Monday, November 30, 2009

post-thanksgiving giving of thanks

This is kind of blog-cheating, because I posted this on facebook already. To make up for the kinda-cheating, I'm elaborating - a little - on some of these "i'm thankful for" bullet points (and, of course, editing out some of the identifying information).

giving thanks. 2009.
so, sure, thanksgiving's past is steeped in really f-ed up politics of pilgrims "civilizing" the native people they came upon when they landed on this country, and celebrating thanksgiving with pilgrim hats and fake-traditional native headdresses is beyond offensive. i could go on and on about how we celebrate a time that resulted in mass genocide of native peoples and their cultures. there's certainly a place for that.

but i'm not going to go there right now, because thanksgiving may have a f-ed up history, but it's become something very different. giving thanks is something i (we) should be doing every day, but there's nothing wrong with having an entire day devoted to eating delicious food and giving thanks for the blessings in our lives.

so, a completely cliche but also completely necessary exercise in thanks giving:

I Am Thankful For:
  • the family that i've found in massachusetts. even when it's not easy, it's still the closest thing to family that i've got, and they're still a better family than i'd ever expected to find.
    (this was one i was going to elaborate on, but...there's not much more to say. surprisingly enough for this verbose girl, simplicity sometimes best exposes the depth of emotion.)

  • northampton/home. i read tracy kidder's book, Home Town, a couple months ago, and i got wicked homesick. that "homesick" thing is kinda new. it's pretty amazing to have a hometown i can be homesick for.

  • coffee. no, really. everything about it: the making and the drinking. i love making pretty and delicious coffee drinks at my lovely cafes (both home in northampton and here in kansas city), and i really love drinking it. i'm so thankful for this wonderful beverage and all of its incarnations.

  • courage. that is, having the courage to extract myself from a family that was toxic. my lovely friend wrote this post over at feministing last week, about taking a risk and being prepared to be wrong, as she did when she left home before graduating high school. i'm thankful that i had the courage to take that much-needed step away/step toward the rest of my life.

  • Reproductive health care providers (including abortion providers), and the political movement that helps them to keep their doors open. mostly, I'm thankful for their existence in general. but more selfishly, I'm thankful for the really satisfying employment that they offer me. the people i work with in this movement are really incredible, and the people i get to work with across the states of kansas and missouri are some of the best & most amazing people i know.

  • eleanor maya (the cat). and, last week, emma (the denver dog). ellie makes my life in kansas city so much more bearable and less lonely. emma is...well, she's emma, and totally adorable, and totally a pup i'd drive 9 hours to denver to pet-sit anytime. (as long as it's at her owner-mama's house -- she would eat my cat if given the chance.)
    i'm thankful that ellie is exactly as cuddly and snuggly as i need her to be...even if that cuddle means i will forever have a light layer of cat hair on every item of clothing i own.

  • pumpkin-based foods. like the beyond delicious pumpkin-apple-butter pie (with streusel topping) i made for thanksgiving this year, and christmas last year, and will make for pretty much every holiday it fits into. (from  pumpkin pies and pumpkin bread and pumpkin cookies and pumpkin muffins and pumpkin spice egg nog and pumpkin butter and and and... yum.

  • related: egg nog.  it's now after thanksgiving, so i've now given myself permission to buy my first bottle of egg nog.  unlike most people, i never reach that "too much egg nog" state.  i'll continue to buy egg nog, at least a quart a week, until they stop making it.  this year, i'm SO SO STOKED to be living in kansas city, where i have access to the most delicious egg nog i've ever had, from Shatto Milk Company.  if i gain extra weight during the holiday season, it's not from holiday meals -- i eat pretty normally through the season.  it's from egg nog.  (straight up, no rum. rum only distorts and distracts from the deliciousness of the egg nog.)

  • smith college. the education i got there, the connections i made, and the smith connection that continues past graduation.
    also: the financial ability to attend smith, thanks in large part to the generous aid package they offered me. sure, i'll probably be paying off student loans until i die, but i was able to get those grants and loans, and i was able to make smith college a financial possibility.

  • and, of course, my friends. the people who make being in kansas city bearable, the people who make life in general so much better. from old friends that go back to preschool to the ones i just made out midwest/west (Denver). there are some really incredible people in my life, and i'm really grateful that they're around.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

What a feminist bibliophile coffee connoisseur's dreams are made of

The wonderful thing about almost-impossible dreams is that even if it's 100% not feasible (at least not yet), it's still surprisingly fulfilling to daydream about. It doesn't cost a thing to make plans or have ideas.

I have a new pie-in-the-sky dream to daydream about.
The last time I had a dream this pie-in-the-sky (we're talking, like, Balloon Boy altitude here) was two and a half years ago.
During my summer internship in DC, my Smithie roommates and I were daydreaming about a nonprofit based in the Bay Area that would serve mostly (though not exclusively) female victims of domestic and sexual violence. We even drew up some google documents. Lauren even took some time out of her internship on the Hill (during the slow time of August recess) to create some business plans in a binder, and did extensive research on 501(c)(3) certification and the political/lobbying limitations of such a nonprofit classification. We talked at length about the mission statement, and whether it would encompass only direct services or expand into policy advocacy and grassroots activism, and if the latter, what kind of lobbying we could & couldn't do as a (c)(3) nonprofit. (What can I say? We were total nerds like that. This is why I count these women as some of the best friends I'll ever have.)

That dream's not quite as compelling anymore; we all found our passions in slightly different forms of feminism. Both Lauren & Elizabeth are in law school on opposite coasts, and here I am in the middle, the underpaid and overworked grassroots organizer doing my best to stretch the hours long enough to make these red states slightly friendlier - or at least not more hostile - to the idea of reproductive freedom.

So we're all in different places, and I'm not sure what Lauren's & Elizabeth's dreams are anymore. (Are law students even allowed to have dreams?)

While I love my job and I love the politics of Kansas & Missouri (it's exhilarating to work in the same states as Great-White-Hope Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and the always lovely Hunger-is-a-Positive-Motivator Cynthia Davis (R-MO), among other d-bags), it's not perfect. I think it's the flatness. Maybe if I were down near Springfield and Joplin, with the Ozarks closer, it'd be better. But then...I'd be near Joplin. And, well, no thanks.

