Thursday, February 25, 2010


Dear friends,
I had too much time to read today! I read the Sun magazine story, "Constellations" by Megan Kruse. I also read "The Sweet and the Salt" by Tatjana Soli, and the stories in the section called Readers Write; this month's topic is Narrow Escapes. Both Constellations and The Sweet and the Salt have to do with women being used and abused. Constellations comes closest to my experience as a gynecologist, around the issue of domestic violence. It probes that line between the patient and the helper, the idea one has of the abuser, the hope that the abuse will stop, the love that got twisted, the vulnerability of the children. My heart was in my throat and I could hardly finish reading it. It is a terrorizing topic. One never feels the same way again, after one has tried to help stop a case like this, and seeing the boundary lines bleed, and feeling the self wobble. I bring it up here, because it has to do with violence, with therapy, with the hopes one has for social solutions. And for the brokenness of families. I belong to Al Anon, and many of the stories of wives of alcoholics are these same stories. The tremendous burn-out, the danger, the hopelessness, the sinking into despair grip me. We need armies of social workers, helpers, solutions; and we need to get the corporate monsters off our backs, to help address this issue. There are too many ways to say "it is not my problem". There are too many ways that these most vulnerable souls fall through the cracks. I was just given the book Teens Under the Influence, written by Katherine Ketcham and Nicholas Pace, MD. She is a co-author of one of my favorite books, "the Spirituality of Imperfection"-- and this is a good book. But it set me up with even thinner skin for this story. May this year be the year that the medical community says NO to the defeating forces, and YES to community and common good. I know it is only a sliver of hope; "Once in a blue moon"-- and we just got one! Bless all of you who are doing so much to hold up your corners of the world!

in sickness and in health

Dear friends,
I have been sorely tried with the devastating news that my friend Tunie has been diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. It is hard to be far away, and unable to do anything really useful besides pray-- although I really do believe that prayer is important and useful, and it has been wonderful to see the outpouring of love and notes to her on the website that the hospital where she works has set up for patients in cancer care. I am trying now to update the photo links on my facebook page, and also to see what the young folks I know are saying. It is interesting to have so many nephews and nieces who are able to do facebook pages, and upload and download things, and say funny and sophisticated things online. I am not too worried about innuendos from the sexual and fantasy life, but I am worried about what is happening that may limit the educational opportunities and abilities to use their full interests and talents.
Andy, my elder son, is now 21 years old, and he is starting at school at the city college in Santa Monica. He is really excited to be going to school there, and my family is not far away. Andy really hasn't had the chance to get to know the cousins in the area, and it has been exciting for him to be down there. He also has his friend Maitland with him to help with music and the movie world interface. Andy wants to make films, and Maitland is a sound engineer, computer engineer, and a superb violinist. He is originally from Alabama. I want him to try out for the LA Philharmonic, because he can play the violin better than most people I have ever heard play it, and I think he would qualify for the orchestra. I am worried about Andy taking on more than he can manage, and it is a hard thing to know what that means. He has a lot of energy, and he is very intelligent and creative. But it is also true he is very unconventional, partly perhaps from growing up in Santa Cruz. My mom has been excited to have him around, even though he may be somewhat tiring!
I can say that nothing in my life gets me more worried and frantic than the worry about my children. When I was talking to my friend Tunie, she is just frantic to get out of the hospital and be with her husband and children. I had forgotten that they are now 17 and 15, and Madeline can drive. Matthew plays LaCrosse. All around me, my friends are turning into grandparents, and my mother is a great-grandmother. I feel so glad my son gets to have this chance to be around her and know her. She is truly an amazing person, and she has lived so much California history, as well as so much "civilization" and education. I was so happy to go down to visit in Camarillo, to see Andy, to see him there, and be delighted that he went to mass with me at St. Mary Magdalene's. He took photos of the windows in the chapel, which were made in Munich at the turn of the 20th century by F.X> Zettler. My great uncle Juan Camarillo built the chapel for his mother, the Martina Camarillo for whom I am named. It is so wonderful for Andy to be able to appreciate the family history, and to be able to really spend time with his grandmother in a more intimate way. It has also been great to have time with his cousins, Brian Fitz Gerald's boys, Michael and Patrick. It really feels like a whole new world to me, to hear that those boys have a band which is very popular in town, and that there is a possibility for them all to make music together, and to be friends.
When I was growing up, it felt like there was no room for me to stay home-- that I needed to go away to grow up into myself. I am really finding great joy in Andy being able to "come back" and discover those roots.