( Rosh Hashanah )
It's genuinely disorienting to encounter all these spaces where I don't have to educate anyone or fight to be seen for who I am. Other people have already done that work, and leaders have clearly been receptive to it. (Rabbi Lippman is queer, but I don't assume that cis queer people will be welcoming to or understanding of trans people, especially nonbinary trans people.) I get to just show up and be a human being in human community. What an immense privilege. What a gift. Honestly, that might be the thing that gets me to stick with this—just the pure pleasure of being in a place where I didn't personally have to claw out a space for myself.
Josh met me and Kit in the park and we walked for a while (GMaps Pedometer says I walked 3.2 miles today, most of it pushing a heavy stroller with a heavy toddler; my feet and arms are very tired). I teased him that he should be glad I didn't make him meet the rabbi. But this is my thing, really. Maybe it's my latest three-month hobby. Maybe it'll be more than that. We'll see.
Essentially I found myself in a mood to ask myself, just how much plastic is passing into the environment via my purchasing habits? Even though I send a lot of it to recycling, that's its own use of energy. Mostly I was looking at my grocery shopping:
- I already take my own reusable bags (or reuse old plastic bags) at the checkout, and for fruit as well. I do like to get the occasional new plastic bag for use as bin-liners; I'm going to try emptying their contents directly into the red bin for a while, instead of tying the bags off and putting them in all together. But I haven't found myself throwing much into the red bin since making this resolution so no data on how that goes.
- A 2L plastic bottle of milk every 7-10 days. And you can't even reuse milk bottles to store water against emergencies; hygiene aside, the plastic breaks down over time. Speaking of emergencies, though, I'd been considering getting a bag of milk powder for my supplies. So I thought I'd try it in every-day use. So far it's worked well in baking, yoghurt-making, hot chocolate, and morning cereal, ie all my normal uses except drinking straight from the fridge, which will wait until summer for testing. It takes a few moments extra in the morning to mix it (my preferred method: boil the jug, dissolve the powder in a bit of boiling water, then add cold to desired strength) but it's become part of my routine over the last couple of weeks so I think I will keep this one up. Bonuses: here at least it's significantly cheaper than fresh milk; no running out at inconvenient moments; and conversely no finding that it's gone sour before I've finished it.
- A plastic bag around my bread each week. I've revived my bread-making to avoid this; to be honest it's the one I'm least likely to keep up. OTOH I have discovered that if I bake the bread and let the oven cool somewhat but not completely, it's a great place to incubate yoghurt overnight. And the bread is so tasty - it's just the time it takes. We'll see. I may just keep going through phases on it.
- A plastic bag of muesli every week or so. I'm experimenting with pick-n-mix (taking my own bags) but pick-n-mix rolled oats alone cost about the same as (budget) prepackaged muesli. :-( Does anyone know why rolled oats and muesli come in plastic, when flour and sugar come in paper??
- A couple of plastic packages of shaved ham every few weeks. (The recycling status of which I was never sure about, so red-binned them!) Careful attention revealed that cheap ham at the deli is cheaper than cheap ham prepackaged. Moreover today I was brave and found out that if you take your own container along they'll use that instead of a fresh plastic bag. (At least the guy I struck today did, and even set the scales to discount the weight of the container though I wouldn't have minded that little bit.) So I just need to keep organised.
Beyond plastic - I've also taken to washing dishes in a tub, and using the water on the garden. (Someone at church has set up her laundry pipes to use water from that on the garden; I think I'd just flood the house.)
And recently I came across SolarAid, a charity whose selling point is that you can 'offset your carbon' from flights you make by funding solar-powered lights for personal use (eg kids doing homework) in developing countries to replace kerosene, which besides emitting copious carbon dioxide is expensive, not that bright, and seriously unhealthy. It seems win-win-win so I looked for a catch but couldn't find any.
Anyway this came at a time shortly after a) I'd made some international flights and b) I'd received a tax rebate from last year's charitable donations so next thing you know I'd apparently donated enough to get sent an example solar light in the mail. It just arrived today, and it's cute and lightweight and works out of the packaging, and I'm weighing up whether it goes in my emergency kit or to City Mission here because goodness knows it's not just kids in the developing world who can't do homework due to lack of money for power.:-(
I know you have fought, again and again, for the ACA. Thank you. Please continue to fight.
Allow me to tell you about my personal situation. I am fifty-five, female, and employed. When I was a child, I was diagnosed with asthma. These days, I’m mostly fine. I have a rescue inhaler, but rarely need it. But that diagnosis is a pre-existing condition. That means that, if the Graham-Cassidy bill goes through, I could be denied coverage. When I was in my thirties, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. I was treated, and am currently just fine; I no longer even need drugs to manage this condition. It is even possible that the diagnosis was not entirely correct. However, that diagnosis is in my medical chart, and therefore a pre-existing condition. Therefore, I could be denied coverage. When I was thirty-five, I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. I have a CPAP machine which I use nightly. It won’t last forever. I need to replace the mask at least once every six months. This is a pre-existing condition, and I could be denied coverage. Any one of these conditions could kill me. Any one of these conditions could mean that I can be denied coverage. And not just denied coverage for this condition, but denied coverage at all. This has happened to me before. When I lost my job, no insurance company would offer me any coverage at all, because of the bi-polar diagnosis. I was fortunate enough to live in Minnesota, which offered Minnesota Care. Not every state has such programs.
The holy grail, according to the Republicans, for health coverage is “choice.” As if I, or most people, have ever had any real choice. I get my insurance through my employer, who negotiates with an insurance company, and those negotiations don’t include me or my interests. I may be offered a “choice” of tiers. When my employer and the company they have contracted with parts ways, no amount of pleading will allow me to keep my doctor. I will be subjected to transitioning care to whoever it is that my employer has contracted with this year. This has happened to me over and over and over again throughout my working life. The claim that the ACA has reduced choice is laughable. Most of us have had no choice, anyway. What it provided, what it guaranteed, was access. I might prefer to see the doctor I have been seeing, sure, but I _need_ to be able to see a doctor. I have preferences, yes, but access is much more important.
Health insurance isn’t like car insurance. I can choose to pay a minimum amount to cover my old beater, because quite honestly, if it’s in an accident, there’s not much point in fixing it. This is not true of my body. I can’t just write off my aging body as not worth fixing. I can’t decide to buy a new, better body. Still, we are required to buy car insurance, if not for ourselves, for the people we might hurt if we run into them. And in this sense, there is a similarity between health insurance and car insurance. Health insurance means that I can afford to get vaccinated, and treated for serious, contagious diseases such as tuberculosis. And that protects everyone I come in contact with, including those who are too young, or in too fragile health to get vaccinations. This is important, and necessary, for all of us. I really don’t want to die of bacterial pneumonia, and neither do you. I don’t want to watch a generation of children be crippled by polio, or die of scarlet fever. And yet, when you strip away the ability to get health care from the poor, this becomes a very real danger.
Please continue to fight. Please feel free to share any of the details of this letter with your colleagues or anyone else in this fight for my life.
Sigh. My senators are Franken and Klobuchar. Maybe they can wave their numbers in someone else's face.
I really don't want to die. Why do the Republicans want to kill me?