So a girl gets to daydreaming.

Mostly, I daydream about Denver. There's something about that place that just snuck into my heart and set up camp there, like a really wonderful heartworm. Or maybe some metaphor less parasitic, but it's late, and that's what I've got.

But yesterday, a new and exciting daydream entered the picture.
I happened upon this lovely twitterer, @SugarAndSass. Well, to be accurate, she happened upon me, started following me, and I followed my email notification to check her out.

Eventually, it led me to her blog.
Here's her profile:

Um. Hi, soul mate. What's up?

I sent her a short direct message on twitter (lemme tell you, it's hard to convey the message of "Oh my god, I think you and I may be soul mates. I love your idea, and I think you might have stolen my dream. Tell me more about your dream coffee shop/bookstore/sex ed resource/awesomesauce establishment so that we can geek out over feminist coffee sweet greatness together? Email me at this address." in 140 characters or less. I ended up using 2 direct messages. Totally bad Twitter etiquette [twitiquette?], I know.), and she sent me a long email in response.

After telling me her pie-in-the-sky ideas (notice how I'm using the word "pie" a lot when referring to a potential bakery? so clever, i am), she asked me to share mine.

They're all of 24 hours in the making, but here goes.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sen Kit Bond doesn't care about rape victims

The note below is the letter I sent to Sen Kit Bond today in response to his "no" vote on the Franken Amendment.

First, watch the Daily Show segment calling out those who voted against Franken's amendment to protect rape victims:

Feel free to copy & paste what you want -- or write your own letter -- and send to your own Senator if they were one of the 30 male Republican senators who voted against S.Amdt. 2588. (Find your Senator's vote here.)

I cannot WAIT to replace this man with Robin Carnahan.


Senator Bond:

I'm writing to express my extreme disappointment with your vote two weeks ago on Senator Franken's amendment (S Amdt 2588) to the Defense Appropriations Bill (HR 3326). You, along with 29 of your male Republican colleagues, voted against his non-controversial amendment to protect rape victims. His amendment will deny the granting of federal funds to contractors that prohibit their employees from pursuing their full due process rights for certain crimes.
Your "nay" vote on this amendment protects these companies, putting their financial needs above the needs and rights of their employees. It troubles me that one of my Senators, elected to represent me and the people of my state, would prioritize corporations over rape victims.

There are a lot of things I do not understand about your vote, and I am genuinely curious to hear the reasons behind the decision to vote against this amendment.

I heard one of your colleagues argue on the floor that this bill targets Halliburton, and is a political move against one corporation. This amendment, though it does mention Halliburton by name, does not limit its scope to one corporation. Any company found to be participating in these practices would be denied federal funds.
The denial of federal funds due to unethical practices is nothing new. You voted "yes" to Amdt 2355 to HR 3288, prohibiting federal funds from going to ACORN. This adds a particularly troubling aspect to your vote: You are willing to deny ACORN funds based on the unethical actions of some of its employees. You are not willing to deny Halliburton or KBR or other similar companies funds based on the unethical official company policy.

The fact that it seems as though you are willing to side with large corporations over rape victims scares me. Last year in Missouri, one rape was committed every 5.5 hours (this number does not count any unreported or statutory rapes, or rape committed against male victims).* It concerns me that a representative of a state with such a serious problem with rape would not take the needs of rape victims seriously.

Jen L.
Kansas City, MO

*MO's 2008 crime statistics on rape can be found here:

Friday, October 16, 2009

how to write about rape & sexual abuse

But first:

How NOT To Write About Rape & Sexual Abuse
I'm sure that with a simple overview of my internet history from the past couple weeks, I could come up with a list of about 50 articles from mainstream media sources that exemplify the utter failure of most journalists to accurately and sensitively write about issues of rape, sexual abuse, and sexual violence.

I don't have the time or the patience to compile that list, though, so I'll just stick with the one that most infuriated me.
This story is also local to Kansas City, as is the better one I'll highlight below.

On October 11, the Kansas City Star printed a story from NY Times writer Michael Cieply. The KC Star version wasn't published online, but it was an abbreviated version of the full article, published on the NYT website here.
Surprisingly enough, the full version is actually slightly less offensive than the abbreviated version that the KC Star published. They left out some of the (still problematic) nuance that Cieply provided, giving a vomit-inducing, unmistakable narrative of "gee darn, no more sex with the young'uns! Weren't the good old days grand?"
For proof, I give you this picture of the headline subtitle that I took with my phone, as seen in the print version of the Star on Sunday, Oct 11th:

I hate how often I need to say this, but it seems to bear repeating. Again.
Rape. Is. Not. Sex.
Polanski did not "have sex" with the victim. Even the article itself includes this line (though it's mentioned & not addressed again): "...even while acknowledging that the victim [name redacted] had offered grand jury testimony of forcible rape."
Cieply's article was bad enough in its original form.
And somehow, the KC Star managed to take a terrible article and make it even more offensive.

Now, I get to the better part. A publication that is responsible AND responsive. This is also partially a story of how much I love Twitter.

How To Write About Rape & Sexual Abuse
On Thursday, Oct 15th, the Pitch Plog's Twitter feed (pulled directly from their postings) showed this:

I was pretty sure that "child sex" was a misnomer, so I followed the link (the pic above is linked to the tweet pictured). Sure enough, the article that followed the misleading headline was in fact about a child sexual abuse case. The copy of the article was actually pretty well-done - factual and to the point, without any offensive mentions of "sex" with children.
I expected better from the Pitch, which is one of KC's local more alt-news papers. They're generally pretty liberal and responsible when they cover serious issues like this.

So, in a display of what I was pretty sure was naïveté, I sent this reply tweet to the Pitch:

And here's the part where I love the immediacy of Twitter.
Within a couple of hours, the headline had been corrected, and read as follows:
Settlement reached in child sex abuse case naming former KC bishop
Thank you, Pitch. (And yes, I thanked them on Twitter, too.)
I wish all media sources were as responsive when it came to journalistic sensitivity and responsibility around sexual violence.

