumping him full of IV antibiotics or officially admit him until his lab test results came back ... at about 8:30 p.m. I did tell you that this is a VA hospital, didn’t I? Ed didn’t want to leave A until he was settled in a room and no longer shaking from fever, and that didn’t happen until almost 10 p.m.! Ed finally had some pizza for dinner just after 10.

At least maybe this whole episode will teach thick-headed A that when the docs say he needs to stay in the hospital, it’s time not to gripe repeatedly about money to every caregiver he sees—and risk alienating them—but to keep quiet, stay still, and recuperate. And if I were him, I for damn sure wouldn’t want to have my knee-replacement surgery done in a VA hospital!

I’m hoping I’ll get to work all day today. But just in case, keep a slice of bread ready for me to crash on. If I don’t need it today, I’ll need it again soon. Taking care of the in-laws as they age is going to fall mostly to me, not because Ed doesn’t want to do it but because I’m here all the time and am self-employed.

Updated 3/31/06, 1:20 p.m.: A nurse in D's doctor's office called to say that the MRI results are in. D has a herniated disk in her neck. The doc hasn't called yet about what the treatment will be, but herniated disks in the neck usually don't require surgery, just hot or cold packs, meds for the pain, a neck brace (which D's already wearing), and physical therapy.

9:15 p.m.: A's doctor says he has prostate cancer. The doc doesn't think the side effects of either external-beam radiation therapy or brachytherapy (also known as seed therapy) are worth it in A's case, so A will be in the hospital a few more days so that he can undergo a radical prostatectomy.

Further update here.

sandwich generation freelancer self-employed in-laws intergenerational prostate cancer herniated disk Veterans Affairs EditorMom

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Keep Out of Iran

Keep out of Iran. You've done imperialism to death.(Design copyright © 2006 by Katharine O'Moore-Klopf.)The first time George Bush stole office, I predicted to my husband that Bush would end up starting World War III before he left the White House. The threats he's making now to Iran sure make it look as if he's trying to prove me right, one country at a time.

And that means it's time for another EditorMom design with a message.

You can find lapel buttons, stickers, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, tote bags, coffee mugs, and more here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The War That Never Ends

It's three years after "Shock and Awe" began. Feel any safer? I don't.

We're still at the mercy of Bushco. The Democrats have shown they have no spine. No one in power is pushing hard enough to impeach both Bush and Cheney.

At best, the world mistrusts the U.S.; at worst, the world hates it. The U.S. tortures its prisoners or subcontracts out the torturing to other countries. It sees demons everywhere; I have no doubt that the Iraq war will continue indefinitely and that the U.S. will begin a war in Iran.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sing for the Cure

Sing for the CureIf you'll be on Long Island the first weekend in April, you can hear gorgeous music performed by my favorite GLBT chorus, the New Century Singers, and help raise money to defeat breast cancer. These singers have the voices of angels; they've performed at Carnegie Hall. Listen to a snippet of them singing.

They'll be performing Sing for the Cure, a work commissioned by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation as a way of honoring the stories of breast cancer survivors and the friends and families of those who did not survive. Librettist Pamela Martin interviewed scores of people whose unique stories comprise the narration and lyrics for ten songs set to the music of ten composers, each of whom has been touched by breast cancer in some way.

Concert proceeds will benefit Babylon Breast Cancer Coalition, Cure Mommy's Breast Cancer, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, the Long Island Lesbian Cancer Initiative, Thursday's Child, and other local grassroots breast cancer support groups.

When: Sunday, April 2, 2006, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, 71 East Main Street, Patchogue, New York
Cost: $25.00 for adults; $22.00 for children, senior citizens, and students
How to purchase tickets: Go to the theater box office (12:00–6:00 p.m., Tuesday–Sunday), call (631) 207-1313, or go to the theater's web site.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Survey on Queer Family Culture

This post is for those of my readers who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender or who have friends or family members who are.

Troy McGinnis, a doctoral student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, tells me that he is conducting a study of gay and lesbian family relationships and culture. "I am trying to determine just how different GLBT values and beliefs about family and relationships actually are from the heterosexual majority. I want to know what social forces or demographic characteristics condition a 'pro-marriage' attitude among lesbians and gays. ... The survey is hosted on my personal web site and is conducted under a protocol approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. You can view information about it or even preview the survey if you wish at the following URL:
http://www.socioscape.com/quo. Note that the actual questionnaire is resident on a secure server."

