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DaniJane's Blog

GandLmom

Why I write…

When I broke my neck in May of 2009, I decided to start writing a blog. Initially, my only goal was to pour out some of what was in my head. I was 47 years old. A mother of two daughters, six and seven years old, and I was broken, physically broken. Writing helped me to normalize the chaos in my brain. Writing helped me to clarify the who, what, where, when, how, and whys of parenting, mothering, suffering, loving and living in my body at this time. Here I am, 7 years later, with over 1000 blog postings over different forums, still pounding out the words. 2017 is a pivotal year for me, you, them, all of us. My writing will be a reflection of my life as I try to make a change and demonstrate to my teenaged daughters why I believe what I believe and how one voice can be the difference. Here is where I will begin, or rather continue, the journey. This is my place.

Featured post

Just a whisper

I noticed something about myself. I think it surprised me because it was so obvious I was shocked I hadn’t recognized it before.

I talk to myself almost constantly, in a whisper. Like a running commentary on whatever boring, mundane, or routine thing I am doing. It goes something like this:

I’m in my closet, saying things like,”what should we wear today?” “OK Dani, you can do this, hook that 4-hook bra together. Use your muscles. Ok that was no fun. But don’t worry, now you get to bend over and put your shoes on. Always a pleasure am I right?”

As I am taking my retainers out, I say things like “Don’t lock your knees Dani, you will collapse.” WTF? All of this is in a whisper.

Am I going crazy? Already there? It’s weird right? People talk to themselvs and I know this but in a whisper, all fucking day long?????

I think it is so funny. Remember That show, The Middle? The kid, Brick, auto echoed everything? That’s kind of me!!

I’m not making any interesting discoveies about myself but I think because I am mostly home alone during the day, this habit started. Now my girls are home and I wonder if they hear me or see me and just think I am nutso crazy?

I could ask them but why spoil the fun of catching me in the act.

Alas I am that old lady, talking to herself, in a whisper, all over town. Except there is no “all over town” because we are in a Covid bubble and no one fucking goes anywhere!!!

Jesus! No wonder I am talking to myself. The world is upside down. Nutty McCrazy still thinks he won the elction. A Vaccination is on the horizon but, and righly so, I won’t be getting one until March at the earliest. So homebound we are, chatting with ourselves about why we bought those fancy shoes (that taunt me from my closet shoe shelf) in the middle of a pandemic!

I’m still a bit sad but I think the new med may be helping a bit. I only cry about 10 times a week and that is down from 100.

We need to stick together.

WEAR A MASK. SOCIAL DISTANCE. WASH THOSE DIRTY HANDS. And in 48 days or so, Biden will be inaugurated and the days of Nutso McFucknuts spewing stupidity on the daily will be over. High hopes.

She said in a whisper, “You gotta believe Dani, you just have to.”

Sociology, Social Distance, and Social Graces

What is wrong with us? Have we lost all connection and relation to what is right in this world? I feel like the pandemic has revealed some of our worst traits and many of use could ill afford to have these traits made public.

SOCIOLOGY is essentially the study of human behavior. I remember taking this course my sophomore year in high school and my sophomore year in college. In high school the study was more about ancient civilizations and how their behavior evolved into what we see (or don’t see) today. In college it was way more philosophical. I did reasonably well in both classes and better in college because I chose this as one of my requirements. In any case, wow, we all suck. Our behavior is appaling! Both toward our loved ones and strangers. Cavemen, in some cases, behaved better than what we (I) are seeing.

This current mother fucking pandemic has introduced us to a new concept, “Social Distancing” and many have used this as an excuse to be assholes. Behind that mask is a snear or a scoff that would never fly out in the open. The Covid deniers are still out there showing their asses to the world every chance they get. Social distancing is sociology’s petrie dish. For the love of everything that is holy; we have all just lost our minds. The mask does not allow you to have bad behavior. You still need to be a human being. We can still see you!!! You are not invisible, you just have a mask on. You know they catch the bank robbers very time even though they are wearing a mask?

