Local Novelist Francesca Lia Block on the Occupy Movement

When I was in college at UC Berkeley I slept out on the steps of Sproul Hall in protest of Apartheid and as part of the disinvestment campaign. There was something about the simple act of changing my routine to meditate in the dark on injustice with like-minded people that made me feel a part of something. While I can no longer easily participate in political protest of social injustice due to various circumstances of my life, I am grateful there are people who are able to do so.

The feminist manifesto that the personal is political has always made a lot of sense to me.

The best way I can address this movement and the injustices I see around me is through my own experience. I bought my home in 2007. Two years ago, when my mom got cancer and I permanently lost most of the vision in one eye due to a perforated retina, I made less money than the cost of my mortgage.

I’m not sure how we made it through.

Finally after my mom died, I reached out to the bank to request a modification. After nine months of repeatedly sending the same documents again and again, I was informed that I was not qualified to apply for this type of modification. Even now I have not officially received word that I’ve been rejected, so I cannot move forward with another approach.

This leaves me with an underwater mortgage, a ridiculously high interest rate and no recourse except to keep coming up with thousands and thousands of dollars each month from a single income if I don’t want to lose my home.

The other day I was leaving the market (blessed with bags full of groceries in my cart) when a woman came up to me. “Do you know of a church nearby?” She was missing teeth and her eyes were red-glazed. I gave her the cash I had and told her about a local church.

It seemed to be so insignificant.

I cried on the drive home to my lovely house and healthy children.

My high mortgage, health problems and anxiety suddenly seemed like small problems.

There is so much suffering around us.

Homelessness, hopelessness, poverty, unemployment, crime, the vets coming back from these seemingly endless wars.

My own struggles are so much less than what many people are experiencing. I wish I could do more to be of help. I am grateful to Occupy Wall Street for their own lights in the darkness and for trying to make a difference.

Originally posted on MSNBC in October 2011

The Actors' Gang

1 Comment

  1. Thank you, Francesca, for this quiet and thoughtful piece. Your experience is shared by so many of us who long to contribute more, but must start by trying to live by our principles while taking care of our families. It’s often the best we can manage, but if we fail in that, further efforts in support of the cause are meaningless.

    –Yours, Lisette’s mum

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