This is the post excerpt.
Today is the 45th Anniversary of Roe v Wade. This morning I read that 70% of Americans believe that abortion should be safe and legal but somehow it still seems that our reproductive rights are always under attack.
When I was marching Saturday, this one memory kept coming back to me. Haunting me. It was maybe 2002, and it was a hot summer night. I was walking our pug Omar down from Capitol Hill to visit Christian while he worked the late desk shift at The Ace Hotel in Belltown. I had stopped to pick up some slices at 2nd Avenue Pizza and when I came out I was confronted by a very angry woman.
I’m not sure I can even do this memory justice with mere words, but I’ll try. This woman was close to my own age, early 30’s and she looked like she was probably an addict, maybe a sex worker. She told me she was homeless and she had just come from having an abortion. She was in fact bleeding everywhere, that I could see. She was beyond upset. She was livid. She said she just wanted $20 so she could go get a shower and a room nearby. I didn’t have $20, so I gave her the cash I had and offered the pizza, which understandably, enraged her more.
She went on a tirade about women’s reproductive rights and pregnancy and how she had done the rest of the world a favor by not having that baby but how now she was going to suffer by being out in the street covered in blood. I listened and then long after she had moved on to wherever she went next, I wept. My eyes were blind with tears as I stumbled those last few blocks to the hotel to meet Christian.
Certainly I did know what it’s like to be in pain and bleed after terminating a pregnancy but I knew it only from the comfort of my own home. I had been given a prescription for the pain and had taken a long weekend off from work. I had boxes of maxi pads and stacks of rented DVD’s and plenty of snacks. I have never once in all my life even had to spend one night without a roof and certainly not after a surgical procedure.
Even after all these years, I always think of this woman when I march. I think of this woman when I talk about abortion and reproductive rights and I am thinking about this woman especially today. I can see her standing in front of me bleeding on that corner. She was so beautiful and she was fierce and brave and powerful. She knew abortion is normal and that it was her right. She was shameless and it was inspiring.
All of the other parts of the story are wrong though, and I don’t really know how to fix them in this moment. But I do think it really does start with every day people sharing their stories. Sometimes we just need a reminder that we aren’t the only ones who’ve had abortions. Sometimes we just need a reminder that we don’t need to whisper about our abortions or keep them secret from friends, relatives, children. Maybe sometimes we even need to remind other humans to have a little compassion by shouting our abortions on corners on hot summer days. And, we, all 70% of us, need to work to make sure Abortion is Safe, Legal, Accessible and Normal for the next 45 years and beyond. 🖤
Earlier this week I had the excellent good fortune to be able to collect food and grocery gift cards from my friends and neighbors for families at my daughters’ school and a nearby Title 1 school, Sanislo Elementary. I was texting with a neighbor over some logistical coordination the day of the drop off and she said something like, a lot of people don’t understand the devastating effects of hunger for children at school. Reading her words took my breath away, and I started to cry because I am one of the people who understands being hungry at school.
When I was living with my mother in first and second grade we often experienced food insecurity. My mother had problems with anxiety and depression and we rarely had food in the house. Even though she worked full time, she often ran out of money before payday. I remember doing things like opening my piggy bank and if I had twenty pennies we could walk about ten blocks to the Winchell’s and I could get a plain donut. I also remember fainting a couple of times after having gone too long without food. Most embarrassing though, I remember school. Every morning in first grade, we would gather on the carpet for our morning circle and the teacher would ask us what we had for breakfast. Thinking back now it reminds me of the Prince song, Starfish and Coffee, but any way, when the teacher got to me, since I never had breakfast, I would always lie. I went to town describing breakfasts I had seen on television. Pancakes, eggs, bacon, cereal, juice AND milk, I would tell her. But she would always just shake her head and cluck her tongue. I was so scrawny and pale, and always got myself up and dressed for school, so I probably looked pretty scruffy too.
Well one morning, the teacher had had enough of my breakfast tall tales and sent me to the nurses office for looking “too pale”. The nurse took one look at me and sent me home. Not like, call your parents and have them come get you, but like 1976 style, go walk home kid. I was mortified and blamed myself. I felt like I had let my guard down and somehow they had guessed my secret. I knew I had to steel myself so that no teachers would ever find out again that I was hungry.
