I Believe: Soundtrack Series Tonight

Soundtrack Series

Soundtrack Series

Y’all, I am going to be reading tonight and Saturday at the amazing and profound Soundtrack Series! I am in fantastic company, with such talented and skilled writers that I can barely contain myself!!! Please come and see it, hear the music, and enjoy an incredible night!

My piece was inspired by REM’s “I Believe.”

From their FB invite:

The Long Center presents the acclaimed Soundtrack Series, coming to Austin for two weekends: January 31-Feb 1 and April 11 & 12!

This is the new, organic Long Center series featuring local writers and performers that everyone is talking about! Jeanne Claire van Ryzin of the Austin American-Statesman has called it ‘One of the most refreshing things we’ve seen at the Long Center…!”

The amazing lineup for Jan/Feb:
Jay Byrd
Chris Apollo Lynn
Holly Lorka
Carrie Clark
Julie Gillis
Elizabeth McQueen

Here’s how it works: local performers and writers get on the mic to tell the hilarious or heart wrenching stories and memories they forever associate with a song from their past. We all love music. But The Soundtrack Series celebrates just how much we all live music.

The Soundtrack Series operates on the idea that just about everyone has that one song that sparks a great story from their past. Music lovers of different ages, backgrounds, and (of course) musical tastes have come to The Soundtrack Series to tell and listen to song-fueled stories, and feel the buzz that comes from connecting music with memories. The Soundtrack Series is for anyone who has ever built an iTunes library, combed through vinyl at a flea market, used a pencil to tighten their favorite cassette; and for anyone who has a favorite song, a least favorite song, or any song that takes them back to “that one time when…”

The Soundtrack Series has been featured in the New York Times, BUST, NY1, “Above and Beyond” in the New Yorker, a Critic’s Pick in Time Out New York, a Gothamlist Event of the week, and included among the “Best Events and Things to Do in NYC” by CBS News New York.

Contact our Group Sales department for information on discounts for groups of 10 or more:

For mature audiences only.

FOR MORE SHOW INFO AND TICKETS:

Questions? Call the 3M Box Office at (512) 474-LONG (5664), TTY (800) 735-2989.

Enjoy some music on me!

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Us, Here, Now.

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(photo credit Kit O’Connell)

 

Today there was a rally at the Capitol on the anniversary of Roe. It was a rally for the side of things that call themselves, Pro Life, though our team usually calls them Anti Choice. We had hundreds of amazing people, fantastic organizers, brilliant activists all. I am so grateful for them and their passion and devotion to justice.

One of the signs I saw today was about “My Generation Will End Abortion.” That’s a Utopian sentiment, and truly naive.

Abortion has existed for as long as women didn’t want to be pregnant. It’s existed in every culture and country, and has been needed not just to end a pregnancy that is unplanned or unwanted, but to save women’s lives should the fetus be causing danger to the living woman. The physical process for supporting a woman through a difficult miscarriage is the same, and doctors need to know how to help women through all phases of their reproductive lives.

I believe abortion will always exist because there will always be circumstances in which women have to choose. My life? Or, the life of the fetus suffering and unable to grow. My children’s well being? Or this new accidental pregnancy. My emotional, mental, and physical health? Or the pregnancy caused by a rape. There are more, many more stories, including wanted children who cannot be borne, including forced pregnancies through rape or coercion, including pregnancies incurred because teens had no idea how their bodies work.

The issue is access, resources, and choice. Do this, and you will indeed reduce the need for abortion services.

Abortion services though, will always be needed and should be legal and accessible, with trained providers that are free from religious or political pressure to deny patients rights.

Here are some things that will not end abortion:

  • Lying to women about condoms, as many so called crisis pregnancy centers do.
  • Shaming women and men about sex.
  • Denying that some men rape or abuse women and girls (not that those women tempt men).
  • Closing reproductive health centers (that will just mean women will take radical and drastic steps).
  • Impoverishing communities by gutting education, approving unfair bank practices, eliminating health and mental health services, and lowering wages.
  • Telling children they are like used up pieces of gum if they have sex, and then lying to them about their bodies, how they work, and being disingenuous about contraception.

