Mostly, I just believe that I’m never going to stop learning what it is I believe.
As you may already know from the spectacular Google Doodle in honor of the occasion, Maurice Sendak would have been 85 today.
Here is a collection of 10 interviews with Sendak, including the illustrated version of his interview with Fresh Air done by Christoph Niemann for the New York Times some months ago. You can listen to the full version of that interview here. It’s one of the best.
“Hey man, take my picture!”
“I can’t do it. It’s too dark.”
“Yeah, we need some light. Let’s go over there.”
“Are you homeless?”
“Yes, I am.”
“How long have you been homeless?”
“15 years. I’ve been in Boston 8 months. Before that I was in Washington, Virginia, New York, Philadelphia, Louisiana, Florida…”
“Why didn’t you stay in Florida? It’s so much warmer.”
“I wanted to see my family. But they don’t want to see me. They don’t understand depression. They treat me like dirt. Homeless people treat me better than my family.”
“And what happened 15 years ago? How did you end up on the streets?”
“I tried to burn myself twice. I had 30 surgeries. I was dead two times, but God brought me back. I don’t know why.”
“And why did you do it?”
“I was depressed. Why you crying?”
“Because you are a beautiful person, and my family is really messed up, and I’ve been very depressed. I think I can understand you.”
“Yes, I am a good person. And when you take people’s pictures, don’t disrespect them.”
“No, man, I won’t. I like people. That’s why I take their pictures.”
“And when you make your portfolio, don’t denigrate people. Let the pictures speak for themselves.”
“I will. Are you safe on the streets?”
“Yes, I am…And now I have $8 to buy me some food.”
“That’s all I have. Next time I see you, I will give you more.”
“No, man. It ain’t all about money. Give me a hug. And next time you see me, give me a hug again. And thanks for taking my picture.”
Give me a hug.
—Ursula K. LeGuin
All of the new Oklahoma laws aimed at limiting abortion and contraception are great for the Republican family that lives in a gingerbread house with a two-car garage, two planned kids and a dog. In the real world, they are less than perfect.
As a practicing physician (who never has or will perform an abortion), I deal with the real world. In the real world, 15- and 16-year-olds get pregnant (sadly, 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds do also). In the real world, 62 percent of women ages 20 to 24 who give birth are unmarried. And in the world I work and live in, an unplanned pregnancy can throw up a real roadblock on a woman’s path to escaping the shackles of poverty.
Yet I cannot convince my Republican colleagues that one of the best ways to eliminate abortions is to ensure access to contraception. A recent attempt by my fellow lawmakers to prevent Medicaid dollars from covering the “morning after” pill is a case in point. Denying access to this important contraceptive is a sure way to increase legal and back-alley abortions. Moreover, such a law would discriminate against low-income women who depend on Medicaid for their health care.
But wait, some lawmakers want to go even further and limit everyone’s access to birth control by allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for contraception.
What happened to the Republican Party that I joined? The party where conservative presidential candidate Barry Goldwater felt women should have the right to control their own destiny? The party where President Ronald Reagan said a poor person showing up in the emergency room deserved needed treatment regardless of ability to pay? What happened to the Republican Party that felt government should not overregulate people until (as we say in Oklahoma) “you have walked a mile in their moccasins”?
Is my thinking too clouded by my experiences in the real world? Experiences like having a preacher, in the privacy of an exam room say, “Doc, you have heard me preach against abortion but now my 15-year-old daughter is pregnant, where can I send her?” Or maybe it was that 17-year-old foreign exchange student who said, “I really made a mistake last night. Can you prescribe a morning-after pill for me? If I return to my home country pregnant, life as I know it will be over.”
What happened to the Republican Party that felt that the government has no business being in an exam room, standing between me and my patient? Where did the party go that felt some decisions in a woman’s life should be made not by legislators and government, but rather by the women, her conscience, her doctor and her God?
Cox, R-Grove, has delivered more than 800 babies.