Archive for Lucinda

The Killing Fields Of Home

It is a most difficult task to make sense of violence, particularly when it often seems unceasing.  There have been numerous horrific acts of murder recently, and in trying to write about them, it feels important to see these events not only as individual incidents but to also make the connections between them, both in why they happen and how we process them.  The following is a poem I wrote in response to the bloody and heartbreaking first week in July, 2016.

The Killing Fields Of Home

 

On July 4th,

 

when I was trying to make sense

of the bombings in Medina and Baghdad

on the very same day that the not so United States of America

was ritually celebrating what we call independence,

with colorful bombs bursting in air,

 

it seemed really important to remember that

the children who saw real bombs were shouting not with glee

but with fear before bleeding to death,

so I wrote haikus about that,

little poems like the children who died–

 

one for Medina,

 

Bombs bursting in air,

bodies explode, people die–

no celebration

 

and one for Baghdad,

 

Car bomb in Baghdad,

the twenty five kids who died

did not like fireworks

 

and I thought I had done my duty as a poet,

but then I read that dozens of people were shot

in Chicago over the holiday weekend

for who knows what reasons and they were bleeding too

and we haven’t even caught our breath since Orlando

and it occurred to me that maybe I needed to write a longer poem,

 

then Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

were gunned down by the police

because the color of their skin was a crime

and Melissa Harris-Perry wrote about how that feels

as a suicide note that I can’t stop reading

 

on the heels of the Chilcot Inquiry that minces no words

blaming Tony Blair for lying to his country about the Iraq war

while in this country we turn endless battle into

an anthem and Bush and Cheney just smirk

 

as a veteran of war,  taught to kill in defense of our country,

shoots at the police in Dallas and more blood is spilt

and they send in a robot to take him out

which prompts Donald Trump to want a photo op with the NYPD

and I’m wondering if a sonnet is adequate

 

when my morning paper tells me that there have been

ten gang killings in ten months in the county where I live

and they have a column too about the child

of a woman who was killed by her boyfriend

 

and someone says we should all remember that

sometimes the police help and he tells a story

about a police officer who helped a lady repair her mailbox

and that was mighty nice of her, and I mean that sincerely,

but I’m thinking that sounds like a bandaid story

when we need a tourniquet because

 

a GOP Congressman says there are a lot more steps to be taken

before they will vote on gun control legislation

and I’m wondering how many steps there could really be

from his office to the floor to take a vote and when are we going to

quit playing six degrees of separation and take action

 

and in the time I have been writing this,

more people have been killed,

and I cannot type fast enough to keep up,

or even pause long enough

to  pretty up this poem that cannot find its end.

 

–Lucinda Marshall, © 2016

 

Share

Workshop: Moving Beyond Writer’s Block With Breath, Meditation, and Movement

Writer’s block is often due to issues that have nothing to do with our writing.  At a half day workshop in June, Kim Thompson and I will introduce you to some ways to free space for your words to flow, using meditation, breathing and gentle movement techniques combined with writing exercises that help us move past what is blocking the flow of words.

Moving Beyond Writer’s Block with Breath, Meditation, and Movement at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD:  June 5, 2:00-5:00 pm.  Fee: $50.    Taught with movement teacher Kim Thompson.

Can’t think of the next line?  Sometimes it is more than our minds that are blocked.  This workshop will introduce meditation, breathing and gentle movement techniques that you can utilize to get un-stuck and free space for your best writing. We will look at techniques that address stress, mind clutter, posture, how energy (and ideas!) move through our bodies, ways to unscramble our thoughts, and more. Please bring paper and pen and wear comfortable (suitable for gentle movement) clothing.

Share

Creative Writing For Teens Workshop At The Gaithersburg Book Festival

I am so excited to have the opportunity to co-facilitate a Creative Writing For Teens workshop at The 2016 Gaithersburg (MD) Book Festival  on May 21 from 4:00-5:30 at the Writer’s Center Tent:

Using participatory writing prompts, teen writers will have an opportunity to experience and learn more about how workshopping techniques can assist them in their creative writing. They will have a chance to share their work and get feedback as time allows. They will receive information about MWA’s teen writing clubs which are offered without cost at libraries throughout the state as well as other resources to further their writing.

The workshop is free and open to all teens and a great chance to find out more about the ongoing Maryland Writers’ Association’s teen writing clubs and the experience of being a writer.

