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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Poooooolice...consciousness-raising....and white privilege

People, eyeing my messages highly visible on my truck, frequently ask me if I ever get stopped by police. I always smile and, as I never answer with a simple yes or no when there’s an opportunity to raise consciousness, I tell them about my earliest journeys after 9/11 and getting pulled over often, several times in one state even.

But after a few years, they seemed to lose interest and stopped pulling me over so frequently if at all. When I share this incident which happened tonight after leaving Camp Toyahvale, you'll probably understand why. But back then, at the time, I visualized troopers on their microphones, radioing ahead to let their fellow officers know "here comes that ‘crazy lady’ in the pink truck again".

Tonight, I'm reeling once again from the hideous fires shooting up from fracking wells everywhere I look, probably a mile or two from the highway, maybe closer or farther, but definitely blatant repugnant sentries heralding the destruction of the Mother Earth and the assault on her waters and life.

I’m also super vigilant, being in Texas and passing a huge monstrous super klieg-lit series of buildings larger than most of the country towns here later identified as fuckin Halliburton. The curse words were recent memories off my tongue when I see the red flashing lights behind my truck, signaling to me I should pull over, which I do. But I don’t pull off the exit, as I think he is trying to direct me there, but pull just past the exit ramp and stop quite visibly alongside the highway.

When the white male officer approaches the passenger side with the window fortunately half-way open, I look directly at him, read his badge and talk loudly into my headphones – handy that they’re already in place as I’m reading an audio book. I tell the unconcerned womon reading to me that I’ve just been pulled over by a policeman, “officer how-do-you-pronounce-your-name? Jones” and I’m on I20 heading east just passing through Odessa, Texas and the horrendous halliburton monstrosity.

Then, although tempted to continue slamming halliburton, I loudly let her know that I will check back in with her in a few minutes and remind her she knows what to do if she doesn’t hear from me.

I disconnect and give mr. jones my full attention, registering his light beige uniform and my dismay at forgetting to tell my audio book reader he’s from the sheriff’s department...

He asks me if I have a driver’s license, duh, which I hand to him, and an insurance card. I hand him my keys where my insurance policy number card dangles along with my Berkeley library card and Speed Co oil change place card – all the little pieces of plastic designed to make my life so much easier.

He examines my license and my insurance card, then handing me back my keys, announces it is not good enough, there’s no expiration date. I dig in my back pocket where the larger pieces of plastic reside and cannot find the current insurance card there so I need to look in my glove compartment. As I’m looking, he asks me where I’m coming from. I smile and indicate with a wave of my hand the direction from which I just came, as I mumble ‘down there’.

He asks me where I’m heading to and again I wave my hand in the direction my truck is facing. I let him know I’m going to get out and search my glove compartment, so I jump down to walk around my truck and notice through the dark shadows, two other police officers hanging back and then approaching. They all appear to be around the same mid-30’s age, white (reinforced by their anglo name tags) although one appears to have a little maybe Asian in him.

I exclaim “wow, what an audience I have” as I smile my welcome. They all move towards the truck, shining their flashlights in unison, sudden realization dawns as they notice the door and windows – and the words – adorning my truck. The first officer, Mr. Jones, is explaining to me why he can’t use his little computer to look up the status of my insurance as he has my details.

I can tell they are working up to asking me about what’s inside my truck so I begin to explain, as I intently demand their attention, all the messages written on that side of my truck, reminding them about ending violence against womyn and children. They all nod silently in unison.

I immediately slip into “Justicia, tierra y libertad”, acting like of course they know that, see their baffled faces, and pause to ask incredulously in Spanish “you speak Spanish, don’t you?” They shake their heads in unison, the youngest one seems to be slightly but not nearly enough embarrassed. I try not to overdo my feigned surprise underlined with pure disgust  as I express my disbelief, to live here in land stolen from Spanish-speaking people and not speak Spanish?

My original officer, shuffling from foot to foot along with the other two, puffs up his chest to declare with intense pride that he speaks English, like this is a great accomplishment. I disarm them by declaring they could circumvent alzheimers by learning another language.

