Category Archives: Strange days

Baffling sights, aural delights, and notable encounters of 2018

Navigating life is a daunting challenge most of the time, to say nothing of the considerable regular effort required to behave like a competent, contributory human being.

I do not have a television, having abandoned the device and the medium ten years ago in an effort to firewall my thinking, to improve my experience of a day.  Avoiding the mawkish, trite, corporate free-for-all of advertising relieves me of some anxiety.  If I feel a need to escape, I watch movies without commercials.

Without the clutter of factoids about shootings and disasters, money- or sex-related scandals, political embarrassments and rumors delivered by TV news, which is sandwiched among depressingly un-nuanced dramatic shows and unfunny comedies, I’m able, on more occasions, to be more attuned to observing and listening to the lives and life around me. It’s never boring.

Oakland, California where I live:

Plagued by a volatile racial divide. Some days it cools and softens with the balm of open relaxed conversations or random acts of humanity.

Too many people wandering across busy streets against the light and with no fear.  Suicide by random passer-by.  John George, the psychiatric facility where adults experiencing severe and disabling mental illnesses may commit themselves or be committed, has patients sleeping on mats on the floor in a dorm, unsheltered from each other, medicated but unhealed.

The upcoming Women’s March, spending an obscene amount of money on an events that is unlikely to produce any timely or tangible assistance to swelling ranks of women on the margins of our community,  where domestic violence shelters are always full, too many women have not completed high school, do not know how to use computers, and virtually stagger through their days under the burden of traumas rooted in their poverty.

The City’s infested with the cheap scooters that expose riders without helmets to head injuries and pedestrians without warning to vehicular assault.

The losing battle in West Oakland against graffiti and random trash piles. Not much sense that this is a neighborhood worth valuing. We need to change that.

On the plus side:

white unbrella fungi on tree CU
photo by David Lent

The Yuba River still flows with enormous power; a hike in the forest in the riot of furry mosses and spritely fungi and elegant ferns and nude oaks that have lain down rugged brown carpets on ochre clay – that resets a weary soul.

Women’s issues steadily are gaining traction in the public conversation, suggesting more action to correct the inequities and predations on women that are inherent in our society.

 

I’ve discovered the amazing music of Jessica La Rel  http://www.jessicalarel.com/  

ODI Dance Kenya   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqmIT3dVQyY   

Sol Development   http://soldevelopmentmusic.com/

JAX (Haiti)   https://www.facebook.com/pg/jaxmusic4/about/

WCI and I survived and rebooted after soul-busting betrayals by trusted women.  New strong allies are arriving with reassuring regularity.

Several extraordinary women I know through Oakland Women’s Center have become wonderful friends.  I cherish my connection with them. Black and white women have more than they usually realize to offer each other.

My next book is coming out in January:  Trouble Ahead:  Dangerous Missions with Desperate People

3D-coverIt’s a compilation of journals – commentary from my numerous missions in East Africa and the birth stories of Women’s Centers International.

Publication announcement to come.

After the holiday slack-off, I’ll be ready again to advance WCI in serving the women who need it most.

Liget…And Howl We Do It

Here’s  a new concept in human emotion:  liget.

The term comes from a story on Invisibilia (NPR) about a couple who visited a remote tribe in the Philippines. “Liget” is the tribe’s word for a kind of distress combining rage and sadness.

Liget may well express the emotions women often feel and seldom understand or discuss.  It’s that galling sense of having little value, of putting up with a lot of shit from society in general, most men in particular, and other women on occasions of betrayal.

Liget is the word I needed for Howl We Do It, my nascent campaign to develop unity in protesting and changing the inequities and violence directed against women.

Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 11.26.14 AM

Here’s how the pros do it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IaYm3NjJnM

If you want to keep informed on the Howl We Do It movement, please email me at HowlWeDoIt@gmail.com

 

Thou Shall Not Congeal

Anxiety.

It forages among our unexpressed thoughts, nibbles away our best energy, like termites tunneling in a foundation. The free-floating dis-ease can fulminate from symptom to crippling malady, depending on how plugged in you’ve made yourself.

Our culture distributes anxiety most insidiously and perniciously through television, through the medium’s endless barrage of titillating headlines, shocking images, and random data. To watch a sports or news broadcast is to be pulled and twisted into a brain-fuck netherworld.

