Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Shop with a Cop

I have said the word “ridiculous” so many times this month, it is beginning to lose meaning.  It’s new meaning will be “normal” or “expected” or “standard”

It is my understanding that if /when we get ss we will not be eligible for state medical benefits for about a year because of the “windfall” of back pay benefits.  The current standard of care in the state of Washington is no care at all- at least for my diagnosis.  I am refused medicine which has not been made available in generic, physical therapy has been recently removed from the covered treatment plans, and no rheumatologist in the sound will take on a fibromyalgia patient with state medical insurance- probably because their prescriptions are refused and treatments disallowed.  Who would want to treat a patient whose HMO will not allow proper care?

So, I suppose the only thing I will be lacking for whatever amount of time is deemed appropriate by the state to have spent the “windfall” of “back pay” is the regular visit to the doctor in which she stares at me blinking and trying to come up with whatever brilliant plan she has not been able to discover for the past three years- something to subvert the ridiculous system and find some relief.

Meanwhile, the TANF (welfare) benefits are going to hit maximum and I will have nothing to clothe my growing child.  It’s ridiculous that any agency can get away with expecting a family of two to survive with no housing and a cash budget of less than $400 per month.  This is why I completely support any family or individual who has considered the assignment of living on a welfare budget for a time.  


A month is not long enough, you have to actually lose your cable, internet and phone due to non-payment, pawn your ipod and plasma screen for the over the counter medicine for your kids, and be in jeopardy of losing them.  


You would have to give up your house and find a place for your family to sleep- and be repeatedly humiliated by the process of asking for the help of overworked and abused (from every angle) caseworkers who still work through DOS to process you through the services you paid for out of every single paycheck since the age of fifteen.  


The conditions also include a life improvement “plan” obviously am I simply doing things all wrong if I got to this place (dependant on anyone or anything other than myself) and now the state has to teach me how to survive.  


I discussed thoroughly my options for housing in kitsap county with the KCR program. At first I believed the man I spoke to began to realize that there is no long term solution for a disabled single parent. I felt that he began to see the  problem and consider seeking a solution, but as soon as I walked out the door he dropped my file on the desk of a woman who had no intentions of working with the limitations of my illness and treated me (again) as if I am just some lazy idiot who is choosing to be homeless and bankrupt rather than getting off my ungrateful ass and finding a job.


I was actually asked what the hell did I think I was doing, asking to look at the shelter space before committing to live in a converted old police station with cold drafty rooms and decades of chemicals layered on top of each other, outgassing straight into my migraine and chemical sensitivity.  How dare I ask about conditions of a homeless shelter?

Have I mentioned I love my job?  I still use the present tense because I want it back.  I love the people- the work, the plants, the creative license- my boss is wonderful and I even enjoy most of the clients- It says a lot when I am so contented that even bored rich housewives can’t knock me down off my self righteous perch.

Even if the nursery was not an option, I have so much job experience in food service that I could get hired in almost any town I could think to look.  There is ALWAYS kitchen turnover- every city and every town I have ever lived.  I have turned down more cooking positions than I can count.  


I don’t mean to toot my own horn- but HOLY CRAP,  PEOPLE!!  learn how to cook!!!  There are so many restaurants! I seriously consider that when the end of days comes, the entire upper half of the economic social strata will starve to death because they won't be able to figure out how to feed themselves.


Also, being sick is horribly boring.  I would much prefer complaining about my mediocre boss than have nothing at all to complain about (or be forced to admit to and complain about the facebook games I have played just so the relative time passed at all ~My daughter told me I was the “one percent” of facebook games. I already knew it was bad- but that was difficult to hear).  

I miss having daily audible, intelligent conversations with adults about ANYTHING other than homework chores and ridiculous storylines from the video games which have since stolen any chance of creative or quality time with my offspring.  

Although this blog reads with moderate coherence, in real life I often spend 4 or 5 minutes staring into the corners of my brain to remember a simple word. I figure my mind is a little like my physical space- ordered chronologically by altitude... which was going just fine until the neurons in my brain lost their pathways.  




