Poem: The Lost


There are those

who (in their white suits and masks)

pick bodies from the sea

as they flee

from their country

and

the terrors

as they become debris

floating

bloated

But some

they save

among the waves

to set them free

to walk the land

and hopefully smile

eventually

Yet in some places

we’re not so kind

instead of boats

they trudge for miles

in heat and sun

and dirt and grime

to find a place

of unwelcome greetings

with guns and gas

and fearsome meetings

Some say all these folks

don’t belong

here or there

but only where

from whence they came

Yet why I ask

would they risk their lives

and leave home as well

unless where they left

was a living hell

 

Note: this poem was inspired by a Documentary on Netflix called “Fire At Sea”. Amazing, but difficult to watch, especially given what’s going on in my country (the US) presently with the refugee crisis. It’s not for the faint of heart to watch, but I feel necessary for anyone who has a heart and cares about their fellow human…

 

 

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Poem: The Speech


Common ground

must abound

for this country

to unite

and to set

founding notions right

Not you

against me

She vs. he

White is better

than Black

or pretend

global warming

is not a fact

Walls must fall

while we help

all who call

No matter tint

of skin

where preference

is no mortal sin

And believing

means freedom

the wisdom of truth

found in our

words

Not blurred

by hatred or fear

but once again

self-evident

we the people

are equal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry I Just Had To…


I’m not usually very political on my blog, but it’s getting harder and harder not to be these days. I turn on the radio and listen for a few minutes and either get ill or have to turn it off. Every time I hear something to do with our president-elect (sorry but I will not give power to him by mentioning his name), and feelings of such sorrow come over me.

Today I heard a story on NPR where a Gay man was interviewed in Orlando. He is a prominent figure in that town and the reporter was recapping the Orlando massacre, how the city has handled it, how this man feels now in Orlando as a Gay man and as one in general.

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While he felt there has been an outpouring of support in the city, he said his biggest fear is in the future or this country’s attitude because of the election. Since the vote, he has experienced even more hate crimes and said there is more fear in the Gay community. My heart just sank. It doesn’t surprise me though….

The radio is just heavy with the news of death everywhere in the world: major world powers teetering on the edge of hate ready to explode, while others are in the thick of raging wars already. Innocent people trapped between warring extremes desperate to escape somewhere, anywhere safe.

And now so many places, including potentially our country, shutting our doors to these people. It sickens me. Our fellow humans! What is the difference from them and the Jews in Germany? Nothing! Since when have we become so narrow? Why is there so much hate in people’s hearts now? Hate against anyone different… But the sad irony is: we are all the same!!!

Cut us open: we all bleed, break down our cells, we all share the same DNA; hurt us, we all cry; we all have the same bodies, bones, skin, brain. It is crazy to me that some people look at cultural differences, or skin colors, gender orientations and to kill over these things? I mean, seriously: think about this….

When will we all just think about ourselves as HUMANS?

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All the chatter about Christmas…does anyone remember the first five letters in that word? What would He say about this behavior? Hey, I’m not even Christian, and I know!

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Maybe I will be wrong about this all and He-he-who-will-remain-nameless will get his act together and not start another world war. Maybe he will realize you can’t keep opening up your yap all the time and say the first thing that comes out of it just because you feel like it. Maybe congress will actually do something smart for once and realize what a blessed mess we’re in and hopefully not undo so many of the decent things that are in place just to show they can.

Any maybe Santa is real too…

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Back Of The Queue


Having been in healthcare in the US for 20 years, I know what a poor system it is and how one must really know how to navigate within it or get lost. Plus one must be an advocate for ones-self or have an advocate, or simply get lost.

Luckily my Mom has me! The elderly in this country are forgotten about in more ways than one, and within the healthcare system is one BIG way. As a friend said: they get pushed to the back of the queue. No-one cares…not really. Many can’t speak up for themselves, have poor insurance (and we all know it comes down to money) and don’t really know what’s going on anyway.

But not only am I a healthcare provider, but I have a big mouth. A bad combination if someone isn’t doing their job. Hey, I’m the best patient  or advocate in the world, if the people are treating patients like they are supposed to do. That’s because I know what it’s all about: how hard the patients can be, the thankless hours, the endless paperwork, the nasty co-workers and crappy management/jobs. I get it all. So I tend to be very nice until you cross the line of not caring or not doing what you are trained to do.

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So when someone gets sent home and everything is still wrong, the person is still way too sick–we have a problem Houston! When the home-care RN comes and finds actual data to back this up and tries to call the Doctors and no-one returns phone calls…. well, you can darn well believe this ex-healthcare provider AND daughter is going to be making some phone calls herself.

