Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving In America

Thanksgiving in America, 2008

Those of us who have, probably ate too much; while others stood in the cold holding signs that read "Hungry." And on Black Friday, a man was trampled to death in the crush of Wal-Mart shoppers so eager for cheap goods they didn't notice a fellow human being in distress and then refused to stop shopping even when it was discovered that he was dead. 'Tis the season, America. And boy, do we know how to usher it in with a bang!

I wrote the following poem in honor of Barack Obama's inauguration. (Yeah, sometimes I fancy myself the next Maya Angelou! Hey, a girl's gotta dream!) My mom thinks it's too negative for the occasion. But I think you've got to live with your eyes and heart open. And if you do, how can you not pick up on the negative? I might not send the poem to Obama's transition team, but I'll go ahead and post it here. Maybe I'll even figure out how to put a little comment thingy, so you can all give me your feedback.

The Language of Hope
by Eve Brown-Waite

It is a hopeful thing to reach out a hand and say, “Come.”
It is a hopeful thing to take that hand and answer, “Yes.”
Eyes reflecting eyes ahead we march.
We shall overcome
we shall not be moved
and we are unafraid though we have no idea where the road will lead us
or if it will run out before we even get there.

We walk in beautiful for spacious skies
our amber grain beckoning
our sea to shining sea rising up in waves of hallelujah
God crowning from the tops of our purple mountain majesty.
We lift our lamp beside the golden door – this way to the Promised Land.
Our doors are always open,
Open for one day only,
hurry in this offer may be revoked at any time.
So run rabbit run coyote, dog, woman, child,
Run for the roses, run for the hills, run for your life.
Run and lift your eyes up to the lord at the same time,
Lift them up to see the millions of twinkling diamonds on sale now in the inky black sky.
Follow the North Star, follow the drinking gourd and get thee to the other side.
We’re all swimming to the other side now,
And if you can’t swim, tread water.
Wade in the water, the troubled, troubled water,
Water, water everywhere, crystal proud rivers, oceans buffer, lakes soothe.
So much water, we are drunk with it,
it spills over and runs in rivulets down our glorious thighs.

Then why are we so damn thirsty?
The amber grains come back from their ghost factories and we can’t afford to eat.
How have we lost our home, our voice, our way?
Now we walk barefoot because baby needs a new pair of shoes and so does Big Brother.
Our feet are blistered and bare and we dare only tiptoe around the edges of where our shining cities used to be.
The shining city on the hill that glistened until the rain washed it away.
It is a hopeful thing to put hammer to nail, nail to board and dare to rebuild.
It is a hopeful thing to stay all over this land that was your land but never my land, America.
Hope brought us to America
And then left us like one last gasp before we drowned.
Or slowly bled out of us,
leaving gleaming, oily puddles in the fields of Iraq,
trails disappearing into the mountains of Afghanistan.
Hope had been beaten out of us, tortured out of us in the prisons of our own making.
And the blood was so thick in our eyes, we couldn’t see.

What if these songs of freedom are all we’ll ever have
because everything else was stolen?
The fields of pineapples,
The sacred lands, drenched with the blood of the ancestors,
Going once . . . going twice . . . ripped from our arms and sold into slavery,
handed over to the corporations,
paved into shrines to the living gods.

What if we laid our bodies down in saffron robes in front of the bombers
and the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air were dropped on unsuspecting villagers anyway?
Our revenge scattered like the wails of the dying, fleeing, screaming, tear-stained faces of fathers burying their sons.
We howled into that wind, we screamed, and our pleas fell on deaf ears.
If a people yell and beg and cry on the streets of Washington and no one hears them,
they do not make a sound.

So we had forgotten the language of hope.
The rhyme and poetry of it we could no longer recall.
The sounds we made were guttural and stuck in the back of our parched throats.
Until all we could do was dig in the dirt of all that had been left to us.
Backs bowed, aching and sweating, hands calloused and bruised, we dig in the dirt and plant seeds and try to remember to practice hope once again,
whisper it while we dig in the dirt.

It is a hopeful thing to plant a seed.

It is a hopeful thing to reach out a hand and say, “Come.”

It is a hopeful thing to take that hand and answer, “Yes.”

I'll Keep You Posted,

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Special Kind of Hell

Ah, I've recently visited a special kind of hell. The hell reserved for mothers of sick children. And I'm not saying that lightly. My visit there will be short and for a relatively minor reason. I can only shudder and imagine what it's like there for mothers of children with life-threatening illnesses or conditions that drag on and on for years. (Oh and fathers of sick children, too, I should say. Although I seriously doubt any of them would call a receptionist a BITCH and threaten her with bodily harm. I'm pretty sure that's a mother thing.)

But this week brought endless hours of phone calls to numerous hospital departments, doctors' offices and insurance companies. And let me tell you, that's a special kind of hell. On Tuesday I was frantically calling around trying to find an orthopedic surgeon - frankly, anywhere in the state - who could give us a second opinion - preferably BEFORE the surgery that is scheduled on Friday. HA! Good luck with that as I was told over and over again that the soonest appointment I could get was January.

"Okay, let me get this straight. My kid has a chipped elbow and I'm supposed to wait two months to see the doctor?"

And the really funny part was always the receptionist's answer, "Yeah."

I tell you, Cuba is beginning to look better and better every minute!