Oh, and I received this lovely direct message from @pitchplog on Thursday night:

There you have it.
It IS possible to get it right, and to admit when you've been wrong.
Well done, Pitch.
(Disappointed, KC Star.)

Friday, October 09, 2009

quick hit: rape culture 101

So much has been said lately in the media about sexual abuse.
Unsurprisingly, the media has more often than not been pretty awful in their reporting. (See, for a quick example, MSNBC's story on Tyler Perry's revelations of childhood physical, sexual, and emotional abuse in which they describe his abuse as being "seduced" by a friend's mother at age 10. Yes. "Seduced." MSNBC: You cannot seduce a 10-year-old.)

There's a lot I could write about, from Mackenzie Phillips' memoir that reveals the drug- and alcohol-fueled sexual abuse by her father to Tyler Perry's recent revelations of childhood abuse to the debacle with Roman Polanski finally being (re-)arrested for the rape he committed 30-some-odd years ago.

But I won't, for now.
I don't have the emotional and mental space to hold all of that today. It's been a tough week.

Instead, I implore you to read Liss' post over at Shakesville. Read it. This is not one that you should pass over. This is one that every person who interacts with any other human being needs to read.

Rape Culture 101.

A long-ish teaser:

Rape culture is 1 in 33 men being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is encouraging men to use the language of rape to establish dominance over one another ("I'll make you my bitch"). Rape culture is making rape a ubiquitous part of male-exclusive bonding. Rape culture is ignoring the cavernous need for men's prison reform in part because the threat of being raped in prison is considered an acceptable deterrent to committing crime, and the threat only works if actual men are actually being raped.

Rape culture is 1 in 6 women being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is not even talking about the reality that many women are sexually assaulted multiple times in their lives. Rape culture is the way in which the constant threat of sexual assault affects women's daily movements. Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you're alone, if you're with a stranger, if you're in a group, if you're in a group of strangers, if it's dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you're carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you're wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who's around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who's at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn't follow all the rules it's your fault.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

autumn is the most delicious season

Quick update, 'cause there's a lot happening that should probably be recorded.

So, here's September, in a very small nutshell that's probably leaving out a lot:

I went home! I spent a glorious day and a half in lovely Northampton with the fam before heading to a weekend conference. I got a fantastic massage from my masseuse, paid for in part with gift certificates from my friend-mom's café. (i really wish i had a title for her. friend doesn't work, but surrogate mom is awkward, and i'm not sure what's in between.) It was really, really wonderful.

The weekend conference I went to was the amazing Women & Power conference at the Omega Women's Institute in Rhinebeck, NY.

The theme was "connecting across the generations," and I met some absolutely incredible people. One of my roommates there, Nina, is a freelance writer for WireTap. I met Katie, a 17-year-old high school senior from outside Boston. She started her own nonprofit when she was 14. No, really. Now 501(c)3 official and has spread across the country and everything. Minga is a completely youth-run nonprofit that empowers other youth to take action against the child sex trade. Ann from Feministing and I had a bonding moment over midwestern feminists. (There weren't many of us there. And we're kind of amazing.)
There were so many other incredible people there, I can't even begin to explain. Feministing live-blogged the whole thing, which was great. And we really did connect across the generations. Sure, there were problems. There was a serious lack of queer representation, for one. But it was great, and amazing, and on and on and on.
AND Omega is absolutely beautiful. Mmm.

My heart broke a little bit when the fam drove me to the airport on Monday afternoon. It breaks a little bit every time I leave my beloved valley next to the Berkshires. And then it melted when my 5-year-old little bro wouldn't let me go to get through security. And when he reached for his mama's wallet so he could "use all your money so jen can stay."
Broken, melty heart all over the place. What a mess.

Two days after I got back to KC, I left again, this time for Denver. First was a training for work -- we're switching data management to the VAN, which my inner geek couldn't be happier about. And then I stayed in Denver for the rest of the weekend with my friend. I spent the day wandering around downtown, we went to a show, I met & kissed a cute girl, we went to brunch, we hiked Red Rocks, and it was wonderful. As Denver always is.

And I decided that I'm 95% sure that Denver will be the next stop on this journey. (Always leave 5% of certainty to unexpected twists of fate.) Possibly, this will be soon. My beloved employer, like most employers and most nonprofits, is having a rough time, financially. The future of my position in the organization is no longer sure, and is currently only funded through a grant that will end soon. I could stay here in Kansas City if I lose my job. A friend offered to help me get a job at the used bookstore chain he manages -- which, to be honest, is a pretty close second to the work I'm so passionate about doing now. I could stay here and volunteer at what would then be my former employer and make my money slinging coffee and selling books.

But I would have to want to stay in Kansas City.
And, to be honest?
I don't.
It's not that there aren't amazing people here -- there absolutely are. I'm amazed and in love with a lot of the incredible, wonderful people I've met here. And some of them will hopefully stay in my life after I leave.
And it's not that I'm unhappy -- I absolutely love my work. I love the politics of these red states. I love the challenge of finding common ground. I love that it's not east coast politics, and not everyone thinks alike. I love the political champions I've met, and I'm impressed by their willingness to stand up, even in the face of the secret hotbed of crazy that is Missouri and the sometimes-violence that is Kansas.

But the place doesn't feel right.
I didn't know that place could have such a profound impact. Or maybe I did, but I thought maybe if you carried "home" and love with you, place wouldn't be a big deal. There's just something about Kansas City that doesn't fit with me, with who I am. Maybe it's the energy. I think it has a lot to do with the flatness. I grew up in the foothills of the Alleghenies and found home in the foothills of the Berkshires. There's beauty in the flatness, but it just doesn't feel right. I couldn't settle down here. I've learned and am learning so much, and I've grown and am growing so much. But I'm almost ready to go, to move on to the next thing.

Denver, though. Denver feels right. For one: mountains. Serious mountains. The Rockies don't mess around. For another: the feel of the city. The energy of it. It fits.