And they ain’t gonna be pretty!

Come on people! Are you serious here? Is it really only about the money or what? Does anyone care anymore??

So after a rather FIRM, shall we say, discussion with the doctor’s secretary…she said in a very meek tone: hold on please. Oh, yes, I’ll hold on alright. And then I was put through…imagine that!

I finally got a PA on the phone. And finally some resolve. No, Mom won’t go back to the hospital…ever again as a matter of fact thank you very much thanks to all you people! No, that wasn’t an option. And I don’t blame her one little bit. But after much convincing, she did agree to go tomorrow (instead of waiting until Tuesday) to see her Doctor that did the procedure. Thank goodness… It took some doing because she’s fed up with everything, but I was firm with her too. There is just too much going on and she deserves more. I won’t let them turn their backs on this patient.

She was the boss for a long time, but I am now.

You can bet I’m going into that room tomorrow too. And this time, I’m calling the shots!

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Who Am I?


This is the unending question of an adoptee. We go through life trying to figure out where we belong, who we look like, how do we fit in and who we are… It does not matter if we come from loving homes (as I did) or if we ended up in less than perfect ones. Most of us have this hole that just can’t be filled by the families that picked us.

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It’s no-one’s fault. It’s just this genetic thing I feel that most of us yearn for deep down, adopted or no–to want to know who ‘our people’ are and what ancestral pool we crawled out of that made that person staring back us look the way we do.

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Well, because of that longing that I’ve had just about as long as I can recall, I took the plunge, and sent in some saliva to a company a couple of months ago and got some DNA testing done. It’s a simple, but accurate test from what they say. I’ve had friends do it and while it cost a little, for me, it was worth every penny.

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I’ve waited patiently for the results to come back and while some of them corroborated what my adopted Mom said to some degree, some of them surprised me. Here is what I found out:

Europe: 79%

  • Italy/Greece: 61%
  • European Jewish: 8%
  • Iberian Peninsula: 7%
  • Trace Regions: (Europe East 3% and Great Britain <1%)

West Asia: 21%

  • Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey) 14% Note: also places like Bulgaria, Jordan, Greece, Italy, Kuwait, Palestine, Romania, Turkmenistan
  • Trace regions: 7% Middle East ( Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Yemen, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lebanon, Israel, Pakistan and Iran)

My adopted Mom had told me about my Italian heritage long ago and more recently that there might have been some Jewish background (although I still think of this more as a religion personally), so now it is all confirmed! It is very exciting to have some concrete information. She thought it was very interesting too.

But all the other cultural information was amazing. It kind of puts so many deep seeded things about me together now. Because as I’ve gotten older, and actually raised an adopted child, I have begun to believe that nature has much to do with how we turn out vs. nurture. We can’t get away from our genes, no matter how much we may think so. What is tied to our DNA is real, ALL of us. That is why we as a species have survived and do what we do all the time.

So then too, it is why we as individuals act a certain way, crave things, miss things, need things, want for things, feel certain ways, act a certain way, are shy or bold, crave a big family or like small family gatherings. I have always wanted to be a part of a huge family and now I wonder if it is my Italian/Greek/Mediterranean background??

It also seems to hurt me on some soul level when refugees from these areas are suffering; it’s like I’m suffering–maybe I am on some genetic level.This is the beauty of humanity and the binding of our molecules and atoms. We are all one when it comes right down to it.

Maybe this is the start of a journey to a distant place, a land and history that belong to me. A part of me that has not really forgotten. Because within my DNA my ancestors are carried: the memories of their lives, their footsteps, their journeys across land and oceans. Journeys that eventually brought two people here in the US together,  combining their DNA creating me.

And now I carry DNA and I gave it to my daughters who carry it on filled with all the ancestors from the ages. May we do them all honor.

 

 

 

Black Lives Matter


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Today I participated in a ‘town meeting’ at the UU Church where I’ve been attending Sunday services. For those of you who do not know about Unitarian Universalist Churches, well, let’s just say many of them are very, very open, liberal, accepting of anyone from any religion, race, ethnic, political background or sexual orientation. They also tend to be socially active, and by this I mean “civilly active”–they give back to the community in a positive way. At least from what I’ve experienced.

So I came in late to the discussion about whether to hang a “Black Lives Matter” banner on the Church grounds so passing cars could visibly see it, but on the property so the city wouldn’t give us grief about it.

The decision must be a consensus of the congregation before it can go up–and as you can guess, there has been heated discussion.

From what I saw today, the main conflicting arguments seem to be between fear (don’t put it up) and standing up for equality and social justice (do put it up). All participants today came to this safe space to voice their deep and real feelings on these very current issues.

