Depression


is the worst of maladies.  It rips your heart out and leaves you breathless, exhausted, wasted, denuded.  Your skin comes off and all your nerves get exposed, and you weep for no reason that you can explain to anyone, and no one cares, anyway. Depression makes you irritable and cranky and bad-tempered with everyone you know.  The smallest things get under your skin, which isn’t there, so the smallest thing gets under your nerves and rubs them with salt so that you feel like screaming. There that, the endless and incomprehensible desire to scream your head off and, failing that, which you do, of course, because you fail at everything, you collapse into crying and self-loathing. Depression chains you to your bed or your chair or your corner, and if you manage to get up and walk around depressed, the chains drag and mossy anchors drag you back.  You think about drowning.  You long for death, to sink into the muck, the brown brownness of it, to bury your face into its dirty mess, your own dirty mess of self.  You argue and blame and shout at people and feel furious with them for not understanding and stopping to throw their arms around you, kiss you, and hold you until the tears stop.  The tears you fear will never end. But depression makes you monstrous and no one wants to kiss or hold a monster, so you carry on behaving monstrously, miserably alone, misunderstood, mistaken, misplaced, missed.  Me miserable, which way I fly infinite wrath and infinite despair.  You think you are going insane.  You don’t trust yourself.  You have no one but yourself to trust and so you fall into the lower deep that devours you. Depression confuses the mind and wrings the hands, it stammers the mouth and removes choices.  It unfurls the mind against itself and dissolves the skeleton, hunches the back against the stairs uncomfortably.  No comfort in the mind shut down and the body broken.  They call depression a disorder.  It is disorganized, chaotic, stormy, an attack, a tornado, a tidal wave of sadness, and it hurts.  It burns the eyes, scorches the throat, stops up the nose and ears and painfully overstimulates every nerve in the body while simultaneously deadening everything, so that you move, if you can move, through the world muffled, muted, deafened, dulled, retarded, defeated, deflated.  It washes you up on unfamiliar shores, it abandons you, wrecks you, dashes you, destroys you.  Do not underestimate this affliction.

Sophia Means Wisdom, and it is Wise to Sail with her.


My partner, Ryan, and I recently bought a boat named Sophia, which means Wisdom, and we are both very wisely deciding to spend the next few years sailing this vessel around the Bahamas and the Caribbean.  Cruising these waters is something we have always wanted to do, and we decided to go now that we are in our mid-fifties and still agile enough to move around.  For stories about our adventures aboard Sophia, please go to sophiasailing.com.

Sophia (σοφία) is the name of the goddess and creator who appears in the Bible as the co-founder of the universe.

14.25_Sophia_(Wisdom)_in_the_Celsus_Library_in_Ephesus

Personification of wisdom (in Greek, “Σοφία” or “Sophia”) at the Celsus Library in Ephesus, Turkey.

In Proverbs 8, Wisdom speaks:

I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.

24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.

25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:

26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.

27 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:

28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:

29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:

30 Then I was by him, as one brought up with him:

The Greek noun sophia is the translation of “wisdom” in the Greek Septuagint for Hebrew חכמות, Ḥokmot or chokma.      Plato taught that philosophy is the friend (philo) of wisdom (sophy).  To create, to do or know anything, one requires wisdom, which Plato regarded as something beyond mere human inventions and constructions.  Hildegard von Bingen, the great medieval mystic and composer, regarded Sophia, or Sapientia, in Latin, as the divine, undying source of existence. In Hinduism, the goddess Durga,mother of all things, is also believed to be outside of time.  These ancient concepts of wisdom are not unlike Buddhist notions of the dharma, or the way, as a knowing that cannot be expressed in words, an awareness of what is that comes through meditation.

Below, Karen Clark sings Hildegard’s beautiful hymn to Sapientia:

O virtus Sapientie

Antiphon for Divine Wisdom (R 466rb) by Hildegard of BingenBack to Table of Contents

O virtus Sapientie,
que circuiens circuisti,
comprehendendo omnia
in una via que habet vitam,
tres alas habens,
quarum una in altum volat
et altera de terra sudat
et tercia undique volat.
Laus tibi sit, sicut te decet, O Sapientia.
O Wisdom’s energy!
Whirling, you encircle
and everything embrace
in the single way of life.
Three wings you have:
one soars above into the heights,
one from the earth exudes,
and all about now flies the third.
Praise be to you, as is your due, O Wisdom.

