All posts by Phoebe Sparrow Wagner

Phoebe Sparrow Wagner, formerly Pamela Spiro Wagner, is an award-winning poet, author and artist who wrote WE MAD CLIMB SHAKY LADDERS (Cavankerry Press, 2009) poems about her life with schizophrenia, and co-author, with her sister, a psychiatrist, of DIVIDED MINDS: TWIN SISTERS AND THEIR JOURNEY THROUGH SCHkIZOPHRENIA, a memoir, which was a finalist for the Connecticut Book Award and won the NAMI Outstanding Literature Award in 2006. It is still in print, and available at Amazon.Wagner second book, a first volume of poetry, is WE MAD CLIMB SHAKY LADDERS, (2009) which is available at a discount now from Cavankerrypress.org. Her newest book of poetry and art, LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS (Green Writers Press/Sundog Poetry Center 2017) is also now available at Amazon and other booksellers. Her work has been published in Tikkun, Midwest Poetry Review, and the New York TImes Sunday Magazine as well as the Hartford Courant and the LA Weekly, among other places. She also won an international poetry competition sponsored by the BBC in 2001/2. Wagner’s art was on display in Connecticut area libraries in 2011 and 2012 and in Vermont, in Brattleboro, in 2016 and 2017. Many pieces are available for sale and charitable donation. She currently lives in Vermont.

Narcolepsy and what it feels like

I’m sharing this because I have suffered from narcolepsy since high school or even before then, and while sleeping is often seen as desirable, for me it has forever been a huge problem, as described in this interview. When I was first tested for narcolepsy they did not have the more sophisticated tests they use now, but in one short “sleep EEG” I experienced every one if the narcolepsy symptoms except cataplexy. Oddly enough, or perhaps not so, I only “melt” to the floor when I belly laugh… but it’s also a “reliable” or at least predictable occurrence. In medical school, when we were joking around and I burst out laughing, I would literally find myself in a heap on the floor, while everyone else remained standing. I did not at the time understand why everyone did not collapse when laughing…It gives literal meaning to the acronym, ROFL, except that I cannot roll, only lie there in sudden weakness. 

I have experienced so much of what ”Claire” describes in this interview, like dreaming before I fall asleep and confusing my dreams with reality. In fact, I frequently have to ask myself, was such and such real, a memory of something that really happened, or did I just dream it? But I have no way of knowing, except by virtue of having to ask myself that question, which usually means that whatever it is was in fact only a dream. Anyhow, this is a long preface to an informative if casual interview. I hope you read it. Please feel free to ask me questions as there is not an ability to comment on the article itself. The second article is about a newer narcolepsy drug, which I have also taken.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pg9zgk/what-its-like-to-have-narcolepsy-and-go-through-life-tired-af

https://www.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/xd7k8n/i-take-nine-grams-of-ghb-every-night-to-treat-my-narcolepsy-882

Open letter to Elizabeth Warren

Sept 4, 2019

Dear Senator Warren,

I just watched your town hall appearance focussed on climate change, and even though I have been rooting for you and contributing to your campaign ever since you entered the race, I was thrilled to hear you mention both science, your faith in it, and the morass of corruption that characterizes everything in Washington DC. 

I know you don’t have a lot of time to read emails, if indeed you read this one, so I will get right to the point.

There is only one group of law-abiding American citizens who can be and regularly are deprived of their civil rights in this country, with utter impunity, and that is the group of us who have been diagnosed with serious mental illnesses, like schizophrenia and bipolar conditions. On the word of a psychiatrist or even in some cases just a masters-degree-carrying “counselor” we can be deprived of our freedom, institutionalized and forcibly drugged for months, even years at a time. Why? Because someone else believes we might be dangerous, even though in fact future violence is notoriously hard to predict, even some will admit impossible to predict.

