Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Just sayin'

So I had to get my car registration renewed last week and, as it turns out, my driver's license as well.   I was not real sure, but I was thinking I was due for a new picture as the old one was over 8 years old.  So, I get myself as groomed as I get, which is not easy these days.  My hair needs a cut badly and as I approach menopause, I am breaking out almost as badly as I did when I was in puberty!  If you are a middle aged woman, you know how unfair this is. Nuff said.

Ok, so off I go to get my errands done.  "Bye honey!  Be back for lunch!"  I get there to the DMV building... the old highschool, and get my registration taken care of first.  Done in record time.  Perhaps 3 seconds or less.  Jefferson county really is fabulous that way.  No appointment or anything.  Just walk right in, and bada bing! You're done.

So then it comes time to hand over my old driver's license, which is the custom in my state, they shred it or whatever, then take your picture and give you a new one... Not no mo.  The nice lady behind the glass grinned and asked me if I brought my papers.

"Papeeeers?"  My voice trailing up in comic form.

"Don't you watch the news honey?"

"Ah, no, not too much.  I try not to watch tv".

"Well, it's been alll over the TV!"  As of Jan. 1, 2010, one needs to bring in 4 pieces of ID/proof of address/residency.  Yep, because of all the terrorism (especially here in Jefferson County) we now have to present 2 forms of ID showing that you are who you are.  One can be an SS card and you MUST have your birth certificate (notarized document from Dept of vital statistics only please)  Yep, if you have an original hospital certificate, no bueno.  I was NOT happy. No, I was not even sure I had these documents in my possession anymore.   (The full list of requirements will appear at the end of this post so that you may be both informed and horrified as well).

They don't care if you're an 8 year, card carrying member of Amnesty International, Campaign to save Tibet, The Wilderness Foundation and the Native American Relief Council... Nope..   "Ah, well, I have all of these cards with my name on them, and well, here's my New Leaf membership card (The local health food coop), and look, my Library card, will those do?  I really am harmless, please, don't make me go back, please...."   Well, you can guess how far that got me.  At least she was kind enough to laugh at my flailing attempt at humor. 

So, off I go, on the long ride home... (we live about 15-20 minutes from anywhere)  A small bubble appears above my head and I fantasize that maybe I can call the hub and get him to run the stuff out to me... yea, that's it!  Who am I kidding?  I'm not even sure I'll be able to find this stuff myself, or if I even have it... how the hell will he ever find it?  Nope, a trip home is in my future.  My hair is now more than a tad mussed and the make up is probably cakey at best.  Oh well, who cares?  Who?  I'm middle aged, married and a mom... AND, it's my DRIVER'S LICENSE!! Nobody ever looks at the damn thing except the UCI guards anyway!  (Well, and the troopers when my luck runs out)  But still, even more reason NOT to care!  What IS on my mind though, is that I really may have to drive illegally for God knows how long till I can get copies (new originals) of all these ridiculous grown-up documents and pay God knows how much for them....  (Terrorists- 1, regular schleps- 0)

Ok, so I get home and begin tearing apart filing cabinets, old purses and wallets for any shred of anything that looked official.  To make matters worse, nobody that I know of gets mail at their physical address out here.  We ALL have PO FUCKING boxes!  So NOW, SO NOW I have to look for the GD deed to the house!  It's the only piece of "official" paper with our names and physical addresses on it.  This is so not my idea of a good time.  But I was sort of proud of myself.  I didn't really loose my temper and I just kept mantra-ing "This has no power over me, this has no power over me.."   I found my social security card first, and in the most peculiar place and really by accident.

"And, oh look, old love letters from one of my dear exes who had just recently passed on".  (The only real love letters I ever received)  That turns into a 15 minute distraction...  This day is shaping up to be really strange.  Then I found a few other documents in much the same manner as the SS card.  I also found lots of my dad's old writing and a picture of my brother with Billy Crystal.  (My brother interviewed lots of famous people... I swiped it.)  I found lots of other precious treasures which I had forgotten about too, and that was really cool.  I was astonished though, at the obscure places that I ended up finding the things I was looking for, purely by fluke or body memory of some damn thing.  It did take the better part of 3 hours. *That is a LOT of mantra-ing by the way.  (And did I mention that while all this is going on, my child is screeching and getting in to the middle of things, as was the cat...)  "This has no power over me..."

