Code Pink Journals CodePINK Journals

Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels across country in my mobile billboard truck as I attempt to engage in dialogue with people in hopes to wake us up and inspire action to change our country and communities and selves. And it is froth with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society and life we want

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Maybe it's time

A slight, short white womon in a long dusky blue trench coat breathlessly caught me as I was locking up my truck, grayish brown unruly curls peeping out from under a matching cap. "Here" she says, thrusting a handful of wadded up dollars as crumbled as her long coat. "This is all the money I have in my pocket."

First, I'm thinking she's homeless and thinks I am also so I ask her as I examine the bills in her outstretched hands "What is this for?"

She tears up as she lauds my bravery and declares she wants to support my work. She confesses that she used to be active when El Salvador and also Nicaragua was happening but when Ollie North was pardoned she realized it was rigged and we can't do anything.

This gave me the opportunity to talk with her about Starhawk's message: when we feel how she is feeling, we have to know we're falling under the spell of those people in power. They NEED us to feel this way. We have to recognize it's a spell and step back and cast our own counter spell. We are not powerless, we are not helpless.

I gave her a copy of my book and her parting words to me were "Maybe it's time I got involved again". I agreed enthusiastically with her and urged her to push herself - and everyone she knows - to do better, more, any and everything!

This is Jackson Mississippi

Friday, April 13, 2018

From Pink House Defenders to the Antis (as in the plural of anti-womyn's-rights) Women

I spend most of the day today, before my reading this evening, at the only clinic in the entire fuckin state of Missifuckinssippi that provides the option of abortion services to womyn.

I join a couple of other kickass defenders, all white, and a Black male security guard who has surprised me with his staunch support and total comprehension of womyn's rights.

The antis are there as well. One particularly obnoxious mean white woman with white hair bright as pristine paper, thrusts a flyer out to the mostly young womyn approaching the clinic as she authoritatively declares she has info they (she disparagingly spits out nodding towards the clinic door) won't give her inside. When the womyn ignore or refuse as they continue to walk briskly behind the tall wire fence that separates them from the anti, she starts yelling "You're murdering your baby! That's your baby you're killing". When that doesn't deter the womon, she then starts screaming in a baby voice "Maaaaameeee, I love you! Maaaaameeee! Don't Kill me. Please Mama Please" until the womon disappears behind closed doors.

This is Melody. The clinic defenders here know all of the antis' (is that the plural of one anti?) names. I find out she is an evangelic (of course) christian married to the minister, who by the way, sat down out of the way after I challenged his christianity when he called me the b word.The b word, out of a white christian minister's grubby mouth when he overheard me breaking down the racism and hypocrisy of the origins of his expressed "ma'am"; and when he then switched to 'lady', he overheard me breaking down the sexism and classism inherent in 'lady' so he decided the only other thing he could call womyn/me is a b.... REALLY? Fucker.

I attempt to engage her in dialogue, mostly to distract her from ranting at womyn seeking health care, but also to find out who would be this cruel as to attempt to manipulate womyn with shame and guilt, and to their very faces.

Come to find out, this Melody had an abortion. The first thing she tells me is that her child would have been 44 years old this year. I can do the math and out loud I state, the disbelief overcoming my attempt at neutrality, "you had an illegal abortion". First she says "Well, no, not really" but I interrupt her and say, "Oh yes, you're white and wealthy, you had a nice, clean abortion in your doctor's office - no backyard, back alley, back street for you, eh?"

"I wake up every day regretting my abortion" she attempts indignation with her mournful utter, eyes full of disdain. I can't help the snort of disbelief that gushes out of my mouth. I tell her "you would regret even more bringing an unwanted child into the world, a child obviously no one wanted to support, and that you were incapable of taking care of IF you wanted to attain the life you planned and dreamed of for yourself."

She shakes her head vigorously in denial, attempting to keep up her bereaved visage as she reiterates her deep sadness at this loss. I nod in an attempt at empathy but visions of coat hangers and blood limit and redirect my compassion.