 No one who has committed a crime is kept in prison because of possible future violence, no, what prisons are for, whether you agree with this or not, and I think it is shameful, is to punish, by applying violence to those who HAVE committed a crime.  But many, even most of us who have been forcibly hospitalized and drugged have never been violent towards any other person, period. Look at the statistics if you have not already. As those predict, i have been the victim of a violent crime, but never have I been charged with a single incidence of lawbreaking…

Senator, the thing is, if you believe in science, and in rooting out corruption, look at what is going on in psychiatry, and don’t just get the word of psychiatrists, or people who run the so-called mental health system. They either do no know or do not care about the extreme damage the drugs they force on us have done and are doing. They are either completely in cahoots with big Pharma, or they too believe the lies they taught us, that schizophrenia and bipolar conditions are real disease entities, chemical imbalances that such drugs ameliorate if they do not actually amend them. As you may learn, psychiatrists now claim they never said this, that we patients “made them say it.” But this is a lie, and the chemical imbalance lie is still being used on us and the general public.

Psychiatrists as a group do know the truth of what Thomas Insel, former head of NIMH, wrote just a few years ago, that they spent over 20 BILLION dollars in their effort to prove that these things are real neurochemical imbalances, with neuro-anatomic foundations, and in Insel’s words, they “have not moved the needle” on discovering either the cause or any effective treatment. 

And yet medication, drugs, are the ONLY treatment that hospitals offer Involuntary patients. In fact, if you are a willingly hospitalized patient, even then such drugs — which shorten the average lifespan by as much as 25 years — are de facto the only treatment. Sure there are “groups” but those who run them will tell you they are just to keep people busy, and are not intended to do anything else.

I am not one of the lucky wealthy people who have been treated voluntarily in posh private  hospitals. No, i have been beaten up and tied to a bed too many times to count, which is also involuntary treatment, in public and municipal hospitals, the only ones who took my Medicare and Medicaid, so I know where of I speak…

I could say so much more about this. I am a former medical student, and now an author and artist who was diagnosed and treated, in hospitals and out, for schizophrenia for decades.

The drug companies and psychiatrists lie when they say the drugs work. They do NOT lie when they say that is all they have…indeed it is! But is this right, to lock us up in hospitals because we are different and people claim we might be dangerous for being different? To drug us for life on compounds that drastically curtail our lifespans, and rarely increase our happiness, or our productivity as citizens? No, please see that a resounding NO is the only answer. 

And keep us in mind when you become our next president.

Sincerely,

Phoebe Sparrow Wagner

 

WHY CLAIMING “DISABILITY” DOES NOT ENABLE US

The essay below was written as a comment to this article posted on Facebook….

https://www.chronicle.com/article/Why-I-Dread-the-Accommodations/239571

There was much hew and cry about how ableist the writer of this article was. Here is my response.

“I’m asking for information here, as I do not understand the comments above. Please explain why this was “ableist” and offensive.

“To understand where I’m coming from, you should know that No accommodations were EVER available or suggested when I was a young college student with evident but undiagnosed narcolepsy, and diagnosed psychosis.

“To me, given that I had extraordinary difficulties in school, from high school and college and on into medical school, which I eventually quit, the notion that a professor would talk to me calmly about how my disabilities manifested was unthinkable. But what  was also unthinkable was that I consider myself “disabled”. I was not taught from a young age, or when extreme daytime sleepiness manifested itself, along with cataplexy during laughter, I was not taught that I deserved special accommodations for this. I did not learn to think of myself as disabled, though in fact narcolepsy and psychosis did severely impinge on my ability to function, and threatened my “future”…Because of my difficulties, I was only able to take 3 academic courses per semester, that is, 3 credits, plus a half credit for taking private recorder lessons. I did try to ask for help, in the form of delayed paper deadlines etc. And as a rule i was yelled at or worse, treated with utter contempt for making such requests…But, and this is important, despite my difficulties or disabilities, I did not learn to term mySELF disabled because of them.

“I have always had a big problem with this, the demand that I accept mySELF as disabled, or as the old word put it, invalid. Just as I now reject all psychiatric labels as false, and both dehumanizing and stigmatizing in their imposition as well as their acceptance because they label a person not just a problem, similarly I reject the label of “disabled” because it implies mySELF is disabled…I as a self (or soul, in old time parlance) am not disabled. No one is! We have certain differences, yes, but name me a single person who does not in some fashion differ from the imaginary and meaningless “norm”. Like many, i have nominally accepted the designation in order to get certain sources of necessary income, but in my true and inner self I never acquiesced to the idea that I am “permanently and totally disabled”. No. No. No.

