Posted in Politics

Day 350: The Things That Keep Me Up at Night

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If you had told me in  2015 that I would be here in two years time I would have shaken my head in disbelief. Of course, if you had told me how the election was going to pan out I wouldn’t have believed you either We now live in an America where many marginalized people find themselves not just ignored but actively persecuted by our federal government.   During the campaigns leading up to the election, Mr. Trump gave a speech in which he said he would use the armed forces to deport American citizens of the Muslim faith. I didn’t see the speech but I know about it because a mother came home that day to find her seven-year-old little girl very seriously packing a small bag for when the soldiers came to take her family away. The mother posted about it on Facebook and response she got back from hundreds of former and current military as well as civilians promising to protect that little girl made me cry. The idea that Mr. Trump’s threat is even plausible now scares me.

A good friend of mine is getting married soon. Her mother moved to this country from Pakistan as a teenager. My friend isn’t Muslim and as far as I know the only other language she speaks is the Spanish she learned through our public school system.  She and her younger sister really take after their mother and that has led to some very ugly things being said, especially after 9/11. Then it was just some scared poorly educated redneck teen, who much like the rest of us who hadn’t quite reached adulthood yet, was probably repeating things said by a family he assumed were correctly informed.  Now, there is a poorly educated adult with a lot more power spewing the same narrow-minded trash talk.I am afraid for my friend’s family.

Is it just me or does there seem to be a social war waged against the trans community lately?  I have always felt the necessity of standing with others in an effort to validate stories that aren’t mine. Except now, unexpectedly, these stories are part of my story. Now, this struggle puts an icicle of fear in my heart on a regular basis. I love a trans person with a much bigger part of myself than  I would’ve thought possible if you had told me that this was coming two years ago. When I love someone I worry for them. Lots of times I know that my worry is blown out of proportion and I talk myself out of most of it.

I can’t do that this time.This fear doesn’t feel silly or overblown. I joke that I’ve become a bat now. I’ve been a night owl for a long time but it’s no longer uncommon for me to see a sunrise before I ever see the inside of my eyelids. I do this because talking to him feels similar to breathing, as unconscious and as necessary, and he works third shift.

I do this because somewhere in my head and heart I believe that if I talk to him during his shift I can keep him safe.If I can’t tell myself that my worries are silly, then I will be the sword at his back. There has been a half joke in our house for a while that our parents raised Valkyrie. I will be a sword at all their backs for as long as is needed. We are now facing the choice between what is right and what is easy.Trump was the easy choice, I’m still waiting to see if we can make the right one.

Posted in Politics

Day 349: The Power of Words

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Most of us have probably heard “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” I have dealt with more than my fair share of verbal abuse in my life and I can tell you that words can hurt. Words can leave scars that last forever. I have only just begun to make peace with those scars, fifteen years after the fact.The current White House would like to use words to divide us. White, black, latino, middle eastern. Christian, Muslim, terrorist, patriot. Gay, straight, transgender, rich, poor. These words may be part of our identities but they are not the beginning and end of them. We are also mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, neighbors, lovers and humans.Too many people want to turn us against each other because if we’re squabbling amongst ourselves we are too distracted to notice when much bigger issues  We can’t let others dictate what makes us afraid.We are better, stronger than that.Before you let the political vitriol currently being circulated use your voice as yet another echo chamber use it instead to talk to those people you are supposed to hate and fear.Use your ears, heart, and voice as tools of compassion. John Lennon had it right all along, all you need is love and sometimes love is scary but it’s always worthwhile.

Posted in Uncategorized

Day 348: Here We Go… Again

The funny thing about my life is that the most important people in my life seem to show up exactly at the time I need them, even if I don’t realize it until much later. Those people also seem to show up when I’m not looking for them. I  wasn’t looking to find Oz and in spite of  current circumstances which are beyond our control which are making things frustrating, I am a much happier person than I was five years ago. At some point doing this crazy year I stumbled and fell face first into love, again. Yay polyamory. I think people are jigsaw puzzles, made up of and held together by the relationships they form. I can’t explain exactly what wasn’t there before Dylan and Sera showed up, but  I can tell you that I feel more confident and steady in myself and I think that’s the best anybody can hope for in any relationship. So, to the three of you, I love you now and always come what may.

