Parable: Wine and Cheese in the Desert

A friend at work has been having trouble sleeping lately. He's been waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep for a couple of hours. During one of these episodes last week, his mind wandered to the philosophical. He shared some of his thoughts with me the next day. That discussion inspired me to write the below parable.

Wine and Cheese in the Desert

A man awoke to find himself lost in the desert. He walked. He was hot, and the sun beat down upon him. With only the clothes on his back and the hat on his head, he walked.

Eventually he came upon a sad little oasis. The water was dried to mud, and the grass was brown. He cried. As he took off all of his clothes and lay under a tree, he cried.

He slept. He awoke to find a chunk of salty, dried cheese behind the tree under which he’d slept. He cheered. As he dressed himself, he found a bottle of red wine under his clothing, and he cheered.

He picked up the wine and the cheese and laid them out. He whimpered. He had not noticed he had no wine opener. When he could not find a rock to break the bottle’s neck, he whimpered.

He sat, looking at his odd fortune. He laughed again. All he had wished for was a glass of water, and now he had wine and cheese and no bottle opener. As he considered the actions of providence, he laughed again.

The man set out again. He walked. He was hot, and the sun beat down upon him. With the wine in one hand and the cheese in the other, he walked.

Eventually, he would find a rock to break the bottle’s neck. Then he would feast.


"Here's your unusable advice. Good luck!"

I gained 75 lbs in a short period of time after I quit smoking. I've had every test in the world, and no one can figure out why. I'm also getting unexplained rashes and staph and yeast skin infections in areas I never have before. My cholesterol has shot up. My BMI is 35, putting me well on the track to adult-onset diabetes (I'm already showing signs of insulin resistance).

I have life-long and only partially-treated sleep apnea that the weight is aggravating. I can't breathe because of the extra weight on my ribcage (verified by a pulmonologist). I have an acid reflux problem that the extra weight is aggravating and that also affects my sleep quality (and for which I medicate). I have an iron transport issue that causes the Restless Leg that and also affects my sleep qualtity (for which I supplement, but that only goes so far so I also eat an iron-rich diet). I'm Vitamin D deficient (for which I prescription supplement) which aggravates my tiredness. The ever-present exaustion caused by sleep problems, Vitamin-D deficiency, iron-transport issue, and toting around 75 extra lbs manifests daily in new dimension of horror and frustration: An anxiety/paranoia problem (pharmaceutically treated) and borderline depression (managed without pharmaceutials).

In general, my health is in trouble.

Exercise is dramatically difficult for me because of the (1) 75 lbs of extra weight I'm hauling around (2) the difficulty in breathing because of the weight and (3) the lack of physical energy from the ever-present exhaustion.

I've been eating a lower-fat, iron-rich, whole-food (i.e. lowest level of industrial processing possible), high-vegetable diet as a matter of course for the last year. That stopped the gain, now I fluctuate between 215 and 225 depending on the time of the month. This plateau is slowly killing me. So I went to my General Practioner and told her, "I apparently can't do this. Now it's in your hands."

My doctor referred me to a dietician. If this doesn't work, the next step is the Methodist Hospital Weight Loss Program. Yikes! I guess I'd better take this seriously, eh?

So, the dietician my doctor referred me to talked to me about my eating and exercise habits for five whole minutes, as far as I know never looked at my history, then wrote me this (see right) laughable eating plan that stresses portion control and has me eating the same foods day after day after day. She also ordered me to vigorously exercise for 35-45 minutes a day 5/days per week, excluding the almost three miles a day I walk back and forth to work because I'm "already used to it." Every single food I asked her about was "No." When she disallowed fruit juice, I asked her what to do when stuck, needing sugar, and all I have is a convenience store. "Crackers." And that works, exactly how, with no nut butters and only whole grains? No actual answer, just "You should plan ahead."

The entire meeting was exactly that level of helpful.

Check out the eating plan. Click it to see the readable version. Tell me if you think this whole "plan" is as absurd as I do. I can't imagine how I'm supposed to find the energy to do this level of exercise with the low-meat-iron diet or how I'm supposed to prevent stomach acid from erupting from my mouth like a volcano with only this tiny amount of food to soak it up. I don't even LIKE fish or turkey, and, I kid you not, those are exactly two thirds of my meat choices. How is a person supposed to stick to a diet of less than 10 foods, every single day, for six months?

No wonder our nation has an obesity epidemic, if this is the medical help available to those fortunate enough to have access to medical help! The living stick-figure that gave me this plan might as well have said, "Here's your unusable advice. Good luck!"

The Path Late Traveled?

Time to change my life
Almost 40, time to wife
Run away from strife

Hoping union stays
The endless rollout of days
And lame toil, I pray

Do I really want this?
Societal pressures, Miss?
Seal it with a kiss

Plow ahead, don't stop
Broken dreams and tears to mop
Cracks of doubt to caulk

Learning to know "Me"
Before "Us" can become "We"
Goal: Join perfectly

Accepting self: rough
A job well done quite tough
Hoping it's enough

He accepts me now
Accepting myself is how
We'll join, "Our" life: Wow


Child Pornography Exposes

While reading something else (I don't remember what) last weekend, I found a link to a letter entitled An Insight into Child Porn posted at WikiLeaks. Traffic to the letter was so heavy for the first two days that I tried to reach it that it was unavailable (similarly to a DDoS attack), so I dug around for a legitimate mirror or a re-posted version.

What I found instead was an ABC News commentary by Michael S. Malone entitled Silicon Insider: The Dark World of Child Porn (reading, printing) that discusses an experience he had while editing now-defunct Forbes ASAP magazine. Robert Grove, Malone's multimedia editor, approached Grove to describe information he'd received from sources regarding the wide-reaching tentacles and technological savvy of the child porn industry, how it was easy-to-find and had the capability to morph into a US national security concern. Malone gave Grove the assignment to pursue the story as far as he could. Neither Malone nor Grove knew the dark road they would soon be traveling in their "three-month tour of Hell."

By the time their "three-month tour of Hell" was completed, and the story written, Forbes ASAP magazine was approaching death, so the original market for the story was gone. The parent company, Forbes, passed. Eventually Blaise Zerega, managing editor of Red Herring, was willing to help Grove's investigative article, The Lolita Problem (reading, printing), see the light of day.

The power of these unintentional "companion" pieces (Malone's commentary and Groves' investigative piece) is that, combined, they show you both the situation that was investigated and the effects that investigation had on its investigator. While Groves' piece sticks to the facts and lays them out clearly, he does is investigative job well in the respect that he is not involved, his writing is that of a reporting machine. Malone's piece makes it clear that Groves was indeed involved and describes the effects that involvement had on Groves.

While Malone, as the editor, was able to remove himself from the horror early, to partially insulate himself, Groves did not have that ability. "Very quickly, I made it a point not to look at the pictures anymore," Malone writes, "But Bob had no choice. He had to look."

I won't tell you anymore. Read the pieces themselves. I stumbled upon Malone's piece first, then read Groves', and I'm not sure whether or not the order they are read will affect their power. They should be read, though, and they should be read together.

Eventually the WikiLeaks letter, An Insight into Child Porn (machine translation to English from the original German), became available for viewing. This is a first-person account of someone purportedly involved in the child pornography business for many years. It alternately reads as a technical expose, a history of the industry, a justification of his own actions (and of a majority of the industry in general), and an argument against politician backlash against a conjured group of people who, for the most part, simply don't exist. An interesting point the writer makes is that pubescent individuals should have the right to make their own sexual decisions (including un/paid exhibitionism) because they are old enough to make their own criminal decisions. I'm not sure what to make of the piece in its entirety yet. The human-edited English translation is an easier read.

I'm actually glad the WikiLeaks piece was DDoSed for a few days, because I'd've never found the Malone and Groves pieces if the WikiLeaks piece had been available when I first tried to read it.

Read them if you can bring yourself to, and discuss.


To Cut or Not to Cut?

The decision to circumcise your new baby boy is difficult for many parents. Religious, emotional, naturalistic, societal, hygiene, parental personal motivations, and side-effect concerns are a part of a decision that will affect your child for the rest of his life.

As a single woman with no children (and no upcoming plans for any), I have very little opinion on this topic. I've always been a "to each his own" on the matter -- Circumcision is, oddly, one of the rare parenting (or lack thereof) decisions upon which I've not yet passed judgment. My non-opinion might be changed, though, by a couple recent articles in Science Daily.