Growing up I knew both of my parents experienced food insecurity as children too. It was regarded as a fact of life. My father grew up very poor in a big Catholic Family in Eastern Oregon and sometimes he didn’t even have shoes. My mother also grew up in a large family and described times where dinner consisted of a piece of white bread with a stewed tomato on top. They both told me they knew better than to complain. Children learn quickly.
When I went to deliver the food donations I had collected to Sanislo, I almost started to cry again. Tears of joy! The PTA had lined the halls with the food they had collected. An abundance. It was organized like a food bank with tidy piles of pastas and beans and veggies and treats. Today as families leave they will be invited to help themselves to food for the long Winter Break. No shame. No secrets. Help yourself to what you need.
My neighborhood school, Concord Elementary, is offering the bags of groceries and grocery cards to families today too. I accidentally happened upon my house in South Park 13 years ago. For so many reasons, it was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I live on the same block as the food bank, which helps me keep life in perspective. Living where I do has also provided me many opportunities to give and learn to be generous. Today I am thankful to live in a community that fosters a culture of giving.
Happy Holidays! Love and Light to You and Yours!
I woke up this Friday morning for work at 5:30, as I do every weekday, after a long and busy week. When I caught my reflection in the bathroom mirror I had unkind thoughts about how old I am looking today. But then I remembered all my friends who didn’t get to be 48. Gina didn’t get to be 48. Betzold didn’t get to be 48. Tony didn’t get to be 48. Alex didn’t get to be 48. Rachel didn’t get to be 48. Tobe didn’t get to be 48. Demri didn’t get to be 48. Boyd didn’t get to be 48. Wyatt didn’t get to be 48. Jonathan didn’t get to be 48. Every day above ground is a good day. So much LOVE for those we carry in our hearts every day. Thank you for lighting the way.
#togetherforabortion event to support SYA
#ourtruthisout tshirt in “what’s up butter cup” XS-XL $25 shipped. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to order
This January marks the 45th anniversary of Roe v Wade. To celebrate Beezus & I are teaming up to offer a limited edition collab tshirt with art by @derekerdman the sentiments of @beezusbee and referencing the photography of @bethanyvargas Proceeds from the tshirt will be split between Shout Your Abortion and Lambert House. 🌈✌🏻❤️
I usually like to take on very short term projects that have a clear beginning, middle and end when I believe I am likely to be able to make some kind of positive impact. So I must’ve actually lost my mind for a minute last spring, when I thought it would be a good idea to sell Rainbow Owl Tshirts declaring Louisa Boren STEM K-8 is a Safe Place, to raise money to buy more LGBTQ books for our school.
The PTA Advocacy Committee I chair was hosting our first annual Family Dance Party to celebrate our LGBTQ students, families and staff to kick off Pride Month. My husband dj’d, Papa Bois and Full Tilt food trucks fed us, family volunteers decorated, handed out stickers, made beautiful chalk art installations, ran the button making and photo booths all while the children danced and played on our school playground on a beautiful Friday night in June.
Although the tshirts ended up being a little bit of a last minute headache, like, “HEY, we need to sell tshirts!” The powerful design was so well received and we were able to earn $1060 from two runs of the popular shirts and hoodies.
By the time the check arrived it was summer vacation so I turned the money over to the PTA and tucked the project away until fall. When school started back up I realized even with support of our terrific school librarian Mary Bannister, I didn’t really know how to pull off a book buy of this magnitude. Luckily one of the other moms at school works at Third Place Books and working together we were able to create a district approved book list for all of our grades, special education programs, preschool, counselor and library.
The PTA Advocacy Committee wanted the Book Gifting to feel really special to the students and school community so one of our moms designed a beautiful rainbow owl book mark that says, “Owl Mark your Place”. With all the books wrapped in ribbon and bundled with the book marks, we threw a special ceremony at our monthly PTA meeting on Wednesday November 8th. Our always thoughtful librarian decorated with some beautiful rainbow balloons. Lisa Love, Health Education Manager from the school district spoke about the importance of children seeing themselves represented in the books in their school. STEM parent Autumn Kinsman spoke about her non-profit, Gender Family Alliance and shared her positive experience in our community being the mother of an out trans student at our school.
“My daughter Beezus is an out LGBTQ 8th grader here at Louisa Boren STEM K-8. On more than one occasion when we’ve suggested she might try another school that would be a better fit academically, she has said, ‘No, STEM is my HOME. I am safe here.’