So miraculously, after about 3 or 4 hours I did find enough papers to get myself a bona fide FL drivers license.. woo hoo!  Now, can I make it back before they close? hmmm... at this point, I have to try, just because I HAD to follow this damn errand through to the end...  I mean, right?  Ok.  So I race back, not exceeding the speed limit though, and thankfully they did not close at 4!!!  (It is my lucky day.)  I proudly present all my grown-up papers, and thinking I'm in the home stretch when the nice lady behind the glass points to her screen "Says here you have to take a vision test and a road sign test".  Seriously?  After everything I've been through today, this is how I get rewarded??  UGH!  So, as I'm looking over the road signs booklet before my test, in walks a neighbor. He is a very gentle old soul, and the only person I ever met in Lloyd that has a NY accent.

"Hey Bill!" 
"Oh hi there young lady!"   He calls me young lady! titter titter!
"What are you doing here?"
"Giving blood" he jokes, walking over to the tax collector's window.
"Ha!  Me too!"
Then when he's done, he walks over and tries to carry on a conversation with me, but we really don't have a lot to say.  "Did you have a good holiday?" I ask.  "No.  Terrible." (ut oh.)  Then he proceeds to tell me just HOW terrible.  ugh.  Poor baby, it really was terrible.  His wife fell and broker her ankle, then she had some kind of kidney infection that they thought was cancer, and I think the roof caved in or something, and it goes on from there... sigh.  I'm sitting there stupefied, wondering if I will EVER get my damn DR license, the sign book there on my lap.  I'm really empathizing with Bill's hellish nightmare, while worrying that I will fail something as stupid as a road sign test, and just feeling completely glazed over. What with the turn of events in my day and all the eye strain from searching... it would be a miracle if I passed the eye exam at this point!

Finally, Bill finishes up.  I tell him to call on me anytime for anything.  He thanks me and off he goes.  I take the eye test.  Perfect!  Then it's time for the road signs.  The nice lady has me log on to a new machine.  This seems odd to me because the only other machine there was already up and running with the welcome screen on.. Oh well, just another quirk in my day, this how I roll now.  I don't even ask, I just do what she tells me to.   All is going well till I get to the sign that says "NO TURN ON RED"  and I begin to crack up laughing.  The nice lady asks me what's wrong.  I begin to poke fun of the question.  What could that possibly mean? (ut oh) She smiles.  "Watch" I say, "I'll probably get it wrong now that I've laughed at it!" hahahaha!  "Well now, they do try to trick ya".  Then I look at the answers... NONE of them made sense.  I wasn't laughing quite so loudly now.  THEY DO TRY TO TRICK YOU! (When they're not busy insulting your intelligence that is.)  Anyway, it was between two answers (there were 4 options, I think)  One was "No right turn"  the other was "No right or left turn while the light is red"   I knew I was screwed now because I thought about it too much.  I went with " no right turn" because why the hell would anyone make a left turn on red?? Well unless it was on a one way from a one way, which is legal in FL, but still the sign said NOTHING about left turns.... I got it wrong! (Of course, I laughed in the face of the traffic Gods)  The nice lady and I had another laugh when it was all done, because it was the ONLY one I got wrong... She repeated, "Yea, they'll try to trick ya now!"

Indeed.  Terrorists wouldn't stand a chance against this kind of scrutiny.  I feel safer already. 

As promised... here are the new requirements for obtaining a FDL:

