Memoir Writing as a Tool for Self Exploration and Understanding

In the 1970s I took some writing classes at both UCLA and at the Women’s Building on North Spring Street.

One thing people talked a lot about was journaling, the practice of keeping a journal.

Anais Nin was one popular example and Christopher Isherwood another, of people who kept journals while living in interesting times.  Emma Goldman’s Living my Life, is another.

Memoir and oral histories have become a way of documenting the people’s history.  The small stories that are so often overshadowed by the major events of the time.

But journaling and writing a memoir can also be a path to understanding your own past and your role in history.

As I have been writing my memoir I have had to remember not only what I did but what my motivations were for some things that wouldn’t make much sense otherwise.

I’ve found myself to be inclined to be more forgiving of the foibles and shortcomings of others.

I’ve rediscovered ideals I once held, values I had lost touch with.

Now that I am old perhaps I don’t care quite as much about my image and what others think of me.

Maybe I have grown courageous again like I was when I was young and idealistic.

Perhaps the last thirty years of neo-con/neo-lib bullshit has finally caused me to say enough.

Perhaps the self-exploration required to write a good, honest and true memoir, in spite of all the short comings of subjectivity that are inherent to the structure requires one to be true and honest with themselves.

I’ve always found our stories far more meaningful than anything the so call academics and professionals have ever written about us.

Voting While Trans: Protect Your Right

Here is a suggestion for TS/TG and Gender Queer Folks whose appearance may not match their present Identification Papers this Election Cycle.

If you still have time apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

Regulations may vary according to location.

The Republicans are trying to deprive you of one of your most basic rights as an American Citizen.

Don’t let them!

Oh and by the way consider how the Republicans are scapegoating LGBT people when you do vote and vote accordingly.

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Mitt Gets Worse: Rep. Barney Frank

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California becomes first state in nation to ban so-called “ex-gay” therapy for teens


Press Release
Sunday, September 30, 2012

California has become the first state in the nation to ban therapy that tries to turn gay teens straight.
Gov. Jerry Brown announced Sunday that he has signed Senate Bill 1172, which prohibits children under age 18 from undergoing “sexual orientation change efforts.” The law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, prohibits state-licensed therapists from engaging in these practices with minors.

“Governor Brown today reaffirmed what medical and mental health organizations have made clear: Efforts to change minors’ sexual orientation are not therapy, they are the relics of prejudice and abuse that have inflicted untold harm on young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians,” Clarissa Filgioun, board president of Equality California, said in a press release.

Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, added: “Governor Brown has sent a powerful message of affirmation and support to LGBT youth and their families. This law will ensure that state-licensed therapists can no longer abuse their power to harm LGBT youth and propagate the dangerous and deadly lie that sexual orientation is an illness or disorder that can be ‘cured.’”

Bishop John Shelby Spong: ‘I Don’t Think Hell Exists — Religion Is In The Control Business’

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

by David Badash
on September 29, 2012

John Shelby Spong, a retired Episcopal Bishop, says in this interview that Hell does not exist, the Church aims to control people, and God is not a Christian.

Needless to say, Spong is very controversial, and has been condemned for his views, some of which are contained in his Twelve Theses:

  1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
  2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
  3. The Biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
  4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ’s divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
  5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
  6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
  7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
  8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
  9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard written in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
  10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
  11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
  12. All human beings bear God’s image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one’s being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.

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The Real Referendum

From The New York Times:

Published: September 30, 2012

Republicans came into this campaign believing that it would be a referendum on President Obama, and that still-high unemployment would hand them victory on a silver platter. But given the usual caveats — a month can be a long time in politics, it’s not over until the votes are actually counted, and so on — it doesn’t seem to be turning out that way.

Yet there is a sense in which the election is indeed a referendum, but of a different kind. Voters are, in effect, being asked to deliver a verdict on the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society, on Social Security, Medicare and, yes, Obamacare, which represents an extension of that legacy. Will they vote for politicians who want to replace Medicare with Vouchercare, who denounce Social Security as “collectivist” (as Paul Ryan once did), who dismiss those who turn to social insurance programs as people unwilling to take responsibility for their lives?

If the polls are any indication, the result of that referendum will be a clear reassertion of support for the safety net, and a clear rejection of politicians who want to return us to the Gilded Age. But here’s the question: Will that election result be honored?

I ask that question because we already know what Mr. Obama will face if re-elected: a clamor from Beltway insiders demanding that he immediately return to his failed political strategy of 2011, in which he made a Grand Bargain over the budget deficit his overriding priority. Now is the time, he’ll be told, to fix America’s entitlement problem once and for all. There will be calls — as there were at the time of the Democratic National Convention — for him to officially endorse Simpson-Bowles, the budget proposal issued by the co-chairmen of his deficit commission (although never accepted by the commission as a whole).

And Mr. Obama should just say no, for three reasons.

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Todd Akin’s ‘ladylike’ comment typifies the GOP’s problem with women

From The Guardian UK:

Todd Akin’s gaffes over ‘legitimate rape’ and ‘ladylike’ are not accidental: they encapsulate Republican attitudes to women, Friday 28 September 2012

Todd Akin has issues with women. And so does his Republican party.

Akin, of “legitimate rape” fame, is now complaining that his Democratic opponent, Claire McCaskill, had the nerve to actually campaign against him. McCaskill’s decision to run a standard political campaign was apparently not properly “ladylike”, and Akin is offended at her aggressiveness. No, really; here’s the quote:

“I think we have a very clear path to victory, and apparently Claire McCaskill thinks we do, too, because she was very aggressive at the debate, which was quite different than it was when she ran against Jim Talent. She had a confidence and was much more ladylike [in 2006], but in the debate on Friday she came out swinging, and I think that’s because she feels threatened.”