“Yes, it is true I cannot and never could work an 8-hour day, 5 days or even 1 day a week, but that does NOT mean there is a single thing wrong with me, only that society is wrong to 1) demand it 2) decree that no other mode of living is acceptable.

“I am glad I never learned to FEEL disabled or deserving of special accommodations, even though had they been offered my life might have been very different. But having had a very, very difficult life  — and I’m 66 now — does not in my view make me either disabled or special. It gave me things an easy life would not have, and I learned much more compassion and understanding from having to struggle. “Failure” at a job or even at “functioning” in this society is not indicative of a global failure of self, or some inability to be, fully and competently mySELF, and I refuse to accept that my disabilities, my lack of ability to pass as a competently 9-5 working adult somehow makes me disabled. If I had learned to think that way, I doubt I would ever have found my art abilities at age 55 or started, at age 65, to pursue a new passion for the French language. If I felt disabled or that I deserved special treatment rather than that I could in fact do more than most people, but at a different pace and at a very different time of life than this youth-centered society expects, I would have obliged them and never done a thing.

“A self is not disabled by virtue of having a disabling symptom or aspect to themselves. A self is only disabled by *thinking* that they are disabled. But this thought in my view is life-killing and potential-killing. And despite cries to the contrary, I don’t think “disabled-me”-thinking serves the lives of those in the community of people with disabilities.”

 

“I am Asexual, not an Amoeba…”

Reposted from 2017, and 2013.

I wrote the bulk of this piece back in Connecticut in 2013, when i still believed in the concept of mental illness yadda yadda.  i am adding this preface in Vermont, from a place of much greater stability and even more firmness.

Asexuality is not a common orientation but it is not unknown or in any fashion abnormal. As i note below, a good 1% of the human population may be asexual all their lives and many, many more may find themselves “asexual” at some time in their lives. I put the quotations around the word because i believe that those who find themselves suddenly asexual while taking certain psycho-tropic drugs may not quite understand that it is the medications that have induced this change in them, but sometimes the state is an unnatural change from their native orientation and not a natural state of affairs.

if you happen to be naturally asexual, as i am, you surely know that it is not a state of being without discrimination. For one thing, people make assumptions about us that are almost always to our detriment, and they never bother to inquire first who or what we are about. For instance, i am 66, childless, unmarried, and unpartnered…and yet i like to contribute to the well-being of young people, and others, either by teaching them or by assisting them in other ways. If i were married with children, i believe my intentions would not be regarded with suspicion, but as it is, i feel frequently suspected as some sort of sexual predator. An asexual friend of mine evinced similar feelings, saying that he could not invite a friend from work out for a drink without that person clearly fearing that he was being “hit on” when all my friend ever wants is friendship from anyone, male or female!

I dont understand why the A in LGBTQIA stands for “allies” not for “asexual” and why there is still no place for us within it.

——————————————————————————————-

Let me state this plainly so there is no misunderstanding: I am tired of people thinking there is something wrong with me just because I do not have a husband or boyfriend/lover or even a girlfriend/lover or a love-interest of any kind. I am not interested in sex and have never been interested in sex for whatever reason. This does not distress me and it never would have in the past, had others not insisted that it ought to. I have finally come to the conclusion that being asexual — definition: having no interest in a sexual relationship with another person — is okay.

I am not unhappy. I get a lot done and I am likely more satisfied by my life as an asexual than someone who is sexual and without a partner. I am never lonely. And I have tons of friends. (At least 16 friends — all of whom I adore — came to my 60th birthday party!)

It has taken me, via a tortuous up and down path, a long time to come to this position. And there may well be those who shake this foundation yet, as other people’s opinions, alas, still manage to have a strong effect on me. I have never told openly the story I am now going to relate, but I think it is time. It should be an eye-opener and a warning to those who believe they have the right, even the duty to “help” a young person discover “her true identity…”

As some of you know, a very long time ago, I was a student in a medical school in Connecticut. The two years I attended med school were extraordinarily difficult ones for me and I admit now that even as I matriculated, I “knew” at an almost conscious level that I would never get through. I didn’t honestly want to be a physician. Not really. Oh, yeah, I thought I could be a good psychiatrist. I knew that I understood people and mental illness enough to empathize and help others. But the notion that I could successfully get through four years of med school and four years of residency in order to achieve that goal was something I also knew would be impossible, even as I nominally attempted to undertake it. I had no choice. It was what you did in my family. And there was no question in my mind that I could work at a “regular 8-hour a day job.” I simply didn’t have the stamina either interpersonally or physically. I didn’t know why, I just didn’t. (I also didn’t understand that I had narcolepsy, so I construed my constant drowsiness as “boredom” for everything.)