The only way to reduce abortion (for it can never be eliminated) is to do the opposite things:

  • Provide extremely comprehensive sex ed to all genders.
  • Offer unfettered access to contraception, reproductive services and education.
  • Create cultures of absolute consent and acceptance between men and women regarding sex and pleasure.
  • Support a political system that provides living wages, fair bank practices, less corporate interference in local job economies, and provides safety and health care for all.
  • Increase the safety net for mental and physical health, for job loss, and economic stress.
  • Decrease oppressive racial and gendered systems so that more people have access to more education, more jobs, more ability to live with autonomy.

This will mean less unintended pregnancies, and more planned for and wanted children. It will also mean that the choice to keep an unplanned pregnancy will mean far less financial disaster for families.

It will also mean a more equitable life for ALL THOSE WHO ARE CURRENTLY ALIVE.

It confounds me that even when given this response, the Right and Anti-Choice side denies and refuses the truth of it. All I have heard for the million years I’ve been fighting against anti-choice laws have been about control, shame, vengeance, and discipline.

  • Don’t have sex.
  • Wait until marriage.
  • Pray.

Live with your mistakes (as if a child should EVER be told they are a mistake to live with).

The core belief structure seems to be about personal control (and fear), vengeance instead of understanding, denial instead of adaptation. Punishment, certainly.

I don’t doubt that many many on the Right believe deeply that they are the correct side, that they hold the loving position, the compassionate position. I certainly know our side believes we are and we do.

The very words have different core meanings to align with the different deep core beliefs. When I say love and compassion are part of abortion services I am accused of murderous intent. When I hear and see those words used by the Right, it seems cruel and manipulative and I see it as a cudgel to control through shame. This semantic divide can make dialogue seem nearly impossible, nearly alien in how we use the words or understand the positions. One inroad I’ve seen is with Exhale and their use of stories rather than arguments.

In all this, I go out, I write and I activate with many others, but I’m a bit at a loss to figure out how to motivate the even larger numbers of people to get out there and make change. The Right believes they have “god” on their side-their churches organize like wild, they focus on their actions in much more lock step and may even feel that their actions are spiritually called (and if not that, their communities are part of church life so it’s where everyone is, pressing each other to act).

I’m not sure how to take back the spiritual position (or if we can), though Cindy Noland of Faith Action Women in Need, did a great job today speaking on faith and abortion as compassion, healing, justice. We are a mixed group of atheists, agnostics and the message of spirituality may not appeal to those on our side, but something has to pull more and more of us in.

I  think it should, something should to get people out organized and in force. As Gar Alperovitz said last night in his talk, “The Quietly Deepening Political and Economic Crisis: Possibilities for an America beyond Corporate Capitalism,” the issues aren’t historical or political, but existential. “What are you going to do?”

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, most profoundly, “Life’s Most Persistent And Urgent Question Is, What Are You Doing For Others?”

Perhaps the Right believes that’s what they are doing, those others being fetuses in varying stages of development.

But, all I know is us here now. Those others? That’s you. The kids in school in this very county that might be marked for the school to prison pipeline. The people in West Virginia without water. The families who have lost children because of lax gun laws. The racism endemic in our country. The men and women who have lost jobs because of corporate outsourcing. The prisoners in Guantanamo, lingering still.

What will it take to get you out there?

The goal should be making this life livable for those here who are living. All of us, all colors, shapes and sizes, ages and ability. All of us deserve clean water, clean air, healthy food, access to jobs, safe working conditions, fair and equal treatment under the laws and the expectation that WE are the people making democracy happen.

What will it take to get you out there?

I think there can be no more holy work than that. And I want to see more and more of you stand with me. We are all we have and I believe if there is a “god” it is in those moments and junctures between each of us, tendrils of connection lingering eternally, invisibly, but part of us. That’s what we can count on now.

What will it take to get all our generations out there, and what will we do for others? How will we take to the streets to act on behalf of the least of us, here, now?

We need every single beautiful one of you.

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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How many times have you seen articles about social justice issues, then witnessed the opposition response of religious folks that pulled directly from scripture? I’m thinking particularly about the LGBTQ movement towards equality.

Too often, it looks like people making a really good case for why marriage should be granted, or sharing stories about why protections need to be in place for them. Certainly those laws are needed in places such as Russia, Uganda, and Nigeria where LGBTQ people are being physically harmed (and some Right Wing folks are wishing we could get such laws here in the US). Those people are seeking rights and the responding protests often come in the form of biblical passages. The “clobber passages” are used often, even though I haven’t found any direct quotes from Christ on the subject.