Share

“When It Comes To Peace…”

Deeply grateful for this quote from the Washington Nuclear Museum and Educational Center (although I’m not quite sure where they got the birthdate, but close enough :-).

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 2.31.47 PM

Share

Finding Strength In The Extraordinary Ordinary

For more than ten years now, I have devoted the overwhelming majority of my work as a writer and activist to shining a light on the many heinous guises of misogyny, especially on the impact violence has on women’s lives, and also on efforts to stop that violence and to empower women. Now and again I have also tackled other topics, including environmental issues such as global warming and climate change because as we confront environmental disaster after environmental disaster at a rapidly snowballing speed, the need to address these issues as an integral part of my work feels urgently compelling, yet words more often than not painfully fail me.

What precisely can one say about ocean acidification, leaking methane from the thawing Arctic, seas that are rising faster than expected, the loss of ice in Greenland and Antarctica, (and those are just stories that have crossed my digital desk in the last week alone)?  And how precisely can one say what should be said about these overwhelming climactic disasters in a way that accurately portrays the proper measures of terror, and the tears that should be streaming down our faces as we see the result of our misguided dominion while offering  hope or perhaps vision?  On most days, I neither know or begin to feel adequate to that task.

Not being one to suffer writer’s block or despairing inertia quietly, I have floundered about trying to find inspiration and strength, a grounded path towards coherent expression.  I have buried myself in the words of Terry Tempest Williams and tackled a lengthy biography of Rachel Carson. I cheer Sandra Steingraber’s call to action about fracking and Bill McKibben’s relentless tar sands pushback and the solar-powered Thanksgiving in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

And mostly I have walked away from the computer and staggered out into the natural world, needing to take in huge gulps of (I hesitate to say fresh) air.  I have sat beside the Atlantic Ocean and watched the tides roll in and out, seagulls standing watch at the water’s edge.  I’ve walked along the Potomac, visited pueblos and mountains and craters in the Arizona desert and high country. And some days, I simply walk the streets of my suburban neighborhood.

The community in which I live is perhaps the embodiment of a sub-urban design train wreck–houses crammed in every available space, open spaces in the wrong places, dysfunctional streets where people live isolated lives.  But even in this embodiment of Malvina Reynolds’ little boxes on the hillside “all made out of ticky tacky, and they all look just the same”, I have looked up at the trees, and found wonder and love and grounded strength in these branches of heart filling beauty.

And where words come sometimes only haltingly, I have taken to letting my camera portray the extraordinary that we all too often fail to see, let alone honor in the ordinary of our days.

The words will continue, we must talk about what has been, what is and what will be.  But we must also see the tree branches above, and feel the breezes from the sea, the hot desert sun and the path below our feet.

Share

Map Of Occupied DC For The Benefit Of The Media

If you’re just tuning in, there are two occupation movements happening in Washington, DC.  Occupy DC, which has been going on for over a week, is based at McPherson Square and Stop The Machine/October2011, which has been going on since last Thursday is based at Freedom Plaza.  But for love or money, as I pointed out yesterday and earlier today, the media still can’t figure out which is which.  Once again tonight, both the Washington Post and ABC7News were tangling it up in their Twitter feeds.  So in the interest of clarity, I am providing this handy dandy map:

Map of Occupied DC

 

Got it?  And while we’re pointing to Lamestream Media Fail, Yahoo posted a headline today referring to the pepper-spraying of protesters as a riot.  Really?  Sorry, no didn’t happen.  Minor altercation and right wing agitator yes, pepper spraying cops causing museum to be shut down yes.  Riot, no, despite the efforts of the agitator and that kind of ‘journalism’ is part of the problem.

Here are some screenshots of Mainstream Media #TwitterFail:

Looks like ABC finally figured it out.


 

Share

The Media’s Failed Look At What Is Happening On The Streets And A Personal Reflection

Occupation for Dummies

There has been no shortage of media confusion in DC this week regarding the OccupyDC and October2011 Stop The Machine actions. I got into a conversation yesterday with a reporter from a local television station who was interviewing people at OccupyDC, she seemed to genuinely want to understand the difference. I pointed out that it seemed like very few members of the Mainstream Media had bothered to check the websites for the two groups which would clarify quite a lot.

