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photo by Sheri Dixon

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How Dare You

Let me just start out by saying I'm not a man-hating baby-despising old shriveled up shrew.

I love men- I've been married three times. And I adore babies- I grew three of 'em right inside me. I've felt the kicking, seen the little footie outline on my tummy, pushed 'em out and held them close.

So I'm not anti-baby and I sure as hell am not pro-abortion. Actually, as I've stated before (loudly and often) NO ONE Is pro-abortion. I don't know of a single person anywhere who looks at abortion in a positive light. But most of us are pro-CHOICE.

Yes, there is too a difference. Sorta like the FACT that we are NOT a Christian nation; we are a nation peopled by a Christian majority. The Christian religion? NOT A NATIONAL RELIGION. Ergo there should be NO laws written specifically to conform to the Christian bible. Just like there should be no laws written to fit the Koran (SHARIA LAW, ya'll! RUN!!!). Get it?

But here in the Land of Individual Freedom and Responsibility, some people think that it's A-OK to determine what certain humans (like female ones) may and may not do with their own bodies.

I know, I know, I know-

"But it's a BABY! How can you KILL a BABY???"

I never had to consider it.

I've been damn lucky, and I know it.

My babies were conceived when I had family support, friend support, financial support. I was mentally ready and physically healthy.

But I've also had times in my life when I was married to an alcoholic abusive criminal. When I was newly in a different state and living in a trailer park. When I seriously considered living in my car. When the only health care I could afford was Planned Parenthood (and it was damn good health care, too. And not ONCE did they tell me all about their super-fun abortion services.)

Many women are stuck in these dismal situations. Stuck financially and mentally for many reasons.

I'm no better than any of them and I absolutely cannot sit in judgment. I will not sit in judgment.

But it's so fucking easy.

"They're just being selfish- if they didn't want to have a child, they shouldn't have had sex".


Yep. That 13 year old being raped on a regular basis by her step-father is being SO selfish. That young woman married to an abusive asshole and threatened with death if she leaves is being SO irresponsible. How dare you sit in judgment of them.

"The adult thing to do is to woman up to the consequences of your actions, have the baby and put it up for adoption- there are LOTS of couples who would LOVE to adopt!"


Here's a little personal fact-filled story for you.

Years ago before Ward got sick, we looked into adoption. We were told there are 2 categories of babies available for domestic adoption.

Category A babies are white. They have full family health histories. They cost about $35,000 to adopt after a 3-5 year wait. We couldn't even get on that list because we were over 40, already had a natural child and we weren't CHRISTIAN.

Ahh, but the Category B babies.

Those are mixed heritage or all-minority. There may or may not be a history of substance abuse on the part of the mother. There may or may not be a health history depending on if the mother knew who the father is. They cost $5,000 to adopt and the counselor told me "Paint your nursery- when can you come get him?" because they're in FOSTER CARE. We could have as many of those as we like because all those 'LOTS of couples who would LOVE to adopt' don't want them. They want white and perfect. Like themselves.

If Ward hadn't gotten sick, our house would be full. And they would be loved. If you personally are not willing to step up and embrace into your home and family at least half a dozen of these Category B babies, how dare you blithely assume someone else will.

How dare you dismiss the agony of a woman who knows damn well that she cannot take care of her child AND that if she does in fact give birth and give them up 'for adoption' she is sending them straight into an already-overloaded and under-supervised foster care system.

"As a Christian I cannot condone the killing of babies- that's against my beliefs because I just love little humans so much- they're all made in God's image, ya'll"


Ab fab. Then you're also going to fight just as hard for things like medicaid, aid to families with dependent children, school lunch programs, FREE health care, MORE funds for public schools- all those social safety nets (you usually refer to them as 'the welfare') that those little humans will need once they are post-born, right? Because if you take away the option of abortion with one hand because it's killing babies and then take away every social safety net that WILL be needed by that mother and child once he/she is born with the other hand I cannot adequately express my complete and utter contempt for you.

And I'm generally pretty gifted at that.