So as you can imagine when I am speaking in person~ it’s difficult to find the patience to listen to me finish a thought.  It’s hard for me to watch you find the patience.  It’s hard for me to be patient enough to finish a communication and not allow this brain fog to derail the desire to complete any mildly complicated idea. Conclusions lack footnotes or evidence, and sometimes I don't bother participating in a discussion which would require statistics or references.

~fibro digression

The network of "entitlements" such as social services and housing authorities and social securities have so many holes that it’s greatest function in society is that it employs so many people.  At least there is that... because it is just as likely as not that you would fail to be caught before you hit the ground shivering and cold.

If you get sick and can’t work- unless you are dying or have an uncle who works for social services, your family could just as easily end up where mine is-  on the couch in the livingroom of a generous family. 




It is true what they say ~that the ability to empathize with the suffering of others is directly related to the size of the bank account and the privilege a person is born with.  


I have never known people who gave so much 

than those who had little to give.



I repeatedly bear witness to belief that 
*the plasma screen and the newest iphone are necessities above the well being of friends and family.  
*the speed of the internet is more important than keeping a spare bedroom for someone who has none at all.  
*the NFL dish package supersedes the decision to make thoughtful purchases at the grocery store.

Shall I poison the migrant farm workers and
dustbowl the land or should I pay forty cents per pound extra for this GMO free organic bunch of radishes whose farmers are actually thinking about the future of the soil?  





Shall I buy this single use plastic cheap-ass toy made in a toxic factory by exploited humans and exploited land for blankmart’s shareholders at the expense of blankmart’s
stakeholders?  or should I buy this handmade craft from a local vender who considers that the future of the product and customer satisfaction are more important than short term profits?


Honestly, your nephew won’t spend more than a couple of minutes getting bored of either product.  The  
attention span of a child could fit on the head of a pin.  


Is that moment when a child opens a present (when you see the look on his face- feel like a superstar for getting that thing he saw on that ad during the disney infomercial disguised as a cartoon) important enough to cause cancer and birth defects in some distant abstract country populated with brown people who might be on average shorter than your contemporaries?

Every time I go into the dollar store I ask myself this question.  In my mind the answer is always no.  But I am so fucking poor.  I can honestly tell you that almost everyone I know has never been this poor.  If I don’t buy pencils and notebooks at the dollar store my daughter will fail math.

This choice is no choice.

It is ridiculous that (insert name brand here) can sue and criminalize sales of knock-off handbags whose “authentic” counterparts are made by the same pool of workers at slightly higher cost (mostly for the quality of materials rather than for benefit of employees)~ while the the welfare of the employees and land that have been acquired and exploited for the purpose of quarterly profits can be considered as an acceptable loss.

So shall I buy this (insert product here) from a multinational whose business practices subject employees to demoralizing management and sell products from other multinationals whose business practices demoralize the working classes of distant cultures and abuse the land?

I know that most people have a sense that what they have to add to the world is important.  You are an individual and your effect on the people in your life and the world around you is significant.  You are special, and unique.  In my mind- this is true about every single person I know.  There is a reason that you exist and you are important.  




But I am of the opinion that all of that specialness and uniqueness is completely negated by the fact that most people are blissfully ignorant of the ramifications of uneducated purchasing.  You may as well have put another corporate lawyer politician in office if you seriously believe that your money is not your vote.  


OH WAIT- you did do that. 


You could be as peaceful and forgiving as the dalai lama or as helpful as a soup kitchen on thanksgiving handing out winter coats to foster children- but your thoughtless purchases could completely negate all of this positive action. Like carbon, your purchases leave a footprint.





“Robbing Peter to Pay Paul.”

I always think of my mother when I hear this line- I don’t know why because I can’t really remember her ever teaching me anything quite so righteous.  She probably explained it to me when I heard it somewhere else.  