This, to me, ruins what should be a perfectly wonderful spiritual practice. Christianity-as social justice, as action, as radical political force against oppressive systems, as non-violence, as love-really appeals to me. Christianity as theological manipulation used for political purposes to oppress others bothers me one hell of a lot.

I ran across the article today on the difference between theology and action, and I wanted to share it with you because it resonated deeply. It’s entitled, When Christians Love Theology More Than People, and it hit home with me as to why I’ve always had such a struggle in my desire for spiritual growth and community.

The author, Stephen Mattson, begins quite straightforwardly:

“Beyond the realm of churches, religious blogs, and bible colleges, nobody really cares about theology. What does matter is the way you treat other people.

Within Christendom, we’re often taught the exact opposite: that doctrines, traditions, theologies, and distinct beliefs are the only things that do matter. It’s what separates churches, denominations, theologians, and those who are “saved” and “unsaved.”

Anyone recognize that?

I’ll generalize here, but in my experience many human systems, spiritual or not, behave this way. It’s an in/out, group/not group, belong/not belong thing that probably has some sort of biological component in our evolution. I figure that we create doctrine and dogma to justify the human instinct to create safe group systems, rather than the opposite.

Certainly other religions manifest rules and codes, and corporate and political systems do as well. It’s common to see “With us or against us!” or that’s “not American!” that kind of thing. When it comes to a spiritual path that speaks of love, of grace, of healing, and of universality to then create divisions based on doctrine written by man (and yes, I’ll state that I interpret the bible from a progressive and metaphorical perspective) I get irritated and angry.

I suspect many many of you do as well. In fact, my guess is most of the people that read this blog are either staunch atheists, agnostics, or folks who have been damaged by modern Christianity, in particular.

But for whatever reason (and believe me I don’t understand it) I seek spiritual growth, expression, community. I’ve been calling this a “little s” spirituality because it matters far less to me that it has an organized history or a particular creed, but more that it’s how human beings can invoke the ACTIONS of love, connection, witness-bearing, activism in service of social and human justice, and against what appears to be a culture determined to ruin people and the planet through corporate policies that focus on money, profit, greed, consumption, and not humanity.

If you are secular and you are doing this work, I cheer you. If you are spiritual, I cheer you as well. Whether you enter from politics, activism, art, or religion, I hope that no matter your relative position in the web of that work, it’s actions that matter more than dogma.

I admit it. I believe that there is something connecting us all. It may well be just turtles all the way down, from the above pictured galactic filaments all the way to neurons, both mirroring all up and around like a mobius strip. It might be that there is some larger consciousness out there simply waiting for our microtubules to evolve up to meet IT, and in some ways I don’t really care. I want human equality and stewardship of the planet. I want justice. I want results.

Stephen Mattson, who has a number of good articles on the tension many feel about seeking a more just Christianity, ends his piece this way:

When you love me in deep and meaningful and authentic ways — nothing else really matters.

But when you idolize belief systems and turn theology into an agenda, it poisons the very idea of selfless love. The gospel message turns into propaganda, friends turn into customers, and your relationship with God turns into a religion.

You may have the most intellectually sound theology, but if it’s not delivered with love, respect, and kindness — it’s worthless. The practical application of your love is just as important as the theology behind it. Our faith is evidenced by how we treat others. Does the reality of your life reflect the theory behind your spiritual beliefs?

Actions speak far louder than words, and reach much farther than quotations. Actions, visible actions, can contain real risk, but that seems so much more worthwhile than using verses as weapons. Hate shows in anger and fear. Love thrives in justice and equality. That’s where I take my faith, personally.

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On Sex And Humanity

Sex and I have had a lengthy and solid relationship. Spirituality has been more touch and go.

I’ve been a long time observer, fan, activist, advocate and participant regarding consent, LGBTQ equality, women’s agency in controlling their body, sex education, and opening up conversations and respectful dialogue about pleasure, healing shame, promoting the humanity of sexuality.

I consider the show I co-produce, BedPost Confessions to be a kind of church, one that allows people in where they are now, gets them listening, talking, pondering and most importantly providing a place for people to be witnessed as sexual beings, full in their humanity. We producers focus on three pillars; ethics, education, entertaiment, to provide the base for a solid show that has reached 300 per month for over three years.

