Well. still not done the chapter.worked all day at the transition house. first time in MONTHS. on-call work is so fucking unpredictable. but it was so fun. overall. Love that place. All those women helping each other figure it out, cooking and playing with the kids and laughing and crying and cleaning and making plans and holding each other up and trashing men…that’s seven different kindsa happiness, that is.
but I will finish that chapter. and not fighting with my girlfriend anymore. that’s nice. it was just a little thing, anyhow, you know, the kinds of things that happen when the day has been long and fraught and there are not enough words spoken, and when they are, they’re spoken in *that* tone of voice…
and i’m not fighting with the people who sold me my bed anymore either. I sent off a fairly strongly worded note (no cursing, no blaming, no insults–just the true story and a wee threat), and I talked to the woman who has to handle all the calls, and she apologized to me and told me the rude man would call me. He DID today! and he was nice, even, and said he’d come by today. so i’m all good. Uh. he didn’t get here, but he did phone. we have a tentative date for Monday morning.
People want to do good. I think everyone does.
we all fuck up though, which i suppose is a mechanism designed to keep us humble.
if it works. Sometimes my humility button doesn’t engage, though.
other times it gets stuck in the “shame” position.
at least i no longer pour alcohol on it to try to unstick it. there’s that.
so, here’s the thing about harm reduction. I started on that rant a few days ago because of being all remorseful and frustrated that i’ve permanently damaged my capacity for breath (it appears) by smoking for such a long time. and being asthmatic. which isn’t my fault, (the asthma bit) or anyone’s, but it’s a contributing factor.
anyhow. i wanted to say that harm reduction doesn’t. I know people say that safe fix sites save lives, and clean needles save lives, and free condoms to women in prostitution save lives, and ‘safer smoke kits’ for people who smoke crack save lives and yadayadayada.
At the very best they might stabilize a wrecked life at a tolerable level of ‘wrecked-ness’ . These things are not even SUPPOSED to save lives, they’re supposed to be PALLIATIVE CARE. yup. That’s what harm reduction is supposed to do, or what it was initially designed to do–arrest the spread of disease (especially HIV/AIDS), and provide people who were hopelessly addicted with a bit of comfort. Um, and get them off the streets so the nice people who are NOT hopeless wouldn’t have to see that raw suffering, while they’re on their way to work.
I sound all harsh and humourless, don’t I? but i’m neither. I just think we can do way better.
I know we can. but we all need more in order to do that. women need more money. and homes where we can invite friends to come, and to share a meal. And we need friends. Community bonds, people who have our back, and vice-versa. We need to believe in ourselves and take responsibility for the well-being of others and we need to matter–to be part of something bigger than our own small frightened damaged selves. Maybe a big farm in the country where there are no men. As my friend said recently, “a healing place”
I do not think that harm reduction is any kind of solution. I call it “harm re(pro)duction” and spell it with them little brackets in the middle to look all edgy an’ post-modern an’ shit. Cause all it is, is it’s a cheap ‘make work’ project for the folks who can’t get jobs in forestry or engineering or whathaveyou. it’s a way to keep the ‘raw resource’ of the desperate and disenfranchised hangin’ out in the soup kitchens and shelters and drop in centres and safe-fix sites and…so that the nice shiny young people can get a job handing out needles and giving out looooong earnest looks of compassion and sandwiches and little sayings like, “i don’t judge you”
which is a total lie, actually. OF COURSE we have judgments about what people put into their bodies. and how people live. and how they behave.
what they’re saying, when they say, “no judgment, man” is, (and this may NOT be what the individuals who say it mean at all, really, it’s just what THE MAN means), “you’re not really worth any more than this. here. have a condom. have a clean needle. see ya next time”.
people want to do good. and we are told that harm reduction is good.
but that’s a lie.
harm reduction is something.
and it looks kinda good, kinda nice and sweet and kind.
but it’s really a cynical abandonment of the beautiful people. it’s not good enough. I want those people, the junkies and the drunks and the “public women”–I want them beside me, not beneath me. I want all of us to be “us”. and if the drug comes first, and if the john calls the shots, and if THE MAN says, “this is what you’re worth”–
it’s really hard to believe that you are worth much more.
alright…i am still sorting out how to make this argument better. but i have a freakin’ paper to write. almost there….