I am on a search for truth about food, healing, and the holistic approach to life.
I blog about my curiosities and my whole self, which tends to be anything that's not cool to bring up at parties: gardening, periods, mental illness, poverty, injury, sex therapy, codependence, healthy eating, poop, avocado tree hoarding, feelings in general, and honesty. I haven’t actually blogged about periods yet, but I do always bring it up at parties.
Please call your legislators this morning (Tuesday April 30) and ask them to support AB 1481 the Just Cause for Eviction Bill they vote on today!
From Yesenia Miranda Meza at the Alliance of California Community Empowerment:
“We passed a statewide rent cap out of the first committee! Last week, ACCE members staged a two day sit-in at the capitol in support of the Keep Families Home bill package…”
“Two of us, Mari Sanchez and myself [Yesenia], even stayed overnight inside the Governor’s office the night before the hearing.
For many of us, the #KeepFamiliesHome bill package is about actual survival. We did legislative visits, made countless calls, sent thousands of emails, voiced your concerns on social media, and tried every “appropriate” channel to urge our legislators to choose tenants over corporate landlords. And when all of those tools failed, we used the only tool we were left with: our bodies. We were forced to physically sit in and demand to be heard.
Our efforts made a big difference…
One of the key bills, AB 1482 to stop rent gouging statewide, passed out of the first housing committee with 6 to 1 votes in support! Unfortunately, AB 36 the bill to expand rent control was pulled off the committee agenda and is sitting back in rules committee.
One hurdle cleared, next up: we need to get statewide Just Cause for Eviction protections out of the assembly judiciary committee: Call 3 Key Legislators voting tomorrow to urge them to support AB 1481!”
“Tomorrow the Judiciary Committee votes on whether or not to support AB 1481 to prevent landlords from evicting families unfairly – requiring them to have a just cause for the eviction like failure to pay rent, vandalizing the property, etc.”
“Call Ed Chau, Brian Maienschein and Cottie Petri-Norris NOW to urge them to support AB 1481 – Just Cause for Evictions tomorrow!
Californians know that it is simply unfair for a tenant who has done nothing wrong to be evicted arbitrarily by a landlord for the sake of profit. With homelessness on the rise and displacement crisis deepening every day – we need eviction protection now more than ever.
Make 3 quick calls to key legislators on the Judiciary Committee to urge them to vote YES on AB 1481 tomorrow!
Last but not least, pressuring these legislators costs money. Money to send members from San Diego to Sacramento. Money to text voters to let them know whats happening. Money to run ads on facebook letting the public know this is happening. Please chip in what you can to help us push the #KeepFamiliesHome bills over the final hurdle!
Please share this ❤️
Last year, the opposition spent $70 million to convince California to vote against the rent control bill on the ballot. We have a chance to stand up for ourselves and for others by letting our voices be heard for free.
Read AB 1482(the one that passed out of the first committee!)
Instead of the 10-200% increases currently happening, AB 1482 would make it so that each year, rent can only be raised by 5% plus the percentage change in the cost of living, which was 2.4% in this past year.
“…the ability to distinguish between self and others is extremely important. During the first period of life, new-born children develop an understanding of where their own body ends mainly through being touched by those who care for them. Problems with the self-concept, such as the ability to recognise one’s own actions, are common in several psychiatric disorders. Most people cannot tickle themselves, but some patients with schizophrenia can, suggesting that their brain interprets sensory perceptions from their own body differently.”
“We saw a very clear difference between being touched by someone else and self-touch. In the latter case, activity in several parts of the brain was reduced. We can see evidence that this difference arises as early as in the spinal cord, before the perceptions are processed in the brain”
“The researchers showed that the ability to experience simultaneous sensory perceptions was damped when the participants stroked their own arms. Maybe this phenomenon can explain why we, for example, rub our arm when we bump it against a table.”
Fascinating. What I get out of this is that our brains are less scared of our own touch. When it is not us, we’re immediately working harder to understand what is touching us. Is it a bug? A snake? A human touch? Is it safe? Is it welcome? WHAT IS IT.
It seems to me that familiarity with something, knowing what it is, gives a feeling of safety. I think that’s why we so often try to repeat the same experiences with the expectation of the same positive outcome.
I think it’s so beautiful that we can comfort ourselves with our own touch. It’s like one less thing in the world we need to figure out. Except for when our arm falls asleep on our chest in the night and we wake up like WHO’S ARM IS THAT.
I wonder how the brain looks when we are being touched by someone we know and love.
Looking at the study itself and not the article, it says: “It remains unclear how the brain differentiates self- and other-produced slow, light skin-to-skin touch—the kind of touch people use to stroke their loved ones.”
But it goes on to say that even though they don’t know what the brain looks like during this loving touch, behavioral studies suggest that both touch from others, especially the loving kind described above, and/or self-touch “contribute to establishing the bodily self.”
Establishing the bodily self. Amazing. It’s like touch reminds me I’m alive. That’s wild. Firstly, that I need a reminder, and secondly, that touch is a potent reminder. Loving touch from others feels this important to me as it’s happening, but I’ve never included my own touch as something powerful for myself.
I think of this brain calmness that comes with self-touch as a natural reassurance, like “If it’s me touching me, I must be safe.”
But then I think a person who cuts themselves, or of when someone takes their own life. In those times, there is a lost trust of ourselves, and a false trust in our own touch. In some ways, suicidal people may perceive those last touches as their only form of comfort. Or in the case of cutters, those cuts are in some way a release of or a distraction from the mental pressure and pain being experienced. Even when those feel like the only options, there are a slew of others. Ones that return us to trusting that we can exist in this world, ones that renew a true trust in our own touch. Often, we haven’t yet experienced these options enough, or at all, to believe in them or trust them at first. But they’re there.
As I do my own therapeutic work, I’m learning to have a better relationship with myself. It’s nice to know my brain and spine already feel comforted by my own touch. I love the idea that before my brain registers who I am, my body intuitively already knows. Somewhere, my heart is starting to listen, to know me too, and trust me.
The rain is freaking me out. So is the cold in the rest of the country.
The special features of Children of Men in 2006 had a scientist who shared that as the planet gets warmer, the polar ice caps will melt and for some amount of time, we will get colder in response to things getting hotter. This stayed with me because, while I don’t like global warming, I do get distracted by the loveliness of warmth- but I am terrified of the cold. It was motivating to me.
When we first moved to LA, I was a farmer in Silverlake. I learned the patterns of weather in 2011 & 2012 because I was out in it and it affected our job. When the rainy season, winter, came in December and January, we couldn’t always work. We bought seeds and worked on finances over lunches indoors.
But over the last eight years, the rainy season has shifted. Last year, it seemed to rain more in February and then it rained a lot in March, which was noticeably different. The plants bloomed and blossomed bigger than they usually do because the combination of water and spring sun gave them more of a chance to thrive. But then they were too tender too close to the scorching summer and the edges of many plants burned and the extra growth died back.
I went home to Tucson for the holidays and it rained in December. The Tucson desert doesn’t rain in December. It has a monsoon season in the summer where it pours storms. But this was a heavy rain, smack in the middle of the wrong season.
The rain in Los Angeles this season is also different than I’ve ever seen. It’s colder and longer. I see on the yearly and monthly almanac that there are random years with more rain. But this feels so different to me.
People are excited for the Super Bloom. I was so happy to go to it in 2017 after the drought for so many years. But I feel like it may be a response, this year, to global warming. I don’t know how to feel about it yet. Some part of me wishes I could enjoy it. It seems like it will feel like cake may taste to a diabetic: sweet and daunting.
LA has so many transplant residents that it might be harder for people here to notice the yearly weather patterns. I feel like many humans tend to be in a car or on a phone or computer instead of outside on the ground developing a relationship with the cycle of life happening around them. Without that connection, it seems easy not to take action.
I keep trying to think of ways to start a big-small movement, where, while people are working on political protections for the environment, even more people can do small effective actions together. I understand that big actions are needed. But I think we each have so much power to make small change.