I say to her "Is that the only thing in your life you've done that you regret? I'm sure there are many decisions you've made over your 60 plus years of life that you feel sad about or regret. In fact I bet you regret marrying your husband, if it's that man over there that can only call womyn "ma'am" or "lady" or "b..."

I see her glance towards her husband but before she can figure out how to frame her denial I say "So you had the right and the means to have an abortion but you want to take that right away from other womyn, because you (I might have added a 'fuckin' here) 'regret' your decision? You think that's right? You think you're so special and privileged you get to limit other womyn's choices, choices you were free to make?"

I say to her nodding, as she agrees "Okay, so you believe abortion is wrong; I believe womyn have the right to choose for themselves, like you had that right."

She is now nodding eagerly, her eyes glaring with hatred, silently saying "I'm right and you're wrong."

I ask her "How many of those bad decisions you've made over the years have you tried to turn into laws? How come you believe you can impose your beliefs on others?"

I know my obvious incredulity - or something - is giving her pause. I shake my head muttering "Okay so what if I attempt to make a law saying ALL womyn HAVE to have an abortion - except those I deem 'worthy'?"

She stares blankly at me as if she either cannot wrap her mind around how she could put an end to that many abortions or maybe she is just finished talking to me. I do find out it's the latter as she refuses to talk with me for the rest of the day...

Still I tell her "I can't believe you would attempt to deny others a right you had."

The I tell her unequivocally: "If your ugly, mean people are successful in outlawing legal abortion, you will be responsible for the deaths of womyn seeking illegal abortions."

But this hatred of womyn has never been about the rights of womyn: but the continued oppression of womyn.

These antis have gone so far as to open a fake 'abortion' clinic cattycorner from the real health care clinic: the fake clinic employing no doctors but these cruel anits who hand out false and misinformation; the real clinic employing doctors who have to fly in from parts unknown but far away from Mississippi to provide services.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Wonderful, fierce white womyn (and one white man) defenders at my reading!!!!

Yeah!!!! I've written before about the great joy and wondrous affirmation of finding white womyn in the fuckin south who are fierce anti-racists and defenders of womyn!

Tonight, such womyn come together at my reading! They listen patiently and participate openly as we discuss my book and how it relates to Jackson and their work.

I'm deeply grateful and indebted to all but ESPECIALLY to my most precious treasure Amelie - and her beautiful family! Among all the other support she's provided with enthusiasm and fierce commitment, she's made me the t-shirt I'm wearing!

And YOU can order one custom made from her soon!

One Black, one be continued

A spend the wee hours of the morning at a beautiful, big rest stop in Alabama where the birds are singing joyfully and the weather is warm even though the sun is just rising.

When I jump out my camper, I see (as good as I can without my glasses), a man across the parking lot motion

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

High wind advisory in New Jersey!!!

I made it to New Jersey last night - coming home to my chosen sistars and sooooo happy - despite running out of solar power and my cell phone dying, plus hitting cold weather making my veggie oil sluggish.

There have been very few reactions to my truck this trip - infrequent beeps and peace plus love symbols increasing as I get closer to NYC; only 1 fuck you and no one tried to run me off the road this time.

I did take I20 across Georgia this time and then up I95 through South and North Carolina where there didn't seem to be many misogynist racists driving - or at least not reacting to me (that I saw).

The young lesbian womyn at the Y in North Carolina were VERY happy to see me but the folks in Virginia, where I got the middle finger, were decidedly cooler. I was basically ignored when I stopped to rest and tried to get folks to engage with me.

I hadn't counted on snowed piled around in melting globs here, nor the high winds that are keeping me inside all day today! I HOPE tomorrow, the weather will be better.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Hugs or hits???

An obviously wealthy, pristinely coiffed white womon swiftly approaches me in the parking lot as I return to my truck from the bathroom. She has the march of someone determined - to punch me or hug me, this is the deep south after all - & the silent brisk stride of a hospital nurse.

She does neither but congratulates me with military intensity as she declares her agreement with everything written on my truck. She whirls around and takes off as quickly as she came. I'm disappointed we didn't talk more but thrilled also to get such a greeting from a white womon in the deep south.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Taking Jasi to CA

Trying to head home for a few days!