But my lowest moment had to be when I was on hold - for about the fifth time - with the bitch (and I do not say this lightly, for this particular woman really earned the title) at my (very possibly soon-to-be ex) pediatrician's office. I'd left a message there first thing that morning (after being put on hold) asking for the doc to call me so I could tell her what had happened, get her thoughts on the orthopedic surgeon's recommendation, and maybe get some help finding someone to give us a second opinion. Two hours later, when the doctor's nurse called me back, I was on hold with yet another orthopedist's office, trying to wheedle my way into an appointment sometime this year. I called my pediatrician's office back - mere moments later and was immediately put on hold. Well, maybe I should not say immediately. For the receptionist did first ask, "Mind if I put you on hold?" to which I answered "Please don't put me on hold. I just missed a call from the nurse and I need to catch her before she goes in with another patient." None of which mattered or was even heard, because the receptionist put me on hold the second the question came out of her mouth. It wasn't really a question anyway. I was getting put on hold, whether I minded or not!

Let me just cut to the chase and say that this same scenario happened about four more times, once with the variation of being cut off while on hold. Until finally the phone call in which I cut the receptionist off mid-"Mind if I put you on hold?" with "IF YOU PUT ME ON HOLD BITCH I WILL PERSONALLY COME DOWN THERE AND THROTTLE YOU!" At which point she put me on hold.

Then there was the lovely conversation with our health insurance company this morning. I was surprised to find out we did NOT need any pre-approval for his surgery. But I shouldn't have been. I doubt they'll be paying for any of it. Each family member has a $2,000 yearly deductible before the insurance company even pays out a penny. And lucky - or unlucky us - none of us have even spent a penny in deductibles. So we'll be paying at least $2,000 of whatever Jeremiah's surgery costs. Okay, but it just begs the question: WHY ARE WE PAYING FOR HEALTH INSURANCE????

Jeremiah's surgery is scheduled for this afternoon. I'm sure he will recover just fine. I'm not so sure about me. And we will be looking for a new pediatrician. Possibly one in a country with a more humane healthcare system - like Cuba!

Monday, November 17, 2008

it's just a little break

"I think I dislocated my elbow," Jeremiah bellowed as he ran in from jumping on the trampoline. (Damn, I knew that thing was going to catch up with us someday!)

"Dislocated?" I ask. Is that why the darn thing looks kind of inside out and the rest of your arm is hanging down like a limp fish? "John fix it!" I yelled. After all he played sports. He comes from a family of five boys. They all played sports. Surely he knows how to relocate a dislocated joint, right?

Turns out, John's more squeamish than I am. Takes one look at it, looks at me, gets pale and goes to get the car. "We're going to the emergency room!"

But Jeremiah's kinda moaning, not in great pain, but I can tell the whole thing is just grossing him out and I'm wondering how he's going to do on the drive over the emergency room ... and how John and I are going to do on the drive over. And I know when we get there, someone's just going to pop it back into place and hand us a huge bill. I remember that somewhere along the line I heard that you can just pop these misbehaving joints back into place. Moms do that all the time, right?

So I take Jeremiah's hand and say, let's try to straighten out this arm. And he does and pop - there goes one bone back into place. And we straighten some more and pop - there goes the other one. Elbow good as new. I give him some rescue remedy, rub some comfry on the elbow and give him an icepack. I mean, I was a Peace Corps volunteer; I lived in the bush in Africa. I could give myself a tracheotomy if I needed to. Who needs trained medical professionals?

Well, it turns out, we did. 'Cause the next day, his arm was still hurting him and he was holding it funny (although that joint was holding up just fine, I'm proud to report). But it turns out, in addition to the dislocation, he also chipped a bone and the doctor is recommending surgery to repair it.

But I'm thinking about just getting out the Crazy Glue . . .

I'll keep you posted,

Saturday, November 8, 2008

March of the Lightbearers

Well a long overdue hello again. It's been quite a dry spell between postings. Maybe that's because life seemed kind of boring after coming off the road, and getting back to life as usual. I mean, really, what fun is it when you can count on water to come out of the tap, the engine to turn on and rain water not to seep UP onto your bed?

Oh, there were some adventures alright - the day I spent bird-dogging that weasely Senator John Kerry, trying to get him to accept his responsibility for giving Bush the blank check to go to war - and to tell us what he was going to do about it. And even though I followed him around the entire day with my bright PINK "How do YOU like YOUR war now?" sign, I could not even get myself in the newspaper, much less arrested! The police officer on his detail came over to me first thing in the morning and said, "Eve," (yes, he called me by name!), "I am NOT going to arrest you today. Your husband says don't forget to pick up the kids at 3:00." It's hell living in a small town, I tell you!

And then of course, there were the days in New Hampshire working to turn that state for Obama. That felt pretty adventurous. Especially because I should have signed up for the Big Schlepp. You know, I should have gotten my "fat Jewish ass on a plane to Florida" as Sarah Silverman said. My grandparents are no longer there and though they are dead, I'm pretty sure they both voted for Obama (you can do that in Florida y'know). But I could have been useful in Florida (the old Jewish part) because I speak that language. But instead I found myself in New Hampshire - a swing state I could drive to, but let's face it, can't even speak the language. Here's the thing about New England: I've lived here for ten years and I am still a newcomer. I can live here the rest of my life and I will NEVER not be an outsider. But I think I turned ONE vote for Obama (had to give away my Obama button to seal the deal, but I'm committed) and that felt good.

So now here we are, in a hopeful new political landscape. And I do think a whole new adventure is just beginning. I don't think anyone kids themselves that now that we've elected Obama everything is going to get better. Now that we've elected Obama, our work is just beginning. But at least those of us who want to, can roll up our sleeves and get to work.

I am offering up myself to that task.

And I'll keep you posted,

P.S. Check out my website at for the latest on my book - and even an excerpt! And check me out at where I blog with five other wonderful debut authors.