I'm not a man-hating baby-despising old shriveled up shrew, and I'm not pro-abortion. But I know that 99% of the women who choose this LEGAL option do not do so lightly and for NOW it's as it should be- a decision reached between a woman, her health care provider and her god if she claims one.

These women do not need politicians to be their obstetricians.

They do not need the Christian charity version of hatred and punishment.

I've only had my toe in the waters of despair most of these women swim in with their head pushed under over and over again- no money, no support, no family, no options.

No way out.

And right now in history? With unemployment so high while all the social programs are being cut to balance state and federal budgets? Families are stretched to breaking more and more and NOW you want to take this option away as well?

How dare you.

Right here are the moccasins those women wear- try 'em on. Don't even have to walk a mile... just try 'em on.

Do you feel scared? Helpless? Desperate? Worthless? Overwhelmed?

I was damn lucky. I was never so cornered that I'dve considered abortion if faced with an unexpected pregnancy.

But I absolutely will not sit in judgment of another (that's God's job, remember?), and I aim to fight to keep abortion a SAFE and LEGAL viable option for women who have precious few of those.

Because 'just' making it illegal or difficult to obtain will not magically make it go away.

See "War on Drugs" for reference.






Monday, June 17, 2013

See? That Book-Learnin' is Nuthin' But Trouble

So one of my college course assignments was to look up actual job listings in my chosen field.

*One of the fun things about being an elderly student is that even though I've been managing this clinic for a dozen years, the courses are written for people who have yet to enter the job market. You know- kids. At the end of each chapter in the 'Principles of Management' textbook ($180 USED and stinks of cigarettes) is a page that says "Practice being a manager" with little exercises and shit. It's awesome.

Anyhoo. We were to look up three actual positions that are open and rate them using certain criteria. So I did. And the one is something that I could qualify for NOW. Of course they prefer the letters-behind-the-name that I'm working towards, but it doesn't say 'required'; just 'prefer'.

It's a third more than what I'm currently making.

It's in Oregon.

That's a helluva commute from Texas.

And yet...

...We considered the PNW away back when we were first together, Ward and I.

In the end we stayed in East Texas and have been happy here.

We ARE happy here.

Mostly.

Oh, it's not the heat in the summer or the drought in the summer or the myriad things that are waiting to bite, sting or otherwise inject or smear toxins all over and into the unsuspecting human body.

It's toxins of another sort.

When I moved here nigh unto 20 years ago this December, Texas was still pretty blue.

I know. Hard to believe.

But just that recently and before, Texas was staunchly Big D in more ways than one.

Well, we see how it is now.

Fucking toxic.

And we worry. We worry about our boy growing up in such a socially ass-backwards backwater of the US where all we as Texan non-fundamental conservatives can do is whisper "Thank heavens for Michele Bachmann and Rand Paul" and as far as our public school ratings whisper "Thank heavens for Mississippi" and when any of our batshit crazy pols open their mouths to do anything but insert bbq all we can do is try to stand tall and say, "We're not ALL this way".

But we're damn near surrounded and overwhelmed.

Don't get me wrong- we have friends here who are loved and true. As time goes by, however, more and more of them are in the progressive pockets of Denton and Austin, and even those are looking to the PNW for relief from the sheer weight of oppressive fundamentalism.

I had dinner the other night with a dear friend who had a falling out with her church family. Won't go into details but at the end of the night I said something about thinking of moving to the PNW before the fundamentals burn me at the stake. I said it as a joke but she didn't laugh. We hugged and she looked troubled.

That ain't the America I live in.

And if it were just me? It wouldn't matter.

In fact, it looks like coming up right quick, we'll be looking at a brand new Texas- turning blue again. Not because of education or enlightenment or anything crazy like that but just because of numbers. As of now the white population in Texas is 49%. They're gonna be outnumbered for the first time in a long time. And that makes me smile.

It's not just the random job opening. The friend I had dinner with? Moving to Washington state...tomorrow.