I kept thinking of it when my daughter received an offer to go “shop with a cop” at walmart for holiday gifts.  I almost agreed to it.  For a little while I was dizzy thinking of the way she would feel when her friends and relatives opened the wrapping paper of these imagined gifts paid for by some benevolent fund.  I imagined her feeling proud of the thought she had put into them.  I even asked her to make a list of the people she wanted to buy things for.  

It took two weeks for me to come back to my senses.  It came on slow, rather wobbly at first.  Then came the black friday ads and the walmart boycott propaganda and I was solid again.  What the hell was I thinking?  Not to mention how I feel about the police state ... but that’s too ugly and big to digress about...



Nothing is worth the subjugation of people or the contamination of gaia.  I have tried to come up with ideas to supplant the “shop with a cop” offer, but she seems a little defeated.  Makeshift crafts won’t replace the stars her eyes for the handheld game or skateboard parts she envisioned for herself.  It is really hard to motivate her and we are running short on time. Jesus would be knocking over coffer tables left and right if he knew how y'all are celebrating his birthday.

Am I repeating myself again?

oh well.  Maybe this time someone listened.  

Stop buying stupid crap you don't need and find the someone you know who needs your help more than you need to feed your compulsive shopping addiction.  I am humbled by those who have seen fit to do so for us.

In conclusion, I want to go have a moderate emotional breakdown with my family in the northeast.  The housing thing has been a failure- even with all of the folks I have met through the “social movement”, I have yet to find a single hippie farm who can offer us space in exchange for the stuff I can still do, or the stuff my daughter and I can do together.  It has been a difficult pill to swallow- my expectations exceeded the reality.  I usually keep them quite low- but this time... I had hoped...  there is always reason for hope.  I’ll never give up on humanity.  


This time it really knocked me on my ass though.  
Knocked the wind from my lungs.  

I still have the desire to get back to the left coast, but not likely to the Sound.  


Depending on the outcome of the appeal and the status of my health and that of my 10 year old (going on 16, going on 30) I am heading for California.  (I love you so much for giving me a choice,  you have no idea how much it helps- I have half a mind to head down there right now, today...  maybe we will.  I think about it every day.  I visualize myself on the train and then on the beach...)

The hearing was painful and traumatic.  I am still recovering from it.  If I had been able to bring myself to blog about it, or fb post about it, I would have short circuited my computer with a river of tears.  I’m still not ready to talk about it, and I still don’t have any results.

So that’s why I haven’t been in touch.  I don’t have patience to discuss it, or much else for that matter.  

The view of social hypocrisy is really clear from here.  I can see it for miles.


I love you awful and always will.


.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I feel like I am missing something...


Four years ago, when I first got sick and had no medical insurance, I paid out my nose and even solicited donations from friends and family to see a doctor.  My first GP was an Osteopath.

"Osteopathic medical school curricula closely mirror those of Doctor of Medicine. However, osteopathic physicians also receive an additional 300 – 500 hours in the study of hands-on manual medicine and the body's musculoskeletal system" ~ wikipedia

Two years ago, I saw a Rheumatologist .  He looked at my documentation and took blood to look for arthritis antibodies.  He found none, and called my condition “consistent with fibromyalgia”

A board-certified rheumatologist is a medical doctor (an internal medicine doctor or pediatrician) who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases....” ~ Oxford Journals, Rheumatoology

Last month after a session of moving boxes around, I went to the prompt care clinic and had them take an x-ray, hoping that at least there would be evidence of pinched nerves or something.  I wanted them to do the neck and hip, but they only did the hip.  They sent the data to my current GP, (who is awesome) and I learned the results yesterday.







I have degenerative disc disease and arthritis in the lumbar and sacrum.  I need to take a look at the report myself because I believe it may be in the illium as well.  I asked for an xray of my neck to see if it’s there as well- it feels like it.  I definitely have sciatica, I believe I have cervical radiculopathy (cervical [neck] nerve pinch).