I mean, look at this place. It looks like a postcard, but I swear, this is real. I took it with my own camera and saw it with my own two eyes.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

News Flash: Operation Rescue Lies

Surprising, right?

Yesterday, my friend Taylor and I trekked up to Bellevue, NE (outside of Omaha) to join almost 200 pro-choicers from around the country (17 states!) to defend Dr. LeRoy Carhart's clinic, the Abortion & Contraception Clinic of Nebraska (ACCON).

It was an amazing experience, and I do want to write more about everything that happened, from the insane to the inspiring, but that'll have to wait.

Because Operation Rescue posted a story on their website today, detailing yesterday's events. I'm not entirely sure where they were yesterday, but the events they're reporting on is certainly not the same Operation Rescue-protest / clinic defense that I witnessed/participated in on Saturday the 29th.

Now, it's not that it surprises me that Operation Rescue would lie in their account of what happened; they're notoriously good at stretching the truth and falsifying things and filing false charges. I expected them to try to spin this weekend's events into an OR-sympathetic story.

But the lies in the story are just too egregious to not address.

So, point by point, as thoroughly as I can while maintaining my composure, here's how it really went down.
I don't want to link to them, because I don't want to drive any traffic their way, so instead, I'll do an old-fashioned copy & paste.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Young Feminists VS. Older Feminists? Or Young Feminists WITH Older Feminists?

2nd wave vs 3rd wave.
Old biddies vs young visionaries.
Wise women vs ungrateful little girls.
Maybe even: mother vs daughter.
"This is not your mother's feminism."
"Young women don't know what feminism is."

We've heard all of these before, from each side, staking out their territory in generational wars. This is nothing new. Feminism has been declared dead over and over, sometimes even by older women who've dedicated their lives to a feminism that no longer exists in the way they knew it.

I come to this...debate? disagreement? full-out fight? one of those supposedly ungrateful, lazy, selfish young feminists. I'll admit that I get awfully sick of the older generation disparaging my entire peer group, condescending to us, not trusting us, and refusing to pass on that torch.
But I do understand where a lot of the distrust comes from. I'll also admit that I do have peers who don't value the wisdom of the older generation, who don't want to be passed the torch so much as either rip the torch from the older feminists' hands or try to reinvent fire altogether.

This older generation of feminists that so distrusts my generation has been through a hell of a lot. They've had to fight like hell so that we don't have to fight quite so hard for the same things. Most of them were around when abortion was illegal, and know firsthand what exactly we'll lose if Roe falls. A lot of them were trailblazers in their field, entering predominantly male workforces and facing intense, overt discrimination. They might have been getting married when spousal rape was still perfectly legal. They've got stories to tell and wisdom to share. And yes, there are some in my generation who don't really care, but really: most of us do care.
It's a respect thing, but it's also just a logical strategic thing: if there's wisdom there, learn it. You don't need to reinvent the wheel.

This generation gap / fight / debate / disagreement / whatever is a little tiresome. For everyone. When we waste our energy fighting with each other over who gets to carry the torch, we sacrifice our ability to blaze any trails.

This is why I'm super stoked to be going to this conference at the Omega Institute in a few weeks:

Women & Power: Connecting Across the Generations. (video will automatically start playing)

The Women’s Institute at Omega is breaking new ground and bringing women of different generations together for one electrifying weekend. Featuring more than 34 amazing trailblazers, Women & Power: Connecting Across the Generations will get you charged up to make a difference in your life, your home, your community, and the world.

Join us for a weekend of celebration, uplifting speeches, entertainment, and panel discussions with women from different backgrounds and generations. Award-winning novelist Isabel Allende; Alberta Nells, youth leader of the Navajo Nation: feminist icon Gloria Steinem; singer/songwriter Natalie Merchant; and playwright, poet, activist, solo-performer, Sarah Jones; are just a few of the diverse women coming together to share, unite, and inspire.

It's got a pretty rockstar list of faculty:
Isabel Allende
Lori Barra
Maya Breuer
Cathy Collins
Ann Friedman
Carla Goldstein
Angela Hucles
Charreah Jackson
Sarah Jones
Jensine Larsen
Andrea Lee
Elizabeth Lesser
Jana Long
Donna Lopiano
Courtney Martin
Jessica Mendoza
Natalie Merchant
Pat Mitchell
Elisa Mott
Samhita Mukohopadhyay
Alberta Nells
Ana Nogales
Sarah Peter
Adrienne Ressler
Eliza Reynolds
Sil Reynolds
Lateefah Simon
Gloria Steinem
Gail Straub
Helen Thomas
Jessica Valenti
Vanessa Valenti
Sakena Yacoobi
Miriam Zolia Perez

My homegirl Gloria Steinem will be there!
And OMG. Helen Thomas. I have such a grandma-crush on her. (i.e. I would like for her to be my grandmother)
And Isabel Allende!
And and and and and...
I'm stoked.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

How To Write About Abortion Providers

There's been a lot of linking among my pro-choice friends to the article that ran in Esquire last week. The Last Abortion Doctor has made its rounds to pretty much every major feminist blog: Shakesville, feministing, Feministe, and I'm sure plenty of others. None really commented specifically on the article; their posts just sent readers in the direction of Richardson's craptastic article.
Yes, craptastic.
I don't know if I'm in the minority in thinking it was so awful. Lots of people commenting on these posts loved it. I know, though, that I wasn't the only one who really hated the way that John H. Richardson wrote about Dr. Warren Hern.

Dr. Hern is an abortion provider in Boulder, CO. He is one of very few doctors in the US that will perform late abortions, usually defined as after the 22nd or 24th week.
Dr. Hern is a wonderful doctor, and I'm more grateful than I can express that he's continuing to do his work after losing his friend and colleague, Dr. Tiller, to the same threats that he receives daily.

John Richardson, however, is a terrible writer and ruined what could have been a great profile article of the personal side of an abortion provider and the life he must lead just to be safe. Not only is the article riddled with inaccuracies, he insists on calling Dr. Hern "the abortionist," a vilifying term coined by the anti-choicers...and one that Dr. Hern explicitly requested he not use.