The first Science Daily article discusses an intervention review published by Wiley InterScience and available from The Cochrane Library that discusses clinical trials between 2002 and 2006 in Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda that included more than 11,000 (presumably adult) men who underwent circumcision. The results of the trials indicate that circumcisions reduced male HIV infection rates by 54% over a two-year period when compared with non-circumcised men. The researchers say that the 54% figure is a best-estimate average, and that the true reduction in male HIV infection among circumcised men would be 38 - 66%. More research must be conducted to determine if male circumcision will reduce HIV infection rates among their female partners.

Because the foreskin contains cells, called Langerhans cells, that have receptors favorable to HIV, current thinking is that the mechanism by which male circumcision reduces male HIV infection rates is that the tissue containing these cells is removed during cirmcucision.

The second Science Daily arrticle gives us more health news on the benefits of circumcision, describing a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine that built upon previous research funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (part of the National Institutes of Health) that found that circumcision reduced the heterosexual transimission of HIV by more than 50%. The New England Journal of Medicine paper describes an experiments showing that circumcision reduces the male infection rates for HSV-2 (which causes genital herpes) and HPV (a group of virii that cause cervical cancer and genital warts). Their experiments with approximately 5,000 circumcised and non-circumcised men showed that circumcision reduced the male infection rate for HSV-2 by 28% and the male HPV infection rate by 35%. The experiment did not show a difference in the infection rate for syphilis between the non/circumcised.

Much like vaccinating your daughter again HPV , if there's the slightest chance that something you do for your child (i.e. circumcision) could prevent a likely terminal illness or a life-long painful/embarrassing one, how could you not do it?


Woman Dies in Cage in Arizona Desert

The Associated Press reports on the case of a State of Arizona prisoner Marcia Powell, an inmate placed in an unshaded "outdoor detention enclosure" (i.e. cage) for twice as long as regulations dictated and died of heat-related causes the next day in the hospital.

Arizona has used these (currently 233) outdoor cages state-wide since at least the 1960s, even though summer temperatures are as high as 110 degrees F. Believe it or not, the Arizona Department of Corrections Director cannot say if anyone else has become seriously ill or died as the result of being placed in one of these cages.

The Department of Corrections is aware that Powell was not removed at the two-hour mark as regulations dictate and has suspended three guards. The Department is also investigating whether or not the guards in the Control Center 20 yards away from the cage checked on Powell's well-being every 30 minutes as regulations dictate or even gave her water.

An advocate from Middle Ground Prison reform is incensed, "The big problem for us is that the [Department of Corrections] is conducting its own investigation . . . There is some criminal liability here. They should not be investigating themselves . . . It's unconscionable."

Both the US Department of Justice and the FBI have been asked to conduct an independent investigation due to citizen doubts regarding an impartial Arizona Department of Corrections inquiry.

Further reading.


The $25 Gift Card Apology

June 22, 2009

Today I had a chat with an ethnic Chinese gentleman who works at the same customer site I do. Our usual habit is to discuss the differences we’ve experienced between cultures. He came from Malaysia, has worked there, and has also been a part of UK academia (having taught at the University of Manchester for five years). I have worked in several international companies with offices in the US and have read extensively on the differences between cultures. We both now work at the main US office of a global energy company, in the most corporate of corporate cultures.

Today we were discussing his observation that Americans are more “respectful” of other people. That was his word, “respectful,” but I think he meant “thoughtful.” Here’s why:

Last week his landlady accepted a package delivery for him. He visited the office to pick up his package after work that day. He could tell she was having a rough day: she looked tired, seemed a bit out of sorts, and could not locate his package. She apologized to him for not being able to find his package, the one she’d already told him she received, and promised to locate it the next day and contact him to confirm.

(He stressed to me at this point in our conversation that she was not at all rude and he was not at all discomfited by the experience because he could see that she was having a bad day.)

He glanced down, under a shelf, and spotted a likely suspect. He picked it up, saw his name on the label, and said, “Don’t worry, this is it. See?” and he showed her the package. She apologized to him again, seeming distressed and embarrassed. He assured her that everything was okay, wished her a good evening, and went home.

(He stressed to me at this point in our conversation that he never thought about this non-incident again.)

The next evening, the landlady came to his door and apologized for the package mix-up again. She said she felt very bad about the incident and her attitude, and proffered a $25 gift card to him as a token of apology. He tried to brush her off, to insist that he had taken no offence and the episode was already forgotten. She insisted he accept the gift card. Finally, when he could see that she was not going to leave unless he accepted the gift card, he finally accepted it to make her feel better.

(He stressed to me at this point in our conversation that this is what he meant when he said that his experience has been that Americans have more “respect” for others – The landlady was distraught over a simple mistake of which he thought nothing.)

Now he had this $25 gift card that he felt bad about accepting for something that was such a small thing. He thought about the situation and hit upon a plan of action. He went to the grocery store the next day and used the gift card to purchase a vased bouquet and box of chocolates, and he left them for the landlady.

This way, he didn’t feel guilty about accepting her apology token, and she definitely wouldn’t have another bad day.



A Perspective on Beauty

A comment was posted on a recent submission entitled "Beauty=Full?" and the author was kind enough to expound upon it and create a new post for us. Beauty can be such a hurtful and devisive issue among women. We hope you'll read, consider, and discuss this essay.

Being physically beautiful is a crippling experience. I was, myself, at one point in my life quite lovely. I also worked with models for many years and noticed a definite lack of character, a lack of maturity in all of us. Our value system was flawed, sometimes to the extreme. When we grow up physically beautiful, people do for us what we should do for ourselves. We are excused from many tasks and duties because we are pretty. We are never properly taught or disciplined and because of this we never mature.

We are awarded social status that we do not deserve nor are ready for. We are gifted with material items and wealth because of our beauty and that denies the ability and value of earning our own way and the beauty of growing strong inwardly. We have an overblown sense of selves, of our personal worth and the value of money. We are artificial, prideful and vain. We are unformed spiritually and stunted emotionally. Because our self-esteem is based on the way we look, we judge others by the way they look. We become extremely petty and competitive and can only maintain superficial, strained relationships with others of our gender. We have many “friends” few of whom care.

We are used and abused because the men who are attracted to us are shallow and vain themselves and desire not to be with us because of who we are but because of how we look. They are quite often narcissistic. We hold as much value as their car, or watch, or shoes. We are merely something else for them to wear. We are only something else for them to show off to their so called friends. We are an object, a thing, not a real woman. We are a Doll….

The men that seek us are quite often narcissistic. It is as if our only value is in being part of their inward, twisted sense of self. We are their mirror, and they imagine that we are how they are judged by the world. We must not only look perfect. We must be, in our totality, their psycho idea of perfection at all times. Otherwise their carefully guarded lack of self-esteem comes crashing down on our head and life begins to get very nasty.

These men can be quite cruel in their efforts to abandoned or reform their once perfect object of love. We have no defense against this because we ourselves are shallow, vain and malformed. We think it is ok and normal to be so plastic on the outside that no life can reach the inside. Not to mention we picked him because he is handsome, so he must be Mr. Right. And we look so good together!

When we begin to fade, as the world's idea of beauty always does, we are traded in for a newer model. When we break, as all immature people do, we are thrown away, like a thing without use. If we are lacking morals and depth and fullness, we become crushed under the weight of it all.

We age, not so gracefully, slipping into addictions and fight for our lives with plastic surgery after plastic surgery. We become those terrible pathetic women with giant unnatural boobs, face brightly painted, clothes too tight, stiletto heels with shorts, big hair, drunk at the bar, hanging on an old rich man or a young guy. You know the ones who can drive a porche convertible but cannot afford the maintenance. The kind of woman that sees nothing, is nothing.

It as if we become as plastic as the Barbie we once so admired.

Barbara Rhyne Tucker

Calorie Intake and Outtake

Here's an idea of how much effort it takes to work off common foods via exercise (click it for the large version):

Makes you think twice about that extra cookie, eh?

Graphic source.


Immigration Group: Hospital/DHS "Stealing Immigrants' Babies"

On November 16, 2008, Ruby Cruz was born to Mexican Cirila Baltazar Cruz in a Pascagoula, MI hospital. Two days later, hospital staff filed a report with the state Department of Human Services regarding the Cruz child's situation.

Included in the hospital report to DHS are allegations of neglect supported by the mother's exchanging sex for housing, the mother's inability to communicate in any laguage besides the indigenous language Chantino, the mother's illegal immigrant status, and mother's plans for giving the child up for adoption.

"After thoroughly investigating Ms. Cruz's situation, we are very confident that our employees acted appropriately in all phases of her care," said a Singing River Hospital spokeman. "We reported her case . . . as we are bound to do by law, and DHS, after its own investigation, made the decision regarding Ms. Cruz and her baby."