This brings me to social graces. Common courtesy that you were fucking taught in Kindergarten. Say please and thank you when it makes sense to do so. You don’t have to walk around pleasing and thanking like a weird robot on repeat but when appropriate use these words. Greet people and say goodbye. Don’t just walk in and walk out without a word. It’s rude. Fuck, I do it at the fucking grocery, walk in, say hello to whomever is by the door and say thank you and Bye when I check out. It’s rote. You learned this you are just willfully choosing not to use it. Put your napkin on your lap. I have been saying to my girls,” napkin on your lapkin” for their entire lives. Pull it together people, you are not at a feeding trough, use some grace!! I am not really a stickler for this but when I see a slip up my mind explodes. I am trying not to be so reactionary but it’s a process. I also get my feelings hurt if you are a guest at my home or my table and basic social graces are not followed. If my daughters were ever rude at someone’s home I would pull them aside, in private, and tell them to pull it together. You know better and I expect DEMAND better.

When(and if) this pandemic ends and people start showing their whole face again I am going to be on the lookout for some smiles, some greetings, some goodbyes and good manners. Redeem yourselves. Max Weber, the father of sociology, would be horrified but his study and analysis of our current human behavior would probably make him glorified. You had no idea who he was anyhow.

I’m doing my best to social distance, keep a modicum of good behavior and display the social graces I expect from others. That is my contribution to Society.

Welcome to my blog, Thank you for reading. I look forward to your comments. Have a great day. Goodbye.

Veins

What’s the deal with phlebotomy? It is such a precise skill right? If you have ever had a blood draw you know that having the right phlebotomist is beyond key. I have shitty veins. They are small and wiggly. Drawing my blood causes me next level anxiety. I put it off and put it off and then I put it off some more. I take a drug for my Rheumatoid Arthritis that requires bloodwork every 6 weeks. pshaw! My last blood draw was in the hospital, 3 months ago! My last successful one that is.

I went to a local lab for my routine bloodwork a few months back. I always say the same thing when I get in the chair, “I have small veins and I am a “difficult stick”” I find using their terminology demonstrates that I am not full of shit. The phlebotomist that was lucky (!!!!!!) enough to get me said, “I am a master, I can draw anyone” so I said, “I will break you, trust me”. And I did. He tied me off, double tied me off, moved up and down both arms all the while sweating and sighing (like it was my fucking fault), finally he gave up and called the next phlebotomist over. 1 down 2 to go. The next phlebotomist said, “Oh you are a tough one”. She got a hot pack, gave me a glass of water, hung my arm down to the ground…heat, hydration, gravity. 2 tries and a stress attack later, she gave up. 2 down 1 to go. The final phlebotomist cruises in from the front desk all puffed up with confidence. “Everyone else already tried this client?” she yelled across the lab. A chorus of yes’s responded. She saddles up and ties me off, double tourniquet, heat pack, hoping to get blood from my hand. First poke, she cheers, “I got it!” No, no you didn’t. Nary a flipping drop of blood emerges from the stick point into the vial. She pulls out the needle, rips off the tourniquets and says, “You need to go to the hospital, they can use an ultrasound machine to find a vein!!” 3 for 3. I win!

Dejected and bruised, I left. My upper arms are covered in bruises from the tourniquet party and I have nothing to show for it. I drive to the hospital, all the while thinking, it’s Covid city, they will never let me in. They do not. They scoff at me and say, “Ma’am, go to the lab across the street, they are really good over there”.

Are you bored with this story yet? I go to the next lab. They know me here. I have been here many times with my girls and by myself. The front desk gal says, “HI, tough stick right?”, yep, that’s me. So the phlebotomist tried, twice, one stick but 2 tie offs. He gives up. Calls the other phlebotomist for help. She finds a small vein in my pinky. I SHIT YOU NOT!! She calls for the 1st guy to come back because she needs to hold pressure and she can’t juggle the numerous vial while using pressure and gravity. He starts filling vials. Teamwork! One vial, two vials, 3rd vial, not full. Vein gives up. They try to milk all the blood from the tubing to make vial 3 acceptable. They are doubtful but they say they will send it to the lab. I go home, sore and pissed. 30 minutes later I get a call from the lab. Guess what??? It’s not enough blood for the ordered tests, can I come back? I’m a bitch so I say, no, I’m not coming back, call my doctor and tell him the results of the tests you were able to run, CLICK!

Fuck that noise, am I right? Yes, I am. I have 2 blood requests right here next to me. They total 13 tests. 2 are duplicates. I’m fucking petrified to go get the draw. One request is dated 9/19/20. You feel me?

My daughter’s beautiful friend is training to be a phlebotomist. It really is a great job I bet. (giant fucking eye roll) So I call her. I tell her all the tests I need and ask her how many mother fucking vials they will need to draw.