Thursday, March 08, 2018

I agree...

I'm parking at Trader Joe's next to the sidewalk where an old white man is shuffling back and forth, bent over his walker as he begs for money. The wind yanks his faded "Viet Nam Veteran" cap off his bald head and tosses it a few feet from my side door. When I retrieve it for him, he straightens a few centimeters as he puts out a shaky pockmarked bare arm to snatch it back.

I brace myself as he gratingly spits a glob of something greenish yellow to the curb then glances sideways at me to grumble "I agree". At my raised eyebrows he continues firmly "I agree with everything..." a gnarled hand floats upward to point at my truck " I agree with everything you have written there - on ALL sides".

Monday, March 05, 2018

Oh no, the side of the highway AGAIN! to be continued

After finishing preparations to hit the road, after the mechanics give me yet another green light, after I exercise for 30 minutes, after completing all my internet needs, I'm finafuckinly ready to leave El Centro behind.

After hitting the road and driving for 120 miles, my temperature gauge swings wildly into the hottest of the hot mark. I pull over to the side of the highway AGAIN and AGAIN in the middle of fuckin nowhere. I call my mechanic who tells me they are now closed, everyone is home, and I'll have to wait until 8a.m. in the morning. At my vigorous protestations he claims surely it has nothing to do with the repairs they just did but it must be my thermostat.

Thermostat? Reafuckinly? I don't think so and I tell him so. I remind him I might be female but I do know somethings.

And thus begins the google search once again for a diesel mechanic closeby. I'm about 100 miles south of Phoenix - I've already passed over the border from California into Arizona, far from the biggest 'city' off this freeway Yuma, and haven't seen as much as broken pavement of a deserted gas station let alone a diesel mechanic shop.

After many unsuccessful attempts, I get a hold of a traveling diesel mechanic service based in Phoenix who agrees to come help me but first, David wants to try to narrow things down before the mechanic arrives to insure they can fix it.

David has me check the radiator - the overflow tank still has water in it so I think the radiator must still have water in it but it doesn't - it's completely dry! I add the remainder of the container of anti-freeze I carry with me and then a gallon plus more of water before it is refilled. Then he has me turn on the engine. Immediately I see where the water is spurting out of: the little pipe that runs from the water cooler to the turbo charger that I just had replaced has sprung a leak. On closer examination, I see it was crimped when they installed the charger and now that crimp is leaking.

I take pics and text David who calls around to see if he can find the entire pipe to replace, but of course, he can't. He tells me he will send out the mechanic anyway because he's pretty sure they can figure out a way to fix, at least until I get to Atlanta.

Part II: when your turbo goes and engine runs away:

After you get your turbocharger replaced and the manifold if it has cracked when removing the turbo or if the bolts are sooooo rusty they break off inside the manifold... before you so joyfully drive off, make sure the boys clean out your air cooler and intake hoses/pipes.

I took off Saturday, joyfully, after being stuck for four days, only to drive 2 blocks when the engine once again began it's magical running away! But this time, I knew what to do: popping the clutch, she shut down. Then I started her again and slowly made a u-turn and limped back to the shop, which is now closed.

This Monday morning, I greeted the mechanics with my 'suggestion' they clean out the air cooler.

Begrudgingly, these guys allowed me to tell them what to do - per info from my mechanic & secret informant - & even though they first peer into the air cooler and insist there's only a little dirty oil. But they do proceed to take off air cooler & find tons of oil gathered at the bottom. Looks like I MIGHT get on the road today after all!!!

Sunday, March 04, 2018

El Centro wall....

I know my woo-woo friends are going to claim something woo-woo that I just happened to break down in one of the three targeted places tRump is going forward with building the fuckin wall:

"Customs and Border Protection is taking immediate action in response to the president's executive order. We have identified locations near El Paso, Texas, Tucson, Arizona, and El Centro, California, where we will build a wall in areas where the fence or old brittle landing-mat fencing are no longer effective."

