This photo is one I took of me with my webcam right before I started writing this post. The lighting is not great and the camera is probably the least used feature of my laptop. I don’t like selfies . I find the whole movement scary and depressing at the same time. So then why take the picture? I am here. I don’t know what your first impression of the picture is but let me tell you some things you can’t see from this picture. I love to read. My favorite board game is Scrabble or the Internet version Words with Friends. The families in our Fort Bragg Army base neighborhood used to have Scrabble tournaments every Friday night during the summer and I was playing with the adults by the time I was eight. In the second grade, a conservationist group brought a whole bunch of reptiles to our class, somewhere someone still has a picture of little tiny me, still about the size of a kindergartner, with a 6-foot long black king snake draped across my shoulders and both arms. I was the only kid in class brave enough to hold it. Italian and Mexican are my favorite foods, yes it really is a tie. My fifth-grade year the year after my mother was discharged from the Army., I was emotionally abused every single day by the teacher’s aide whose job it was to write my assignments, help me eat lunch in the cafeteria and take me to the bathroom because I couldn’t do my own transfers. I still can’t. Every single day she told me I was ugly. She told me I was a burden to her, barely worth the paycheck the school is paying her. I was stupid because I had trouble learning math at my grade level, nevermind that my reading was way above grade. She badgered me several times a week to wear skirts, to make things easier for her helping me in the bathroom. I didn’t like skirts because if I wore them the surgery scars on my legs and the leg braces I wore during school were obvious. I was miserable that year. Why didn’t I tell, my teacher, my parents, anyone? I didn’t tell because she said, “I’m the adult, you are the child I will make sure no one believes you and “she (my teacher) is my friend, she got me this job why would she believe you?” So I didn’t tell. Looking back, I would do it differently. I would tell my teacher because she really was a wonderful teacher who stood up for me when I came to her about everything else went out of her way and into her own money to find ways that math made sense to me. I should have given the chance and on top of that, I should have told my teacher from the previous year if I didn’t think she would listen or maybe just for extra backup. When I went to college and living on campus I often dressed so that people would mistake me for a young man so that people were less likely to harass my girlfriend and I. I almost got thrown out of campus housing for having a girlfriend, because one of our roommates was homophobic and neither one of us knew that that particular section of housing that we lived in was not “approved” for couples. I sat for at least 45 minutes of an honest to God interrogation. That ranks as one of the top 10 scariest things I’ve ever been through in my life.
I wanted to go to Julliard. My favorite musicals are Hamilton, RENT, and Sweeney Todd. The Sound of Music will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first musical I ever saw. I have as many swords and knives as some people have guns. I think that you should have a license to be a parent just we require people to have a license to drive a vehicle, but I am wary that whoever got to decide who gets the license would reject me because of my disability even though it is not in any way genetic or transferable. I have loved men, women, trans people and non-binary people. I have made mistakes, I have regrets. I will not apologize for taking up space, for making noise, for living my life. Why the picture? Because when the government tries to force through legislation built with fear and asks you to vote for it I want you to remember this picture. I am a woman who loves dogs, musicals, and apple pie. I learned to turn double Dutch and sing all the jump rope rhymes just like many of you. I was petrified when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and elated when she beat it. I am not a demon and I have no agenda beyond the pursuit of happiness which according to the Declaration of Independence is why my inalienable rights.