I’ve mentioned before that I fell away from organized religion for a few reasons.

One, early on in my parochial education I was informed that all non-believers went to hell, something I could not square with a kind and loving God. Two, as a person who found great joy in the sensual and in novelty, I was awakened to the possibilities of the world in school. So many languages, so many plants, animals, eco-systems, art forms.

For humans to have such variety, it only made sense to me that God would be beyond, and I mean BEYOND our comprehension, but that all our paths and stories would have to lead us in a wonderful web of connectedness back to the source code that created us. I did not hold fast that there was just one narrow path that only predestined were allowed upon, or that there were magics or tools only a priest could use to help you out.

Three? That sex was such a thing of consequence and loathing/longing. That gay people couldn’t marry. That women were forever Madonna/whores. That men were fully in charge with perceived penis power and women (life bearers) were somehow second class with their monthly curse. It made NO sense to me.

I saw how religion hurt so many of my friends coming out. Rejected and cast away from churches and families. Emotionally tormented and tortured during the AIDS crisis of the 80′s. I watched childhood friends spurned from their religious homes because they divorced abusive husbands. I’ve seen more than my fair share of church leaders fall far from grace in sexual scandal. I’ve researched stats on porn usage in the most evangelical states (high), knowing that there was a kind of “good for me but not for thee” principle in action.

Finally, I ‘ve heard stories from women and men trying to undo the dysfunction and damage that religious upbringing had done to them. As a sexual being, I couldn’t square that most of all.

All of those reasons seem less like things a Source of Great Love would want, and more like something people would make up to control each other. I couldn’t hold truck with literal interpretations that held no room for cultural change, scientific discovery, and growth. That’s heresy I realize, from a Christian perspective, but that’s me, Heresy Girl.

The irony is? Throughout my life I’ve been “in church” the church of theater, the church of social justice, the church of community. It’s been a “little s” spirituality, and a radical one, but I’m accepting it more and more, even though finding my faith alongside producing BPC is challenging.

Recently, I came across a tweet from Jonalyn Fincher, of Soulation, on “Why Wait? Reconnecting Sex With Your Humanity.” I admit I was immediately triggered, in that “Oh boy, here we go” kind of way that I get when I see pieces on sex by Christian public figures. I’ve watched Jonalyn’s videos, and I’ve enjoyed her work, even when I haven’t concurred. I watched and found things to agree with all while finding places to take issue with.

My feedback will be directly below the video, which I don’t think will embed directly. My caveat? I’m not a biblical scholar so I won’t be offering much feedback from that point of view.

Why Wait? Reconnecting Sex with your Humanity from Soulation on Vimeo.

My first reaction is that the “Humanity” mentioned through the piece is humanity as measured through Christianity only. I get it, the POV is Christian and the audience is Christian, but that leaves out a hell of a lot of other people and cultures. A cursory google provides loads of links on sexual mores of different religions. Here are a couple on Buddhism (amended to add that there are various forms of Buddhism and these are general links). Here too is a fun wiki on Religion and Sexuality and a humorous “brief” history of Human Sexuality.

Jonalyn mentions in the video that most, if not all, cultures have pretty extravagant rules for sex. I don’t disagree. From the links above you can see that all the major religions have rules, though they are quite different in levels of control or repression. The Brief History Of Human Sexuality article mentions this as well, that without cultural rules we’d be like our closest relative,

“And what if we weren’t bound by such social limitations? Taylor offers the promiscuous—and very laid-back—bonobo chimpanzee as a utopian example.

“Bonobos have sex most of the time … a fairly quick, perfunctory, and relaxed activity that functions as a social cement,” he writes. “But for cultural constraints, we would all behave more like bonobos. In physical terms, there is actually nothing that bonobos do that some humans do not sometimes do.”

Humans are meaning makers so it makes sense we’d make major meaning out of something we want to do so much. Food and sex both have loads of mythos, history, rules, longing, loathing, desire and so forth. We just talk about food a lot more, share recipes all the time, and explore all types of food (not just “one” kind) so framing humanity (and sexuality) through a singular Christian lens seems quite limiting to me personally.