Actually, El Centro is the only place I was NOT planning on stopping at this trip...but now that I'm here, like I found the LGBT Center, I'll find where the protest of this wall is happening - especially if I'm still stuck here Monday.

A young bi-racial Chicana and white womon told me it is outsiders that are protesting the wall, most of the people working here are employed by border control. I asked her why the locals are not against the wall and she said that they are but bad people are coming over the border. I asked her if she thinks a wall will keep bad people out and she says absolutely not.

Go figure.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

My first book 'reading' be continued

I'm thrilled I get to present at the event at the LGBT Center. It is housed in a nice building, railroad style with a large entry room followed by a long middle hall with offices on either side to the back room which is a little smaller than the entry room, set up with chairs - in a row, not the lesbian circle chairs - electronic equipment and a large screen.

I'm up first after the director intros the center and evenings program. I rush through things faster than I should, as not only am I asked to talk about my book, but also about lesbian herstory - I'm probably the oldest lesbian there and definitely I've been out the longest.

I identified myself proudly as a radical (I hope!) lesbian feminist, just to get on the right foot, and spoke briefly of our magic, powerful, amazing amazon community that I was fortunate enough to come out into forty years ago! YEAH!!!! I forgot to invite folks to talk to me after if they want to know more.

And then I talked about my book, highlighting that most of us in this country do not know our true history but instead most of us know a lot of myths and propaganda about our history - we don't even know the truth about our present state of affairs, here and in the world.

I asked folks to stand if they have a roof over their heads, food they don't have to eat today, a change of clothes, daily source of clean water -= everyone stood & I talked about those standing are the 15% richest humans on earth. Which Ithen lead into the amerikkkan nitemare - running out of time, I recounted the salmon story.

No one felt inspired to buy my book...tearz but I did give one copy away to one of the two Black people there, a gay man.

LAMBDA from San Diego was the featured speakers who presented a slide show. I almost felt like I did when we gathered together to listen to bush give his state of the union and we counted how many times he said certain words. I listened carefully for the "L" word or even the Dyke word - but those words seemed to come from my mouth only. Even when talking about the aids crisis and 'women' came out to help their 'brothers', not lesbians. 8000 gay men have died of AIDS since 1982 but no mention of how many womyn have died from breast cancer since 1982.

Queer of course was probably mentioned as much as trans though. I had to point out, when one of the gay white male presenters recalled the victory over tRump's attempt to ban trans people from the military, that we are engaged in the longest war off this continent and the state department wants anyone who is willing to murder other people.

I plugged the Bay Area Lesbian Archives for Lenn and the rest of us. Of course, no mention of the controversy, exclusion, of lesbians from the archives, although they did touch on the lack of Black representation  -which is why we are creating our own archives.

Practicing my 'run away engine' skills...

I'm thrilled when Fed Ex pulls up right on time 10:00 this morning, giving my mechanic his two hours needed to install the turbocharger and the manifold before clocking out of work at noon.

I watch him, practicing my spanish as we talk about family and traveling while he works. His father has a shop across the border in Mexicali and he's worked in his dad's shop since he was 15.

When he's all finished tightening bolts and attaching hoses, I turn the engine over. She purrrrrrs! I pull her into the bay for steam cleaning and off we go!

About two blocks...this time, when the engine starts to 'run away' I know exactly what to do. I turn on the ignition which doesn't put a dent into the revving up nor the smoke that's beginning to pour out the tail pipe. I try first unsuccessfully to pop the clutch in 5th gear. Changing to 4th gear, I pop the clutch and the engine dies. I'm so fuckin relieved.

I restart the truck, make a u-turn and head back to the yard where the astonished workers are wiping their hands, dropping their greasy scrubs, and looking forward to leaving for the day, I'm sure.

But I make it back without my truck sounding too bad, minimal but still too much smoke, and no more running away.

But I'm not running anywhere either. I'm informed that no one can work on my truck now until Monday - so I have to settle for waiting...

I walk to the LGBT center by way of the coffee house as I'm very early.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Activists El Centro style!

Looks like I’ll be stuck here until tomorrow at least – the good news is that I’ll be able to speak at the LGBT center, 15 minutes! The bad news is that some of the bolts broke off when they tried to remove the old turbocharger plus the manifold cracked. Which just doubled my bill…plus my time here.

