In the summer of 1972, I went to Hawaii to help my youngest sister who had just lost her boyfriend in a car accident. She was 17 1/2 years old and several months pregnant.
She and Michael had been living in Tracy, California. Now she was suddenly alone, grieving and expecting. Rough times, to say the least. She wanted to go back to Maui where she had lived before and where she felt safer and more comfortable.
I picked up what little I owned in Sausalito, California and moved with her to Kihei, Maui to be her support. We rented a small one room unit on a property across from the beach. It was made of concrete blocks like many buildings on the islands were. It had space for two single beds on either side of the room. The bathroom was tiny. The kitchenette was just big enough. The geckos were easily seen on the white painted walls. We had a small table with two chairs and a record player.
I rented LPs from the library. We listened to music, drew, played cards, swam, walked, dealt with our crazy mother who lived “up country” and waited for “Tiny” to arrive.
I took the time to learn the words to some of my favourite songs. I would play a song over and over again on the record player, lifting the needle up and setting it down again on the groove just before the cut, and transcribe the lyrics by hand.
Here is my transcription from then of the Leonard Cohen song that I especially loved. You can click it to see it larger.
Throughout the months of the 2016 presidential campaign, much of the public and many in the media framed this odious man as a normal politician. His outrageous utterances and behavior were simply “rough politics”. His supporters were simply exercising their rights to free expression.
He is not normal. His statements and actions were and are crass and malevolent. His supporters are terrifyingly likewise.
I am disappointed, saddened and frankly, frightened by the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
A large swath of American voters chose an intellectually lazy, loudmouth bully to be their president. Rather than choosing an accomplished, gifted politician and public servant who had real plans to help us move forward, 50 million Americans have dragged us so far backwards that I doubt we will see progress in the USA for decades.
Apparently, the average American citizen does not take the time to actually learn how the government works at local, regional, national levels. What we got this time for an electorate was an emotionally charge, grossly uninformed mob banging around a few convention centers with signs and tacky t-shirts and hats. Bullying and marginalizing minorities, sexism, sexual assault, racism and anti-semitism are all just fine and acceptable with those 50 million American voters.
There is nothing in this president-elect’s entire 70 year existence to indicate that he will do anything but self-serve. Once his supporters realize this, through their thick fog of fear, hate and fuzzy nostalgia, they will be beyond angry. He will enrich the elites, anger allies, slow any climate change solutions to a stop and do nothing for the average man.
The social fabric of America will dissemble. I see separatists movements, home grown terrorists, martial law, foreign investment waning, outside forces rushing in to take resources.
It is ugly, very ugly. But 50 million Americans want this. Or, they think they do.
I love this time of year. Oiche Shamhna, Halloween, El Dia de Los Muertos are all wonderful celebrations of life and death which totally appeal to me. In this short video, I talk about witches and hags and why we have reviled older women rather than give them credit for surviving past youth.
For this Montreal Minute, I chose Montréal’s distinctive metro which just had its fiftieth birthday on October 14, a couple days before mine. Lots to celebrate this October!
The entire metro system is underground. The trains are never outside. They roll on rubber tires. In fact the metro trains were the very first rubber-tired subway trains on the planet! I found that out here on this list of fun facts about le Métro. If you are feeling realy subway geeky, check out this Métro fan site for even more info.
The rolling stock is getting old so, the STM (Société de Transport de Montréal) is in the process of adding new fancy AZUR trains. I have been on the new trains just a couple of times now. They are sweet — modern, stream-lined, well-designed. Definitely an improvement.
I was tickled to learn this past week that Planned Parenthood and I share a birthday. Yes, 100 years ago today, on October 16, 1916, Margaret Sanger opened the first reproductive health clinic in Brooklyn, New York. A few decades later, I was born at Children’s Hospital in San Francisco on the same day.
This Time magazine article describes the history behind that first clinic and the way access to family planning changed women’s lives dramatically.
Sanger insisted on a woman’s right to choose and dedicated her life to making that possible. And yes, Sanger was a controversial character. Yeah. So? I am grateful to her for what she started.
Why I have always loved Planned Parenthood
I was 15 years old heading towards my 16th birthday, when the subject of having sex got personal. My boyfriend was just over 18. California has laws regarding “unlawful sexual intercourse” with minors. The “age of consent” at that time was 18. I could have married him at at any age because, oddly, California has no minimum age for marriage as long as there is parental consent. But extra-marital sex, oh no. So we decided to wait until my birthday to have sex. 16 was better than 15+. Our getting some kind of birth control was absolutely the smart thing to do. I was able to get birth control pills with no questions asked at a Planned Parenthood clinic in San Francisco beforehand. I am eternally grateful for that.
I bought a wedding dress, a long white traditional one, at one of the second-hand stores on Haight St. We created our own ceremony including “jumping the broom“. We knew that we weren’t “legally” marrying each other but maybe having a ceremony would help if we got caught. Friends joined us dressed in “wedding party attire” and we celebrated. Then we retired to the narrow bed in the downstairs room of the foster family home I was living at at the time on Willard St. and copulated. That was my first time.
A pregnancy would have been disastrous for me. I was reeling from a crazy childhood. I barely had a hold on any kind of normalcy. Adolescence is rocky in the best of situations. And, as it often turns out, my “groom” cheated on me had sex with someone else a year or so later quitting our relationship. What if I had had a kid?! Bless you, Planned Parenthood.
Over the years I used the Planned parenthood clinics for check-ups, and routine care such as pap smears. The services were always affordable, confidential and respectful.
I happily made the choice to not have kids and I am again eternally grateful again to Planned Parenthood for providing services which gave me that option.
I have watched with consternation as the religious right, primarily with posturing by right wing politicans, has waged a war against this reproductive health clinic. A health clinic!
Public health is one, if not the, defining characteristic of modern civilization for chrissakes.
Sure, I understand how abortion inflames passions and is the ideal wedge issue to fire up bases and fundraise but essentially the issue comes down to personal choice. My body, my choice. That blob of cells is not viable without my body to grow it. I am in charge. If you are opposed to abortion, don’t get one. Now butt out of my uterus. Thank you.
“It is worth saying again: defending women’s health means defending access to abortion – not just in theory, but in reality,” Clinton said, as she called for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funding from being used to provide abortions.”
We can feel optimistic about the future of reproductive justice with Hillary as president.
Thank you, Planned Parenthood! And Happy Birthday. I wish you many, many more years of helping people.