Numbers

Wrapped in a bath towel cocoon

Eyelids pulled heavy as lead

I stew on the numbers in my head- 0, 20, 22,000, 120 million

I’m not one to read the news but it came to my attention-

Pres caught a virus that he could have prevented

Said he felt better than he’d felt in 20 years

that’s the steroid talking- mania is a known side effect, we call it ‘pred head’ in the field. 

How many covid tests did he take since the outbreak?

How many doctors and dollars were on his team?

What was the cost of the monoclonal antibody that he received, inaccessible to everyone else? 

How many lives didn’t have to die on my watch?

Does he fathom that nobody has the resources that he has?

I’ve cared for countless COVID patients, watched them die before my eyes,  horrified that I’d pass it on to my loved ones, yet I’ve been tested 0 times- cold fact.

22,000 dollars per year- that is how much less female primary care physicians earn compared to our male counterparts, despite spending more time with our patients and more time in the office. We are more likely to be burnt out and depressed, which is an understatement- I feel charred and scarred after only 2 years of working in the US. 

120 million- the annual bonus of a local ‘health insurance’ company CEO

Many tens of millions more go to his direct underlings as a holiday bonus. 

They do not insure our health so much as their own wealth

Each dollar squeezed out of the poor people they claim to serve as they bleed them dry.

Patients are a commodity, raw material off of which others profit 

This imbalance of power is not new

Ancient Egypt- Moses fought Pharaoh to let his people go. 

Antebellum American South- Harriett led 70 slaves to freedom.

Happy scrappy revolutions won against all odds- ask Che

I search for a way out of the broken health care system for my fellow Americans- a path to escape or confront the sociopath CEOs who let people die in the name of more money than they know what to do with- purchasing yet another luxury home at the expense of human lives.

I search for a north star to navigate through this mess. How can I reach an enemy surrounded by impenetrable bureaucracy with no help from democracy- politicians line their own pockets with blood money first. 

I lean into these earthly concerns

Feel the weight of the world on my shoulders

Feel my fighting spirit, ever hopeful

I lean back into the waterfall of grace, the spiritual plane, the place where my soul melts with pure light

The fight is not mine alone, yet I feel alone sometimes, floating in the sea of collective suffering.

I emerge from my bath towel cocoon, one person who cares about other people, who wants to speak for the speechless, who is growing into herself as a person and a physician.

I know that being underserved means being served too late- society keeps dropping the ball then spending it all once health is damaged beyond repair. 

Is there anybody who feels the same out there?

In My Life

In my life

I’ve been privileged

To live in poverty and in relative wealth
Illness and health
I’ve lost love and gained,
Lived through madness, now sane
I’ve healed my body and brain
Felt broken, but now I know
I have always been whole
One with Spirit
I wish you well on your healing journey

Sex, Money, Dishes

Tell me you’ve never fought with your partner about sex, money, or dishes.
Sex
I used to fight endlessly about sex, mainly because I didn’t want to have it but my partners did, so we’d fight and fuck, then I’d cry and be blinded by images of destroying my body or their body just to stop the rape and the torture of not feeling safe in my skin. Amazingly, we all survived and now I have a loving partner with whom I have gold-medal sex; you have to experience it to believe it, it’s like I’m cashing in on some sex fund which I invested in long ago. Happily I don’t fight about sex anymore- I’ve got a man I’m attracted to inside and out, and he loves me the way I want to be loved.
Money
I used to exchange sex for money. It seemed like there was always too much sex and not enough money in those transactions, or transgressions. Even those back-alley deals were more straight forward than my relationships in which sex was exchanged for the illusion of not being alone, for food, housing or ‘safety’, though I learned that the cost to my physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing which false relationships exacted was not worth the dinners, drinks, gifts of lingerie, attention or the roof over my head. You might get raped if you travel alone, but if you travel with a man you are guaranteed to get raped. Live within your means because fine dining won’t taste good if you are eating with a strange man, believe me I know. If you have to learn on your own I understand, however if my years of pain can help prevent a moment of your suffering, it will have been worth it.
Dishes
Rare is the man who finishes the dishes. Common are the men who stack the dishes artfully in the sink until there is barely room to turn on the faucet. I have noticed this pattern during my co-habitations with men. I’ve done too many dishes. It especially irks me when men drown sponges in the rinsed yet still not washed dish pile, unperturbed as the sponge decomposes into a musty mess. Men seem deaf to the silent cries of the forgotten dish sponge. Day after day, I rescue the sponge, wringing it out and restoring it to its rightful place safe on dry land, in sight. My man shows his love for me not only through our award-winning sex, but also through money (ie, responsibility for personal  finances to contribute to our future together) and dishes: ladies and gentlemen, my man did the dishes tonight, thus allowing me time to write the words you read. If a man loves you he will want to learn your love language, which you must teach him with patience, positive reinforcement, and more patience.
I grew up doing the dishes, in poverty, and sexually molested by family and friends. My sister would beat me when she got in trouble for not doing the dishes with me after we were told to do them, but the alternative would have been getting beaten by my parents for not doing the dishes, so I was going to get beat no matter what I did. I wished that someone would do the fucking dishes with me. A girl can get lonely amidst the dissolving suds.

