Tag Archives: conviction

In Conclusion

Today is my friend’s birthday. He is a single father  in the middle of a messy custody battle. DCFS is involved. I don’t claim to know anything about his baby mama’s case. But regardless, he felt the need to ask DCFS for permission to have me come over to his house. You know, because I’m a felon and all.

Just now he contacted me to let me know he is not allowed to associate with me. He got a “finger wagging” from the social worker.

Ironic that. Ironic all of it. I’m now too dangerous to associate with children, or even be present in their home. Hurry up and hide them! This midwife is dangerous.

It’s taken me a good couple weeks to write an update because the update I have is so heart-wrenching for me I couldn’t bring myself to write it.

A couple weeks ago on… oh, never mind, I’ve apparently blocked the date from my memory… I signed away my right to: 1. Have my midwifery license in the state of California and 2. Ever defend the Medical Board’s accusations if I attempt to ever obtain a medical license from the state of California for any reason ever again. Read: Never work in the state of CA again… not even if I went back to school and became an MD.

If California was like so many other states and recognized a woman’s right to birth WHERE and WITH WHOM she desired, I would be able to work outside of the megalomaniacal Medical Board.

In exchange, I get to relieve my pro bono attorney who has been tirelessly fighting on my behalf without a penny since the fall of 2010. I also get to know that I will have “surrendered” my license as opposed to having it “revoked”… semantics, really, but one that may make a difference in another state.

If I fought the Medical Board any further, I ran the risk of them back charging me tens of thousands of dollars. And, well, as a single mama with no ability to work in her profession, I really can’t afford that.

And, honestly, my supporters are tired. I watch the responses to my emails dwindle as time goes by. And my local birth community is too busy to care, most of them.

None of this changes even if my felony conviction is overturned after appeal.

The thing I find most ironic about this is that this state has many midwives who have been found guilty or plead guilty to crimes– most after the death of a baby– who are still working here, peaceful as peaches with their licenses intact. And further, let’s not get into the doctors who have continued to work.

So, I claw at the dry earth around me and hope to carve out some essentials as the kids and I attempt to make ends meet while I’m forced to remain in this county by the CA probation department. Without a job.

I clean houses, and babysit and teach classes here and there. I scrub toilets and paste canvasses and run errands for people. Whatever it takes. My friends at least trust me for these things.

And I see my children barely at all.

My daughter has taken on irrational fears ad nauseum and my son is incredibly angry. What do I do about it? Nothing. I don’t have time.

And I dream of the day when probation is done and I can leave this awful, ignorant, assaulting state. When I can burn the bridges I had with the Socialist Republic of California. And I look forward to another life in another state where midwifery laws aren’t so ridiculous.

But I’m ANGRY. I’m oh, so angry. My family’s blood is in this land. Our tears, our sweat. I’m FROM this place. My grandfather and grandmother served here as medical people. Gave their lives to the health and well-being of its citizens. We volunteered and voted and went to church.

And now the taxpayers of this state have seen fit to strip me of all of my life’s work, my family, my friends, my roots. They have seen fit to toss me out and give not a care to whether we live or die. Is a cage worse than being exiled?

Well, I guess I could stay… but then I would continue to work these 10-12 hour days and my children would be missing two parents instead of the one.

The words I want to write here are not suitable for children so I will leave this at that. Image


Phoenix Rising

Well, after all of that work, I dropped off of WordPress for over a month again. This time I just needed some time to sweat, garden, cry, dig, dance, and sweat some more. It’s been a grueling process. But just as I was about to dig myself into a little hole and never venture out with my outside of the box thinking again, I was given a bonfire of encouragement from Pete Eyre and his voluntaryist and libertarian friends.

I was so blown away to hear of all the stories they have to tell. My story is NOT unique. I just happen to have been involved with midwifery. So many other trades have been affected by the prosecution of victimless “criminals.”

