Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Remote Area Medical

Several years ago, my husband an I (he is a physician) did volunteer work in Wise, Virginia, for Remote Area Medical. This is a three-day event in Appalachia for people who have no insurance. People drive hundreds of miles to line up in the middle of the night, just to have an opportunity to be seen by a doctor, dentist, or just take a simple procedural test, like a mammogram (some of the women had not gotten one for decades-too expensive. I was in charge of recruiting women to take this test). It was gratifying work; I was so happy to do it, but also sad and frustrated. Sad because a basic human right-health insurance-was clearly not available to people and frustrated because (according to my husband) there was no follow up for patients once they left Virginia. Ultimately, he stopped wanting to go down to Wise, since he was not convinced this was good care-to be seen once; to get medication and never to be seen again. What is even more depressing is reading in the NYT this week that Remote Area Medical is thriving-bigger than ever. The lines are longer and there are more desperate people. This made me feel when I retire, I will go back there, even if my husband does not come with me, but also I felt so sad that the state of healthcare in our country has grown worse-not better. The biggest part of my frustration is that now the Republican majority wants to dismantle whatever little is left of a broken healthcare system, leaving millions without the proper care. Those same senators would make it their business to go down to Wise, Virginia for Remote Area Medical, and see the countless families whose children have never seen a dentist (age nine), who have never been tested for cancer or diabetes, even though it runs in their families; the countless toothless people who have never been to a a dentist. Maybe then they will give pause and say, something is terribly wrong with the heartless way we regard people's lives. Perhaps they might think to do the right thing.

What is a Hero?

What is a hero? Someone who stands by their conscience, someone who stands up against a bully, someone who dares to defy the norm. I have never been part of the norm, and revel in the fact that this feels like a good thing. I admire people who are very principled and it is their principles that motivate them. Part of the reason I do not respect our president is that he lacks a conscience and principles; this translates to being morally reprehensible. It is not about party; there are Republicans I admire, even though I am a Democrat. And this week there are three I applaud as heroes: Senator Susan Collins of Maine; Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Senator John McCain of Arizona. These three stood up to the bully pulpit and said NO to the Republicans who are trying to sabotage our healthcare system. They are Republican, and the senator from Alaska was even threatened by the president, who said he would withhold money from her state, something he cannot do. Bravo to these three brave souls. My only prayer is that more and more Republican senators will follow suit as 45 continues to dismantle our system, without a thought to what is fair, decent and right. MIGHT is never RIGHT. And these three people stand up unafraid. So proud to be a part of their America!

Another Brooklyn

Two years ago Jacqueline Woodson, my friend, gave me a copy of ANOTHER BROOKLYN (uncorrected proofs), before it was nominated as a National Book Award finalist. I admired the writing, was moved by the story and thought-like always-she is a superb writer. Reading it two years later has made me appreciate the book so much more! It is elegant writing-sad, poignant, poetic-a story about friendship, family, loss. For whatever reason, I loved the book this time, much more the second time around. I suppose I have been reading a lot of poetry this year, and this has changed my sensibilities. ANOTHER BROOKLYN is an elegy, a lamentation, filled with the beautiful and figurative diction of a long-lasting and terrific poem. I LOVE this book and believe me, you will too!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1)Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished Zoraida Cordova's LABYRINTH LOST. I was on a panel with Zoraida, and I am always committed to read books by my peers, particularly those people I am on a panel with. This is not my genre, in that I love fairy tales, but magic/fantasy is really something I would not select to read. At first, I was reluctant-all the predictable signs that Alex (a bruja) has a deeply held magic which can be exciting, but could result in something terrifying. Will not share the terror of what happens as a consequence of this magic, since I do not want to provide a spoiler alert, but suffice it to say, once she embarks on this journey, I am totally there as a reader. She discovers Los Lagos as a way to recover what she lost-and it is here-in the land of "limbo" (Dante's Inferno) she must battle the forces that have taken away what is precious to her. The book is beautifully written, and ultimately, enchanting. A must read!

View all my reviews

The Lost Language of Crazy

I am writing a new book, THE LOST LANGUAGE OF CRAZY. I am loving writing this book, and it is an easy story to write, in many ways, since it is a story I know-it is mine. While I am writing this, I am aware the country feels "crazy" now. The weather is "crazy" (global warming) and the office of the presidency is "crazy" (and who will be fired today? What "crazy" tweet will emerge?). What I have discovered in the process of writing this is that it is joyful (the engagement), but also painful, since when I grew up with mental illness in my home, revisiting it in such a primal way brings me back to those basic fears, anxieties and depressions I can pretty much keep under lock and key. As I write this book I am back in that world, and it is not an easy one; in fact, it is painful. It is part of the reason when people joke that the president is "mentally ill" I think, he probably is; he displays all the signs of someone who is, and this is terrifying to a person who grew up in this world. The upshot? Every day I write ad I write passionately, though sometimes I am fatigued at the end of the day, since I am now back in that deeply traumatic time-never easy!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Policy vs. Principle

Daily I am appalled by the lack of morality displayed in the office of the presidency. Certainly Donald Trump does not follow any norms; in fact, that is why many people voted him. I have to wonder, though, why some of his base continues to support him. I try to understand why people voted for him, and I know there were causes a certain population believed in, and the Democratic party did not represent these particular causes. I can even understand how people in the middle of the country did not feel their voices were heard. But now that he continues to dismantle the office of the presidency-daily-I cannot understand how these same people can be on board. We are not talking about POLICY, but instead principle. What are the principles of a man who seeks to pardon HIMSELF and his family from an investigation where he says he is innocent? How can people with no money find it fine that he refuses to release his taxes, and is "terrified" of an investigation into his finances? Clearly he has committed crimes; is probably in office because of Russian interference (which he says is fake news)-then why speak about pardon? Every day someone else quits, is fired (he thinks he is on "The Apprentice") and he talks about a health policy that strips millions of their insurance as "beautiful." Senators, doctors, the AARP and so many other lobbying groups have said the policy lacks decency, humanity and-in truth-his economically disadvantaged fan base will absolutely have NO insurance. Where is his moral compass? Where is his intellect? And more worrisome, in truth, is where is the morality of the people who continue to look the other way and say this is okay? Would these same people care if their children displayed this level of moral indecency? I think not!
History Is All You Left MeHistory Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Adam Silvera has written an unconventional love story in his book HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME. In some ways, it is about learning to love yourself, but not before the main protagonist, Griffin, learns to cope with the death of his boyfriend,Theo, his guilt and the fact that Griffin was in love with someone else before he left to go to the other side of the country, California. I am currently writing a book which concerns itself with mental illness, and what I love about this book is the fact that Griffin has some symptoms that make him a challenge to himself and others, though he is a wonderfully vibrant and interesting character. The language and plot are terrific and engaging; a must read for teens!

View all my reviews