Vaginal Discourse

There was this one time that I had a collapsed lung. It’s a pretty funny story, albeit one best left for another time. For today’s purposes, you just need to know how it ended.

When I arrived (on foot, of course) at the ER clutching the note Pittsburgh’s finest had helpfully affixed to my dorm room door, a pair of doctors was waiting for me. A quick wheelchair ride and an x-ray later, I was on a bed having a huge needle shoved into the side of my chest:

“We’re gonna stick this big-ass needle in your chest.”

“Oh. Okay. Cool?”

The nurse explained that sucking the air out of the sack containing my lungs and heart would keep the atmosphere from crushing my lung any further. She neglected to explain the reason I’d soon find a tube running from my chest to a giant white box, which I would be carrying around the hospital for days like some sort of nerdy, crippled, white bread version of Radio Raheem.

After a night in the hospital, I had a another conversation with the medical team:

“We were wondering, do you want your lung to collapse at some future, as-of-yet unpredicted time?”

“Um. Well. No?”

“Cool, gotcha. We’ll let the surgeon know.”

Based on that conversation, some folks cut another couple of holes in my chest, one for the camera, and the other for the high-tech medical equipment that was all the rage in the nineties: a knife, a pair of forceps, a stapler. To this day, I’m still not sure how it’s possible to staple a lung back together. On the plus side, I’ve gone fourteen years without having a lung collapse. Read more…

[Trigger warning for slavery and other dehumanization]

I recently finished reading Barry Estabrook’s excellent book, Tomatoland. I won’t spend much time promoting it, because holy cow the folks at Andrews McMeel have [TW] gotten the word out.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about abortion rights, because that’s been in the news once or twice lately. That’s unfortunate, because holy cow given the war that powerful people are waging against reproductive health, it should be in the news a helluva lot more frequently.

That was pretty much my vacation: tomatoes and abortion.

Stay with me here.

Estabrook’s book explores Florida’s industrial tomato industry. Early on, he explores the conditions under which many tomato workers labor. There’s a chapter on poisons, and a chapter on slavery. I’m not sure I recommend taking Tomatoland to the beach.

As an occasional entomologist, the discussion of pesticides caught my eye. It turns out that the EPA allows growers to use methyl bromide on tomato crops (they’re one of four crops the EPA has carved out exemptions for). Methyl bromide is the stuff of legend. If you’re ever at a party with an entomologist (I recommend this), buy hir a drink and start talking about methyl bromide. That shit kills everything. Needless to say, bathing in the stuff can be “problematic” (you can thank Wikipedia for that phrasing). Read more…