So there I was in med school, without the ability to make friends or any interest in relationships, especially having just broken up with Bruce, the one boyfriend I had had and with whom I had sex (because he pushed it). I hated it…which was why I broke it off. I know I was noticed. I felt noticed. Possibly because I made little effort to be friendly, possibly because my narcolepsy made me noticeable. I don’t know. It is not that I was a striking person at 5′ 3″ and 105 lbs…hardly! Perhaps it was my mere aloneness that struck people. I dunno.

Things were hard to start with, but then the voices started up telling me to hurt myself and I acted on their commands, frequently. I had horrific nightmares almost every night. And I could not stay awake in class or study, no matter what I did. People had all sorts of advice and jokes for me but no understanding. They gave me No-Doz and Vivarin for my birthday, which precipitated a caffeine-toxic all-night-up of horror. They took photos of “Rip van Winkle” sleeping on the med school lobby couch and published it in our newsletter. No one knew what was really going on, at home, at night, in my bedroom when the voices took over.

I had a run-in with the student health doctor, Dr E, to whom I had gone about possible Reynaud’s Syndrome. When she saw certain open wounds and scars on my body she became concerned and spoke with the psychiatrist I was seeing at the time. Dr S, who was a cold man who seemed to dislike me from the start, was angry at our next appointment for “parading” my wounds and warned me against ever doing so again.

I went back to Dr E and told her what Dr S had said. She seemed perturbed and gave me the name of a therapist that she said she often referred “troubled students” to. I might consider seeing Tamara instead of Dr S. The other students liked her a lot, Dr E said. What were their problems? I asked. Dr E shook her head and responded, Not so very different from yours.

——————-

I sit nervously in the waiting room, hoping that Tamara will be so late she won’t have time to see me today after all. I feel sick to my stomach and wonder why I’ve come. Five minutes late, ten minutes late. I am just about to leave when a very pregnant woman opens the door to the office and welcomes me in. I do not look at her face but whisk myself inside, trying not to guess how many more weeks she has.

Before she asks me anything, Tamara says, “Now, I see girls who like girls and boys who like boys. You’re okay with that?”

What is she talking about? I don’t understand. Girls who like girls? I like girls, I like boys. Why shouldn’t I be okay with it? So I say, yes. And assume that even so, she sees people whose issues are very different…

I didn’t ask her. I simply assumed that she had other interests. And went on from there. But it was critical, because I did not get that she was conducting therapy as if I had agreed that I was a lesbian, and yet I had made no such admission. I did not even understand what she was getting at. Why was she so coy? Why didn’t she just come out and ask me whether or not I was gay and then tell me that she only treated lesbians and gays with issues around their sexuality?

As it turned out, she had no idea that I was not in fact assenting to her coy proposition that I “liked girls.” On the contrary, if she had asked me point blank, I would likely have said, “Me? No way. I am not even interested in boys. I couldn’t care less about sex. I like, but don’t love, boys and girls…so to speak.” But the operant word, clearly, was not “like” at all, but love, as in “making love.”

Actually, in point of fact, I would not have been able to respond at all, if I remember my former self accurately. I was nearly mute much of the time, esp in therapy, and when I did speak it was often very cryptically and with difficulty making my meaning understood or clear. This may account for the misunderstanding that so horrified me in what follows.

It was a crazy-making psychotherapy for about 6 months. I had no idea what notion she was operating under, because I didn’t know what kind of therapy she “did.” Likewise, if she knew the least thing about me, it was completely mis-colored by her mis-understanding of me as a lesbian. So when one afternoon she “told” me that she empathized with me, because I had had a sexual relationship with my previous psychiatrist…I hit the roof.

“WHAT? What the F— are you talking about?!” I nearly leapt out of my chair.

“It’s okay Pam, I understand,” she soothed me.

