Identify what is most important )0( Eliminate everything else
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Dr. Paul Farmer
The suffering of others is not alleviated when no one knows about it.
There is no one right way to live. Daniel Quinn Ishmael
The only thing that you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

Friday, August 23, 2013

what matters

Another 4:00 a.m. finds me still up and playing games and reading health and science stuff and trying to avoid reading any news.  I used to read a couple of newspapers each day and watch all of the news programs.  In retrospect, I think that all of that news frenzy/need/obsession and reading so many books were a way to try to make sense of my stupid life. 

When Andrew Weil's book, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health, was published, one of my sisters-in-law asked me to read along with her and incorporate the book's practices into our lives because her cancer had returned.  It is a decent book and the primary idea I have retained is that watching news programs and reading newspapers (and, it occurs to me that on-line news might be even more insidious) does nothing to improve the quality of one's life.

I probably should be more informed about lots of things, but Weil was right; avoiding news over which I have no control and for which I am unable to offer any assistance or influence is overwhelming and painful and depressing and I no longer read newspapers, and rarely watch any televised news.  I am able to pull in only a handful of television stations anyway, but because the TV is on often it is inevitable that I do hear news.  Except for these early morning hours when all that is on are infomercials and preachers and some loud guy in a purple shirt who is yelling stuff about money.  That is fine.  A little news cannot hurt much.  Besides, I have listen to public radio and one local talk station in the car, so I still hear about some things, and I can depend on my friends to talk about what they know of what is happening in the world. 

What was this about, though?  Oh, yeah.  Cannot sleep and some weird things that have come to me via the news.

So, anyway, I have the TV on and the evening, nearly bedtime, news is on and that man who was just tried for leaking military secrets will be spending the better part of his life in prison and has decided that as long as he is going to be stuck there that he might as well live the life he has always wanted, which is to change his name, live as a female and have the government, i.e. taxpayers, pay for hormone treatments. 

I have a couple of friends who define themselves as transgendered, so I am familiar with the needs of someone who moves through our lives with challenges caused by the stigma of discrimination, misunderstanding and a varied menu of biases and prejudices.

Even though I know very little about the entire issue concerning this man and what he did, as well as the more recent happenings, and even though my first impulse and thoughts are to be supportive of anyone who faces the kinds of life challenges that he must have been experiencing for most of his life, I am sort of conflicted about who should pay for non-essential medical care for someone who is incarcerated for any reason(s).

And, it is not that I think that because this is about gender issues, but I work with people who lack access to basic and life-saving health care and services, and no one is championing their circumstances, or trying to make sure that everyone can receive the medical care all of us deserve.  This is especially concerning to me because all I hear from my self-proclaimed friends is that health care reform should not happen, just in case it has any negative effect on their current, luxurious and all-encompassing health insurance and plans.

Seriously, not a single one of them lacks a single, tiny, teeny-weeny, inconsequential health benefit.  They can afford and have excellent health insurance plans and excellent and expensive medical resources.  I am not saying that they are spoiled (maybe they are, but it is not for me to judge them in any way) or that they do not care, on any level, about those who have fewer resources than they have, but they are worried silly and scared that if everyone has access to health care that it absolutely must mean that it will result in a serious deficit in what they can have.

They were talking about it when I joined them for coffee this past Saturday morning, and even though we have had this conversation a million times, one of them asked me how I was going to cope when our nation's health care system was ruined by providing services to poor people.  Her words, not mine. 

And, I am sitting there thinking, crap, did you guys just meet me for crying out loud?  Have we not had this conversation a million times already?  Have you not asked me for my opinion about this a million times already?  Do you not...seriously...recall that I say pretty much the same thing, that I am willing to make personal sacrifices and have it cost me more money if everyone had the opportunity to basic health care, both preventative and critical?  Seriously?

So, I said what I always say and I am nice and do not yell or make frowny faces or anything, but I feel such energy about this and, frankly, it is starting to really piss me off.  And, I am sorry and I certainly will not say this to them or anyone insensitive enough to espouse that kind of selfish stupidity around me, but the haves certainly have no, as a group or as a philosophy-focal herd, made much progress in the direction of thinking of, much less doing anything proactive or even supportive, for the have-nots.  Sheesh, scratch one of those particular haves and you expose beliefs that are still back in the period when we first began to walk upright, when it probably was essential to make sure that you protected your resources so that you could survive, and if that meant that someone else did not survive because you would not share, well, that was it.

I used to have better health insurance coverage than I do now.  My ex had excellent health care coverage and used it extensively.  He was not so glad to have me use it, which is why I was never able to get the mental health care I needed, you know, therapy and meds, or seek more than basic health care.  When I had to have eye/brain surgery for my vision disorder, he was less than enthusiastic, just as he was when our daughter needed a partly-elective surgery when she was a teenager.  He got the best, we got the scraps, and grudgingly at that.

The good part of that is developing the ability to find and use alternative health practices.  I am a fairly frugal person and, actually, quite happy to be so.  I like living with less stuff and love making my own stuff.  I can make or fix just about anything.  Not engines in cars, but I can do regular maintenance.  I can sew and cook from scratch, grow my own food.  Make household stuff and not suffer because I lack some material thing. 

Although, I have to admit that I miss my kiln and loom, my easel, things like that.  I would love to be able to not worry about the grocery and utilities parts of my budget.  That would be so nice.  I would love to have a better telephone plan, maybe some new and fancy underwear would be cool.  But, you know, if I had to trade any part of my new life for some extra money, huh, what would I do?  I have thought about this aspect of my life, and I am mostly certain that I would turn down more money if it meant that I had to give up my work or my cozy flat or CoolCat or just the gloriousness of being able to make my own decisions and choices and mistakes.  Not to mention being able to follow my body on a night like this, where sleep does not come and I can sit up, read, play on the computer, study for September's exam, have some tea and a snack and there is not a single person here who can stop me from doing what I want, what I need to do, what pleases me. 

So, I get to be a little ferocious with my friends, or maybe just benignly assertive, about my beliefs.  They are going to believe and practice what they want, just as I can.  I am still stuck on how I can totally support health care for cancer and other diseases, conditions and disorders, most especially mental health care circumstances, for people who are in prison, but I am waffling on what should be an equal health care concern like gender identity. 

It feels like if you scratch me, financially challenged and still a have, that what is then revealed is something, someone who is not the person I believe myself to be, someone who could shame me. 


  1. It's beyond my comprehension that any-one can have elective surgery while in prison, will the rest of the incarcerated population now ask for face-lifts/tummy tucks etc? Surely this will be stopped by some-one with a modicum of common sense?
    You are very right too about the place where you these days and the peace of mind you have now is worth all the tea in China, or for you, all the pho soup in Vietnam! Been there, done that and would never swap what I today for the material riches I had in a previous life!
    Have a fantabulous weekend, much love

  2. Thanks, and cool that you remember pho, which I am going to try to have on Saturday whilst I am out of town.

    I am kind of stuck on the part where you feel comfortable betraying your country and then feel comfortable enough to come out about your gender issues and have your attorney get elective, and, by the way, expensive, medical treatments.

    I love the life that you and Joe have crafted. It is interesting how our survival from those other lives helped up find the lives we were meant to have.

    One more thing. You are so close and I cannot get up to bother you for a moment. So, I guess I have to keep after you on-line.