Pete’s encouragement came right at a moment that I about cracked from the craziness of it all: the Medical Board of CA sent me a letter asking me to allow them to continue the hearing I must have before them (to decide if I will have my license revoked or be put on probation for eons). This was a request THEY made because they wanted to have the hearing next January 2013, not this June 2012 as scheduled. When my attorney agreed (hey… big deal… I can’t practice anyway, what does it matter to me?) they sent him the stipulation for me to sign.

In the stipulation, the wording said that I agreed that I had been found guilty of practicing negligently (something I was never even charged of!), that I agreed to have my license suspended (huh? Don’t I need a hearing before they decide that FOR me?) and that I promise not to be found in any place where “midwifery might be practiced” including employment, other than as a patient or the family member of a patient.

HUH??

So, I asked my attorney to politely decline their continuation request. I may be tarred and feathered, but I’ll be damned if I’ll help them do it.

Oh! And in case you, like me, are wondering why I can’t just send them their silly paper and quit even TRYING to practice in the People’s Republic of California, there’s this regulation that keeps things from being that simple.

So my hearing is in six weeks. I’ll keep y’all updated on what happens, but my hopes aren’t high. Nothing about anything related to this process has produced anything but disillusionment in me. Which is a LOT for an idealist at heart to take. Especially one who was also a statist. Heck. I was basically a socialist until this whole thing started. Now I truly fear for the future of our country. We continue to encourage our publicly funded civil servants to make more and more and more rules and laws and regulations.

Oh, and my book will be out soon. Please order a copy if you haven’t. It is the first and only place that I have told my story. You can pre-order it here. The forward was written by Dr. Stuart Fischbein and the Appendix of action items was compiled with an introduction by Pete Eyre; Like two solid bookends on a very messy, emotional female memoir.

My appeal is also still in process… it’s a bit like watching hair grow and hope it doesn’t become ingrown in the process. I am so grateful to my appeals attorney. She rocks.


CalTrans Day 1: 32 Hours Remaining

The paperwork I was given for my forty hours of CalTrans says “misdemeanor” on it. If only! But at least this time I am spared the “riding an animal” embarrassment.

I was able to begin this part of my sentence due to the graciousness of a neighbor of a friend of mine. Linda speaks very broken English. She is the mother of three small children and stays home with them while her husband works. When I met her I was enveloped in the joy and warmth and hospitality I remember so well from when I lived in Mexico City. Even though I had a hard time understanding her (my Spanish is as good as her English), her smile lit up the room. She told me that her entire household is crazy. The only sane ones are her dog, her bird and her guinea pig. I felt right at home.

When my friend told her my story she opened her arms and home and offered to care for my children free of charge while I finished my CalTrans work. As I thanked her, her children ran screaming between us with an automatic nerf gun and a nerf rocket launcher, chasing each other with fiery competition. Her dog growled (my friend told me the dog has an aversion to nerf guns). She laughed nervously. I told her there is a reason hispanics will always have their liberty in California.

I arrived late because the misdemeanor paper more than one error on it. It also said to arrive at seven am. When I showed up, proud that I was so early, the lot was vacant except for one lone worker who looked at me funny.

“I’m supposed to report here for court ordered CalTrans work…”

“Uhhh. They already left at six. Ju gunna need to talk to the boss. Maybe he’ll let you stay or something.”

The boss had pity on me. I thanked him and apologized for being an hour late.

“Well, according to your paper, you’re right on time… just make sure to arrive before six on your remaining days.”

I was shown to the employee facilities and offices across the street and the mops, brooms and cleaners. I’ve done this before. Only the floors and walls are a heck of a lot cleaner than Skid Row. Eric, the guy I first met, reminded me of the rules which included not having a cell phone on the premises.

“A while back one of the workers called someone in his gang and they had a shooting here.”

He didn’t need to explain further. We were in East L.A. after all.

“You might just work here in the facilities… they normally keep one female behind to clean. If there’s more than one female the rest of them gotta go pick trash, but it’s easy. You don’ gotta do nothing wichyor hands. They give you tools to pick stuff up. Is not hard. You’ll do these five days in jor sleep.”

And this was the part of the sentence the judge said would be really hard for me.

Cleaning the staff offices was easy, simple work.