Latin collated from the transcription of Beverly Lomer and the edition of Barbara Newman; translation by Nathaniel M. Campbell.

Back Off, Intrusive and Offensive Anti-Choice Rabble!


Remembering Trailblazing Abortion Provider Mildred ‘Millie’ Hanson

Friends, family members, and former colleagues gathered in Minnesota Monday to celebrate the life of Dr. Mildred Hanson, the chapel filled with flowers sent by well-wishers from across the country. 596 MORE WORDS

‘Personhood’ Legislation Dealt Another Blow, This Time in Iowa

An Iowa state lawmaker’s bill to define life as beginning at fertilization failed to meet a legislative deadline Friday, joining so-called personhood bills in at least nine other states introduced without success this year. 638 MORE WORDS

Reflections on trying to organise a panel with more women

Recently, we—Elisa Freschi and Malcolm Keating—set about organizing a panel for the upcoming ATINER panel. We aimed for a panel which would include significant numbers of women, using suggestions from the Gendered Conference Campaign (GCC) published on the Feminist Philosophers website to achieve this goal.109 MORE WORDS

Bias

Twitter Changes Sexual Health Ad Policy, Reinstates Condom Retailer’s Account

Several condom companies and sexual health campaigns last year said Twitter had blocked them from advertising about condoms and safer sex. The reason for the blocks appeared to be Twitter’s… 565 MORE WORDS

IAPh in Australia in 2016. See you there!

Women and Philosophy: History, Values, Knowledge

A conference to be held at Monash University, Caulfield Campus, Melbourne, Australia

7-10 July 2016

Invited speakers: Moira Gatens (Sydney, Australia), Ruth Hagengruber (Paderborn, Germany), Sally Haslanger (MIT, US), Lisa Shapiro (Simon Fraser, Canada)167 MORE WORDS

Pro-Choice Win: Federal Court Upholds Pittsburgh Buffer Zone

A federal judge in Pennsylvania last week upheld the enforcement of a Pittsburgh ordinance that establishes a 15-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon issued the ruling in the case of… 467 MORE WORDS

More from NU grad student Kathryn Pogin

Kathryn Pogin, a philosophy grad student at Northwestern, has followed up her open letter to the Chronicle of Higher Education with an editorial at the Huffington Post… 238 MORE WORDS

Women Deserve to Know About HIV Prevention Medication Too

In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the antiretroviral medication Truvada as the first form of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a pill to protect against getting HIV. 1,018 MORE WORDS

red bean and green grain taco bowl

I swear, this wholesome-looking meal isn’t penance for anything. It’s not a budget-friendly apology for the frenetic unplanned redecorating project or atonement for the fact that I’ve basically only wanted to eat chocolate, peanut butter, bread and…212 MORE WORDS

The Epidemic of Lying at Crisis Pregnancy Centers Exposes the Moral Rot in the Anti-Choice Movement

This new NARAL report about the tactics of CPCs is called Crisis Pregnancy Centers Lie: The Insidious Threat to Reproductive Freedom. It’s an apt title, because once you’re done reading it, you could be forgiven for wondering if anti-choice activists are capable of telling the truth about anything, much less reproductive health care.1,098 MORE WORDS

No, It’s Still Yogaphobia

Kyle Garton-Gundling has offered a thoughtful and critical response to my discussions on yogaphobia and the Catholic Church in my recent RD essay, “Is Pope Francis Yogaphobic” 2,008 MORE WORDS

It’s Not Yogaphobia, It’s Theology

Andrea Jain’s timely piece in RD sets Pope Francis’ recent inoffensive reference to yoga against a larger context of yogaphobia in Catholic thought. Of particular importance is her reading of “ 1,096 MORE WORDS

Dr. Cheryl Chastine of South Wind Women’s Center Talks Reproductive Justice and Not Backing Down

This piece is published in collaboration with Echoing Ida, a Forward Together project.