She says something I have long wondered about. They can fill up a big syringe and then fill the vials. She encourages me and I say I will go tomorrow. Tomorrow was yesterday. I did not go. I have to go today. I am having a test on Friday and I have to do blood work before they will do the test. I leave for AZ tomorrow-Wednesday, then it’s Thanksgiving, then it’s test day. I am so angst up over this I toyed with the idea of just cancelling the test on Friday, but it took me 2-1/2 months to get on the schedule so no, I’m not doing that. I’m drinking water. Keeping my arm warm and praying…well writing this but then praying.

Can you relate to this at all? I hate feeling alone in my struggle. Misery loving company and all that jazz. Ok. I’ll report back.

Hunger

Hungry, hungry I am hungry
Table, table here I come
I could eat a goose-moose burger
Fifteen pickles and a purple plum

I could eat three bowls of goulash
Half a pound of wuzzled wheat
I could eat a peck of poobers
Then I’d really get to work and eat

Oysters, noodles, strawberry stroodles
French fries, fish hash, one red beet
Lamb chops, wham chops
Huckleberry mish mash
Oh, the things that I could eat

Doughnuts, dump-a-lings
Blueberry bump-a-lings
Chocolate mush-mash, super sweet
Clam stew, ham stew,
Water melon wush wush
Oh, the stuff that I could eat

Deep dish rhubarb, upside-down cake
I could eat a frittered flum
Hungry, hungry, I am starving
Table, table, here I come

source: https://www.lyricsondemand.com/miscellaneouslyrics/childsongslyrics/thesupersuppermarchlyrics.html

I learned this song in grade school. I memorized it and some 45 years later my daughter performed it in front of her class. I am in no way making fun of or taking lightly how tremendous hunger and food insecurity is right now. I just love this song.

I beseeched our government in a previous blog to pay our unemployed Americans a relief stipend. I see now that that will never happen. Because of Covid and 45’s half assed, downplayed, misinformation based not handling of the crisis; millions of Americans are jobless and facing unimaginable food insecurity and hunger right now. Our food banks are low on supplies and the need is far greater than ever before. If you can, please donate to your local food banks. choosing between whether to eat or pay a bill should NOT happen in America! Not now and not ever. I am personally trying to organize a food drive at our company in addition to our annual toy drive. The needs are so great right now that it is hard to comprehend. We have all seen the lines around the blocks and onto the freeway of people waiting for a bag of groceries from a food bank. People who previously never had to consider where their next meal was going to come from. People who thought food banks were for “other” people are now in those lines. I am positively sleepless over this crisis. I cannot stress enough how devastating and humiliating it is for these families to ask for food to feed their families. If you can help please help. I am imploring you all to do whatever you can. Please and thank you.

Stahp already

November 3, 2020 was 17 days ago. What is happening? So many things to be said about the current misinformation, cult-speak that is dominating our daily news cycle. For example: we are asking someone to accept a truth when he can’t accept his own hair loss. We are watching him force his way around, pushing for the result he wants even though it’s not what we all want. HMMMmmmm, familiar behavior from someone with over 12 sexual assault and attempted rape allegations against them. The tantrums, the talking heads with no regard for the truth, the threats against our very democracy. Enough already!

I play this game where I flip the results and try to imagine what would be happening right now. I know there would be rallies, marches, sadness galore; but also acceptance. Acceptance 17 days post election day. Seventeen fucking days!!

My anxiety and depression prior to the election were sky high. I couldn’t imagine any outcome except a landslide. I refused to watch any TV all day. I made a playlist called “Election Protection”. It’s 3 + hours of music. I heard an update when Ohio fell and I literally started shaking. I couldn’t believe it. My physical, mental and emotional issues were so tremendous before the election and I innocently thought they would diminish or even resolve completely after the election.

The results are in. They have been in. He lost. No matter how many times and how many different ways you count the votes, it’s over for him. He lost. And yet, he is still fighting. Filing lawsuits written by monkeys, refusing to share information with the Biden/Harris administration. It is unnerving. There are 2 camps of democrats right now. The positive ones who are celebrating the win and ignoring him and the camp I fall into; unable to celebrate at all, stressed to the max that something catastrophic will happen to either our country or our President elect. I put nothing past this mobster and his juiced up gangs of cultists.

