Saturday, July 13, 2019

They're Getting Kool-Aid™ Jammers and Animated Movies*

Children do not belong in detention centers. "Detention centers" appears to be a more acceptable term than "concentration camps." Families belong together. This is now a popular trending hashtag. So is Close the Camps Now. Last night I attended a vigil downtown at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center, where over 1000 men are being held. We gathered outside the facility with 4000 people, just over the 10 freeway. Some people brought Mylar blankets as a sign of solidarity, fashioning brilliant flags and scarves out of them. The incarcerated children have been given such blankets to cover themselves during detainment.

We held our flashlights, electric candles and phone lights up toward the building, and the men inside flashed their own lights through the tiny slits in the imposing walls. It felt futile to be there and powerful at once, but mostly futile.

One of Sophie's caregivers, a legal resident originally from Guatemala thanked me for going, and I felt ashamed. There is much tension in our city as families gear up for tomorrow's ICE raids.

Meanwhile, Terrible America provides snacks and movies to the thousands of children separated from their families, languishing in private facilities whose boards are stocked with profit-hungry rich men, rich men who've protected one another in the vilest of ways. Perhaps the vilest of them all, the POSPOTUS, plays golf, presides over rallies and is cheered by the most ignorant people in the country. The most powerful people in the country who continue to support him have lost whatever shreds of moral authority they might have had and will, I imagine, go down in history as spineless, lacking even a modicum of integrity.

I'm curious. I had an exchange last year with someone who objected mightily to my outrage over separating children from their parents when they sought asylum at the border. Anonymous, what do you think of the camps now? How about the children separated from their parents? How about the conditions of the camps where thousands of men, women and children are being held?

Is this who we are?

* So reported F*^king Vie President Pence after a recent "visit" to a detention camp in Texas and proceeded to blame Congress for the over-crowded conditions in the men's facilities. The photo of him and his entourage smiling their greasy smiles of paternal solicitude made me sick.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019


I took 24 hours and left with Carl on Sunday morning for Ventura and a boat that took us to Santa Rosa Island, one of the remote, uninhabited Channel Islands. We spent the morning looking at whales and dolphins and the wide-open Pacific, the water choppy and sky overhead gray and moody. It took over two hours to get to the island, but once we were there, the skies opened up blue and we wandered around the fields and explored the deserted buildings of the ranch that had once displaced the native Americans who made the island their home. It was very beautiful.

No one lives on the island anymore, but some people brave its isolation and camp, and there are volunteers who stay to lead tours. Carl and I avoided the few people who had gotten off the boat and made our way alone down to a beach that might as well have been in some tropical paradise, such was its wildness and solitude.

I lay in the sand and read and dozed and we ate a bit of the food that we'd brought -- turkey, crackers, cheese, grapes and plums.

I tried to let everything go, everything.

to be grateful for love and companionship
for whales
for the ocean
for the souls that were banished from this place
for the sand and the breeze that bends
the poppies
for the wide world that still holds us up

the deep world

Saturday, July 6, 2019

A Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On

Reader, we are fine so far after two of the biggest earthquakes we've felt in the twenty years I've lived here. Last night I went outside a bit after dinner and stood in the front yard looking up at the sky. It was a beautiful night, a typical glorious southern California clearness to the air and the temperature, and I noted how quiet it was -- no sirens, no voices, no birds. No birds.

I do not like earthquakes. I do not find them exciting, particularly when they happen really close to one another. I do find them similar, in some ways, to living with a person who has uncontrolled seizures. That means that I never get used to them. They come out of nowhere, cause the same burst of cortisol (or is it adrenaline), and one makes you feel nauseous and like you can't trust the ground under your feet while the other makes you feel nauseous and like you can't trust -- well -- anything. So, I generally practice being mindful, or at least try to be mindful even as I dissociate a bit during Sophie's seizures and marvel/wonder/holy shit! during earthquakes. But we're fine, honestly -- taking stock of emergency supplies, wondering if the 30 gallon container of water in the backyard shed is still good and whether I should go ahead and pack a "to go" bag specifically for Sophie and her meds.

