Abortion, choice, and the cold hand of government

I’ve said this before and I’m going to keep saying it as long as I have to. The terrifying thing about abortion bans like Alabama’s is not their manifest contempt for women. It’s what this can result in three or four steps down the road.

If a woman doesn’t have the right to decide to end her pregnancy, then she doesn’t have the right to decide to continue it, either.

These laws put that decision in the hands of the state. Right now we’re in an evangelical, life-begins-at-conception phase. No one can have an abortion; that’s what these laws purport to say. But they don’t say that. They say the state, not the woman, gets to decide. And what happens when our attitude shifts, as attitudes do?

Deformed fetuses. Fetuses that’ll grow into disabled adults. Fetuses genetic testing indicates will be diseased. Maybe we should abort them, whatever the woman carrying them thinks, to save everyone the heartbreak — and cost — of their short, unproductive lives.

The sixth pregnancy of an opioid-addicted woman already on welfare. Maybe we should abort it, whatever the woman carrying it thinks, because she clearly can’t look after the kids she’s got.

Muslims.

Blacks.

Jews.

“JEWS WILL NOT REPLACE US!”

They sure won’t, if they don’t get born.

China did it for decades. Every woman who already had a child had to, by law, abort any further pregnancies. Can’t happen here?

Why not?

If the state gets to decide then the state gets to decide EITHER WAY. This is not about banning abortion, not about abortion per se at all.

This is about who gets to make the choice.

 

 

 

The Adventures of Bella the Cat

After the bustle of Edgar Week, hanging with friends, going to events, watching my buddies win awards (and sometimes lose, boo-hoo) it’s back to normal life, or what passes for it around here. This morning, Bella the Cat had to go to the vet.

Nothing’s wrong; it was just her yearly appointment, which was actually scheduled for two weeks ago. However, that day, my technique must have been unsubtle. She caught on to my attempts to stuff her in the carrier, pulled off a daring escape, and sequestered herself under the bed.

So I waited two weeks, during which the carrier was in the living room with a nice dirty towel and some catnip in it. I used a cat-distraction trick, scooped her up, and slipped her into the thing head-first. I got it zipped before she could turn around.

And what a yowling was heard throughout the land! She screamed her head off from the minute I finished zipping until I picked the thing up and slung it over my shoulder.

Then, suddenly, silence. Silence all the way on the 8-block walk to the vet. She peered intently out the front screen and sniffed. She was a feral kitten, was little Bella, and maybe she was getting memory cues of her youth. I don’t know; all I know is, last time we did this the yowling never stopped until she was face-to-face with the vet.

This time, not another peep, even during the exam. When the vet was done she climbed back into the carrier with no complaints, said nothing the whole way home, and contrary to expectations, she seems to have decided I did nothing today for which I need to be held accountable.

I love New York, and

I’m walking behind a young boy, maybe four years old, and his dad. They’re holding hands and talking in Spanish, about the parking place they found and something about Mama that I didn’t get. Then the kid says, “We need ta poo.”

Dad says, switching to English, too, “You just went before we left home.”

Kid: “We need ta poo.”

Dad: “Well, I don’t, so if you don’t, then we don’t.”

Kid: “We need ta poo!”

Dad: “Okay, no problem. We’re almost at the park and they have a potty there.”

Whereupon the kid stops, pulls on his dad’s hand, points to the stuffed bear the little girl ahead on the sidewalk is carrying, and says, slowly and loudly because adults can be so dim-witted, what he’s been saying all along: “WINNIE! THE! POOH!”

I love New York.

I love New York so much I made a 2019 calendar. Get yours now while there’s a discount!

SJ Rozan 2019 Calendar

All the photos except one were taken in New York. Extra points if you spot that one.(Hint: this isn’t it.)

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers fighting against gun violence, against concentration camps for children, against climate change. To fathers not in the fight: look at your children, and ask yourselves how they’ll feel about the world you’re leaving them.

I Love New York

In NYC, when you’re doing a construction job, you post a copy of the Building Department-approved façade drawing. One of my neighbors did, and another neighbor seems to have found it boring, and thus enhanced it. I love New York.