Not to even mention how unfathomable it is, when you analyze the numbers, that some of these groups actually voted for him. I figured the core, rich, white supremist, radicals would show out. But the blacks? The Hispanics? Women? I’m gobsmacked. But I don’t want to unpack that . I want to celebrate the win. I want to watch my winners set up their new government. I want the snake to slither away.

In the middle of all of my shock and dismay is the fucking Covid 19!!!!!!! The soon to be former president isn’t acting very presidential. People are suffering. The magnitude of the suffering is mind numbing. I am feeling physical pain for the hungry, out of work, unable to make ends meet, depleted their savings, cashed in retirement accounts, human beings, Americans; left to twist in the wind with no relief. What the everlasting fuck will it take for action?? The federal government OWES these people assistance. You fucking owe them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who sits idly by and lets this happen??? Congress is a two headed snake and the soon to be former president owns one of the heads. You are all complicit. You are all despicable.

Thanksgiving is next week. Give to your local food bank. Donate warm coats to a charity. Volunteer to distribute food to our hungry neighbors. Pray at the feet of our teachers who are risking so much for your children. We have reached unbelievable lows. I’m never going to be off the meds at this rate. I cry almost daily. Daily!!!!!

Can we please all just STOP IT ALREADY???? What have we become? Where do we go from here. Is the win the beginning we hoped for or is it the last administration ever in our crumbled democracy? No one will ever forget 2020. I know I will have a lot to tell my future grandchildren. What I will be proud of though is that I placed myself firmly on the correct side of history. Can you say that? Can the R party members? can the Trumpers? I don’t think so.

I am so sad. Heart broken. I feel like I am suffering a breakup or something. I want my reality back. I miss my life.

Counter Lean

A bit ago I wrote on my FB status about sitting at a red light and watching all the cars and people making the turn toward me from the opposite corner. I mentioned how, to a person, every driver leaned their body in the direction their car was turning. So making a left turn had all these faces practically up against the driver’s side window. I found myself cracking up. This is completely unnecessary and it serves no purpose. there are no G forces pulling your body into the turn and your car will easily turn without your leaning.

So why do we do this? I am so conscious of it now that I am sure I don’t do it. But I got me thinking about how this type of thing happens in our lives. We think we are helping something (or someone) by leaning into the turn when what we really need to do is counter lean.

Someone tells you they have cancer. We usually try to be positive, or troubleshoot or problem solve. What if we cried with them instead? What if we said “Fuck cancer!” and stomped around? Counter lean.

Someone says they are feeling suicidal. We just jump into action. Maybe instead, ask why? How long have you felt this way? Do you have a plan? Can you tell it to me? May I sit here with you? Counter lean.

Someone tells you they are thinking about divorce. Instead of yes! About time. How about, I can only offer you my love. I don’t want to solve anything or suggest an attorney or counseling, I just want to love you while you go through it. Counter lean.

Leaning in has its place but it has become the way we interact so much that we are always misinterpreting sharing for asking for help. I talked about this before. All we really want or need is compassion. There is plenty of time to problem solve and give references or suggestions. Counter lean into compassion. Slow down and get the low down. My mother in law calls it emotional acuity. It is a gift but you can also learn the skill.

The next time you are in the turn lane, see what your body does instinctively. If you are leaning into the turn, push yourself to counter lean. As my assistant says, slow by slow, you will get it.

I’m constantly hoping I wake up and 45 is gone and Biden/Harris are in charge. 64 days. I’m leaning hard into this new reality. While I wait, I counter lean, that’s how I take care of myself.

Police Reform

No, I am not running for office. I am stunned at where my country has gone in the past 4 years. I am encouraged(slightly) by the super bright spotlight we have put on race and the police. I am disgusted by the devolution of law enforcement oversight and I am not going to stand by and do or say nothing.

The #defundthepolice was meant to incite change. It was not meant to incite violence against the police, it was meant to illuminate the issues our current law enforcement budgets face in this time of “no secrets”.

Law enforcement is a profession that comes with enormous responsibility. It also comes with a a pretty simple path to employment. For a profession that has so much responsibility, the training is severely lacking. I want to discuss 3 areas of law enforcement.

Training.

Qualified immunity.

Oversight.

I am not a cop. I do not have any cops in my family. I have many friends (maybe not after this blog) in law enforcement and many acquaintances as well. My entire perspective is borne from experience, research and actual coverage of events.