Isn’t this sort of like the opposite of the Tea Party, she wondered. I pointed out that these movements represented people who were out of work, had lost their homes, had no health insurance, and wanted an end to  militarism without end and the number of people impacted by those issues is a lot larger than the number of people who identify with the Tea Party.

But the most idiotic media confusion in DC this week has been who was where. It wasn’t so complicated–OccupyDC at McPherson Square, Stop The Machine at Freedom Plaza. Yet in Sunday morning’s Washington Post, with OccupyDC at McPherson for over a week and Stop The Machine in place since Thursday, the caption writer for this photo still got it wrong.

The WaPo caption erroneously reads, "A crowd gathers Thursday at Freedom Plaza for the first day of the OccupyDC rally..."

And the headline–hello? It isn’t the same as the one used online, but, “The common man”? Really? Which century is this? They also apparently didn’t look at the photo which rather clearly shows the common woman.

With this kind of media, no wonder many people are confused about what is happening in the streets.

The best way to understand the movement that is taking root everywhere is to go find out for yourself.  Yes, there is an Occupy near you.

Several people have said to me, oh it is just a bunch of kids.  No, it is not.  And it’s not just a bunch of hippie peaceniks either.  It ranges from toddlers who are there with their parents (there was a little area with toys and crayons at OccupyDC yesterday) to elders with plenty of folks in between.  I talked for a bit with a young man in an army uniform. It was very courageous for him to be there. He had been to Iraq once and was due to ship out again soon, but he said he wasn’t planning to re-deploy, what he had experienced on his first tour had made him realize that militarism was deeply flawed.  He looked sad and wise beyond his years.

And do not underestimate the numbers, it isn’t just a hundred here and a thousand there, it is far, far larger than that.

A crowd shot at Occupy Wall Street--that is A LOT of people

This isn’t about one issue, it is about the American people connecting all the issues and finally saying enough.  There are those who have criticized what is going on for not having a clear statement of purpose or intent.  What they miss is that people everywhere have decided to take back the commons, and that is intention enough.

There is more to say, much more, the time I have spent on the street this last week has been transformative.  I have re-connected with old friends, made new ones and for the first time in a long time felt genuine hope.  Don’t be afraid, come out and join us.

Addenda:  The amount of inaccurate reporting involving Occupy DC and Stop the Machine is becoming epic.  Today the Washington Post reports that OccupyDC may stay in Freedom Plaza past the time time they have a permit.  Sorry, wrong group.  Yahoo News is now calling the pepper-spraying of protesters at the Air and Space Museum on Saturday a riot and ABCNews7 tweeted this morning that at least one person planned to stay past the permit time in Freedom Plaza although the article they linked to actually says a number of people plan to stay.  And that is just today.  The amount of media stupid when it comes to reporting what has transpired over the last week plus in DC is to the point where it is hard to see it as anything but deliberate.

 

Share

Speaking About Health Insurance Sunday Sept. 18

This Sunday evening, September 18, I’ll be interviewed on A World Of Progress Radio in a segment devoted to health care issues. I’ll be talking about my experience trying to transfer an individual health insurance policy from one state to another and how the problems faced by individual policy holders with pre-existing conditions are not currently being addressed adequately by health care reform. This issue hits women particularly hard since they are less likely to be covered by an employer’s policy.

Other guests on the show include health insurance industry whistleblower Wendell Potter, Vanessa Beck of Healthcare Now and Mad As Hell Doctors.

The show will air at 7pm EDT. I’ll be interviewed beginning at 7:45.

To read more about my experience regarding this issue, please see my blog Pre-Existing Pundit.

Share

My New Health Insurance Blog

I’ve made several posts on Reclaiming Medusa regarding my experience of trying to move my health insurance from Kentucky to Maryland.  In order to make it easier to follow those posts, I started a new blog devoted to that issue only so that those posts don’t get lost between other subject matter on this blog.  The original posts on this blog have been cross-posted there and new posts have been added as well. The new blog is called Pre-Existing Pundit.  Please spread the word!

Share

Health Insurance–A Tale Of Two States (And A District)

Several days ago, I wrote about the ordeal I have been going through trying to move my health insurance from Kentucky to Maryland.  Because I had a health insurance policy with Anthem Blue Cross in Kentucky, the local Blue Cross was obligated to offer me what is called a guarantee issue conversion policy that does not require underwriting (a good thing since I have several pre-existing conditions that would otherwise make it difficult for me to obtain health insurance).

