Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kit's Dilemma, or
Let's Have A Drink Together

My daughter, Casie, has a friend she spends a lot of time with. I'll just call him Tee. He's smart, funny, and very gay, and her hair has never looked better. Physically, the two resemble one another enough to be siblings.

Tee's grandmother is in town and has fallen in love with my daughter. In the past week, she's taken them to the play bingo, browse at the mall, and out to lunch and dinner. I finally got to meet her yesterday.

She chatted on for about ten minutes about absolutely nothing. I bore easily from superficial conversation, so asked her where she went to school and what she did for a living. That's when the conversation got interesting.

"I graduated in nursing," she said, "and I worked as one for the Army."

"Really? That must have been exciting."

"Yes," she agreed. "I was stationed in Iraq during the first Gulf War..."

Tee's grandmother told me about injuries and the dead and the stress, and the illness that led to her early retirement.

She said, "I developed Gulf War Syndrome."

She described the the chronic fatigue, muscle aches from head to toe, headaches, and sensitivity to chemicals. The symptoms would come and go, at times the pain was just miserable, and it took over three years before her doctors stopped telling her - and other affected soldiers - that it was "all in their head."

As I listened, I wondered about something I'd read the same day.

"It sounds a lot like what the Gulf oil workers and some residents are experiencing from the spill," I said.

Her voice turned sad. "It wouldn't surprise me," she said. "It wouldn't surprise me at all."

She'd already read about the condition 109 workers contracted called TILT, short for Toxicant Induced Loss of Tolerance.

A rose is but a rose by any other name.

Today, Casie told me that Tee's grandmother, who lives near the charming coastal city of Savannah, Georgia, invited her visit in late July.

"She said she'll pay my airfare. Please Mom?"

I know the ocean currents. I know that the toxic witches brew in the Gulf of Death will spread up the east coast by the year's end. I know this, not from reading those stupid, panic sites, but from the hard science of the Gulf Loop and the Ocean Conveyor Belt, and from this abomination of man's stupidity resulting in still gushing oil, now anywhere from one to four million gallons per day. Already ocean wildlife is fleeing the most toxic, low-oxygen areas for safety, even if means them moving into more shallow waters.

Casie hasn't been to a pretty beach since she was a little girl and I had money to burn in Florida. The ones around Savannah are nice too, from what I hear.


I have no idea if a hurricane will come along and blow toxic fumes across that area. Never did I think I'd have to think about this kind of insanity while raising a child. Never would say I no, either, if the weather is calm.

Me, back in the day.

I loved the beach so much that the first summer I had a car, I drove an hour to get to the nearest one three times a week. I'd go alone with a book and a sandwich to heal from my first broken heart. The ocean was calming and did it's magic. In my 30s, I was practically packed up and ready to move to Florida but my mother worried the hell out of me to not go. Here's a sample of our conversations:

"The Klan will lynch you."

"Nuh uh."

"Lighting will strike you."

"Come on, Ma."

She looked at Xavier, who was six years old.

"An alligator will eat him."

I paused. The house I'd picked out - yes, I had even chosen one in the Tampa area - had a lake that was literally a stone's throw from the back door.

"Eh," I shrugged, "he'll be okay."

"I like gators Mommy," Xavier piped up. "I sat on one!"

"Yeah baby, I know."

Indeed he had, at Gator Land. He had waved his hand in the audience and got chosen to sit behind the gator handler. Mr. Gator was five or six feet long, but had his mouth taped shut.

Finally, my mother got to me.

"I'm old," she whined. "I'll die up here all alone."

"Then come with me! How many times do I have to beg you?"

"I can't leave here. It's my home. I'll never figure out how to drive to the stores down there. I don't want get lost or be stuck in the house all the time."

I gave up and stayed. Had it not been for the adoption agency unexpectedly placing my daughter in my arms the following year, I would have regretted my surrender.

Every now and then, I wonder how our lives would be different had I moved a year or two later after the adoption was final, but by then, my mother really was getting a bit more frail.

Such mixed feelings! How do you be true to yourself, yet loyal to those you love when their needs are greater than your heart's desire?

I don't know, I only know that true love sometimes requires great sacrifice. I made a pact with myself, however, that I would never, ever stand in the way of the dreams of my children, no matter how much I may need them one day. Whether or not I can keep that promise to myself is yet to be seen.

So now, my daughter sat before me, awaiting my answer if she could have a week at the beach in late July... and all I could think of was damned hurricane season and the possibility of toxic winds carrying sickness up to Georgia.


