Tag Archive: Illinois


Turgid

I’ve heard certain bodies of water, in particular parts of the Mississippi River, described as having turgid waters, meaning distended and overflowing. The primary definition of turgid is in reference to something that is pompous and overcomplicated, but to me, the word has always had a different connotation, as something that is muddied or unclear, but perhaps I’m thinking of the wrong word.

Using the word turgid in the way to which I have become accustomed, I have to say that since my 10 day trip to Ireland in mid to late June, my world has been somewhat, although not altogether, muddied and unclear. At first after I got back, I simply slept, and jet lag, I’ve discovered, is a very real thing. And since I had six sessions of ECT–Electroconvulsive Therapy, in October of last year, I’ve put on 35 to 40 lbs, and with the body slowing down, so has the mind. I’ve heard that ECT is supposed to reboot the brain, and that it is quite effective, and may indeed prevent future hospitalizations, but I’ve had to get used to things being different in how I function.

With ECT is expected some short term memory loss, and indeed, much of October and November of last year are a haze, but I’ve had some difficulty retrieving older memories as well, and I even developed a bit of a stammer, a kind of stuttering that comes out when I’m overtired, overstressed, nervous, or just overwhelmed. They just don’t tell you these things when you sign on to have an electrical current passed through your brain, that after you’ve had six carefully controlled induced seizures there might be serious side effects in how you think and process information. I do, however, remember them bringing me upstairs just as soon as the anesthesia had worn off, and having them get me to practice writing my name. For someone who hopes to be a published author someday, this activity has stuck out in my brain as being especially relevant.

The good news is that I’m once again hopeful about my future, hopeful that with effort and determination, I can achieve my goals, graduate from Northwestern with an MFA in creative writing, and indeed finish and publish a novel. At that time I had lost that faith in my abilities and had become overwhelmed by trying to care for my older, handicapped cousin who is wheelchair bound and morbidly obese, unable to take care of those activities of daily living that you and I take for granted. The phrase, “Physician, heal thyself,” has seemed especially pertinent, and I’ve realized that if I don’t manage my own health and well being, I won’t be able to be there for someone else. Fueling the fog of my thought process was my feeling that I just couldn’t cope with the responsibilities of being able to care for my cousin who had become reliant on my for her well being.

I’ve slowly crawled out of the turgid waters of my brain, and resumed my place among students, hoping that I can regain my abilities to think my way through a plot, even if it’s only to plot my own trajectory through life.

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Equal Under The Sun

Take Off The Gloves

In 2008, California, a supposedly progressive state, passed a bill titled, Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage statewide. Now that very law, a seemingly discriminatory law, is before the Supreme Court of the United States. In 2008, the ban passed with 52 percent of the public vote, but the pendulum has swung, and attitudes in California have seemingly shifted radically. As it stands right now, nine states recognize either civil unions or gay marriage whereas 30 states have statewide constitutional bans disallowing that basic civil right.

Now, as I write this, the legality of Proposition 8 is being challenged in the highest court in the land. President Barack Obama’s team took an unprecedented step in filing a brief with the court asking the Supreme Court to consider the merits of marital equality for all.

I’m Catholic, and I certainly understand the reticence of the more conservative members of society to embrace Marriage Equality, and I’ve coached other Catholic parishioners and friends to pray about whether to support gay marriage. I’ve told my Catholic friends that it’s indeed a discernment process. For those who’ve not been paying much attention to the movement within the Catholic faith, the new pope, Francis I, though stopping short of supporting Marriage Equality, made a radical reversal in the Church’s stance on contraception by issuing an edict stating that contraception is acceptable to stop the spread of disease. For all those Catholics who’ve practiced safe sex outside of the sanctity of marriage, this is an enormous leap forward. It virtually allows for the use of contraception for individuals who aren’t bonded by the legal contract of marriage.

Back when Bill Clinton was president of the United States, Congress and the Senate in 1996 passed the Defense of Marriage Act, more commonly known as DOMA. This law clearly defined marriage as a contract between a man and a woman, excluding the right of gay men and lesbians to marry. This law had the effect of denying Social Security survivor benefits and federal tax deductions to gays.

In Illinois right now, there’s a bill before Congress, called, The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act that has already been passed by the Illinois Senate. I encourage supporters of gay marriage in the Chicagoland area or throughout Illinois to contact their Congressional state representatives by email or online petition to indicate support for this bill as this new bill is about to be voted on in the Illinois legislature.

Like the Virginia Slim’s cigarette commercial, “We’ve come a long way baby!”