January 24, 2012

Compassion in short supply

I watched a poignant documentary yesterday called "How to die in Oregon". It is about the law passed there that allows those with incurable diseases (late stage cancer, ALS, liver failure, etc.) access to a prescription cocktail that ends their life. It is a law that offers those with less than 6 months to live the choice to exert some final control over their bodies. I think it shows true compassion and applaud Oregon for having the courage to pass it. [Incidentally, the law has been held up by Oregon Supreme Court.]

I've always thought it peculiar that people have no qualms about euthanizing an animal that is toward the end of it's life, suffering in pain or has a poor quality of life. They base the decision on what is best for the animal, not on what is best for them. And yet those same people expect humans to let "nature take its course" even if that means the person declines over several months, is in constant uncontrollable pain, becomes incontinent, or is there in body only (i.e. mentally gone). What dignity is there in suffering like that? Shouldn't we have the same compassion and empathy for each other as we do for animals?

There is no shame in offering the dying a humane choice.
Death with Dignity, National Center

"How to die in Oregon" documentary

"The end is near" from the Washington Post Magazine (1/22/12)

January 23, 2012

Writing, writing, writing

I'm in the final couple months of my graduate program and have found my time consumed with writing. This is a good thing -- it means that I'm close to my long awaited goal and can get on with the rest of my life. I've been in school continuously my whole life and am eager for a change of scenery and responsibility. I've noticed, however, that some of my friends don't share my excitement. In fact, they seem to want me to stay exactly as I am. I suspect they are projecting their own insecurities onto me, but it is peculiar.

Do some graduate students really think that this is all there is to life? Being told by a committee what classes to take, what experiments to conduct, and what direction to take your career?

What about controlling your own destiny? I want to be wholly responsible for my own success or failure. I want to tell people what I do in a sentence, rather than have to explain for 10 minutes how, yes, I get paid to be a graduate student, but no, I don't really make any of the decisions, and yes, my committee holds absolute control over my educational (i.e. degree) and financial (i.e. paycheck) future.

It is a shame that when someone says, "I'm really excited about finishing up and starting the next chapter of my life" the other person doesn't answer with, "I'm excited for you too".

January 04, 2012

New Year, flannel sheets and venting

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2012 or, as I also refer to it, Goodbye-Planet-Earth since the Mayan calendar ends on 12/21/12. I'm not too worried about the hysteria since I have a Doomsday countdown calendar that provides useful news and depressing tidbits as the end of the world approaches. And although it is probably fruitless to set a resolution, I hope to complete my graduate program and gain employment.

In other news, I've discovered my love for flannel sheets. They are so warm and snuggly! I was given a plaid set for Christmas as a gift and decided to purchase another set for variety. I went with the forest plaid pattern from LL Bean. I was lucky to get this set too because it is only available from November and December, and there was only 1 queen size left online!

As my decade long foray into higher education (undergrad and grad school) draws near, I find myself having a shorter fuse for elements of the "normal human condition". So in an effort not to have my head explode, here are the things that have been driving me nuts lately:

1) People who drive the speed limit (or less) in the fast lane and refuse to move over.
2) People who take things without asking.
3) People who tell me to be a certain way and then prevent me from acting that way.
4) People who project their own issues and insecurities onto me.
5) People who treat animals as disposable.
6) People who use religion as an excuse to spread hate and lies.
7) People who think your career should be the most important thing in your life.