So, the subject? Fantastic. The actual article? Piece of crap.

(At least one blogger agrees, and wrote a great piece about all the reasons John Richardson's article was terrible: see Ema's post at The Well Timed Period.)

Today, I found another profile of another abortion provider who is now performing more late abortions. This time, it was written by a journalist who actually knows how to write without ruining really fantastic subject matter.
Newsweek created a video a couple weeks ago:

And Newsweek published an article yesterday, The Abortion Evangelist: Why LeRoy Carhart Won't Stop Doing Abortions.
Sarah Kliff, who has covered abortion-related issues for Newsweek for at least a couple years, did a fantastic job with the article. She spent time with Dr. Carhart, got to know him, and told his story. She turned him into a person, and crafted a simultaneously emotive and informative profile of Dr. Carhart. She understood abortion politics, did not refer to him as "an abortionist," and, well, acted like a professional journalist.

This is how you write a personal profile of a doctor who provides abortions.
This is a good article.

And when you want to write more of your own personal narrative in a journalistic context? You do what Sarah Kliff did, and write a separate piece about your experience in watching an abortion procedure. Read that one, too: Watching My First Abortion - Competing Emotions

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mapping Our Stories

I absolutely love this idea and this project.

Ariel, a guest blogger at Feministe, came up with this great idea. Using Google Maps, she is having Feministe readers map all of the places where we feel strong on a collaborative google map. A collective geography of strength.

I love that.

It's already getting pretty well filled in, and she's had the post up for less than a day.

Check out the map here.

As with most new Google technologies and tricks and widgets and whatnot, now I really want to incorporate this into the rest of my life. (I've already hooked most of my coworkers on Google docs.) Google really is made of genius. Most days, I wish I were much geekier and knew more about computers so that I could go work at that Google castle in the sky...or wherever their HQ is at.

I think I want to map my story.
Ooh! I could also map the history of reproductive rights & reproductive justice in the US.
And, and...oh, the possibilities are endless.....

I may or may not post the link of my mapped out story. Working in repro justice in the midwest, so close to where Dr. Tiller was killed, I worry about what will make me even more identifiable and easier to target. (aside: how fucked up is it that I have to worry about these things??)

Either way, I fully support this kind of self-reflective geekery, and I'd encourage anyone to map their story like this.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

That (not really so) elusive "common ground"

Five years ago, I would've scoffed at the idea of finding "common ground" with anti-choicers. I couldn't have imagined that I would ever be able to sit at the same table with them, let alone have a constructive conversation about "common ground" with someone who opposed abortion.
To be fair to my younger self, I hadn't really met any reasonable, rational pro-lifers -- I'd only met radical anti-choicers who thought I was a babykiller. I had one friend who opposed abortion, and we'd had some discussions about it, but for the most part, we skirted the issue.

Five years ago, I wouldn't have thought that I'd be actively working to find common ground with pro-lifers. I'd only ever seen them as my uncompromising opposition...and I certainly wasn't about to compromise, either.

With the course my life has taken, though, I've softened my view of (most) pro-lifers substantially. I loathe those who advocate violence, subtly or overtly, and I still can't stand to be in the presence of those who consider me and my co-workers babykillers because of the organization we work for. But in working in South Dakota during the past two election cycles, in moving to the middle of the country, I've realized that the anti-choicers I knew weren't representative of the majority of the "Other Side." I do think that most pro-lifers are reasonable people who I can agree with on some issues around sex, education, and prevention.

Take, for example, the numbers.
Here in Missouri, 86% of the state's citizens support comprehensive sex education, not proven-ineffective abstinence-only education.
65% believe pharmacies should be required to dispense over-the-counter and prescription contraception to patients without discrimination or delay.
And almost 60% would rather see our state legislators focusing on real solutions -- i.e. preventing unintended pregnancies -- rather than adding on to our already enormous list of restrictions on abortion.

Missouri, a state represented in the state legislature by a majority of anti-choice Republicans, is actually pretty full of relatively reasonable people.
Going out to gather petition signatures from Missourians to support prevention policies (access to birth control, comprehensive sex education, access to STD treatments), most people agree. I've had reasonable conversations with people who oppose abortion...but end up signing our petition anyway, because they agree with me on the need to emphasize prevention policies.

Turns out, common ground among real people (politicians don't usually count in the "real people" category) does exist.

So when I see something like this, a Democratic US Congressman ousted from the advisory board of Democrats for Life because he supports contraception, it makes me worry for the future of this whole push to find "common ground."

The woman I talked to while gathering petition signatures, a member of Feminists For Life, is never going to agree with me on abortion. I don't kid myself about that. I can tell her everything I believe, she'll respond with everything she believes, and neither of us is going to convince the other to change our convictions.
But she wasn't unreasonable. We could talk about contraception, about emergency contraception/Plan B, about sex education, about real solutions to preventing unintended pregnancies, and...we could agree. (Of course, FFL refuses to take a stance supporting or not supporting contraception because it's somehow "beyond their mission," but I have yet to meet a FFL member who disagrees with the availability of contraception.)

Real people, it seems, are on board with common sense prevention policies.
I don't expect pro-life Missourians to all suddenly change their beliefs and become pro-choice. (I'd welcome it, of course, but I don't expect it.)
This common ground, this place where we can agree on how to prevent unintended does exist. It's not a mythical place of rainbows and unicorns. Really. It's there.
We just need the bureaucratic organizations that are stuck in the ideological pits of everything they're against to lift their heads a little, look up just a little beyond the hole they've dug, and come along with the rest of us.

(h/t for DFL article to feministing.)
((further reading on common ground that's insightful and real and honest can be found at RH Reality Check.))

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dr. George Tiller was assassinated today.

I wish I had words.

All kinds of people are writing eloquently and profoundly about Dr Tiller's death.
My thoughts refuse to form those kinds of statements.
All I can come up with is a string of profanities, a line of "why" questions, and utter disbelief and shock.
I'm still stunned.

((For more eloquent statements and reflections, see: Cristina Page, Ann at Feministing, pretty much anything at Kansas Jackass, and former PPFA president, Gloria Feldt, at Salon.))