Those meds control Sophie's seizures about as well as preparing for an earthquake controls my nerves. We could stretch out that metaphor to say that all is vanity and there's nothing new under the sun.

I read something the other day about the importance of a belief system -- higher power, etc. etc.  to allay anxiety. I remember feeling somewhat faithful in my Catholic childhood and early adulthood, was obsessed, briefly, with the lives of the saints and even went to a Billy Graham revival with my Bible beater college friends, but when I look back and read back (lots of religious agonizing in the journals), from this vantage point of general/relative unbelief in any higher power other than the universe itself and, of course,  love, love love, I'm struck by how I labored to believe and how the whole religious thing banks on the myth that it takes labor to believe, to love, to have faith, etc.




to those I've engaged with over the last few days who argue semantics (the term concentration camp) and wave their silly flags and insist on the rule of law and God and Jesus and prayers and then exclaim should we just let them WALK over the border, then? and bite into their charbroiled burgers and slide some mustard over their hotdogs and watch some hulked up millionaire swing a bat at a ball as American as pie.

Speaking of pie, The Gig Economy Worker made seven peach pies this week and is taking orders for the rest of the summer.

(I picked those donut peaches from a friend's tree, a tree that had a ridiculous number of peaches and bowed branches, so heavy was its fruit. Alas, the taste was not as sweet and generous as the number, so I used very ripe, very delicious peaches from Trader Joe's)

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The 4th of July in Terrible America

Children and workers are seen at a tent encampment recently built near the Tornillo Port of Entry on June 19, 2018 in Tornillo, Texas.
 Getty Images

I was sitting at my computer, paying my American Express bill and waiting for a peach pie to finish baking in the oven when what was the biggest earthquake I have felt in several years began. It started as a jolt and then it grew in waves even as I glanced up and saw the chandelier swaying and heard the pots clinking on the pot rack that hangs over the stove. I willed myself not to panic and walked toward Sophie's room, the hallway a galley in a boat swaying back and forth. I nearly put my arms out on either side to keep my balance and when I passed the boys' room, I shouted to Oliver, Earthquake! and sat next to Sophie who was lying in bed, her eyes open, my stomach lurching the pots clinking and windows creaking. It seemed to go on forever and then it stopped. Everyone is fine. We are all fine. Sophie, who had a ridiculous number of huge seizures yesterday out of the blue, as she'd been doing so well, is fine. I know that she had those seizures now because she is exquisitely tuned in to the strange and elemental goings on in the universe. I imagine she feels relief now, her brain settled even as we settle. It seems like relief, now, after the simmering rage and unease I've felt for days, a rage that I attributed to what's going on, the unease to the imperative to celebrate, to wish happy fourth of July when so many are suffering, when tanks are being power-washed to shine at military parades for that POSPOTUS, the empty rapist in chief of Terrible America. Yes, my words are harsh, but isn't it true? And what can we do beyond cutting our pie crusts out with END THE CAMPS letters scattered over caramelized peaches? How can our voices be anything but tiny and inexhaustible (Faulkner)? I just can't wish anyone happy anything this 4th of July. I feel angry and ashamed to be an American, to be so ineffectual, to be able to do nothing but post horrible photos and satirical cartoons about the POS we have leading us and the incredible injustices that he and those who support him, those we know, those, even, we love, are doing in our name. It makes me so sick to my stomach that the very real earthquake that rocked our house was a kind of relief.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