It occurs to me that the Osteopath would have easily recognized degenerative disc, and the rheumatologist would have easily recognized arthritis.  It stands to reason that either both doctors completely missed the diagnosis, or that the diseases have developed within the last 2-4 years, within the onset of the fibromyalgia.  In my opinion, the later makes more sense.  One reason for this conclusion is that it’s fairly unlikely that both doctors- from unrelated practices more than 100 miles away from each other and two years apart were colluding together to provide false test results.  Yeah, I’m not that much of a conspiracy nutter.




It also makes sense to me because one of the results of not being able to recover from adrenal effects  is that the skeletal muscles are in a fairly constant state of contraction, while keeping the smooth muscles in a state of relaxation (muscle vessels are dilated).  So, it stands to reason that osteoarthritis- commonly referred to as “wear and tear” disease could have come out of the tightening of the skeletal muscles pulling all of the major joints towards each-other, creating the pressure necessary to restrict the discs between vertebrae and cause the bones to rub against one another ~ subsequently making an environment for arthritis to blossom.

Imagine that attached to every bone in your body are two rubber bands, one on either side of your spine...  going down the leg, up the spine, out the arm and up the neck.  Now imagine that the rubber bands are getting restrictive and shrinking.  All the bones are pulled closer and closer together.  Meanwhile, the large muscles such as in the thigh and upper arm are pooled with blood, vessels exhausted like a garden hose on full blast but the nozzle is closed at the end.  Every time the muscle is used, the sense of exhaustion is amplified, every step feels like twenty steps, every curl feels like 30.  Nerve endings are raw from the loss of myelin.  The nerve roots become pinched and send neuropathic pain messages to the brain.  The brain then amplifies the message, making the pain feel more painful than the injury should require.




Myelin

What Is a Demyelinating Disease?



"A demyelinating disease is a disease characterized by damage to the myelin sheaths which cover the nerves. Myelin acts as an electrical insulator, ensuring that impulses move quickly down the length of a nerve, and when a nerve becomes demyelinated, these impulses can slow or stop. In a sense, a demyelinating disease strips the body's wiring of its insulation, and just as a house's electrical systems would go haywire if all of the wiring was abruptly exposed, the body experiences a variety of problems as the nerves lose their protective layers of myelin." ~wiseGEEK


In my training as a nurse’s aide, we did extensive training on how to lift stuff so as not to cause injury to the back.  I know most people don’t practice the 5 “L’s” of lifting- but I have been really careful (for almost 20 years) to protect my body, thinking of the longevity of my back.  My biological father had years of chiropractic work and still struggles with back issues, so I feel like I have had some training in the area.  At the very least, I am not ignorant of it.

That’s a start.  There are also the migraines, insomnia, memory lapses, irritable bladder and bowel, lack of reward hormones (serotonin, dopamine, nor-epinephrine, etc), sudden total exhaustion and spontaneous napping...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What the hell is the McKinney Vento???

Yesterday, my daughter was snubbed by the county.  Her bus simply did not arrive. She patiently waited for 25 minutes at her stop.  This morning, I was assured it would come for her.  I spoke with the district "homeless liaison", Patricia this morning as E was ready to walk out the door.  She told me the transportation was a-go.  About 20 minutes in, I called North Kitsap transportation.  Barbara told me that Bremerton Transportation was responsible for the morning route.  So I called Bremerton.  (Both numbers I have in my phone memory from last year.)

Of course, there was no answer and I left a message around 8:35, 30 minutes later than the bus came for her last year.  So E waited patiently on the bench for 51 minutes before I called her back into the apartment of my nephew (and his sweet family who have graciously opened their home to us) and called Bremerton transportation one last time.  I finally got an answer (after 2 days of inquiry).  Now, I am told she will be picked up tomorrow at 8:35.  I hope this is more sincere than the assurances I have received about the past two days.

During the discussion with Patricia, we exchanged some information.  I explained our status and we both agreed on the language of the McKinney Vento Act.  She informed me that the superintendent has stated that he will likely be contacting their lawyer for advice on this matter.  This is disconcerting to say the least. From what I understand, it was the transportation department (not sure which district or individual) which had lodged the original complaint that caused the (hopefully) temporary displacement of the program.