Court records indicate that the legal charges of neglect include the tidbits that, due to her only language being Chantino, she "was unable to call for assistance for transportation to the hospital" in order to give birth, that "she has failed to learn the English language," and that this situation has "placed her unborn child in danger and will place the baby in danger in the future."

The Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance alleges that Singing River Hospital and the Mississippi DHS are "stealing immigrants' babies" by the hospital only providing a Spanish translator and then DHS charging the mother with neglect as a result of the hospital's error.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is assisting in the Cruz defense.

Additional reading.


"We're the Victims Here"

That absurd statement came from the mouth of Alan Yaffe, attorney for RJL Entertainment Inc. d/b/a "Cheetah Club," a strip joint in Corpus Christi, TX. RJL is suing a minor dancer, her parents, and the man accused of abducting the minor, sexually assaulting her, and forcing her to strip at the club.

The 14-year-old girl was allegedly abducted from San Antonio, held and assaulted in the captor's home over the course of a week, then handed a fake ID card and forced to work in the club. The alleged abductor/assaultor, Leslie Campbell, is being held in the Nueces County (Texas) Jail on charges of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault. A Manager at the Cheetah Club was arrested (already out on bail) and charged with the sexual performance of a child and employment harmful to a minor.

A Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) Sergeant involved with the case expects the TABC to take legal action against the Cheetah Club. He said that anyone looking at this girl should have known there was a good chance she was underage.

RJL Enterprises, Inc. is seeking currently-unspecified damages from the minor, parents, and abductor and a statement from a judge indicating that the Cheetah Club did not intend to hire the minor. "There was no real kidnapping," RJL attorney Yaffe told the San Antonio Express-News. "We're the victims here, sir. My clients are the victims."

Additional reading.




I’ve been charged with prostitution,
Now it’s time for restitution.
My sister prostitutes are whoring on the streets as sex slaves.
I say, I’m not like them, but look at how I behave.
I too did things against my will for pay.
They do sex trying to survive for today.
I chose to do it, just for the pay.
The pimps, the hookers, the Johns…
The exploiters, the submissive victims, the $100 down…
The brutality, the fear shattered lives, the seekers of cheap thrills.
This must all stop!
Let us rescue the victims.
The blame and shame must shift from the victims to the perpetrators.

Happy Fathers' Day! / the Mosuo People

In a twisted observance of Fathers' Day, we bring you news of matrilineal society of the Mosuo (sounds like How-Sue-Oh) people of the Chinese Himalaya. The agrarian Mosuo are a people that we know hasn't had conventional/formal marriage in a thousand years.

While you're wrapping your brain around that concept, here's more:

The Mosuo practice what they call "walking marriages," where women pair up with lovers and invite them to their homes in the evening only to ask them to leave in the morning.

What? The booty call as the societal function of procreation? Maybe women aren't so different from men after all, eh? ;-)

The Mosuo bear and raise their children, and live their entire lives within homes comprised of their extended matrilineal families. The role of Father is shared by various matrilinially-related male relatives. A child may or may not know the father, either because the mother is still involved with the father or the father does not want to know the child, but the entire culture considers the matrilineal family of first importance because, well, you always know to whom you are related if such things are judged by who's giving birth to whom. The father may or may not have any interest in or responsibility for his own children, but he will have interest in and responsibility for all of the children born to the women of his household.

The Mosuo aren't particularly promiscuous, in fact, many women will pair off only a few times in a lifetime. Serial monogamy is an apt description. There is no such thing as divorce in their culture, because it's not needed. When all property passes matrilineally and all children are in the sole custody of their mothers and her extended family regardless of her relationship (or lack thereof) with the father, divorce never becomes a concept.

Women often head the extended families, and women make most of the business decisions. The political power of the Mosuo tends to rest with the men, balancing the family and business power of the women.

Women maintain their autonomy, men know for a fact that their genes are being passed on (through female relatives), and families are incredibly stable (no divorces, shared custodies, fostering with relatives in another state, etc.), and divorce is a non-item. What could be better?

A short article and 3-minute National Geographic video interviewing several Mosuo people streams here. Wikipedia has a Mosuo entry, YouTube has a 12-minute video about them (too bad the Mosuo weren't subtitled!), and Amazon has a book by a Mosuo woman (with the help of an anthropologist) about her life as a Mosuo.


How it all Began Back in 1989

Scared sick before beginning…way back in the beginning,
Fearful of a sexual appearing.
One week later, my career just beginning.
The young, muscle bound, man named Lori, appearing
As I massaged his riveting back
A squirming and aheaving appearing.
Oh my gosh, in his huffing and humping , the come appearing.
A week later, the man reappearing.
Lori again arearing.
I wanting to avoid leering
I tell him, “This must stop. I’m a fearing.”
Pointing at the clock he declares, “You owe me 15 minutes more.”
Naive and stupid, not seeking the door,
I’m shaken to the core
As I watch him shake his jake and ejaculate to his core.
In a shock and a daze,
I stumble to the john in a haze.
A release of pee and come go down the john.
The seed planted of times to come.

My Childhood God

Riot.Jane has shared this piece of touching artwork she created:

As with any submitted artwork, click the picture to see the full-sized version.

Mother in the Wild

This is a poem written by me several years ago. It details a year of experiences with my mother who was in the throws of a terrible addiction and living on the streets at the time. This was a difficult time for me as a daughter and as someone who very much loved and admired her. The poem is actually a difficult one for me to share with an audience but I feel that maybe someone, somewhere could read it and identify, either as myself, the daughter or other loved one or as the person addicted, needing love and help.


Mother in the Wild
You shake like a leaf in the dying Autumn orange and red and gold and I see your eyes wild looking everywhere for you savior. Save me. You say save me from the space in my mind in the dark because it’s so lost now. Daughter. Where did I put it? Hands like a child but the skin in shriveled and yellow and you bite your fingers where the nail used to be and you say “Where did the blood come from?” Brush your hair when I come to see to you and you can’t help the smell of sweat and dirt and have you showered these past days? Mother. Pacing the parking lot. You pace the dirt and the streets and the fix is always a breath away. It comes from the man on the corner or the woman in the house that falls down, falls down, but always it stays up. Cursed house in the neighborhood. Chilly breezes of the virgin winter and you shiver in shorts but you don’t notice the cold. Do you need a jacket and you sheepish and confidant you say, “I would sell it.” Looking for the fix again in the night air, you prowl in the alleys and the motel rooms and the eyes are always watching you. You say they track you to the store and the toilet and the corner across the street. Sweet breath of spring and you sit on the curb, convulsing from drugs in you and it’s taken over now. Moments like spasms and no conversation. Just slur and yell and awful faces and I say “Where are you?” “In Hell”, you say in this high pitched sing song scream. So come home…Dirty shoes and lifeless socks on your skinny legs and feet. Picking at scabs and chewing on some invisible thing. I wonder…what does it taste like? Salty summer sweat and you hang around the cars in this parking lot, this chill is on you like a natural movement. Like the graceful way you used to smoke your Dunhills or the curl of your pinky finger as you sipped champagne and I say “Do you need anything?” “Give me money and I’ll feel so much better”. Kicking up dirt as you walk away this raspy voice from your throat and I know there is no saving you for now. Maybe in the Autumn I can come again.

"Dead Hooker Barbie" Makes all the Difference

I've been with my boyfriend for going on three years. At the year-and-a-half mark, we flew out of state to spend the Christmas with his religious family. You know, the family that is always twittering, "When are you moving home?" in his ear. Our relationship, which he treasures, is but one of many reasons he gives him.

I'm not religious.

This was judgment time.

I was petrified.

His parents are divorced. I found the time at the mother's house awkward and stressful, especially when undercurrents of parental abandonment broke through the carefully-maintained surface at dinner. The time at the father's was less stressful, as the father's second wife has a hell of a lot less invested in my boyfriend and, to be blunt, is a lot friendlier than the mother. The father is alexithymically neutral. The brother is a chronic partier and at the time was recovering from a bacterial inflammatory condition that can take a year or more to cure and that often leaves its victims chronically depressed and simply feeling like crap until it's cured. The sister is married with, I think, 5 children living in a 3-bedroom row house. This, I found out, was where The Main Event (a.k.a. Christmas dinner) would be held.

The sister's house was a madhouse.

Five kids, one an adult with her own kid, their two parents, the mother, the brother, and me. All crammed around this table that's too big for the room it's in, wedged between a staircase and the Christmas tree. These people are broke - Broke, broke, broke, and they put out a spread of food the likes of which I've never seen. I wasn't even aware that a private individual could purchase a mutton that big.