We're house-sitting for friends this weekend. They're going to Portland with half an eye on moving there.

We already have friends up yonder, and more who are thinking about it- thinking about getting their families out of places intent on rolling back to the good old days...when white men were kings and everyone else chattel.

I don't think they'll win...nationwide anyway.

On the one hand it's exciting to me to be right in the thick of it while it's churning and roiling; this fetid red tide being overtaken once again by blue.

The other hand isn't so sure. Because these soon-to-be outvoted old white conservative bible-thumping geezers and their followers will never go down without a fight- that ain't the Texas Way. The Texas Way is to defend Honor and the shit you believe in by fighting dirty and underhanded if necessary.

And that's where the whole stake burning thing comes in.

"Pshaw!" you say and "Fiddlesticks!" This is modern-day America. We don't do that sort of thing anymore.

Please keep in mind that within the last several years (not decades or centuries) Texas has produced horrible atrocities against women, minorities, and anyone else the bible can be twisted to say is unclean or unnatural.

I never in my life thought I'd be apprehensive about living anywhere in America unless air-dropped into East LA or Detroit or Beverly Hills- places not fit for human habitation.

And yet in the last decade I've started to feel it. It's not me. I haven't changed.

It's them.

They're cornered and frightened and desperate.

And fucking armed to the teeth and twitchy.

I have my home here- my almost newly built home here on the piece of the planet that is more dear to me than anywhere I've ever been.

But I feel the electricity in the air, dangerous with fear and frustration and anger.

And everything in me screams to get my loved ones out of here before it erupts.

Oregon.

I never saw that coming.





Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Moment of "Awwww..."

Yesterday was our anniversary.

As always, we went to the zoo. The zoo was our first date on a June 10th and we married on a June 10th, and every June 10th we go to the zoo. It was 95+ freaking degrees yesterday afternoon; all the zoo animals were passed out in the shade and only briefly opened their eyes to acknowledge the idiot humans standing in the sun looking at them. I swear I could hear them snickering.

It was our 18th June 10th trip to the zoo.

We've been as a couple, as expectant parents, and with an ever-larger boy with us.

Only once we've missed it completely, and only once have we missed it by a day.

The complete miss was pre-surgery and we were in Houston, and the miss by a day was 2 months after Ward almost died in that self-same hospital. There were several surgeries between the two and there has been one since. We missed by a day not because Ward was so weak, so emaciated and so ravaged (although he was all three), but because it was raining like hell. We went the next day and he refused the wheelchair I'd brought and walked (slowly) around the zoo; always and forever the most courageous person I know.

So we walked through the zoo and held hands like we do every year. We took our picture kissing in front of the King Vulture like we do every year.

We went to dinner.

Then I changed it up a little.

Away back when we first started dating, we were both newly divorced. I was living with friends and he was living with his mom and so even though we were both full grown grownups with real grownup jobs and cars and everything, we had nowhere to be...alone.

The first Valentine's Day after we started dating, I left work on my lunch hour, drove to the little motel on the lake, reserved a room, picked up a key and stashed all our stuff there- I'd conspired with his mom and she'd packed an overnight bag for him. I had told her my nefarious loose-woman intentions, and she looked at me with her beautiful little old lady eyes and said, "Well, it's about TIME!"

I loved his mom.

During our Valentine's dinner out, we exchanged little gifts. He gave me a pair of beautiful earrings and I handed him a box containing the hotel key.

"I don't have any clothes or my pills or anything".

"No problem. They're all already in the room".

"What will my mother think?"

"She said 'It's about TIME!' Who do you think packed your bag?"

He knew at that point his fate was sealed.

So last night I was driving since Ward twisted his foot a few days ago and it's sore and swollen (and he still walked through the zoo even though I told him he didn't have to- see? A man of courage and strength the likes of which the world rarely sees.)

I turned one stop light earlier than normal.

"Where are we going?"

"Just a different way".

We passed the Justice of the Peace's office where we were married and talked about how Spooj the Flowerdog growled thru the entire ceremony. He figured that was the Memory Lane Detour.