After the Doctor

The light in Sophie's bedroom in the late afternoon is incredible. I'll walk by and just stand there staring at it and her and wish I could walk into it, truly walk into light so that I might become light again. Because I'm near spent. Because I almost never feel light these days. I feel heavy, literally and figuratively. I am not as resilient as I once was or perhaps, if I'm kind (always kind) to myself I might attribute this heaviness to the years, the years or perhaps to upcoming transitions (Oliver leaving), those existential changes that take even the strong by surprise in their intensity. Today I went to the doctor, and I tried to explain this malaise, this lack of resiliency, this burning feeling in my throat that persists and this ache in my hips. Is something wrong? Really wrong? I think, I wonder. I have scanned the worldwide webs, have allowed the slip in -- you know how that goes, right? -- of guilt, of reckoning, because, really, how fortunate can one possibly be when one endures so much stress on an ongoing basis? I let that slip in my mind, the thought that it was all going to come home to roost, as they say, that instead of morphing into my peasant grandmother and die demented at 88, I'd get sick and who has time for that? I spoke with rue of my weight of the necessity of exercise and losing weight and the doctor agreed. You'll feel better, he said. And what about these? I showed him the starbursts of blue on the backs of my legs. They don't hurt, I said, and he said, I wouldn't worry. The blood work was fine, the blood pressure is normal and the new burn in my throat from stress, he said. Here, take this. The way these things are doled out, so casually and why would he know that I in my peculiar writerly way will note this, will note the casual shrug, the burn in the throat reduced to acronym (GERD) and take this for 8 weeks and do this (exercise) and that (lose weight) and you'll feel better but I'll know better from better and there's still that light, nearly spent.

Here's a poem by Mark Doty:


Late August morning I go out to cut
spent and faded hydrangeas — washed
greens, russets, troubled little auras

of sky, as if these were the very silks
of Versailles, mottled by rain and ruin
then half-restored, after all this time...

When I come back with my handful
I realize I’ve accidentally locked the door,
and can’t get back into the house.

The dining room window’s easiest;
crawl through beauty bush and spirea,
push aside some errant maples, take down

the wood-framed screen, hoist myself up.
But how, exactly, to clamber across the sill
and the radiator down to the tile?

I try bending one leg in, but I don’t fold
readily; I push myself up so that my waist
rests against the sill, and lean forward,

place my hands on the floor and begin to slide
down into the room, which makes me think
this was what it was like to be born:

awkward, too big for the passageway…
Negotiate, submit?
                           When I give myself
to gravity there I am, inside, no harm,

the dazzling splotchy flowerheads
scattered around me on the floor.
Will leaving the world be the same

—uncertainty as to how to proceed,
some discomfort, and suddenly you’re
—where? I am so involved with this idea

I forget to unlock the door,
so when I go to fetch the mail, I’m locked out
again. Am I at home in this house,

would I prefer to be out here,
where I could be almost anyone?
This time it’s simpler: the window-frame,

the radiator, my descent. Born twice
in one day!
                In their silvered jug,
these bruise-blessed flowers:

how hard I had to work to bring them
into this room. When I say spent,
I don’t mean they have no further coin.

If there are lives to come, I think
they might be a littler easier than this one.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

We All Know This Is Not Right

I'm beside myself about this.

It seems irredeemable, in the vein of the Native American genocide or slavery. The Holocaust. The actual conditions under which these children and people have been subjected are horrendous, but it is the people that gaslight, argue, justify and prevaricate about what is happening that freak me out the most. We all know that this is not right.

It seems like it might be the end of us.

I'm sitting on my bed typing on my fancy laptop, about 129 miles from the Mexican border. It's hard to think straight or do anything at all.

What does it mean -- this beside oneself? I think of metta -- loving kindness directed first toward oneself, then toward someone you love, then toward someone with whom you have difficulty, then toward all.

May I be well. May you be well. May all sentient beings be well.

Terrible America.

I remember the practice of tonglen.

Breathe in suffering. Breathe out love.


Three Ways to Stop ICE's Detention Policies

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Negative Capability

Several things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously — I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason — Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half knowledge. This pursued through Volumes would perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration.

John Keats

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Super Nose

Guess what's in the bag?

