Tag Archives: communication

A look behind the scenes of the dysfunctional Mental Health System

Reblogged from takingthemaskoff.com

This is an excellent post on one scenario of how two people, simply due to the circumstances of their birth, end up on two separate paths. I know that sounds trite and like every other story, but please read this one

A look behind the scenes of the dysfunctional Mental Health System.
A look behind the scenes of the dysfunctional Mental Health System
November 30, 2014 125 Comments

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“You know in this hotel room they have food every day and I knock on the door. Every day they open tha door to let me see the party, let me see that they throwin’ salami, throwin’ food around telling me there’s no food. Every day. I’m standing outside tryin to sing my way in- “We are weak, please let us in. We’re weak, please let us in.” After about a week that song is gonna change to, “We’re hungry, we need some food.” After two, three weeks it’s like “Give me some of that food! I’m breakin down that door.” After a year it’s like, “I’m pickin’ the lock, comin’ through the door blastin.” It’s like, “I’m hungry”

– Tupac Shakur

It is my hope that we have a silent army building. The revolution will not be televised. But I see the replies I get, and it gives me hope.

I saw an article in the New York Times basically saying there would be less shootings if the mentally ill had less privacy and were more easily forced to be hospitalized. This is the New York Times! Who are the sick ones?

I’m going to tell a story. 2 stories, of 2 different people. They are both true stories. Then you can see how this all begins and becomes a problem. I’ll go back and forth between the stories until their paths meet.

Here’s Dusty, I don’t know, age 3 to 5. Happy kid, plenty of love. Just loves everyone and loves the world. He doesn’t see color, sex, religion. He has nokind of discrimination, all he sees is love.

Here’s the second story. This is my cousin Donald. The man he is with is my father. Donald also loves the world, he sees no race, sex, and discriminates against no one. He is a very loving and giving kid.

Dusty gets older. He still loves everyone and everything. However, Dusty grew up in a home that was infested with cockroaches, and had been condemned 2 to 3 times. There was about 7 or 8 kids living there, they had no food. Dusty was the kindest of the group. He got beaten by his brothers, picked on, and thrown around. He was told “You are a loser, give me your money, do my work.” He did not understand, he gave whatever he had to others.

When I met Dusty he was about 8 or 9 years old. He had 4 brothers and sisters, they all smoked pot, drank, and never went to school. Everyone walked around this place with almost no clothes. They had only 2 bedrooms. The house was full of smoke.

Cockroaches were all over. They had no shower, and a bathroom with only a curtain covering it. The old guys would come around drinking, smoking weed, and getting physical. The older kids were getting worse also.

There was something special about Dusty, his heart. He was born with an amazing heart. He loved everyone, and gave all he had. To tell you of this kids strength, words won’t do it justice. As a 9 year old, he was growing up in a house in which every adult was punching, smoking weed, drinking, and stealing. Also, the gangsters knew where the weed was. THE house, that’s where they were. But Dusty, at age 9, he refused to smoke weed or drink or do any of that. However, being sweet and sensitive, he was an easy target. He did not stop loving though, he still loved them all. He saw through it, through everything, even as a kid. So what happens when you are extra sensitive, caring, and loving? You get pushed down, forced to create a mask, his was the goofy guy. This is the same house where I met Joe. Dusty and Joe were cousins and best friends.

Here is Donald. He is my cousin. He was a great kid. His father was a doctor in a small town, he made lots and lots of money. That doesn’t make Donald bad, and he is not bad. In fact, he’s a wonderful human being. I know this story puts him in privileged category. But, that is not his fault, he is still a caring, kind, and considerate human being. His father, my uncle, was once in jail for stealing cars and grew up to be a doctor. The thing about Donald was, he was born gifted, and extremely smart. He was above the genius level. He may have skipped a grade, I can’t remember. He was and is not a bad person.

However, while Dusty was seeing what he saw, Donald was going on trips, and getting the best life had to offer. He worried for nothing, he could be a kId and thrive.

Thrive he did. He is a talented, smart, and funny guy that had charisma. He didn’t have to worry about gangsters, getting food, getting raped, or having mice and cockroaches sleep on him. He had a huge bedroom, went on vacations, had all he ever wanted. He had great parents. Now another thing I noticed about Donald was that when I went to spend 2 weeks with him when I was 12, was that in this small town everyone drank, and did drugs, at age 12. Which is common for a small town. They were 12 and flung this. All of his friends.

One time we went to his friends house, the kid was sleeping and the kid woke up, and lifted his pillow and there was jack daniels. They all smoked and drank, except Donald. His parents taught him this.

Dusty did it on strength of character. Donald friends said “man your dad is always getting thanked in the paper.” That was true, small town legend.

Donald’s pressure was to follow his father, and that is a different kind of pressure. One that is often not considered a problem, the gifted child.

However, that is just as hard as raising a troubled child. People don’t want to hear that, but it’s true. What they both had in common was they were gifted.

Dusty then ended up going away for a while after missing so much school. His brothers would go just enough to not get sent away. Dusty was the extra sensitive one, he didn’t care. Me and Dusty and Joe had a bond, we all loved each other and saw behind each other’s masks. One time, on the phone, Dusty had called his mom and said, “tell mike I lo, well never mind,” he wanted to tell me he loved me, but he was afraid. I stopped hanging out there.

That’s another story, this isn’t about me. Dusty eventually surrendered and started using drugs. Then, they had a guy from Arizona living at the drug house, his name was Carl. He had packages of drugs delivered to the house all the time. The police got involved, and a sting was set up. So the package is delivered, they all have Dusty answer because he is kind and wants to help. So he always does, and he did on this case as well.

Well, he signed, and he gets arrested, and now he has a felony. They knew it was not him, he gets interrogated, and interrogated. Does he give Carl up?, nope, never. This was when Dusty was 19. That’s his booking photo. He went to jail, then he just got off probation recently.

This is someone you may see in jail, or at the shelter, or with the dirty clothes. That’s what you see, but this is what you’re missing when you make that judgement. These are the kids that come into our neighborhood, come to school, to church. We say get them out, those dirty kids with no manners. We don’t want to look at them, it’s like clutter in our clean house. We don’t want to deal with it, we want to pretend it’s not there. Then we may have to do something. So we ignore them and label them and call them losers or dirtbags. That’s much easier, isn’t it?

But that is how we all are part of the problem and we ask are co responsible for the inequality. You see these kids, these people, and no action is am action. Silence is consent.

Here’s Donald at age 19. He had a child. Now that’s a disaster if he’s in Dusty’s situation. However, Donald had great supports in place. His mom and dad helped the teenagers adjust, made sure everything was taken care of.