I think our society often looks for fast, complete success and can get impatient with, or not notice, small growth. So we don’t keep on going to let the small growth add up. But if we got excited to believe in our individual capability, and trusted that slow manageable change is very powerful, we could really make a difference!
And I believe the practice of loving ourselves leads to this type of trust and belief.
I dream of hashtags that we all can participate in-
#SundrySundays Have one day a week where we don’t use laundry dryers (dryers release a lot of unregulated pollution and use a lot of energy)
#OneThirdPlantBased Eat one vegan meal a day (the pollution from raising animals for dairy and meat contributes more to global warming than cars and all transportation combined, and it’s methane from their farts which is 23 times more planet-warming than CO2 from cars)
#2HoursADay Spend at least 2 hours outside each day, to get away from the screens, in order to notice what is around us
#WhatIDo List each action you take to do your own part
#SmallSustainableCommitment Commit to one or two small green actions that can be sustained over a year, without judging the size, with pride for the action
#MentalHealthLeadsToRealWealth Take time and space in our lives to learn to love ourselves, through therapy, free group therapy or whatever fluffs our muffins, because when we come from true self-mattering, we value the nourishing world around us and believe we’re worth whatever effort it takes to care for ourselves
My true hope is for a movement to organically happen. (That sounds like a poop metaphor. Poop metaphors and animal farts… It’s the first time they’re not funny to me.) But if you are a teacher or a leader, or a person who hides from the world, or both or any type of person that would want to share these hashtags, or talk about getting together to spread an idea, or who is already part of an environmentally-healing movement that you’d like to share, please let me know.
Writing this out makes me realize what’s really resonating with me:
I’d love to hear the stories of other people who are noticing the weather and world around them. It would help me feel less alone, and safer, because when we all see the same problem, we’re more likely to act in ways that heal it.
What is your connection to the land, sky, wildlife and water around you and have you noticed those things changing?
The links below are good summaries of how often we’re exposed to pesticides and how pesticides affect us as endocrine disruptors, which are hormone-disrupting chemicals. Endocrine disruptors can negatively impact any organs affected by hormones, causing imbalances in the thyroid, slow metabolism, sex-hormone related cancers like breast cancer and prostate cancer, infertility, birth defects, developmental disorders and sexual development problems.
Often the small amounts of endocrine-disrupters we’re exposed to add up in different places like our cleaning products, make-up, pesticides and plastic materials that have entered our food chain, etc. And those combinations plus our own levels of stress can accumulate and cause problems for us.
In aquatic animals, who absorb more quickly than humans, studies show when they’re exposed to endocrine disrupting chemicals, they have lower levels of serotonin and the males have increased feminization. Some male frogs in the pesticide-filled run-off water from farms have multiple sets of babies. I watched a special about it on PBS and was shocked. Years later, Amazon’s The New Yorker docu-series did a follow-up on the scientist who was on the PBS special and they shared how the chemical companies were trying to discredit him because he made them look bad. I was so grateful that PBS and later, The New Yorker, were using their platforms to share important truth.
If you’re having any hormone-related problems, or you’re interested in long-term self-care in this way, eating organic gives us a less exposure to these chemicals. Using natural cleaners around the house like baking soda and vinegar and getting rid of chemical cleaners can help too. And learning how to regularly detox our bodies helps to clean out the inevitable intake of endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
I’ve been learning about these things for years, but have had a hard time taking actions and committing to a consistently cleaner lifestyle. I think it’s hard to do without therapy. They may seem unrelated, but I emotionally eat, so whenever I’m overwhelmed, the clean diet goes out the window. I tend to only take care of myself when I get in enough pain. And I seem to be able to walk around in pain for a decade or so before I reach my level of “enough”.
Luckily, I’ve been doing a lot of therapy. And it’s helping so much. My relationship with myself, and with food, and with Shane, and with my family, and with life in general, has changed for the better.
Last year, four loved ones passed away. I gave myself permission to comfort-eat. And I’m glad I did. But a blessing in disguise has arrived from it… I gave myself a little health problem.
I had an easy lady-cycle until I was 21. Then I became a vegetarian and ate a lot of soy, dairy, sugar and wheat for 6 six years. Then a nutritionist let me know my body doesn’t want soy, dairy, sugar or wheat. When I eliminate those things for about a month and a half, my cycle is easy again.
But when I don’t, all hell breaks loose. It’s been over a decade of monthly problems, but I seem to have amnesia about it each month and continue my behavior.
Grieve-eating was important for me to do. And now it’s given me the gift of more physical pain. Which is actually what I needed to finally bring my hormonal problems into the light and work to heal them. I’m grateful for a medical problem I’ve developed and hope it’s enough inspiration to slowly change my self-care habits over the next six months.
I’m also grateful for my past medical problems that have led me down an unplanned path of learning that so many health problems can heal. The hope and power in that knowledge is spectacular to me, and the slowness at which it’s possible and the honesty with oneself that it requires, keeps me connected to a vulnerability and groundedness that I adore, but would otherwise naturally avoid.
I tend to focus on telling others what to do, on “helping” by giving unsolicited advice to people who often aren’t interested in it (thus the unsolicited part!), and on hyper-researching as a way to numb out and never focus on myself. So thanks for letting me start this as some sort of PSA. I think I’m basically writing it for the one person who is actually asking for this help and advice… me. Ha.
I repeatedly return to focusing on myself through out each day. It’s not a habit for me. Trying to save everyone else is my habit. A friend of mine has been using the phrase “closed feedback loop” a lot and I like it. My closed feedback loop of thought and action used to circle around from focusing on others back to focusing on others. Now, at least sometimes, it starts with them, but ends with me. So I’m glad I did it again. Any way that I can remember to include myself is great, even if it’s messy and flailing. I just want to be patient with my growth. Slow and steady seems to be the only effective thing. And there is no race at all. (Inhales, exhales… )
Sending love and light to us all as we walk this journey of life!
I have a mental catalog of where every object is in our house, just as this article discusses. It’s nice to hear that it takes energy to keep that catalog. It helps me to honor my reality, that sometimes I’m doing more than I give myself credit for.
I remember living with my sketch comedy group, a house of guys, after college and being so surprised that they couldn’t see the cobwebs and giant dust-bunnies in the stairwell. I remember, once, picking up the pubes off my roommate’s toilet while he, knowing I was cleaning his bathroom, leaned back on the sofa in the other room and sighed, saying loudly, “Ohhhhh, I’m sooooo boooorrrrred.” I remember family coming to visit and saying, “Ruth, this house is so dirty. Don’t you feel ashamed? You’re the only girl! Can’t you do something?” One roomie said, “I wish I could have a girlfriend so I wouldn’t have to clean.” Another’s sister let us know that his mother would teach her to clean, but follow him around picking up his socks. People would say things like, “Ruth, you’re Wendy, taking care of the Lost Boys!”
I knew to let these ideas hit an invisible wall in front of me and fall with a thud, abandoned on the ground.
But it still seemed so strange and confusing to me. I wasn’t Wendy. I wasn’t taking care of them. We weren’t on an island and they weren’t orphaned ageless animal-onesie-wearing children. (Well, we did all wear animal-onesies in sketches at some point. But…) We all worked. We all didn’t have kids. We all pursued the same comedy dream. Why did I need to be the live-in maid?
Cleaning was hours of work that the guys could spend writing at a diner. I opted to go with them.
But I also always wondered why, not only did people have this expectation of me, but why did I notice the dust, the dirt, the tiny spider-egg sacs on the table cloths, but the guys didn’t?
I was ignoring the dirtiness. They seemed, honestly, to not see it.
This article talks about how this is what we’re both taught. And, later in life, women don’t feel comfortable asking for it to change. Or they don’t know how to ask. I think both sexes unknowingly perpetuate the ideas by living within these roles and then teaching our kids to repeat the cycle.
It’s years later now and those guys and I are all still friends. I love them a lot.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that I spoke my truth during those years about 1% of the time. I wasn’t being honest about anything that bothered me or what I wanted.