My ex-husband once told me that he thought I was a super-taster or had a super-nose (he's a chef), but my kids always mock me when I ask, what's that smell? They think I'm prone to exaggeration in addition to being, possibly, the most annoying human on the planet. I don't want to make this post one of those kid-basher ones, filled with the cliches of teenagers and the insufferable arrogance of young adults (I am perfectly aware of my own insufferable young adulthood but shhhhhhh, don't tell my parents). I don't want to badmouth The Brothers because they are divine in many respects, but damn if they haven't been helpful or even supportive in the rat saga of this past week. Neither agreed to handle any trapped rats (my feminism comes to a screeching halt when it comes to dead rats in traps) and last Saturday, after the traps were set and lined up behind the stove and the microwave stand in the kitchen, and we all heard the most horrific clatter and then silence, no one stepped up to check it out. Well, Henry did actually come out of his room with a bat and Carl did shine his phone light behind the stove, but the only thing we saw was one of what we thought were five (this is a crucial hint) traps a little skewed. No rats, though, and everyone carried on their days and nights as if nothing was the matter, as if roof rats, flying through trees and into the attic and jumping from vents onto pot racks over stoves and nibbling beautiful pears and cherries and making their way into the dining room to feast on the bits and pieces of food that fall from the wheelchair and then making their way back to their home or nests in the Christmas decorations and vintage toys and suitcases and skittering all about were NO BIG DEAL, were a problem that would magically take care of itself because that's the way things went in their home with their mother lying about all day.

The days went by.

I think I smelled something a couple of days ago but was met with the usual derision and mockery. I don't smell anything, they said and then rolled their eyes or did what boys do when my back is turned. I'm annoying -- it's annoying -- when I twitch my nose and sniff.  Today was the day that The Rat Man was coming back to seal all the holes in the house where the rats were coming in and out. I planned my day around this event because The Brothers were busy. I imagine the gears in their adorable heads clicking, clicking, pondering. What does she do all day, anyway? Does she even exist outside of my supreme sphere? The Rat Man arrived on time, bless him, and began his work. He is a peculiar guy in the way that certain occupations command peculiar, but Reader, I love him. When I told him about the clattering episode and asked him to shine his light behind the stove, he complied and then I swear I saw his nose twitch and he said, I smell rat. I practically shouted, I SMELL SOMETHING, TOO! and then thought about jumping up and down in excitement (not about the rat but because having someone actually confirm my suspicions which means affirm my skills, my extremely honed intuitive senses, my super-nose, my infallibility, etc. etc. is everything in these late middle-aged times) but instead said nervously, Do you see that fifth trap a bit at a distance from the other four? And he got down on his knees and claimed that the smell was urine and then he said, no, it's rat, and where's the sixth tra -- and before he got out the p and just as I said, SIX? I thought there were only FIVE? he said, I got him! Do you have a plastic bag? and I ran and got him a plastic garbage bag and reverently shook it out and handed it to him and left the room.

We have one rat bagged and every little hole in this hundred year old house screened up and against them. I texted The Brothers and Carl the good news and included a bit of my own exultation over smelling something funny. No one has acknowledged this, of course, but Henry did text me back:

Monday, June 10, 2019

Just Ten More Minutes

Here are 3 reasons I might consider relocating to China:
Sophie had an unexpected seizure this morning, right before I fed her breakfast, and instead of waiting for her to fully recover, I acted impatient and shot a syringe of her medicine into her mouth which I believe went down the wrong hatch which precipitated a bout of coughing and gagging which necessitated me putting together the suction machine and suctioning her mouth for what seemed like a half an hour which necessitated a 911 text to my friend Sandra about my inability to do this. I believe I texted I can't do it and she replied What's happening? and I said life and she said, then you can. And it's all fucking impossible. And you can. I then listed a litany of complaints and wondered if I should go on or try some gratitude? Sandra texted back:

In a nutshell -- or should I say the nutshell, Sandra's advice is to take time and whatever horrors it's throwing at you in ten minute increments. Can I do it for ten more minutes? Another 10? Another 10? Until I get through another full hour...then day. Suffice it to say that the 10-minute increment rule worked for me today, and I managed to get Sophie to her day program, but I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm done, toast, burnt. Sandra sent me this, too:

Reader, I do love a good sign.

I'm struggling financially despite a near full-time job and will soon have two sons in college. Will I ever get ahead? There's my actual head, I suppose, which is stuffed full of all kinds of lovely things, but if it weren't for my neck, it would have long since spun off into the cosmos. Is there such a thing as ahead? I love my job teaching English, but there's no work over the summer. I've put together a few writing workshops and am still baking cakes, but neither is a living. Sure, I'm grateful for the help given to me by my parents and by the State of California, but I feel shackled and can't help but fantasize about a simpler life -- something I imagine is as illusory as getting ahead.

