Sunday, October 22, 2017

Elizabeth Smart, Deondra Brown, and MeToo

Okay, this is a more earnest post than I usually make, but it's been pressing on my mind in the wake of #metoo stories (though the following isn't the most articulate presentation of thoughts).
I went to the first Smart Talks presentation on Friday night in Provo, UT, with Elizabeth Smart, Deondra Brown, reporter Kim Johnson, child psychologist Dr. Keeshin, and RAD program leader Alyson Larsen. It was really eye opening and interesting.
One thing that stood out to me is that while one in four girls are likely to be sexually abused, one is six boys are also likely to be abused. I didn't know that the statistic was so high for boys. So I just want to say that I think there is increasing liberation in women speaking up, but there is still not very much room for men to share their #metoo stories, which is very troubling to me. This doesn't mean that for every person abused there was an abuser; rather, an abuser may very well have abused multiple people. As well, I think it is worth noting that the percentage becomes more disparate after adulthood is reached, and that men are less likely to be either harrassed or abused than woman are, but in terms of protecting children from abuse there isn't a chasm of difference in risk, and there are many men who have been abused as children.
Another thing that stood out to me was just how much support meant for both Elizabeth Smart and Deondra Brown. Elizabeth Smart was able to pour all of her emaciated energy into surviving because even though she thought no one else would love her if she ever escaped, she *knew* her family would love her. Heaven forbid anything like that happen to any child, but if any situation happens to a child in which they feel ashamed and unlovable, having that knowledge could be the difference between life and death. After she was rescued, she said that it was so helpful to feel the support of others, too--people who didn't hate her, people who said she wasn't any less for what she had been through. YOUR support matters.
Likewise for Deondra, who was molested by her father, having support meant the world. In her case, that meant first the support of her sisters, who had also been abused. Then, it meant the support of her siblings as well as her husband, as she began to process what had happened to her. When the news went viral, all of her siblings were paranoid that they couldn't perform again, that people wouldn't want to be around them or hear them play. When they did their first performance after the news broke, they had a standing ovation as they walked onto the stage, and that support meant everything to them. YOUR support matters.
Even those who have a me too story they didn't share need the support of everyone. They need the support of the people they do tell, and the need the overall cultural support of knowing that they won't be blamed or shunned for what happened to them.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Life of a Slow Driver (#2)



Sometimes when a car is stuck behind me on a one lane road and I'm not comfortable going faster, I imagine that I'm an exotic insect catcher (usually fancy cars are the ones bothered by my speed-limit abiding tendencies). When the lane opens up, I think to myself, "Fly like the wind, butterfly! You're free!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Camping Will Solve All of Your Problems

Are you overwhelmed with mess? Wondering what the purpose of life is? Generally irritated at the world around you?


Camping will effectively bring you purpose, let you have space from the world, and eliminate the messes created in your house or apartment for the duration you spend away. This tactic is actually quite compatible with children, at least as long as you


  1. Camp in an area that is not infested by racoons
  2. Camp in an area that is not surrounded by a raging river/cliff drop-offs/mountain lions/virus carrying mosquitos
  3. Camp in an area that is within a few minutes of a grocery store and at least one fast food restaurant
  4. Have extendable arms
  5. Have more than two arms
  6. Have a magically appearing stock of sippy cups and clean water and goldfish and cheese sticks and veggie straws.


If you are interested in this approach to getting a new start to life and you own a home, you may want to consider buying a pet racoon. This nocturnal omnivore will eat through your various doors and walls and eventually require the demolition of your home. However, as you will still own the plot of land, you will be left with a very clean lot of dirt, with which to set up a spare, minimalist arrangement, perhaps with the aid of a tent.


If you don’t own a home, you may want to forego causing any damage to your immediate building, as this will only leave you truly homeless and in debt, for you will have neither roof nor place for belongings nor--and this is the important part--a piece of land to easily camp on. However, with some preparation, you can notify friends or family of your camping intentions and spend increasing lengths of time camping in back or front yards.

Suddenly, your clutter problems will be over and you will have the mental space to focus on the now, prioritizing the pressing need to keep you and your children fed and clothed and at a sustainable body temperature.