I was terrified, to the bone, to be considered “a nag.” I unknowingly picked up the idea that women were hated by men, that they were a “ball and chain,” that men thought women were trying to seduce them and then make them have babies and pay for the babies’ college, that women were manipulative and vain and annoying, or even worse- that word again- nags.
I picked up that being liked was equivalent to being safe, like in a wolf-pack kind of sense. So I really wanted men, and everyone, to like me.
I picked up that men were what was valued by society. I also picked up that being sexual was very bad. So instead of choosing to have value by my side, I chose to be like a man as my way “in.” I wanted to prove I could be like them. But although they were valued, they seemed to be given an ultimatum. They receive value, in trade for their vulnerability. It’s not a fair or healthy trade. But I didn’t know. And my perception now is that they didn’t either. Because that’s what just seemed to come with the territory of being valued, I accepted the lack of vulnerability. So to never nag, or really, to never have wants or needs, to play it cool, to entertain with humor and prove my commitment, those became my goals, and I met them.
But I carried a loss of self, and part of that was the joy of home. I wanted to live somewhere clean, healthy, comfortable, and inviting. I hated that I wanted that. I thought it was “nesting” and “female” and I tried to swallow it down.
Now I see how much I was hurting myself in so many ways. But at the time, I didn’t know any other options. I like that this article says Marie Kondo’s show gives more options. I like that I’ve already learned more options too.
I finally have empathy and understanding for my roommates. They came from households where there were worlds of reasons for them to have the behaviors that they did. Same for me. We were all doing the best we could with what we knew. No one was trying to hurt anyone. We were all just walking responses to upbringings that were also not trying to hurt us. And then we tried to live together.
In the present day, things are different. Lots of growing. I think we’re closer to our true hearts. I don’t know my all of my old roomie’s new living habits, but I do know two of them…
Thank you to my partner for helping cook delicious meals and clean dishes consistently and do laundry, out of a love for your home and yourself. I’m grateful to live in a house where we don’t keep tabs on each other, where we can say, “Look, I did this chore!” and the other will say “Thank you,” where we have done enough therapy to mostly know how to ask for our wants and needs, to know gratitude doesn’t take away our worth, to feel safe and valued so we can be vulnerable, to mostly know when to trust the other person, to mostly accept them for them, and to mostly still speak up for ourselves too. And to understand that “mostly” is realistic and great.
I think it’s fun that we get to live with each other. I’m grateful for you, baby.
I’m also excited to watch this show. I wrote all of this and haven’t even watched the show yet.
The average chicken wingspan is 2-3 feet. There is a current law that says egg-laying hens must be able to open their wings fully without touching an enclosure or another hen.
Prop 12 will take away space for these hens to move around, but it will also take away their cages.
I wanted to know which option was better, but in my research, I learned more than I expected: There is a second current law that contradicts the first in many ways. Both are being used by farmers now.
How do we know how to vote on Prop 12 if we don’t know which law to compare it to, or if the second law will continue to stand?
Prop 12 is misleading in layers, like a confusing and undelicious croissant. But I love croissants and even the the worst croissant is still a croissant, right? Well, it’s really up to each person’s tastebuds. I can see why anyone would want a croissant at anytime, but I seem to have lost my appetite.
Here is a top layer:
Prop 12 says there will be a temporary time where hens are confined to 1 square foot of space, with that time ending in 2022 when hens become cage-free.
But Prop 12 uses a definition of cage-free that means 1 to 1.5 square feet of space.
And the definition is technically left out of the proposition. Instead, Prop 12 says in 2022, the hens will become cage-free based on The United Egg Producers 2017 Guideline’s definition. If the public doesn’t look up the guidelines, the definition is very rarely mentioned in the press and will most likely go unnoticed.
And while people who want a more free type of cage-free may not be aware of the content of the vote, the LA Times is telling the public that one-square foot is exactly what those people want:
“The new initiative sets the standard initially at 144 square inches per bird — one square foot — which is the level at which a hen is considered by activists to be cage free.”
Although it took me two days of researching to come across Prop 12’s cage free definition, it is in one obvious place: The CA Official Voter Information Guide. It’s in the fine print, but there nonetheless (see the little letter “c”):
The part that estimates 1.5 square feet as the Prop 2 requirements is incorrect. Prop 2 requires enough space for an egg-laying hen to open their wings without touching an enclosure or another egg-laying hen, which is larger than 1.5 square feet.
I still think this graphic helps bring some visual clarity to the discussion. Please note that organic egg-laying hens get 3 total square feet: 1 inside, and 2 outside on soil.
Prop 12 is written by the Humane Society who wrote Prop 2 in 2008. (Prop 12 is simply edit suggestions for Prop 2.) But the Humane Society misled the public by marketing Prop 2 as cage-free, when they knew it didn’t have wording in it that addressed cages (because they wrote it).
The Humane Society co-wrote this new prop with The United Egg Producers, but the UEP opposed the original “cage-free” prop in 2008.
The UEP is “a cooperative that represents members with 95% of the egg-laying hens in the United States” according to The Gianni Foundation of Agricultural Economics at the University of California.
It is the UEP’s definition of cage-free that Prop 12 is using. Using the guidelines for cage-free from a group that opposed the original cage-free bill feels wrong to me.
More layers of Prop 12 that are different from Prop 2:
When Prop 12 says “hen,” it refers to a duck, goose, chicken, turkey or guinea fowl, which are all different sizes and have different spatial relationships with 1 square foot of space. For example, an average chicken hen has a 2-3 foot wingspan, but a smaller turkey’s average wingspan is about 4.9 square feet. Neither of them could open their wings in one square foot of space, but the turkey would be even more cramped. On the contrary, Prop 2 says they would all be able to open their wings and turn around.
Prop 12 will undo the ability for hens to spread their wings and fully turn around, laws that Prop 2 established. After Prop 2 passed, egg producers sued saying the prop was unconstitutionally vague because it decided spatial requirements based on a hen’s wingspan and ability to turn around, but the Superior Court of California and the Federal District court said Prop 2 is not vague, is measurable, and enforceable, and just because plaintiffs didn’t like it didn’t mean it was unconstitutional. I’m paraphrasing, but the judge really was that sassy about it. The court also said:
“All Proposition 2 requires is that each chicken be able to extend its limbs fully and turn around freely… Because hens have a wing span and a turning radius that can be observed and measured, a person of reasonable intelligence can determine the dimensions of an appropriate confinement that will comply with Proposition 2.”
Prop 12 adds temporary times where the hens can be cruelly confined (no more than 24 hours in a month). Prop 2 doesn’t have temporary times.
Prop 12 names someone who would enforce it, unlike Prop 2, which named no one. But the two new groups enforcing Prop 12, The Department of Food and Agriculture and the State Department of Public Health, wouldn’t announce their rules of how to implement Prop 12 until September 1, 2019. So we’re voting to agree on rules that don’t exist yet.
Prop 12 would give the hens scratch areas, perches, nest boxes, and dust bathing areas. These are vital to the bird’s health, not extra amenities. But Prop 12 doesn’t specify how many of these items will be added per amount of birds, or at all. The dominant birds get protective of these areas and if there aren’t enough areas added, it can cause fighting, anxiety, and attacks which sometimes lead to death. I think it’s important for us to know what we’re agreeing to… How many areas are being added? Some chicken farms in California have thousands of hens. How many perches for the whole farm?
With Prop 12, if a buyer says they knew a seller tried to sell them products from animals that were cruelly confined, that seller can defend themselves with a good faith certificate from their supplier that says the products weren’t cruelly confined. This doesn’t sound very ethical to me.
Here’s a deeper layer of misleading that is currently happening, which confuses me the most:
I was feeling like Prop 2 was the better option, but then I learned that it may not be being enforced, and not just because no one was appointed to enforce it.
In 2013, five years after Prop 2 passed with 63% of the public’s vote, the California government created California Code Regulation 1350, which covers the same subject as Prop 2, and is contradictory to it.