Finally, I stuttered, "Probably yes, but for now, it's a we'll see."

I felt like such an idiot, but to hide this, I explained wind patterns - again. Before it was just Mama writing about some far away problem, but this time Casie listened carefully since it might affect her, all the while quite possibly thinking, Mama is worrying too much and needs a vacation more than me, or worse, Mama done lost her damn mind.

Yeah, I'm sure some of you parents out reading this know it be's like dat sometime.

At least Casie didn't laugh at me and call me crazy. I'm sure that's what I would have done to my father at age 14 under the same circumstances, and my mother would have been laughing at him with me.

You see, she was a DC city girl, but my dad grew up farming in the Midwest. He learned from nature and knew the weather, and when he talked about it, it's wasn't nothing as banal as "Nice day today, huh?"

If he were alive, he'd be glued to the The Weather Channel and the Gulf oil news worse than me, and had his own personal preparedness evacuation plan ready... just in case.

And bitchin' nonstop.

In these times where Orwellian-style public relations is king, and sweeping problems under the rug and cover ups are the norm, it's like this. Until something is on the front pages and in the news with whoever "is in charge" talking about it, the gravity of a crisis either doesn't matter or doesn't exist. As long as we think we won't be touched by it, many of us sit back and say, oh, that's too bad - for them.

We are rarely "them" - until we are - and this is my greatest fear, that that day of reckoning is almost upon us.

This photo came from this video

Meanwhile, there are:

1) Those like me who are scared. We know the situation is very grim and thus have good reason to worry, but all the omissions, along with the misinformation leaves a void of just how bad is bad?

2) Those who like to scare others. They make up shit for fun, like the bozo who said it was raining oil in New Orleans, or this person who has video of the live stream stream oil well leak where you see a door open in the background. This alleges that the whole thing is being taped in a studio. Betcha he shot that through an aquarium.

Then there's the guy who video taped a field and said "the birds" had migrated to his state when they usually don't. I didn't see no fuckin' birds. There were some in the distance on a telephone wire, probably a bunch of summertime crows, but he didn't walk his azz over there to show them, or the alleged birds in the forest.

Or they scare folks to profit by getting their name out there as an expert, or selling DVDs, books, and/or memberships to their "informative" websites,

Or to push their beliefs, i.e., Armageddon, 2012, or a New Word Order plot (yes I think the NWO exists and that mega-corporate globalists will take advantage of the situation, but I think greed-based gross negligence is the culprit; like the bumper sticker says: Shit Happens); or the lady on YouTube who said the dolphins communicated to her that they're just fine because the oil leak wasn't that bad.

3) The ones in charge who are too scared to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, because they don't want to get sued, lose their political positions or jobs, or go to jail.

All of this leaves me feeling exactly like this person who left a comment at this blog:

There is so much we are not being told about the bad effects of this spill on whales, dolphins, fish, marshes, people, and so on, it is frustrating to also see these crazy, over the top stories.

Do you remember Dr. Dolittle and the creature the "push-me-pull-you"?

That's what this is like.

On the "push me" side, I want to know a lot more about how bad this really is.

I want to hear credible figures about how much oil is coming out, I want to know what is going on on the sea bed, I'd like to know about all the fish and animals.

I want to know if and when the oil is going to go into the Gulf Stream, and what that means for all of us.

What will happen if a lot of the oxygen producing plankton dies?

This is a bad enough situation, and I hate feeling that there is a lot of high priced PR talent working to make sure that the bad news does not come out.

On the "pull you" side, I want these morons with their oil rains and their evacuations of 20 million people to go shit up a tree.

It is an odd feeling, to be simultaneously ready to believe that this is the single worst thing ever to have happened, ever... and also to want people to chill the fuck out.

That video of the oil rain guy made me wish that the man from "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" would come up behind him with one of those tranquilizer darts they use on bears.

Maybe I just need a cocktail.

Amen, and me too.


  1. I feel ya, Kit. I won't lie and say this disaster hasn't kept my already insomniac ass from a sweet dream or three. This stuff is just plain scary.

    I have a bottle of Moscato with your name on it. You're welcome.

  2. Penny Wize, *chuckling* Thanks. I hardly ever drink, but this shit has been buggin' me out enough to think of having a glass of something beyond coffee once in awhile.

    You know, this is one of those posts I almost didn't publish, but I don't blog just to entertain or enlighten others about something... I blog to remember where my head was at a specific point in time.