I received a text message from my friend Christene this morning, during my barista shift at my second job. It said, simply, "Dr george tiller - abortion doc in wichita - was killed this morning."
I stared at it, shocked. I assumed it was a sick joke. Or maybe she'd just read an old story about him being shot. He's been shot before. And he lived. He's Dr Tiller. He doesn't get killed. They've already tried.
The words tumbled out of my mouth as I read the text to my coworker. As I spoke, I called Christene. She said she'd just read it in the Wichita Eagle. That he'd been shot on his way into a church service.

I gathered tidbits from other friends via text for the rest of the day. That he'd been shot not outside, but INSIDE his church.
That the suspect had been apprehended in Gardner, KS. Just a short distance outside of Kansas City.
That the car was registered to someone who lived in Merriam, KS. A suburb of KC. About 10-15 minutes from me. A man who most likely has protested outside of the Planned Parenthood clinics here. Who is most likely pretty involved in the anti-choice movement HERE.

Dr Tiller was killed.
In Wichita, Kansas.
This is my turf.
I live a block from the Kansas state line.
I work in the reproductive health field in this region.
This is where I am.
Wichita's not exactly close, but it feels like it's my backyard.
This is where I am.
This is what I do.

And someone's been killed, in my backyard, for doing work in the same field I do work in.
Not just any someone.
Dr. George Tiller.
Golden boy of the pro-choice movement.
Woke up to death threats and pickets and protests almost every day.
Had been shot before. And lived.
Kept working, despite all of this, perhaps in spite of all of this, because he knew what it meant.

Without Dr Tiller, there will be no abortion providers between Denver and Overland Park, KS.
That's only part of what this means, on the broader level, for women. For Kansans. For all of us.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

well, this complicates things.

last year, in july, i wrote this post, telling what was then my messy, mean, politically incorrect truth. in that post, i rejected the clear-cut version of survivorhood and queer identities - i.e. the insistence by both the CSA survivor community and the queer community that abuse could not, does not, will not ever cause a victim to "go gay." in that post, i stated my (then) truth that i am gay because i was abused.

i didn't say as much, but a big part of what i saw as that causal connection was the fact that i was abused by men and now have relationships with women. implying, of course, that i can't be with men because i was abused and raped by men.

but what if i discover memories of being abused by a woman, too?
what of my queer identity, then?
if so, i couldn't say, "i sleep with women because they're safer, because i have had violent and abusive experiences with men."
i couldn't say, "i trust women more because i have only been betrayed by men."
does it then go to the opposite extent, where i'm a lesbian because i was abused by a woman? that argument is usually used against gay men who were abused by other men. but i suppose it could apply here, too.

except, the thing is....i know that's not true. it doesn't feel true, or real. saying, "i'm a lesbian because i can't trust men, or picture myself being with someone of the same gender that so abused me," seems real, and a little bit true, still. but saying either, "i'm a lesbian because i was abused by a woman" or even "i'm heterosexual because i was abused by a woman" feels wrong. not because the latter is just 100% untrue, but because i don't think that experience really affected the development of my sexuality. it affects my sexuality, absolutely -- only one person has ever so commanded my attention that i don't fall into painful memories halfway through sex. i haven't been fully present for the majority of sexual acts with every other person i've ever been with. but it doesn't affect how i view my sexuality regarding the people i'm attracted to.
for this piece of the abusive puzzle, it doesn't connect. the two are completely unrelated.
but each of the other assaults? yes. they absolutely factor in to who i am attracted to.

does it make sense? no.
but is it true? yes.
it's true, and complicated, and even messier than i thought it was a year ago.
it's not a generalization, and this may very well not apply to the rest of the survivor community, but what's a community without individual truths? these are not the truths that the mainstream community wants to tell. hell, they aren't truths that i want to tell.
but it's a truth, and it's real, and in the inclusive survivor community i want to be a part of, individuals tell their full, messy, complicated, ugly truths.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

filling voids and finding love (and so on)

a new blog i've been reading on a relatively regular basis: Blooming Lotus. faith is using this blog to document her process of healing from child abuse, and while it's sometimes a little painful to read, it's comforting in the familiarity of the content. and the places that i still can't talk about (despite the hypocrisy of my dedication to speaking the unspeakable), faith goes there. she talks about it. and for that, i am thankful and in awe.

recently, faith posted about searching for something to fill that void of being motherless. not "motherless" in the straightforward sense; faith had a woman to call 'mother,' as did the commenter who inspired this post. "motherless" in the sense that neither of these women's mothers acted motherly. neither of these women's mothers fulfilled that role. and so, both of these women have huge, gaping holes in their hearts where a mother's love should be.
it's incredibly sad to see someone with such a void.
it's incredibly painful to feel that camaraderie.

faith's post is specifically about trying to fill that void, and is something of a follow-up to this post, about wishing for another mother.
a mother do-over, if you will.

familiar? that's an understatement.

i've searched for a mother figure in my life for almost as long as i can remember. i wrote a story when i was in 2nd grade about my teacher, Mrs. Osmon, adopting me and taking me away from my family to live a better, happier life. i was 7 years old. (i'd also recently read Matilda, which may have had an impact on the mother figures i sought out. thanks, Roald Dahl.)
i went from Mrs Osmon to Miss Clark, my 4th grade teacher. from there, i clung to other teachers, always female, always with a maternal, loving air about them. it went on through high school and into college. i gave up on searching for that maternal figure for a year in college, when i'd given up on pretty much everything else. ...and then i went back to yearning for it.

for all my efforts and all the different maternal figures i'd tried to latch onto, none of them stuck. not one of the 26 or so women - teachers, coaches, professors, deans - i'd hoped to make into my 2nd mother stuck around. most of them, i pushed away, consciously or unconsciously. most of them, too, i pushed and pulled and pushed and pulled until they had to step away. what i thought i needed was someone to take care of me, to hold all of the wounded little parts for me. what i was really hoping for was someone to do the work for me, to mother me without the expectation that i'd do it for myself.
and maybe, if i'd been able to voice it or really ask for it, i could've gotten that when i first started looking for it at age 7 or 8. but by the time i was in high school and college, i needed to be adult enough to take care of myself...i didn't want to. and so i hoped and expected that these caring females that i clung to would take care of me for me.

