Brave Woman

Adventures of a future nurse-midwife


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Out of the Woods

Posted by Lucille on November 17, 2011 at 2:15 AM Comments comments (0)

I had my three-month-post-Africa HIV test. Negative.

       Congratulations, people, we're in the clear.

Day of Action, 11/15

Posted by Lucille on November 17, 2011 at 2:00 AM Comments comments (0)

This was a joint event for objecting to the policies that led to the fee increase, and the police brutality at the last protest. I went by during the day, and left fully convinced that I go to the coolest school in the world. To get around the no tent rule, people had brought debris from the woods and were constructing their own shelters. Teachers who couldn't go on strike were holding class in Sproul (our next French project was delayed so we could spend this class talking about the history of French protests), and politically inspired art was springing up all over the place, including a paper mache dinosaur. There were still hundreds of students and teachers with signs at the front steps, chanting, but this time they were doing it to drums. My kind of party.

       There were cops. But from the way they were acting, it seemed that their going orders were, "Touch anyone and you're fired."

       The active stage of the protest was supposed to start at six. I had a midterm, so I wasn't able to go. I had wondered, though, if people would show up this time, or if the unreserved violence at the last one would have scared people off. There were four thousand people. Four THOUSAND people. They couldn't even all fit in Sproul, so people were climbing trees. And there were tents, a lot of tents. Police showed up in riot gear. And did nothing but watch from the side. People held seminars on the economic policy all night long.

       The Regents were going to come up from Sacramento to San Francisco to vote on the fee increase, but the meeting was cancelled for fear of a mass protest. So in the morning, protesters loaded up in buses and went to them.

       Good job, Berkeley. To all the students, professors, and community members who made this happen. I'm proud to be one of you.


Posted by Lucille on November 16, 2011 at 1:35 AM Comments comments (0)

There was a shooting at school today.

       And no, it's not related to the protest or occupy movement at all. Some guy just snapped and decided to bring a gun to class.

       At first very limited information was available, though I was told that someone had been shot, so I went through the whole day thinking someone I know could have been hurt.

      I turns out the person who was shot was the gunman. I'm sure this story will be refined in the next few days, but the story that's been released now is that someone saw a student holding a gun in an elevator and tipped off the police. Officers arrived and yelled at him to put his hands up. Instead he pointed his gun at the police, and they shot him.

       As scary as this was-- not so much the shooting, since that was over by the time I heard about it, but this idea that students at my school can randomly snap and decide to shoot their classmates-- it's nice to know that police are sometimes a godsend to have around.

That Would Be Like Her

Posted by Lucille on November 16, 2011 at 1:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I had a dream that anansi was living in my bellybutton. Either I'm being guided by the ancient wisdom of Africa, or I really need a shower.

Athletic Playground

Posted by Lucille on November 16, 2011 at 1:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I signed up for an aerial silk dancing class. Somewhat more elegant than pole dancing, I think, and crazy fun. Now I'm doubly sore.

       Someone suggested to me that I'm trying to deal with the negative stuff by seeking out positive stuff of the same intensity, as though I brought that African dichotomy back with me, and that the best way to feel better would be to stop getting involved in crazy stuff and just relax for a while. Probably a good idea. But I prefer to think they're just jealous of my silk dancing skills.


Posted by Lucille on November 16, 2011 at 1:30 AM Comments comments (0)

It turns out pole dancing is a work out.

I Took A Pole Dancing Class

Posted by Lucille on November 15, 2011 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Partially, it just seemed like the sort of thing every woman ought to do once in her life. There was also some history to it, which is that last year I got into movie making and signed up for a screenwriting class at PCC. I thought that meant cinematography, but when I got the syllabus it centered on learning how to write a story board, so I tried to cancel it and instead of giving me a refund they gave me credit. The only class still open for that term was pole dancing (though it turned out I had a scheduling conflict, so nothing happened). If you go around telling your friends you've signed up for a pole dancing class, you've really got to follow through. Plus I had a coupon.

       It was really fun. It was an intro class, so a lot of the women were college students (though two were lawyers) who had come simply to explore a style of movement that is typically repressed in our culture (or at least the part of it I'm in). And it was really dark, lit with a red light, so people wouldn't feel nervous. You know that thing I put on my to do list about learning to move my hips? Check.

       After warm ups and style tips we learned cool stuff like how to pull ourselves up, flip, and spin around the pole, and then the instructor showed us her favorite move, the Firefly.

       (I'm not comparing Firefly to pole dancing, I'm comparing pole dancing to Firefly--there's a difference. Firefly fans please don't be offended.)

       I'm a leaf on the wind. Watch me whirl.