We blew past the turn towards our little town.

"Honey? Where are we going?"

"Not home!" (Evil grin)

"I don't have my clothes or my pills or anything".

"No problem. They're already in the back seat."

And my mother-in-law smiled down from Heaven.















Saturday, June 8, 2013

I Like to Write Things Down to Get Them Straight In My Head.

Sometimes information is coming at us so quickly that it's difficult to keep it all straight.

Sometimes so quickly that it's easy to think, "Yanno- that doesn't make a damn bit of sense and is actually counter to all the other stuff I've been hearing from this source".

Fer instance, I pride myself on always listening to both sides of a debated issue. I'm only marginally adept at not snickering or rolling my eyeballs, but I listen. I listen to my friends and family who inhabit the far right spectrum of politics and social thinking, then I scamper back to beyond the far left where the sun shines and the birds sing and people take care of each other without judgment or stipulation. A place where people really do mind their own damn business regarding other folks' private lives and work with respect and compromise for the good of all people, not just bogusly arbitrarily 'chosen' ones dependent on money or power or whether or not they're just like themselves.

I like to call that place "America".

But I digress.

These are the things I hear from the Right on an almost daily basis:

We MUST drug test ALL welfare recipients, to save the billions of dollars now wasted by slackers cheating the system

We MUST have strict voter ID laws- right now you can vote more easily than rent a movie at Blockbuster!

Get the government OUT of our life! NO prying into our lives! This is AMERICA for god's sake!

*Wait*

First of all, there's no such thing as 'welfare'. You can't just saunter into the social security office and say, "Sign me up for some of that Welfare, on accounta I don't feel like working". You can't. What you're quaintly referring to as 'welfare' is about a gabazillion different programs all aimed at helping different demographics. So what you're saying is that all recipients of any social program need to be drug tested- every injured veteran, every aged grandmother, every tiny child, every single mother. Awesome. THAT'LL save some money.

Voter ID laws. Interesting. Interesting that you want to make it more difficult to vote than walk into Walmart and purchase a firearm. Because you'll NEED that gun to overthrow the government says you. Because nothing else will accomplish changing the government says you. Except maybe VOTING says me.

Also interesting (and not in a "wow- that's so interesting, I'm glad I now know that" way but a "holy shit- you actually believe this bullshit!" way) is that the vision of the far Right is of a land of personal responsibility which apparently translates into

"NO free rides for anyone who wants 'the welfare' or to vote, but step back off of MY (perceived) right to own any damn gun I want to with basically NO restrictions because SECOND AMENDMENT!

NO government interference with MY (perceived) right to shove my religion all into (our specifically non-theocratic) government laws with no regard for the beliefs of anyone else (especially those goddamn MUSLIMS!)(Oh- the Jews, too- bastards!)(except those who live in Israel- we LOVE those...)

or MY (perceived) right to be able to tell women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies and lives and if they disobey it's punishable by death by stoning or burning at the stake a stiff prison sentence.

Because only MY group knows what's right for America and only MY group has the absolute blessing and of both god and the founding fathers and we'll fight to the death to protect OUR (perceived) rights and anyone else will be met with the wrath of our bibles and our weapons.

Amen."


Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

"All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others"

I know that I'm only one little old person, and that not everyone agrees with me. But I'd like to think that most of our society feels the way I do-

-that the 1st Amendment guarantees people the freedom OF religion and also FROM religion- worship the way you choose or not, but it's completely separate from our government and its laws. Because we can absolutely have a moral nation without being a religious nation.

-that the 2nd Amendment and the supreme court both say that you may in fact bear arms. But not any damn arm you choose and absolutely not without regulation or a lick of common sense.

-that telling women what they can and can't do with their bodies and life decisions and telling people who they can and can't marry is not the damn job of the government because it's none of anyone else's business. Because freedom and personal responsibility, remember?