  • United States Citizen proof of identity.
  • Non-United States Citizen proof of identity.
  • Proof of Social Security number, if issued Chapter 322, Florida Statutes, requires the Department to collect social security numbers for the issuance of driver license and identification cards.
  • Proof of residential address (ahem... 2 of these are required now)
  • Proof of completion of a Traffic Law & Substance Abuse Education Course or license from another state, country, or jurisdiction.
 I. Primary Identification - One of the following (5) documents:
  1. Certified United States birth certificate, including territories and District of Columbia (the birth certificate must be issued by a government agency. Hospital birth certificates cannot be accepted); or
  2. Valid unexpired United States passport; or Passport Card
  3. Consular Report of Birth Abroad
  4. Certificate of Naturalization , Form N-550 or Form N-570
  5. Certificate of Citizenship, Form N-560 or Form N-561
        Important Please Note :
  • Proof of citizenship or legal presence may be required for renewal or replacement licenses. Please come prepared to present one of the above identification documents as proof of citizenship or legal presence.
  • When necessary, marriage certificates, court orders, or divorce decrees must be provided to tie the name on the primary identification to the name the customer would like to place on the driver license or identification card.
  • For the first visit in an issuance office after January 1, 2010, individuals will need to present proof of identity, social security number and two proof of residential address. This applies for all transactions, (renewal, card replacement, change of address or name).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My kid Cowboys up

Hey ya'll,

It's been a while.   There is much I have mused about writing and wanted to write about in the last months, and have only managed to re-post someone else's post (Starhawk) because I just can't think straight!

This week has been incredibly insane.  The last three days in particular.  Our son and mostly angel-boy, Harley became violently ill Weds night and I for one was not convinced that he wasn't dying... (Ms Moon affectionately reminds me that when it comes to Harley, I tend to resemble a certain childhood chicken we all know and love, Ms Henny Penny.  And hell, she's the chicken lady, so she would know.)

Harley had been complaining of belly aches off and on for the better part of a week to 10 days or so.  It was not slowing him up AT all, and he would just vaguely mention it.  Having a mostly vegetarian diet, I chalked it up to gas and too many holiday treats... but after about a week or so, we brought him in to our brand spankin NEW PEDIATRICIAN's office, which I ADORE! He was looked over by a nurse and had all the signs of a healthy kid:  no weight loss, nice soft belly, no hernias, no temp...  We were told to monitor his diet and note if the aching belly spikes at particular times of day.  Off we went.

THAT night he came into our room complaining that his head hurt.  Then a few minutes later, in fact everything hurt.  Then he commenced puking, Exorcist style...  I think his head was even spinning a little.  I can't recall because I was trying to find a suitable receptacle.  We finally make it to the bathroom, and more puking.  After which, we tried laying down in Harley's room while hub threw our bedding in the wash. (Have I mentioned our appliances are outdoors on the porch in the freezing fucking cold?  They are.)  So not too long after settling in Harley's bed, he pukes again.  Before I can reach the puke pan, it's all over the covers.  (Thank God Allah Buddha and Ronald McDonald that I set an old blanket on top of the comforter in Harley's room... If that would have been covered in bile, I'd have just thrown it away rather than try to clean it!)  Finally we settle on the couch (the only remaining puke-free zone), for some videos, puke pan within reach, because it' s quite obvious nobody is going to sleep.  I can't remember how many times he puked.  I tried to give him small sips of water, which only ignited more puking.  Then it got really violent.  Face reddening, trembling, screaming and doubled over in pain violent.  This is not only heart wrenching but scary as a heart attack.  This kid never screeches unless it's for joy, so I knew something was terribly wrong.  There was even a few times where his movements were convulsive.  Not sure what it was... it was not a full blown seizure or convulsion, but it was like that... sort of autistic in the movement.  This was the last straw.  Time to wake up the hub.

We get bundled up, with puke pan in hand and are heading out the door.  For some reason, the hub always wants to take his car which is to say, the wreck of the Hespress.  My car is an old Jeep. We joke that many holy butts have traveled around in it, as it used to belong to the man who started a local Buddhist temple... The hub has a "nicer" car, yes, but it is NOT holy.  It is very very unholy as in MESS.  Now in his defense, he does work/live out of his car a lot, but still... He NEVER cleans it and there is just shit every fucking where!  While he is trying to move stuff about in a manner that is certainly not going to work because of where the car seat is and where he is parked (I'll spare you) Harley is doubling over in pain puking his guts out AGAIN.  I can barely hold him because his knees are buckling.  (Did I mention it's cold as a polar bears' nose?)  Now I'm scared and PISSED.  I demand that we take my car and that Harley will ride in front with me. (Hub is a stickler for safety).  However, I am NOT going to let my baby be strapped in while he is doubling over and puking his brains out.  Nope.  We are doing this the old fashioned way.  We'll belt in with him on my lap and the cross strap behind him.  I'd like to also point out that my Jeep is so old there is no passenger air bag, so no threat there.  Off we go.

