Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Angioplasty and Endless Days

A quick snippet from my new pastime/hobby/full-time job navigating the USA's totally fucked-up excuse for healthcare:

It is midnight, and I am perusing eBay for used medical equipment. The problem isn't that I am poor and injured, nor is it that anyone is without insurance.

It's simply the reality that the bureaucratic hoops one must jump through to obtain certain things are convoluted and drawn-out, so even if you have a whip-smart detail-oriented impresario such as myself onside, it remains a tedious circus to just get what is needed when needs are complex.

So, here I am. Playing social worker, attempting to stitch together a patchwork of care that can leave the door open for increased mobility and decreased mortality.

Ask me if I am a doctor, and I affirm that I am not. I am an amateur nurse, an ad hoc advocate, a coordinator of care whose own physical needs fall to the wayside. I am not a professional.

I am thankful for all of the help I get, and yet I spend each day enraged that the entire system (if it can even be called that) remains dependent on the uncompensated labor of women such as myself, overstretched and under-resourced. It is a slow slog to pull together support in the best of times, and I don't dare anyone to withstand COVID in addition.

I need to go to sleep. I am tired, and tomorrow is another day of slowly mucking through, trying to push the picture on to a better scene.

We all deserve better than this. Needs go unmet, muddling through, and so much is lost trying to string together the basics in this hellscape of partial knowledge, burnout and disregard.

America, it doesn't have to be this way.

Dreaming of that mantra: May all beings be happy and free. Trying to contribute, and trying to keep my head up along the path, fumbling forward as I try to hold it all together.

Monday, 27 July 2020

In Absentia



Some epiphanies from the place where I have fallen back down 25 years roundtrip from my precipitous climb:

—And, no, this is not about the absolute ruination of life; there’s no failed marriage saga underpinning this, but I am more aware than ever how I am one divorce away from losing a grip on all I’ve ever gained—

But I will tell you, fucking the patriarchy is not nearly enough. Girl, you have to destroy it from within. 

Because, genius and accomplishment notwithstanding, here I am, far from the front lines, trying to keep alive one old man who inadvertently utters racially problematic talking points even as I attempt to raise one very blond, rich boy through protests and pandemic, with outbreak of plague being brought to a crescendo by the very spectre of failed white masculinity himself. 

My husband remains a bulwark in this man’s world, and let’s also not pretend we are without struggle from the sickness that pervades our surroundings.

I have hit every rung on the fall, every trauma of dysfunctional family relived, the raw pain of begging a parent back from death’s doorstep, and I can feel every cut and bruise of loss from the past few years vividly.

Where am I in all of this? My rage is animal, and it tells me I will have to kill and kill or be killed to escape this morass. I am weakened, beset by vampiric forces, yet some primal energy will not allow me to fall down.

Survival. What does it even mean sometimes? Shall we limp along, prey to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, maimed and bleeding but technically ambulatory? 

Or shall we fight back from the precipice, fueled by anger and lit with righteous and riotous self-determination? 

Individualism is folly, yet individuation is essential. I remain, more dimensional if not fully complete.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Missouri

Missouri, I love you. I come back here and eat pickled okra, sit in humid summer nights watching fireflies converse in the twilight and admire how life springs forth from every corner. I learned the dances of nature here, the intensity of seasons and the fecundity of imagination.

And also I am never going to live in a state with just one abortion provider, and the Trumpista delusions are literally killing you. Watching this sad spectacle detracts beauty from the rest and keeps you low. 

I remember in university—far, far away from here—when I argued that most poor, rural people didn't primarily wish for development to whisk them off to urban abodes, but rather diminish their suffering at home. I was slightly too articulate and rich-passing for anyone to think my words came from a place of knowing.

Yet, here we are. I sit on the porch, and contemplate the delights and pains of a simple life and a different world.

Riding that exotic tightrope of independence and self-delusion, we push out our own space in life until we are swallowed by the noise of cicadas and fragility of our own existence. Show me, if you will, the secrets of decay and renewal that remain intertwined in my heart, hopeful and fearful all the same.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Midnight

One, two, three, four…

Time slips sideways out the door.
Bleeding, stumbling,
days of yore
come flooding back into the fore.

And here I sit, forevermore.

Roll out my spine on the hardwood floor.

Remembering before…

How it felt,
to touch, to soar.
At liberty to explore.

I wait.

Grateful for the days
past,
passed in childish ways.
How it felt to move in waves,
on the shore
or
in the middle of a dance floor.

Humanity,
crushed and crushing,
rushed and rushing,
confined
in time,
locked away.

But I remember.
I recall
society.
Beautiful,
flawed,
ready to fall.

Tumbling down
the stairways of my memory:
drunken youth,
stolen moments,
blind hope,
wild courage.

It’s all in there.

I carry in my heart
a world,
apart.
A start.
A shard.
Broken for now.

But this is how
it comes together
again.

The nucleus within,
powerful,
holding;
rolling the gravity
to pivot,
turn.
Burn the unkempt kindling away.

March, now May.

Each day
much like the one before.

I store
these seeds,
parched,
forgathered,
to answer needs
as yet
unmet.

Fire propagates.

And, still, I wait.
Eager to follow time,
forward,
just outside the door.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

A Little Earth Day Lunch Guest

When I was pregnant with Dash, I embarked upon an insane adventure to redo our sandy hillside backyard. To call it a slope is to understate the matter by quite a lot; really, I've built us a short, sweet mountain hike, straight up into the sky.