CCR 1350 defines spatial requirements based on amounts of space instead of animal behavior. It allows 8 hens to be in one cage and receive 116 square inches each, which is less than a square foot, which means they can’t open their wings, which means it’s contradictory to Prop 2. But CCR 1350 has 8 options of spatial amounts. 1/8th of those options may comply with Proposition 2, depending on the size of the hen. But the other 7/8ths do not comply with Prop 2. (The full CCR 1350 is below in the extra reading section)
Also Prop 2 and CCR 1350 went into effect on the same day, January 1, 2015.
Both laws are being used at the same time even though they are contradictory. (One says they have to have space to spread their wings, the other doesn’t leave them space to spread their wings, except in one of its eight options.)
Is the government allowed to write a law that contradicts a law that the people voted in?
This simultaneous-laws-concept seems to be left unchecked because people who voted for Prop 2 haven’t heard about it. Also, maybe because they wouldn’t know what to do about it if they did hear about it.
And also, because the California Department of Food and Agriculture in charge of CCR 1350 say that 1350 isn’t contradictory to Prop 2, but that they can’t really check because they’re not in charge of regulating Prop 2.
But no one is currently in charge of regulating Prop 2. And, ironically, these are the very people who will become in charge of regulating Prop 2 if Prop 12 passes.
It is disheartening to me that the California Department of Food and Agriculture who wrote the second law (CCR 1350) which undermined the one on which the public voted (Prop 2) would potentially regulate the new law (Prop 12). It is also disheartening that there are two separate conflicting laws that egg farmers can use right now. Instead of the public being shown that the prop we voted to pass can be ignored, we are being offered a new prop.
But since Prop 2 and CCR 1350 already co-exist, isn’t it possible that Prop 12 could also co-exist with CCR 1350? It seems possible. If you know the actual answer, will you share it with me?
I’d like to keep Prop 2’s freedom for the hen to move around, vote to eliminate CCR 1350, vote to take away cages, add a specific ratio of nesting boxes, dust-bathing areas, scratch areas and perches per amount of hens, add an enforcing agency to Prop 2, and vote on the rules of implementation.
In regards to the present vote…
If I compare Prop 12 to Prop 2, I don’t think Prop 12 is as good. I really like moving around. If I were a hen, I could still get in a little jail workout with Prop 2. But I might be in a pen with some assholes that aggressively won’t let me work out. But Prop 12 still would feel like jail to me because I’d be even more claustrophobic, potentially with the same assholes.
If I compare Prop 12 to CCR 1350, I would still get more space with Prop 2, because it in itself is the rule that I’m guaranteed to have enough space to spread my wings. Everything else isn’t that guarantee.
But the problem is that I don’t think egg producers aren’t abiding by either law right now. The CDFA is supposedly enforcing CCR 1350, and the courts said that any law enforcement is capable of and allowed to enforce Prop 2, but in the almost 4 years that Prop 2 has been in effect, it’s only been enforced once.
Last couple of layers:
There are other parts of Prop 12 that are also weird, like telling out-of-state egg farmers they can’t sell in California unless they use our rules. That is weird to me because it seems to be illegal to tell other states what they can do.
Prop 12 is literally just edits to Prop 2. So why pretend we’re adding this new idea about out-of-state, when it already exists? What’s the difference between having it as a separate law with Prop 2 or as part of Prop 12?
One might think the reason is so that if people fight the validity of the out-of-state part of Prop 12 after it is in effect, and it turns out not to be valid, that the whole prop would become invalid. But it says right in Prop 12 that if any part of it isn’t constitutional, they’ll cut that part out and the rest will stand.
Also, maybe no one but me was thinking that except me. But I’m happy I checked.
Six states are currently suing to fight the validity of Assembly Bill (AB) 1437. The out-of-state part of Prop 12 and AB 1437 seem like a waste of time, money and mental/ emotional/ spiritual resources to me.
I’d like us to focus on what we do have the legal ability to change for the better.
What that is is unclear to me.
What to do
I really can’t tell which is better, to vote yes or no, only because the whole thing has been so surprising that I wouldn’t be surprised that I’m missing something. I feel like people who are going to the chicken farms and can see what the farmers are actually doing (vs. what they’re supposed to be doing on paper) would know the best next step. If you’d like a trustworthy source on why to vote yes, I enjoyed this blog: Yes on Proposition 12.
This seems like a Lesser of Two Evils situation. It seems people will vote based on their philosophies about that philosophy. One may try to vote for the less of the two evils. Another may think the opposite evil is less. One may be really confused about how to tell which is less in the first place.
But my current philosophy about this philosophy uses the metaphor of relationships. If I’m in a bad relationship, it is unhealthy for me to think, “This is as good as it gets.” If I think, “I haven’t dated, I don’t know if there are better options,” I may never leave to see if there are better options, giving my brain and heart practice with this lesson that trying to live a full life is off limits. It’s not a healthy muscle to strengthen because then I end up applying it to other situations.
I’m learning to matter. Part of that lesson is learning that when someone gives me two choices, there are probably more options, I just have to give myself permission to ask for them, or to say no to the two choices and trust that in the unknown future, a better option is waiting.
The other part of that lesson is noticing when someone is trustworthy. And knowing that their trustworthiness can change. It’s pliable, so I have to stay mindful and aware. I used to be someone who wanted to have a switch flip and know everything will be okay. But now I see that I need to continuously be mindful about my relationships to keep myself safe and connected. I used to think that was exhausting. Now I see that being mindful is like eating: it’s normal to have to keep doing it.
In this metaphor, I’d be deciding whether to continue a marriage with Prop 2 or get divorced and start dating Prop 12, but find out CCR 1350 got a marriage license with me even though we’d never met. Whether I stay or go, I’ve got to do something so this weirdo doesn’t keep telling people we’re together when we’re not. Or in non-metaphor words:
Whether I vote no or yes on this prop, the California government has shown they are untrustworthy by undermining the result of the people’s vote. Other laws are upheld with seriousness. The 63% of the people who voted Prop 2 into law didn’t just have their law ignored, they had it defied. As far as I understand, this can happen again. My main take-away from all of this is that I want to continue to pay attention past the vote.
That’s great, but seriously, what do I do?
To conclude, my opinion is that I support everyone in going with their gut. And the most important part is finding out if the government will uphold the vote afterwards.
If you’re like, f-this, I think there should be no cages no matter what, I totally get it. If you’re like, no way in hell, they need more space, I totally get it. If you’re like this is a shitshow, I still don’t know, AAAAA! I totally get it. Even if you’re like, I don’t care, emotionally, I understand how people can come to that conclusion.
This all seems like a giant distraction with no real change occurring within the government.
Where the change is clearly growing and being nourished is within the public’s level of caring and education. Good on us! That’s hard to do with all of the other parts of life swirling around.
I’m grateful to have learned a lot about the history and present regarding the welfare of the egg-laying hens in California.
This is a living document, meaning, I was passionate about sharing what I’m learning, but will keep adding to it once it’s published because it’s too much information and I’ll never share it otherwise.
If you’d like to read more details about how I got this information, there are more resources, stories, and more of an in-depth background in a longer version below…
I wish you self-care, love, gentleness and nourishment. May we all trust that doing the simplest acts of kindness towards ourselves, like receiving a long-slow breath, can add up to a life we feel grateful to live. Politics isn’t the only answer. The little positive things really can add up.
DEEPER READING BELOW
The extra sections below are for folks who would like more details.
A Letter From A Famous Farmer
A Misconception About the Humane Society
Who Doesn’t Like the Humane Society?
Federal District & Superior Courts Decide Prop 2 is Clear
Measuring the Birds
Two Current Law Options: Prop 2 and/ or CCR 1350
Current Law #3
A LETTER FROM A FAMOUS FARMER
I wrote to a famous farmer, at least famous to me, who humanely raises animals for meat. I trust this farmer and value their opinion so even though they live out of state and they won’t be voting on Prop 12, I asked their opinion. They have never met me and we’ve never communicated, so I figured they wouldn’t write me back. But they did. They didn’t say I could use their words in this blog, so I’ll paraphrase.