Donald was able to go to school and while Dusty was in jail, Donald was excelling. He finished college in 3 years and went on to medical school and finished. He’s a doctor. Now again, he’s not bad, not a superstar yet, I don’t think.

He is now starting to isolate, he is on a different level than others and he gets told that alot. So he believes it, so does his wife. So now the good doctor moves and starts dominating the medical profession.

They told me his iq is 156. I’m sure they told him too. He then joined the army like his father and got lots of medals and accolades.

Which is not bad. This is simply to show how we start to label and separate.

Here is Dusty taking care of his dying mother. He gets out of jail, meets a girl, and they have kids. He didn’t know how to have a relationship, he is on his own with no college, no skills, no understanding of life. Just love.

Then you have Donald with his 500 thousand dollar house that got egged.

How do I know this? Well his wife posted on Facebook that someone egged their 500 thousand dollar house but she wasn’t worried because they had security cameras all over the house. You know, to keep the “bad criminals out.”

Like clutter, she didn’t want to see that.

I also saw her post once that she was very upset with the mayor in the town they live in because he allowed a Wal-Mart to be built by their house. Her quote was “who else has to look out their 500 thousand dollar house and see a Wal-Mart, someone needs to stop this guy, do not vote for him.”

See as the separation is almost complete. What did dusty do to be placed below donald?

Nothing. But we see them each walking down the street and we treat them differently. That’s how we all contribute.

Dusty getting older, he split with his kids mom. He suffers from depression, severe depression. He feels rejected all the time, he smokes weed to forget, to not be himself.

He talks about suicide all the time. He misses Joe more than anyone. His heart is broken. Dusty and Joe spent all their time together. They even moved 2 blocks down from me for 2 years. I would drive by and wave. Really? Yes. I was no better than Donald. Even worse, because I drive by, and we still talked from time to time, but I was trying to get my life together. I could have said hi.

The doctor and his family. Now this is not an attack in Donald at all. It is about how we create separation. He worked hard, he’s caring, and he is a good man. He just started to believe he was different and better. He got told lies.

Lies we all believe, like, you need this huge house, cars, medals, and everyone to see how awesome you are.

So he fell in the trap. Here we are, the “look at us” photo.

You know how the native americans defined mental illness? They said anyone who lives in excess of what they need is mentally ill.

The doctors wife at the ritz.

Dusty and his kid at the laundromat.

The doctor and his boat.

Dusty at the playground. Having fun.

The doctors daughter with one of her trophies, she had special tennis lessons, beauty pageants, and she going to Oxford college on scholarship.

Same thing as Donald, smart talented kid. No fault of her own, the cycle continues. She is being brainwashed like he was.

He had a mask on as well. Still does.

Dusty being a dad and loving. He never knew life would be so hard when all he wanted to do was love.

The doctor is now continuing to serve and get accolades. To bad it’s all a lie.

Now this part is not real, but an example of what would likely happen from what I’ve seen in my years being in both worlds……

Now what happens if Dusty walks into Dr. Donalds office? How in the world can the doctor understand what Dusty is saying. Dusty says “Life isn’t worth living, I need to smoke weed.”

The doctors response is usually, “He just doesn’t care, he doesn’t want to work, he wants disability.” The thought process I’ve seen a million times. All the time, it’s the rule, not the exception.

So, let’s say Dusty had attempted suicide 2 times, and keeps coming back. He has to in order to get benefits and to get housing for himself.

The doctor is frustrated, in his mind he’s trying hard. That’s what life is, you just don’t behave like that in his opinion. In his world, you get up, work hard, and get it done. He can’t understand why Dusty complains that no medications work, yet continues to use drugs, and goes to the hospital.

He thinks Dusty has children, and he’s not taking care of them, he’s a “Predator” or a “Manipulator” or “Gamey.”

This is when I hear things like, why do they get free healthcare and we don’t. Almost a resentment at the patients. This is something that I see daily. The caring staff keep their mouths shut in fear.

So now Dusty has to be forced to take meds. He doesn’t get it, we have to help him. So we will put him on meds, and we aren’t going to listen to his side effects stories. We are going to force injections if he doesn’t comply with orders.

He can’t take care of himself. We have to in the doctors opinions.

Oh and, let’s charge insurance about 1500 dollars a day to do this. If the drugs give him diabetes, that’s too bad because he needs to be safe.

Good job young doctor, you’re saving the world.

Now Dusty has not been without weed for years, so asking him to stop is asking him to feel all these feelings that he has never felt before. Forcing him to take his mask off without support. The feelings he had been told to block his whole life, the feelings that have made him an outsider and not accepted.

Then give him a med that makes him feel no better for at least 6 weeks. Then it might not be the right medication, so we may have to start all over.

He will have side effects like drooling, sedation, diarrhea, and tremors. That occurs right away. Plus feeling all these emotions. Then when he sleeps too much we say that he is lazy, or non compliant with his treatment.

So we force him out of bed, and we make him go to groups with someone explaining all these “skills” he needs to use. Then he can’t participate due to the meds, the side effects, being off drugs his brain had coffee to rely on, and now having to freak with all these suppressed emotions.

So he is said to be non interested. So we need to give him more medications.

Of course we do.

Now he’s angry. No one listens, he’s sensitive, but he has had enough. He explodes from this and other patient’s likely taking advantage of him, and staff telling him when he can shower, piss, and treat him like a criminal.

Because, we say, look at his record, he is a felon. No one asks why or what happened, and they won’t believe him anyways, he’s a “manipulator.”

True story…

We had a young man admitted to our place the other day. I’ll call him “kev.” Abused age 1 to 3. A ward off the state at age 3. Picture a 3 year old being abused and taken from home, then a 3 year old in a privileged home, they’re is no difference, why do we seem to think as adults that there is? He was in foster homes his whole life, sexually abused, and beaten.Then at age 19 he committed an armed robbery, and he was shot 3 times. Then he Went to max security prison for 7 years. In prison, he cuts himself enough to need surgery, he has been known to swallow glass, and toothbrushes requiring surgery.

The assessment by “the team.” Is that he is “smooth, and manipulative.” He swallowed these things to get to go to hospital, a trip out of jail.

This is dangerous to call him manipulative. If I think you are manipulative then everything you do I take as a con. If we instead think of him as this kid who has a desparate need for acceptance and love, you will treat him differently. Then he will react differently. Then he gets better treatment. Our staff are young, impressionable, and eager to learn about psychiatry since it is romanticized on the media at times.

However if you work in government, they need to save the taxpayers money, they don’t want us spending “their” money. We have to hire inexperienced staff, because they are cheaper. We train them by what they see. The cycle continues.

So why would someone like Dusty shoot his doctor? It’s not so black and white if you look deep enough.

What’s the difference between…

This 19 year old young dad.