New family pet included.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Oklahoma

The season is changing and the sky is softer and the leaves are crunching and the wind is stirring and all things are alive and dying with autumn. We've spent the last few days at a corn maze and a pumpkin patch, pumping water to race ducks and the little one throwing balls in a pit of thick, cool, dried corn kernels. Dirt is filling our nostrils and the seams in our palms. Two little pumpkins, an orange gourd laced with green and a green gourd laced with white lay on our wooden table, a small, yellow-hued thing that we love dearly.

And this morning is was, oh, such a beautiful morning.


So for all of these reasons, here is that most wonderful of states, Oklahoma.


 


Monday, September 25, 2017

New York



One day, dear New York, I will visit you. But for now I'll just be catching up on sleep.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

I'm Biased


Sometimes, it’s easy to think that if we are a woman, disabled, an ethnic minority, a religious minority, LGBTQ or otherwise part of a group often stereotyped, that we have no biases against ourselves and that nothing we do or say ever perpetuates biases or misconceptions. However, despite being a woman, I have definitely thought horrible shameful sexist thoughts like “Really? My doctor is a woman? Fancy that!” or “Wow, that man is such a good nurse! Look at him throw my bandages in the biohazardous waste receptacle!”
And even though my husband has Cerebral Palsy, I’ve thought despicable things about people with physical disabilities like “Oh that poor person must be so lonely and I hope they get to eat yummy meals like pancakes for dinner.” Or if I see someone pushing someone else in a wheelchair, unless they both have white hair and crinkly skin, I probably think “Wow, look at that caretaker go, and look at that other person being awake and out of bed!” Instead of, “Look at that cute couple!” even though if one day Michael is in a wheelchair and I am pushing him, I want people to think “Look at that cute couple!”


Even Michael has told me that he’s had these terrible, awful, yucky thoughts and even about other people with obvious disabilities, and sometimes he has them even though he makes himself sad for having them, and then he feels sad-times-sad, and then he feels extra sad because he doesn’t want other people to have those thoughts about him.


It’s not just about disability or gender or race though, it’s also just about human-being ness. I think thoughts like “Oh that person is crying they are having a bad day :( maybe their dog died or maybe they lost all their homework...




“One day they’ll know what it’s like when their baby is screaming his lungs off in his crib and they are afraid of scary possibilities of strangers sneaking into our house. One day that sad person will be sad about things like that, and then they will be really really sad, I bet they have no idea how sad, but now is probably a good time for them to be sad about things like losing their homework.” I might think this the day after sobbing because I misspelled my title on an essay I needed to turn into class. And I actually really hope I would cry if my dog died. If I had a dog. (I really really want a dog.)


So maybe all I’m saying is that I don’t know if the people who are hurting never perpetuate negative mindsets about themselves. But that doesn’t have to be paralyzing, I hope, and it doesn’t mitigate my responsibility as someone who is fairly privileged, either. For instance, as someone who doesn’t have any sort of obvious physical disability, I am in a position to better communicate with other people who might be inclined to dismiss someone with an obvious disability.


In which case it might not be so helpful to make myself or others feel shame for having bad shameful thoughts. Instead it might be better to simply brush those thoughts to the side and to keep getting to know more people who seem different than me or who seem similar to me but actually have deep differences and reminding myself, often, that I can be a spokesperson for so many who don’t have a voice, and that not only are people like icebergs with way more beneath the surface but that my vision isn’t very good and that I probably can’t even see all the goodness and 3-D-ness and density on the surface.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Thrift Store Play Date



I LOVE thrift store play dates. Even when a really nice and well-meaning lady comes up to me while I sit with my baby in the toy aisle, hands me a four-page baby board book, looks at our pile of toys and says "you should consider this too. Trust me, I'm a teacher." (She probably doesn't know that our apartment is a fire hazard for all of the books inside.) 

Usually though, everyone just assumes that everyone else is doing the best they can for their children, and the more people come, the more it is clear that we're all in good company.



Ode to Old Glasses

A few weeks ago I found a page that looked roughly like this in one of my old journals. Dearest Glasses, Fortunately you were bea...