The failures of states to adequately implement the act—removing barriers to enrollment and developing transportation systems—has been the subject of numerous lawsuits.

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty successfully litigated cases against the District of Columbia and the State of New York.

I have downloaded the most recent renewed legislature onto my computer.  It states that if the state receives money from this program, it is required to provide transportation for as long as the child is “homeless” as defined by the same document (see below).  

There are different definitions for this word.  For example, the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has a requirement that regardless of specifics such as sleeping on a couch, or in sleeping bags on the floor, or sleeping in a car in the “safe” parking lots (provided for homeless families by the county), or camping in a tent- if a homeless family sleeps in the same space for more than 6 months, they are no longer considered to be legally “homeless”.  We qualify under both definitions, but I find the DSHS definition to be disgraceful.  I would be more forgiving of the social services definition if their housing program was functional, but as they are at present, clearly fail to provide programs which could facilitate their time limit.


The McKinney-Vento Act uses the Illinois statute in defining homeless children as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” The Act then goes on to give examples of children who would fall under this definition:
  • (a) Children sharing housing due to economic hardship or loss of housing;
  • (b) Children living in “motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds due to lack of alternative accommodations”
  • (c) Children living in “emergency or transitional shelters”
  • (d) Children “awaiting foster care placement”
  • (e) Children whose primary nighttime residence is not ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation (e.g. park benches, etc.)
  • (f) Children living in “cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations…”
Following the Illinois statute, the McKinney-Vento Act also ensures homeless children transportation to and from school free of charge, allowing children to attend their school of origin (last school enrolled or the school they attended when they first become homeless) regardless of what district the family resides in.

What the hell is the McKinney Vento???

Well, it has some history.  It's first incarnation was signed by Reagan in '87, Sponsored by Rep. Tom Foley (D-WA), the bill was named after Representatives Stewart McKinney (R-CT) and Bruce Vento (D-MN).

Since then, it has been reauthorized by Title X, Part C, of the No Child Left Behind Act- which in my opinion has been an attack against the public school system, gutting programs and closing schools in order to make more space for privatized school programs which can’t be held accountable to federal standards such as the failure to support poor and disabled children.  There are so many other reasons why privatization falls short.  So many in fact, that the digression into them would subvert the primary topic of this blog post.  I may revisit this topic in the future when I’m not seethingly angry about the events of the past two days.

The McKinney-Vento Act is a conditional funding act which means that the federal government gives grants to states and in return, the grantee states are bound by the terms of the act. If a state chooses not to accept federal funds for these purposes, it does not have to implement the act.

“Local Educational Agencies (LEAs), otherwise known as school districts, must, to the extent feasible, keep students in homeless situations in their school of origin (defined as the school the student attended when permanently housed or the school in which the student was last enrolled), unless it is against the parent’s or guardian’s wishes.”  ~The McKinney-Vento Act At a Glance publication,  developed collaboratively by: National Center for Homeless Education and National Association for the Education of Children and Youth National Law Center on Homelessness

According to the State of Washington Office of the Superintendent Washington receives approximately $950,000  in funding each year from the U.S. Department of Education to support the education of homeless students in school programs. This is the only money specifically designated for serving the educational needs of homeless students in Washington.

According to an independent money tracker, the state of Washington was Awarded: $1,298,061.0 and spent $961,421.27 in the 2009/2010 school year.


According to the North Kitsap School District 2012/2013 Budget Summary adopted 7/31/2012, $4,790.00 was collected from this stimulus for 20010/2011, but no numbers are provided for 2011/2012 or 2012/2013.


Bremerton School district has been providing transportation to school and North Kitsap for the trip home from school.  I can’t find any documentation about McKinney Vento funding for the Bremerton school district budget reports, however I did find this statement on Bremerton’s website: “In accordance with the McKinney-Vento Act, Bremerton School District is required to provide homeless children access to educational services and opportunities to enroll in, attend, and be successful in school.”, but according to an independent money tracker. $3,105.00 was reported for the 2009/2010 school year.