And this…

This young dad? (This is Joe and Anthony from last post)

The answer is nothing. Until we divide them. When we divide, we create class, uppers and lowers. When really we are all connected.

It won’t end. It can’t. Until people start fighting back. The battle is not going to be easy, we won’t see the end. We won’t see the victory. That will come after we’re gone.

But there is going to be a fight, we know that there is going to be a fight because we are going to start it. We will lose some, as we lost Joe. We won’t stop. Love always wins. Always.

If I’ve made you mad, then I’ve done my job. Happy people don’t create change. You have to be angry, you must have discontent to create change. So be angry. Then do something about it.

If 1 person reading this gets 1 thing and does something, that’s perfect. The ripple effect will be huge.

Love you Dusty.

The end.

If you want to see this in video.
Here it is..10 minutes I think.

 

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The World Interpreted through Alice in Wonderland

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Consulting the Oracle

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First Meeting

Many Don’t Arrive

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A Meeting is Held

Alice is voted unanimously as Ambassador

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Waiting to meet the Red Queen

(With trepidation )

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A productive discussion did not seem in the cards

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And, in fact, became quite hostile.

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Things on the home front were not much better.

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With a heavy heart, Alice helped prepare her friends for battle with what little she could find.

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Alice listened to the Mock Turtle’s prophecies of the outcome of the war.

    4E9FC6FE-AC4F-4C99-AF28-2985270D3379.png Is the Mock Turtle going to be right?

Mr. Putin, speaker with two faces?

Mr. Netenyahu, regretful of civilian deaths?

 

Who will take responsibility for their actions?

Who will pretend to paint the roses red with the blood of the fallen?

 

Baby Sign

I noticed the user name of the poster of the first video below, and was curious, so I checked it out. I have a long standing interest in Baby Sign–I found out about it from my ASL professor at University of Oregon (one of the best professors I’ve ever had in all of my many, ‘ohmygodshe’sgoingtobeacareerstudent’ years. I used sign often when I worked with individuals with disabilities, and as one of my main interests in working with people with disabilities is communication, and the knowledge that behaviors (I’ll just round those up as behaviors we’d rather not see) are the result of the inability to communicate adequately what the person needs. This is especially important for nonverbal individuals, whose receptive abilities to understand language usually far exceed their expressive abilities–how to tell us what they want to say. This results in frustration and anger, which is completely logical. Imagine not being able to express yourself to anyone, about anything, and the only tools you have at your disposal are, say, tugging at people’s clothes, swatting at them to get their attention, on to more serious behaviors as their requests for attention go unheeded.

For me, that would amount to a personal nightmare, given that I am a very talkative person, and if I can’t talk, I write, because I have to express myself somehow. I have written about communication before, so this isn’t exactly a first. I’ve read a couple of the blog entries, and watched a couple of the videos. I just had a comment or two on the blog entries I read, one on why some parents won’t teach baby sign, and why some children say some words and sign others.

Regarding learning Baby Sign and parent ego. I’m not sure about that. It may definitely be one reason. I don’t know if there is one reason. I think some parents might think it appears as though their child is deaf–as opposed to the term used with “D” referring to the Deaf Community, or people who refer to themselves as Deaf because they are proud to be so, as well they should be. They have their own culture, their own language, but because of this, are unfortunately sometimes mocked for using their language, or how they sound when they speak. Therefore, they are shoved into marginalized status along with everyone else who doesn’t fit into what is “normal” in society. As my baby sister, less than 10 years old at the time, said once, quite upset, “I don’t want to be normal.” I completely agree with her. I’m part of a marginalized group of individuals myself, and would much rather be myself that whatever is supposed to be “normal.” There truly is a point to this. Some people don’t value things because they don’t understand them. A parent might not understand the function of Baby Sign, and some people (no names or positions of office to be mentioned) cannot be convinced of the truth of something regardless of the facts that are sitting in front of them. Sorry, couldn’t help it. They may not consider it an issue. They may think of it as something only

Pink-Elephant-73315people in special education use–I’m not sure what the term is for those classes in Canada. I did look it up at one point, but don’t remember if it was the same or something different. I’d be very curious to see the whole system for people with disabilities in Canada. I’m digressing. It’s that elephant. I only mention Canada because I know that’s where the site is from.  Or something you only need to use if you are deaf. Therefore, the stigma of disability attaches itself to sign, and instead of being seen as a language in its own right–it is officially considered a language by some universities/schools in some states of the US, it is seen as something openly marking a child as different.

Sadly, I’m not sure how many people with that mindset are willing to change unless circumstances force them to, and maybe they feel using Baby Sign is stigmatizing their child, instead of enhancing their communication with their child. As well as avoid many of the behaviors, because with Baby Sign you can communicate with your child why they are frustrated, agitated, angry before it spirals into a full blown tantrum. Although I suppose everyone is entitled to one occasionally.

It could often be fear. I’m not sure why–possibly that their child won’t talk, which moves on to the second post I read about why some children say some words and sign others. I feel that individuals will use whatever means is available to them to communicate what they need in the more direct, fastest fashion. As soon as a child learns a word, they often drop the sign, because it’s quicker to speak than to sign, as the author points out, but has also been pointed out by numerous speech language pathologists I’ve worked with. I’ve found it, personally, from the children I’ve worked with who had the ability to learn speech, to be completely true. I think the only reason a child would continue to sign and not speak was if there genuinely was a speech issue, or some other issue–and the child would need to see a doctor. The advantage of the signing at that point is that your child would already be able to communicate to some degree, which would be a tremendous help to any professional involved. I have a feeling that is incredibly rare–I’ve never heard of it happening, but it doesn’t mean it hasn’t.

Another advantage of a child learning Baby Sign is, on the off chance that he or she meets a little boy or girl, or even an adult, who is deaf, they can talk to them a little. Any attempts to communicate in a person’s own language, I think, are generally appreciated. That could inspire your child from a young age into an interest in linguistics. That sounds way too technical. There are more and more students from different areas of the world moving–I’ll just use my own town. I’ve worked at a school where there was a small Russian population. Spanish is always useful in the US, as are Mandarin or Cantonese, depending on where you live (I think Eugene would count). There are enough Korean students attending the University of Oregon they publish their own newspaper. There are a large number of Thai students. Eugene is a university town, which helps when it comes to diversity of cultures and languages. It doesn’t have enough bookstores, however, in my opinion, leading to the videos.

That is a really, really cool Sesame Street book! There is something magic about having a book nearly as big as you are. But as seen in the video, books like that with lots of things in the pictures, board books generally, as they tend to get chewed on–also very honestly shown in the video. Reading can be a very tactile experience. When I was in my early education classes, the general consensus was that it was fine for children to chew on their board books, if anyone is curious. Just that teething can sometimes make them pretty soggy.