My second reaction? Concern at the dismissal of non-married but long term relationships. All relationships end on this earthly plane. Whether it is divorce, death, or desertion, the legal document does not ensure betrayal or denial, and in fact is a holdover of a time when women were not granted full rights. Marriage as a legal institution had a great deal to do with property rights, and marriage for romantic love is relatively new. Here is a looooong wiki on the history of marriage. It has varied throughout history, with all of the progenitors of the form, I’m sure, believing theirs was the one true way.

Also, in a country that still denies same sex marriage rights, to ask LGBTQ individuals to remain celibate, rather than be joined in committed relationships, seems completely unreasonable. I understand that a great deal of the Christian world believes that marriage only equals man and woman. I disagree wholeheartedly both from a “come on!” perspective, it’s 2014 and the clobber passages have been well investigated, but also my god, the recruiting and retention disaster that is for people who WANT to be in the church, love God, but are flatly rejected as less than equal or not ideal?? Not. OK. Not. Love.

(There is nothing, NOTHING, in my opinion “less than” in a gay relationship. This is where traditional Christianity fails me (or I fail it) completely.)

Onward, there are abuses and problems in some Christian married relationships. There are firmly committed, long term loving and healthful Atheist non-married relationships. There are combinations galore. Why not look at the loving, committed, healthful parts and worry less about the legal status? Why is the action of love less important than the label?

Thirdly, Jonalyn mentions hook-up culture and the problems it appears to bring some women. I don’t deny that many people go into hook-up culture with hope and find it ultimately unsettling. I feel that way about fast food. It smells good and tastes good for a moment, but I feel sick after consuming it. I know some people that eat fast food all the time and don’t seem to have any trouble. My solution is to do what works best for me and acknowledge that perhaps other people truly gain nourishment from fried processed food.

I agree completely with her in that if hook-up culture is causing problems for you, making you feel horrible, causing problems in your life? Stop doing it. But I’d also advise that if monogamy is causing you to despair seek knowledge about different ethical models. And, if remaining in the closet as a gay man or woman is killing your soul? Please come out and live your beautiful life with integrity and authenticity.

This brings me to the part that I deeply agree with. Jonalyn and her husband stated that marriage as a relationship model provides three things:

Long term vision
Communication
Vulnerability

I’m totally open to long term vision, communication, vulnerability, for any and all relationships. How we treat co-workers, friends, neighbors, lovers, partners all should follow that same kind of respect and honor. We, as human beings, and speaking to my own explorations of Christianity, should hold a long term vision of how we exist in relationship to others.

I may have the opportunity for amazing exchanges with people for one day or for a lifetime. Do I hold them in my long term vision as deserving of compassion and respect? Do I communicate with empathy and honesty? Do I share my vulnerable self when possible, allowing others that same safety?

As such, I have no problem ascribing these guidelines to sexual relationships! I think this is awesome and powerful! I just don’t believe one has to be married (or be straight, or hell, even monogamous) to do it. This is about intention and living with integrity and ethics, as well as being open and communicative about your relationships. And it is about doing that which is leading you towards whole life and whole love, healing shame and building internal strength to share with a partner.

I think this particular topic is vitally important for Christians to face because there are believers who are grappling with wanting to have sex! And to enjoy sex! And who have kinks! And who may have been taught shame inducing doctrine! Do you know how many people I’ve met who are identified Christians but who feel shame and guilt about kink or explorations? And consequently hide it from their own spouse? How is that ok according to Long Term Vision, Communication, Vulnerability? There is so much shame associated with sexuality (based in old Puritanical religious models) that it can be really complicated and difficult to unravel by using those same religious models.

What I love about the guidelines proposed is that they aren’t necessarily religious, but, to me, universal. The video includes the Finchers speaking about how these may only play out fully in a marital relationship, but I disagree.

I think that the guidelines increase the probability that a relationship will grow and thrive, legal status or not, but the absence of them may have a negative impact EVEN if it is sanctioned and approved by God/Law.

I cannot support teaching a person that sharing their body with another outside of marriage is automatically a cause for shame, but I do agree that sexuality needs much more discussion, more education, more dialogue so that the young and old alike, of all orientations and gender, can make more sold decisions, understand risks and benefits, and utilize agency in creating kind and loving relationships. I think its vital for spiritual communities to grapple with sexuality and speak out loud about it. I loved how frankly Jonalyn and Dale spoke about sex and their marriage, and how eager she is to bring sexuality into the conversation of faith. I fully support that, even where we disagree.