At least I’m still in California, although barely. They will overnite the manifold, install both the turbocharger and manifold tomorrow, hopefully in time for me to drive to the center. Everything has to be finished by noon anyway, cause that’s when the shop closes on Saturday.

To save a few dollars, I walk to the O’Reillys auto place to buy oil and a filter. A young round-faced cheerful young man behind the counter searches for my filter and then looks at me with alarm in his eyes as he says “wow, that one’s expensive”. I agree – my mechanic has already informed me, $50 if they provide, $46 if I get at Reillys.

When I set my Kombucha water bottle on the counter to find my VIN, he comments on the Kombucha, which leads us into a long conversation about the environment and growing organic, Standing Rock and protesting the border wall. 

It is such a pleasure to have this conversation with a worker at Reilly’s – not the usual but this appears to be a brown-male-run shop, not usual either.

I ask him how he got to be so active and aware and he attributes this path to following his older brother, who lives on and is the caretaker for land in the country and grows organic food and animals.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

White people

Leaving the LGBT center I walk the additional mile to the State Street Coffee House – a cute, little bungalow sitting back from the road, converted into a coffee shop. There are no lesbians or at least no one who admits to being a lesbian inside but there are more white people than I’ve seen since I’ve arrived here.

A slight older white womon with a full head of long white hair braided on either side of her ears, smiles shyly and tells me she agrees with “Death to Racism”. We talk a little and when Tina hears that El Paso and Texas are in my travel plans she confesses she hasn’t driven through Texas since she and her best friend took a greyhound from Charleston to San Diego. She starts describing one of the scheduled stops the bus made along the way in Texas. When the passengers disembarked and entered the building, there was a little, very dark, dank and dirty small walled-off porch area to their right with one Black man sitting there, his back to them, hunched over his plate.

The bus driver pointed the passengers through another doorway to the sunny, cheery formica tables with matching chairs perched on top of shiny dark brown wooden floors. Behind the counter, a couple white women in red, white and blue uniform skirts and blouses, broad smiles plastered across red lips, motioned for them to sit.

Tina looks directly into my eyes, anger and resentment filling her face, as she expresses her irritation … at the bus driver. I’m taken back and ask her why would she be angry with the bus driver – and since 1982? She declares that he should have taken them somewhere else, that he knew he’d have to sit in the darkened section while they went to the white side. She resented him exposing this reality of the u.s. to her.

“Where did you expect the bus driver to take you in Texas in 1982?” I ask, curious. I see it dawn on her, for the first time in 35 years, that maybe that’s what all the restaurants in Texas were like. Startled, she asks me if it is still the same in Texas today.

I ask her what did she, her friend, and the other white passengers do? She looks at me blankly. “Did you support racism and sit in the ‘whites only’ part? Or did you think about joining the bus driver and other man sitting on the porch?” 

“Why, no. We weren’t allowed to do that,” she states unequivocally. 

“Really?” I ask skeptically as she blushes slightly. I could see I made my point. I acknowledge her anger and ask her, rhetorically I hoped, why did she think she turned her anger on to the Black person who was the victim of racism and not on the white perpetrators? Why was she willing to comply with and add to racism instead of challenging the white waitresses and owner, the other white passengers, her friend? 

I told her about the sunset or sundown towns, where Black and brown people had to be out of that town by sunset – or be targets of white violence, legal white violence with impunity.

My first reading...maybe

I’m delighted to find there’s an LGBT center in this tiny California Imperial Valley town! I walk the 1.5 miles from the repair shop to explore the center.

There is a solid womon with sparkling brown eyes, thick black curly hair tied back behind her ears, sitting behind the desk welcoming me and offering me water. The walk over has been hot and I’ve forgotten my water bottle. She pulls out a plastic water bottle that ignore.

She takes great pride in telling me their largest group is the trans group that will meet tomorrow, and that they have drug abuse and anger management groups as well. I ask her about any groups for lesbians and she waves nonchalantly as if to say, ‘oh those…insignificant’. “I’m sure there’s lesbians around” she states confidently, “but there is no need to have any groups. We’re not exclusive, we include everyone.”

