Thou Shall Not Congeal


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

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.

Deep dig

RavenDisengaging, even for a short time from the steady rush of life, bewilders and disorients me.  The days feel long because I am reluctant to fill them.  I have to leave the house as early as possible because solitude is not the friend it used to be. I go to cafes for morning coffee in the company of strangers.

I have spent a LOT of time in my work and private life willingly taking care of others, but now I resist the impulse to engage.

This ‘deep dig’ into my life purpose is now less a voyage of discovery than a retrenchment – a consolidation of what I know.

Day 11 of being a non-smoker. Feeling good but still parrying pings of craving. It’s helpful that the smell of a cigarette is repellant. The habit was my useless response to restlessness or anxiety, but I haven’t found all the tools and rituals to address them in new ways.

Internet-acquired wisdom: it takes anywhere from 21 to 66 days to fully abandon a habit.  No quick fixes, just day-to-day next steps.  Walking helps.

One thing always gives me comfort: tending to plants.  I’ve maxed out use of my building’s balcony with potted palms, an infant banana tree, cacti, flowers (carnations, cornflowers, poppies) and herbs. Nearly everything is blooming. It’s riotously beautiful.  I’m helping two friends with their gardens, both spaces offering interesting challenges with sun, shade, and overgrowth.  Love to do weeding and pruning – the nearly mindless ‘slash and burn” part that requires a few muscle groups that don’t get enough workout.

Major life transitions are exhilarating, depressing, and hella scary.


Strange to wake up in nearly complete disconnect from people, habits, my usual work.  I had forgotten what it’s like to feel rested. I’m lonely but, to a large extent, cannot bear the company of others. The reset process is terrifying that way. Becoming untethered, bumping about to find the new and right tie-downs to anchor a rebooted vision.

I had high hopes that 2018 would be less ass-whoopin’ than 2017.  It has, so far, just extended the ‘proving ground’ of my life.

The recent months of turbulence of my daughter’s life – the loss her beloved dog, a move to a new home – certainly roiled my soul.  My husband spent a month seriously ill with pneumonia and a month recovering. Concurrently, the loss of Oakland Women’s Center.  Four years of work – good and productive efforts – could not survive what the brilliant singer Jessica La Rel referred to in an intro to her song All We Could Do (I paraphrase here):  a scary unwillingness of people to step up to work that needs doing and is bigger than just them.

No pressure.  No diamonds.

Scarlet Ibis, symbol of transformation

One thing I’m sure of:  a Women’s Center has the most enthusiastic uptake where women have no reliable backstop or support: military conflict zones, slums, and refugee camps.  Parts of most major cities are ‘war zones’ for the disenfranchised, but city governments tend to lack incentive to rally/deliver support for the community-restoring power of women.  Baraka Women’s Center in Nairobi has made good headway over the past five years, but could be so much stronger with reliable funding.

I believe that women generally are unaware of – or incredibly soft-spoken about – their egregiously compromised ‘position’ in the world.  Witness enduring pay inequity, inferior health care delivery – especially mental health services, and pervasive violence against females of all ages – to name just of few of the fixable injustices of millennia–old, swallowed-whole patriarchal values.

I have enduring faith in the efficacy of the Women’s Center Model to help build restorative power bases for women.

I need more and stronger allies to help refine and expand and fund Women’s Centers.