We get to the ER and they take us almost immediately.  YAY!  Everything seems to be going well.  We love our assigned doctor and he is thinking along the same lines we are.  He is very concerned over Harley's dehydration and wants to give him IV nourishment along with an anti-nausea medicine.  Thinking these people are experts, it all sounds good.  Till the fucking Phlebotomist team arrives.  (They should be called the FLUB-otomists!)  I'm not going to go into detail here, because really you don't need it, and I don't need to relive it.  Suffice to say, they came barreling in (seriously) like the fucking inquisition, expecting a fight from my frightened dehydrated 4 year old.  There were 3 OF THEM!!!  The in charge one being the grumpiest redneck bitch you ever saw.  She announced that there were a team, because you know kids will kill ya!  (WHAT?!)  Give me a fucking break already, is this amateur hour at the ER or what?  Has this woman watched too many medical dramas?  Is she a Grey's Anatomy wannabe?  Has she not gotten her dose of adrenalin for the evening?  What?  So, she makes a huge mess of things, yes, blood spurting, child screaming "Why are they putting a hole in my aaaaaaarm!"  Which all could have been easily avoided, had they just A) Taken a more gentle approach and B) Slowed the fuck down so we could explain to Harley what to expect.  Sigh.

The good news is that once he settled and we complained to the Charge Nurse, etc... the IV nourishment and the meds did wonders.  He perked right up, and when we got home at around  8am, we all fell asleep for about 4 hours or so with no incident.  Then Harley and hub wake up and all seems to be well for the first 5 or so minutes.  Then, Daddy, I pooped my pants...!  So, now the poor guy has diarrhea.   We went through 3 sets of clothes and decided it was time for him to see his official doctor and see if we can figure this out.  We ride the whole way with a towel stuffed in the poor boy's pants in case there is any more leakage...  I even packed an overnight bag because I was  pretty sure we were going to end up in the hospital for the night.  (How long can a person puke and well, squirt before it becomes frighteningly harmful?)  In my packing efforts, I forgot the puke bucket.  So, of course first thing as soon as we're on the highway: "Mom, I need to pook"!  Oh geez.  Luckily I keep an old bag (that once contained an Indian pattern blanket made in china.  The questionable native non=profits keep on sending me these in hopes that it will influence me to donate.)  The bad was rather large, and worked very well.   I may have to write a check next week.

The doc took us right away, and Harley had lost a pound and a quarter in 2 days time.  Not anything to be alarmed about, but it was concerning to me none the less.  (Being Henny Penny and all...)  He puked about 5 times while we were in the docs office which did not phase any of the staff in the least.  (I love this place!  They simply kicked over a waste basket and handed me a box of tissue)  When it was over, a sweet little nurse appeared with a Pedialite pop!  These things are the BEST.  If you ever have a sick kid, you NEED these!  He was checked out by a nurse first, then she suggested doc look at him.  When the doc came in I loved him immediately.  So human, so real and unpretentious.  Harley was now lying exhausted on the examining table.  The doc introduces himself and says "He looks like he's ready for residency..."  Which I thought was empathetic and cute.  (You had to be there) He talked to us for a very long time and did a thorough exam of Harley. (Did I mention it is WAY past closing time?  Most of the staff is gone by now, but he is not so much as glancing at his watch or tapping a toe!)  UNHEARD OF!  He listens to our concerns and tells us his strategy is to just wait it out!  Again, UNHEARD OF!!!  We asked if we could get that anti-nausea medication he got in the ER.  No problem.  We were concerned he would not be able to keep anything down without it.  We left feeling relieved and hopeful.  Harley gave one last puke in the parking lot.

So now, here we are at Sat.  This kid has not complained once except to say:  "mommy?  Do you think my belly will ever feel good again?"  To which I answered "Yes love, it will... Remember how you thought you would never stop coughing?  But you did!  And your belly will stop hurting too".   We've been watching every video in the arsenal: Nemo, Wiggles, Backyardigans, Word World, Dinosaur Train, Winnie the Pooh, Kipper... etc... and still watching with intermittent napping and reading stories.  He is keeping things down, but still says that his tummy is hurting.  It goes from a little bad to very bad.  (There is also medium bad, but that is not as frequent).   So I am grateful that this darling child of mine is feeling good enough to keep down not only liquid, but some food also, and is returning to his giggly, charming and sometimes bossy nature.  (Something he does when he is frustrated)
I'll take that.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Changing the World with non violence.