When I gave up watching TV seven years ago, I actually experienced a sort of withdrawal. I realized, with no small regret, that TV had succeeded in hollowing-out of my initiative.

I believe it’s a fundamental human tendency to be a lazy ass, snack-munching bubblehead. We can indulge this occasionally. However, once we find regular comfort in sucking the tit of the toxic media sow, we full-on spiral down into sinning against our singular talent. We congeal.

Congealing produces splendid results in cooking and terraforming, but not so much with human souls. From our media, we learn to believe the messages delivered in slick seductive commercials about how we (especially women) should look, and how we can be good little consumers of gadgets and goodies that ultimately do not and cannot make us happy.

The trick is never to congeal – to keep rearranging our inputs and outputs to serve a grander purpose

Furry VW Beetle– our unique purpose.  Each of us is honored with one.

 

Title X – Looming evisceration of women’s body rights

Title X, enacted in1970, is the only federal program specifically dedicated to supporting the delivery of family planning care.

Administered by the HHS Office of Population Affairs (OPA), and funded at $260 million for Fiscal Year 2019, the program serves over 4 million low-income, uninsured, and underserved clients.

Nearly 4,000 clinics nationwide received Title X funding in 2016, including specialized family planning clinics such as Planned Parenthood centers, community health centers, state health departments, as well as school-based, faith-based, and other nonprofit organizations.

The Trump Administration has issued new proposed regulations for the federal Title X family planning program that would make significant changes to the program and to the types of providers that qualify for funding. These proposed regulations would:

  • Block the availability of federal funds to family planning providers like Planned Parenthood that also o er abortion services;
  • Curtail counseling and referrals to abortion services by Title X funded providers;
  • Eliminate current requirements that Title X sites o er a broad range of medically approved family planning methods and non-directive pregnancy options counseling that includes information about prenatal care/delivery, adoption, and abortion; and
  • Direct new funds to faith-based and other organizations that promote fertility awareness and abstinence as methods of family planning.
  • Sites that do not o er abortion services may still qualify for Title X funds, but may decide not to participate because of concerns about clinical standards of care, medical liability, and burdensome administrative requirements.

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 5.16.31 PMIf fully implemented, the proposed changes to Title X would shrink the network of participating providers and have major repercussions for low-income women across the country that rely on them for their family planning care.

Find more details at https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/issue-brief/proposed-changes-to-title-x-implications-for-women-and-family-planning-providers/

The Value of Cussedness

Day 25 as a non-smoker.  After many previous attempts, I’d decided to try a different approach (hypnosis) on a day (May 1) that encouraged easy calculation of how far I’d made it.

I truly have no desire for a cigarette, but pings of anxiety are not receding quite as fast.  I’m leaving behind this habit at a time when I feel I’ve  ‘lost my place’ in the world, or maybe it’s that I’m not entirely sure how to reinvest my considerable energy after four years of Oakland Women’s Center. I’ve been living solo all month as Dave does his migrant cameraman gigs in DC. May weather mostly bleak and overcast from the nippy dawn to 4pm-ish,  when an outbreak of sun may occur for a hour or two, then low grey clouds reclaim the sky.

Reading paradise
Inside the book tower at the Prague Main Library

It’s a compelling process to leave behind a habit as demanding as smoking,  I’d had to fill the ‘void’ with something useful and satisfying.   Gardening and mosaic art – both of which soothe me. Friends are inviting me over to spring clean their yards, an activity I find splendidly entertaining.

I read all the time – pretty much anything that draw my interest. To me, libraries are sacred places.

Slowly I’m returning to writing.  Working two major projects: a nonfiction book almost finished; and the VOG (the muse dazzles me with the one) just beginning.

Meanwhile, I drifted for five twilight-zonish hours in the DMV to replace a license plate that was stolen or jolted off the car.  Florescent glare; cubicles in circle-the-wagons array; clots of numbers streamed in an automated voice over a loudspeaker, flashed on large screens shared with assorted news, propaganda, and the weather; people of all sizes, shapes, colors, and afflictions shuffling to windows, the State raking in fees; everybody  resigned to waiting.  I was intrigued by one fine proposal from a fellow queue-stander on how to eliminate the choke points.

Overall, a week of hideous self-doubt that I’ve beaten back out of cheer cussedness. Giving up is not an attractive option.