Reading with your child is one of the best things a parent can do to prepare them for so many things. Their brains, at this point in their lives, are filled with so many neurons that they actually get pruned back. They are like little sponges, and everything–especially sensory things, feeling different textures, seeing different things, hearing people talk, around them and to them, affection–all of these things make synapses connect and form routes through the brain at an amazing pace–they will never grow this quickly again. So when children are the youngest, before they’re talking, before they’re walking, things as simple as being held, playing with their fingers and toes, talking to them, singing–they don’t care if you can’t sing at that age–music, new experiences are so important for just that reason–all of those synapses are firing and talking to each other, and the more connections made, the better. Baby Sign is just one more experience to help their brains develop.

If you’re curious to learn more about Baby Sign, and this isn’t an endorsement in any way–I don’t know these individuals, they aren’t paying me, anything like that, but they do have a good web site to learn more about it:

http://definitivebabysign.com/blog/

They have a blog, a video link on YouTube, and an online dictionary on their site, along with other information. I had no idea that watching a bathroom video would lead me to a post like this–lol–I am so curious, though. What kind of chocolate thingies? Are they good? Homemade or from the store? Unfortunately, I do empathize with the little guy–cause and effect is a hard concept to learn. I still sometimes struggle with it–sweets are a weakness, although I’ve been doing remarkably well. But, just for example, take my dinner. It was a really yummy baked tofu steak that’s marinated and has this really good sauce on top, probably too much sodium, and is covered half with black sesame seeds and half with white sesame seeds, so it has a really cool look as well. I always look for that in my food–fashion conscious comestibles. It’s from the deli of a local small chain of markets. I looked at it and thought, because my appetite has been down, “That is way too big. You should really cut that in half and save the other half for later. You’re going to make yourself feel sick.” So I compromised. I left it on the paper it was on in the box and decided I’d eat half and then put it back in the box. I even left the box out as a reminder. The problem was the box was in the other room, and I was mind-melding with my cat and the idea of “I can’t see it, it’s not there,” — it’s similar to when they put their head in a bag but the entire rest of their body is in plain view, and you can almost hear them thinking, “You can’t see meeeeeee, I can’t see you!” I ate all but a very small corner, which I then asked my boyfriend if he wanted. But it was too late. I felt quite ill and luckily we had fizzy lemon lime water, which helped, because now, a few hours later, I’m eating something else my boyfriend and his daughter brought home from the deli for me. I’ve eaten almost the whole pint. I don’t even want to admit what it is, but for the sake of honesty and the fact I need to start eating better, which the tofu was, this is, ah-hem, what I used to call ambrosia salad but now goes by the title of (I can’t believe this), “Marshmallow Mandarin Orange Salad.” See, ambrosia. I just looked at the ingredients list. You’d think it would be pretty short, wouldn’t you? I think this is one of those things that is going to have to be eliminated from my died. I would guess it’s about a size 5 font and covers the entire bottom of the pint deli container. And yes, for those who like to look things up I’m eating and tell me Red #40 has been banned in most countries and shouldn’t be given to children (he’s right, by the way, Red #40 is awful and is in so many things its unbelievable). It looks like tonight I’m only dining on Yellows 5 and 6. Among other assorted things. But there are mandarin oranges, pineapple, and coconut. Okay, dessicated coconut. Sigh. I think that may be the end of my marshmallow orange mandarin salad days. I have stopped before suffering ill effects. So cause and effect did work today. Yay! Tomorrow, I’ll tackle gravity.

Even car manufacturers come up with better names for colors than Red #40, though. My 1987 Volvo 240, Buttercup, had the official color of “Eggnog” stamped onto her little metal plate under the hood. Now that I think about it, it’s sort of funny to name a car the color of a beverage usually consisting of 40%–50% hard liquor. But at least it’s a color. How would you describe a sunset in terms of FDA approved terms?

The tartrazine yellow #5 High cirrus uncinus and cirrus fibratus on the horizon glowed with a heavenly light as they merged playfully with the sunset yellow #6 gilt cirrostratus fibratus hovering near. The indigotine blue #2 ocean, occasionally dappled by bright blue #1, reflected the dazzling array of erythrosine red #3 altostratus translucidus as it blushed into allura red #40 before dipping its liquid droplets of life-sustaining water to meld with the sea…

Orange Sunset

Snort. Thank you, wiki, for your assistance, and my apologies to any meteorologists out there. How is it, though, that it’s possible to have a job where you end up being wrong so often? It’s not a criticism, just an observation. All the days we’ve been teased with the prospect of snow, only to rise in the morning to find the branches bare and our vehicles clearly visible. I didn’t realize there were all the cool cloud symbols, though. I think throwing in a little baby sign would be interesting–you could change the weather watching demographic and raise a generation of children completely knowledgeable about clouds, so if they became writers they wouldn’t mangle the actual science of it like I have. And, during the process of looking for a picture that might match (sort of) my sunset, I realized something very important, which you can tell if you read the paragraph and look at the picture. I know that my inner content editor, which pops in at inconvenient times when I’m reading something now, would have caught this if I’d been editing instead of writing. You can’t have a blue ocean if it’s reflecting yellow clouds. Bummer. Nature trumps bad writing. Photoshop trumps nature, but then it would just look funny. And there wasn’t Photoshop in Regency England. Nor were there those awful artificial poisons. They just used the natural ones instead. lol

Boy, I’ve come a long way from Baby Sign. That was completely unintentional. I’m fairly certain none of the above colorants were used on the pink elephant however. I think that was just Photoshop. So no one was harmed in the writing of this post. Animal, vegetable, or mineral. On that note, that sunset is starting to blind me. I prefer the pinker, purpley-blue ones–not so bright.

otherwiseThe Free Dictionary: Under other circumstances: Otherwise I might have helped.

Taking Steps Ahead, or Moving Away from the Past

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This is somewhat of a follow-up post to some of the posts starting with When Groups go Wrong. I have been having issues with that whole event, one of them being letting go.

Letting go of things is difficult, for many reasons. It can be something we’re used to and we don’t like change. Check. It can hurt. Check. (But it already hurts, so then, what difference does moving away make?) The voice of reason–not mine–interjects–disengage. See, luckily I have some voices of reason, because I haven’t been reasonable at all times. In fact, I’ve been downright obstinate in my refusal to be reasonable. Why? I trust the people giving me advice. “Just stop dealing with the people who are making me miserable.” “Stop going back.” That is the absolute best advice anyone can give someone in a situation like mine. I wasn’t in the place to listen to the words. I could hear them, but I wasn’t listening.