Please consider taking the survey. And please pass the word. Thank you.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Another Straight for GLBT Rights

Another straight for GLBT rights; it's time to end the hate. Design copyright © 2006 by Katharine O'Moore-Klopf.When I think about my brother Wally, I picture a sweetheart of a man who'll make someone a fine husband.

But once he falls in love with Mr. Right, the laws of most U.S. states will discriminate against the two of them and won't allow them to marry. And in most states, he won't be allowed to designate Mr. Right as his spouse on his insurance policies. Or to be called next of kin should Mr. Right land in a hospital.

In most U.S. houses of worship, he isn't welcome because he's gay. Wherever he goes, there are hatemongers ready to deny him basic human rights.

And that pisses me off, so I want to start a campaign: I want straight people to openly support full civil rights and full religious rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. I want all of the homophobes out there to see that there's no such thing as a "homosexual agenda"—just the need for human rights for everyone.

All of you straights out there, please join me. Wear T-shirts and sweatshirts and lapel buttons and hats, carry tote bags, use next-to-the-postage-stamp stickers and coffee mugs that bear the message "Another Straight for GLBT rights; it's time to end the hate."

Feel free to place the "Another straight for GLBT rights" art on your blog or web site, but please link it to http://www.cafepress.com/editormom/1266905, and add this note:

Design copyright © 2006 by Katharine O'Moore-Klopf

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Punishing Female Sexuality

It's International Women's Day, and this year's theme is the role of women in decision making. Looks like nobody gave South Dakota a heads-up about it. In passing an abortion ban, the state has sent a clear message that women aren't to be trusted with making even the most personal decisions.

I'm the mother of three children, and I'm opposed to any abortion ban. It's not that abortion is wonderful. It's that abortion should be available as an emergency measure in very difficult situations—situations that powerful male politicians can in no way fathom.

In passing an abortion ban, South Dakota is saying that women are valuable only as conduits for babies, that their lives are otherwise worthless.

South Dakota is saying that the father or uncle or a neighbor who rapes and impregnates a girl or woman is worth much more than she is. She will have to raise or give up for adoption a child created by hate and brutal force.

South Dakota is not saving babies. It is punishing female sexuality. If politicians truly wanted to reduce the number of abortions, they would ensure that contraception and medically accurate sex education were readily available to everyone.

Please, please go to this site, sponsored by Planned Parenthood, and use the tools there to write a letter to South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds and your state's governor and to write letters to the editors of your area newspapers.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Back to the Dark Ages

The battle to retake complete control of women's bodies is at fever pitch in South Dakota:

South Dakota governor signs abortion ban
Nearly all operations outlawed in direct challenge to Roe v. Wade

pierre, s.d.—Gov. Mike Rounds signed legislation Monday banning nearly all abortions in South Dakota, setting up a court fight aimed at challenging the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

The bill would make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion unless the procedure was necessary to save the woman's life. It would make no exception for cases of rape or incest. ...

Mark Morford, San Francisco Chronicle columnist, urges women to leave South Dakota:

It is time. Pack it up. Strip the bed, box up the cat, load the U-Haul, call your hip friends over in Minneapolis, move out West, or East, or anywhere with a mind-set not stuck like a bloody nail in the moral coffin of 1845. Let this be your clarion call. Get the hell out, right now.

Here is why: Your state hates you. ...

It's not just South Dakota. It's all of the United States. We are returning to the Dark Ages, step by step, losing one right after another.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Walking the Walk

Okay, I'll come clean.

A heavy workload hasn't been all that's keeping me from posting here. I've had writer's block. It's not that there aren't plenty of stupid, fumbling acts by the Bush administration to serve as fodder. It's not even my continuing search for affordable health insurance getting in the way. It's a deep spiritual sadness that's silenced my voice. Now before you go running off in fear and loathing, let me say that I'm a progressive Christian—you'll hear none of that holy roller ban-abortion-and-put-prayer-back-in-schools stuff from me. Here's the story:

My husband Ed and I are looking for a new church home. We're looking into the United Church of Christ (UCC), the denomination with the cool "bouncer" commercial with the message that everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity or sexual orientation or gender identity, is welcome in church, because God doesn't discriminate.