Personally, I think it’s a good thing for women to come out swinging, whether they’re facing down a “legitimate rapist” who thinks he has the right to violate women’s bodies, or a misogynist political opponent who thinks he has the right to control women’s bodies. And it’s some pretty sweet irony to hear the man who says women can’t become pregnant from “legitimate rape” also suggesting that women shouldn’t fight back when they feel threatened because aggressive self-defense is unladylike.

Ladies, apparently, should lie back and take it.

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Why “Green” Consumer Choices Can’t Win Climate Justice

From YES Magazine:

Middle-class people are often socialized to believe they are responsible for improving their neighborhoods, their communities, and the world itself. Helpful as that often is, it creates a blind spot when it comes to global warming.

posted Sep 27, 2012

With his July Rolling Stone article, Bill McKibben attracted enormous attention for his proposal to step up the fight against the fossil-fuels industry in the struggle to forestall global warming. To identify a clear opponent and mobilize power against it is, of course, a strategy of polarization. McKibben has been getting some thoughtful pushback, and I’d like to respond to one of the objections I’ve heard: that polarizing in this way distorts the truth, since carbon pollution is driven by millions of consumer choices. We’re all responsible for the fix we’re in, some critics say, so it’s wrong to mobilize against the 1 percent.

I’d like to challenge this objection on three grounds: it misreads power, privileges one way of seeking truth, and snuggles into a middle-class comfort zone.

When it comes to energy policy, power is not evenly distributed. An individual consumer’s choice to purchase a car instead of a bike is nothing like an individual CEO’s choice to blow up a mountaintop in order to mine coal. It could become trendy to eat local food—it already has, thank goodness—but an individual’s decision to buy at the farmers market and a bank’s decision to fund windmills instead of coal mining are not at all comparable in terms of their leverage or effect.

Responsibility should be assigned according to degree of power in decision-making, and when it comes to energy, it’s clear who in the U.S. is most influential in the biggest decisions. Why not hold the 1 percent accountable for the enormous power that they now have—and which they fight to retain?

A more accurate picture

I agree that a polarizing campaign against “the baddies” doesn’t represent a complicated and nuanced account of all the truth about what drives climate change. But just about any given campaign’s start-up picture inevitably leaves out a lot.

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UK: Now climate experts warn that every house in the country is at risk of flooding

From The Independent:

Sheer volume of rain is overwhelming communities previously considered immune.

Jonathan Brown reports
Saturday 29 September 2012

The flood waters may finally be receding across parts of Britain lashed this week by the worst autumn storm in 30 years.But as home and business owners begin the long, demoralising task of clearing up the filth left in their wake, it has emerged that increasing numbers of flood victims are completely unaware that they were ever at risk from rising water levels.

Of the 5,000 properties damaged in the extreme weather events of this summer and autumn, more than half were hit not by overflowing rivers but by surface water.

The sheer volume of rain – sometimes up to 20mm in a single hour – has overwhelmed ageing sewage and drainage systems resulting in unprecedented levels of flooding in communities previously considered immune. With the number of properties at risk of flooding expected to quadruple in the next 20 years, according to the Committee on Climate Change, experts warned this week that no home is now without risk.

Charles Tucker, chairman of the National Flood Forum which represents 150 community flood action groups, said intensive rain storm events – of which there have been seven since the beginning of June – can strike at any time. “Anyone can be hit. That is a message that has to be got across to people without scaring the living daylights out of them,” he said.

The potential impact was disastrously demonstrated in 2007 in Hull which was hit by devastating flooding caused when road gullies, sewers and drainage ditches were overwhelmed by torrential rain. One person died and 10,000 homes and businesses were deluged. The disaster cost the city £20m and people were still living in emergency accommodation more than a year later.

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BPA From Cans Messes With Your Ovaries

From Mother Jones:

By Thu Sep. 27, 2012

Ordinarily, I’d object to the practice of knowingly subjecting fellow primates to a harmful substance, even for the sake of science. And that’s exactly what researchers from Washington State University and the University of California-Davis did for a study just released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (abstract; full study): They fed female rhesus monkeys low doses of the industrial chemical Bisphenol A (BPA).

But I’ll give these researchers a pass. That’s because most of the US public gets its own tiny daily dose of BPA—the stuff is widely used by the food-packaging industry, and traces of it leach out through metal cans and other food and beverage containers. A 2003 survey (summarized here) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found detectable levels of it in 93 percent of urine samples in Americans six years old and older—and these findings are “considered representative of exposures in the United States,” the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences states.

What is this constant exposure to BPA doing to us? That’s the legitimate question the WSU/UC-Davis team was examining when they spiked the diets of gestating female rhesus monkeys—a species with a reproductive system very similar to humans’—with levels of BPA equivalent to what most Americans get through their diets. And what they found is disturbing: “New evidence that the plastic additive BPA can disrupt women’s reproductive systems, causing chromosome damage, miscarriages and birth defects,” as the WSU web site put it in a summary.

What’s more, the changes they identified affected not only the mother, but also the female offspring’s own ovaries—meaning that BPA exposure can cause trouble across generations. Here’s how WSU geneticist Patricia Hunt, who coauthored the study, put it on the WSU web site:

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