After having gotten to know the family a little, I was was petrified for the future of their female children. I've seen too many females who were strictly raised and home-schooled in strict religious households who ended up ruining their lives with teenage childbirth, drug and alchohol issues, abusive marriages, and other dramatically bad choices because, once they were set free of their parents, once they had the power to make their own decisions, they had no idea what the world was about, what the repercussions of certain mistakes might be, and no idea how to function independently.

These thoughts were swirling around the back of my head during the Christmas visit, especially regarding my boyfriend's middle neice. Approximately 14, she was confident, well-spoken, comfortable in her own skin, disgusted by our culture's fixation on beauty and thinness (even though she's remarkably thin naturally), and obviously intelligent. My heart was breaking for her, because, as far as my judgmental and paranoid mind could see things, this girl had no chance at all to be anything besides a hyper-religious breeder like her mother.

I just hope that's what she wants, I thought.

At some point after the dinner, during social hour (when I was desperately wishing for booze), my boyfriend's middle neice noticed her little sister showing my boyfriend and I her favorite Barbie. The little one became distracted and wandered off, leaving the Barbie on the table between my boyfriend and I. The middle neice appeared out of nowhere, stepped up between us, bent over at the waist, looked back and forth at each of us with a twinkle in her eyes and whispered to us, intentionally making sure that no one but my boyfriend and I could hear, "Look at this."

She grabbed the Barbie, straightened her out flat with her arms at her sides, threw one arm up over her head, tipped her head to one side, splayed the legs just a little, and tossed her back on the table.

"It's Dead Hooker Barbie!" she whispered, still with the glint. She giggled, looked around to make sure no one but us was paying attention, then scampered away.

(Anyone who's ever seen a CSI-type television show, a true-crime documentary, or movie involving a discarded female body found in an alley, field, etc. should recognize the " classic dead hooker pose" she set the Barbie in. It was instantly recognizable and a bit shocking because, even though I'm a fan of CSI-type and true-crime television, I hadn't yet realized there was such a thing as the "classic dead hooker pose," but there it was, staring me in the face.)

While my boyfriend and I tried to choke back our squeals of laughter and cover our mouths in the universal "Oh, my God!" motion, she shot us another twinkling glance from across the room and then sent her sister over to fetch the Barbie from us.

Well done! I thought.

Clearly this girl is already partially out from underneath her parent's religious thumb, being exposed to things that would give her mother a heart attack. Clearly this girl has the same intelligent and dark sense of humor that my boyfriend and I share, the one that I am convinced has kept me sane during some seriously nasty things I've dealt with over the years. Clearly this girl is a good enough judge of people to be able to spot her own in a crowd, regardless of the face my boyfriend puts on to be sure that he gets along with his family.

"Dead Hooker Barbie" was the flag that told me that this particular girl will be okay, that she'll make it, that she'll be doing and accomplishing anything she sets her sights on in 10 years. If what she wants is to be a hyper-religious breeder, I'll be okay with that, because that will be what she wants, not what someone else wants.

"Dead Hooker Barbie" makes all the difference.


Hope of Better Days

I have hope of better days to come,
I know I can cope, I know I am not dumb.
To demeaning, demanding men, I refuse to succumb.
I have faith in myself and in God.
I have a plan to recreate who I am.
What the mind can conceive, the body can achieve.
I conceive of myself as a being of love and light.
I have the power to say no when it is wrong, and to say yes when it is right.
I stand on my own two feet, All the odds to defeat.
As all my demons retreat, The victory will be sweet.
Our camaraderie of knowing the rawness of life,
Unites us as one, to overcome our lives’ strife.
We have been beaten down and have made bad choices.
At Veronica’s Voice we create victorious voices.

My Father the Addict

My father has been a drug addict and part-time drug dealer and pool hustler for my entire life. The drug dealing was and is a way to get his own stash for cheap and the hustling was a way to make extra money for the household. My mother was a recovered/ing alcoholic and pill head from the time I was born until the day she died.

I grew up within the drug culture, but the only time my father has been arrested in my lifetime was for “stealing” cable television. I did other people’s drugs in high school, and I lived without water or electricity for extended periods due to lack of money. I was on Free Lunch my entire public school career. An “allowance” was not an option after the age of 10. The only time I ate fresh vegetables was at my best friend’s house.

Even though my father was educated, and is an intelligent man who works hard and taught me a great work ethic, we were always poor because my father’s employment history involved dodging drug tests and taking low-paying jobs that didn’t require them. School didn’t come easily to my mother, and though she was intelligent and widely read, that doesn’t get you a decent-paying job.

When I was in high school, I walked into a house with a friend who needed to meet with his connection there to pick up his drugs. Part of the redneck drug subculture is hanging around and doing a little with the person you’re scoring from (and whomever else is hanging around). I was sitting there, participating in the ritual, when my father walked in.

Apparently my friend’s connection and my father’s connection (at least at that point) were one and the same. We made eye contact and then promptly acted as if we didn’t know each other. My friend, who knew my father, played it cool and we left after the social obligations were satisfied without having to have an awkward conversation with my father. I got more messed up that night than ever before because I was so freaked out by the encounter.

By mutual unspoken agreement, that conversation with my father never happened. We both carried on with life without ever mentioning that experience. In a twisted dance of non-acknowledgement, we never spoke of such things to each other.

I eventually figured out that my father was a connection for some of my older friends. When I confronted my mother about it, she spoke with him and told me later that he swore he never sold to anyone under 18, that there was no way he was going to be picked up for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, as if this made selling drugs to high-schoolers more acceptable.

I grew up with an odd sense of ethics. I was using at the time myself, often in stranger’s houses, but was I was indignant that my father could even be peripherally involved in the same circles. Our worlds were separate, different, and I was pissed that I could come across him anywhere in such a context. You are not supposed to be in a drug den using across the room from your father when you’re 16. You’re just not.

My father has been diagnosed with military-service-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is literally out of his mind without drugs. The prescribed pharmaceuticals never worked well for him, and he didn’t respond to non-pharma treatment. He cleaned up briefly, but the PTSD and depression over my mother’s death had him so close to suicide that he went back to the drugs.

I can’t say that I blame him for going back to them – My recently diagnosed anxiety disorder, along with my own PTSD symptoms and a diagnosed sleep disorder, combined with my own spotty depression medication history and past issues with both alcohol and cocaine give me sympathy for him.

I don’t know if I’m an “enabler” or not. All I can say is that I’m glad he found something that actually quiets his personal brand of insanity. I haven’t yet, but the anti-anxiety medicine has improved things. I just wish that he could remember that I left that stuff, that old life behind, that I won’t participate anymore, that I’m bent on doing something more with my life than he was ever able to.

When he offers them to me as he does them (which is part of the social obligation of the drug subculture), I hide behind the “You know I’m tested for that crap,” answer because I can’t bear to have that conversation with him again, the one where he is almost begging me to approve of his use, to tell him he’s not a bad guy because of it.

I can’t bear to have that conversation with him again because I can’t condone any more than I can condemn.


Administration Note

Several items of note have recently occured that you should know about:

  1. One of the partner admins MellissaY has unexpectedly become unavailable as of Saturday, June 13. Because there's no current ETA for her return, all maintenance, changes, posts, comment moderation, and submission editing for the short term will be handled by the other admin. Please bear with us during this time if posts, responses, or moderation is slow.

  2. As a result of MellissaY's temporary absense, any submissions that have been sent to her personal e-mail account are inaccessible until her return. There are no outstanding submissions in the TJP mailbox (pointed to from the links in the left nav bar). If you've submitted something to MellissaY's personal e-mail account, please re-send to the TJP mailbox so that it can be accessed/reviewed/posted.

  3. Something has gone wrong with the TJP account at our file hosting service As a result, our promotional materials and the post truncation javascript are currently unavailable. We have notified Boxstr of the issue and are awaiting their response. Again, please bear with us during the outage. If you'd like to download the promotional materials during this outage, just e-mail TJP asking for the promotional materials and you'll receive them by e-mail.

  4. Arrangements have been made for written interviews with a US-living couple from Cameroon in which they will tell us about the differences between the two cultures, including their views on marriage (polygamy is optional there), the female function within society, and other topics of likely interest to the TJP community. Please comment with any questions or topics that you would like to see included in the interview, as the questions have not been decided upon yet.

  5. We've decided to include a podcasting feature as part of the site's re-design. For those Janes that need an audio version to listen to while working or commuting, our plans include both streaming and download options. We'll make an announcement when this feature goes live.