Abortion providers are the backbone of reproductive health care. They are there for patients in emergencies, and often experience stigma simply for providing a procedure that is essential to economic and reproductive freedom.

1,508 MORE WORDS

Pro-Choice Win: Federal Court Upholds Pittsburgh Buffer Zone

A federal court in Pennsylvania was the first to uphold an abortion clinic buffer zone ordinance since the Supreme Court called into question the constitutionality of similar laws last summer.

A federal judge in Pennsylvania last weekupheld the enforcement of a Pittsburgh ordinance that establishes a 15-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon issued the ruling in the case of Nikki Bruni and four other anti-choice protesters who sued the city last year claiming the ordinance unconstitutionally prevented them from offering “sidewalk counseling” to patients. The conservative religious advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed the lawsuit on Bruni’s behalf and had asked the court for an injunction blocking the ordinance.

Bruni is the local campaign director for “40 Days for Life,” a nationwide anti-choice protest campaign that targets clinics for daily protests and picketing.

Bissoon’s order upholding Pittsburgh’s buffer zone is the first federal court decision to examine the constitutionality of abortion clinic buffer zones after last summer’s Supreme Court decision in McCullen v. Coakely, which struck down a Massachusetts buffer zone law.

The Pittsburgh ordinance creates a 15-foot buffer zone around health-care facilities in the city. As first passed in 2005, the ordinance creates both a fixed 15-foot buffer zone around facilities and a floating “bubble” zone around patients.

The bubble zone rule meant that people outside the clinic were protected by a roving eight-foot buffer zone while within 100 feet of the clinic. But in 2009, a court ruled that Pittsburgh must choose between either a fixed or floating buffer zone, but not both at the same time. Friday’s ruling upholds the fixed 15-foot buffer zone.

Bissoon, in upholding Pittsburgh’s buffer zone, noted the history of anti-choice violence that had plagued the area and concluded that the ordinance did not violate protesters’ First Amendment rights. “Prior to the enactment of the Ordinance, there were incidents of physical intimidation, violence and obstruction where the buffer zone now stands,” Bissoon wrote. “Such incidents have rarely, if ever, occurred since the buffer zone has been implemented.”

“While plaintiffs’ message is restricted in that they cannot continue to walk alongside women as they approach within fifteen feet of the entrance, that method of communication is not foreclosed or effectively stifled,” Bissoon concluded.

Attorneys for ADF said they are considering appealing Friday’s decision.

“Americans, including those who are pro-life, have the freedom to speak with whomever they please on public sidewalks,” ADF litigation council Elissa Graves said in a statement. “Because of this, we are considering appeal of the court’s decision, which allows enforcement of Pittsburgh’s unconstitutional censorship zones to continue.”

Bissoon’s ruling did not dismiss all of the protesters’ claims, however. Bissoon let continue a claim by protesters that police do not enforce the buffer zone evenhandedly. She also ruled that more evidence is needed to resolve that claim and ordered that it continue to trial.

Image: Shutterstock

The post Pro-Choice Win: Federal Court Upholds Pittsburgh Buffer Zoneappeared first on RH Reality Check.

Day 2 of Being Present


It’s raining and dreary, so I decided to stay home instead of stumble through the Ashtanga class I thought I would go to.  I rolled out my mat in my own studio/office and put on a new playlist and moved through as many of the postures as seemed sensible.  For the past 12 months or so, I have been going to various physical therapists who have instructed me to avoid yoga. Well, actually, the first guy told me to avoid forward bends, and the second woman said to avoid backbends, so I stopped feeling confident in my body altogether.

Last week I went to an Ashtanga class (the one I avoided tonight).  I felt I had aged ten years.  My arms buckled in chatturanga and I could no longer squeeze myself into any kind of bind.   Humbling.

I teach a Trauma-focused yoga class to women in therapy at a community health center every week, and there I tell them to pay attention to what they feel in their bodies, and to make choices based on what they are feeling.  I’ve decided to practice what I’m preaching and spend a few minutes each day writing about it.

Things I noticed today: my stomach feels bulky and heavy and in the way.  My neck feels tight when I bring my ear to my shoulders.  I clench my teeth.  I felt angry today, not irritable, but appropriately angry, I thought.  A co-worker was rude and unkind to me.  Another challenged my judgment.  My back went up.  I’ve been carrying anger around in my belly and my neck.

