Tuesday, February 26, 2019

SOLTuesday: Rain Last Week, Sunny but Cold This Week

Last Tuesday I was still traveling (in Birmingham, Ala.), and raining again, for the third Tuesday in a row, but this week I am back in New York City, where it is sunny but cold cold cold. I’m trying to get up to speed for the daily slices starting Friday.
            Last Tuesday I had free-lance work to do, then went out to lunch at Miami Fusion, where I had a jerk chicken salad, very tasty but unlike any jerk chicken I’ve had before, more like a sweet and sour sauce. Then I visited the main branch of the Birmingham Public Library, where I read the first few chapters of Jo Nesbo’s retelling of “Macbeth” in modern terms.
            In a corner of the library lobby was a used-book store, where the library sells donated books. This seems like a brilliant idea. The New York Public Library’s main branch has a shop, but it sells new books as well as all kinds of gift items. Only one branch in Manhattan that I know of accepts used-book donations and holds regular book sales. I spoke to the volunteer at the Birmingham Library bookstore about whether I could send her books, and she told me about flat-rate boxes from the U.S. Postal Service. I will look into that tomorrow.

It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

SOLTuesday: Rainy Traveling Tuesdays

It’s my annual trek to warmer places, if only for a few weeks. This year I’m visiting Alabama, where I have a friend who teaches in Mobile, and civil rights museums and memorials to visit in Montgomery and Birmingham.
            Last Tuesday and today, it’s been rainy. Warmish, but wet, both days. Last week I was in Mobile, today I’m in Montgomery. Last week, I was feeling the culture shock of living in car culture. At home in New York, I walk many places and take the subway or bus—have never owned a car in my life. When I travel, I often rent a car, and I love to drive, but driving is just another mode of sitting. I think last week my body wasn’t used to the walk-to-the-car-drive-park-walk-to-wherever-drive-park, and it rebelled by, paradoxically, not wangint to do anything. And I couldn’t go for much of a walk in the rain.

           So last week, I drove to a barbecue place called Meat Boss, had a pulled pork sandwich with sides of baked beans and Asian slaw, then drove to a couple of malls and just walked around the stores. The Walmart was the most interesting to me, since we don’t have one in New York. It’s like a department store, but horizontal instead of vertical, and in miniature, since each department is smaller than, say, a Macy’s, but there are some departments our New York Macy’s doesn’t have, like automotive supplies, or guns. I didn’t buy anything, just walked.
            This week, in Montgomery, I’m in a hotel in downtown. Most of the sights I want to see are in walking distance, so I feel much more at home. Luckily, I was in a drugstore when the deluge came, so I was able to sit inside until the rain slowed, then found a coffee shop a few doors down. Then an art gallery next door, with a tour company next to it. By the time I’d arranged for a civil rights tour for Thursday the rain had stopped and I could go across the street to Island Delight, a Jamaican restaurant, for jerk chicken lunch. Delicious. Walked some more around the city, made a reservation for dinner tomorrow night, found where I’ll eat dinner to night (more barbecue), and back to my hotel. I haven’t quite gotten to 10,000 steps, but maybe getting out for dinner will do it.

It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.


52Essays2019, #4: Dear Hannah Johnson

I’m traveling in Alabama and came across a newspaper called the Alabama Gazette. It had a front page “article” denouncing New York State’s new Reproductive Health Act, which removes abortion from the penal code and puts it into the public health code, and also permits late-term abortions to preserve a woman’s health or life. I felt compelled to respond to the author’s rant, but I can’t decide whether to actually send this to the writer. Will doing so unleash a torrent of hate e-mail at me? So I’m offering my rant to the Internet, and ask, what should I do?

Dear Hannah Johnson,

Concerning your front-page article, “Abortion vs. Life”:
            You clearly misunderstand what the New York State law that upsets you so is about. It has nothing to do with “killing” an unborn baby at term. New York State’s Reproductive Health Act maintains the 24-week limit under which women can seek abortions, but adds a provision for abortions at any time IF the baby would not survive the birth naturally. Additionally, the act permits abortions at any point if it is necessary to protect the MOTHER'S LIFE OR HEALTH. In other words, it applies only to permitting a doctor or properly trained medical professional to remove a nonviable fetus — that is, a baby that is already dead in the womb or that will die at birth from severe abnormalities — from the woman’s body to preserve her life or her health. In other words,
            I respect your beliefs and your right to hold those beliefs. But you do not seem to respect the beliefs of those who disagree with you. No one in New York State will be forced to have an abortion at any point in her pregnancy. Your article in the Alabama Gazette quotes the Christian Bible, but the laws of New York State and of the United States are not based on the Christian Bible. No doubt you think they should. HOWEVER, the United States is not a Christian theocracy. The United States Constitution states clearly, in the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....” This means you are free to practice your Christian religion, but you are NOT free to insist that the government enforce your religious beliefs on others.
            In the case of abortion, the life you care about is apparently only the life of an unborn person. What about the pregnant woman? Does she not have a life as well? What would you say about a 48-year-old woman, happily married, whose only child has just left home to attend college — and she finds herself accidentally pregnant? Would you force her to have a baby against her will? Isn’t FORCING a woman to bear a baby against her will akin to slavery? This 48-year-old woman is not hypothetical; it was me almost 30 years ago. I am not sorry I had that abortion at 11 weeks. I am relieved that I was able to have it safely and legally; I am relieved I was not forced to go through a pregnancy at such an advanced age, who knows what effect it would have had on my health. But that was MY decision to make, not yours, or anyone else's.
It’s another year for the essay a week challenge, 52EssaysNextWave. If you’d like to try it, go on over to the Facebook page for 52EssaysNextWave and sign up. Or just read some of the essays that will be linked to there.