  6. A possible audio interview with an American Muslim woman who covers by her own choice is also in the works. Please comment with any questions or topics that you would like to see included in this interview as well, as the questions have not been decided upon yet.
We are extremely proud to be providing this service to you, the Janes. We sincerely hope that by sharing our views and experiences and thereby exposing all of us to that which is both the same and different from us that we can learn to understand, bond with, and accept one another as women. TJP is a place to share, discuss, vent, and ask for and receive opinions. We hope that you've learned as much as we have during our short time, and we look forward to continuing with TJP.

Sharing in your experiences, your thoughts, your battles, and your successes is what makes TJP great. Remember that the Comments feature is still available on all previous posts, so if you're new to TJP, feel free to read and comment on previous items. The power of The Jane Project does lay in each of your hands -- Keep thinking, keep writing, and keep submitting!


The Crackhead at McDonald's

A couple of months ago, I had a voluntary social function with officemates on a weekend, starting earlier than I like to get up on the weekends. I did what I usually do when I absolutely have to wake up early on a weekend and leave my apartment – I spoiled myself with a McDonald’s breakfast.

In a bit of a rush, as I was of course running late, I parked my car and ran for the door. As I was crossing the parking lot, I noticed an incredibly skinny early-20s man sitting on the sidewalk, leaning up against the wall next to the door. He we dirty, with holes in his clothes, and looking at the ground, seeming sad.

“I hate this,” I thought as I approached. I always feel bad for these people, addicted or not, homeless or not, and I sometimes feel bad enough to give them money even though I know that’s probably the worst thing in the world I can do for them. I tried to steel myself against what I knew was coming . . .

“Can you spare anything so that I can get something to eat?”

That’s the very worst, pleading hunger to me while sitting on a sidewalk in the richest nation on the planet. As usual, that particular question got to me. No matter how many times I’m manipulated this way, it still works.

“I’m sorry, I don’t have any,” I said. Which was true. I almost never carry cash because my check card is all I need.

I ordered my breakfast, thinking about that guy on the sidewalk. I ate my breakfast, thinking about that guy on the sidewalk. I cleaned my booth, thinking about that guy on the sidewalk.

I walked back to the counter and ordered a meal for the guy on the sidewalk.

I even paid the up-charge for the orange juice because I figured he could probably use the Vitamin C. I headed towards the door with his food, proud of myself.

And the bugger was gone.

I eat very fast, and there was no line either time I ordered. I could not possibly have been inside that restaurant for more than 15 minutes. And he bailed. I walked around the restaurant, wondering if he’d just moved. No joy.

So, there I was, with hot McDonald’s food in a bag, already running a few minutes late to the office social function that will require me to leave said smelly food in my car for 3 hours in a sunny parking lot on a 90-degree day.

There was no way that was going to happen, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw the food away. What to do? What to do?

I remember the teen and young adult homeless shelter two blocks away, and how the kids mill about early in the morning waiting for the doors to open. I knew I’d find someone there. Hell, I might find the guy for whom it was originally purchased!

I drove the few blocks and, sure enough, there were five or six kids milling about under the old oak tree. None of them was the guy who asked me for food money. I pulled up, stepped out of my car holding the bag and the drink high, and called over to them “Who wants breakfast?” with a big grin on my face.

The only girl in the group raised her hand, shouted, “I do, I do!” and ran over to me. I smiled at her and told her, “I bought it for someone else who didn’t show up, so this is your lucky day!” She thanked me, took the food and drink and asked, “You from New York?” I laughed and said, “No, honey, I’m a Southern girl!” She raised an eyebrow and said, “You don’t sound like it. But thank you!” She smiled and ran off, back to the gaggle from which she’d come.

I got in my car and drove to the office function feeling pretty good about myself. I felt even better that afternoon, after the function, when my car didn’t smell like old Egg McMuffin.


Our Broken Healthcare System

As if we needed more evidence that the US healthcare system is fundamentally broken, consider the story of Starla Darling, a pregnant 27-year-old mother who was laid off when Archway & Mother's Cookie Company in Ashland, Ohio filed for Chapter 11. With her job went her health insurance.

Starla began her maternity leave on October 1, 2008. Two days later, on October 3, Archway employees received a letter advising them that their jobs would end and their health insurance would be terminated on October 6. COBRA wsn't an option because the company was self-insured (administrated by Blue Cross Blue Shield), and the plan was being terminated.

So, Starla immediately did what any pregnant woman would do when unexpectedly laid off of an 8-year job who fears the loss of her health insurance: She called her midwife and insisted that her labor be induced and her child born within the three-day window in which she still had medical coverage.

Because her first child's delivery bill was approximately $9,000 three years before, and because she knew she would never be able to pay that amount for her second child's delivery, she decided "that we were getting this baby out, and it was going to be paid for."

On October 5, her delivery was induced, but excessive bleeding mandated an emergency cesarean section. Starla's daughter Kathryn was born three weeks early, and both are doing fine.

Because of the more than $700,000 in medical set-aside arrears that Archway was in when it shuttered, Blue Cross Blue Shield has denied payment for Starla's delivery based upon the plan's termination (i.e. no money, no plan, no coverage). She's now on the hook for more than $17,000 for the emergency cesarean section.

Starla hasn't been able to obtain unemployment benefits because recovering from the emergency cesarean section has left her "unable to work." Her husband Derek and her father Frank Phillips were also recently laid off, the father also from Archway the same day Starla was, after having worked there for 24 years.

Further reading available.


Is THIS What Feminism has Wrought?

The following is an instant messenger conversation between admin MellissaY and Riot.Jane. Bracketed items added after the fact for clarity, links added after the fact for further reading.

Because the conversation became a bit of a soliloquy, MellissaY has already committed to writing up and posting her thoughts on these themes. Until then, we think there's value in the below, and we encourage discussion of the concepts presented.

MellissaY: Just reading about that [Rihanna/Chris Brown] mess is killing me. The attitude that young woman have about that poor child (it's her fault, she had it coming) is exactly why feminism has been set back a good 40 years in just the past 9.

MellissaY: This decade has been absolutely shameful

Riot.Jane: It has been.

Riot.Jane: "Is this what feminism has wrought?" [Quotes because I read that while reading about the Rihanna / Chris Brown mess]

MellissaY: I don't know, I don't understand what happened. When I think of my teen years and what the reaction would have been then, it would NOT have been what it is now. We would have been outraged. Girls were powerful and we were proud of that power.

MellissaY: This world scares me. For my daughters and actually for myself. We need to start a revolution...

Riot.Jane: We were heady on a power trip that was originally new to our mothers, and then new to us. Our battles are now so much ancient history to the girls today who are sitting back on their heels, seeing equal injustice in the light of equality rather than the light of injustice .

MellissaY: What to do? They've ruined it. All of it. Look at this world they've made! It's disgusting. Maybe worse than before. Their value is their vagina and they don't even get the respect their foremothers did as the keeper of the hearth and the head of the home.

MellissaY: That was something. This is world of nothings with vaginas to be used and like it. To hate each other and squabble like alley cats over more nothing.

Riot.Jane: Check it out, motherhood has made you almost as sexist as Andrew Dice Clay! Today's female has turned our fight for respect and equality on its head, so that instead of bringing our culture as a whole to a higher standard, they've stopped fighting. By allowing themselves to realize the Holy Grail of Equality by sinking to the same level of shallow unsophistication that the walking penises of the patriarchy are, they actually managed to accomplish our bigger-than-ourselves goal. They've ACCOMPLISHED a dystopian equality of which we couldn't conceive by quietly deciding, daily, to make the million small trades we refused to make, they've actually chosen the path of least resistance to becoming one with their male counterparts, and they're doing it on the path we so carefully laid for them.

Riot.Jane: Just because we called it "The Road Less Traveled" doesn't mean that's what THEY call it. THEY call it "Easy Street" -- They are plucking the fruit of the Third Wave of feminism, and we're watching them do it, outraged that the fruit they're picking isn't the fruit we thought our mothers planted in the gardens we so fiercely defended.

Riot.Jane: We called it our fight only because we grew up watching our mothers fight it, not because it ever truly was. We inherited a blood feud that became such a part of our psyches so early in our lives that we never actually stopped to dissect the reasons why, how we got to where we were and, God forbid, where the hell we were going when we took up the mantle.

Riot.Jane: We just continued fighting the good fight, with the self- righteous indignation and smug moral outrage that only privileged Westerners can muster.