Are you still here, dear Reader?

We have a rat infestation in our attic. Yes. We have a rat infestation in our attic. One more time. We have a rat infestation in our attic. 

Did I ever tell you the story of the job I accepted to teach English in Taiwan upon graduating from college? I was obsessed with all things Chinese -- had studied the language for two years, read avidly the poetry and religion and history and was just gobsmacked by the possibilities. I was 21 years old with all of life in front of me. Alas, I was persuaded to give that up for -- let's say -- love, and while I don't regret the choice I made because it brought me the rest of my life, I have a chance here to -- well -- flee that rest of my life. Reader, do you wonder? Is she serious? Has she lost her mind? Was it a rat that drove her to it? 

Stay tuned. Just ten more minutes.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Sunbathing Today

photo by Lauren, Sophie's aide

That was the text that Lauren sent me today, along with the above photo of Sophie. She's doing okay, dear Readers, since our last conversation here on the old blog.

After the shitshow I described previously, Sophie had another horrendous reaction to the Depakote -- well, maybe not horrendous, but she was rendered barely conscious by the combination of the new drug, the benzo she's been on for 12 years and the CBD and CBDa. I had a conversation with the Nice Neurologist who spent a decent amount of time with me at some odd hour (he's stellar about accessibility) describing what he called pharmacology. I interrupted him at some point and asked him whether he was making decisions via a dart board, and he burst out laughing. I have a dart board, he replied, but it's got the President's face on it.

Reader, I love the Nice Neurologist.

What we decided on was to lower the Onfi by quite a bit and keep the Depakote and cannabis medicine the same. The science behind that (coupled with some intuition and guesswork, I'm certain) is that the cannabis and the Depakote push up the levels of the Onfi, rendering Sophie way too sleepy and weak. So "lowering" the Onfi is really not "lowering," technically, even though the number on the syringe says so. Sigh.

That's what we've done this week, and it seems to be working in that Sophie is awake, alert, able to go to her day program and have fewer seizures. I'm convinced that we need to get Sophie fully off the Onfi and let the cannabis really do its work. Perhaps the addition of Depakote will enable this to happen.

And speaking of cannabis, I read this week that former house speaker John Boehner (who is on the board of Acreage Holdings, a marijuana investment company) has been making an online infomercial pitch for the cannabis industry. "This is one of the most exciting opportunities you'll ever be part of," Mr. Boehner says in an endlessly streaming video for the National Institute for Cannabis Investors. "Frankly we can help you make a potential fortune."

Mr. Boehner stands to reap about $20 million dollars from his partnership with Acreage Holdings.

How nice for you, Mr. Boehner.

Some of you might remember that I wrote an open letter to the man last year when this story first broke. Since it's heated up again, I hope you'll re-read and share it with anyone in your circles who might get it to the former Speaker himself.

Here's the link.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Pick Your Poison

This might be a record for my not blogging -- more than a week since I've bloviated about the various goings-on in my life and not for lack of them. Perhaps I don't feel like talking anymore about how Sophie has been struggling, how the CBD and the benzo and the sleep aid don't seem to be doing the trick, how I don't know really know what the trick is, anyway, but what I do know is that how many seizures is a relative thing, the counting of them, that is. A relative thing. Not something related to something else but rather relative in comparison. I scroll through my social media and between the kids dying (yes, dying) and the regular shit that is Terrible America, Sophie's three to five seizures (big ones) a day (yes, everyday) don't seem too bad. They're everyday or every day. If someone (Sophie) has anywhere from three to five seizures (big ones) a day, is anything working at all? Anyway? I have a friend who keeps meticulous counts of her son's seizures and is able to track, exactly, what affects them. He had seven in February, she might note, and after we increased his CBDa, only three in March. She agonizes over three, I think three! (Imagine three!) And I continue to draw up the syringes of benzo, syringes of CBD oil and CBDa oil (plunged into her mouth) capsules of sleep aid that I toss in there (her mouth) and the cup, quick, to her lips.


