I’ve seen people post get to know you posts and I don’t know if I’ve done any. Not in a while anyway. I thought I would share some fun facts.
-The past two times that I’ve been engaged, I have proposed to foreign men – that’s hella feminist.
-I planned on being a medical doctor since the time that I was very young until a couple years into college. Still took a lot of premed classes. I will never regret any of my education.
-I became pregnant at 17 and had an abortion when I was in nursing school, and then became pregnant at 18 with my daughter. I had another abortion when she was a couple years old. After that, I never had a strong desire to have more children.
-I grew up in a fundamentalist religion and I am now an atheist. It’s not because of the religious upbringing, it’s because I think that religion is not rational or logical. Even based on faith. I think it’s the the equivalent of believing in fairy tales. And I can say that while continuing to respect what other people believe in.
-I have many disabilities and they are all invisible. You don’t want the list. I won’t bore you with the details. Some of them greatly increase my risk of death. But I’m still kicking.
-I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and I have a lot of nostalgia for my home, even though I was very isolated and grew up a closed religion. Somehow I was able to soak in the beauty of the place, despite everything.
-I don’t have a lot of close friends and I have trust issues because I’ve been abused, bullied, and betrayed so much. It’s kind of amazing that I actually am so open. I think the abuse is actually part of the reason. My boundaries were stripped away from me.
-I consider myself more of an artist than anything else. I’m highly sensitive, deeply emotional, and I love humanity. I just don’t like a lot of people because human nature can be ugly.
-I’ve met people from every background and every walk of life. Truly. From the most destitute to the most wealthy. I’ve been around some of the most poverty-stricken people and people with more money than you can imagine. It has made me very cynical about money.
-A lot of people know me from one aspect of my life and think they know everything about me. I have transformed many times and I will again.
-Obviously my daughter is the most important thing to me in this world. I never expected how I would be changed as a mother. She is the greatest gift of my life, but I would never recommend motherhood because the world does not support mothers and the world is a violent place for females. I live in fear as a woman of a daughter.
-I had a purple wig that even drag queens envied.
-Even though I’ve been with mostly men, I identify as queer. That’s because I don’t care about gender. Love is love.
-People don’t believe me when I say that I’m autistic because I don’t fit their stereotype. And I don’t need anyone to approve. I know myself.
-I’ve been suicidal since I was a teenager and I’ve been in the emergency room many times. I’ve done self injury and even burned my own face. I think part of the reason is growing up in a religion that did not allow me to express myself. That shapes you. Plus of course being sexually abused by so many men that I lost count. Yet people think I’m the crazy one.
-I can listen to a piece of classical music or watch the wind blow through a flower and feel the whole world.
-I’m an example of someone with a lot of talents and a lot of struggles. I learned how to read when I was a toddler, but I couldn’t figure out social interaction. I went through school as a gifted student and graduated with all the accolades, but I feel like I’ve been an underdog my whole life. I’ve had a lot of adversity and difficulties in my life that help me connect with other people that are marginalized.
-I spent almost the first 40 years of my life in an intense caregiving role.
-I can’t handle news about human suffering. I wish everyone respected each other. I will never feel safe in this world. As an empath, I feel the pain of others and it’s torture.
-Even though I have so many deep emotions, I’m a very jovial person. I think it’s how I survive. Despite what I post, people tell me I’m a lot of fun to be around and I am hilarious. A lot of sad people are funny.
-I miss everyone that I’ve lost, whether they are still alive or dead. The grief is the same.
-I’m not this depressing all the time.
-I like intellectual people who don’t try to act like they’re so much smarter than everyone else. Real power is quiet.
-I am a romantic at heart even though I know the darkness.
Getting into my red Ford Taurus, I dumped my purse onto the passenger seat and turned the key in the ignition. It whined, but wouldn’t start, so I turned it a few more times – each time growing more and more frustrated and despairing. “Start, you mother fucking car, START!!” Pumping the gas pedal frantically, I continued to turn the key, causing the engine to screech incessantly – until a neighbor, Adam, stopped and said, “You’re going to flood the engine if you keep giving it gas.” He lived on my floor with his boyfriend and worked at a local theater. “Let me get my jumper cables,” he said, “I’ll be right back. I got out of my car and kicked the driver’s side door, “You piece of shit!” Someone walking by on the street looked back at me as he kept walking, shaking his head. While I waited for Adam, I had a moment to think about my day, which led to reflecting on what my life was now.