The boss even came out and chatted with me for a bit about how life in the fifties was better than now. I agreed, even though I wasn’t alive in the fifties.

The men let me sign out first since I was a “female.” I was, actually, the only woman I saw all day. I wonder if a we women would treat a man with the same kind of preference if he ventured into a mostly female profession. Like, if an obstetrician worked with all midwives. Oh, wait a minute… question answered. I hung my head in shame for treating the obstetrician I worked with in a patronizing manner. Need to make amends there.


Wednesday’s Child

The dull ache at the base of my brain is like a relentless lover scorned. It’s giving way to a kind of vertigo that has shifted the real world into a dream as graspable as black smoke. The stench of it chokes me and turns my stomach. My tongue dries out like it’s licked the heart of the desert and been forever changed. I swallow hard to moisten the scar in my throat and soften the fortifying rock below my solar plexus. My heart beats to a random drum in staccato. Faint and without much interest in continuing.

I’m watching the credits roll and I don’t remember most of the movie. I’m too tired.

Every breath carries a thousand griefs. The tears are so stuck I don’t remember what it’s like to cry but I’m afraid if I suddenly recalled how to sob I would cry out every last drop of blood in my body. My flesh carries the marks of this beating and I’m afraid to look at them in fear I’ll find the bullet hole that went straight to my brain.

I remember a time so long ago that it feels like it belongs to someone else and not me.

There was a wide eyed girl with a heart so open she could have swallowed the whole earth with it. She believed in happy endings and prince charmings. Even though her father died tragically when she was four, she held out for the end believing it would justify the loss.

The darker the tunnel the brighter the outlet will be. The deeper the grief the greater the glory in the end. Every fairy tale says so.

Her hope would not be muted. Not by a hundred insults. Not by the false accusations of wagging tongues. Not by jealousy of lazy narcissists. Not by the inconvenience of the cubicles. Not by the misunderstandings of the ignorant.

But in the end she curled herself up in my head and went to sleep. And left me all alone. Her weight pressing in on my spinal cord.

From my quiet, forgotten corner, I watch as lovers unite and ride off into sunsets. I gaze into the eyes of the hopeful who have felt little pain in their pursuits. I inquire about the arrivals of kings and queens, born into the hands of another. I listen to the complaints of those who do not love the liberties I’ve lost.

I fell off the merry go round very early. The boy who pushed me just offered me a piece of rotten candy if I don’t tell anyone it was him. He doesn’t want it to ruin his holiday in the sun, after all.

I look down at the rags and blood and filth I’m wrapped in. I feel the patches of head where hair used to be. I lift the lids that are heavy with wrinkles and blink hard to moisten the eyes that are so dry it hurts to see. I caress the body that sags into the shape of an old woman prematurely.

And I ask her to press harder in sleep so that the credits will end. I can close my eyes and click my heals and finally go home if it’s still there.

I open my eyes to find that re-entry is never what they tell you. It’s awkward. For everyone. Some things can never be the same again. For the war-child, home vanishes in the smoke.

 

 


Day 32: 62 Hours Left

I watched him hold onto the handles of the cart with a grip so tight I felt my skin tingle. The man was literally holding his entire weight up by his hands. He was dragging his red tennis shoe covered feet with great difficulty, one at a time, behind him. I have never, in all my 37 years, seen someone have more difficulty walking. It was obvious he would benefit from a wheel chair.

A young woman steadied the cart as he walked and made sure his belongings didn’t fall off as he labored along. Although she appeared to be about fifteen years younger than him, her face was bright and cheerful and it was obvious she was a pleasant companion and loved him dearly. I see that a lot down here… bright and loud, shiney and witty… the women are like ornaments on the necks of the men they care for. Some of them aren’t women, technically. But the men don’t seem to mind. There is definitely a lot more testosterone than estrogen on these streets. And even more loneliness.

The man in the red tennis shoes was another reminder of the uniqueness of each individual here. Every person has a story, a lifetime lived with all their various issues dancing across the various years. Not one is alike, even if many share common themes. It’s part of what draws me into loving people. I love stories. I love them even more when I am an uninvolved viewer. I don’t like to live the drama myself.