So. The Nice Neurologist suggested we try either Depakote or Lamictal. They're very good drugs, he said. Has she been on them? He asked. I said, Oh, yes. She's been on both. The Depakote in 1995, when she was six months old, diagnosed for three months, drug number three. And it didn't work, so we took it right off and tried the infantile ketogenic diet next (plucked smack dab out of People Magazine, check it out), and then phenobarbitol and then vigabatrin, and should I go on? The Nice Neurologist said, Oh, and Lamictal? I said, Yes. Lamictal for about seven years. And it never worked.

Reader, I know you wonder why? and your why is why would you give a drug to your daughter for seven years if it didn't work? And I honestly don't have a sensible reason to give you, other than The Neurologist At The Time not having any other options and perhaps Laziness and perhaps because of The Difficulty of Weaning or perhaps The Odd Chance (A Neurologist would have suggested this one) that the drug (Lamictal) was keeping her to only two hundred seizures a day instead of five hundred seizures because -- it's coming -- it's relative.

Let's make a long story short. Let's make a deal. I picked Depakote. The reasoning: it's been nearly 25 years (!). We gave it to Sophie last Wednesday night and again on Thursday morning, Thursday night and Friday morning. She slept all day on Thursday, woke briefly for breakfast on Friday morning and slept all day Friday. She could not be roused for the entire day on Friday and had an alarming amount of congestion above her chest and below her mouth (in her throat) which was probably increased secretions. She could not be roused. The Nice Neurologist relayed through his nurse that we should stop the Depakote and talk tomorrow (Saturday), so while I generally worry about Sophie dying at least once a day, I worried all day, every moment, actually, even though relatively speaking, I am not scared of death.

Sophie had no seizures during this period, but, to be fair, she was practically comatose. Being seizure-free, I have found, involves a trade-off, and this is where the relative part comes in.

I and the Nice Neurologist had several short (not sweet) conversations over the next two days regarding what to do. What to do about Sophie? I think she'll need a smaller dose, he suggested, and I pointed out that the pills he'd prescribed have no score so they can't be cut in half. The liquid form! he said, and I'll call it in! I was walking down the street with Sophie in her wheelchair. She woke from her comatose state on Sunday, bright-eyed but batty, agitated, the drug clearing her system. I imagined a brain cleared of chaos and cobwebs but unsure how to proceed without either. I'm excited! The Nice Neurologist said. I said, Excited? and he said, It doesn't take much to excite me! and I thought, excitement is relative.

I picked a poison. Now let's see what happens.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

We Can Control Ourselves*

Revolutionary (Angela Davis) 1972, Wadsworth Jarrell at Soul of a Nation
The Broad Museum, Los Angeles

To understand how any society functions you must understand the relationship between the men and the women.
Angela Davis 

It's a rainy Sunday morning in Los Angeles, and I'm listening to Erik Satie because it goes well with rain, with melancholy and gentleness. Last night, Carl and I went out with our friends Jason and Leah. Jason is the co-host of our podcast Who Lives Like This?! and given the intimate conversations we've had together and with the wide array of guests on the show, I feel as if I have known him and his wife for far longer than two years. We met downtown at the Broad Museum to see Soul of a Nation, the work of 60 artists that explores "the historical and cultural influences that define their unique approaches to Black art both as a vehicle for change and an expression of self-exploration." ( It was a thrilling exhibit with a wealth of female artists, most of whom were new to me.

Carolyn Mims Lawrence, Black Children Keep Your Spirits Free

What a weird week of near paralyzing stupidity from the southern states and the Republican party and the religious right. I'm repelled, for once, by the snark of memes, by jokes and satire, my ordinary easy and dogged sense of humor replaced by rage. There's no hilarity in cruelty and oppression, in the stripping of women's rights, in the muscle of the white patriarchy and gross subversion of what it means to honor and protect life. Oliver donated to a woman's reproductive health clinic, unprompted by me. Henry said that he was thinking of volunteering as an escort at a health clinic, but he was afraid he wouldn't be able to control his own anger.

The word channel. Channel your anger, I told him, even as I have to channel my own.