One of the people involved in the whole debacle I considered my friend, and I cared about him. Whatever the situation is at Headquarters in terms of identities, people, numbers, reality, I considered him my friend and I was determined I could make him see reason and we could be friends again. I did crazy things things I normally wouldn’t do. I asked a friend on the board to contact him, and he was horrible to her. That should have been a clue right there. I felt terrible about that–she didn’t deserve to be treated that way, and he owes her an apology. I tried to send couched messages through my blog. I thought, he read it once, maybe he still does. “Not very likely,” my stalwart friend told me. He’s realistic. I’m better at deluding myself than I thought.

The thing that really hurt, the reason really keeping me back, was that my supposed friend hasn’t made any contact with me whatsoever. He had, on the “sage advice” of the “moderator,” blocked me as soon as things started to happen. Anyone who reads this or knows me knows communication is incredibly important to me. This silence from him, my complete inability to contact him, made me appreciate a little more what it must be like for some of the students I worked with who were nonverbal but had so much to say. I still went back and read the posts, and after a sadly long time I realized something, and I confirmed it with my friend, who agreed, so I knew I wasn’t going crazy.

My friend was changing. He is using phrases he never used to use, acting in ways he never used to act, saying things he never would have said. I have never divulged his secrets to anyone. If anyone has, its on his side. But they’re his secrets, he can tell the world if he wants. Now, sadly, it seems he won’t have to. On the very slight chance you are reading this, are you happier now? More fully realized as…an individual? Is this what you wanted? Because you’ve succeeded, and it’s a tragedy. Which is better: having more people like you on a superficial level, or fewer people like you for who you really are?

Sometimes we hold on to things so tight, we want things so badly, and then the truth hits so hard and so suddenly at first the realization is a relief. What I held on to was my old friend, the person I wanted to talk to was my old friend, not this new person using his name. I don’t like him. I want nothing to do with him. If I met him in real life, I’d think he was a jerk.

So there it ends. First I was grieving for the loss of a friend. Now I’m grieving for the death of a friend, at least that persona, that identity. But there’s a finality to that. That ends.

Please get help. There are links on the right side. Use them. 

And this, hopefully, will be the last of this series of posts. It is time to move forward. Enough is enough. My brain has been re-aligned, and will stop moving in circles but drive forward, except for the occasional times when it wants to do wheelies for fun. I am very grateful to have good friends who are patient enough to deal with my temporary insanity and give me good advice as well. I don’t know how I got so lucky. It was just a good connection at the right time.

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Stonewall Riots

The early hours of June 28th, 2013, mark the 44th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which occurred outside the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Central Greenwich Village, New York City. David Carter calls these “the riots that sparked the gay revolution.” I knew nothing about them until recently. They occurred the year I was born, which makes me very happy that some other good things came out of 1969 and that it can be remembered for other things than Nixon being sworn in as President for the second time. Not an auspicious day to be born on. I could argue I was born in the Philippines and I actually missed that whole debacle entirely, I suppose.

But that’s not the point of this post. These riots were a remarkable step in gay rights. Here’s the Wiki link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots

If anyone has a better one, or a link they think would add more information, put it in the comments.

I was wondering how I could follow up the news of Lief getting a new heart, then I started to think about what that actualized symbolized. I’m big on symbolism. Basically, because you can examine something, say what you think it interprets, and while people can disagree, they can’t outright tell you it’s wrong. Who is anyone else to tell you what you see in something is wrong, just because they don’t see it?

This is what I was thinking. Someone’s family lost a loved one, someone precious to them who will always be missed, and then allowed his or her heart to be donated so Lief could live and continue on, given everything goes well, with his little ten year old life and all the expectations he had before he was stuck in a hospital bed for five months. That heart is starting over, beating in a new body. Giving Lief new life.

So, on this anniversary that will always be the same age as me, an anniversary for a life changing event for so, so many people, this is what I have decided.

I am going to let the past go, as hard as it is to do, because there is still pain and there are many things left unresolved. At this point, however, I don’t think they will ever be resolved. It is ironic that the person I discussed the Stonewall Riots with the most is one of the entities I am leaving behind. I am done with subterfuge, mind games, sly cunning, psychological mischief, and emotional abuse. Done. I am done with pretenders who take the game too far and continue to reel people in like fish on a hook for their own personal enjoyment. It’s sick and it’s twisted.

The first discussion I had with the person who I ended up talking to about the Stonewall Riots was very big on pride in being gay. I said there was nothing wrong with being proud, but it might cause a distancing effect from other people who didn’t understand, and maybe it was better to try to bridge the gap with understanding so that rights were just as important as pride. We sort of went around on that one for a while. But, for someone who is so proud of being gay, look how you’ve treated the people who supported you. Look back at the situation and tell me you can’t understand why myself and some others reacted the way we did. For myself, I don’t even know you exist other than the occasional postings and lamenting on the board. If you’re reading this, did you read the first half of this paragraph? Did you read the part about pride? You want to complain about people leaving so you can act sad and say, “Last person out shut off the lights.” Is this a self-pity party? Imagine how different things would have been if the three of you had handled things differently. You had an active say in the way the outcome could have been determined. Couldn’t you tell I was trying to help? Did you even give me a chance, listen? No. You both disappeared. For things being “private,” they were awfully quickly dispersed, don’t you think? So if pride in being gay is more important than kindness to fellow humans, if pride is more important than friends, if you hold your pride so close to your heart you don’t let anything else in, then tell me, what is the use of pride? Isolation? Lack of morals? Lack of values? Bad judgement? There are still ways open, it’s your choice to take them or not. Just remember, pride cometh before a fall.

Aren’t you glad that no one came along and deleted Stonewall out of history the way the entity so easily deleted the life out of our group? The winners are supposed to write the history. What if the winners are really the losers? The heart is gone, donated elsewhere, and the group will never be the same. Why don’t you both just leave? Do something more worthwhile? Start a group about something more worthy. Gay rights in literature. You’re both smart, if sometimes similar.

I think I’ve said what I needed to, at least what I’m willing to post to my millions of readers. lol But, you think you’ve figured everything out. You haven’t. I’m a little surprised, actually. I’m a little disgusted at what you’ve left up, yet my posts are offensive? You need to sit down and do some serious self examination, which is what I’ve been doing. That’s why, with this anniversary of Stonewall, I still support the cause it stands for as strongly and wholeheartedly as ever, but you are in my past, a regrettable mistake. It wasn’t until the early hours of June 28th, but you won’t have read this since you don’t speak to me at all. I truly am a non-entity to you, but you do have your pride to wrap yourself in.