Posted in Politics

Day 347: At the Closing of the Year

Image result for toys movie poster  One of my favorite movies of all time is the Robin Williams movie Toys, if you have never seen it I believe it’s on Netflix and right now, or any time leading up to New Years is a great time to watch it. One of the songs from the movie,”At the Closing of the Year”, has a line in it, If I cannot bring you comfort then at least I bring you hope.  That is going to be my goal for at least the next four years. I’ve said many times that the idea a Trump White House scares me, it’s more than an idea now, it’s reality. Now is not the time for quiet acceptance of Trump’s America. Fear tactics and hate speech and bigotry have no place in my America. We, the marginalized citizens of America have been conditioned not to make waves, to stay safely quiet and let white, mostly male, able, straight people speak for us, we’ve seen how well that turned out.  Trump wants us swept farther under the rug at best and gone at worst. Speaking up and out is scary when you think you are alone, so to close this year and begin a new one I’m offering an open hand. Anybody this reaches is welcome to contact me, I will be a listening ear a steadfast shoulder. If you want to tell your story but are afraid of reprisals, I offer you the platform of this blog and the cloak of anonymity. Tell me your story, I’ll be your voice, do a guest post. Or I can just listen. It doesn’t have to be a story similar to mine. Anyone who needs a protected space is welcome.

Posted in Uncategorized

Day 346: Lessons from 2016

This year has been a roller coaster ride. I’m frightened of what a Donald Trump presidency means. I am scared for myself but I’m more frightened because I already see how it is affecting people I love and strangers I don’t even know in toxic ways. I have a greater appreciation for my family because although we may fight and argue amongst ourselves sometimes I know without a doubt that they love me and will support me even if they don’t agree with every single decision  I make. This year has made it plain that not everyone is lucky enough to have parents like that. Since the election, there had been many instances of violence against the LGBT community in which the aggressor uses the fact that Donald Trump has been elected as an excuse that somehow legitimizes their action. Worse yet is the fact that it is not just strangers spouting this insanity, sometimes it comes from a person’s own family, I have something to say to those people.

 

A child is a gift no matter what their gender identity or sexual orientation. I can tell you from experience that no one wants to grow up being labeled differently. If half the things uninformed people think of as “choices” actually were, we wouldn’t be on the path we are on. Systemic marginalization and violence is not something anybody looks forward to in life. These are your children. No matter who they love, or how they change their bodies so that they can feel like their best self, or what pronouns they choose to refer themselves with, I believe that when they were born you entered into a contract with the universe and with that particular soul to nurture it and to help grow to the best of your ability. Any parent who walks away from that should be ashamed.This time of year peace on earth gets mentioned a lot, it’s a big concept that begins and ends with the individual, bullying has no place in it.

Posted in Politics, service dog

Day 345: Facing a Trump Presidency, Lessons Learned From a Golden Retriever

When Gideon was seven months old or so he saw his first full-size horse. He had already met my miniature guy but there is a world of difference between him and a saddle horse who is at least 15 hands tall. Even though the bigger horse was not doing anything even remotely threatening, he was only looking over the pasture fence, for a moment Gideon was totally freaked out. He moved to hide behind my chair and then stopped as though he realized that he would be leaving me to face the big scary monster by myself if he hid. He planted himself squarely between me and the horse and barked, in that single moment he grew up.