Donate HERE.

* I imagine I have readers who agree with what's going on, and I have no conciliatory words for you. The following words are from an ultrasound technologist, though, a confirmed source -- perhaps you will be moved in your tiny minds.
Abortion issues
So here’s the thing:
This Alabama abortion ban is a big deal, in a very bad way. Ohio, Missouri, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky… I’m looking at you too, but we’re going to focus on Alabama. If you’ve been living under a rock, let me catch you up. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey just signed a total abortion ban into law, the most restrictive law in the United States. The law will ban abortion at every stage of pregnancy for every reason.
This is not OK, not reasonable, and definitely not acceptable.
If you don’t know me well, maybe you don’t know what I do for a living. I’m an ultrasound technologist. My colleagues and I look at babies in every stage of pregnancy every day. I also work in a high risk unit. My unit and I look at babies and mothers in varying states of mental and physical health. If you think an abortion ban sounds good, then I am a good person to ask about why it isn’t.
So, let me tell you:
• About the woman whose baby developed with no skull, and the brain just floating around. Her baby still had a heartbeat, and she would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman whose baby has a rare chromosomal condition called T13. Her baby’s organs grew outside its body, and had a cleft palate so bad that there was no nose. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman whose blood pressure is spiking so high that she passes out and is likely to stroke out before her baby is born. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman with such a severe form of hemophilia that giving birth will probably be fatal to both her and the baby. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the 13-year-old whose school isn’t allowed to teach her science-based sex-education, so she didn’t know how to prevent pregnancy or STIs, but whose body is not developed enough to carry to term without being damaged. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman who was raped by a "friend" who wanted to “make sure she got home safely.” She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman who has PCOS, so only has periods every 3-4 months and can’t find a birth control that works for her. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman whose abusive partner removed the condom without telling her (it’s called stealthing, and it happens more frequently than you’d think). She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman with the cornual ectopic pregnancy that isn’t reliably in the uterus, and could grow to a size that will kill her. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman who has two kids she can barely feed already, and whose birth control just increased in price. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the 18-year-old who just started college and is going to be the first graduate of the family if she can just stay in school. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman whose IUD slipped slightly, and is now endangering both her and the pregnancy it was designed to prevent. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the many, many, many women who just don’t want to be pregnant for reasons that are their own. Health issues, abusive relationships, financial issues, social issues. They would not be able to access abortion.
Some of these might sound like reasonable exceptions to you. And you would be correct. But no one should get to decide what happens with another person’s body, not even to save a life. You need written permission from a corpse before life-saving organs can be taken from them. You cannot be forced to donate blood, no matter how dire the situation. And no one else should get to decide what a woman does with her body -- end of story.
But it’s not the end of the story, is it? Because here’s the kicker: If you consider abortion to be a murder (and some people genuinely believe that!) then miscarriage can be second degree murder. And this is already happening all over the world -- El Salvador, Ecuador, and the U.S. Women are being jailed for miscarriages and stillbirths because they "might have done something to cause it." If you start down this path of jailing women and doctors for making healthcare decisions that affect no one but themselves, then you get women who don’t go to a doctor for a safe procedure, and instead order pills online or use whatever metal instruments they can find to end their own pregnancies. Women who are honestly experiencing a miscarriage (which is medically called a "spontaneous abortion," just FYI) will not go to their doctor for help. They will bleed out on their bathroom floors or die of septic shock. And I haven’t even talked about how this will disproportionately affect women of color, LGBTQA+ women, or trans men. This isn’t about the “sanctity of life” anymore. It’s about controlling women.
We can control ourselves.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


Chimera by Gustave Moreau

I'm not sure what it means to be resilient, but when I emerge into light it has seemingly been without effort and I'm hard put to explain why, exactly, I feel better and why, exactly, things were so hard. The word grace. 

I had a dream the other night (oh no, please no) that I was sitting on a toilet and shit, crap, you know (I have a hard time writing the words) kept coming out of me. It just kept coming. If that's too much information (TMI) for you to stomach (no pun intended), it wasn't in real life. There's something about the body, about bodily functions, or there's something about the body (!) that's difficult to express. When I write about the body, from my body, I am claiming it. How extraordinary that words lie in the tips of the fingers tapped out on the screen.