It was surprisingly lovely to arrive in my body during sivasana, to dwell in my awareness of  the sweat cooling my forehead and chest, my lumbar spine and hips settling down towards the floor, my abdomen resting as my heart slowed down, the sound of my breath and a quiet, soothing swishing sound filling my ears.  It was surprisingly difficult to stay there, to remain simply in being.

Nina Simone


Listening to Nina Simone, who was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon.  The great civil rights advocate and musician inspires me.  One of my clients looks like her.  Hard to say whose history is harder.  The woman I know remembers her father holding a gun to her mother’s head.  She suffers from complex trauma, a syndrome unrecognized by the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  She trust no one, certainly not me.  Nina_Simone_1965 (1) Nina_Simone_1965

Take the Taco or Beer Challenge


Are you a woman?  Do you love someone who is female?  Do you believe you have or she has the right to her own body and mind? Do you like tacos or beer?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, please support this campaign to give women more control over their own destinies: Taco or Beer Challenge.  It’s a heck of a lot more fun that dumping ice on your head. Tacos-Beer-Abortion_014258285620

Last night I dreamed that a man I love deeply trafficked with powerful politicos who manipulated elections not to promote candidates whose views they shared, but because this was how the game was played and they played to win.  My lone voice calling out for leaders who protected a woman’s right to control her own body went unheard.  The politicos hushed me by assuring me they agreed with me, while women sat idly on the sidelines.  So this morning I donated money to Trust Women Foundation through this campaign.   Check out some videos of other like-minded here.

BTW, I don’t like all the F-bombs in the subsequent blurb, but the cause is good.  Please check it out.  Taco or Beer Challenge.

Or simply donate to this excellent cause: TRUST WOMEN.

Hostile treatment of young women on the internet is particularly bad


Kimberly Latta, Ph.D., L.S.W., R.Y.T.:

As a Norwegian-American, I quite like Scandinavian trolls. Internet trolls are a completely different monster: a sociopathic hydra.

Originally posted on Feminist Philosophers:

This is from a Pew survey reported in NY Magazine.  Note that the data are from self-reports.

The general picture in the first chart; young women in the second:

First chart:


IMG_1099
……………….
Second Chart:

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How claims about sexual assault, gender discrimination at the federal level are processed.


Originally posted on Feminist Philosophers:

From the CHE. Having myself filed a complaint, I can say it looks accurate. It is a long and exhausting process. If you are fortunate enough to settle, signing a non-disclosure agreement can seem worth it.
I’m writing this at the Houston ‘international’ airport. I hope to get back to this before the day ends.

image

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Harvard Professor suing over denied tenure


Originally posted on Feminist Philosophers:

Dr. Kimberly Theidon, an anthropology professor, is suing Harvard University, alleging discrimination and retaliation after she spoke out on behalf of victims of sexual assault and criticized the university’s handling of their cases.

“I’m not going to be silent, I was not going to be a dutiful daughter so they denied me tenure and effectively fired me,” said Theidon.

Now she’s blowing the whistle on the university by filing a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination alleging she was discriminated and retaliated against for criticizing the university’s handling of sexual assault cases.

“This case is about the importance of women who are sexually assaulted on campus having someone to go to as the first responder who will not be afraid to help them,” said her attorney Elizabeth Rogers.

“We want Harvard to change their policies,” said attorney Phil Gordon.

A spokesman for the University declined Team 5 Investigates request…

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I had two abortions and I am not ashamed


Kimberly Latta, Ph.D., L.S.W., R.Y.T.:

I just received the most predictable and hateful response to this blog.

Originally posted on The Left Hand of Feminism:

Though you have done nothing shameful,
they will want you to be ashamed.
They will want you to kneel and weep
and say you should have been like them.
And once you say you are ashamed,
reading the page they hold out to you,
then such light as you have made
in your history will leave you.
They will no longer need to pursue you.
You will pursue them, begging forgiveness.
They will not forgive you.
There is no power against them.
It is only candor that is aloof from them,
only an inward clarity, unashamed,
that they cannot reach. Be ready.
When their light has picked you out
and their questions are asked, say to them:
"I am not ashamed." A sure horizon
will come around you. The heron will begin
his evening flight from the hilltop.