Training. Are we for real???? It takes 13-19 weeks on average but it can take up to 6 months. This is laughable. You tell me how a 20 something with virtually zero life experience has any business wearing a badge after this small amount of training. Now I know that some people go into law enforcement after a stint in the military but even these officers, unless they were MP’s, are green. So we put these officers out there into communities, many times not their own communities, and we ask them to keep a lid on things. It is a major ask and then we wonder why the suicide and domestic homicide rate is higher among law enforcement???

Law enforcement has systemic racism. That is a fact. Fight me. It’s ok, though, systems can be changed. Not all law enforcement officers are racists. But they all work in a systemically racist organization. If racial inequity is evidenced in promotion, management, and training practices, then the system is racist. Don’t get your back up about this. It is not a personal attack. If young rookies are entering this field full of high minded ideals about protecting and serving, then their training officers do not need to break them down and prove how dirty and racist the communities they are about to protect are. Racial diversity is the bedrock of our nation. If Law enforcement sees this diversity through a lens of criminality and oppression, we have a zero sum gain. My idea is that training to be a cop should be 2 years. This training must include sensitivity training, de-escalation training, and lots of real life scenario training. Trainees should be pushed mentally, emotionally and physically to unearth any racism or preconceived notions around use of force. This is the minimum. The bare fucking minimum.

Next we need to do away with qualified immunity. This is a bullshit defense born out of the civil rights movement in 1967. Around 2005 courts increasingly used this immunity for use of deadly force cases involving law enforcement. It has become a “failsafe tool” to let police brutality go unpunished. Police brutality is real. Since the advent of camera phones and body cams, the ugly truth about use of force, excessive and deadly, has been made available for all to see. The number of cases we have had to see are unreal and abhorrent. The lack of training is intrinsically linked to the escalation of these encounters from routine to deadly. I am happy to list the countless events but why? We all saw them, heard about them, read about them or witnessed them. The true fact that 90% of all use of force lawsuits, where qualified immunity prevailed as a defense; were perpetrated upon people of color, black and brown people, is of consequence. If you are a law enforcement officer, hired to serve and protect all communities (including communities of color) please enlighten me as to why you do not speak out against the vile and deadly racism within your profession. To be silent makes you complicit. qualified immunity does not make you innocent, it only shielded you from a well deserved prosecution. Period.

Finally oversight. What are you afraid of? Every corporation, organization, community or governmental agency has oversight. To have no oversight over a Police force that works for us, as the citizenry, is obscene. The idea of defunding the police is rooted in the desire for police departments to have some sort of civilian or governmental oversight. Police budgets are ballooned full of overtime and union funds. With more strenuous training, and less union and qualified immunity interference, budgets could be better distributed in a more judicious manner. The call for social workers to respond to domestic violence or abuse calls is a benefit to law enforcement. The call for mental health professionals to respond to drug calls or mental health crisis calls is a benefit to law enforcement. The call for trained civil servants to respond to routine traffic stops will benefit law enforcement. Defunding the police translated to, reallocating budget money so that the police can work more efficiently within the confines of their training. We ask Law enforcement to do too much with too little training. On the job training develops the tendency to build prejudices and over time those prejudices can completely inflame situations where common sense should prevail.

There is no bow to wrap up the issues within the law enforcement community. But there is a starting point. Admit the entire mechanism is deeply flawed. Without the acknowledgement of the issues, the news reel will continue to show the lack of change, and/or willingness to admit there is an issue; and defunding the police chants will increase to a deafening level. The violence, mistrust and disrespect communities of color have for the police is in direct line with how law enforcement has ignored the breakdown within their own systems. Looking in the mirror is always difficult. Ignoring what you see is no longer acceptable.

#letusbegintoday

Immigration

If you came to my Ted Talk yesterday about Homelessness, welcome back. Immigration, like homelessness, has categories.

Illegal.

Asylum seekers.

Dreamers.

Immigration in this country is a joke, both coming and going. (pun intended) The statue of Liberty welcomes everyone to our shores and if you are an American you are either an immigrant, native American or a descendent from slaves.

So let’s discuss our current, deeply flawed policy for immigration. For many years a blind eye was turned on immigrants crossing the border from Mexico. No one cared because we profited off of this cheap labor. President after president tried to establish an immigration policy between the U.S. and Mexico and it never amounted to much of anything. In the last 10 years The U.S. decided to put energy and effort into “controlling” immigration. The Division of Homeland Security was formed so that we could gain some idea of the who, where and whys of border crossing behavior. ICE became the enforcement arm of immigration and all of the undocumented were running scared.