Anthony Bourdain, RIP

Anthony Bourdain’s Twitter bio is one word: “Enthusiast.”

photo by David Scott Holloway

Many, many times I’ve found myself wishing I were living another life instead of the one I have. If you asked me, though, of all the actual people I knew or knew about, whose life would I want, there are few. At the top of that short list was Anthony Bourdain. His love of adventure, food, culture, people, and his access to them all, made me acutely conscious, as I watched “No Reservations” and later “Parts Unknown,” that I was sitting on my couch in my living room while he was Out There.

I don’t know what happened. But typically, he handled it his way, went out on his own terms. I’m so, so sorry it came to that. And I’m grateful he was here.

In his spirit I offer this week’s Food-friendly events from Eating in Translation.

Bourdain said, “If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food.” So let’s get out and move!

The Pizza’s Purse; or, What Exactly Do You Do at Bookcamp?

I’m out in Wisconsin (except for you people also in Wisconsin, who can read that as ‘I’m here in Wisconsin’) as the Writer in Residence at the Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp. Kind of like bootcamp for books. This is my fifth year in this gig, and I love it. Some photos herewith; but it’s not the beauty of the place that’s mostly responsible for how I feel about coming here. Though the place is beautiful. It’s a retreat center west of West Bend, in the eastern part of the state. You don’t need to know that, I just got a kick out of saying it.

This is farm country, and right now everything’s green and lush. A farm bordering the property on the west has the biggest cattle I’ve ever seen, a breed known as Belted Galloways. I’ve been told, by the way, that cattle like it when they’re sung to; I’m going to try it tomorrow and woe be unto thee who told me that if it turns out not to be true. This property is gently rolling, with a pond, lots of lilacs in bloom, trees, woods, streams, plus a chapel, comfy reading spaces, and a labyrinth to walk if you get the urge. The rooms have beds, chairs, desks, bathrooms with showers, and that’s it. No TV, no room service — in fact, no maid service. Your room’s made up when you get here, and after that it’s up to you. No fancy stuff. A dining hall for your three hots, a couple of classrooms. There’s also a spa where you can get a massage and suchlike but I’ve never seen anyone use it. Maybe when other stuff is going on, but Bookcamp week, everyone comes to work.

And that’s why I love this gig. We have breakfast together, the “campers” and the “retreaters” and the staff. Then the retreaters go off and write, and the campers come to class, where Phil Martin and I teach Beginnings, Middles, Ends, and Whateverthehellelseyouwanttoaskus. Lunch, more writing, critique sessions, talks by outside experts. We have a number of returning students, which is great, and people go from “I want to write a book… I think…” to “I’m a writer working on a book” and that’s what I love most. People taking themselves and their writing seriously. It’s what I love most about Art Workshop International in Assisi, too (for which, plug plug, there’s still time to sign up this year) but if you feel Italy’s a bridge too far and you want to do a workshop in the US, next year here would be my recommendation.

Oh, that pizza. At lunch yesterday we were for some reason discussing pizza at my table — not clear why, because we weren’t eating pizza — and a couple of people started advocating for pineapple on pizza. I was strongly in the opposition camp. Someone said I was looking at it wrong. The pizza, she said, is the crust and cheese and tomato sauce and ham. The pineapple is like an accessory, the one that makes the outfit.

“You mean, like a bracelet?” I asked skeptically.

“No, more like a purse. A really great purse. The pineapple is the pizza’s Prada purse.”

Which would be why I love writers.

Chapel wall

Pond

Water lilies just starting to bloom

Stream

Giant cattle far away

 

 

 

Where I stand

“These aren’t people. They’re animals.”
Trail of Tears.
“These aren’t people. They’re animals.”
Auschwitz.
“These aren’t people. They’re animals.”
Cambodia.
“These aren’t people. They’re animals.”
Rwanda.

If this is what my country has come to, I stand with the animals.

Clarifying on the US Embassy move to Jerusalem

Israel has always claimed Jerusalem was its capital; this is not new. The Knesset meets there, government is centered there.

It has also always accepted foreign embassies being based in Tel Aviv because the situation of Jerusalem is so precarious. No one but hardline Israelis and their hardline American Jewish supporters — like Jared Kushner — was ever pressing for the US to move the embassy. Because everyone could see what that would mean: more death, more hate, and the hardening of positions on both sides.