From "Do Not Be Ashamed" by Wendell Barry

When I…

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10 good reasons not to call your ex


ImageIt has been two weeks and I haven’t called and I don’t want to call but I really miss (the good parts about) him and therefore found myself googling “why you should not call your ex” and found my way to Roxane Robitaille‘s fabulous column.  She’s a couple therapist and she is wise.  I found the following very helpful.  

Some years ago, I went through a difficult break-up. When my relationship came to an end, one of the most difficult things for me was deciding whether or not to call him back. I have to come clean and admit I did call him, many times (sigh). Unfortunately, these phone calls never went the way I wished they would go. Being a professional on-again off –again couple we went back and forth for months. I knew deep down that the relationship was making me miserable, yet I wanted to “fix” it, cause no one likes to feel miserable right? These phone calls sometimes lead to more sadness; they sometimes lead us to seeing each other again for a short while. As you read the following, ask yourself why you want to be in a relationship. Is it because you want to have children? Is it because you’re afraid of being alone? Well, think about this, the on-again off-again relationship is very likely to be nothing but a waste of your precious time, time you could be spending taking care of you and feeling ready to meet someone who sees just how fabulous you are. If you do want to have children, do you want to be with a partner like this one? A partner who left you for reasons you don’t really understand, a partner who makes you the future-mom-to-be feel less than amazing, a partner who doesn’t accept and love everything about you and wants you to change, a partner whom you want to change? If things do get patched up between the two of you, are you going to be sitting right back here in 6 months? In a year? Don’t call him babe.

1. You should feel desired and confident. I’m guessing that if you’re reading an article about why not to call your ex it’s not because you’re feeling like an energized, gorgeous, popular and desired person. You feel rejected and you want that feeling to go away. So you think about calling him back and smoothing things over. But calling him will inevitably make you feel worse.

2. You might make things worse. Are you feeling angry at him right now? Are you feeling vulnerable and lonely? You might blow up at him like a crazy-lady or you might end up crying and pleading on the phone for him to take you back. In either case, not a good situation (I am speaking from personal experience here, unfortunately). Do you really want to convince him to be with you? Argue him into taking you back? Plead yourself back into this relationship? Why should you convince anyone to be with you? You’re amazing!

3. What if he doesn’t answer? He has caller-ID doesn’t he? He’ll see that you’ve called. Are you going to call back in 5 minutes? In an hour? Tomorrow? Are you going to leave a message? What if he doesn’t call you back? You’ll be sitting there wondering why he’s not calling you back. And you’ll sit there, like I did, doubting yourself because you ex is not calling you back. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be frantically looking at your phone every 10 minutes to see whether you have any missed calls or missed messages. Here’s an idea: turn the phone off. You can do it. When you turn off your phone, you are taking back control and not letting yourself become obsessed with him his call. Free yourself from the phone and decide that for now you have better things to do than sit by the phone and wait for him to call you.

4. And if he answers? He might be busy and hang up in haste. Or he might not be so hot about hearing your voice on the line. But what if the convo goes well? Well honey, even if the conversation goes well, and he’s not likely to cry out: “oh baby, I’m so glad you called, I’m sorry I dumped you, let’s get back together!” And I’m sure anything less than that would be disappointing to you. Right? You’ll be hanging up sad, disappointed or angry.

5. You might end up in bed. If he does want to see you after he’s dumped you, and he’s happy to come over and hang out with you, he might want sex. That may feel nice for you as well, because let’s face it, our exes are our most intimate partners. It’s also the easiest person to sleep with after a breakup. You might feel connected for a short while, but honey this guy dumped you (cheated on you, didn’t want to get married to you, didn’t listen to you, didn’t spend enough time with you, didn’t make you feel like your best self, deceived you…) so why are you having sex with him? Although, you are a hot mamacita, your lover should see way more in you than your hot physical looks.