I subscribe to Starhawk's blog.  She is in Gaza along with many other brave souls.  They are protesting the seige of Gaza in classic non-violent form.   I thought everyone should have a peek at her post.  The actions of these people is an undeniable light shining in a very dark place, and it gives me new hope for the future.

Happy New Year.
Keep us in your thoughts, my friends, and please visualize circles of protection especially for those who have taken leading roles in this work! update is below, Happy New Year!

We did it! Up until the moment we did, I didn’t quite believe we would, but we did!

Went to bed last night thinking, “Yeah, Starhawk, you’ve done this a hundred times, yawn, nerves of steel, sleep like a baby,” and of course I hardly slept at all, adrenaline racing, had to pee a hundred times. Got up this morning ahd rumors were flying around that the Egyptian security forces were blocking the hotels, so we got out quickly. Fortunately I had packed and organized my stuff the night before as that is the part of an action that is most stressful to me. Nothing makes me more crazy than needing to get out the door in a hurry and not being able to find some crucial piece of gear, and I nearly always can’t find some crucial piece of gear, due to that plague of Snatchers that follow me around, hiding my keys, lining their burrows with my socks and decorating them with my ATM cards.

Some of the Canadian delegation who are staying here were saying that police were outside—but that turned out not to be true. I was almost sorry, because Wendy had scouted alternative exits over the roofs of Cairo and what a story that would make! But I was happy enough just to get out and not be stuck inside all day. I can write novels another time.

Lisa had already left for a meeting at one of the hotels—turned out the security forces were blocking everyone into the Lotus, where the main Code Pink organizers were staying, but not the other hotels, including the one where the meeting was happening.

I decided to sit down below, however, and keep watch. Actually I didn’t see the need for going 9 flights up and probably having to walk back down all nine, and sitting in a smoky meeting where I wouldn’t be able to hear anything. There was a chair against the wall near the entrance so I sat down to wait. Actually, Cairo is a great place to people-watch and I had one of the most relaxing little bits of time I’d had here yet, watching the women in their various head=-carves and the men with liquid brown eyes that could have come off an old tomb painting. Eventually people from our march began to drift by, stopping to share news and rumors. One Policeman was watching the hotel, but I didn’t see any signs that groups of them were massing for a raid. But the rumors were flying—the action was on, it was off, the locations was changed, the time was changed..

Eventually Lisa and the women from the meeting came down. The plan was for shcok troops of women to be first out into the streets—for a couple of reasons. The first—the cops are less likely to brutalize women. Not entirely unlikely, but less. The second—to shift those old gender dynamics where the guys do the brave and dangerous things and the little women stay behind. The third—because these women are strong and smart and don’t run ego-dramas.

We began to filter around Tahrir Square. I was following Lisa who moves at a really fast pace. I am a slow walker but when I need to, I can keep up with her and she was in full-on battle mode and nothing was going to slow her down.

We all drifted into the area around the Museum where our plan called for us to gather unobtrusively and then flash-mob into the streets. I wasn’t sure this was going to work. Nobody was sure this was going to work—but it was the plan and at this point that was all we had. The police were out in force around the museum because we had organized this in classic nonviolent mode, openly and not secretly. That was a good thing, because communication has been so excruciatingly difficult when we are trying to simply tell each other something that adding security culture and secret codes on top of it would have made everything utterly incomprehensible to most of us, while the secret police would still have known what we were going to do. There they were…there we were. The clock was ticking—it was almost ten. An officer came towards Lisa, trying to move us further down the road. The traffic opened…and she took the space, running out into the traffic and unfurling a flag. We followed, and suddenly, from all over small groups of people were swarming and collecting and filling the road.