Kushner’s self-satisfied, self-righteous, and self-centered Judaism is not mine, and not the Judaism of anyone I know.

The people behind this evil move would do well to remember the story of the rabbi who, in a vision, was afforded a glimpse of the afterlife. His students crowded around him. “What is the punishment in the afterlife for the sins of youth?”

“There is no punishment for the sins of youth.”

“None? And what is the punishment for the sin of breaking the Laws?”

“There is no punishment for the sin of breaking the Laws.”

“There is not? And what — ”

“My students, in the afterlife, there is punishment for one sin and one sin only.”

“What sin is that?” the students cried.

And he told them, “False piety.”

 

About that baby goat…

The following is the story of my weekend.

Many of you know I have Four Fabulous Nephews. The bad news part of the story is that the oldest of them, a JetBlue pilot in his 40’s, has colon cancer. The good news part of the bad news is that the type he has was found early and is apparently eminently curable, though the cure involves a long, unpleasant process: heavy duty chemo, which he recently finished, followed by lighter chemo and radiation, followed by surgery, followed by more surgery to finish the repair. So, very unpleasant, but successful some huge percentage of the time.

He’s sweet, friendly, frank, and generous, this nephew. In short, Fabulous. In typical fashion, he didn’t keep his illness a secret, thinking knowing about it might push other people to get exams, help, etc. When his friends found out they wanted to do something for him. There’s not a lot one can do — he has good health insurance, so he doesn’t need a fundraiser, even — but a bunch of them decided to put on a concert honoring him and raising money for cancer care.

More on the friends later. This nephew lives in Saratoga Springs, so the concert venue chosen was the Proctor Theater in Schenectady. (Proctor jokes re: colon cancer are acceptable but I believe they’ve all been made.) My sister Debby from Philadelphia and I decided to go up, and Debby’s friend Alice came along.

First up, I met them in Newark because Debby refused to drive into NYC. When I got to the parking lot meeting place I saw this:

because after all Debby and Alice met in circus class.

Next, the drive to Saratoga, where we joined a bunch of family for bbq dinner and a little hula hooping.

 

Then Debby, Alice, and I went on to our evening’s accommodation: a yurt on the Mariaville Goat Farm. Debby found it online. She sent me a couple of B&B options, but this looked so much like Mongolia I couldn’t resist.

It has glass in the door and it has windows, neither of which a Himalayan yurt/ger will have, and it’s built a little differently. But the coziness of a yurt at night, especially with the rain falling softly around; and the sounds of goats in goat conversation, are exactly the same. In the early morning, tea outside, birds chirping in the mist; then breakfast, supplied by the lovely Ed and Rick, who run the place — it was heavenly. Yes, before you ask, a yurt has no plumbing, there’s a outhouse. I promise you it’s cleaner, brighter, and more welcoming than most of the public bathrooms you use.

So there we were, waking in our tranquil yurt in the morning, hanging out, but we had to pack up our stuff and put it on the shelves by 10:00 because it was time for — goat yoga! Yes, Yoga for the Journey offers yoga in the yurt. With goats. This was something I’d never heard of, but it seems to be a thing (google it, go on) and it was great! The perfect thing for stretching out and, well, petting baby goats at the same time. Which you know you always wanted to do, right?

Finally, we had to leave the farm, sigh, and head down to Schenectady for the concert. So, as I said, the concert was organized by the nephew’s friends. Who are they? Well, Nephew is a bagpiper. Yes he is. The concert was bagpipe soloists and bagpipe-and-drum bands, from near and far, all donating their time and talent —  and renting the hall — so the ticket revenue could go to a cancer charity of Nephew’s choice. I love piping and this concert was just great. Also, great to see how the piping community came out to support one of their own.

After it was all over, we headed happily south, back home. We drove through pouring rain — that was my part of the drive — then Debby and Alice dropped me in Newark and continued on in clearer weather. I took the PATH to the subway and got home just about midnight. I jumped in the shower before Bella the Cat even noticed I smelled like goat. Though, for all I know, she wouldn’t have cared. What a great weekend!