    I'm thinking now how revealing one's fears is always risky because it's "not cool". Black Americans are the coolest people in the universe, or so we'd like to think. We're supposed to be strong, and not worrying about shit comes with that territory. It's all a show and I suspect that if not now, that in time more people will have these lip-biting moments and wonder if they and the country have lost their damn minds as this catastrophe progresses.

  3. I think it's wonderful that you've expressed your concerns on your blog. You have every right to be concerned...that oil spill is one heck of a mess.
    That was the LAST thing we needed around here.

  4. Bayou Creole, Thank you. I've been tweaking this piece and all that's left to do is find the pic of Xavier sitting on that alligator; hope one of his GFs didn't take it.

  5. There are some for real reasons to be concerned. But, I also believe that we have to trust that things will be alright. In reality Kit, there are so many things that we cannot protect our children from. We try and we worry all the time in our private moments. But, who knows besides God what lies in store for us as a nation of people?

    If the conditions are right-let you baby girl go and enjoy herself. If you pray-then do so about the trip and then trust God to do as promised. It sounds like her friends grandmother can handle things if they get tough.

  6. Maybe God guided your mother, if you'd moved to FLA without family around you might've drifted further into the Gulf.

    Connecting this to Gulf War syndrome-see, along with enjoying your writing, I enjoy how you connect the dots before others do.

    You are dealing with your daughter from many angles, all of them with love.

    I think the same way we're being lied to about how bad our economy and economic prospects for the future are for working people, a larger cover up exists for the Gulf disaster. Not conspiracy stuff, rather re-election and consumer confidence and keep the asset and bond market's buying stuff.

    We are an Empire, no question.And the cracks are spreading in the walls. Like Spain and the Dutch and the British-the closing credits are about to roll yet our leaders still await a happy ending. Oh hell I'm so fucking profound, a halfbreed runs wires for a living WTF do I know.

    Your site is a joy Kit.

  7. You know it's really hard to know sometimes when to be scared and when not to be because the corporate media is so unbelievably bad. The MSM doesn't give us the information we really need to understand what's going on.

    For instance the media hardly ever talks about all of the Corexit being dumped into the Gulf anymore. So it's hard to know if that's why people are getting sick around the Gulf or not. Also I keep wondering why no media outlet has done any independent testing of the air and water there.

    Anyway, I def understand because this spill worries me too. Also I heard that some east coast Governors are getting worried about the oil fouling their beaches soon.

  8. The world has shrunken; and there's too much internet. Sadly, we'll be consumed by it if we're not careful.

  9. Hi, Kit... That was a great post.

    I'm glad that the comment I left over at Dambala's blog spoke to your condition, but I confess embarrassed at all the swearing in it. If I'd known anyone was going to quote me the way you have, I'd have cleaned it up, so I could show my Mama.

    Your blog is the first place I've seen someone make a connection between the Gulf War Syndrome symptoms and the things I'm sure we'll see more of as the chemicals dumped on the Gulf begin to make their way through the whole ecosystem.

    I've been worried about the pregnant women. I think if someone I loved was pregnant and anywhere near the sight or smell of this, I'd want them to temporarily relocate, just to be safe. It's the dispersants more than the oil that have me antsy about that.

  10. Just noticed the "back in the day" pic. Wow!

  11. Anonymous, Thank you and welcome here. I loved your comment, as you see. Sifting thru the stories is like panning for gold.

    Thanks to you and Oso for the compliment on my linking the Gulf War Syndrome to TILT. I haven't seen that connection written about yet, but it would not surprise me if it's crossed the minds of others, particularly in the military or at FEMA.

    Rippa, Yes and no.

    Val, Agreed. The use of Corexit is the ONE THING that burns me up! This is followed by the mass media's near soft balling the questions and the President's not uttering a word of protest when BP continued using it after he said stop. And yes, it is bizarre - and suspicious - that no large media has done independent testing. I could rant for years about the poisoning the Gulf.

    Oso, I really, really appreciate you comment. And yeah, I was most def a "wow" back in the day, lol. Also, what you said about the Empire and re-election resonates with me.

    Deborah, Yes, thank you, and if the conditions are right, baby girl will have herself a blast!

  12. I did my small part to counteract the "it's raining oil" hysteria by shooting my own video. I didn't see oil nor smell it.

    Great post. I could see me having similar concerns about my child going off to a coastal city, but since I'm in New Orleans, I can't avoid potential exposure. However, I don't think you should worry so much. If you think about the toxins we're exposed to and don't know it, you'll drive yourself nuts.