We began to march—for about ten yards. Then the cops surrounded us, and they were mad. They were pushing and shoving people, and I noticed a few run in and grab a guy who was filming with a video camera on a tripod. They had hold of him and were pulling on his camera and others were pulling on him so I ran over to do what I do—which is insert myself into the middle and sweetly get in the way. Between all of us we extricated him and his camera and now people were sitting down to hold the space. And there I was, sitting on the ground staring at the knees of a line of Egyptian riot cops. I had a little Talking Heads moment, you know the song, “And I asked myself…how did I get here?” Then the cops moved in and started grabbing people. They grabbed Michael from the media team and we grabbed him back and finally pulled him in toward us. He was holding his ribs..a woman grabbed my arm and we linked up.

Then I saw Lisa being grabbed by five big cops. They were pulling her away into the police lines and she was lying prone and being pulled by her wrists. I thought, “Goddess, they’re taking her away and there’s too many of them. There’s nothing I can do for her.” And then I thought, “Fuck that!” and leapt on top of her, grabbing her waist and lying over her legs. I can’t actually explain how I did that when usually it takes me ten minutes and a battle plan to get up, but adrenaline is a wonder drug.

Anotther couple of people piled onto me and her. The cops were really mad, but also confused. They kicked one guy and grabbed him really roughly to pull him off, but no sooner did they have him than someone else dove through five lines of police and launched himself onto the pile Every time they got rid of one person, someone else appeared. It was one of the most powerful moments of practical solidarity I’ve ever seen and I would have liked to savor it but almost immediately we were all being pushed, shoved, pummeled and pressed back onto the curb across the street. Our pile of people on the bottom half of Lisa got pushed one way—the top half of her went another and I lost her.

I ended up on the curb smack in front of the lines of cops trying to shove us back, along with a mass of people. I was happy there—holding ground when riot cops are shoving is one of the things I’m good at. Most of the cops looked a bit sheepish and ashamed of what they were doing, but one or two were triggered and angry and out of control. I saw one cop head butt a protester, others were beating and punching people with their nightsticks. They were pushing other people onto the curb and roughly forcing them through the lines into a crowd that was already so tight there was hardly room to move. I saw several of the women I’d trained and I just stayed there and grabbed them and pulled them through the lines of cops into our space. I felt a bit like a midwife, birthing them backwards, into the womb of our community now contained by a circle of cops on a wide stretch of sidewalk. Some of them were frightened, some were exhilarated. All looked happy to see me.

And then the tension eased. The cops formed their ring, we had our space, in the circle of Cairo’s largest, central square, and people were chanting “Free, free Palestine!” and singing “We Shall Overcome.” I looked over and found myself standing next to Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, singing, “We are not afraid, we are not afraid, we are not afraid today.”

Then I saw Lisa, safe and relatively unscathed although she had a hurt wrist and sore ribs. I gave her some homeopathic arnica and Bill Ayers gave her some chocolate. Carrying chocolate—that mark of an experienced activist!

We all felt great about the action. Against all odds, we had done what we set out to do—to say to the Egyptian authorities and the world, “if you won’t let us go to Gaza, we’ll simply start from here and walk.” If you want to stop us, you’ll have to physically stop us—we won’t comply with your orders. And if you physically stop us, then we will have brought Gaza to Cairo—we will dramatize for the eyes of the world the situation that the people of Gaza are in. This pen, this improvised prison in the central square is another annex to the huge, open-air prison that Gaza has become, where a million and a half people live in the most densely crowded conditions on earth, where the Israelis control the borders and decide who can get in and who can get out, rationing out the necessities of life, b;ocking the materials of reconstruction and the means of livelihood for the Gazan people.

So we held the space throughout the day, with songs and chants and drumbeats, with shared food and water and an improvised pee station. I even had a lovely nap in the sun, next to a beautiful French Algerian organizer with luminous green eyes.

And now the New Year has come, and I must sleep! May our new year be blessed with loving friends and strong comrades to strengthen us for all the work ahead the earth and for justice.

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Starhawk is a lifelong activist in peace and global justice movements, a leader in the feminist and earth-based spirituality movements, author or coauthor of ten books, including The Spiral Dance, The Fifth Sacred Thing, Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising, and her latest, The Earth Path.
Starhawk's website is, and more of her writings and information on her schedule and activities can be found there.