long story short, in the middle of a huge storm of intense healing (and pain), i realized, in my heart, that i needed to take care of myself. that i needed to be my own mother. that i needed to take responsibility for myself and stop trying to make other maternal figures take responsibility for me.

i attribute this to an incredible twist of fate, or the timely return of karma, or something of some power well beyond my own: almost immediately after realizing and accepting that fact, i found that mother figure i'd always wanted and needed. my boss, of all people.

she didn't take care of me in an unhealthy caretaking way, but she did (and does) nurture me and love me in exactly the way that i'd always craved. she sat with me through some of the worst memories, she made me laugh exactly when i needed to, she forced me to take responsibility for myself when i didn't want to, she let me nap on her couch in her house when i needed to be away from my roommates, she even drove with me halfway across the country when i moved away from new england. her amazing family, too, let me in and i came to love them as well, and i got to see what a real, loving family is like.

it feels like i've known her forever, but really, i've only known her for a little over a year and a half. in that year and a half, our relationship has evolved from employer to sorta-friend to mother to what it is now. i can't really explain it, but it's somewhere between and within maternal and one of the best friends i've ever had.

so, yeah. i have managed, somehow, to fill that void. at least, to fill it as much as it's going to be filled. there'll always be an empty spot where the woman who raised me should've been, and i grieve for that loss. but the rest of that emptiness, the vast expanse that needed to be filled with love? it's full. overflowing, sometimes, even.

i don't pretend this was anything i could've willed to happen. it happened because i got lucky, because the fates aligned, because whatever good karma i'd stocked up all came back in a rush, because some higher power allowed it to happen. and every time i talk to H or her wife or her kids, i feel that luck/karma/fate/higher power, and every time, i'm in awe of how incredible it feels to be a lot more loved and a little more complete.

Friday, April 03, 2009

sad, and true, and real

Melissa just posted "The Survivor Thread."

i maintain my linguistic issue with the term "survivor," because of the capital-S Survivor Story it implies, but in this case, i'm ok with using it.

because this thread over at Shakesville isn't about that mainstream idea about what survivors should look like and act like and be. this thread is about reality.

specifically, this reality:
And many of us who are survivors of repeat assaults will not speak of it; many of us will pick the "worst" one and talk about that in threads on assault, as if it's the only one. We do this for many reasons: We might feel embarrassed by being repeatedly victimized, as if it's indicative of a character flaw within ourselves; we might have trouble discussing multiple assaults without undermining what tenuous feeling of safety we have; we might have faced reactions of incredulity from people with whom we shared this information and thought we could trust; we might have been called liars or hysterics—accusations born of the silence about sexual assault.

Disbelief is the inevitable result of swimming in a culture which renders invisible the reality that enormous numbers of women—and men—have been sexually assaulted, many of them more than once.

as of the writing of this, her thread has been up for about 12 hours.
there are currently about 225 comments.
so many stories, so many stories within stories in conjunction with other stories.

it's powerful, and sad, and i don't know if i'll ever be able to read all of the stories in those 225 comments.
it's also true, and real, and for that reason, you really should go read it. if not all of it, at least part of it.
go read it.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

poems for survival

A Litany for Survival
Audre Lorde (in The Black Unicorn)

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children's mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak
we are afraid our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive

also: listen here. (will play automatically)

and, of course:
Still I Rise
Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Even better, see her recite it herself:

and, 'cause i can't resist a link to this piece of beauty if i get a chance....Ben Harper's version:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

if the L word were facebook...

because this is just too brilliant not to post....

Some genius (with the username stuntdouble) over on has translated The L Word episodes of Season 6 thus far into facebook news feeds.
One of the funniest things I've ever seen. (Only if you've seen the episodes will it make sense, though. Warning: spoilers in the following facebook news feeds.)

(see the original post here.)

And for the other brilliant installments:

Episode 6.4

Episode 6.3

Episode 6.2

Episode 6.1

Oh, and if I may, on a more serious note about season 6 of the L Word, a letter:

Dear Max Sweeney (and the clearly poor researchers of the L Word writing crew),

I'm not sure if they're pulling you through all of this bullshit for the sake of some really awful trans storyline (for now, I won't even delve into how poorly they've conveyed your transition on the show), but you, my dear, were lied to.
You claimed, in your rightful burst of anger in the clinic hallway, that "It was too late" and that you were 4 months along.
4 months, dear Max, means 16 weeks.
Past the first trimester, yes, and so you were beyond the limit for the common form of abortion - a vacuum aspiration. Those are generally only done up until 12 weeks. However, California's got pretty liberal abortion laws, and abortion clinics in the state will do the more difficult kind of abortion - dilation and evacuation - up at least through 20 weeks. The Planned Parenthood in San Diego, last I knew (which was about 5 or so years ago) was doing D&Es through at least the 22nd week. I presume, then, that a Planned Parenthood clinic in LA would have a similar policy, and would not have turned you away at 16 weeks.
No abortion clinic in California would turn a 16 week pregnancy away without at least a referral.

Now, a D&E is more involved procedure, and it does cost more. I'm not sure what kind of insurance you have as a -- what is it you do again? website designer? -- but if you had the funds to pay for top surgery, you've got the funds for a D&E.
If it was that you decided you wanted to keep the baby, or if it was that you decided it wasn't worth it to go through the D&E procedure, sure, I'd understand that plot line.
But NO, Max, it was NOT too late for you to get an abortion.

I'm disappointed in you, L Word writers. You did so well with the crisis pregnancy storyline a few seasons ago! What the fuck happened?

Oh, and for the record, I'm not sure if you were at a Planned Parenthood, Max, but most Planned Parenthood clinic staff around the country go through queer & trans sensitivity trainings. So, a receptionist or clinic assistant who was doing her job right would not have treated you so poorly.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

this is the midwest?

In yet another hit to my east coast stereotypes of the midwest, I heard about this amazing protest that happened right here, about 15 minutes away from my apartment in Kansas City.