Fear, of course is one we can all relate to given the daily bombardment of news media relating story after story of innocent lives being taken by terrorists. Or even just hearing about people disagreeing with someone’s point of view and having them march into a place of worship and gunning down the parishioners. Fear is real and I definitely could identify with one woman’s heart thumping angst about hanging this sign, then picturing the aftermath. What if, what if….??

But what about all the Black lives? I had been personally very ignorant about the movement and said so, only knowing about its early beginnings. What I had heard in the beginning had turned me off because it had seemed too violent and militant for my taste. I have always been more of the same mind as Martin Luther King Jr. honestly–you don’t fight violence with violence….

I was told, though, I should go to the website and read it–that I might change my mind. So I did go, and now feel very differently about the movement. It was never that I doubted that Black lives matter, but I needed to be educated on what they were trying to propose and their credo. It made sense to me upon reading it.

So the real question is: how much is each person willing to risk for a personal belief? I stood outside with another woman who was also in favor (like me) of hanging the sign and we both felt that if the worse happened and we were killed for this, then we died for the right reason. Better than of cancer.

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She still couldn’t understand why others didn’t feel the same way. Having always played the diplomat, the ‘bridge’, the peacemaker–I tried to explain that people have a right to their fear and their opinion too–especially as UU’s!  Our ages took us through dark times with race inequality and in our own personal lives we had faced prejudice. So this shaped our decisions. But we all have our own story that creates our fears, our choices and our banners to wave.

So, we must continue to talk.

And this was the best part of the whole idea of hanging the banner in the first place: the dialog, the way it made us look deep within ourselves and how it makes us bind as a community. The ideas that surfaced and the commitments that came out of this meeting were so valuable too.

We must remember that even if the congregation votes no, it was not for nothing.

Buyer Beware: H & R Block = Heist & Ripoff Year-Round


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So I have to take a minute to rant here a bit about H & R block. The past few years I’ve done my own taxes. They are not terribly complicated and I get can around a computer pretty well, so it hasn’t been too bad. But this year, with Anthem’s breech and the Turbo-tax hack, I decided I better go to a professional (especially since I have Anthem). It just made me nervous. Plus someone at worked had their identity stolen and found out when they filed.

I had to H & R block many years ago and for the price one paid, it was well worth it. And friends told me I could expect about $80-120 now. So off I went with my papers in hand. I don’t have much: I never felt it was particularly complicated. I mean, I did it after all and I’m no accountant!

The woman on the phone had told me for no extra charge they would check my past filings to see if they were wrong too! Splendid. They even moved up my appointment since I got there early. And everyone was very accommodating and very friendly.

We got started and it all seemed pretty simple: just plugging numbers into an easy computer program with indexes on the side of the screen. I mentioned to the woman helping me about mine being easy, when she said: Oh gee…not really, you have a lot of ‘forms’. Hmmm, I thought. I guess I didn’t really get that given all I see is a computer screen flashing by and her just inputting numbers.

When I mentioned about how much I thought it might cost (see above), she looked at me stunned and said: why NO, it’s probably going to cost you more like $500! Maybe more! Well, I nearly fell out of my chair. Really? She told me one pays by the ‘form’ and I had a lot of ‘forms’.

You have got to be kidding me?! She did inform me that I could leave at any time, but of course, she had pointed out that I had made a couple of errors on my previous filing and wondered why they didn’t come after me. I was really in a state at that point.

We kept going and by the end it was like $600! I was numb. I really wasn’t sure what to do. Luckily I was getting a return back, but not much more than I had gotten back when I did it myself! But I felt so defeated that I simply decided to let them do it because I wasn’t sure if I would know how to do it correctly at that point.

When I got home, I tried to find an email address to complain (which I couldn’t find on their website) and noticed you can use a free service of theirs to file! Seriously?! So why then does it cost so much to go to one of their sites? It took her about an hour and that was with us chatting! If she had just done it, maybe 30 minutes or less. What could possibly cost $600? The paper? The rent? The salaries? The 2 pens they gave me? It’s simply highway robbery. And that extra service of them looking over the other returns…they will do it, but it would cost more to fix them!

Morale of the story: buyer beware–don’t ever go to H&R block. They are a complete rip off. I will never, ever use them again. The people were nice, but they just take people’s money for no reason. Computers do all the work now and the humans are there to input data. Certainly they need to know where to do it. But being unreasonable in their prices is completely ridiculous. It’s bad enough the government kills us on taxes…then a corporation has to stick it to us too!

Capitalism at it’s best!