I continue to explain in great detail the Zapatistas so that by the time I get to “Si Se Puede”, the two newer ones are attempting to ask me where I’m heading to while the original officer goes off to call me in and write me a ticket.

I give them the same answer as before, waving in the direction my truck is heading, noting their instant flicker of irritation. I ask them if they know about hashtag “SayHerName”, which is not news that they do not. So I explain, in great detail also.

The other officer returns to inform me that he pulled me over because my lights around the top perimeter of the box of my truck are not working – a fixit ticket that apparently I don’t even need to get signed off. But not having an insurance card with a date on it could be a fine, or once I prove I have insurance, the court might forgive me.

For a second I’m tempted to open the camper & look for my card but I don’t want to give them that much info about me. I take my ticket after carefully reading the whole thing. One last time, trying to reign in their impatience, they ask me what I intend to do in Texas and for how long.

Why, raise consciousness, of course, I begin as I launch into my anti-fracking spiel I’m creating for policemen. They have noticed with no concern the fracking wells that have multiplied heavily these past couple months. I challenge their apparent ease with these violent intrusions, but after all they are so very used to and wishful for those individual oil rigs rhythmically pounding the land all around them making someone very rich.

My first officer speaks up to defend Apache (I snort) oil company and fracking, declaring how ‘safe’ it is as I declare the opposite. He is riled as he tries to top my knowledge of these fracking wells. I deeply regret not having my quarterpage info sheet at the tips of my fingers (I might have been more tempted to open my camper door if I had any copies left) as he continues to rotely recite oil company propaganda.

I confront him directly and tell him I see what he thinks: he believes technology will be able to right any damage done to the Mother Earth by these horrific drillings, toxic chemicals, and blatant abuse of water. But technology has not, cannot and will not ‘clean up’ and/or restore the earth back to her pristine and life-sustaining condition.

He is disgusted, but the other two appear to be more open and interested, as he loudly dismisses the fact that fracking destroys the environment. I blast him with what I hope is my most obnoxious white male shriveling look when I ask him has he smelled the air lately? I tell him, and the others, that they are so used to existing in a toxic, cancerous, life-killing place they don’t even know what fresh air is.

Then I ask them, so have I raised your consciousness? The two new ones smile broadly, the younger one nods his head and promises me he will look up Balmorhea, Big Bend, and Apache Oil. I remind him to add “resistance” to his google search as I climb back into my cab, ticket in hand and doors remaining firmly shut.

Camp Toyahvale!!!

For those who don't know (see my earlier posts around December 2016) a large oil & gas reserve has been 'discovered' in the incredibly beautiful high desert around Balmorhea and north of Big Bend National  Apache fuckin oil company has promised to install 4fuckinthousand fracking sights in the area that is home for endangered and unique species in several aquifers so deep and mysterious no one even knows their source. Camp Toyahvale was set up around the time that Standing Rock was winding down.
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The camp has expanded!!!

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The fire that miraculously stopped just next to the camp kitchen when the wind changed direction

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No longer hanging on the fence that faces the road, missing the opportunity to inform thousands...tearz

Desert Storm
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I stink...and it stinks!

It's one thing to live in the cool beautiful Bay and not shower every day and another thing to travel, or rest, in 100+ degree weather and not shower every day.

So I arrive in Pecos, smelling myself - but I don't smell nearly as bad as here in Texas. I don't know how the people take it but I guess a few decades ago (and still in other parts of Texas) the stench of agri-farmed cow shit permeated the air. Now the stench of fracking and oil processing and storing places definitely out-stink everything.

My heart breaks as all around in the darkness, I see that Apache Oil is making good on it's promise to open 4000 fracking wells in this area, for miles now, I see flame after flame after flame shooting into the black sky, once the darkest place in the U.S., now cutting visibility of the stars by 35% I learn later.

The 15 year olds that give birth..

I am always on the lookout for girls and womyn who might be victims of "trafficking" - oh how I HATE that cover-up word for male fuckin violence. I especially peer closely at females I come in contact with at rest areas.

