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exploring “efficacy”

In a recent trip to Long Beach’s Gatsby Books, I picked up a couple dozen political books. Many were written by authors I’d never before encountered, which didn’t deter me from picking up their works.

I’ve read a few of the books I picked up that day, and I’m glad to have found each of them. That being said, I feel a special gratitude for the Gatsby-acquired book I’m currently reading: doctor Paul Farmer’s Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor.

I’d never heard of Farmer (“Presley Professor of Medical Anthropology at Harvard Medical School”) before I happen to pick up this book on the strength of its title. I’m grateful the title caught me; Amartya Sen’s introduction coupled with the first few pages of Farmer’s words had me totally, absolutely hooked.

Having grown up devastatingly poor, I understood the impact of powerlessness–of poverty–on life outcomes. As I wrote in “Bernie, Because I Was Poor,”  Read more…

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our own legacies of love

I met my now-husband, Anthony, shortly before I graduated law school and moved to Japan in 2004. We hit it off, and kept in touch for the four years I didn’t live in Los Angeles County.

sai nose

Sai

When I decided to move back to Los Angeles County in 2008, I ended up in Long Beach. This wasn’t because I was especially drawn to Long Beach. I landed here because there were more apartments friendly to larger dogs, like my buddy Sai.

Anthony was thrilled to discover I’d moved to Long Beach. He’d gone to high school here and offered to show me around. He did just that, taking me on a night tour of downtown Long Beach and the shoreline.

I remember standing on a bluff with him that night. Together, we looked out at the twinkling lights of manmade drilling islands. I thought that the twinkling lights were beautiful, and felt so glad I’d made Long Beach my home.

Almost a decade later, I remain glad I made Long Beach my home. That early 2008 evening with Anthony happened because of his familiarity with this town. We now have a lovely family, and–no matter where we may someday move–Long Beach will always be the place where we began.

Those manmade islands, on the other hand, are no longer beautiful to me.

In a 2015 article entitled “What the Frack is Happening Under Long Beach?“, OC Weekly describes the genesis of those twinkling islands: Read more…

this choice

Last weekend, my husband and I had a conversation about choice.

I told him I’m choosing to continue eating autoimmune protocol through the holidays. He replied that I didn’t really have a choice.

I disagreed. “I do have a choice, though. I can eat all the stuff that makes me feel shitty and then feel shitty myself, or I can choose to eat well and feel good.”

He challenged the idea that this represents a genuine choice*, so I elaborated. “It is a choice, and it’s important for me to acknowledge that I have a choice. One way–I can’t eat that!–feels like a prison. The other way–no, thanks, I don’t eat that–feels like a bountiful freedom. No one is forcing me to eat this way. No one’s holding a gun to my head, saying, ‘Eat that walnut. I dare you!‘ Without anyone forcing me, I am making the choice because I want to feel good again.” Read more…

better by the day

A couple of weeks ago, I sent my husband a celebratory text message:

fat adapted.png

“Gratz Deb!!!” he replied. Almost anyone else I texted with such a message would likely have replied with a “???” but Anthony knew what was up.

Me of five years ago sure wouldn’t have gotten it.

I first started eating clean when sustained exposure to specific toxins made me scarily ill in late 2012. After months of struggling to find effective answers or assistance, I finally discovered that I was experiencing chronic inflammation. I searched for ways to ease inflammation and found It Starts with Food, a book that outlined an anti-inflammatory food program.

I dived in, eating a little healthy fat, a little meat, and a bunch of veggies for each meal. Before long, I felt great. Read more…

The imperial mindset

I endured and witnessed much abuse as a child.

I learned a lot from it.

One of the most important lessons I learned was that there are, roughly, two sorts of people: one who will hear you, whether or not it benefits them, and another who will only hear you when it suits them. The former are great friend material; the latter, who hold what I call “the imperial mindset,” are best kept at a distance.

If I ask you not to do something that hurts me, especially with little to no benefit to you from doing it, and you do it anyway, you’ve indicated with your action the probability you hold an imperial mindset.

If I ask you again, and explain why, and you do it again, you have confirmed my initial impression. Unless you later adopt a cooperative mindset, we will not be friends.  Not ever.

If I ask you again and provide another explanation for my request, and then another, and still another, and you just keep doing it, I will cut you out of my life completely, if possible.

If I can’t cut you out, for whatever reason, I will acknowledge your imperial mindset, understand you will not change, and stop asking. Instead, I will do my best to remain cordial face to face while utterly shutting you out of my heart.

We won’t talk feelings, or go out on adventures, or do anything but exchange perfunctory greetings.

It’ll look to you like a choice I made, but really?

It was a choice you made: to not hear, because it didn’t suit you.

There are many people in this world who will hear and respect your wishes, whether or not they understand. They implicitly understand that their opinion, or total understanding, is unimportant to your requests to withhold hurtful-to-you acts.

I am so grateful to call many of these people friends. Because of them and childhood abuse, I know the difference between imperial and cooperative mindsets, and know that life is sweeter the less empire one lets in.

Categories: Communication, Health, Safety Tags: ,

two for two

Decades ago,
my siblings and I
did what we called
“two for two”

In theory,
we would exchange
two minutes of backrub given
for two received

I didn’t understand it then,
but this positive physical contact
may well have saved
our lives

(Loving touch
Is THAT important)

As the eldest,
I would typically exchange
two minutes given
for ten seconds
returned

So, now,
as my “little” brother
plays checkers with my
older son, who inherited his name
from my brother,
I trace my fingers
over my brother’s back
and think:

Years later,
I would wager
I still owe him
thousands of minutes

… and I am happy to,
for the moment, have the chance
to bridge the deficit

Categories: Family, Health Tags: , , , ,

small steps toward justice

Two years ago, I submitted a complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice.

My older son’s school had recently changed owners. I was sad to see the old owner go; she’d been so sweet to both my sons. On the other hand, she’d had to close the school baby room, which meant I’d had to move my then-infant son to a school that cost more than twice as much.

The new owners would be reopening the school’s baby room. If I could move my younger son back there, I’d pay half as much for his daycare. I was relieved by the prospect.

Unfortunately, two factors converged against his enrollment.

First, he’d recently been diagnosed with a severe egg allergy. Where he went, so went his EpiPen. Read more…

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