“It is NOT okay! I never said anything of the sort! This is YOUR filthy mind! I’m out of here. Go to hell!” And with that I got up and walked out. I realized then that she was nuts. Somehow she had gotten the entirely wrong idea, but I didn’t understand how. It made no sense to me. Where on earth had she fashioned that notion? I certainly had never said any such thing…

Then her statement “I treat girls who like girls…” came back to me. And I understood more. Dr E surely knew Tamara’ orientation, her clinical expertise, so Dr E must have believed that I needed to talk about conflicts about my “homosexuality,” about “coming to terms with being a lesbian”, all unbeknownst to me. So she had set it up that I see Tamara, believing that she knew me better than I knew myself. But what right had she to do that? And how would she know whether or not I was a lesbian? Just because I was a conspicuous loner? How dare she? She knew nothing about me! What she had done was a violation of me as bad as any man who wanted to have sex just to prove he was Mr Right!

I spent a lot of time after that utterly paranoid that I might be gay, feeling that I must be gay, certain that I was gay…I even came to the point that I accepted it eagerly. But it was never true. It was just another identity forced on me by others who would not let me be. Who would not accept that I simply have never had interest in sex or sexuality beyond a pervasive non-sexuality. My libido, my psychic energy, is invested in other things, in art, in science, in French and in life, but not in erotic interests. And you know what? Being non-sexual or asexual doesn’t make me an amoeba, lacking in passion,  or less than human.

i repeat, I have many passions, I love life, but my passion is and has always been asexual. My libido is not somehow wrongly bound up in art or French etc. I am not suppressing something out of fear or because of trauma. This is who I am, a passionate but asexual being, period.

At least 1% of humanity is asexual, has always been asexual, lifelong and permanently. That’s a LOT of people. We may not be the norm, but there are enough of us out there to rate your acknowledgement and the respect you would pay to any other human being. That’s all we ask, that’s all I ask. And i ask

you not to try to change me just because you do not like it or understand my way of being. Thank you.

A poem for our time, to our better selves

THE NEW COLOSSUS

(poem engraved on the Statue of Liberty, with recording below.)

‘By Emma Lazarus – 1849-1887

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

For those who need also to hear this poem read out loud, I recorded it, after several attempts during which I broke down in tears. Here, then, without tears, but my heart full of them, I offer Emma Lazarus’ amazing poem, which is engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty,  which we also call, The Lady.

Statue of Liberty poem

 

Missouri requires forced RAPE before abortion…

I  have nothing more to say about this except that in Missouri, if you were raped and seeking an abortion, you WILL be forcibly raped by your obgyn a second time before you can go home to wait three days to abort the fetus that another man impregnated you withk by force. Congratulations Missouri, at least you are up front about hating women and blaming them for YOUR crimes !

i think we should outlaw male masturbation in Missouri and elsewhere as men are spilling their seeds into the sheets and not into a proper female receptacle…ooops, I forgot that rape is legal in Missouri so there is no need for masturbation, is there? Does medicaid pay for viagra etc in Missouri? An interesting question…

Why I Live an Un-regulated Life

In truth, if you came here to find out how not  to live a regulated life, by which I mean one not bound by routines and self-made Rules with a capital R, I may disappoint in what follows.  Why? Because while I trust that my life, lacking as it is in almost all  “regulated structure”, has a “mind of its own” and in that sense as much purpose as any other, I confess that this free-spirit eschewing of everything and anything routine is less by choice than by temperament.

Not that I have not tried, mightily, to instill in myself the values of routine, attempting to establish even one single habit that might tame a few of these impulses to spontaneity that don’t in fact help me.  Okay, phoebe, be specific, name one! Well, in point of fact, i do not eat, sleep or even brush my teeth on any routine or scheduled or regulated basis….This is not troubling to me in terms of the first two: i live alone and have no intimate relationship, so when and where I sleep or eat is really nobody else’s concern. But my mouth is full of dental work that cost a mint, so the fact that I do not brush my teeth…period, let alone on a regular or scheduled basis could be seen as a problem. If it were not for frequent dental visits and a family who at least saw to it that my teeth were taken care of, I might be lacking them altogether.