Yet somehow, despite that, my life has become more dramatic than I ever wanted it to be.

I was drinking a water in the bed area when I overheard Paul asking one of the case managers about a newly opened office position.

“What would that person have to do?” He asked.

“Well, among other things, they would need to be good with people and developing relationships with clients.”

Paul nodded and then excitedly pointed at me.

I immediately dropped my head, embarassed to be pointed out.

The case manager laughed a little uncomfortably and then said, “Shoot, no. We don’t hire just anyone!” Within a minute I could tell he realized how painful his statement had sounded and he began to cover his tracks: “I mean, not that you’re just anyone or something. I mean they need experience and a degree and stuff.”

I laughed, but on the inside I broke. I slipped away and found an uninhabited corner to sweep up leaves and cry.

I worked hard to get through eight years of post-highschool education and have nothing to show for it. I have no degree because none is offered to licensed midwives. I have no experience in anything but loving others. I have loved with a wide open heart and served until my body ached. I’ve deprived myself of sleep for nights on end and gone without food because someone else’s need was greater. And in the end, one judge’s word brought it all to nothing. My wide open heart had a gallon of arsenic poured into it. I drank the tyranny of the cubicle dry.

And now I’m just anyone. Now I’m nameless and faceless and lost in the crowd. I could be the woman on skid row who is begging for a dollar. I could be the addict. I could be the drunk. I could now be the single mother who wraps herself up in relationship after relationship looking for satisfaction. I could be the waitress who tried to become an actress all her life but never landed anything but a handful of extra roles. I could be the hooker.

I walked a mile to 2nd and Los Angeles Streets during lunch to get away and try to remember what life was like before skid row. I bought a coffee at the cafe my attorney and I sat at in Little Tokyo and tried hard to remember the hope I once had that the system would show itself true on my behalf.

I lost myself in the crowded streets and remembered that just two months ago it was, actually, me who signed lab orders and travel approvals and birth certification letters on letterhead that had my name and medical license on it. It was me who was trusted to hold women in their most vulnerable state and honored to be the first to ever touch a human being on earth. It was me who was giving advice and calming fears and healing hurts.

As I walked back through the masses of hurting humanity who are more like me now than any other group, I was relieved to see the man with red shoes wheeling himself down the sidewalk in a brand new wheelchair given to him by the staff I love so much. There he was, my medalion of hope that love can find one solitary lonely anybody.

 


Day 30: 77.5 Hours Remaining

I had a staff member look me in the eye today and tell me, “You really are something special. You are a good woman.” This made me astoundingly uncomfortable.

I’ve come to believe that the “good-er” a person is, the more in touch with their fail-ability they are. The most pure and beautiful acts come from individuals who are wrung dry of their own ego, pride and sense of self-entitlement. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that people would see the evidence of God in me after this profoundly humbling and heartbreaking year. I could give you a laundry list of all of the evil, wicked, and downright animal things I’m capable of and have conspired to do on occassion. Spend five minutes with my ex-roommate and he will give you a speech about the unworthiness of me. But that isn’t the point of this blog, happily.

My point instead is to maybe eek out a bit of the astounding gratitude I feel for the capacity to love. It is exactly BECAUSE I’ve been so crushed that there is so much room for service. There was this capacity before trial, but I’m finding it expanding outward even more now that I’m a felon. And, yes, I use that word a lot. I’m wearing it like a badge of honor. Because I’ve come to see the humiliation of it as a catalyst to loving others.

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and it terrifies me. I see no way out of the pain of this crushing time. If I linger in that view I run to old trappings that endeavor to shackle my feet.

But when I lift my gaze and see the eternal perspective that is ultimately molding me I am ok to sit in the fire some more. There is an old Indian saying that if I did not have tears, my soul would not give off rainbows.

I was interested to meditate on the story of the two apostles, Peter and John, who were arrested for healing a man. The judicial folks of their day brought them in to try them and the first thing they asked was, “by whose authority did you do this?” Which… I dunno… kinda sounds like, “Where’s your license?”