I am not sure what all of this data suggests, other than it’s not very transparent.  I had to download no less than a dozen PDF documents and depend on outside resources and still do not have reliable numbers for how much money is being collected for this federal education program.

On the other hand, if districts are able to opt out of the act, and provide local tax money to supplement the loss of federal funding, and companies like Microsoft  and Boeing actually paid their dues, I wonder if we could rise above the nation’s false standard and stop persecuting the people who have the most direct knowledge of how ~ as well as expending the most energy towards the education of our kids. I would still have the expectation that students could have access to a stable learning environment and not get bounced around different districts unable to glean an education between all of the social transitioning.

Last night, E’s teacher called in support of us, disgusted about the transgression.  Today, the office manager of the elementary school called with comforting condolences.  I cried a little.




Back, shoulder and neck muscle spasms, nerve pinch left shoulder, hip discomfort, headache behind my right eyeball.  subject to emotional outbursts.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bus Bloc

To whom it may concern;

Last night she couldn't sleep, so excited and anxious. This morning, E. got all ready for school, delighted to see her friends and show off her new shoes.


After waiting for about 15 minutes at the bus stop, being passed by buses more than twice, she came inside distraught asking me to call the transportation company and tell them the bus has passed her by.

I called BREMERTON transportation but there was no answer. I called NORTH KITSAP transportation and the nice woman, "Amy" told me there had been no decision made as to weather the McKinney Vento McKinney Vento bus would be RUNNING AT ALL THIS YEAR.

I called the Suquamish School itself (also not answering the phone this morning) To express my concern that just last week when we spoke on the phone, the office manager set up the paperwork for transportation. I was told E would be picked up on the first day of school. There was no discussion about the possibility that the program would not be implemented. Nor were there any other subsequent conversations about transportation during the following week before school started.

It is only now, today, THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL That I am learning of the possible discontinuation of the "primary piece of federal legislation dealing with the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness in U.S. public schools."

While I realize that there is considerable suffering on the part of the school systems and the screws being put to them by pro- privatization factions, I find this to be COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE oversight on the part of all parties involved.

Patricia, Pupil transportation manager for North Kitsap School District is not answering her line, I have left a message but received no return.

It is an outrage that my daughter faces losing the gifted program she earned because I got sick and she got poor. This was the only good part of the "no child left behind" act that seemed to be doing any good at all. I guess it should come as no surprize that the rug would be pulled from under her feet in her final year of the program since it was most recently supported and passed by by GW and originally signed by Regan. I used to say- he didn't do EVERYTHING wrong- because there was this ONE saving grace. Today I hope GW starts a three week long migraine- I know he can never experience abject poverty as my daughter has but at least he should know suffering as her mother experiences it.

It is an outrage that my daughter is forced to deal with the subjugation of the poor, of the segregation of the classes simply because I am sick and the Social Security Administration has taken two years to process my claim despite stacks of medical evidence.

It is a disgrace that the only thing in her life that has been stable in her life is now being threatened simply because her family of origin has not been able to step up and help out.  She has been sleeping on couches and living in temporary shelters for two years.  She only has one more year to complete the AGATE and this too, is a rug being pulled from under her feet.

I am furious.


[This letter was sent to every single person I could think of. Teachers, school offices, superintendents offices, newspapers, lawyers as well as (dur) posted online and shared with my online communities on FB and G+. I got a call from the North Kitsap herald who may be printing a story on it.]

Thursday, August 30, 2012

disconnect

I recently had a disappointing discussion with a young biochemistry student from UW. At first glance, she seemed to be a person with whom I could have a very interesting discussion about the current state of science for profit, chemical companies owning the dominant agriculture businesses and patents, and the need for humans to consider themselves above the future of all other species.

I find sciences to be utterly breathtaking.  The things we have learned- the metropolises we have created- technology, satellites sending a photo from my phone in the kitchen to my laptop in the living room-  we are amazing.  Humanity has created awe inspiring feats through science and architecture- and despite the myopic quarterly profit motivated lack of ecological sustainability I am still proud to be of the species that figured out how to discern the elements, mass and state of matter on the moons orbiting a planet a billion miles away from us.  Brilliant!!  I look upon the city of Seattle from the ferry and am always impressed with her skyline- despite the "Qwest" tattooed on her ass.