I’m looking forward to more dialogue with Jonalyn and hearing more stories both from people of faith and non-theists about how sexuality reconnects them with their humanity. For truly, our humanity is the whole of us, sex included.

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Weekly Round Up For 1/19/14

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Where I’ll Be

I’ll be at the MLK March, Community Festival And Food Drive, Monday the 20th. I hope you’ll join me.

 

 

Articles You Might Like

Too much estrogen at the Globes? Soraya Chemaly doesn’t think so!

Why are people lightening Lupita? Reign of April has strong words in her Twitter TL.

A trans woman was outed by a journalist seeking information on a golf story. She committed suicide as a result.

This article, on the same topic, discusses ethics in journalism. A must read.

Methane contamination in Texas water. Frack that.

On the eve of the 41st anniversary of Roe, doctors speak on the right turning back the clock.

A report from Catholics for Choice on abortion. 86% of Catholics disagree with the Vatican’s stance.

Sex is good for you. Here are ten reasons why.

We need to talk about Death. Here’s a site that can help.

 

 

Actions and Events

Monday, January 20
Please come and join me at the MLK event Monday morning.

Thursday, January 23
Bookwoman is hosting Paula Lucas who is reading from Harvesting Stones: An American Woman’s International Journey of Survival

Friday, January 24
Pre-Carnaval Party at El Sol!

Saturday, January 25
Feel like supporting Austin Women’s Health Center? This vigil might be the place for you.

The Unruly Mob is having a pro-choice protest and March on Saturday commemorating the 41st anniversary of Roe. Join us and make some noise!

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Waiting For Death

 

“We do not know where death awaits us so let us wait for it everywhere. To practice death is to practice freedom.”
– Montaigne

 

 

Midway through 2013 my mother passed away after a 10 year battle with Alzheimer’s. At the end, she couldn’t speak, couldn’t toilet or feed herself, and she didn’t know people. Had she been able to know of her circumstance, in a nursing home, (well kept and lovely, but a nursing home nonetheless), she would have been deeply angered as “ending up that way.”

She was clear, clear as glass, 15 years ago when we first talked about her end of life issues. “I’d kill myself first.” she’d say, when topics of nursing homes were brought up. “I want to die like my mother did, quick and it’s over.” She didn’t get that choice, as she began to show signs of the disease that would rob her of of her memory and her ability to move, her personality.

During the initial stages of the disease, she’d would often bring up suicide. As the disease progressed, and she was cruelly aware that she was losing herself and her autonomy, she would rage against me, accusing me of wanting her to be shut away, and that I’d find her dead the next morning. Of course, her memory wouldn’t allow her to remember she’d threatened it and I’d find her confused come morning, but happily settled so long as I was there.

She would have wanted to die on her own terms. It was not a choice.

Even at the very end, when I worked with Hospice during her last bout with pneumonia, the choice to let her go was mine. It felt deeply devastating, but also compassionate and right to let her body finally rest, let her mind finally go, let her soul, if there is such a thing, fly free.

To hold the choice of death or life, is a terrible thing. I gained no pleasure out of it, just a sense of finiteness and constancy of it, death always there just waiting for us patiently.

As a general rule, we don’t talk about death much, not in any real depth, as a country. We talk about being pro-life, but enact policies that strip communities of financial and sustaining resources, and support companies that harm our earth.

Death, really talking about death; the kind of death we’d like to have, what choices we might have to end our lives ourselves, what kind of funerals are allowed us, and frankly the money that is required (from someone, somewhere) to maintain a dying body for what could be years.

We don’t have the conversations that would lead to compassionate policies and even state by state nothing is clear about who gets to choose and who gets to control how we die at least not on a national level.

In my home state of Texas, Marlise Munoz was found with no heartbeat and not breathing. She was unable to be resuscitated and was pronounced brain dead. But because she was 14 weeks pregnant, the State of Texas required that her body remain on life support, against the stated wishes of her entire family and herself, until it is known if the fetus is viable. In this article by Andrea Grimes for RH Reality Check, it’s clear that the family’s choice and desires are not being heard.