*Just exactly why is it OK to prohibit women from getting a LEGAL abortion, justifying it by saying, "Abortion is murdering a fetus" but NOT OK to prohibit ANYONE from obtaining a firearm without showing proof of proficiency and then justifying the predictable bloodshed of innocent children that comes of that by saying, "Well- that's the price of freedom- personal responsibility"? Does no one else see the absolute idiocy of that? Can't kill a fetus no matter how early or how un-viable because PROTECT THE CHILDREN but just accept the accidental death of thousands of already-born children because FREEDOM? What the hell???

-that our nation needs to return to the days of 'one citizen/one vote' and that a great number of our problems have been caused by 'one dollar/one vote' and that THAT shit needs changed. Quick.

-that TAXES and UNIONS, managed in a fair and just manner by those directly involved (the taxpayers and the workers) guarantee a civil society, not everyone carrying around loaded weapons (for those lucky enough to never have heard it, the old saw goes "An armed society is a civil society". Which is bullshit). Things like schools, roads, social services, medical care, fair and safe working practices and compensation all come from the people as a whole coming together and deciding what direction they want their society to take to remain civil and safe and a Land of Opportunity for everyone.

-that the above REQUIRES compromise. Just for reference-
"com·pro·mise
noun \ˈkäm-prə-ˌmīz\
Definition of COMPROMISE
1
a : settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions
b : something intermediate between or blending qualities of two different things"


-since lately in the political arena it seems like compromise means "I get my way, screw you".

Please tell me that most folks on 'the Right' also agree with me. Because otherwise we're in for a longer slog back into the light than even this country can survive.

Oh. And PS?

Blockbuster? Seriously? Way to keep up with the times, ya'll.

Yes. I am snickering and rolling my eyeballs.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

In the Meantime, Here's a Tiny Excerpt

So I'm taking a few classes at the junior college.

I need 18 college hours of business management type classes in order for me to then study and sit for a test that will put letters after my name and allow me the freedom of doing some consulting work in addition to my regular job. That means security, and a type of insurance. So I'm doing it.

Signed up for college where I've never been and have 2 classes this summer and will attempt 4 in the fall to be done and over with it. I'm 53 years old and terrified. Well, maybe not terrified; more like befuddled.

Anyway. I'll try to keep up with my blogging and my social networking for my books, but have already fallen behind in less than a week so no promises.

I'm assuming I'll also be setting aside the very new story I'm working on but I'm really going to try to keep my hand in that because I've started it and now I want to know where it's going to go.

So here's a tiny preview of it- I'm hoping if I put it here, it'll spur me to keep going even in the face of 'Principles of Management' and 'Principles of Marketing' which are apparently going to be my summer companions.

Like all my other stories, there's no military man armed to the teeth as the protagonist. Our hero this time is a 35 year old single mother with a 5 year old daughter. The working title is

"Unimpressive- the Inelegant Art of Just Getting By"

(Part of) CHAPTER TWO

The leaves rustled imperceptibly. There was no wind to speak of, and the air was heavy with heat.

Fireflies flickered on and off, on and off in a never-ending cacophony of complex communication that only looked like the worlds’ tee-tiniest fireworks.

Suddenly, as if on cue, they stopped and the night was black velvet pierced by static stars, the back drop awaiting the actors’ next scene.

For years people had said, half-jokingly, that Mother Earth would one day just shake us off like so many fleas; shake off the parasites that had pestered her and prodded her and drained her and sullied her.

For years there had been warnings- more storms, more droughts, more fires and more floods. More tornadoes in alleys that weren’t tornado alley, more hurricanes that weren’t following the usual hurricane routes. The weather was shifting and the planet couldn’t adapt quickly enough.

Thunder rumbled in the distance in menace or warning. Or both.

Shayla sat on her porch, rocking and watching the fireflies.

The house was quiet; Athalie had gone to bed and through the open window Shayla heard the air quietly entering and exiting her daughter’s lungs. She saw in her mind’s eye the rise and fall of the light summer quilt, golden brown hair streaming haphazardly across the pillow, one set of pink-painted toes peeking out from the bottom of the covers, the other foot firmly resting on Olive, who snored in rhythm with Athalie’s breathing.