Their response was that the HSUS has been in the pocket of big agriculture from the start, that way HSUS gets a seat at the table. It didn’t surprise this person that a slight of hand is occurring over this issue. They said to look at who is for the Prop: the HSUS who they know to be fraudulent and Big Egg (the United Egg Producers), who are trying to protect their turf.
The farmer’s philosophy is that we don’t need laws to protect animals, we just need people to think about their food source as much as they think about entertainment. Then the demand for humanely-raised food would naturally happen, and the other types of food wouldn’t be produced anymore.
I agree with this most of this idea, especially the part about thinking more about our food sources. But we’ll come to a crossroads when trying to vote with our wallets if the labels we go by are misleading us to think animal welfare is happening when it isn’t. It made me wonder what the definition of cage-free means on the current boxes of eggs in the store.
But the main point now is that it was beyond good to hear from this farmer. It let me be more open to the idea that the Humane Society of the United States might not be an angelic as I had assumed.
A MISCONCEPTION ABOUT THE HUMANE SOCIETY
Many people think the Humane Society is affiliated with the Humane Societies in their town, like an umbrella organization for local chapters. I learned from researching that the Humane Society of the United States isn’t affiliated with local humane societies. On the HSUS website it says clearly, “Local humane societies and SPCAs are independent entities and are not run by the HSUS or any other national entity.”
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) does work with local chapters on training, evaluations, publications and other professional services.
But it does stand out to me that they seem to give the public the impression that they are affiliated with local chapters. Again, it seems misleading, which is a pattern of behavior at this point to me.
The Humane Society’s goals are more about preventative animal protection through legislature. That sounds good, but it may mean that they end up being focusing on fundraising for lobbying, which can be so important, but can also sometimes lead people down the distracting path of greed.
WHO DOESN’T LIKE THE HUMANE SOCIETY?
This one is a hard one for me. I think it’s hard for humans to discover that things that make us feel safe aren’t always what we think they are. Endorsers trust the Humane Society to protect animals. Opponents say that the Humane Society is scandal-ridden.
I’ve learned that Big Meat sure doesn’t like HSUS. And I learned that Big Meat exists. I guess I had thought about it with dairy, but that’s all. Anyway, it’s easiest to learn negative information about HSUS through meat lobbyists.
But PETA is opposing this HSUS Prop too. And I learned that it’s naive of me to think that PETA and HSUS would be on the same side of every issue. I’m learning that no one is ever on the same side of every issue.
I found a No Kill Shelter advocate who is doing a very honest and informed job of exposing the truth about HSUS’s behavior in regards to no-kill shelters. Nathan Winograd and his wife have written the All American Vegan cookbook and run the No Kill Shelter Advocacy.
In a blog about a Minnesota vote that was upcoming, that would grant animals the protections he describes, he speaks soberly and with great experience on his website NathanWinograd.com:
“Publicly, HSUS has stated that it is against the gas chamber, against heart sticking , for rescue rights, believes in transparency, supports bifurcated holding periods, and that all animals should be held for a period of time… Of course, those public statements are designed for just that: public consumption. And public consumption means donation dollars…
But when it comes to its private actions, when it comes to meetings behind closed doors with legislators where taking a stand has a life and death difference, HSUS sides with those who want to continue killing with impunity. And if they get their way… that is exactly what will continue to happen: animals will continue… to be killed when there are empty cages and despite rescue groups willing to save them. And they will continue to be marched from the front counter where they are surrendered straight to the kill room…”
He shares that HSUS has stopped bills like this one multiple times. And he shares his experience where a HSUS employee told him the non-profit was going to start voting for no-kill shelters, but lied:
“Despite the fact that HSUS had worked to kill similar bills in Texas, New York, Florida, and elsewhere, I was more optimistic about shelter reform legislation succeeding in Minnesota because two HSUS representatives—a Board member and Jennifer Fearing, the person in charge of sheltering policies for HSUS—personally assured me at a meeting in San Francisco just over a month ago that the days of HSUS claiming “neutrality” …but then working to kill shelter reform legislation were over. They shook my hand, looked me square in the eye, and promised it would come to an end, only to violate that promise a few weeks later at the first opportunity…”
Later while reading about Prop 2, I was surprised to see that Jennifer Fearing was the campaign manager on the “Yes on Prop 2” campaign.
There is a great interview with her in the Capitol Weekly from 2008. She seems like she loves animals, especially her sweet dog. But the language in the interview brings up the next idea I had researched…
DID HSUS REALLY ADVERTISE PROP 2 AS CAGE-FREE?
This is important to me because if the HSUS deceived the well-meaning public with a proposition last time, it speaks to their level of trustworthiness. More info coming…
FEDERAL DISTRICT & SUPERIOR COURTS DECIDE PROP 2 IS CLEAR
The argument against Prop 2 is that because it doesn’t specify exact amounts of space, it’s too vague and therefore too difficult to enact.
In 2012, egg producers went to the courts to prove that Prop 2 is unconstitutionally vague by filing the lawsuit Cramer v. Harris et al in the Federal District Court for Central District of California. On February 4, 2015 Prop 2’s constitutionality was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In regards to Prop 2’s level of enforceability, the court said:
“Proposition 2 establishes a clear test that any law enforcement officer can apply, and that test does not require the investigative acumen of Columbo to determine if an egg farmer is in violation of the statute.”
The court also said that just because the egg producers don’t like Prop 2 doesn’t mean it’s not constitutional:
“The mere fact that Plaintiff dislikes or disagrees with the policy or language of Proposition 2 is not sufficient to sustain a Constitutional challenge.”
That same year, 2012, another group of egg farmers filed the lawsuit ACEF v. California et al in the Superior Court of California, County of Fresno, also claiming that under the California Constitution, Prop 2 is unconstitutionally vague. But in 2013, the Superior Court dismissed the case, but granted leave to amend. Their response was:
“The fact that the statute defines confinement limitations in terms of animal behaviors rather than in square inches or other precise measurements does not render the statute facially vague.”
The courts were saying Prop 2 is possible. Measure the birds.
MEASURING THE BIRDS
There are five species covered in the Prop, and each of those species has hundreds of types.
I spoke with a family farmer at the Hollywood Farmers Market who sells humanely-raised meat, and raises chickens for eggs, but only uses the eggs for her family. She taught me that most commercial egg farmers use one kind of hen to maintain uniformity. They often use White Leg Horn chickens for white eggs, and the larger Rhode Island Red chickens for brown egg production.
I thought it seemed possible for the farmers, who know what breed they’re using, to evaluate the breed’s wingspan and make space accordingly. But I still wondered if maybe it really was as hard as farmers were saying to find out how to measure the birds.
My family farmer friend said that smaller farms tend to have multiple breeds together free to roam on grass and they have so many less chickens that it would be easy for them to get the breed measurements. She let me know about the websites where she buys her chicks. This little detail made me realize it would be insane for someone to be in the business of egg farming and not know basic information about their product.
It also seemed that going by the size of the different hens would be in the best interest of the hens. I am a human, and so is my friend John, but he is more than a foot taller than me. So with this in mind, going by the wingspan leaves room for different breeds to have space, but also for different sizes of the same breed to have space, for the Johns of the chicken world to have equal wingspan treatment as the Ruths.
I think we live in a society that is used to a one-size fits all mentality. Diet books are for everyone, even though our immune systems, environment, stress-levels, hormones, and genetics are all different. When it comes to care for living things, a one-size-fits-all rule isn’t often realistic or effective. It disrupts the “care” part.
In the case of a Prop 2, I could seeing a chart working though, if they wrote out a slightly above average amount of space for each of the species and each of those breeds.
What I hadn’t thought of was that this animal-behavior based idea could also fit into a chart using math. Joy A. Mench and Richard A. Blatchford, both at the Department of Animal Science and Center for Animal Welfare, University of California, Davis, authored a paper published in Oxford Academic’s Poultry Science in April of 2014, eight months before Prop 2 went into law.
I don’t understand math well enough to understand what it is saying. But I’ll share it here anyway. And there is much more info at the link above.
