Society holds many harmful misconceptions about obesity and poverty. So what’s it like to be a fat woman working in food justice?
She spent two decades as a local reporter covering L.A.’s grisliest crimes. But when the victim is a member of her own family, she learns what hard news feels like from the other side:
Memories of that night are a mosaic: the flashing lights, police cars, yellow tape, and Lil Bit’s car, stopped in the middle of the intersection of Century and San Pedro, where the shooting took place. Then to the lobby of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where we multiply—more family, more friends. We form an entourage. A guard directs us to the hospital’s chapel, where the matriarchs of the family are sitting—Lil Bit’s grandmother, Alberta, and my mother, Ida. The room fills with us: aunts, uncle, sisters, brother, stepmother, cousin. Then his twin walks in, not knowing what has happened—until he looks around the room at everyone who has gathered, at everyone’s faces, and he knows. “No!” he says, and I remember wanting to make this go away, to bring Lil Bit back for all of us, but especially for him.
Had I been reporting the story, I would have taken notes to remember the details, like the tears in the eyes of the hospital’s social worker as she talks to us.
Searching for love, meaning—and yes, sex—after 10 years in the online hookup scene:
“I am at my local hipster restaurant, in Park Slope. The young straight guys next to me are talking about how the dating website Plenty of Fish has a new GPS-oriented smartphone app that finds women nearby, listing their profiles and proximity, and of course, showing a photo.
“‘Look at this one!’ says one guy, tapping and stroking his phone, ‘I hooked up with her last week.’ They all gather around and look at her. ‘She’s, like, three hundred feet away from here.’ They are practically shivering with excitement at the ease and abundance of potential partners suddenly available to them.
“I sit at the end of the bar and laugh to myself like an old, salty sea captain. Once again, gay guys are a step ahead.”
What end-of-life options do the terminally ill have? Should they be offered “aid in dying?”
“When a patient in the Northeast contacts Compassion & Choices, he is referred to Schwarz, whose first order of business is to find out who the patient is and what his current medical situation entails. Then, Schwarz attempts to get a sense of what the patient is looking for. She tries to provide information to all callers, but to qualify for help, patients should be able to make their own decisions and be suffering, whether in a terminal stage of illness or not.
“‘There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what we do,’ Schwarz said. ‘What we do is provide information about end-of-life choices to help patients make informed decisions that reflect their values and wishes. We don’t provide the means. We don’t administer. We don’t encourage or coerce. We have no agenda other than to provide complete and accurate information about end-of-life options.’
“And in doing this, Schwarz’s role is to help a patient navigate the end of his life so he can maintain some control over it, instead of leaving it to doctors who are trained not only to lessen suffering but also to keep him alive and death at bay.”