Olive had been dumped by the side of the road. Athalie had been playing outside and heard the car stop up on the bridge, heard the pitiful ‘yipe’ followed by the squeal of tires as they easily outpaced the puppy running after them; so sure there had been a mistake- any minute now they’d realize it and come back.

Running to the road, visions of what would happen if another car came along or if the pup lost its footing on the bridge blocked out any punishment she’d be given for venturing outside their gate. With a radar reserved for mothers and other youngsters, Athalie picked out the tiny ball of dirt-colored fur huddled miserably in the weeds, scooped her up against her chest and high-tailed it back to the house.

Her hope was that there was some rule (like the rule about food dropped on the floor) that lightened the punishment if you were up on the road for less than five seconds. And she hoped for extra points for saving a life.

Shayla just sighed and shook her head. She didn’t have to pretend to be angry about Athalie being on the road by herself; that made her very angry and anxious, and she told Athalie so. But she understood why she did it. She would’ve done it herself today at age 35, or thirty years ago at age 5.

Olive turned out to be a dog of many heritages- part spaniel, part terrier, part hound, part retriever, all heart; and 100% of that heart belonged to Athalie.

“Olive? Why would you name a dog ‘Olive’? You don’t even like olives”.

“Why not?”

There was no arguing with this reasoning because “why not?” was the primary driver of their lives.

When Shayla had announced that she was buying up a little piece of land with no more than a deer camp lease shack on it (calling it a ‘cabin’ would’ve been a huge compliment) her friends and family were appalled.

She had a lovely apartment in town, close to work and all the comforts of a civilized life- movie theaters, grocery stores, restaurants, the mall. There was covered parking, they reminded her- reserved covered parking.

“Why would you give all that up to go live in the woods like a hillbilly?”

“Why not?”

She had tried once to explain it in more than those two words to one of her co-workers; to explain how it made her head hurt to not ever be somewhere quiet, made her eyes hurt to not ever be somewhere dark, made her heart hurt to not ever be somewhere surrounded only by nature no matter which window she looked out of.

He had looked at her like she was kidding him, the start of a smile on his face. When there was no punch line, he stammered something along the lines of, “Well, have fun with that” and beat a hasty retreat, making a mental note to check her name off the list of chicks he was planning on asking out.

Most folks didn’t even know about the cabin at the back of their place.

Their closest friends knew about it and assumed that it was a pastime, a hobby, a type of weekend getaway for them…like a treehouse.

No one would’ve dreamed that they lived there full time.

But why not?

When they’d divorced, Shayla had given up the big screen TV without so much as a raised eyebrow- she never watched it anyway.

She and Athalie made up stories and acted out plays and read books either out on the porch or sitting on the high pine needle-cushioned creek bank while dragonflies wove invisible webs in the air.

If company came out, which was a rare occurrence in the winter without the ready comfort of central heat and an absolute non-event in the summer since there wasn’t air conditioning in either structure and most people thought they would die without it, they did whatever entertaining they did from the shack on the front of the property.

The one with the electricity and flush toilet.

And the refrigerator. Shayla stood up and considered whether or not she was thirsty enough for a cold drink to traipse the few hundred feet through the deep woods in the dark for the pitcher of sweet tea that she’d left in the shack.

The thunder rumbled again, closer and more threatening.

No, she decided; perhaps a drink from the pitcher of water on the kitchen counter would be just fine.

She went into the house and the rocking chair eerily kept rocking for a few minutes, first from the momentum of her getting up, and then from the breeze catching it just right. Finally it slowed and then stopped.

Looked like a storm brewing.

Shayla latched the door even though she knew no one was out there.



Remember- two other stories with nontraditional but believable heroes are "Almost Invisible- a Different Kind of Survival Story" and "American Evolution- Adolescence of a Nation". Also "CancerDance- a love story" which stars my own real hero as the main character.

All available from various sources and in various formats
as seen here ---> www.sheri-dixon.com

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