In 1999, the Internet was still new and rudimentary. Email was a novelty. And computers started to become more mainstream. I had never owned a computer, and that was not unusual, but I had used computers at home and school. My parents bought their first computer – an IBM – around 1990; it had a big boxy monitor and used floppy disks. Mostly, we played games on it like Tetris, Paratrooper, Space Strike, and Snack Attack. At school, we used Macintosh computers, which were produced by Apple. I took a computer science class in the early 1990s, in which I learned about basic animation and links. In those early days of public technology dissemination, I was a budding techie and bonafide computer nerd.
With my paltry wages, I couldn’t afford a computer and really had no need for one. All of my business communications were hand-written and mailed via the U.S. Post Office. One day, in my mail, I received information about working from home. This was very appealing to me, as I was working long days and was away from my baby more than I was with her. It didn’t take much to be swayed to take a chance and sign up for a payment plan to enroll in a medical billing program. Perhaps many poor people fall for these offers. All of the curriculum would be mailed to my apartment and could be completed on my own time. But there was one problem: I needed a computer to do the training and eventually work from home.
Since there was no way I could afford it, I decided that I would ‘creatively’ finance a computer to use for my new entrepreneurial venture by writing a check for it that I would pay back, expecting that I would be in a position to pay it back in no time with my promising career. Whenever my bank account had gone in the red, as it often did, I paid the overdraft fee and repaid it as I could. Logically, I assumed that I could do the same thing to purchase a computer – just that it would take longer to replenish my account. Being 20 years old and desperate, I had no knowledge of any additional repercussions, like criminal charges. Vanessa came with me to Best Buy, where I wrote a bad check for a Sony VAIO desktop computer, which came with promotional AOL CD-ROMs with trial subscriptions to the Internet – a bonus to my questionable investment. I thought I was in business.
What the world does to you as a woman is something to ponder. As a young girl, I was soft and sweet. It was what society expected of me, but it was also my sensitive personality. As time went by, I had to fight, even though I didn’t always want to. It became necessary to survival. When I was sexually abused as a child, a part of my soul was silenced. When I went to college and learned to drive at the same time, after already working for many years, I had to stand on my own. When I left my cult religion, I had to leave everything I had ever known behind. When I became a mother, I had to face the world that considered me and my beautiful gift illegitimate. When I worked to raise my daughter, and balance the world on my shoulders, I also had to teach her how to survive this life as a woman. When I finally escaped every controlling and abusive situation, and there were many, I had to rebel against the system at hand. When I became an advocate, I had to use my own voice, even though people didn’t understand it – so I often spoke alone, though knowing there were others out there who were hearing me and knew they weren’t alone. When I have had to fight because society doesn’t understand how to deal with traumatized, depressed, grieving survivors, I had to know I was enough even though I was told that I was broken. And now as a scarred, tested, wise woman, still not even old, I am this. I will not let anyone beat me into submission, fuck with my mind, tell me what I can’t do, strip me of my dignity, steal my rights, or hush me with their ignorance. I am a woman who has been through the alleys and the valleys, and I may be tired and heartbroken, but I will not be owned. I will not be owned by you for any reason, especially not your desire to kill my spirit as a woman and mother, disabled person, or survivor of poverty and violence. I will not be owned.
#nationalpreemieday: This was Imani at 5 days old. She was 2 pounds, 6 ounces, and 14 weeks early. She had a significant brain hemorrhage and a condition that causes blindness, was fed through an IV, lived in an incubator, and was breathing with a ventilator here that I’m holding in place. Plus a list of other issues and a prognosis filled with uncertainty. She didn’t breathe on her own for months, and went home when she was apnea and bradycardia free for 24 hours – which means she didn’t stop breathing and her heart rate didn’t drop. I had just turned 19, was a victim of sexual abuse & had complications that were genetic & accelerated by socioeconomic stress & domestic violence. I was unmarried, living with a schizophrenic roommate who died from suicide. We moved from place to place to survive on home care worker wages and were regularly in imminent danger. I almost died in a car accident that happened because I was sleep deprived & malnourished. She almost died many times from a number of causes. I didn’t know if my child was safe much of the time because I had to leave her with unstable people who were all I had in order to work. It’s a long, traumatic story. I still can’t believe that we are still surviving. Nobody knows what it has been like, except for us. Our triumph is not in any vainglorious declarations, but in the next day building on the last, toward a vision of happiness that includes transforming the ugly into beauty around us and for others.
I’ve been working on my first book, which is coming along pretty well. I have several advisers and reviewers. And I’ve shown the manuscript to quite a few people already. I don’t have a release date, but it’s any day now. It will focus on the socioeconomic impacts of disability and poverty from the perspective of a single mother. Hopefully it will educate people about some of the challenges the parents and single parents have raising children with disabilities in the community.