The floor area [cm2 (in2)] used by hens when performing particular behaviors, as well as the height [cm (in)], wingspan [cm (in)], and wing flap floor area [cm2 (in2)] with 2.54 cm (1 in) added to the length and width of the hen
MORE ON THE CAGE-FREE MISCONCEPTION
The common misconception of cage-free is a beautiful idea of hens walking freely on grass, but it is different than the actual definition we’re voting on, which is: 1 to 1.5 square feet of concrete space in a building with no enclosures where hens can’t open their wings or turn around freely.
The grassy chicken freedom many of us are imagining as “cage-free” is fueled by the ads and even the logo for the Yes on 12 campaign that depicts chickens walking on grass:
MORE ON A COMPARISON OF PROP 2 & PROP 12
According to the CA Voter Information Guide, Prop 12 would consider the following illegal:
(1) Before 2020, any amount of space where laying hens can’t spread their wings
(But they can still be in a cage.)
(2) Between 2020 and 2022, any amount of space less than 1 square foot
(Even though now they wouldn’t be able spread their wings and they can still be in a cage.)
(3) Any amount of space less than 1-1.5 square feet and it’s called cage-free, even though it’s similar to what was happening in 2020 and 2021, because it’s not in a cage
(Even though they can’t spread their wings.)
Can’t spread wings or turn around
Can be in a cage
Limited to one-square foot
Limited to one or one and a half square feet
Now until 2020
2022 on, cage-free
MORE ON TWO CURRENT LAW OPTIONS: PROP 2 AND/ OR CCR 1350
I thought that the definition of cage-free was the most surprising part to me, but now the “current law” part is the most surprising. Really, the whole thing is a bag of surprises.
Prop 2 doesn’t write out exact spacial requirements, but it says it’s illegal to confine “a covered animal in a manner that prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending the animal’s limbs, or turning around freely… ‘Fully extending his or her limbs’ means… fully spreading both wings without touching the side of an enclosure or other egg-laying hens.”
I was surprised to find out that in 2013, California wrote out exact numbers of space requirements into the Official California Code of Regulations as CCR 1350. The regulations don’t comply with Prop 2 so I don’t understand how they are legal.
Also, it’s disturbing to me that the Voter Ballot Guide doesn’t mention these CCR 1350 regulations.
A list of other voter guide sites that discuss Prop 12, but do not mention these CCR 1350 regulations: the Easy Voter Guide which is a collaboration by the League of Women Voters Education Fund and the California State Library; VotersEdge.org; the Democratic Socialists of America LA’s voter guide; the CA GOP voter guide, CADem.org, Fox News’ A Guide to the Propositions on the Nov. 6 Ballot in California, LAWebsite.Net made by LA Podcast, the League of Women Voters Presents Pros and Cons 2018 State Propositions Video, the Knock L.A. Progressive Voters Guide.
Many of those voter guides have been so incredibly helpful in other ways, but the only voter guide where I saw CCR 1350 mentioned was BallotFYI.com. I also saw it in the San Francisco Chronicle, but not the LA Times.
The California Code of Regulation 1350 has a graph with amounts of space and the number of chickens that are allowed to be housed on that space. It ranges from 9 chickens living in 2.23 square feet of space or 1 living in .8 sq feet of space, which would mean none could open their wings. And these regulations of space are allowed to be in a cage. Here is the graph:
§ 1350. Shell Egg Food Safety.
3 CA ADC § 1350 BARCLAYS OFFICIAL CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS
Commencing January 1, 2015, no egg handler or producer may sell or contract to sell a shelled egg for human consumption in California if it is the product of an egg-laying hen that was confined in an enclosure that fails to comply with the following standards. For purposes of this section, an enclosure means any cage, crate, or other structure used to confine egg-laying hens:
(1) An enclosure containing nine (9) or more egg-laying hens shall provide a minimum of 116 square inches of floor space per bird. Enclosures containing eight (8) or fewer birds shall provide a minimum amount of floor space per bird as follows, using formula 322+[(n-1) x 87.3]/n, where “n” equals the number of birds:
Number of Birds
Square Inches Per Bird
(2) The enclosure shall provide access to drinking water and feed trough(s) without restriction.
WHICH CURRENT LAW IS IT?
For a moment, I’ll refer to Prop 2, the current law that was voted on in 2008, as Current Law #1, and CCR 1350, the current law that was added in 2013, as the Current Law #2.
Current Law #1 was passed in 2008, but was enacted in 2015.
I had originally tried to make sense of it all by wondering,”Maybe Current Law #2 that happened in 2013 stopped being the law when Current Law #1 went into effect in 2015.” But this didn’t end up being the case, because they both were enacted on the same day in 2015.
I couldn’t understand why the CA Voter Ballot Guide refers to Current Law #1 and left out Current Law #2, or why the majority of the arguments about Prop 12 also only use Current Law #1.
I also wondered why The San Francisco Chronicle and BallotFYI bring up Current Law #2 when the others didn’t.
BallotFYI’s only mention said, “California did eventually land on a number for hens: 116 square inches [0.8 sq feet].” But they linked right to the actual law.
If Current Law #1 is in effect, Prop 12 gives much less space, but takes away cages.
If Current Law #2 is in effect, Prop 12 gives more space to birds crammed 5 to 8 in a space, and takes away cages, but gives less space to birds sharing 1-4 in a space, and takes away cages.
The San Francisco Chronicle said of Prop 2, “The animal welfare movement contended [Prop 2] meant space equivalent to the bird’s wingspan — 2 to 3 square feet — but the state Department of Food and Agriculture interpreted it as less than a square foot.”
But the Prop really does say wingspan. It wasn’t an interpretation. How did the Department of Food and Agriculture “interpret” a clear guideline incorrectly and get away with it?
Also, why do singular hens receive the most space? Based on the other misleading, my first instinct is to ask, “Is that to distract the public with positivity about something that rarely happens because the common practice is to put as many as 8 in one space? Why are we still allowing multiple hens in one cage? And again, which law are we using?”
The answers to these questions seem like a huge foundation of what we’re voting on in Prop 12.
I only had an answer to the last one: I hadn’t thought about that Prop 2 says they need to be able to spread their wings without touching another hen, but it didn’t specify that they couldn’t all be in one cage, thus allowing multiple hens in one cage.
Sigh. A third law? There was Prop 2 and California Code Regulation 1350, and a third law, California legislature AB 1437, added in 2010, which said people selling out-of-state eggs to California had to abide by Prop 2. All three laws went into action on the same day, January 1, 2015.
Quick Review because our heads are going to explode:
Prop 2 = spread wings, turn in circle, in a cage, with other hens
CCR 1350 = 1 to 8 hens in a cage, different amounts of space for each group
AB 1437 = out-of-state producers have to comply with our state laws
The AW Institute also shared, “California’s Department of Food and Agriculture, the entity responsible for enforcing CCR 1350, has stated that it believes CCR 1350 meets the standards of Prop 2, but cannot state this definitively as it is not charged with administering Prop 2.”
Of the eight options in CCR 1350, only one meets the lowest option possibility for Prop 2. If there is one hen in a cage that is 322 square inches, that equals 2.23 square feet and if that hen is the type whose wing span is 2 square feet instead of 3, this scenario meets the standards of Prop 2. The seven other options in CCR 1350 are too small for the average hen wingspan of 2-3 square feet.
Since the California Department of Food and Agriculture is stating they cannot be definitive because they’re not currently in charge of Prop 2 (although if Prop 12 passes, they will be), it’s important to me that they don’t make guesses because that is misleading.
I went to college in Pittsburgh. I lived in Tucson, Arizona before that. It was a strange decision to move there. But they had musical theatre as a major and I was accepted and they gave good scholarships. I thought the little city and cold weather would be good practice for New York. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I went alone to a place where I knew no one.
The whole town was beyond different from the Southwest. I was lost. And confused. I was trying to understand so many new things. It was a hard time for me.
Years later, I’m absolutely smitten with the city and it’s loving people. And the theatre there is magical, supportive and life-changing. It’s one of my most favorite places in the world.