But if my title above enticed you, you did not come here to read about my lack of dental hygiene or the drawbacks to living as I do, free of routines. One might see me as either free-spirited or run-amock, depending on how you perceive my life-style of spontaneously going with the flow and hoping for or anticipating the best outcome. As I said, this is not entirely by choice, as I seem to thrive (mostly) on doing things on a “what do I feel like doing now?” basis, rather than according to any schedule. Temperament? Most likely…though I can say that I was not always this way, or so comfortable with being and living the spontaneous life. As a child I was known as the Neatnik, the one whose room was meticulous all the time, and who knew where everything was placed or kept, down to the toothpicks in my antiqued-in-6th-grade-secretary-desk, lower left hand drawer, upper right quadrant, in a handmade box, next to the pen nibs in another box…(you see what I mean?)

if i used to be neat to an extreme and thrived on order, what the heck happened? I shake my head, wondering about the transformation myself…it may be that I was wrongly “typed” as the stoic, neatnik child, when my true nature was much more free wheeling. I know my parents had to pigeonhole each of us, their children, in order to “make sense of us” but did so on the basis of what they wanted to see not on what was there by nature. But maybe, too, there was a change as I grew up, either temperamentally  or as a kind of rebellion, and assertion of who I really am.

Most or many people I know could not live as I do, and would neither want to or find it comfortable. I cannot seem to live any other way. But I will also say that if you are comfortable with routines and schedules, go for it. Find out who you really are and not who your parents decided you were, way back when. You can’t do more than survive, which is to say, you can only THRIVE when you know and are true to yourself and to what your needs and feelings are.

Sometime I will write about Nonviolent Communication and how it changed my life. Talk about not being spontaneous! This is a system and a tool for resolving interpersonal conflicts as well as developing a better self-rapport, and while you can learn to use it spontaneously , at first it feels rigid and constricting and even artificial. (But so what? I mean, baking bread is artificial, and so is using any electricity or a boat to ferry you across a river…what isn’t?).  But those skilled in NVC are also some of the most accepting, tolerant and loving people I have ever met…so even if I do it on more or less spontaneous basis, i aim for such a state of being.

My Country ‘Tis of thee?

Shoot me, Trump! Go ahead…You can do whatever you want to!

No, I’m not suicidal. I’m just outraged that the DOJ claims the president is completely above the law and cannot be charged or even investigated (at least not by congress) for corruption . If this is true, or has become the facts in this matter, I figured, Okay let me be the test case for whether the DOJ will even investigate the Trumpster  for, yeah, you got it… murder.

But I want to ask, as someone surely should:

 HAVE YOU, REPUBLICAN SENATORS, NO SHAME?!

It is in your power to stop this abortion of justice! But you cowardly scum just want to get as much for your own pocketbooks as you possibly can. You dont represent the so-called moral majority but the venal and crass immorality of the tiniest minority…

Not only have you no shame, you have no honor.

I AM ASHAMED  TO CALL MYSELF AN AMERICAN!

My country, you disgust me. ..

 

signed

phoebe sparrow wagner

 

If You Use Make-Up Could You Be Committing Suicide?

Do you wear make-up or sunscreen? Do you know what is in it? Nanoparticules are smaller than many of the molecules that make up your body tissues . There is NO research showing their safety.

Nanoparticles may often be present in processed food and cosmetic products such as creams and lotions.

From an NIH (national institute of health) publication:

“It has been found out from different surveys that almost all the major cosmetic manufacturers use nanotechnology in their various products. Cosmetics giant Estee Lauder entered the NanoMarket in 2006 with a range of products containing “NanoParticles”. L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics company, is devoting about $600 million dollars, of its $17 billion dollar revenues, to Nano patents, and has patented the use of dozens of “nanosome particles”. ..

“In sunscreen products, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, in the size range of 20 nm, are used….

“Some manufacturers are already producing underarm deodorants with claims that the silver in the product will provide up to 24-hour antibacterial protection. Nano-sized gold, like nanosilver, is claimed to be highly effective in disinfecting the bacteria in the mouth and has also been added to toothpaste….