Our Mother’s Face

We thought we could improve perfection, Mama

When we drew lines across your face
Highways of asphalt scars connecting the
Clusters of concrete wounds on your cheeks
High rise buildings offering every luxury but you, Mama
We dig into you without asking, Mama, pounding into your bedrock
Even as you gently rock us to sleep each night, as if our actions are alright
We are the ones who refuse to turn out the lights
We don’t hear your wisdom, Mama, which you sing softly even now
We boast loudly but when do we listen, Mama?
We are shaken to the bone when we drill into you, Mama
Between fracking and petroleum, our hearts are in pandemonium
We make ourselves ill when we poison your blood
Dumping debris into your waters
We choke as we pollute your lungs
Pouring smoke into your atmosphere
We share a single circulatory and respiratory system with you, Mama
Our shortsighted deeds will always come back to haunt us in spades
We drink from your abundant cup, rarely satisfied that we have enough
We pretend to be separate from you even as we depend on you for our every breath, from birth to death
We think we know best but we haven’t fooled the rest, only ourselves
We act big, but we are dust on your mighty shoulders, Mama
Our mother has the most gorgeous face
Deep blue-green eyes and a sparkling smile
Bathed in rich brown skin, holding the miracle of life itself within her
Her beauty cannot be improved by anything man-made
To thrive, she needs only to be loved by those she loves unconditionally, by us
This is her divine lesson of self-love
Caring for the Earth is caring for ourselves
We spring forth from the Earth’s womb, are nourished by her breast, and remain connected to her indefinitely by an unbreakable umbilical cord
Though we mistreat you, we love you and we need you, Mama
You are the only oasis in the vast desert of the universe
We feel calm and content when we are close to you, Mama
Words are not your language
We must show our love for you through actions
Spending quality time with you
Living simply and sustainably
Voting with every transaction
Passing legislation to protect you from destruction by our hands
We have injured you too many times in the name of profit Mama, which only robs ourselves of true wealth: clean air, water and soil
We can’t buy more of you in any store, Mama
When we hurt you, we hurt ourselves more
You wait patiently for us to learn, even as we pillage and burn
You demonstrate how to love more completely, Mama, but that does not excuse our transgressions
This Earth Day, may we pause for reflection on our self-centered predilection
May we hold you in the center of our heart, where you always belonged from the start
Though at times we get distracted, more of your children are treading softly on you each day, Mama
May I be one such child of the Earth, and help others so inspired do the same
Your health depends on what we do today
May we lift our faces to you and see our collective dream come true

Finding Sukha

Sometimes I feel angry
I could blame my parents for the anger they passed down to me through their nature and their nurture
But they are only survivors of abuse and neglect themselves, victims of inter-generational psychological torture
I like to think that they were doing the best they knew how
With limited resources at the time
It was a different world back then;
There was little awareness and poor preparedness,
Less information and more isolation

Sometimes I feel sloppy
My movements get choppy
I crash, splash and make a mess
I only hope that I don’t take anyone down with me
When I slip and fall
Reminding me that in my haste, I don’t save time at all

Sometimes I feel on edge
I am irritable and my mind carves a ledge
Off of which I can easily slip
Into a hellish well
Of memories echoing back at me
Little things that seem big disproportionately when viewed at close range

Like the time an ex gave me condescending lip
When he proudly pronounced the word ‘dukkha’
Then judged me on how the Sanskrit word (not the concept, mind you) was unfamiliar to my vocabulary at the time

Dukkha is commonly translated as ‘suffering’, which is an important concept in Buddhism because the Buddhist path was designed to liberate people from suffering by helping them first overcome their desires/selfish cravings

I am all for liberation, but his elitist attitude was not resonating with me
That fool tried to school me on suffering like I’d never suffered a day in my life, when I’ve suffered every damn blessed day of my life

So I gave him a lesson in letting go of attachment by leaving him

I thought he could stand to benefit from the lesson and

I don’t need to take shit from a privileged prick about fancy words that I was too busy earning a living through sex work to have the time to learn from a text book

Books are hella expensive anyway

That’s why I gladly share my writing freely

Cuz I want it to reach people like me

People who were born into economic or emotional poverty

Through these simple words I string together

I humbly hope to help alleviate suffering in others

Perhaps it only helps alleviate my own suffering, but even that would be enough

I am a person, too

Also, writing feels like free therapy to me

I’ve still never been to actual therapy

I hear the prices are crazy

But I digress…I don’t have the energy to deal with fits of vanity

from spoiled boys who get off on looking down on me and the rest of the world

I think that instead of judging anyone who hasn’t heard the word ‘dukkha’
It would’ve served him better to find sukha
Sukha means ‘ease’

My point is this:
Everybody experiences dukkha (suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness or stress) and hopefully sukha (happiness, ease, pleasure or bliss) in their lives
Everyone around the world attends the school of life; we are born, live and die in that classroom
But not everybody has access to the luxury of learning outside of their immediate human interactions
However that makes them no less educated than those who have the resources for recreational reading
At least in my book

So I’d tell that ex (if I could stomach the thought of communicating with him, which I presently don’t)
That if he thinks he is superior to others
Because he’s so well-read
Then maybe he should know
How to fit his ego back inside his head

With compassion, I recognize that fear of inadequacy lies at the root of his speaking boastfully

Here are some lessons that I’ve learned, and they aren’t in Sanskrit:
The ego inflates easily but deflates again eventually, and when the ego balloon gets stabbed by a needle it can be a long, hard fall down to the ground                                                                                                    Liberation from our egos and freedom from our desires is the ultimate gift
Money can buy a book but it can’t buy wisdom
Material wealth will get you inside the ivory tower but it won’t shelter you from suffering

Just look at my ex; he was rich in his wallet but impoverished in his heart-mind
Leaving him so that I could be poor but happy
Was a decision that put me at ease,
At ease like sukha

Sometimes I need a lesson in letting go too

Sometimes I find sukha