I've never really thought of Kansas as being gay-friendly. I knew the KC metro area was generally pretty liberal, at least as far as MO & KS go, but I would never have expected this to happen here.

A Shawnee Mission, KS high school was the target last week of Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church (of GodHatesFags fame). Shawnee Mission East not only has a GSA, but, according to the KC Star article, they elected a gay homecoming king in 2007. (Horrors!)

Fred Phelps' group turned out 14. Including two small children.
They were met by counterprotesters, organized mostly by the incredible students of Shawnee Mission East High School.
Feb 6th Counterprotest
450 of them.

Yes. That's in Kansas. There were 450 of them. That's 32x the number of people that WBC had.

AIDS research fundraisingTo make things even better, they used the counterprotest as an opportunity to raise money for AIDS and cancer research. They had a goal of raising $250 for each minute that Phelps' group was out there. When the reporter talked to the student with the donation bucket, he said they'd so far been meeting that goal. I don't remember what the final number was, but it was a very substantial amount.

These students totally made my day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

welcome to kansas city, the midwestern leg of your trip.

i've been neglecting this little blog lately. oops.
things have been a little crazy, what with moving halfway across the country and all.

in fact, we almost didn't make it here at all. we came thisclose to death on I-90, just beyond the NY-PA border. we spun out, and ended up facing oncoming traffic. well past sundown. in what should've been travel-ban-worthy snowy weather. H, my invaluable travel buddy, claims we only spun around one and a half times (that's 540 degrees, if you're counting). i maintain that it had to have been way more than that. as the driver, i think that my version of the story trumps hers. in any case, it was absolutely terrifying.
makes me regret never doing donuts in safely abandoned parking lots when i was younger...
we miraculously didn't hit anything and got out of it alive...then crawled with the rest of the traffic over 2 miles of black ice to the next exit, where we slid into the first hotel and downed a shot of tequila each at the pub next door. (i should probably clarify: H downed a shot of tequila. i downed maybe a half shot, after dribbling the other half on the bar. i blame my lack of coordination on nervous energy from the spinout.)

if we'd taken our intended route - through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois - we probably would have died. luckily, the inordinate amount of money i paid for a moving company also afforded me an absolutely wonderful moving truck driver who told us terrifying tales of the awful conditions of I-70 (his route and our intended interstate). John, our driver, strongly advised us to take a different route.

never one to doubt a trucker, reroute we did. and so two massachusetts homos in a little blue car with a rainbow sticker on the back window drove, instead, through west virginia, rural kentucky, rural indiana, and rural illinois.
luckily, we both pass. H as a midwestern suburban mom, me as just plain het. we only got a few dirty looks from drivers with Jesus-fish on their back bumpers. not bad, given our route. and we only went about 300 miles out of our way. small price to pay for not spinning out off of a cliff en route, i suppose.

once we got to KC, we quickly found a really great local coffee shop (The Roasterie - not entirely fair trade/organic, but they've got some, and they're very invested in the local community, and they air roast their own beans). i still love dean's beans the best, and H sends me care packages consisting solely of their coffee. but it's good to have a local alternative.

before she left on a jet plane, H also introduced me to a friend of hers here in KC, who just added two super cute 8(?)month old babies to his family. twins - one boy & one girl. i've babysat for them once so far. i miss my babysittees in northampton, but these adorable babies are helping to ease the pain quite nicely.

i've been here for four weeks so far. i'm more homesick than i ever thought possible, but i love my job just as much as i thought i would. not quite a balance that i've struck yet, but it's on its way.
in the four weeks i've been here, i've learned more than my brain has the capacity to hold. the organization i work for bases their (successful) organizing strategy & tactics on the Midwest Academy's style of organizing. my new Bible is their activist manual. it lives on my bedside table. yes, i read it before going to sleep.

i've also learned an awful lot about Missouri politics.
like, for example:

Monday, January 05, 2009

goin' to kansas city...

in 7 days and less than 12 hours, I'll be hitting the road and on my way to my new home in Kansas City, MO.
not the first place i ever thought i'd move to.
and this is not what i envisioned happening when i finally found a place to call home, and a family i could call my own, but here it is. and as sad as it makes me to leave, it feels right.

i hired a moving company for this move, which feels really good. it's gonna cost me a TON of money (though only slightly more than it would've cost to rent a moving truck), so my opinion may change once i have to start paying off that bill, but for now, knowing that i won't actually have to lift these boxes that i'm packing (or, more accurately: thinking about packing) is an amazing feeling. highly recommended, if you can afford it.

this post, though, isn't going to be about the merits of hiring a moving company vs. self-service moves. this post is about home.
i wrote this in april of 2008, but it's still relevant today.

home is a lot of things. home is something you’re born into. home is something you find. home is something you stumble upon. home is always inside you. home is something you create and cultivate. home is the soil you till, and the act of tilling the soil. it’s a noun, and adjective, and a verb.
my sense of home is fragmented.
the wounded part of me fears it, knows, quite well, the danger of it. can feel only the lack of safety. it hates the idea of home and wants only to escape it. … home, for that piece of my self, is a simple, large black circle. a trap. a seemingly embracing, friendly shape, with ominous darkness filling the inside, entirely.
but there are other parts, too.

there’s the part that has found a home. one that’s everything a home should be – a safe physical location, relative financial security, a town and region that i love, and a huge community of women who truly care for and love me. a family, chosen/found/cultivated, that’s actually centered around real love and compassion. a family of mothers, sisters, friends. none related by blood. all related by heart.
family means love.
home is where your family is. home is where your heart finds its fullness. where your heart is at its fullest, overflowing with love. home is a (physical, emotional) dwelling, bursting at the seams with real love.

it's terrifying to me to leave that home, now that i've finally found it. this nest i've built is quite comfortable, and it's going to be quite uncomfortable to leave it behind.
but a very wise friend told me this:
"you didn't build this nest to stay curled up in it your whole life. you built it so you'll have something to come home to."

and, as always, she's right.
i look forward to coming back home. now that i've got somewhere to come home to.