No one thinks illegal immigration is ok. We all, republicans and democrats alike, think that illegal entry into the U.S. with no oversight is not ok. The issue is that the illegal immigration infrastructure is so complex that there is no way to simply stop it. So we must develop a policy that regulates our border in an organized and cooperative way. So stop the bullshit talk about liberals wanting wide open borders. It’s untrue.

The type of immigration that needs real consideration and policy reform is the asylum seekers. Like all immigration, asylum seekers are able to abuse a system of kindness and compassion to gain entry and protection from deportation into the U.S. However, lets develop a strategy for accepting asylum seekers that does not include separation and/or persecution. The United States is a destination for many trying to escape oppression, cartels, or communism. If personal liberties and familial safety forces someone to walk 100’s or even 1000’s of miles to our southern border, let’s be compassionate enough to agree that their professed threats are real. This is the least we can do. Once again, the rhetoric around both illegal and asylum immigrants is couched in language that dismisses their humanity and denigrates any substantiated claim of persecution. A common sense, legal path to citizenship needs to be developed and compassion needs to be the foundation of all border control training. Instead of assuming the absolute worse, let’s hear the stories and have options that both protect the person and supports our fragile system that cannot let every single desirous immigrant in with no oversight. Once again, the “liberal agenda” does not include wide open borders.

Finally we have the dreamers. The dreamers are immigrants who were born here, have been living and working in the U.S. for years. They most likely gained entry illegally or they overstayed a Visa and now are in violation of that status. These immigrants are undocumented. They are often living and working under the table or using fake social security numbers which allows them to have legitimate employment. As a caveat; these workers are paying into a system that they will never receive benefits from. Paying taxes, paying union benefits, etc. If the identification documents are false, then the benefits and taxes will simply stay in the system uncollected. But I digress. These undocumented workers (false documented included) need a path to citizenship. If they have lived and worked here. Raised a family and have no convictions or law enforcement issues; the path should be rapid and seamless. The children of these undocumented parents should not be fearful that mommy and daddy are about to be deported. If we tell the truth, without this class of undocumented workers, Americans would be in a real workforce crisis. From cheap labor in construction, viticulture, agriculture, landscaping, restaurant workers, home care-taking, hospitality, in-home healthcare etc. We have all benefitted from this cheap, undocumented workforce. It is imperative that we legitimize their status.

I know immigration is a very volatile subject. I know that the conversations about immigration fall decisively along party lines. We have lost our humanity if we fail to address the crisis at our borders in a common sense way. The Wall was not a viable solution. Ignoring the crisis is also untenable. Developing a path to citizenship, increasing compassion training at the border, separating asylum seekers from those delivered by coyotes, and keeping families together until status can be granted. Whether the status is temporary or permanent depends on everything discussed above. Immigration courts must be faster and more efficient. We must be in the business of accepting the “the tired, poor, homeless, huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, that is our vow. Do not muddy the waters with partisan bullshit. The undocumented are not our problem. The policies around this valuable workforce is the problem. I have heard many false claims that illegals are taking advantage of our system. hogging up healthcare, clogging our schools with second language learners, and just working here so they can send money to Mexico so that the rest of their family can come here illegally too. This is an old, unsubstantiated trope. Our medical system is overwhelmed. Truth. Our schools have less and less federal financial support to allow teachers to teach all levels of students (ESL) or nor. And who cares if they work and send money back to Mexico? If our borders are secure and working to accept valid immigrants, this issue vanishes. The beginning of the end for our deeply flawed, criminally negligent, immigration policy and procedural system that must be reformed is coming. We must demand better from our law makers. We have to tell the truth to ourselves about our prejudices against this group of “should be” Americans. Stop the propaganda and begin the real work.

The End. Thank you.

Homeless

If you are one of the “fortunate” ones who have ridden in a car with me when we passed any homelessness; then this is a repeat.

Homelessness is an issue. A huge problem in many areas, big cities, small towns, urban and rural areas, Homelessness is not new. Homelessness is expanding exponentially. The pandemic has been a giant thrust forward in both the size and the diversity of the homeless population.

Let’s begin with a disclaimer. NO ONE EVER PLANNED OR WANTED TO BE HOMELESS.

Homeless populations are as varied as they have ever been but they primarily fall into three main categories.