Riot.Jane: With so many of us having delayed childbirth until later in life, and then letting other people raise those same children, our generation of women and our companion generation of men (that our mothers unconsciously socially emasculated) are staring in the face the logical, if terrifying, result of our generation's own lack of analytical thought when we went to war -- The outright reversion of a generation of men and women who, fresh in their adult shoes, are not only modernizing but also encouraging a return to outdated social mores and arrangements and are beginning to raise their own pups with these gender norms fully in place.

Riot.Jane: This latest generation of men and women have only seen the world that we were the last to fight for; they never saw the reality of what came before or what we saw as children. They can't comprehend the danger of what they've allowed to happen, of what many of them are encouraging to continue spreading like a subliminal plague.

Riot.Jane: I'm already too old to be a voice that they will hear, I'm already a generation removed from their desires, goals, and daily lives. The only difference I can now see making in the good fight is in convincing women just a little younger than me to once again speak out, to once again fight, but this time, to do it because they think it's right and with an eye towards some sort of sensible outcome.

What Hides Inside

Racing Thoughts

Veronica’s Voice awaits me Wednesday
How will I fair?
The truth to tell..…. Do I dare?
I hope I might bring love and light,
To bring some hope to my sisters and together relieve our plight.
We are all dealing with feelings of guilt and shame.
It doesn’t really matter, who’s to blame.
Be with me, my dear angels.
We’ll look at this from all angles.
But now it is time to release and let go…
A time to dream and travel to where ethereal winds blow,
And soften the blow
My thought will soon slow…
And sleep shall surely let me lay low.

Paying for Your Own Rape-Kit

Greetings to the Ladies Jane --

One would think, after the flap that ensued during the most recent US Presidential election regarding same, that any law-enforcement agency still requiring victims pay for their own sexual assault medical forensic examinations (i.e. rape-kits) would have stopped the practice.

Not so.

As recently as last month, Texas rape victims have received hospital bills and payment delinquency notices for their rape-kits. As of just over a year ago, North Carolina rape victims were in the same situation. Ditto for Georgia, Illinois, and Kansas.

The problem seems to be part paperwork issues, part privacy laws, part cost-cutting, and part insensitivity. Because the specimens collected during the forensic medical exam are not labeled "rape-kit" and the patient's file is not noted "sexual assault" (both points to protect the privacy of the patient), these women are falling down a rabbit hole of hospital-billing-department/private-insurance/public-aid/credit-delinquency merry-go-round where every organization says, "Not my responsibility," and refers the victim to someone else.

Victim receives a bill --> Hospital says insurance didn't pay, call insurance --> Insurance says services not covered, call the police since they told you it wouldn't cost anything --> Police say we don't pay hospital bills, call the state --> State says you have insurance, call insurance --> And on and on.

To be fair, most (if not all of these states) have funds established to pay for at least some of these expenses, and public aid and private insurance are supposed to be exhausted before a victim sees a bill. The entire concept is broken because it is built upon the concept that the victim is ultimately financially responsible for the forensic medical examination. The fact that a sexual assault victim could ever see a bill for her rape-kit is a secondary crime in and of itself, and the fact remains that women are receiving hospital bills and delinquencies on their credit reports as a direct result of sexual assault.

The US Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women, has outlined its views of the roles of first responders to sexual assault as part of a coordinated community response to same in its publication A National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations. In this document, the USDOJ states, "Just as critical [to effectively collecting evidence for successful prosecution] is performing sexual assault forensic exams in a sensitive, dignified, and victim-centered manner."

Does rape victims receiving bills for their own rape-kits sound "sensitive, dignified, and victim-centered" to you?


A Thong is NOT a Gateway Drug!

Greetings to the Ladies Jane --

The city of Yakima, Washington passed a law this past Monday that criminalizes female butt-cracks, see-through dresses, and whale-tale.

Yakima Mayor Dave Elder, coincidentally a church pastor, insists the target of the law is so-called "sexpresso" businesses where scantily-clad baristas prepare and serve coffee to customers. He says he initially wanted to classify the "adult" coffee-houses as sexually-oriented businesses and then change the SOB ordinance, but city legal staff warned that trying to do so could cause legal challenges.

The law falls under indecent exposure, with a first offense misdemeanor conviction garnering up to 90 days incarceration and $1,200 fine. If a child under 14 sees the offense, the punishment increases to up to 1 year incarceration with $5,000 fine. For the top of your underwear or, God forbid, the top of your butt-crack showing when you bend over!

The Mayor insists that this law is intended to apply only to coffeehouses, not to the public at large, but the law isn't written that way. The mayor also insists that this law is intended to protect women: "If you want to create an environment where crime can happen. You turn a blind eye to adult businesses." How about applying the law to people who actually commit crimes instead of policing female attire?

Let me get this straight: In an effort to protect women freely working at "adult" coffeehouses, Yakima passed a community-wide gender-specific law that criminalizes accidental and incidental undergarment or anatomic display? With stiffer penalties if a child, her child, sees it? And you didn't even bother to write the law to specify that it applies only to said coffeehouses?

So much for the common knowledge that the Pacific Northwest is somehow more Bohemian, Progressive, or Enlightened than the rest of this country! If I hadn't read it myself, I'd be convinced this was someone's sick joke.

Further reading available.


Universality of the Female Experience

Greetings to the Ladies Jane --

While reading a Newsweek article entitled "Tehran or Bust", by Iranian native Hooman Majd, about his visit to the Jamkaran mosque five minutes outside of the town of Qum (Iran's religious capital), I came across the following paragraph regarding the local tradition of dropping written notes into what is effectively a wishing well to ask the Mahdi for assistance:
A tall, slender and handsome young woman in a black chador, with the faintest hint of makeup, furiously scribbled at another counter, oblivious to the fact that she was in the men's section. She folded her note, walked up to the well and dropped it through the grate. "A special favor?" I asked her. She looked at me suspiciously for a moment, and I explained that I was a reporter. "It's private," she said, "but we all have problems, don't we?" She walked away, perhaps skeptical that I had no ulterior motives. Her answer and her demeanor, however, spoke volumes. She was purposeful and had no time for state-imposed gender segregation. Whatever her "problem" was she didn't want to take it to a mullah in Qum who might lecture her on the fine points of Islam or Islamic behavior. (...) And she felt she had a place to go, on a weekday when perhaps her family or husband were at work, to unburden herself.

This paragraph grabbed my attention to the point that I put the magazine down. I've been thinking about the universality of "The Female Experience" ever since. Cross-border, cross-culture, religion-independent, universal truths apply to us all.

"We all have problems, don't we?"

Yes, yes we do.


Holy Moley! TJP was Nominated!

We've been nominated for two catagories over at the BlogLuxe Awards! It seems that we are listed in the "Most Provocative" and "the Blog You've Learned the Most From" catagories! How cool is that?!

If you would like to vote for us, head on over and check it out!

2009 BlogLuxe Awards 2009 BlogLuxe Awards

The Storm

My Storm
By: Megan DaGata

The last time the hint of the storm brewed, I buried my heart in the clouds,
My mind in the waters, and my soul in the thunderous noise.
I became one with the storm and one with the madness.
My mind ceases to hear any thought and closes to all emotion.
Like a late season hurricane it builds and builds, and lasts for months.
Building from the hint of suggestion and follows the ebb and flow of my emotions.
The heat of my rage builds level upon level of insanity
Until one day without warning - the grief, pain, and fury crash upon me
As if it were a cat 5 hurricane meeting the shore.

The pain of losing those we love is not something that we consider,
Our parents are young and our friends are healthy,
We don't think of the storm that could be building.
Friday night I received a phone call that made time stand still for the next three days...
I am not sure if the clock has started up yet.
But I felt my hurricane start to build.
In the ten minutes between ordering my first drink at the club and before it was consumed
I received a call from my brother- in- law,
He informed me that my father was in a car accident and that he had not regained consciousness.
Crash - Bang - Thunder and lightening...
The cacophony of noise that echoed in my ears was deafening.
I heard nothing else.
I picked up the phone with shaking hands and called my mother.
"What happened? I will be there in three hours."

I just know I need to get there. as carefully as possible, but hurry."
"I will be there in three hours...”
The storm was building as I walked out the doors and down the steps.
The fury and rage were instantaneous. Who would do this?
How could they do it?
What the fuck is wrong with me?
Why is God sending the men I love to such tragedy?!

Time literally seemed to speed up.
We were at my apartment minutes later.
I grabbed my things and threw them into my car.
I didn't know what I would need, this storm would last for days, but what do you bring?!
As fast as I could… don't remember a turn or stop light.