“Because of their size, these nanoparticles can easily gain access to the blood stream via skin or inhalation and from there they will be transported to the various organs. The high dose and long residence time of the nanoparticles in the vital organs can lead to their dysfunction.[30,31] Carbon nanotubes have been shown to cause the death of kidney cells and to inhibit further cell growth.[32] Whereas 500 nm titanium dioxide particles have only a small ability to cause DNA strand breakage, 20 nm particles of titanium dioxide are capable of causing complete destruction of super-coiled DNA, even at low doses and in the absence of exposure to UV.[33] In another study, it was found that mice which were subacutely exposed to 2–5 nm TiO2 nanoparticles showed a significant but moderate inflammatory response….

“Scientific studies have shown that nanoparticles can penetrate skin, especially if skin is flexed.[37] Broken skin is a direct route for the penetration of particles even up to a size of 7000 nm. The presence of acne, eczema and wounds may enhance the absorption of nanoparticles into the blood stream and may lead to further complications…

“zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles used in sunscreens can damage or kill the stem cells in the brains of mice.

“One of the major problems is that there is no much evidence about how much or what type of safety assessments are done by the various cosmetic manufacturers on their products.

Though there are increasing number of cosmetics and personal care products containing nanomaterials in the market, there are no specific regulations regarding their safety assessment. In Australia, the National Industry Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) regulates the safety of ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates sunscreens. However these regulators fail to distinguish between nanoparticles and larger sized particles….

“But all these nanocosmetics have raised a great concern regarding their safety for humans and environment. In order to ensure the safety and efficacy of such products, the European Union has incorporated a new amendment in its Cosmetics Directive which will become active from 2012 onwards. This new regulation will allow only the safer nanocosmetic products to enter into the market, safeguarding the beauty and health of the consumers. »

————————————-

Note that the American govt is not mentioned here as taking measures even to investigate the safety or dangerousness of nano cosmetics. Also note that women are the targets for these products. Sound familiar? Now I  am not a make-up user nor someone who has ever believed sunscreens are safe but I have long had concerns about this insertion of sub-molecular particles into what are essentially vanity products. My fear, and I dont think it is baseless,  is that these ingredients are far more dangerous than we have any inkling about . 

Whether or not you use cosmetics or sunscreen is up to you but I just wanted to post this because we are not being warned and the appropriate research is NOT being done .

Mothers Day poem

PHONE CALL TO MY MOTHER AT SIXTY

 

I have not thought of you all day.

A March wind rattles the wires,

wishing you a belated happy birthday.

You are sixty, my grandfather ninety

my younger sister thirty,

but if there is significance in that,

a syzygy, some conjunction in the heavens

I have yet to figure it out.

Your husband answers, my father,

aligned against me north-north,

between us implacable silence.

So we sidestep confidences,

suspecting he is listening in

until in the distance the line clicks

like a playing card in the spokes.

But even so, how carefully we speak,

expelling words of fragile allegiance

each of us pretending not to know

what the other is thinking.

Suddenly you confide, you feel old:

the baby is thirty, you don’t like

your new job, you miss teaching,

the exuberant children, their bright

and lazy charm. There is so much to do,

so little time. Before it is too late

you want to captain a boat to the Azores,

learn cabinet-making — you have the tools,

a lathe, a power saw, inherited from your deaf father

who never heard you speak

but built you a fabulous dollhouse

and taught you, at ten, to sink the eight ball.

Could I ever confide that I, too, feel old? At thirty-five

you had a husband, four children,

a career in the wings.  I rent

a single room and have no prospects

beyond the next day’s waking.

Instead I carefully quote Joseph Campbell’s

advice: follow your bliss.

And I remind you Aquarians always step

to a different drum’s thunder.

You like these clichés,

and laugh, repeating them, then you say

with a sudden spontaneous sincerity

that moves me how good it is to talk with me.

I think of all the times we have not spoken,

how at sixty it would be nice

to have a daughter to talk with

instead of friends wakened in the night,

reaching over husbands or wives,

to answer the phone, “Hello? Hello?”

their wary voices expecting

death or disaster.

You are tired, you say now,

you have an early appointment.

We promise each other a date for lunch.

But I will not call for a long time.

Or perhaps I will call the next day.

Before you hang up, you let slip

it’s your wedding anniversary, one

marked by some mundane substance —

stone, carbon, foil, rope.

Should I congratulate you, I wonder,

or console you? Finally, we say good-bye.