But in college, I had been used to the shorter history of the West and most buildings were newer where I came from. The Pittsburgh Playhouse was our theatre and is an anomaly, even to folks who grew up accustomed to the beauty of deep history. We performed, took class, rehearsed and worked inside the Playhouse, which was basically a pile of different buildings that were strewn together with secret hallways and staircases. The love for theatre joined together an old restaurant, a brothel, and a synagogue.
I feel like when we’re little kids, the way that we imagine any place to be what is in our minds, the unlimited possibilities of that, I feel like that is how the Playhouse really is. Walking through it feels like how parts of dreams come together- like it doesn’t make sense but it did at the time and it doesn’t need to.
Theatre seems to be a place where we can create like those little playing kids. And this building was a physical representation of putting things together to create something new. It felt like our giant treehouse rooted on the ground, made of cement, wood, love, and ghosts.
People had said they had gone down to the old restaurant and seen the entire room filled with happy, partying ghosts. The costume room still scares the living bejesus out of me. I think a friend saw a woman’s face in the little square window in the door, even though no one was inside. These are stories I’d be so mad to read if someone else wrote them. Sorry if I’m scaring you. I’m scaring me too.
Theatres always have ghost lights, a single lightbulb on a metal pole on wheels, that they put on the stage overnight. We were told stories about the ghost light and ghosts on the Rockwell stage, while we were standing on the Rockwell stage during our orientation. I was so scared that I blocked it out. And to this day, I don’t know if the ghost lights are there to ward off ghosts, or to help them see while we’re gone. I don’t want to know. Don’t tell me.
Anyway, this old place would receive new coats of paint like a neglectful dad repeatedly buying his kids candy to make up for it. We couldn’t really change the structure or rebuild the inside, maybe for financial reasons, maybe for structural ones. But boy did we paint it.
I got used to that. And now that they’re tearing it down to build a new theatre downtown in its place, I’m sad that we can’t just put another layer of paint.
I know that it logically makes sense to give something new and sturdy to the students coming to learn. And the caretakers of this old beast are probably exhausted from holding its organs together. But it’s sad that we won’t be able to visit our memories in the same way. We won’t be able to see, touch and smell them.
There will be pictures, and videos, programs, newspaper articles, costumes, set pieces, scripts, music, songs to sing and people… priceless friends and strangers with stories who remember.
But right now there is something that joins us with strangers we never knew who have passed on. It even houses some of them as ghosts. A lover of haunted places visited and said they felt an aura of entities, “Nothing evil, just perhaps all theatre enthusiasts, who find the performances a wonderful diversion from what is keeping them in this world.”
I think theatre can act as a diversion for what is hard for us in this world too. Other times it can act as a mentor, a question inspirer, or a glue that makes us realize we’re not alone. I felt alone when I arrived in Pittsburgh. It took a long time for the city and I to understand each other. This sweet place was part of all of that.
I hope someone films the view of walking all the hallways. Places like this don’t get made anymore. I think they’re important. They encourage imagination because they are proof that things can be unique and work. And they seem to attract people who were the type of children that liked playing with the box of the gift more than the gift.
Pittsburgh itself is filled with gift-box people though. So I think the new theatre will be in good hands. I just wanted to share that I’m sad. And share some of the wonderful uniqueness of this place.
I hope the good hands that continue the tradition of the Playhouse also leave a map to the new theatre for the ghosts. But they’re so good at navigating secret passages, they might find it on their own anyway.
Sending love to fellow Playhouse memoristas!
Photo by Point Park University
Rehearsal for Grand Hotel in the Playhouse
Pittsburgh Winter 1999
1951, Tree of Life Synagogue on the right Photo by Jack D. Mahony
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in the Playhouse’s Studio Theatre
Our Country’s Good in the Playhouse’s Studio Theatre
I remember the first time I heard that women were a minority. I was 22.
I grew up in South Carolina. My mother was a successful business woman. As kids, we were taught that it was important to treat everyone equally and with love. I moved to Arizona and finished high school there, then went to college in Pittsburgh. For 22 years, no one ever mentioned to me that women were a minority.
I took my senior of college year “off” and went home to Arizona where I took core classes at Pima Community College. My sociology teacher was a woman, a lawyer, who had graduated from Oxford. She mentioned minorities and casually listed women as part of the group. “Eeeek… How embarrassing for her,” I thought. “She doesn’t know there are more women than men…” I raised my hand. I would let her know. (Ha!) “There are more women than men in the US.” “Yes, I know,” she responded. “So they aren’t a minority,” I said. “Yes they are…” And then my female teacher explained to me that in my country, I am considered a minority, even though that isn’t based on math… It’s not based on the actual percentages of people, which is what I thought defined the word “minority.”
That was very jarring.
I think it’s misleading to call us a minority when we aren’t in the minority. It lets words familiarize us with an untrue concept. It’s said as though it is true. And I think some people may start to believe that we are actually in the minority.
A more truthful usage of the word would be “Women are treated like minorities.” If we said this, it would remind us each time it’s said that it’s about the treatment and not the math.
And that might lead us to think more about how we treat people in the minority differently than those in the majority.
And that could focus our attention on equalizing that treatment.
Since we are all created equally, it seems strange that these distinctions are made at all.
Also, if our heritage was broken down honestly, where “white” wasn’t an ethnicity, but instead, the actual countries of origin were listed, the ratio of minorities would be much more equal.
On my mom’s side, I’m Mexican, Native American- Tigua, Apache, and Yaqui, most likely Sephardic which is Spanish-Jewish… And on my dad’s side, I’m English, Scots-Irish, German, and Swedish. But on government forms, I can often only choose one place of origin. But if I’m allowed to check more than one box, they are only for my mom’s side. For my dad’s side, the only option is always “white.”
If we had honest boxes, where we included the beautiful, real pieces of our heritage, most likely the percentages of majority and minority would be much more even. And again, honest.
I wish those boxes said things like Hungarian, Italian, Irish… When it comes to food or drinking, we don’t think those places have the same “white” food. St. Patrick’s Day isn’t a time where “white” people have delicious homemade lasagna and play croquet. If I mistake a person from New Zealand as Australian, they are rightfully upset. These are all different places with unique, lush histories. And most of the time, we celebrate these differences. But the boxes that end up defining the word “minority” (except in regards to women) lump all these people together to form a false “majority.”
I find that people already have enough ways to have low self esteem. And that lack of autonomy and self love manifests in all sorts of addictions, anxieties and sadness. We don’t need to add more subconscious judgement to the fire. It hurts the people who may end up with a falsely inflated sense of self, and it hurts the people who may end up with a falsely deflated sense of self. Extremes either way take us away from walking the earth knowing we belong just as our true selves. I see that we’re changing and growing little by little and I’m very grateful for that. But I still wanted to share my feelings.
The article below is from 2015, I just read it today. Its respect for the power of words is what reminded me of my experience at 22 and inspired me to share. Thanks for listening. To those of you around me for those first 22 years, thank you for leading me into a world of equality. I find that my thoughts affect my feeling of freedom, which affects my actions, and I’m really grateful for the loving thoughts you all shared.
A bit about the article: Apparently some places outside of the US, like Europe, Africa and Hong Kong, regularly use the word “expats.” In America, I rarely hear people use the word expats. These countries use the word when referring to “white” foreigners working in their country, but they don’t use it to describe people of other races who are also working in their country. There are different words for those workers. The Guardian quotes The Wall Street Journal saying, “Some arrivals are described as expats; others as immigrants; and some simply as migrants. It depends on social class, country of origin and economic status. It’s strange to hear some people in Hong Kong described as expats, but not others. Anyone with roots in a western country is considered an expat … Filipino domestic helpers are just guests, even if they’ve been here for decades… It’s a double standard woven into official policy.” Click for full article:
I ADORE THIS. !!! Thank you thank you thank you both for sharing!! Please, anyone who comes across this post, watch this wonderful video. If anyone watching this can’t afford an AJ (the wonderful life coach), I highly recommend reading Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. It, and the journey it starts, has helped me so much and changed my life.