We drove from Houston to Austin in just under 3 hours,
Arriving at the hospital at 2 am.
As we drove up, we saw my dad's best friend, Mike.
He explained to us what the doctors had said to the family..…
That my father had never regained brain function.
I felt like I was in the eye of the storm, pulling and tugging in every direction.
I looked in the window at my sister, she hadn't heard it all, but she had heard enough.
She was bracing herself for what she was about to have to endure.
The walk down the long corridor to the ICU, was the longest walk of my life.

I saw an old woman walking down the hall.
Her shoulders were hunched forward, her gray hair limp on her down-turned head.
She walked so slowly, that I not in a million years would I have seen her as my mother.
When she turned to us,
I knew there was nothing that could be done.

But how could I make next 30 feet?
My mom reached for my dad's hand, and said,
"Sweetie, the girls are here.
They have come to see you, so you have to wake up.”

My heart broke, my body broke,
My skin pulled itself from my body and left me bleeding.
The hurricane had reached cat 5 strength but it was still a thousand miles away.
We all stood in silence as we heard the machines beep and the respirator breath for our father.
He had at least twenty different IV bags hanging, trying to rouse him back to life.
One was to raise his blood pressure and another to keep it low.
Bags of blood - to replenish his dwindling supply.

I stood speechless for a few minutes, staring into his vacant eyes.
The eyes of the kindest man I had known since my grandfather's death.
His eyes were now empty.
Those empty eyes still haunt me.

We sat and waited.
We talked a little, but mostly we cried.
I laid down on the floor,
My head on the bag, which contained his torn clothes.
I wept.

The storm of my soul was crashing onto the shore.
Seeing him lying there and then seeing my mother so fragile.
The next 40 hours passed in a storm of fury.
Being thrown to and fro, hoping for the activity to return to his brain,
By the time the papers were signed for the organ donation,
The whole family was present, and we were trying to figure out how to get home.

The eye of my storm hit.
I have been calm ever since.
I haven't cried,
I haven't felt.
My skin is still dangling removed from my body.
The storm is still looming over head.
The rage is still following the ebb and the flow.
Someday the eye of the storm will pass and I will feel again.
I will be able to cry with the remorse I feel in my soul.
I will be able to reach out and hug the ones I love again.
Until then, I will sit and I will write, and I will pray to God,
That the storm which still looms, will soon pass.

Quick Note from the Admins

No new posts today ladies. We have two sick admins and nothing new submitted. Please comment on older posts and support the Janes who have shared with us.

We'll return tomorrow!

For Want of Selfishness

I am so effing tired. I would love to sleep for a million years, but I can't. Part of it (I know) is whatever is wrong with me medically, but part of it is just all the work that I feel I need to do just to be a decent human being. Seriously.

Let's just think about this: a minimum of 40 hours a week of work for a bipolar, self absorbed, superficial cow (more on her another time), and I am so concerned about being a good little worker bee that I sometimes work an extra six to eight hours off the clock to pad my productivity. Does she appreciate this? nah. She constantly disrupts my job so I don't get 'comfortable' because she thinks she's my effing mentor, and that's what a mentor should do.

Then a minimum of 20 hours per week on school. That's an effing riot, but I can't can't drop out again - I have hinged my freaking future on this degree, and I can't afford to do this to myself again.

Then I've pledged to visit my parents @ least once a month, so that's six hours of driving and another round of therapy, which I'm not getting because my crazy boss makes it a habit of reading our insurance claims, and I can't give her the idea that I might not have everything together in one nice, name brand package. I already have to make up for the fact that I'm fat.

Then I have to prop up people's egos and/or health for a good while, because I'm the only one nice enough to do it when their own girlfriends or wives won't care enough to do it on their own.

I do all this, and you dare to make fun of my house? When do I have time to clean? I do all this, and you make fun of my not dating anyone? When do I have a chance to meet anyone, let alone overcome my shyness and negative body image long enough to talk to them? But why don't you call me spinster or old maid again? It's that sort of fun shit that KEEPS me lonely. I do all this and you call me short tempered? Of course I'm short tempered - I'm exhausted, and you're one of the only people that I feel like can be myself with, but when I do, we get to hear all about how it upsets you.

Have you ever seen one of those incredibly vapid girls in the mall flouncing from place to place, boyfriend to boyfriend, not a thought in their head past how the world affects them? I have, in fact I'm related to several.

I used to be that vapid and selfish bimbo, but decided that I was too intelligent for that. I want to go back. I may have had my eyes closed, but I always had a boyfriend. I always got enough sleep. I was taken care of constantly, and I was able to accept that care. I never worried about money, or perceptions, or time.

But I have taken the fruit from the tree of knowledge, and become ashamed of my nakedness. Now I can never return to the garden of Eden. I now must ignore my crippling arthritis and fatigue to finish a report, go shopping for the week, put on a smiley face, figure out major home repairs, and listen to people complain about me the entire time.

Sorry to rant, but there it is. Thank you for providing me with a place to let it out.

Yours, Lolly "more Eve than Lilith" Pop

Site Redesign

We have hired the very talented Ruby and Roja to redesign and overhaul our beloved Jane Project. This is very exciting stuff! We would love to hear from you. Tell us what you would like see, wouldn't like to see and anything else you think we should know.

We read everything we get from you, so please, drop us a line and tell us what you think!

Beauty = Full?

Let us talk about beauty.

I am beautiful. I am full of face and have eyes that men have fallen head-long into like a chasm of grief and pain and pleasure and have been lost. Forever. I have a mouth full and sweet like a rosebud, just on the cusp of bursting into a full and long flower that men have kissed and nibbled and sighed into. I have full breasts and midnight hair that tumbles down my back. Yes, it’s true, I am beautiful.

In our society beauty can be everything. Ever since I was a girl all around me have commented upon my face, later my body. I have held value because of these things. I have been lost and devoured and used because of these things. I recognize that I am beautiful, but what is that exactly?

I am visually appealing. I am easy to look at. I invoke pleasant feelings in those who glance in my direction. I kill myself slowly a little more every day to live up to the expectations that others have placed upon me and that I have made my own. I starve myself; I fill my body with chemicals in a desperate attempt to become thinner. Diet pills, laxatives, endless diuretics. This is some months. Then there are the months when I am so exhausted and spent that I just eat to fill the hole left behind. I am filled with guilt and pain and I am filled with more guilt. Every morsel is a punishment and I do this to remind myself that I must be beautiful to have worth. I obsess and the ones who love me the most suffer with me.

The funny thing is I do not believe that others must live this standard that has been set for me. I recognize the beauty in others I love so much. Fierce independence, self-assuredness, the ability to survive, spirituality, loyalty, innocence, worldliness, a loving nature, a protective nature; all are things of beauty and make the bearer beyond compare. I even recognize some of these qualities in myself.


Yet, in my darkest hours it’s the ugliness in my psyche that haunts me. In my deepest of depths every pill, every morsel withheld, every graze of the razor across my arms and wrists and thighs is a secret message to myself; a message that says “You must do this to be loved.”

It seems boundless, this pit that I have dug for myself, but I have just written this down. I have acknowledged that it happens. This is my admonition, my cry for help, my pact with all of you and with myself to stop this insanity. I will stop this. I will write and maybe even talk and I will stop this.

I want to be free.

Darkness Becomes Light

I have been lost in the dark

I have been lost in the dark….lost in my addiction….lost in my insanity, my pain, my grief. I have been lost, a throw away, a nothing. A child of the street.

A slave to the darkness was I.

Most of the time, I was invisible to the “good people”. I was junky thin, reeking of death and despair, my withdrawing body shaking. I was dying slowly in full view and they would glance quickly over me, across my face, pretending they did not see me. My fellow humans would walk past me. I did not exist. I was invisible. My sins to great even to be…….

A slave to the darkness was I.

When the “good people” did see me they forced me to become invisible again. I was not even considered human by some. I was denied a place to sit or rest. I was denied water on hot summer days when my thirst was so great I could no longer swallow and my exhausted body would almost faint. I was denied a place to refresh myself or relief myself, instead using bushes and running behind building and risking arrest for my need. Debased and ashamed I sought places to rest only to be chased away again and again with the threat of imprisonment if I did not “move on”. I was told NO you cannot come into this store, NO you cannot shield yourself from bitter wind, NO you cannot get warm here, seek shade here, or ever, ever rest. You must make yourself invisible again because you are too disgusting. You do not belong. Not fit to view or consider. You are not a human-being. You are an animal.

A slave to the darkness was I.