Across the wires I think I hear

your voice crack, but it could be the wind

or a bad connection.

 

 

By phoebe sparrow wagner (1990?)

Poème en Français (and translated)

I have not shared here how utterly in love with the French language I  have become. Last July, and I do not even remember exactly what happened but something did…last July I fell head over heels in love with French and all things Français. Like my other full blown long-term passions — field botany was the first, then poetry, then ——, then art, and now French — the transformation from someone who a few minutes before had no use for whatever it was — French in this case — into someone wildly passionate and devoted to the object of her desires happened in the space of moments. It was as usual truly like a religious “conversion experience”, no other expression adequately expresses this sort of Road to Damascus lightning strike experience. One minute I was just going along, doing art of course, and passionate about it, but having zilch interest in French…then with a nearly audible WHOMP! everything changes, as it changed last July and I literally transformed from someone who was at best lukewarm towards French, and France, to someone passionately in love!

 

i will write more about such experiences another time. (And never fear, my passion for art remains. ) but for now I wanted to share this poem, originally written in English for my book, LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS, but which last night I was moved to try to translate. If you perhaps are francophone and even a native speaker, I would LOVE any criticism or critique you might provide for how the French actually sounds to someone who knows it well.

 

Be that as it may, the translation in English, that is to say, the original version, is also below.

 

AU LECTEUR

qui pourrait être assis, comme moi,

dans un fauteuil vert, un thé à la main

regardant à travers de la porche

jusqu’au lampadaire  sans lumière au dehors du restaurant,

livre sur les genoux, le mien j’espérerais,

le seul livre que je dois évoquer

si j’évoque aucun livre dans un poème,

au lecteur, le méticuleux,

qui pourrait être se demandant pourquoi

sur la page 47 il y a deux « et »

l’un après l’autre, et à qui est la faute,

et au lecteur qui est peut-être fatigué

après un long trajet en bus chez lui

après un repas qui ne valait rien,

un lecteur qui ramasse mon livre, mais s’endort

avant de l’ouvrir, à tous je dis : Pardonnez-moi

je ne suis qu’une écrivaine, assise

dans un fauteuil vert, un thé à la main,

je ne peux pas expliquer ces deux « et »

ni le lampadaire mystérieux

ni réchauffer les pieds d’un lecteur fatigué

dans son lit. Je ne peux que mettre la musique

et raconter histoires

pour que des films tournent dans la tête,

pour le réveiller avec la compréhension soudaine

que c’est la poésie qui peut faire achever la vie,

eh bien, il peut faire achever ma vie au moins,

et peut être la sienne, et peut-être la vie

d’un méticuleux, et votre vie aussi,

tous ici assis, regardant à travers de la porche

jusqu’au lampadaire  sans lumière,

là où ce qui se passe si mystérieusement

est de la poésie –

et la nuit entière est enveloppée

dans les mots dits par deux étrangers

qui là se rencontrent,

ou peut-être les mots non-dits,

ce qui est de la poésie aussi,

et tous qui écoutent, nous attendons

la musique de ce qui se passera.

—————————-

 

TO THE reader

who may be sitting as I am

in a green recliner with a cup of tea

staring out through the porch

to a darkened streetlamp outside the diner,

with a book in her lap, mine, I hope

the only one I feel I should have to mention

if I mention a book in a poem I write;

to the reader, the nitpicker, the one

who may be wondering why

on p. 47 there are two ands, one

right after another, and whose fault that is;

and to the reader, who may be tired

after a long ride home on the bus

after dark and a meal not worth mentioning

who picks up my book but finds his eyes

closing before he has opened the cover,

I say: Forgive me

I am only a writer sitting in a green recliner

with a cup of tea, I can’t explain

those two ands or the mysterious

streetlamp or warm the feet of a tired

reader in his bed. I can only put music on

and tell him stories to make movies

turn in his head, to let him wake

with the sudden understanding that poetry

may be all it takes to make a life—

well, my life at any rate, and maybe his,

and maybe the nitpicker’s and yours, too,

staring through the porch to the streetlamp

where what happens so mysteriously ispoetry—

and the whole night is wrapped

in the words spoken by two strangers

meeting there, or not spoken, which is poetry too,

and all of us who listen are waiting

for the music of what is to happen.

M.