And traveling through El Paso just north of Ciudad de Juarez, I'm extra alert. I have decided it is too late to stop in El Paso as much as I'd love to connect again with chosen family there and the womyn of Cafe Mayapan, but the heat as well as the lateness, drives me on.

I decide to make a brief stop at the rest area about 50 miles east of El Paso to grab some kombucha out of my camper and replenish my water supply before heading to Balmorhea.

This rest stop is just one short road between car and truck parking on either shoulder, a small bathroom and a couple of picnic tables - not my favorite kinda rest area but I'm not intending to hang out there.

As I drive up, I see several vehicles ahead of mine, a slender white womon stumbling frantically down the sidewalk, rushing up to the passenger side of my truck, half wailing half shouting.

She is terrified and begging me for a ride. I get out and approach her, trying to put my hands on her shoulders to calm her down as I try to see if she is visibly wounded anywhere - and as I am on high alert watching for the man who has hurt her.

I see no blood but she is violently shaking causing her tears to splatter like the recent storm. I have to ask her several times what she needs but I can't understand her or get her to calm down until I assure her I will help her.

She is 'snap' that big - not stick thin or emaciated, at least in the soft glow of street lamps, but very small, dyed blond curls swept up off her tattooed neck, with teeny cut-off jean shorts and a brief halter top that could be considered either skimpy or appropriate for this oppressive heat depending on one's values I suppose. Fear propels her words so rapidly yet I think she might also be on meth.

I hope not but it doesn't really matter.

I tell her over and over I will give her a ride, whether she's on drugs or not, whether she has money or not - but I HAVE to pee first. I ask her if she'll be safe in my truck or if she wants to come into the bathroom with me. She waits in my truck.

When I return from the bathroom, I search google for a greyhound bus station - she's on her way to Houston (far south of where I'm going) but the man she's been riding with has terrified her so critically, she cannot continue with him. She calls her father in Houston and wants him to talk with me so I know he'll buy her a bus ticket. He sounds mature and calm, especially after his daughter's panic. He tells me he doesn't understand how she gets into so much trouble.

It is after midnight and we are in fuckin Texas. I'd like to take her east, the direction I'm heading, if possible but the nearest bus stop is in Van Horn, which is almost 2 hours away and the station has closed at midnite. I can't leave her there, it would be so dangerous for her so I decide to turn around and take her to El Paso, where the bus station never closes.

We've an hour together so I get to learn more about Cheryl, including her name, even though it is very hard for me to hear and understand her between the noise of the truck and her rapid fire yet softly spoken slurred words that overwhelm her speech sprinkled with an occasional clear word.

She peers intently at me in the dark of the cab and reveals that she used to be in AA and was sober for 15 years. I think she braces herself, waiting for me to get on her case, as she's certainly not appearing to be sober now. She admits she's had a drink, well a couple of drinks but not that many. Anyway, she continues, it's the drugs that are her demons now.

I DO want to get on her case, but more, I search to say the right things to give her hope or healing or something for her to hang onto. I try to let her know I'm proud of her, being sober for 15 years and as I know she gave birth to her son (who is now 31) on her 16th birthday, I wonder if (and deeply hope) those sober years occurred for at least some of his childhood.

How the fuck can we expect children to have children and be okay in our misogynist society?

I ask her (too many times in several not too subtle ways, I'm sure) if she wants us to find an AA meeting and she tells me no, she just wants a bus, wants to get out of here, wants to figure out where she can flee safely to.

48 miles later, we find the bus station, she tumbles out the truck with her scattered things as I help her cram her hastily gathered clothes and papers into her gaping backpack and cloth and plastic bags. We hug and wish each other safe journeys.

I find my way back onto the freeway, debating whether I want to continue to travel backwards a few more miles out of my way to return to the lovely Las Cruces rest area or continue through the vast and potentially hostile Texas night.

I only need to feel the heat radiating from the asphalt to to keep me driving east, my heart heavy as I think about the chances violence will continue to plague Cheryl.