To some people though, I was quite visible. Predators saw me clearly even when I did my best to hide. They hunted me in the dark…..animals, hunting animals in the dark, on the street. These memories are too painful to recount. To be trapped by one of these meant rape, murder, or death… I spent a great deal of time running, hiding, afraid…….I’ve been raped, tortured, pimped and beaten. I have been emotional and physically used and abused. My value was reduced to my vagina and nothing else about me mattered to anyone. Some days, most of those dark days, not even to me.

A slave to the darkness was I.

I was visible to the tricks when they required sexual gratification but became invisible again after the fact. I was also invisible to them if we came across one another in public even though just days before they may have sworn to help me in any way they could. Many claimed to care, to love me, to be my friend yet only when they desired sex was I visible. Still, I welcomed them because the only relief from the physical agony of the street and my addiction was when I prostituted my body and was able to slip inside a cool or warm car. The only way I had to bath was when a John got a seedy room for an hour. I had to put back on my filthy rags, more often than not throw away my shameful underpants, always carefully hiding them somewhere in the bathroom or stuffing them in my pocket so my “client” would not witness to my personal decay. I would pass the time and cover the shame by praying “please God, let this be over soon”. I would hold on the truth that the act brought the money that I, or we needed to get more crack and that meant that soon, very soon the agonizing pain of my being, of my existence would end shortly and I would once again be numb, gratefully numb. I would finally once again be dead inside and it was only in that death of mind and spirit in which I could comfortably dwell. It was the only time I was safe from myself and my conscious.

A slave to the darkness was I.

I was visible to other addicts, other street people. They recognized my despair and loneliness and they fed on it. I would provide money, cigarettes, food and shelter and dope to those who professed to be my friend. They, in return, would make promises then vanish with all that I owned onto the darkness. Even those who said they loved me, in the end, encouraged me sell my body while they waited for me in the dark. I step from the car still lost in my own filth, reeling and in pain from yet one more act of degradation. No words of sympathy ever came. Just “how much money did you get?”, “how much dope do you want?”, then a flurry of phone calls and activity, then the tense, unbearable waiting. Finally, the dope. My body sick with the want of it. My emotions, out of control. My need to be numb, overpowering me. He moves deliberately slow….him, taking the first hit. Is it real? Is it real? Finally! My turn, his turn, my turn, his turn. On and on until there is no more. We have to have more! We cannot stop! There is no choice so out into the darkness walk I. We tell ourselves this is the last time. We will stop after this. Freezing, one more time. Raining, one more time. Blistering hot; one more time. Day or night. ; one more time. Dangerous wee hours of the morning…one…..more….time. I AM AFRAID and the addiction lies “One more time”.

A slave to darkness was I.

There is no choice you see. We have to have more. An endless cycle of “one more time”, “one more hit” When at last I can endure no more and my body collapses, after hours of sleep deeper that death I awake to my lover who looks at me calls me whore. I run back to the street and bring him what he desires so he will stay with me. More money, more dope so we can forget that we are lost and dying in the dark. I am afraid because time is fleeting, one week, one month, one year, five then ten then on and on. A lifetime up in smoke, one hit at time, one more time.

A slave to darkness was I.

I remember, very clearly my reemergence from the dark. It was when I became visible to people like you. You know, those of you who see me as a troubled person, an addict, someone who needs help and deserves love. Those of you who see me as a lost daughter, a lost sister, a lost mother. Those of you whose love of transcends those narrow, cruel societal views of me. Those of you who look into my face and say “I see you and you are beautiful to me” with an understanding smile. Those of you who dared to touch this leper. Those of you whose loving actions said “I love you and I am here to help because you deserve help, not hate.”

A child of The Light am I.

I did not become visible to myself all at once. Perhaps the pain of who I had become would have killed me where it so…..I could not look in the mirror at first, even to try to straighten myself out to look presentable. I was afraid of that lost, hunted person in the mirror. That person who was trying to kill the real me. The person who was burying me alive, coldly deaf to her/my screams of terror. You saw these things, you Children of The Lord, and you continued to reach out. To smile, to look in my eyes…To Remind Me Who I Am…..and slowly, oh so slowly, I began this journey to remembrance. Slowly, one meal, one bath, one meeting, one service, one word of hope, one action of love at a time you Children, you Saints, brought me to The Light. To Love. To God.

A child of The Light am I.

Sometimes I acted as if I did not hear you. Sometimes I believed I was not worthy and ran away, back deep into darkness. But always, even when I ran I hid, like a starving child, your love, deep in my heart and in the darkest of dark I would remember this love and yearn for more….so your love acted as light to guide me back to His Children. I learned to seek you as you sought me. I learned to seek God……I learned to see myself through first your eyes, then His eyes. Then I learned they were the same. His heart was in your heart and I began to BECOME. I began to heal, I began to change….I REMEMBERED WHO I AM…..A Child of God. Worthy. You taught me who I am. You showed me God’s Love so in a way that I could understand, then embrace then desire, then seek then live. You forgave me and that taught me God forgives me

A child of The Light am I.

Barbara Rhyne Tucker

My Mom's Birthday

Today is my mom's birthday. My mom died in 1998 when I was 26, the same age she was when she gave birth to me.

As my mother lay dying, she begged me not to have any children because she couldn't bear the thought of one day my laying somewhere, dying of the rare cancer that has taken several generations of women in her line before the age of 60, looking into my own daughter's face, seeing the pain there. While she was dying, in an inconceivable amount of pain, she was more concerned about my being in the same situation some day than she was about her own quickly-approaching death.

That's a level of love that I cannot conceive of having.

I promised her that I wouldn't bear my own children unless and until we get to choose gender beforehand. I knew what I was promising, and I knew that I would keep it because, well, you don't turn down the dying wish of a family member if it's remotely possible to keep it.

So I've lived through the procreative years of my life not bearing children. I've never married. I've aborted. I've lived with roommates in order to avoid having an empty home and thrown myself into my career with a ferocity that masquerades as workaholism. I have a television on in my home 24x7 to have the sound of human voices around me. I've promised myself that I can always adopt, and I've also promised myself I won't marry a man for whom that's not an option.

I've told every close friend or boyfriend I've had since my mom's death that I won't bear my own children because of my mother's dying wish, my promise to her, and my own fear of the rare (almost undiagnosable) cancer that kills women in my line early. The thing is, that's only half the reason.

The other half of the reason, and the one I've never told anyone before, is that I can't conceive of being the kind of person, the kind of mother, who would or could lay dying, in incomprehensible pain, and be more concerned about my daughter experiencing the same thing than I am about my own impending death.

I can't live up to that. I can't even see the bar my mom set, much less reach it. That's the other half of the reason I never bore my own children and won't unless and until gender selection becomes a viable option.


Man Has His Own Wife Raped

Sad Greetings to the Ladies Jane --

If the various news reports I've read are accurate, a 25-year-old North Carolina man arranged, via a popular online classified site, for a complete stranger to have sex with his wife using "scare tactics." Since the wife was ignorant of and therefore not complicit with the plan, rape is the only possible word for this event.

The concept bears repeating: A man had someone else rape his own wife.

Now, while you're trying to wrap your mind around that concept, here are details from various news reports (linked below):
  • The woman awoke from sleep, in bed with her husband, at 2:45 AM to see a black male stranger standing at the foot of the bed with a knife.

  • The stranger raped her.

  • The husband didn't try to interfere with the sexual assault, and he didn't try to comfort her afterward.

  • The victim (not the husband) called 911 after the assault.

  • The victim was forensically examined, medically treated, interviewed, and released from the hospital due to no significant physical injury.

  • Police could find no sign of forced entry into the couple's home.

  • The husband's statement contained specific inconsistencies, and he's being held on $200,000 bond on various charges: first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense, and attempted first-degree sexual offense. He waived the appointment of a public defender at his first hearing.

  • Police confiscated the husband's computer and have obtained the assistance of the US Secret Service in gathering forensic computer evidence.

  • The couple's two children were home (but presumably asleep) and not aware of the sexual assault.

  • The victim told a reporter that she is receiving help and support from family members, that the details of the assault are too painful to discuss, but that she didn't know about the plan. Police have indicated that they firmly believe her.

  • The police have located the assaulter. He is a veteran who was convicted of indecent exposure in Virginia last March.

  • Police are not yet sure whether or not the husband paid the assaulter for the assault, or if the assaulter even knew the victim was non-complicit. Police believe the assaulter may have simply believed he was fulfilling a consensual fantasy.

I hereby volunteer to have Karma's flow skip over the next three good things that are supposed to happen to me so that there's plenty of Karma available to give this piece of human garbage exactly what he deserves.

reading sources available.