One of my online friends, who is not much older but is incredibly wiser, which I think is unfair, and I have discussed this, and I’ve known all along he was right and putting it in the past was the right thing to do, it was just so hard to do. Then I was standing there at the sink, sorting out the dishes–I hate washing dishes and am very OCD about the order in which things need to be washed–thinking about everything, and Lief, and the David Carter book, and the friend I have who’s homeless because her asshole of a boyfriend kicked her out when she started showing some independence and who spent the night with us last night and may be back tonight because there was a mistake and the spot she was given at the shelter was given to someone else before she got there. She’s in severe pain because of her back–she’s going to need to have surgery, it’s so bad, and I thought about how strong she is, and how strong Lief is, and how brave the patrons of the Stonewall Inn were, not even knowing what they were starting or the effects it would have on gay history and gay rights. And I thought, yes, I’m in pain right now, but it will fade, and I have better things to do with my life. I have a new editing job. I have things with voc rehab that need to be done. I need to get my health insurance straightened out. So why am I feeling down about a friendship with someone who could obviously care less if I were breathing or not? Why waste the time? Why bother feeling things for people who make no effort to communicate with you? That’s ridiculous. I might as well try to have a conversation about nebulas with the broom.

It’s time to move on, from immature hurtful people to somewhere else where people are more respectful and kind. I learned an important lesson, and unfortunately it took this to teach it to me. Just because I am who I am online doesn’t mean other people are. I’ve been too gullible. People don’t trust that I am who I am because they aren’t who they are, for the most part. I need to stop trusting people I don’t know so easily, because all that does is make myself vulnerable to people pretending to be something they aren’t. Sometimes it’s something little that doesn’t matter so much. Sometimes it’s something malicious and malevolent. I also have people online now that I trust quite a bit. I don’t know if I could ever develop a persona. Probably not. I was never a good actor, I just need to be more careful.

I’m tired of trying, this post is the end of that trying. I’m stubborn, yes, ornery, yes, but there’s no dealing with lack of conscience or emotion in another person. The fact that I am those two things mean that I have feelings, care about things. So, people got hurt. On both sides. It didn’t have to be a war where someone “wins.” Game of Thrones is fiction. That’s part of the problem, though, isn’t it, fiction vs. reality? But och, even then there’s that pride again. Pesky thing. Even Mr. Darcy wasn’t this bad. I’m proud I’m finally moving on (really, this time, anyone who knows me knows it takes at least a few false starts, or ends, I should probably say, before I actually do manage it).

On to something bigger, better, with no regrets. Everything is a lesson. I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe people meet the people they do at the times they do for a reason, for however long. I wouldn’t have met some of the people whose friendship I value if this hadn’t happened, and that’s my future.

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LIEF GOT A NEW HEART!!!!!!!!!

https://www.facebook.com/LifeForLief?fref=ts

 

Thank you so much to his donor family, who in their time of grief and loss, gave life to a sweet, remarkable young man.

You have done a beautiful thing. Blessings to you, your family, and your friends.

What happens When Virtual Friends are Imaginary?

Imaginary FriendWhen I started this blog I was stuck at home on medical leave for my elbow, doing a lot of writing, and talking a lot to my characters. Luckily they didn’t talk back too often and we rarely argued. But what I wrote as the subheading, Keeping my Imaginary Friends Imaginary, was slightly true. I needed to keep the line between what was real and what wasn’t defined, because I can easily get lost in my imaginary world, call my SO or the cat one of the character’s names (the cat didn’t care, my SO, a different matter). I needed a connection to the outside world. I think that may have been about the same time I started joining groups online, to at least talk to other people I assumed  were real.

Now, as anyone knows who has watched Silence of the Lambs or heard the saying elsewhere, it’s never good to assume because it makes an ass out of you and me. I innocently clip-clopped my way along the virtual super-highways, not looking for the roads that had trolls under them. See, that gets confusing when it coms to the fairy tale, because there are the toll trolls, and then the internet trolls, and they are different. The toll trolls are scandinavian in origin, I believe. Internet trolls are ruder and nastier than toll trolls–you at least know what their terms are. Internet trolls are simply there to make trouble and stir people up like a nest of hornets. I don’t mean Internet trolls, although you have to watch out for them too, I mean the toll trolls. These have grown more sophisticated in the age of technology. They sit outside the doors of forums and groups, and those of us who are naive and innocent (the big billy goat gruff is still playing Bejeweled, can’t get him away from it) fall for the lure and promise of friends who understand us. And, amazingly, as promised, they do. The world opens up and everyone speaks your language.

You meet people, start to find out who you like the hang out with the most. If you’re feeling a little in need of extra attention, there are people there to give it, perk you up.

This is my cautionary tale to myself. There are people I have met online that I trust–I trust their advice, when I’m unsure of something I go to them. There are, however, only a couple of these, and only one I would tell the most embarrassing situations I’d created for myself. That’s out of all the people I talk to, most of whom I’m mostly sure are real. If you’re wondering if this goes back to the When Groups go Wrong post, yes, it does.

First of all, however, I think the whole setting of the scene needs to be defined. Basically, in terms of the computer, what is virtual?

According to the Merriam-Webster, the applicable definitions are:

4: Being on or simulated on a computer or computer network <print or virtual books>

a: occurring or existing primarily online <a virtual library><virtual shopping>

b: of, relating to, or existing withint a virtual reality <a virtual world><a virtual tour>

So, then, just by turning on the computer you are letting yourself into a virtual world. I was trying to think of reasons why we trust people we don’t know so easily. It’s not something new. It happened in newspapers before it ever happened on the internet, it (creating false identities) just morphed along with the new technology. And when we accepted the new technology, and our families accepted it, in some cases, even grandparents, and we all emailed each other and sent pictures, etc. we let our guard down. On Facebook we talked to our family and let our friends in. These were all people we knew were real. People with only these experiences went into the world of internet groups and chat rooms with their guard already lowered. After all, the other people they’d talked to were real, right? One possibility. Another is our hope, when someone we meet seems to be someone we want to spend time with and so much in sync with us, we don’t want to think they may not be real.

I should make a differentiation here. I’m not talking about people not what they seem, necessarily, or sock puppets, but people who have been given a personality and voice, a picture of who they are, by someone else, and are controlled by that person. If we are in a group and there’s a moderator, or co-moderators, we are essentially in that virtual world they have created for as long as we stay in their “space”–a little chunk of virtual space with all these virtual identities clinging to it. The closer a group is, I think, the less hard they have to cling, because they have faith in their virtual world, that it is what it seems to be, and isn’t pretending to be what it isn’t. You know your moderator is real, not imaginary. If you lift the mask, there’s a face there. Not so with the virtual imaginary friends.