Follow Up: 11/9 Protest

Posted by Lucille on November 15, 2011 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)

It seems that the decision to borrow tactics from the occupy movement has, from the public point of view, lumped us in with it. I dislike this, because it makes it seem more like seeing other protests and joining automatically, rather than the separate, intentional, student initiated event it started out as. Between that and the police brutality, the original purpose of our protest has been significantly overshadowed. BUT, those two factors are also bringing a lot of publicity.

       That video I posted a link to has now been viewed more than 50,000 times, and the city is buzzing. I got an email from the chancellor, who was in Asia when the protest occurred. "It is unfortunate that some protesters chose to obstruct the police by linking arms and forming a human chain to prevent the police from gaining access to the tents. This is not non-violent civil disobedience...We regret that, given the instruction to take down tents and prevent encampment, the police were forced to use their batons to enforce the policy."

      A few days later, after he had come back and watched the videos (and, rumor has it, received thousands of requests for his resignation) he sent out another email: "It was only yesterday that I was able to look at a number of the videos that were made of the protests on November 9. These videos are very disturbing...I have asked Professor Jesse Choper, our former Dean of Law, and current Chair of the Police Review Board (PRB) to launch immediately a review of the police actions of last Wednesday and Thursday morning...We believe that we can best move forward by granting amnesty from action under the Student Code of Conduct to all Berkeley students who were arrested and cited solely for attempting to block the police in removing the Occupy Cal encampment on Wednesday, November 9. We will do so immediately."

       I can't keep up with my email. Council members, students, faculty... We were even on the Colbert Report. And then there are the videos. The one I posted was the first to go viral because it got posted first, but there are others, that show an astounding and disturbing amount of violence by the police. When UCPD wanted reinforcements, they called in the same group of police that shot a veteran in the head with a teargas cannister at Occupy Oakland (he still has not regained the ability to speak). A council member at the scene observed that 'the participants appeared to have maintained their commitment to nonviolence despite the violence inflicted upon them' and use of force by police was 'unprovoked, unexpected, unjustified and unreasonable.' They broke the ribs of a seventy year old poetry professor, then those of the student that left the group to try to protect him. A slender English professor stepped out of the group with her hands raised, saying, "Don't beat me. Arrest me," and the police responded by grabbing her by the hair and throwing her to the ground, landing on her with their knees, and then stabbing her repeatedly with a baton. And it's all on film.

       I realize I've been using curse words in my posts more than usual. I think it's part of the being surrounded by college students thing. Or maybe the being a college student thing? I've had to explain sayings like 'you're rocking that' and 'I'll roll with it' to my parents. My apologies, I'll try to keep it to a minimum. But there's a popular expression that pretty accurately sums up the feeling of protesting budget cuts to your school and having fellow students and staff members end up in the hospital.

       Shit just got real.

Night of Prophecies

Posted by Lucille on November 15, 2011 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

This is a bonding event that the pledge class puts together for GRL. (The goal is to make everybody cry.) I tried to explain it to a friend, and he said, "Is that when you all go out into the woods and talk about your feelings?"

       Yep. Pretty much. And it was AWESOME.

       It was stormy out so we ended up in a hotel. Lots of food, round robins on tough questions, storytelling, and rainbow cupcakes. (Those were definitely a hit. As one enthusiastic cupcake eater said, "This is the gayest thing I've done since...being gay!" Mission accomplished.) I led some of the holding space exercises from the doula workshop. I've done stuff like that a fair amount, but never led it before. It worked fairly well. Someone had brought henna, too, and because most people wanted it where they could easily cover it up, we ended up taking off our clothes. I know how this sounds-- a queer sorority renting a hotel room, turning up the heat, and cuddling up in their underwear? But there was no romantic or sexual aspect to it, and that was precisely what made it so wonderful. It was an affectionate environment where everyone was considered beautiful, and there were no expectations. We drew flowers and hearts around people's bruises, made massage circles, braided each other's hair. Yep. Awesome. And at 11:11, I made a wish.


Posted by Lucille on November 13, 2011 at 10:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I invited some friends from the sorority over yesterday. A lot of them were at the protest, and we were showing off our bruises to each other. I got a few bruises just from being jostled around and stepped on so much, but nothing too bad. Some of their injuries were really shocking, though. Batons are no joke. One of my friends got stabbed in the thigh--the bruise was an inch raised and as big as my hand. I tried to take a picture but my disposable camera failed to work, so here are some comparable ones from google:

       She also got stabbed in the boob, but I didnt take a picture of that. 



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Sometimes I have the privilege of being a part of intimate, powerful moments in other people’s lives. I cannot and would not share these stories, because they are not mine to tell. However, they touch my life and become part of my own story. When I share these moments here, you can trust that I have not broken anyone’s confidentiality. The characters are invented. They are not real, but could be. I take creative license to communicate the essence of my experience while respecting the privacy of others.