In the end they told them to cut it out and let them go.

What is most interesting to me is that they ran straight away to their buddies and they prayed together because they were preplexed, seeing as this was the first real issue this very first church really had. I was floored by their prayer. They prayed three things. First they acknowledged that God is sovereign and supreme, that He is able to do whatever He pleases and that THIS WAS HIS PLAN and not an accident. Second, they realized that they were followers of a Servant who suffered to love others and as such, they didn’t expect to go through anything less. And thirdly, they asked for MORE BOLDNESS to speak the truth.

So, yeah. They were crushed, emptied and scared. And this created a vacuum to continue to love and speak the truth from a place of boldness.

I’m cool if the goodness and love folks see in me is acknowledged as God inspired. I get profoundly uncomfortable when it’s not.

As we walked this morning in the pre-dawn hours, Wendy smiled and acknowledged every Skid Row tennant she knew.

“Hello! Good mornin!” And then under her breath to me, “Thas one of the most notorious dealers. But ain’t none o’ my bizness. Ain’t none o’ mine. She gots her life and I gots mine. But she can be saved same as me. She can. I know it cus I was saved and if I can be saved, anybody can.”

She beams with such light the street lights up when she walks in the dark. Everyone knows her and they seem stupified by her smile pressing up against such despair. But she lives for nothing but service and love. And that service and love comes from God filling up the vacuum created as she empties herself of her own ego.


Day 26: 97.5 Hours Remaining

Conrad Murray Junior. This is the new nickname I get for being the “hardest working woman at the VOA” today. A client who has been begging me for a phone call (tall white women are his “thing,” he says) asked once again for me to spare some time so he can wine and dine me. I explained, again, that I’m not interested in investing my time in this area right now, which caused him to turn to the staff nearby and complain about how I don’t want to have dinner with a black man.

It’s all about race, even when I don’t make it that way.

Somehow things turned to my conviction and the staff mentioned I was involved with a birth.

“Did you cut the cord?” someone asked.

“Yes.” Duh.

The fellah shrugged. Apparently cutting the cord was proof I’m a felon.

It didn’t dawn on me until afterward that I actually DIDN’T cut this particulary baby’s cord. Se la vie. I had already earned the Conrad Jr. title.

Earlier on this morning, while walking to the shelter, Eric asked me what I thought about the verdict. My response came through shivering lips since the temperatures on skid row have now plummeted into the forties.

“I don’t know. The whole thing is complicated. But I do know that the video of the judge reading the verdict and the clerk announcing it… the video of the cheering crowd in response… it made me feel sick.” I’m sure my face demonstrated the terror and grief that rushes through my body any time I remember that moment in my life when a jury of people who know nothing about midwifery found me guilty of a felony.

“Yeah, what people don’t seem to remember is that Dr. Murray and Jackson were friends. I imagine it hurt the doctor to see his friend die. People forget that. They forget what he might be feelin.”

“Perhaps it’s still too close to my own trial date.” I gulp hard here, remembering that Dr. Murray faces four years in prison, max, while I faced three. My body shudders again, remember the stress of awaiting my sentencing date. Each day more excruciating than the last.

There is some level of projected understanding beneath Eric’s tough exterior that feels like he’s been where I’m at. I wish I knew why. I haven’t known many people who have crossed that line through the looking glass. The white rabbit isn’t really all that exciting and most people who’ve actually BEEN there don’t necessarily want to relive the horrors.

But I do. I want to talk and paint and scream it out all over anyone who will listen. I want people to KNOW what real judgement feels like so they learn to protect others from it when it isn’t warranted.

I had lunch with a couple who lost their children a long time ago, despite the fact that they have had their charges dropped. The system still has their children locked away from them. Innocent parents being punished for not being typical parents. They have lost everything in their quest to regain their babies. They are now living on skid row, in a shelter just up the street. So strange to sit across from intelligent, hardworking people, who are forced into subjection by the judgement of a handful of childless social workers. Judgement of victimless crimes is a foe of true liberty.