Donald Trump as President of the United States scares me for more reasons than I can adequately articulate. The people he’s putting in his cabinet have little or no concept of what it is to struggle for basic human dignity. Even more frightening, I read some of the things that they have said in an interview and I realize that they have absolutely no empathy. Trump is considering dismantling the federal Department of Education, leaving the governance of schools entirely up to the state. In theory, this does not sound so bad until you realize that Texas is considering a bill which would put a cap on the number of special needs students who could receive services through the school system. in case you don’t have a special needs student in your life let me explain what this means. Right now there is a federal law that says special needs children must be educated in an environment as close to that of their nondisabled peers as possible, to this end, public schools must provide services and accommodations which allow the student to fulfill their academic potential as much as possible. To use examples from my own experience, I saw a speech pathologist several times a week during elementary school to help correct and mild impairment. The school paid for this because it would help me communicate more effectively with my teachers and classmates. I also saw an occupational therapist, they gave me modified utensils so that I could eat my lunch with a minimum of assistance from an adult. The same occupational therapist tried to teach me cursive handwriting when my classmates learning it, with adapted pencils and special paper and when that didn’t work it was the occupational therapist who insisted that I have a computer to write the answers to my spelling tests, so the dictating to my aide would not interfere with my classmates taking the test. In high school that computer became a portable battery powered word processor called an Alphasmart, a tool that I enjoyed using so much that I recently looked up the company and bought one for myself as an adult.

The bill the Texas legislature is trying to pass would mean that once they reach a specific quota of students the school system would then deny services to any other special needs child because quota had already been filled. Pres. Donald Trump scares me and there is still a huge part of me who wants to run as fast as I can to Canada, stick my fingers in my ears and hum,”not my problem anymore.” The criteria for moving to Canada is not something that is accomplished overnight and my boyfriend has a good reason to want to stay.Besides that, Trump and people like him are always going to be my problem. I am a special needs adult, I bear a  responsibility to the children and young people growing up with the same label to make sure they have the same opportunities that I was fortunate enough to have and to make the system better where I can.

So much like my Golden, I will stand in the breach and face the thing that scares me most, because behind me there are those who cannot defend themselves, even some who cannot comprehend that the danger is there at all. I will hold the line, today, tomorrow, for as long as necessary, because I became an adult when I wasn’t looking and now it is my turn. To President-elect Tromp, “not my children, not today, not ever.”

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Posted in service dog

Day 344: Personal Space in Public Places or Service Dog Etiquette for Those Who Didn’tListen the First Time

Service dogs in public are working!I can’t say it any plainer. I don’t care if you can’t tell or not, if they are in a public space they are working, end of story. Most service dogs wear vests that say things like “working dog do not pet,”but American federal law does not require a dog to wear a vest or the owner to carry anything identifying the dog as a service animal, basically we use the vests to label our dogs service animals to save ourselves the headache of having  a major argument about the dog’s presence every single time we leave the house. If you see a dog in a public space where dogs usually aren’t, vest or not, they are probably working. If you are interested in the dog’s presence, by all means. talk to the person on the other end of the leash. You may want to pet the dog, ask first, and realize that the handler is under no obligation whatsoever to allow it. Why? Service dogs in public are working. Even if all they are doing at that exact moment is sitting next to their handler or laying under a table. You do not know what this animal is trying to do and therefore even brief casual petting by a stranger can distract the dog and possibly put the human at risk. A good rule of thumb is to totally ignore  the dog’s presence as much as possible It’s hard. I’ve had to find something,anything, for my hands to do so I wasn’t tempted to sneak pet another handler’s dog after they sad no, respect the no anyway. A service dog is an extension of the handler’s personal space . You don’t like strangers crowding your personal space, do you?Imagine you are at work and people are constantly calling your name,  snapping their fingers, whistling, etc, trying to distract you from work. Chances are your employer is not going to be happy.However. if a service dog handler declines a request to pet our partner this is the response we often get”it’s just a dog,why can’t I pet him/her , often followed by an attempt to “sneak pet” them after I said no. It’s not just a dog. One of Gideon’s task is helping me cross streets safely(no I’m not blind but I have gotten hit while crossing the street in my wheelchair(before I got him) so now I have him check for cars even when I should have the right of way as a pedestrian. If some were to sneak pet him at the wrong moment while crossing a road that could be very bad. My personal policy about letting a stranger pet my dog while out in public is this, assuming you asked first, 80% of the time my answer will likely be yes, if I said no when you asked and you try to sneak pet either of them(my Aussie pup is going to start public outings soon) I will make as noisy as scene as possible , expect the same reaction if you don’t ask at all.  You have been warned.

Author’s note: I will say again, I sometimes let others pet my dogs while they are in working gear.That is my personal choice,do not assume any other handler will do the same.

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