As I reported earlier, the Maryland conversion policy was almost no insurance at all so one of the options I wanted to explore was what kind of policy CareFirst (the Blue Cross company that serves the Washington, DC metro area, including the Virginia and Maryland suburbs) would offer me if I lived in the District instead of in Maryland. I asked CareFirst to send me the information and when it arrived it was a stunner.  We are talking about maybe a 15 mile difference in location and the same company.  But the policies were radically different, which CareFirst attributes to insurance laws which vary by location.

If you live in Maryland, there is a $250 deductible and  for most things, you pay 25%, the plan pays 75% up to a very unrealistic lifetime maximum of $250,000 (most plans have a $1,000,000 maximum or no limit).  There is no cap on out-of-pocket expenses.  Premium for a 55 year old woman? $443.22, less than my Kentucky policy but for a lot less coverage and substantial risk.

But hop on the Metro and move into the District and wowswers–the guaranteed conversion plan there has a $750 deductible, pays 80% instead of 75% and there is a $3500 cap on out of pocket expenses for an individual.  There was nothing that I saw about a lifetime maximum.  Sounds good so far, but there is a catch and it is a big one–the premium.  Are you sitting down? $1448.  Per month.  Aside from CEO’s of health insurance companies, not too many people can afford that.

For comparison’s sake, it is worth comparing these plans to the Federal Pre-existing Condition Pool, which incomprehensibly also varies from state to state.  In Maryland, the premium is as high as $354/month with a $1500 deductible and an out of pocket limit of $1500.

In the District of Columbia, the Federal Pre-existing Condition Pool is a bit more complicated with premiums as high as $436 and,

In addition to your monthly premium, you will pay other costs. In 2011, you will pay a $1,000 to $3,000 deductible, which varies by your plan option, for covered medical benefits (except for preventive services) before the plan starts to pay. A plan option may have a separate drug deductible. After you pay the deductible, you will pay a $25 copayment for doctor visits, $4 to $40 for most prescription drugs, and 20% of the costs of any other covered benefits you get. Your out-of-pocket costs cannot be more than $5,950 per year. These costs may be higher, if you go outside the plan’s network.

The kicker with the federal plans however is that in order to qualify,

  • You must be a citizen or national of the United States or lawfully present in the United States.
  • You must have been uninsured for at least the last six months before you apply.
  • You must have a pre-existing condition or have been denied coverage because of your health condition.

The first and third points seem reasonable, but requiring that you be without insurance for six months is absurd and causes unnecessary financial hardship and risk to public health.  When you have met the other two conditions, you should be immediately eligible.  There is no other country on earth that would require you to go without health insurance before you could qualify for it and that we, the richest country in the world should do so is beyond belief.

Fortunately for me, there is also a Maryland State pool where six months of state residency is required, but there is no requirement that you be uninsured before qualifying.

I am still trying to determine the best option for myself and will write more about that later. But as I was sorting through the possible scenarios, I wanted to point to the total absurdity that insurance plans should vary so drastically in one metropolitan area.  It is well past time for a federal single payer plan that makes health care expenses equitable, regardless of where you live or work or how healthy you are.

And finally, while Blue Cross guarantees you coverage if you move, that does not mean it will be adequate or affordable or even remotely like the coverage you had before you moved.  The result is that for people like me with pre-existing conditions, Blue Cross is effectively making it so you may have to go without coverage for 6 months because you can’t afford $1448 premiums (or if you live in a state like Maryland, have very minimal and inadequate insurance until you have lived here for six months)and then force you into one of the high risk pools.  Just because you moved.  But somehow I don’t think insurance CEO’s or the elected officials they’ve financed are losing sleep about this.

*********

Addenda:  Health insurance for all of us is under siege, whether you have an individual policy, obtain coverage through your company or have Medicare or are uninsured, etc.  Here is an important piece about what is happening to workers at Kaiser Permanente, which ironically is a health insurance provider.  The author compares what is happening there with what is happening at Verizon. She makes the point that we need to stand together, a point that should be true regardless of how you get coverage.  A lot less attention has been paid to those of us in the individual market than those who get coverage via employment or Medicare.  We need solidarity regardless of how we obtain health care coverage.

And addenda last–this story has gotten so absurd that I made it a whole new blog of its very own.  You can follow the continuing saga at Pre-Existing Pundit.

 

Share