I’ve been learning new behaviors, much like the experiences shared in this video, over the last 3 years and while it’s an ongoing process, it has given me clarity and an understanding of the world in a way that I never had.
The video only mentions codependence one time, but in learning about the word over the years, it means so much more than what it sounds like, and most of the subjects in this video fall under its umbrella.
Although there is not one single definition of codependence, and there are over 50 codependent traits. Where I am today, I could see a short definition of it as “being someone who has a difficult time maintaining my authentic self in front of others” or as “being dependent on anything else to fill my self-esteem or to distract me from my lack of it.” The word “anything” leaves the range of options very open! And that range often includes extreme opposite behaviors, like people pleasing vs. isolation, even though both equal codependence. The result of the dependence on outside sources for self-esteem is usually an unhealthy relationship with oneself and others, which creates an inability to have real intimacy, which can lead to deep sadness and anxiety.
I didn’t recognize any of these behaviors in myself. I thought I was fine. But I knew my closest relationship left me feeling an ache that was dangerous. Luckily, someone opened up vulnerably in front of me about her imperfect relationship and after years of swallowing my pain, I randomly opened up to her. She told me to read that book.
I’m growing bit by bit toward real intimacy finally. Progress not perfection is a daily goal now. And as someone who never wanted to let anyone down, imperfection terrifies me, but finally makes room for me to live, take up space, and experience real authenticity and love with myself and others around me who are interested in authenticity and love.
I used to think that love was sacrifice or was shown by proving I would never abandon. I used to think I had to be needed in order to have a friendship or relationship. To learn what a healthy relationship is is mind-blowing to me. When I started to learn and accept my true self, I could let go enough to not be needed. To trust that without earning, I can be wanted. Just for me as I am now. Whew, that’s terrifying to write! But the times I’ve been able to put it into practice, it’s beautiful and creates real connection for me.
I had heard so many wonderful ideas in my life. Like “Be grateful” or “Detachment is healthy.” But in this journey, I’ve found that those ideas start at the end. Detachment hasn’t come first for me, self-acceptance, autonomy and self love are coming first, and detachment and gratitude are beautiful byproducts. I couldn’t let go until I had myself, my gut instinct and something bigger than me, to hold onto and trust.
It’s a daily struggle, but now I have many imperfect people around, who are also focused on healing, to grow with, and many tools to try to reconnect to love. I forget all day long. I was so practiced the other way for so long. I worry in a loop, I criticize my almost every thought, I use whatever I can to distract myself from feeling or healing. But when I can authentically allow love back in, the world shifts in a blessed way. It has been horribly difficult to learn this. But I’m beyond grateful for it all.
I believe that the type of individual growth Jada & Gabrielle are sharing about helps people heal and slowly start to manage addiction, anxiety and depression. It’s so good to see this deep discussion by people in the limelight. So grateful to these ladies for their vulnerability! THANK YOU again!!!!!
Sending love to those currently healing and who hope to heal
Holy Happy Halloween. Wow. I just read about this plant. It’s very thematically appropriate for today. Creepily dark. I mean, Holy S#*+. But first, I’ll start off not scary… This horror movie starts out harmless, with color and playfulness, as they do…
It’s called Brugmansia & there are seven different types. They come in pink, red, white, yellow, orange or green and they have a lovely fragrance that is most noticeable in the evenings. The plant was originally found in tropical areas in South America, from Venezuela to Chile and in Brazil. It’s now listed as extinct in the wild by the ICUN Red List, but is grown in the wild in places where it is non-native and ornamentally in yards. In Los Angeles, I’ve seen them in yards inland in Norwalk, and in the Hollywood Hills, and Beverly Hills. They get surprisingly tall. I’ve always been intrigued by them. I thought they were very beautiful and amusing, droopy sad cartoon plants that look like elephant wallflowers waiting for someone to ask them to dance. (Wouldn’t Brugmansia be a great name for a wallflower elephant?) Little did I know that they are much more strong than that!
The plant contains alkaloids that in modern medicine have proven to be medically valuable for their anesthetic, spasmolytic, anticholinergic, narcotic and anti-asthmatic properties. Although some alkaloids can be beneficial, there are many types of alkaloids and they’re used for many things. Cocaine, nicotine, morphine, caffeine & strychnine are all alkaloids. Different parts of the Brugmansia plant have different concentrations of the alkaloids scopolamine, hyoscyamine, and atropine that change with the seasons and the plant’s hydration. So determining a level of safe alkaloid exposure from the plant is kind of impossible. (A little bit unsettling right? Let’s cue the start of just the slightest underlying scary music…)
Indigenous South American cultures used it in spiritual or religious ceremonies and medicinally, mostly externally, where the leaves were applied to the skin as part of a poultice, tincture, or ointment. They used it to treat arthritis, rheumatism, headaches, infections, aches and pains, dermatitis, orchitis and as a general anti-inflammatory. Internal uses were rare because of its dangers, but when it was used internally, it was used in an extremely diluted state for stomach and muscle ailments, as a decongestant, to induce vomiting, as a sedative and to expel worms and parasites. Worms and parasites get the hell out of a body to flee from this stuff, that is very telling.
(However, let’s have a music change again, something light, happy and disarming…) Night pollinating moths are drawn to its smell. Attracting pollinators is always beneficial. Hummingbirds drink happily from the unscented red Brugmansia. And butterfly larvae eat the alkaloids and store them into their adult butterfly stage so that they are less tasty to predators. (So far this horror movies seems really mild and butterfly-friendly. But… Back to that creepy music.)
A couple weeks ago, as we tended to trees we planted with our Orchard friends, a tree expert walked with us and answered someone’s question about if this plant is poisonous by saying, “There’s a fine line between poisonous & hallucinogenic. Is it more toxic to your stomach or your brain?” In looking it up for this post, I see what she means. But DAMN. I thought hallucinogenic sounded like it had an element of fun to it. This is some scary Halloween morbid hallucinating.
Ingesting parts of the plant (the seeds and leaves are the most potent) can cause tachycardia where the heart rate is above normal when resting, dry mouth, diarrhea, migraine headaches, paralysis of smooth muscles, confusion, visual and auditory hallucinations that the person doesn’t recognize are happening- with amnesia that follows afterwards, mydriasis where the pupil is enlarged even in bright light, rapid onset cycloplegia where the eye becomes paralyzed and therefore can’t focus on nearby objects, and death.
Swiss explorer Johann Von Tschudi described a man who ingested Brumansia in Peru:
“Soon after drinking the Tonga, the man fell into a dull brooding, he stared vacantly at the ground, his mouth was closed firmly, almost convulsively and his nostrils were flared. Cold sweat covered his forehead. He was deathly pale. The jugular veins on his throat were swollen as large as a finger and he was wheezing as his chest rose and sank slowly. His arms hung down stiffly by his body. Then his eyes misted over and filled with huge tears and his lips twitched convulsively for a brief moment. His carotids were visibly beating, his respiration increased and his extremities twitched and shuddered of their own accord. This condition would have lasted about a quarter of an hour, then all these actions increased in intensity.
His eyes were now dry but had become bright red and rolled about wildly in their sockets and all his facial muscles were horribly distorted. A thick white foam leaked out between his half open lips. The pulses on his forehead and throat were beating too fast to be counted. His breathing was short, extraordinarily fast and did not seem to lift the chest, which was visibly fibrillating. A mass of sticky sweat covered his whole body which continued to be shaken by the most dreadful convulsions. His limbs were hideously contorted. He alternated between murmuring quietly and incomprehensibly and uttering loud, heart-rending shrieks, howling dully and moaning and groaning.”
Brumansia causes such terrifying hallucinations that the journal of Psychiatry & Clinical Neuroscience even reported of a man who drank only one cup of Brugmansia tea and then amputated his own tongue and penis.
Ancient South American cultures mixed it with corn beer and tobacco leaves and drugged wives and slaves with the mixture before burying them alive with their dead lords. Holy I Can’t Handle That.
From me & the boring plant world 😉 Happy Halloween.