“ The Texas advance directives statute dictates that “a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient,” but according to some legal experts interviewed by the Associated Press, the hospital could take Munoz off life support without violating the law. Nonetheless, hospital officials continue to insist they must keep Munoz’s body alive to sustain the pregnancy. A number of other states have similar laws, though many account for fetal viability at the time of brain death. Texas’ law, and laws in 12 other states, do not. “

Huffington Post thankfully provided us a chart on the states that require brain-dead patients to be kept alive against their will and The Dallas News released an editorial recently noting the reversal in positive in Texas law, perhaps put in place by anti-choice activists and politicians. The NYT released one just today, poignant and spot on. The family is taking legal action, and indeed their lawyers have confirmed Ms. Munoz is brain dead.

“Texas law has allowed hospitals to honor patients’ signed declarations, known as advance directives, since 1977, when Karen Ann Quinlan’s case became national news after she collapsed from a drug overdose and entered a permanent vegetative state. A prolonged battle ensued between Quinlan’s parents, who wanted to let her die, and her hospital about the right to disconnect her body from artificial support systems.
Muñoz’s case could have been quickly resolved except for her pregnancy. Her body should not be kept going by artificial means only to serve as a human incubator. To do so represents a perversion of motherhood and the natural life-death cycle.”
The natural life-death cycle.
Do we even know what that means anymore? I don’t blame all of us for being confused since science can sustain life past living and in fact, there are many incidents where lives are cut off too soon. Death may be natural but all of us seem to fear it, hate it, and fight it.

One family fighting in the opposite direction of the Munoz’ has been found in California. Jahi McMath had a tonsillectomy. After she woke up and began bleeding profusely, she suffered cardiac arrest. She was placed on life-support, but declared brain-dead and the hospital fought to have her removed from the support against her family’s wishes.

Where there are editorials in Texas pleading for Munoz to be released from life-support, there are the opposite in California, with medical ethicists questioning the parent’s of McMath.

“Jahi’s case has been widely criticized by medical experts who have emphasized that people who are declared brain-dead are no longer alive. At least three neurologists confirmed Jahi was unable to breathe on her own, had no blood flow to her brain and had no sign of electrical activity three days after she underwent surgery Dec. 9 to remove her tonsils, adenoids and uvula at Children’s Hospital Oakland and went into cardiac arrest, causing extensive hemorrhaging in her brain.”

In one state, a brain dead woman is being kept alive because she might have a living fetus inside her, against the family’s will (and her own choice); in another, a family has been pressured to take a child off life support against their choice. I wonder about the role of race, class, age, and reproductive status. I wonder why the cases can be so different in the same country.

In both of these cases I see trauma, grief beyond words, pain. All made worse by corporations and laws intervening and taking choice away. I see policies tying the hands of doctors, I see comments morbid and cruel. I don’t see a path towards healing or resolution. I don’t see a good death for either of these women, for dead they are but kept alive in opposite directions.

Once Hospice and I met and assessed both my mother’s disease progression and the infection that was racking her body, there was no other compassionate choice. It took four days for her body to let go. Death was like labor in reverse and I sat with her. We both labored. It was an experience filled with sensation, both physical and emotional, powerful and terrible. It was holy and right to experience it, to help her have as good a death as possible, though she didn’t have the death she wanted. I have noted that very few people want to talk to me about it and I wonder how much that is related to the larger issue, of how we, as a people relate to death. I know I’m not alone in wondering how we move towards good death. Others are writing about it, hard though it is.

I wish that we were truly able to move past the policing of death and who got to control it, and into the discussion of it, the sharing of the lived experience of death and dying. Perhaps that’s a conversation we all need to have. (Here is one way to start) To talk about death, to wait for it compassionately, to practice just a little so that when the time comes, we know what to do.

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Aim Well

West Virginia. Water. Corruption.

Please watch this video from Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

A company destroys the water supply for 1/6th of the state, declares bankruptcy to avoid legal issues, and the owner appears to form a new company to buy out the old one. This is wrong and needs to be seen.

Post it on Twitter and share it with whatever activists you know. Right now I think the only thing we can push for is awareness about the legal complicity. That state is captured and locked down through the economic power of coal. The citizens are afraid to lose jobs and there is little economic stability so they can’t protest (or believe they can’t). The politicians may be in the pocket of industry for similar reasons. this is what happens when there is no political oversight and corporations pull the strings of our economic and political systems.