I should explain myself more clearly. These people have an outside identity, a shell, so that they appear real, but if poked too hard, they collapse in on themselves like an old balloon, the deception of their identity flaking off. They were someone else’s creation. But how could they be, you might protest. You talked to them, had privately messaged conversations that you thought only the two of you shared. But if the person is imaginary, who were you talking to, who were you messaging, and, most importantly, who was reading what you were writing? You have just expressed your innermost thoughts meant for the now very flat person on the ground to someone you don’t know, some other virtual person who isn’t imaginary, but who controlled your “friend” who you thought was real.

It’s such a convoluted world. When we go into a virtual world, we have to remember that everything else, to an extent, is also virtual. At one point in the discussion in the group I’m thinking of, the moderator joked, “What do you want, us to photocopy our driver’s licenses and post them?” in an attempt to make us sound ridiculous. Now I wish I’d responded. “Yes, actually. I do want to see your driver’s license. For all three of you.” If I had called his bluff, which he correctly guessed none of us would do, the whole drama would have been over, although I’m guessing he might have had a back up plan, an excuse why they couldn’t.

I don’t think many people are going to have that situation, where a moderator has created imaginary friends to help run the group.

I suppose it’s not really a problem for anyone unless they have what they thought was a special friendship with one of those friends. Thought that maybe they really could be good friends, although why they’d want to be friends with a prickly hedgehog escaped them. Possibly because they tended to be able to be friends with real people with similar temperaments who had been co-workers, the ones that drove everyone else batty. The ones who were always put on the same shifts with me because the assistant manager knew I didn’t mind said prickly person. He was literally most likely a genius and probably had Asperger’s, hence the total lack of people skills. Why he was in retail I don’t know. His interactions with customers were often very amusing to watch and I kept an eye out to make sure I didn’t have to intervene. Especially as his “inside voice” was quite often his “outside voice.” I would sympathise with him that yes, people were often very stupid. I often wonder what part of the universe he’s ruling now. Why he got along with me but not anyone else. Possibly because I accepted him the way he was. This is who that friend online reminded me of, even down to the Borg.

I wish it didn’t have to be this way. Having a friend suddenly become imaginary is a bit of a shock. More than a bit. Nerve wracking.

I’m open-minded about it should the situation change. The doors aren’t shut, but neither are they flung open wide. I have learned some things.

Maybe I should change my tagline to : “Making sure my imaginary friends are real.”

When Groups Go Horribly Wrong

I have been trying to get over this in my own way, but without talking about it, and it isn’t working. It was only yesterday, although it seems longer ago than that. I suppose because it was so intense.

Tea PartyEveryone has all these warnings about meeting friends online: they could be stalkers, they could be pretending to be someone else, they could be chainsaw wielding mass murderers…they could be “bad people.”

What if something happens, and a little of the above is true, say, they could be pretending to be someone else, but they have a reason for it, one they can’t control. Say, a mental illness, possibly on top of a lot of other confusions in their life, which triggered a massive breakdown.

I was in a group that I absolutely loved. I could be myself, it was a small group, and it felt like a little family in a sense. I felt at home there. Then, one night, the moderator, who we all loved, disappeared. Just simply vanished without a trace, without an explanation, nothing. Disturbing is the least shocking feeling many of us felt. Among betrayal, shock, sadness… One of the now co-moderators said that we were basically ungrateful, that he had left without saying anything because he cared too much to say goodbye. I didn’t really think much of it at the time. That was on June 11th. A couple of days later a new moderator appeared, a mystery moderator, dressed in a suit with a question mark face. I think I can say with relative certainty that this unsettled many of us. Everything started to slowly break apart–there were rumors that it was the previous moderator who had come back–who had never left, and the two co-moderators were entirely fictitious characters he had started. There had been an outbreak of sock puppet one star raters earlier, so that was another consideration. The fact was that no one knew, and people were becoming distrustful. This distrust was sharply rebuffed by the co-moderators, who said they were real.

Yesterday everything came to a head. There was a group, the one that I agreed with, who didn’t care what the new moderator looked like, we just wanted to know what kind of person he was. He had already changed the rules: it had been, “No criticizing other members.” Now it was “No criticizing other members or the moderator.” He kept deflecting the issue and questions about his personality into whether or not people wanted him with or without a face. Finally he was called on it in such a manner that he had to reveal himself. Our group was mostly gay man and straight women. He was straight and married, so he said. He was rude and lascivious in his greeting to me–all three of the men, all gay, had made comments about me in one way or another. I didn’t really think of it at the time, that all three had said something. After all, what are the chances of that happening? Upon reflection, not very high. The possible reasons

for that I’m not going to go into here. Upon further questions, he started to break a little at a time, someone who knew him well tried to talk to him, someone who knew who he was and his past. The moderator proceeded to ban a couple of people from the group. We knew something was really wrong, and told him he could contact any of us who was there–I sent him a private message–he was already somewhat delusional and accused me of something to do with one of the co-moderators which wasn’t true, told me he was blocking me because he didn’t want to play that game, and was going to advice that specific co-moderator to do the same. I tried to reach them repeatedly. One blocked me immediately, the other said he was sick of conspiracy theories and then blocked me. They still aren’t receiving messages today.

The new moderator, who is the old moderator, is still there. He might stay now, when he was threatening to leave yesterday. Who knows. I left the group. There seemed to be something specific against me, although I’m not entirely sure what. I had gotten along fine with the old moderator and both of the co-moderators. But that isn’t the most important thing I have to say.

The most important thing I have to say is that yes, sometimes group moderators are bad people, creepy people, people who otherwise couldn’t get anyone to talk to them, slimy people you’d never approach if you were walking down the street.

Our moderator was NOT one of those people, Even now, he’s NOT one of those people. He’s mentally ill and needs help. I’m mentally ill too, I can empathize with him. Going into a full-blown episode on line is not something I would want to happen to me, and I wish he had professional help. He needs it, because he’s a loving, caring, sweet and kind man. He did things I know he wouldn’t like knowing he did. Things I know I would forgive him for because they were said while he was in a manic state and he can’t really be held responsible for that, I believe. Whether or not the other people he hurt forgive him, that’s a personal decision on their part, and I couldn’t blame them for going either way. It was hurtful.

As for the co-moderators, you did a fine job of not co-moderating, which leads me to believe you are constructs. If you’re not, you should be ashamed of yourselves. All you had to do was read what was happening on the board to see the truth. There is no excuse for not intervening if you are real. If you want people to believe you, make them believe you. If you are real, try to talk your new “Co-Moderator” into getting some help instead of running roughshod over everyone, including the two of you. Setting your profiles to private and not receiving messages doesn’t really engender faith in the truthfulness of your identities.

Just remember that sometimes there are people in groups who are not “bad,” they just need help. Mental illness isn’t contagious, you won’t get cooties from it, or if someone sneezes on you. Have empathy for the person, let them know you care, even if they tell you you’re lying. What you’re saying is getting into some niche in there. Don’t write them off as a bad person, though, because they’re not. They just need help.