  13. Nordette, Thank you; your blogging on this topic is just excellent, excellent. The counter video was a great idea. It feels odd saying this because I like New Orleans, but I'm sorry to hear you live there, or at least I will be if things get worse there.

    Well, so many people are praying for a miracle that maybe we have our first: I just read that Tropical Storm Alex has a good chance of bypassing the oil slick area and keeping west to Mexico.

  14. KIT I lived nine long years in the 'Nawlins area right after I graduated from college. I loved the place. Both of my children were born there and I can't hear the name without feeling a warm nostalgia creep into my soul.

    What happened there right after Katrina and even now just breaks my heart.

    I also live about 100 miles from Savannah. I've never actually been there, though I did stop for gas at one of the exits once. I keep meaning to go so that I can stop by Paula Dean's restaurant. One of these days....I'll get there I'm sure.

    I wouldn't mind ending up in Florida one day.

  15. Reggie, I am so feeling you on this. New Orleans has to be in my Top 7 coolest American cities. Florida is my favorite vacation state.

  16. Got to confess to making several stops at the "Me back in the day" pic. You would tell me in Spanish "sin verquenza" - shameless.

    Well we are cleaning out the garage and so much crap in the driveway one car stopped thinking there was a garage sale. So the pic was a nice break from mental stress from the Gulf horror and busting my old ass in 99 degree weather.

  17. Ahh... to get in the mind of a parent. :)

    I'm going home this weekend. I'll be home for close to a week.

    My BFF is in a city 2 hrs from where I'll be. I mentioned to my mother I might take a day trip down to see him. I've learned that life is best done in ways that make my mother happy so even though she couldn't tell me no, I knew she wanted to.

    We talked, she expressed her frustration and then I got frustrated.

    In the end, she admitted that she was probably projecting her own issues (my uncle who lived with us my whole life -- and definitely one of her closest brothers/friends died recently) on to me. "Don't let me put my fears in front of you doing things you want to do..." she told me.

    I have to say, over the years, my mother surprised me. When I would want to go on trips, she would almost never say no, but I know she wanted to. I know she missed me. I'd come back and have new things (once, an entirely new bedroom suit). Anyway, this meant that when she did tell me "no" I knew I didn't have a lot of room to argue back (doesn't mean I didn't try, though).

    Like I said -- oh to get inside the mind of a parent.

  18. A.Smith, You're so right! For the majority of parents, their greatest treasure is their child(ren). As such, they go to great lengths to ensure their well-being and safety, and they will often do things for them that they wouldn't do for themselves.

    Oso, Thank you! All I can say is youth is as great for the body as time is for the mind. Heh-heh.

  19. Good post Kitt....
    I feel you about your mother not wanting you to leave her. My Moms was offered a modeling contract in NYC when I was about 3 and my Big Mama would not let her go. She was afraid that they would turn my Moms into a prostitute. She still says she regrets to this day not going to live in the city, but we visited relatives so much we might as well have lived there anyway......

    I do not understand what is so hard about plugging the damn leak in the Gulf. I know I am no engineer or nothing, but this shit here is just ridiculous. Oh and Kitt, did you hear about the Preachers saying in their Sunday service that the gulf "accident" is God's way of punishing Obama for giving Israel the side eye? Fools and their religion, fools and their gatdamned religion.

  20. Dirty Red, Yeah, I read about it. If this environmental crime wasn't so heinous, I'd wonder if "let's bomb Iran" crowd was responsible.

    And you know, I was thinking about organized religion this afternoon. The ones I have in mind are too centered on death and who gets to go to heaven. It's crazy. Politicians, businessmen and bigots who manipulate it are unethical at best and criminal at worst. As I see it, God made us all, humanity, the animals, plant life, and Mother Earth, and right now He must be very, very pissed.

    Btw, sorry to hear about your mom's missed opportunities. One can only hope it was for the best...

  21. Well Kit, I'll buy you the first round.... and keep 'em coming, pls? We are very tense and afraid of it all down here on the south FL eastcoast. It's my home, I cry. And I am doing what I can in the positive. You tell an awesome story Kit. Excellent post built up to a precious conclusion... what if?
    What we face in fear without any knowledge coming to us...
    All the nasty little idjits who are manipulating fear based information and senseless lies to scam the public ... become parasites on us! Profiteering in atrocity. The sky is falling crowd... who don't move an inch in mind or heart or body to help find a solution. Geezee.
    A great post Kit.
    I hope she goes to Savannah. It's a beautiful town that deserves to be explored! The sea or no... ??? ta

  22. BTW... Oso is right... your site is a JOY!


Hi, this is Kit.

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