When Beezus started here as a third grader we didn’t have a playground and she used to sneak back into the building at recess to read books in the bathroom. She always sought out all the LGBTQ books in the library, checking them out over and over again. So last year when we decided to throw our first ever GGLOW OWLS FAMILY DANCE PARTY it felt really important to also raise money for more LGBTQ books for our school counselor, Library and classrooms. One of the best ways I know to make sure children always feel safe and welcome is that they see themselves represented in the books in their environment. May all of your children always feel as safe and loved here as mine have.”
Beezus read one of the donated books, Red, a Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall, an uplifting book about a crayon who finds his true self and shines. We all laughed a lot, we cried a little, we hugged and then, five months later, we delivered the book bags to the classroom doorknobs. I’ve already had a few emails and texts from teachers as they arrived at school this morning to find their new books. I like to think maybe a student is discovering one of the books right now, seeing themselves or their family in the book, and smiling before they turn the page.
Dear School Board Directors and District Staff,
I am the mother of two special education students at Louisa Boren STEM K-8. As both their father and I work full time, we rely on our door to door bus service from the competent drivers of First Student. Our girls have been riding the bus to school since our oldest started Kindergarten in 2009. Our children have been well taken care of by their drivers and we are grateful every day when they return safely home to us.
However, we have noticed over the years all of our drivers have mentioned that they experience financial instability. They rarely take sick days, even when ill, and one was very worried how she would make ends meet over winter break. We have also noticed that none of our drivers have been able to afford to live in Seattle, and often commute long distances to work.
Further, this year our special education bus route was combined with another and when other parents and myself pointed out how unsafe this situation was becoming, First Student wanted to split the route but wasn’t able to for weeks because they have an extreme driver shortage due to low pay and poor benefits.
While I understand that Seattle Public Schools have tight budgetary constraints due to the inaction by our Washington State Legislature, I also believe that the district has an obligation to negotiate with contractors to ensure that they provide ample funding for the workers, including health care benefits and retirement benefits similar to those of district employees.
Our family would honor and support a strike by the drivers. While the thought of a strike happening suddenly is scary, I also believe that Seattle Public Schools can be influential in these talks to prevent this kind of dire situation from happening. The drivers need to know they have our support.
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to host a Narcan training lead by Lisa Al-Hakim from the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance for a bunch of super cool moms I know. We meet every few months or so at a local tavern for fries, drinks and company and after coming across people od-ing twice this summer, I wanted to learn more about how to use Narcan.
Whether we realize it or not, we all know someone who regularly uses opiates. Narcan is easy to use and readily accessible in our area. Carrying Narcan saves lives.
Lisa shares what to look for right before someone goes into overdose and stops breathing. This can happen from morphine and oxycodone as well as heroin. Sometimes they will start nodding. If so, she recommended rubbing on their sternum. If they are just in a heavy nod, they will react, in an overdose they will not. If it appears they are in a heavy nod, stay and monitor the situation.
In other areas we are seeing more overdoses because phentanyl is being mixed in, especially in areas where they have more white powder heroin. In our area it’s happening less because we have more black tar heroin. However, people are mixing phentanyl in cocaine and Lisa had heard of a couple overdose deaths from cocaine/phentanyl.
When you determine someone is overdosing, tip them first on their sides, draw up a vile of Narcan from your kit,1 cc and inject it right through their clothes into any muscle. Butt. Thigh. Arm.
Next call 911, give your location and say, “my friend is not breathing.” Don’t answer any questions, just say you don’t know. Don’t mention drugs.
If they don’t come to in 2-3 minutes, administer a second dose. Rescue breathing without compressions may be necessary. Because of phentanyl you may need 5 or 6 viles, which you will unlikely have but in Seattle all first responders are supposed to carry Narcan.
When the person comes to, they’re going to be very angry because they’re going straight into withdrawal. Narcan is an opioid antagonist, it blocks the receptors. The person will need to be closely monitored for 90 minutes to make sure they don’t use again. They can also go into overdose again.
Anyone can go to a pharmacy in our area and purchase Narcan from the pharmacist. The pharmacist is required to give you a brief training. It is covered by insurance and usually costs between $30-$60. Narcan is good for up to a year after expiration and sometimes longer, so when you get a new kit, keep your old one for back up. Narcan is not heat sensitive and is fine to keep in your car.
I have an autoinjector donated to PHRA by the pharmaceutical company. If anyone would like me to demonstrate how it works, just let me know.