There's something about the body, bodily functions. There are those who would control my body (and yours) and those who have controlled your body (and ours). 

I've had people ask me whether I would have had an abortion if I'd known Sophie would develop seizures and have developmental disabilities.


I've learned to live with questions (the question).


The Chimera from Greek mythology was part serpent, part lion and part goat. Chimerism is the mixing of cells from genetically distinct individuals.

 Microchimerism is the persistent presence of a few genetically distinct cells in an organism. This was first noticed in humans many years ago when cells containing the male "Y" chromosome were found circulating in the blood of women after pregnancy. (Scientific American)

Some males (and females) will grow up to be men who wish to control our (female) bodies.

Micro-chimeric cells are not only found circulating in the blood, they are also embedded in the brain. I've carried and grown three beings in my body. They live in me, still.

A thing that is hoped or wished for, but in fact is illusory and impossible to achieve (chimera)

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Weekend Recap

It was a whirlwind of a weekend. Oliver celebrated his 18th birthday. I made a cheesecake, as per his request. It called for 3 1/2 pounds of cream cheese, 5 eggs, 2 cups of sugar and 8 ounces of sour cream. He also asked for Chick fil A for dinner. I know we're not supposed to frequent the food of a company that discriminates against homosexuals, but we sinned.

Child number two arrived home from college for the summer. The house was quite literally transformed in a matter of minutes into the style that we (Oliver, Sophie and I) had forgotten about which one could call laissez faire or perhaps une porcherie. Will we ever see underneath that stuff on his bed? Never mind, as we're glad to have him home.

The almighty Blue Shield of California gave us their "approval" that Sophie receive her IVIG treatments, so she spent much of the days hooked up to an IV. We are coming up for air as well with Saint Mirtha out with a shoulder injury and a new helper, Maria, on board. Maria appears to be headed for sainthood as well -- she's even painted Sophie's fingers and toes in the most beautiful pink. I am grateful for these caregivers. I am beyond grateful, to tell you the truth. They save me.

I woke on Mother's Day in a kind of funk, I guess. Other than honoring my own mother on the special day, I think it's sort of a fake holiday -- well, not sort of -- and I struggle with all the expectations and concomitant resentments every year no matter how much I set my mind against it. Both boys slept in to nearly noon, but they gave me sweet and thoughtful gifts, and Carl went out and bought me a croissant. My sister sent me a lovely card with the most beautiful note in it. I cried, which I guess is appropriate for a weeping willow. Here's the video I made of it:

I also went on a short but steep hike in the Hollywood hills this afternoon with Carl and Oliver. The mustard is just turning from yellow to yellow-green, and the hills are still green from the spring rains, the city skyline lay off in a light hazy distance, Painted Ladies fluttered on every bush and hawks soared above us in the blue sky. I needed to get out and move my body in some way other than up and down the hallway and lifting Sophie, but about halfway up the peak, I started to feel dizzy from the sun and the exertion and my chronic inability to drink enough water, so we walked back down. I need to get back to doing more exercise that is unrelated to caregiving -- I am on the proverbial edge, both mentally and physically, I think. Lord knows why I've remained so healthy for so long despite the stress of it all, but I've got to stop taking it all for granted. With Saint Mirtha down, I am struck by what might transpire should I go down, and it ain't pretty, if I do say so myself.

I'm not going to talk about all the articles I read about the southern states passing these laws against women's right to have abortions, to govern their bodies, to ensure their reproductive freedom.

I'm not going to talk about it.

I'm not going to talk about it.

These people hate women.

Before I forget, I thought I'd post a hilarious exchange I had with one of my closest friends via text. She's in gray and I'm in blue. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. For clarification, Nonfiction is a new French movie, and the Arclight is a movie theater in my neighborhood.

Humor is everything to me on most days, so if you want to know what "you can do" or what "you can say," tell me something funny. And for god's sake, MEN, step up and help us to fight back with this anti-women, anti-choice clusterf*^kery.


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