6. He’s not the one calling you. If your ex wanted to get you back and was madly in love with you, he would let you know. He would cross all bridges and climb all mountains to get to you. So let him call you and let him prove to you that he deserves to be with hotty such as yourself. Be strong. Don’t give-in. Think highly of yourself. Don’t sell yourself cheaply. And don’t call him back. Let him come back to you if that is what’s in the cards for you. Think that you are worthy of a man coming back to you with flowers and sweeping you off your feet.

7. Is he that great anyways? Even though he might have left you, and even though he may very well have been a super-stand-up guy, he wasn’t perfect either right? I mean, he dumped you, so there’s obviously is something wrong with him! He couldn’t appreciate what a prize you truly are.

8. There’s someone better for you out there. You know this is true (I hope). Right now it just feels like you might be alone forever. You might get caught up in the false beliefs that all good guys are taken and that it’s hard to meet someone. Those kinds of thoughts only make you feel more desperate and make you think you’d better hang on to this one. Well, no. I’m not having it. There are plenty of really good guys (good looking ones too!) out there who would feel happy to call you every day and spend time building a relationship with you. Imagine what your perfect relationship would feel like. Now multiply that by 10 and that’s what’s out there waiting for you right now. So turn off the phone, get out there in the world and open yourself up the possibilities that are all around you. Try to going out anywhere, to the supermarket, to a coffee shop, to the pet-store, anywhere, and smile at people. Just smile. Smile at men, smile at women, smile at kids, smile at the elderly. People will smile back at you. Now how good does that feel? There are plenty of people out there you can easily engage with just by smiling. Get out of your sweat-pants and go out and smile at people. Start to feel it IS true: there is someone better for you out there.

9. You’re not taking advantage of your time alone. When relationships end, we are left with a whole lot of extra free time. Time that used to be spend on doing fun activities together, time shared having meals and interesting conversations together. But wait! You are still a fun-loving, interesting person! Take advantage of this time to get to know yourself, to heal your vulnerable heart, and to love yourself. Do some of the things you like, surround yourself with people who care about you, call a friend. Take out your agenda and try to schedule fun things for yourself for the night, for the weekend etc. If you know in advance how you are going to fill your time, you’re not going to feel so obsessed with calling him because you’re going to be busy (and happy hopefully!). I know this is going to sound unoriginal, but look at the breakup as a time to re-evaluate your life. Take it as an experience in personal growth. There is nothing more attractive than a woman who is confident and happy with herself!

10. You are meant to have and enjoy a wonderful life. All aspects of your life are meant to lift you up and make you feel good about yourself. You don’t need to wait around for another person to give you what you need. How can you make yourself feel more wanted and secure? As a friend once told me, bees are naturally attracted to a piece of sugar. Sugar doesn’t have to do anything except being its sweet self, and all the bees want to be around it. So go ahead honey, make yourself feel well, beautiful and happy, that’s really all you have to do to attract to you the perfect partner, and a wonderful happy life.

Turkish women celebrate International Women’s day


Kimberly Latta, Ph.D., L.S.W., R.Y.T.:

I love the purple hats!

Originally posted on Feminist Philosophers:

Yesterday, women marched accross Turkey to mark International Women’s day, brandishing banners, and saucepans (not as a sign of their womanhood, but because it was one the instruments or protest last summer – Turks were banging saucepans on their balconies throughout the protests). Here is a slideshow of the marches.

In Istanbul, women demonstrated in Taksim, close to Gezi park, the heart of last year’s protests. The riot police blocked their entry into the park.

Photo: Women's march in Istanbul, Turkey. They chant: We'll retake Taksim tonight. #WomensDay #IWD2014 #Taksim #Istanbul

Women in Taksim, chanting “Run away, Tayyip! The women are coming to get you”. (Images taken from The New Young Turks‘ facebook page.)