Okay, then why the trans group? 

I stare at her in disbelief. Then I ask her, “okay, where will I find lesbians here?”

She admits she doesn’t know & I wonder if she’s as lesbian as she looks. So I change tactics and ask about lesbian-owned businesses or bookstores or bars even. She gently, as if I’m deranged, denies the existence of such “L” identified places.

Then she tells me, a chuckle in her voice, that maybe I should try this coffee shop. I like coffee shops, especially if they serve organic coffee.

Another womon, solemn and serious, thick black hair curving almost to her shoulders, formerly thick eyebrows plucked to thin lines, formal dark blue skirt suit, strides into the reception area somewhere from behind closed doors. She extends her hand and warmly welcomes me, apologizing for being busy when I arrived. I tell her no worries and answer her question as to how I found them and where I’m from.

And this is the truth: I searched in google maps for the YMCA and the LGBT center came up, much to my surprise. No Y but this center. She tells me they’ve been here for almost 3 years and they’re for everyone, not just the LGBT community. 

She also brags fondly about their trans group when I ask her about a lesbian support group. She eems to also think there isn’t a need, that lesbians are all over and come to use the services there, but the center is not blatant, not like – and she searches to hastily cover up whoever she was going to point the finger at, probably remembering I come from one of those ‘blatant’ places, so I assure her, nodding so convincingly she nods with me: “blatant like heterosexuals, you mean”.

Her business-like veneer slips a little but then she quickly tells me about the event they’re having Saturday and invites me to come and speak for 15 minutes if I want to. And do I want to! She has examined my book, skipping right to the “to do” pages in the back, nodding her head, agreeing with the list, at least of the first 10 things.

The things to know….if your turbo goes!

Driving from San Diego heading to Tucson on I-8, I had climbed up and over the tallest of the spectacular desert mountains that nestle majestically between California and Mexico, and was on the downhill from 4000 feet, when I heard a series of loud quick clangs like someone was using a crowbar to knock on my metal door and then a high whine that could have been a fan belt squeak or the high scream of metal-on-metal.

Ut oh, I knew I was in trouble. I pulled off the freeway at the first sign of people, very sparse people, with an open chevron gas station and an abandoned café on the south side of the freeway, and a handful of trailers and tiny dwellings on the west side.

The young womon behind the counter confirms with a kind sympathetic smile there are no mechanics in her town, so I move my truck over to the huge, sandy and gravel lot, sporting one abandoned and listing rv, to begin to google diesel mechanics.

Of course, there are none close by. My options seem to be get towed back over the mountains to San Diego which might cost a grand…hahaha…or get towed 26 miles to the next town for $250.

Or try to keep driving. After all, the engine is running, the brakes work, the oil and water levels are fine, all fan belts are strong and accounted for, it shifts like it’s supposed to. It’s just making that strange, unidentifiable noise that escalates in unison with the gas pedal.

In hindsight I probably should have just camped there overnight in the empty lot, did more research, and made the decision in the morning. I don’t know why I didn’t seriously consider that.

Instead I took off, trying to make it to the one shop that I found 25 miles east, that claimed to know how to work on Isuzu NPR diesels! The owner had warned me that I might lose power down to 45 or 50 but I assured him I don’t normally go over 55 anyway.

He did NOT warn me that my truck might “runaway”. Nor did he tell me what to do if it does. Now I know.

IF your engine will not shut off when you turn off the ignition, cut the fuel source, disconnect the batteries -= in other words, if it keeps mysteriously running, spewing huge clouds of black and white smoke, and deafeningly revs up like it’s about to levitate, you’re supposed to throw the vehicle into 4th or 5th gear and pop the clutch. I don’t know what automatics do, sorry.

Popping the clutch will shut down the engine and prevent damage done when the engine finally burns through lubricants and runs dry – and shuts down that way.

I don’t know yet if my engine has been damaged or if the culprit is just the turbocharger – and the manifold.