We've been members of a local Presbyterian church since 1995. Our two sons were baptized there; I sang alto in the choir. Ed served as a deacon1 and a chaperone on several youth group retreats; I served on Session2 and on the Spiritual Life and Mission Committees. Our joining that particular church coincided with the arrival of a new pastor. We loved her sermons and her social activism. She inspired us to actually act on our beliefs, championing equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people and participating in peace rallies and protest marches. We were quite active church members. But this past November, after a tenure of almost 11 years, that pastor left to serve at another Presbyterian church.

We've come to see that our congregation is overall rather conservative and doesn't want to rock the boat on any issue, so it often avoids walking the walk even though it talks the talk. Having joined just about the time that the progressive pastor arrived, we didn't realize for many years just how conservative the congregation is; we mistook her views for the congregation's. We began to realize this just over a year ago, well before she left. Conservative isn't necessarily bad; it just doesn't create an atmosphere in which we feel we can make much of a difference in the world, locally or otherwise, when few want to consider anything not conservative. Even though our former pastor knows how we feel and urged us, before she left, to hang in there at the church, we feel as if we have been pushing a boulder uphill at church for several years now, being two of the few liberal progressives there. That takes more strength than we have. Even she, as a pastor, was worn down by the conservatives there.

We'd like a more activist arena in which we can put what we learn in church on Sundays to work the rest of the week, without feeling that it takes extraordinary effort each time to do so for anything other than "safe" issues such as world hunger. That takes a huge amount of emotional energy. We don't think that everyone in a UCC church will agree with everything we believe or vice versa, but we do think that there will be enough agreement there to enable more work to be done in the community on the issues that we feel called to work on.

Not many members of our local Presbyterian church want to deal at all with GLBT laypeople and GLBT ministers and their lack of rights in the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA). Our church still sponsors a local Boy Scout troop even though the national organization Boy Scouts of America officially discriminates against GLBT people, which makes it appear that the church endorses such discrimination. In helping to put together an October 2004 Reformation Sunday worship service on justice versus exclusion, we encountered a great deal of resistance to the prospect of dealing with GLBT rights. After the service—which many people appeared to enjoy and which featured the gorgeous music of the New Century Singers, a GLBT chorus—we were told that our church "talks about the gay issue too much." (I guess some people don't mind enjoying stirring music performed by GLBT people, as long as they don't have to mingle with "those people" in church on a regular basis.) We were told that our church needs to "keep its head down" and not "make waves."

And very few church members want to deal with the fact that Americans are committing a sin by torturing Iraqi prisoners of war and by sending them to facilities in other nations to be tortured. The PCUSA recently sponsored discussions about the immorality of torture, yet our local church won't even discuss the issue openly because "it's political." Damn it, life is political! And if progressives of every stripe—religious or not—don't start speaking up, America—and then the rest of the world—is going to be taken over by radical fundamentalists of various kinds. We'll have no rights and we'll live in an atmosphere of constant mistrust, punishment, and hatred.

Over the years, Ed and I have come to believe that we can't remain silent when we see human rights being denied. We believe that to remain silent is to not live our faith. We believe that we are called to make a difference, and we want to be in a place where we can do that, not just say, "That was a great sermon!" and then take no action because we know no one else wants to. We don't want to keep our heads down. We don't want to keep quiet just because it's considered bad form in the church to speak up about equal rights for GLBT people or to speak out against U.S. torture of Iraqi prisoners. Even if right now our life situation—heavy workloads, an engaged daughter, a middle-schooler, and a prekindergartner—makes us very short on time to serve in various positions in a church, we'd like to feel that we are in a place where our service would have much more of an effect when our situation changes again.

The sadness comes from knowing that we're going to miss seeing a lot of good friends each week. It comes from feeling spiritually homeless. It comes from realizing that what we thought we saw wasn't reality. There's enough garbage going on in this country that it hurts not to have a community of like-minded activists—people who will say, "Yes, let's work together on that problem. Together, we can make a difference."


  1. In the PCUSA, deacons are ordained to minister to those who are in need, sick, friendless, and in distress. They sometimes take on other duties that are delegated to them by the pastor or Session, including assisting with serving Communion.

  2. In the PCUSA, the Session is the governing body of the individual church. Only those church members who have been ordained as church elders can be elected to serve on the Session.

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