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My parents’ marriage


Mom and Dad, laughing at Lake Arrowhead, circa 1956


My parents had a really happy marriage.  They met and fell in love in a Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) high school in Los Angeles.   Basically good and good-looking, outdoorsy, kids, they rebelled against their church’s strict rules against drinking, smoking, and pre-marital sex.  Before they got hitched, at the frighteningly young ages of 21 and 22, they shared sleeping bags while camping out before the Rose Bowl Parade.  The early years of their marriage were hard.   My father was in medical school and worked 24 hours at a time in the hospital before going on to his part-time jobs at a gas station and a mortuary.  He didn’t have time to think, let alone feel.  My mother, though, grew lonely and depressed at her secretarial position and afterwards, trying to attend to four year-old me and my much cuter and quieter two year-old brother.  Just because we had been running around all day at our grandmother’s house playing with our uncles and cousins didn’t mean we were tired, or that dinner and the dirty house would take care of themselves.

Mom and Dad in matching Norwegian sweaters with my mother's brothers
Mom and Dad, before they got married, with my mother’s brothers and a snowy friend.
My beautiful picture

Mom and Dad, exploring gold mines and camping somewhere in California, circa 1957

The U.S. Army drafted my father right out of medical school and my parents opted to spend three years in Germany in lieu of two years in Texas.  Although it was difficult at first, especially since my father had to train for six months away from the family, the easier work schedule and social life that they found on the base gave my parents the opportunity to turn towards one another again.  Both of them enjoyed skiing and traveling and socializing with people from different cultures, ethnic groups, and religions. They explored Europe together, usually with my brother and me, but also alone or with friends.

My beautiful picture

Mom and Dad clowning around with their friends at a party on the base in Augsburg, Germany, circa 1966

I remember them laughing, but cannot think of a single time I saw them yelling or arguing at one another. Disagreements usually had to do with money—my father thought my mother spent too much on clothing for herself and the kids, while my mother complained that he spent too much on his sailboats.  He generally deferred to her in actually enjoyed spending money on her, because she was beautiful and elegant and looked great in diamonds.  She appreciated how hard he worked to pay for luxuries and went along with his enthusiasms, such as sailing, even though she never got as excited about it as he did.

My beautiful pictureShe enjoyed just being in his company, she said, even if he seemed to be ignoring her behind his computer monitor.  Both came from musical families that valued classical music.  My mother also liked popular songs but deferred to my father’s more intellectual interests in jazz and opera when they sat together in the evenings.  My father admired my mother’s taste in decorating, so if he decided what they did together, then my mother determined how the boat or the home they did it in would look and feel.  My father liked to jokes and my mother liked to laugh. She laughed at everyone’s jokes. Mum Dad & K

One of the most important lessons I learned from my mother is that one’s husband should be interesting.  “Your father never bores me,” she said.  He loved the way she rubbed his neck on long family car journeys.  While my mother probably dedicated more cognitive room to my father than he did to her, and was generally less able to discuss his feelings, she was emotionally intelligent enough not to read any irritation or frustration he expressed as an attack on her person.

Family Latta

Dad, Kari, Kimberly, Chris, and Mom, in front of our home, 1986

My father’s temperament was basically sweet, and both of my parents had strong, emotionally involved mothers, so it was easy  for him to accept her dominance in the household.  She respected his dominance in the business and financial spheres.  He wasn’t too keen on her wish for another child in her late thirties, but he went along with it because he loved her.   He also accepted very little responsibility for the nurturing of my sister.  “Joan, your child is crying,” I can remember him saying.

They accepted stereotypical gendered roles without buying into a philosophy of male dominance.  My father had some old-fashioned attitudes, but he respected intelligence and ability in women.  Both of them were strongly pro-choice.  They pursued different hobbies but generally practiced them together (Mom needle pointed or read while Dad puttered on the boat). Mom never did master the black runs and usually got cold long before Dad, but she was a good sport and headed out with him every day.

Mom and Dad on the slopes,  Sun Valley, circa 1979

Mom and Dad on the slopes, Sun Valley, circa 1979

Because my father’s job was so demanding, they had to learn how to entertain themselves separately, but they shared the same Southern Californian, SDA roots as well as the same dream of a healthy, happy, family in which parents and children spent a lot of time together outside having fun.  They planned a rich, relaxing, athletic retirement together, but that dream never came true.  My mother died of colon cancer after a short illness in 1990.  She was 54.  Dad remarried another woman from the same high school, but she was an altogether different sort of person and did not bring my father much joy.  Truly happy marriages are rare and precious.