The old retaining wall was failing, and the ornamental terraces had long since fallen over, so I started from scratch. I put in geotextile to stabilize it, and have since been replanting the bare sand with (mostly) California natives, including a lot of edibles that the birds and critters are likelier to feast upon than any of the resident humans are.

Three years in, I've learned a lot in my efforts to rewild this urban turf. Giving this patch of land back to the life that was here before my ancestors arrived on the continent has not been easy. Invasive species creep in from all sides, erosion carries topsoil away, and there's still so much I don't know about the intricacies of plant communities in our microclimates...

But, the more I'm out there, the better I feel, and every day my ability to read the ecosystem deepens. And, particularly in this pandemic, putting my back into turning this land over to nature feels deeply good, like a sacrifice and a blessing both given and received.

This Earth Day, and every day, I wish you the joy of green, growing things and the living treasures they attract. There is hope in this exchange, and a wonderful, visceral connection to calm the monkey mind.

Gather your seeds, read the terrain, and let yourself be small in our big, beautiful world.

[Video: A female Anna's hummingbird sipping nectar from hummingbird sage.]


Wednesday, 15 April 2020

A New World is Coming

I keep seeing jokes and talk about the COVID baby boom, and I get it, but it's so glaringly the observation of childless people discussing the experience of other childless people, the luxurious boredom of boinking like bunnies through this ceaseless isolation, seeking pleasure and connection to ease uncertainty.

Is it enough to counter the the opposite push, though? What about all of the women who might have had another, but have instead been forced to give up everything to tend to the child/ren they already had?

How about that sexism that has so many families choosing his job over hers? Or those households where her vastly increased emotional and physical labor to keep the ship sailing right are rendered invisible, even if she is also trying to work remotely as she becomes a substitute teacher?

What about this reality check that, at any moment, you could become solely responsible for your child, or children, and that help is really not coming? Or the creeping feeling--which many parents keep at bay in the best of times--that we are not enough for this task and that the math simply doesn't work, might actually be the reality?

I can tell you, I've got a husband who is working every day, not just at his job, but also to take on an impressive share of household and childcare duties. We are by far at the good end of how these things shake out, and I'm still feeling utterly spent most days. Hell, I started off feeling burnt out, trying to claw my way out of unpaid domestic servitude toward something that actually felt fulfilling, like a true calling. Yet, here I am again, in perpetuity.

Honestly, it's got me feeling like the only elective medical procedures I'd leave the house for would be a tubal ligation or an abortion.

I love my kid so much, and the idea of having another has begun to terrify me. He is amazing and magical, and most days he feels like way more than enough.

We work to correct the balance, but still a lifetime of sexism has brought us to a place of imbalanced incomes and opportunities. Our most active efforts are noble, and are still executed in a world of systemic bias and unequal outcomes.

My husband and I grew up in different classes, and in many ways we live in different classes still. I remember, when I was studying international development a long time ago, a discussion about this very idea: that partners in the same household could be in different socioeconomic spheres, and how this affected the impact of aid.

That insight was striking, but it took me over a decade to realize it was my reality, too, albeit in a softer way. My climb has been a steep one, and I'm never more than a few moves away from tumbling. And nothing has highlighted the precariousness of my position more than becoming a mother.

I wish for us to remake society to restore the communal joy of childrearing. Children were never meant to be raised in isolation, by one or one-and-a-half or even two overstretched adults. They require peers, intergenerational connection, a community to support them in exploration of the joys of existence.

I hope, when this is all said and done, that the women of this country go on strike. I hope we follow the lead of our Icelandic sisters and demand parity, that we take over the government and rebuild something equitable and efficient over the ruins of patriarchy. We must demand ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, and we must grant women absolute power over their reproductive capabilities.

We have to survive the shredded remains of this iteration, but I hope our anger can empower us to build an improved incarnation in the aftermath. A new world is coming, one way or another.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Processing a Pandemic

I'm trying to have a productive response to this pandemic chaos, and for the most part I am succeeding. My initial impulse in tough times is to make things, grow things, learn things.

But, I tell you what, if I had all of my time to myself right now, I'd be writing up a storm.

I stay mad about the federal response to this. I read more than I'm able to respond to about the countless ways Donald Trump and his squad of sycophants have exacerbated this crisis and gotten more people killed, and continue to do so every day with lies and bidding wars for vital medical equipment.

I could write all day long about the daily revelations of stupidity and corruption, how this administration is utilizing this crisis to punish political enemies, torch alliances, and line their own pockets in the process. How they would cancel democracy in this moment and saddle us forever with their crony idiocracy, pulling page after page from authoritarian playbooks.

There are tomes in this tragedy about the impacts of sexism and poverty, and the actions we must take next to build a better world out of this rubble.

And, actually, as Dash grows more accustomed to this strange new normal, he clings to me less when I sit down to write, so I may yet figure out some way to action on this regularly and effectively.

Meanwhile, though, I spend my hours trying to keep up with it all. Keep the child fed and healthy, keep the dog moving, keep planting seeds so that fresh fruit and veg stay in the picture as we brace for the apocalypse, make masks...

Remember those memes, about "whatever you think you would do in moments in history, you're doing it now?" Well... We're doing it now.

Stay engaged. Stay mad. Take whatever actions you can to stay strong and fight back.