...the Journal

Refrigerator Door


This is a post card I bought at the airport, returning from my first trip to Houston. I had intended to send it as a thank you card to Mike, my hosts, who at one time was going to collect Armadillos. He never collected armadillos and I never sent the post card!

It's a bird...it's a plane...
It's Superman!. Here's everything you have ever wanted to know about the Man of Steel.

...it's George Reeves
Here's a good site for finding out where the former Superman--or anybody else--is buried.

...or is it Christopher Reeve..
This is a link to Reeve's paralysis foundation.

I am a theatre critic

OK...so it's a new "career", but if you're interested in reading my reviews, go here


House of Sand and Fog
by Andre Dubus III

Lynn left this book for me; I'd just seen a discussion on Oprah about it and was anxious to read it.

(yes, I finally finished John Denver's autobiography...I didn't have that much time to read!)

That's it for today!


3 February 2001

I haven't had a full Breaking Barriers day in quite awhile. I made up for it today.

The morning started with my daily chat with Peggy, which had to be precipitously ended when I suddenly looked at the clock and realized it was time to get on the road.

Then off to Priscilla's house. I hadn't driven "grandma" in 2-3 weeks, and I'd missed her. In the time she's had other drivers, her health has deteriorated. It was obvious she was in a lot of pain as she walked to the car. Pain was etched into her face and she groaned as she lowered herself into the front seat. She told me how much she was hurting, how she couldn't sleep because of the pain, and then flashed that big smile and said "but let's not talk about unpleasant things--tell me what your son is doing!"

Turns out she has become a listener to Ned's radio station, after she found out where he worked, and she's been following the antics of The Arrow's Survivor contest. I was touched to discover that she'd taken an interest.

She was scheduled for surgery last week. She doesn't know what kind of surgery but "something on my butt" and it had to be cancelled because of fluid in her lungs. She's missing one lobe of her lung, removed two years ago, and the congestion in her lungs was apparent as we drove to the clinic this morning.

She leaned back in the seat with eyes closed and said she was just going to turn it over to God and hope he'd take care of her.

When we returned to her house, she gave me a hug, got out and locked my door for me (she worries that someone will attack me in my car) and gave a cheery wave. I drove off, wondering how much more time she has.

I've grown to love that lady a lot.

I was scheduled to drive another client at 1 p.m., but had three hours to kill, so I went down to Breaking Barriers to volunteer some time.

Somehow whenever I volunteer my time at Breaking Barriers it involves condoms. Today was no different.

I was given stacks of informational material about Breaking Barriers, coupons for free HIV screening, a pamphlet explaining (with explicit diagrams) how to use a condom, and then a sack of the condoms and some little empty plastic sacks (someone said it looked like we'd gone into the drug business).

So my job was to put together the 3 informational sheets, fold them up, add 2 condoms (make sure they were different colored packages, so the clients wouldn't feel they were beint cheated...I'm not sure followed that one!) and then squeeze all into the teeny plastic ziplock-type bags and toss in a big box.

This craft project was in preparation for a team of women of color, all of whom are HIV+, who are going to be going out onto the streets and making contact with homeless women of color, trying to encourage them to get tested, and if positive, get treated. A large number of Sacramento's HIV population is African American or Hispanic. One woman in the group today has lost both of her parents, and all of her siblings to AIDS (she is originally from Africa). She herself is infected, as are her children.

By the end of my time in the office, I had been named Countess of Condoms.

Next I went to pick up my otherclient, "S", who actually lives near Priscilla. S is a fairly new client and I had not met her before, though I'd dropped off a Christmas basket to her last month.

She was a lovely woman, but very definitely in need of talking. Within the first 3 minutes of our ride, I learned that she was diagnosed with cancer at age 12, has no hood on her clitoris, and has had her clitoris repositioned. (We didn't get into her hemorrhoids and anal warts until a bit later.) Amazing the things people will tell a perfect stranger.

But I have the advantage of having worked in a gynecology office, so nothing she told me made me feel uncomfortable, and I listened sympathetically, clucking or adding appropriate sympathetic comments when they seemed called for.

I waited for her at the cancer clinic, where she was scheduled for laser surgery next week for removal of additional precancerous lesions, and then she guided me through the back streets of downtown Sacramento in order to avoid the traffic we could see gathering on the freeway. (I was pleased to note that I am getting more comfortable zipping around the back streets of Sacramento and actually almost know where I'm headed these days.)

On the ride home I heard about the death of her parents and one of her brothers, and her problems with her other siblings, both of whom are homeless. S explained how she had gotten herself out of drugs, and talked of her prayer group and her support group and her sadness at being estranged from her sister, who will celebrate a birthday this week.

She talked about how she doesn't get along well with women and how she had joined some women's groups in the hope of finding friends. "But nobody ever calls me," she said, somewhat sadly.

My ears were a little tired by the time we got back to the house, and my arm was starting to feel a little sore, since she punctuated her points by tapping me on the arm. But as she got out, she asked for my name and said she wanted to call Breaking Barriers so she could tell them how much she'd enjoyed having me drive her.

"That's the best thing you can do to someone with HIV," she said. "Just listen to them."

As I drove off, she flashed a big smile and gave me a wave. I drove home.

It was a good day. I've missed this.

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Created 2/2/01 by Bev Sykes


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