Mom, as seen by Dad, on Freya, circa 1981

Mom, as seen by Dad, on Freya, circa 1981

My parents taught me a great deal about what a good relationship looks like.  Partners do well when they admire each other’s  interests and respect their different strengths.  I also think a man who bores a woman will soon lose her, no matter what else may offer, and that mutual admiration and toleration for one another is vital for long-term happiness.  My parents’ good marriage will always inform my interpretations of other relationships.  It will also help me, a committed feminist and apprentice psychotherapist, to see that even couples who adopt relatively rigid gender roles can share power equally and effectively.

Gamble Everything for Love


The Sufi poet rumiRumi (1207-1273) ,who was known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī (Persian: جلال‌الدین محمد بلخى‎) and Mawlānā/Molānā  (Persian: مولانا‎) wrote:

Gamble everything for love,
if you’re a true human being.

If not, leave
this gathering.

Half-heartedness doesn’t reach
into majesty.  You set out
to find God, but then you keep
stopping for long periods
at mean-spirited roadhouses.

Peer Gynt (2006-2013) Greatest Cat in the World


Peer Gynt, My amazing cat, Peer Gynt, died last week.  I called him my boyfriend because he was the first being who came here and stayed, and only after much upset and dissatisfaction on both sides.  He was big and orange and stripy, like a mini-tiger, and fat, and lazy, and lazier and fatter every year.   He complained loudly when he wanted attention, or when breakfast wasn’t served promptly enough.  Sometimes he even pawed at my bedroom door.  He convinced people in the neighborhood that he needed food with his piteous meowing.  They call me up and say, “I found your cat.  He seems really hungry…”  even though he was a bruiser and had plenty to eat at home and, to boot, wore a tag that said “In-outdoor cat.  Do not feed.”

He was an alley cat, the mayor of the neighborhood, everybody’s cat, really.  My neighbor, Lisa, called him “Pussy L’Orange” and loved him, I thought, much better than I did.  She let him sit on her lap and get his cat hair all over her clothing.  My dear friend Tim, who lives down the alley, held Peer for hours and hours a day, letting him sleep on his chest.  He was a protector, a guardian, a friend.  I called him the sleep guru because it he lulled everyone he curled up against into dreamland.  And now he is sleeping in my back yard.  He was not afraid of dogs.  When we brought a 5 month-old Siberian Husky, a reputed cat-killer, into his home, he calmly stared her down and made it clear that he was in charge.  He held his ground when we brought in another, goofy, Husky Puppy, who grew to be 70 pounds.  Peer kept them both in line.  Some people called him a dog-cat, or cat-dog, because he often behaved more like a dog than a cat.

Peer Gynt standing watch over Freya and Baldr

Peer Gynt standing watch over Freya and Baldr

My friend Tim helped me lower him into the grave, wrapped in a lovely old cotton blanket my parents brought back from Wyoming.  It seemed fitting, as Peer was a Western Cat, a fighter, a lover.

The funeral was lovely.  Some of the kids from the neighborhood, who knew and loved him, came over.  Each of us said what we loved about him and then cast a flower into his grave.  Then I read from Christopher Smart‘s Jubilate Agno, which one of the kids actually knew about.  Smart wrote what must be the greatest poem on a cat while confined for lunacy in Bedlam Asylum between 1759 and 1763.

1     For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
2     For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.

19   For having consider’d God and himself he will consider his neighbour.
20   For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
21   For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
22   For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
23   For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.
24   For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary.
25   For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
26   For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
27   For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.

Peer with his friend, Anitra

Peer with his friend, Anitra

I loved my cat, Peer Gynt.

I send him to his grave with lines from Ibsen.  This is the lullaby that Solveig, who has loved him forever, sings to him at the end of the play:

Sleep thou, dearest boy of mine!

I will cradle thee, I will watch thee —

The boy has been sitting on his mother’s lap.

They two have been playing all the life-day long.

The boy has been resting at his mother’s breast

all the life-day long. God’s blessing on my joy!

The boy has been lying close in to my heart

all the life-day long. He is weary now.

Sleep thou, dearest boy of mine!

I will cradle thee, I will watch thee.

Peer on my bed

Peer on my bed

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