Aim to the heart of that in whatever way you can.

We are complicit in the sense we all take part in a culture that needs coal (and gas and oil) to live our regular lives. And that we too are afraid of risking jail for protesting or loss of jobs for being public nuisances or living off the grid in more and more ways. West just happened here last year. There are so many other pockets of our country where fracking is happening and ruining water (which corps like Nestle increasingly own), where pipelines for Keystone are breaking and leaking such toxic chemicals, and look at our gulf. Who was truly punished for that?

All for oil and gas, all for continuing our current lifestyle, which is not sustainable. Even as I write this, I’m aware it’s on a computer created in Asia, built mostly like by the hands of people who weren’t treated well, with parts mined out of other countries, all made by deals through governments and corporations avoiding potential abuses and oversights. This is me, in a house heated by gas, cooled by electricity, with cars that need fuel, and plastics that make my life easier.

I don’t know how to manage. I’m in it, what do I do? All I can do is figure out how and where to aim.

We must aim to the heart of the merged corporate/political marriage, aim towards living as differently as we can, and keeping our eyes open to how systems work. We need to be in solidarity with those in other states while working for HUMAN rights (clean food and water, regulated work conditions, fair and just pay, safety from harassment over orientation and gender, race and ability, not to mention equality and legal rights for all) and a government that is truly of the people, not corporations and for the people, not big business.

Aim well. And be prepared to get in trouble for it.

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Bedposts January!

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From our FB invite

Happy New Year, BedPosties! We hope you will join us in starting it off right with some fantastic stories!

The January BedPost Storytellers are:

* BedPost Stage Manager Sara Henry
* The luscious Lea Comte
* The incomparable Robert Arjet
* BedPost Confessions producer Mia Martina

Emceed by ME!!!

★★ PLUS YOUR CONFESSIONS READ ONSTAGE! ★★

BedPost Confessions is, each and every month, interpreted for the deaf by THE MOST AMAZING AND SEXY ASL INTERPRETERS IN AUSTIN!

The sponsors of our fabulous giveaways are Package Menswear, Little Shop of O’s, Sexy Delicious Things & Glo’s Goodies, so be sure and register to win one of several sexy, sassy prizes when you arrive!

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New Year’s Survey

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As a writer, I love writing about the things that inspire me, agitate me, overwhelm me, and make me want to share them. I also love knowing what you, the reader, are interested in reading and learning.

Every so often I do a survey to discover how to merge those desires-the things I love to write about and the things you want more of, so since it’s a new year, I thought I’d offer up a poll to ask you some questions about your interests.

Here is the link to the survey itself. I’ll close it in a week or two. Feel free to leave comments at this post as well if you have additional thoughts on topics you’d like to see covered or for general feedback!

Thanks for taking my survey and thanks for reading!

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Weekly Roundup for 1/11/14

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Where I’ll Be

I’ll be hosting BedPost Confessions next Thursday the 16th. It’s going to be a great show with a fantastic line-up!

Articles You Might Like

Ultrasounds do NOT change women’s mind about abortion, study shows.

NRA fights for less regulation.

Not sure how I Feel about Mother, the new sensor to make your life easier. It’s a strange gender role to assign to an assistant both taking the work from parents but also tagging the work as less than human. Why not “My Helper” or “The Butler” or something.

Texas Politics getting rowdy already, as highlighted in this Burnt Orange Report.

Amazing article by Brittney Cooper on Melissa Harris Perry and race, apologies, and oppression.

“White folks can love individual black people and still build a world that is inhospitable to black folks. In fact, individual and exceptional black achievers are necessary to maintain the lie of racial progress. Their presence has very little to do with systemic change, though.”

West Virginia is in the middle of a horrible chemical spill, at federal disaster level. Why has this not been on the news? Yeah, I know that Christie is taking up airspace, but let’s raise some attention on this.

Disappointing result in the Maryville case. What on earth does it take to get a conviction?

Actions And Events For The Week

Saturday, January 11
Maggie Maye Headlines the Velveeta Room

Wednesday, January 15
Ramey Ko Campaign Kickoff

Thursday, January 16
BedPost Confessions at the ND

Friday, January 17
No Shame Open Mic

Have a great weekend and enjoy yourself!!!

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