So, as a proponent of the field, I felt that I was coming from a place of love of science when the topic turned to GMO's.

At first glance, she seemed to be a little rebellious, a free thinker with her piercings and funky hairdo.  I had heard her talk about gaming on a previous occasion, and assumed some level of geek ( I adore nerds, geeks- recently rediscovering my demographic was wonderful- I had forgotten for so many years how open minded and warm the envelope of the science fiction crowd - how could I have forgotten?)  She reminded me of myself in the 80's rockin' the Robert Smith hairdo and trying to tattoo a boy's name in my knee with a safety pin.

I was shocked when instead of having a thoughtful discussion about Monsanto and canola farmers, that instead, she repeated no less than seven times how GMO's area miracle and for the betterment of humanity.  She told me that creating cats in a petri dish which would not trigger a histamine reaction is a worth while task and that scientists are human and didn't mean to make the mistakes that have caused negative results in the field. She had never heard the name "Monsanto" and instead of listening to me, told me she could find that information on the internet and completely dismissed the part of the conversation where I could speak and be heard.  Every time I opened my mouth to explain my perspective or to support it with evidence, I was met with her louder voice, repeating the above statements, exactly in the same regurgitated manner as the first time.

I actually had to say to her that if I was interrupted another time with the same argument that I would discontinue the discussion, that it was in fact NOT a discussion at all, but rather a one sided argument in defense of something that did not exist because I had yet to open my mouth on the subject.

How could this be?

It started me thinking about myself at that age.  Long before I had a chance to go to college, I was pushed out of my family, so I had to go back a little farther to when I wasn't forced into survival mode. I was fighting for my right to have an opinion so much that the opinion I had was mostly a regurgitation of partisan politics.  By the time I was 16 though, I had shed the idea that political parties could define me, although I spent some time considering libertarian perspectives.

One of the things I have been curious about over the past year as I participated in social media for a "social movement" is- why the hell can't we pull support from young women?  Highschool and college aged women are over-represented in social media, as well as in the population, outnumbering men in a 54% to 46% ratio.  I have spent many hours pouring over statistics from many sources and was still completely perplexed.

Until I had this conversation.

It reminded me of a quote from an article I recently read- I referred to it in my previous post.

"Most women fight wars on two fronts;
one for whatever the putative topic is,
and one simply for the right to speak, to have ideas, to be acknowledged,
to be in possession of facts and truths, to have value, 
to be a human being"

So I have come to the conclusion that most women at this age (and indeed at any age) are struggling with a handicap- fighting to have an opinion as well as forming an educated opinion at the same time is difficult to say the least. I think it takes two or three times as long for women to be heard than for men.  

This theory was proven in a social laboratory at Westlake Park last night, when a man asked me what I thought about "the republican war on women". I began to tell him about how I believed it was subterfuge, it is the "hot topic" the politicians are using during this election in order to shock the mainstream into becoming distracted from the larger issues of the time- such as the complete unsustainability of our current global business practices and socioeconomic policies. I began to describe the current media has created an expectation of which the bar has been set by Jerry Springer and Reality TV.  

Another brilliant woman joined in the conversation and began to describe the current state of the democratic stance on women's issues and gave examples about how both parties support a culture which subjugates women and measures their contributions with dollars instead of by quality of productivity.

At this point, I began to notice that the man who had asked the opinion was now speaking with two other men and had completely stopped listening to us. I quietly pointed to the three men who initially had seemed sincerely interested about the topic. The other woman nodded her head knowingly as I shook mine in disbelief.

I raised my voice a bit and began talking about the general problem women have with being heard, and how even men who consider themselves to be feminists, or feminist allies have to do a lot of work studying and acknowledging their privilege, teaching themselves to come to the table without any firm opinions and spend a great deal of time listening.