Drugs

Poverty

Mental illness

I’ll start with drugs. This is something everyone can relate to on some level. If your daughter or son becomes addicted to, say, heroin, you may lose both tolerance and patience with this addiction. Against all that is sacred, you may put your child out. With a serious addiction, the streets may be your child’s only option. Even parents’ of means will eventually lose the ability to support the habit. Failed rehab stints, stealing to support the habit, showing up at family events and shooting up/snorting/ nodding off etc. The limit is reached. So now your loved one lives on the street, potentially selling their bodies to support the habit. Yep, they are homeless. (heroin, Oxy, Crack, Cocaine, pills etc.) So how can we help this segment of the homeless population?

Poverty. Working a minimum wage job, supporting a family in a high rental market or better, losing a job. There are actually people (families) who are technically homeless i.e. living in cars, motorhomes, tents; but they go to work everyday. They cannot get ahead enough to rent a place to live. So the cycle of poverty continues. Poverty is not caused by laziness. Poverty is caused by systemic failures. Sometimes it is systemic racism, sometimes it is just the system refusing to understand how generational poverty works. Minimum wage is too fucking low. TOO. Fucking. Low!!!!!!!!!! So yes, poor people end up on the streets. No one ever thought this would be their reality I guarantee you. No person ever saw themselves
“showering” in the gas station bathroom or worse, pooping on the street. As you live in poverty on the streets, you start to lose your humanity. You begin to disassociate how you are living with what you know is the “correct way” to live. This is a the biggest failure of our system. The Biggest. Covid-19 and the ensuing economic crisis has sent thousands of people to the streets. In my town alone, I can see homeless encampments on 20 street corners and this does not include the tree lines streets with countless motorhomes parked. Hidden homeless encampments are littering the freeways and the streets of San Francisco. The stories of the filth and the degradation of neighborhoods are plentiful. How can we fix this? If you ask a random homeless person what they need, 9 out of 10 say compassion. Can you believe that? That breaks my heart apart. We have to do something. Now.

Finally the mentally ill. This group intersects with the poor and the drug addicted. Back to the parents of mentally ill children. Your child is schizophrenic and they refuse to take their meds. So they are violent and they may be using illicit drugs to help them deal with the demons in their head. What is your tolerance level for this? Well if you have other children it may be quite low and this is understandable. Many mentally ill people end up on the street. The reasons vary from Vets with PTSD, to sexually abused youths who never got therapy after their assaults, to the aforementioned schizophrenics and many other diseases like bipolar, depression, mania etc. Without proper treatment at home and a religious adherence to a prescribed medication and therapy regime, life on the streets is both viable and inevitable. Intervention for this group, while complicated, is possibly the easiest. That statement is in no way a cavalier judgement on the parents of these people at all.

One of my “solutions” is for there to be a widescale intervention in these homeless communities. We need social workers, drug interdiction specialists, mental health authorities, community partners with access to housing options that are available immediately and compassionate advocates.

Once the proper people are in place, we need to go into these encampments and begin to place the residents with the proper help according to their condition. I am no dreamer. I know this is a huge ask. But I also know that as homelessness begins to move into residential communities, there will be anarchy. Instead of driving by these tents and hovels with disdain and disgust, we must start to see these people and imagine that they are someone’s somebody. We have to humanize the population. Help the population. Diagnose and correct the cause of this enormous population. And finally take real concrete steps to solve the problems that cause the problem.

I implore our federal, state and local governments to begin to address the problem of homelessness. The financial piece of this is not unattainable at all. If you look at the line items in the budgets for “cleaning up” homelessness and transfer that to real treatment and living situations, it can make a huge dent in the conditions in our cities and towns. As with most things, there must be incentives. Obviously, living among these homeless populations is not incentive enough. Developers need to be incentivized to build low income affordable housing. Mental health must be free and accessible. Drug interdiction must be readily available. The excuse that we have “no beds” is not ok. Finally, the minimum wage must be raised. $20 per hour, with both parents working, for a family of 4 is just about what it takes to live in California. We can pull these families out of poverty with this one step.

My heart breaks for these homeless people. It scares me how easily we, as a nation, have become so callous. We scorn this population. We criticize them. We accuse them of being lazy, or losers. We attribute their situation to “other”. All of this vanishes if you see your son or your daughter in the eyes of these people.

Remember, it is all about compassion. then solutions. Then creating a world where being homeless is not even a thing anymore. It becomes unthinkable. In the richest country in the world, it truly should be.

Thank you for coming to my lecture.

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