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Review: Bear, Otter, and the Kid

Bear, Otter, and the Kid, eBook   by TJ Klune
Dreamspinner Press    Release Date: August 12, 2011

I have to admit that I’m torn about this book. I did something with it that I normally don’t ever do. Usually, as soon as a derogatory term against the disabled community appears in a book I stop reading it, mark where I am, what the term was, and write up a quick note on Goodreads, Amazon, and my blog about it. The worse offenders are YA novels, which is really disturbing. The term in this case was “retarded,” one that seems to be on the upswing these days, sadly, as it had been slowing down for a while. The fact that it’s appearing in so many YA novels is really disturbing, I think, because it’s showing a whole new generation it’s ok to say those things. It’s being incorporated into their culture.

It’s something I think editors need to be aware of, possibly more important than a misplaced comma or a maligned semicolon.

It shocked me to see it in a m/m romance book, though. I hadn’t seen anything of that nature, that I remember, out of everything I’ve read so far. I contacted Mr. Klune, but haven’t heard back from him. What I think is truly ironic, however, it that it’s someone from one marginalized group demeaning another group that’s marginalized.

Just to take a quick side-step here, and forgive me, because my memory’s not always that great and it’s been awhile since I’ve taken these classes. Brown vs Board of Education was a groundbreaking case for more than just, at least in the eyes of the law, the judgment that separate educational facilities were NOT equal, starting the beginning of desegregation. This is important because it had a ripple effect, it was the beginning of civil rights movements for many groups, including gay rights and rights for people with disabilities, among many others. Both groups had to fight, and both groups still face countless challenges. Politicians and religious groups turn sexual orientation into something they have no business in, people with autism are refused heart transplants because the doctors don’t know how they will react in a hospital. Illegal restraints are used on children with disabilities who are nonverbal, and they can’t tell anyone because they don’t have a communication system and people who know are either too afraid to speak up or punished if they do. Gay men are attacked simply because they’re gay. WTF? I meant to keep this more positive, but I feel this deeply, because I’ve advocated for people with disabilities who can’t speak, who people don’t listen to if they can speak, and who people treat as “retarded” just because they’re nonverbal. Just because they’re nonverbal doesn’t mean they don’t understand exactly what you’re saying. Just because a man is gay doesn’t mean he can’t love just as deeply or truly as any other human being. Feel passion any less.

So what do I do? I finished the book–I liked it, other than the fact that “retarded” was used three more times. So now I feel conflicted and upset, the more I think about it.

I advocate for the right to love and marry whoever you want to, to have or adopt children if you want to, and I advocate for people with disabilities to have their rights respected. What do you do when two things you feel so passionately about conflict?

To everyone else this may seem like no big deal. It’s just a word. There are no such things as “just words.” Words influence, they hurt, and they bully, because there are people behind those words who are capable of inflicting pain, whether it’s physical, or mental or both.

This isn’t intended as an attack on Mr. Klune, and I’m sorry if it’s taken or seen that way. It’s more built up frustration. For anyone who writes and uses terms that are derogatory. The fact that I feel like people snicker at me–“oh, it’s that crazy lady who gets all worked up about people with disabilities.” I have a lot of reasons to get worked up, I won’t go into them here.

I just wish I could have read the book and enjoyed it without knowing those words were there, because they really ticked me off. And I really would have liked it so much more if they hadn’t been.

Optimized-homophobia_only_oneattitudeslittle girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Revelations and Black Holes

Lewis Carroll Memorial Guildford   Sometimes it feels as if you are revealing parts of yourself, splattering them onto the computer, and they simply disappear into black holes. Emails, blogs, works in progress, comments on forums. All the years it has taken to get enough courage to write to complete strangers in the faith that someone somewhere understands the gibberish you’re speaking through the help of a babel fish or something of the like.

I was going through images looking for something from “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” and found pictures of this sculpture. It is in Guildford, at the last place Lewis Carroll lived, although he didn’t write those books there. It’s a little sinister, I think. I don’t know what it would feel like to see it in person. No comments about Han Solo and carbonite.Memorial from the Front

What makes a person respond to another person, and what makes them ignore the person standing next to the person who’s noticed? It’s all very strange. There’s this thing in autism that’s called the “hidden curriculum”–basically all the little social cues neurotypical people pick up that people with autism don’t. How to take subtle hints when someone wants to leave, reading body language in a conversation, things along those lines. Things that we supposedly learned unconsciously. Sometimes I feel like I didn’t learn all of those things the way I was supposed to, even though I don’t have autism. I was just a sheltered nerd.

This is probably why I like writing so much. I can give my characters the perfect thing to say as a retort in an argument because I have time to think about it, whereas if it were me, what I’d say would be more along the lines of, “Well, wha…I’m rubber and you’re glue and everything you say bounces off and sticks to you. Nyah.” If I could even come up with that. I don’t fight very often with anyone, not even my SO. I don’t like conflict, but there are some things I won’t back down from. I suppose that’s not even entirely true. I was so fed up with work, and tired of dealing with them–no one was on my side, and no one was going to listen to me. It seemed like quitting, while it fit perfectly into what they wanted me to do, was at least something I was doing to them instead of something they were doing to me. Of course, a little over a month later, I’m trying to be optimistic about finding a job that won’t send me into a tailspin again.

Remember Lief, the little boy with autism that I mentioned a while ago? Since then he’s had two open heart surgeries because the machine that keeps his valve pumping keeps clotting, then his blood antigen levels went to 100%–which meant his immune system could fight anything, including the heart transplant that he needs, because no heart would match as his body would fight anything. The doctors decided to try something on the chance it would work after nothing else did–they gave him the treatment that transplant recipients usually receive after they’ve had the transplant, and his blood antigen levels went down to 11%, which meant he was back on the path to being able to get a transplant again. Then the machine for his valve clogged again, and Saturday he had a stroke which affected the left half of his body. It wasn’t a bad stroke, he can still communicate using his keyboard pad, and he doesn’t seem to have suffered any cognitive damage. He’s had his 10th birthday in the hospital. This ten-year-old has been through more than many adults, and he keeps soldiering on. There was talk of palliative care at one point, but he didn’t want it. I called him the Energizer Bunny sometimes when I worked with him, and gods, is he ever. He really hasn’t changed much since he was six, except now he can communicate, which is wonderful. So while I feel a little down, I just keep trying to remind myself, “If Lief can do it, I can do it.” He is one incredibly special little guy, and if everyone who reads this could stop for a second and send him a happy thought, that would be nice. It doesn’t matter where you are, he’ll know.