Things I will do after I Graduate:
• Play lots more music. Private recorder lessons? Finally learn guitar once and for all, so I can sing songs to people? (Only with their consent.)
• Write poetry and not care if it’s bad, cause it will be bad.
• Sleep
• Go on dates
• Or, at least, make an effort to date people
• Long walks. Getting lost. Who cares? I’ll find my way back eventually.
• Figure out how to use my mishmash of skills to get a day job which pays my rent and student loans and allows me to do some fun things? Maybe?
• Get my splits and a decent tree pose
• Perfect my honey lavender ice cream recipe. Candied lavender flowers?
• Sit outside. Read books that are literary embarrassment but make my soul happy.
• Work on my bird listening skills.
• Sleep, more

What else should I do? I’m open to all ideas, I’m going to be so free!

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Hi everyone.
So, you all know I’ve been crap at blog updates this year, right? My life is, frankly, in a state of overwhelm. I am now working fulltime, with a 90 minute commute each way. I am writing my creative thesis and lecture to graduate with my MFA in July, finallyfinally!! Last fall, I joined a recorder ensemble and though the music is fairly easy, there’s a lot of it and I’m constantly learning and memorizing new pieces. I’m working on editing a manuscript for a dear friend whose book-length project is way further along than mine. I am trying to do some activism, volunteer at social justice events, etc, whenever it’s possible.
My busy is a very strange kind, because it is quite isolating. Some days, I don’t talk to any humans outside of bus drivers and brief conversations with colleagues. I deeply miss having companionable friendships where we could work on our own things but still be around each other. I haven’t been in seattle long enough, I guess, to cultivate those relationships.
All to say, I think about this blog a lot, and how I’m not writing in it, and then I feel bad for not writing. So, I’m here today to officially put this blog on hiatus until after graduation, after which I will hopefully want to free write again, since I won’t be bogged down in word counts and numbers of pages and how many minutes is this lecture. The best thing about this blog is the freedom it brings, and the connection I feel to those of you who take the time to leave me comments. I promise I read them all and send every one of you gratitude!
So, until midsummer! Love and light to you all

When I was hired by a tech company a few years ago to work on software accessibility, I was thrust into a world of acronyms. It was alarming because every time I asked, “What does that stand for?”, (and believe me, I always asked because I am relentless, people), I’d get some variation of a blank stare and a, “Huh, I’m not sure. Maybe …” Sometimes the person would try to save face: “I used to know, but …” I know every field has their jargon, but it seemed to be nonstop there. And it appalled me how it seemed that my colleagues had literally forgotten that people on the “outside” have no idea what they are saying most of the time.

A few months ago, I got rehired at this company, and I was treated to a new acronym: “PWD.” I saw it first in an e-mail about me: “Lauren is a PWD and you can set up a one-on-one with her.” What the hell is that? I thought. If I’m an acronym, I’d sure like to know what it is that I stand for in Techlandia.

So I sat for a minute and pondered, and suddenly I had it: “person with a disability.” In this e-mail, being introduced to someone I did not know, I wasn’t a screenreader expert, skilled at providing constructive feedback, or knowledgable about accessibility best practices and testing standards because I have a web accessibility certification. Nope. I was merely a person with a disability.

And then, it seemed like “PWD’s” was everywhere. The acronym bounced around my workspace like a little kid with a secret. I have not had occasion to hear it used by another person with a disability, only by able-bodied folks, and I find myself flinching slightly every time it’s uttered.

I couldn’t figure out why I was having such a negative reaction. Certainly, I am a PWD. Presumably, the people using this acronym have good intentions. But it nags at me. I find myself drawing a comparison to the phrase “people of color” and its sometimes abbreviation to “POC.” An abbreviation that I have used on occasion for advocacy purposes, and because my fingers were apparently too lazy to type out all those words.

In the context of the e-mail mentioned above, I believe my chafing has to do with my unmentioned skills. For the most part, I don’t feel that my professional skills are taken seriously. They may be comparatively meager to most people who work in tech, but they still exist. I still add value, not just because of my disability but because of the knowledge I have worked to acquire, simply because of my innate curiosity, I might add, not because of any professional development offered to me. I know that I have value logically, but I do not see it reflected back at me in the world, so it’s hard to remember it day to day. Being summarized simply as a PWD makes me feel one-dimensional and overlooked, and reenforces my general feeling that that is all I was hired for. I wonder if “POC” leaves a similar bad taste for those who are reduced to those three letters, and I feel uncomfortable with that realization. Discomfort is how we learn, so ultimately, that is ok. I’m glad for the opportunity to rethink how we commodify people. My conclusion is that acronyms are simply not cutting it, and will never truly be enough.

Clementines: they’re called mandarinas in Spain, and when I was studying there in the fall of 2006, I picked a glut of the sun-warmed orbs from a tree in the mountains of the Alpujarras. I wore layers of scarves, because even though the sun warmed one side of my face, the wind knifed its way down the back of my neck. I was raised in the Midwest, so had no experience picking anything off a tree but the occasional late-season, squishy apple; so even though I tried to act blase about the whole thing, I eventually plopped down right under the mandarina tree and peeled away the rind of a particularly heavy fruit. The peel came away easily, smelling like a winter flower. I listened to the shriek of an unknown bird as I ate the segments down to nothing.

I am February cranky, sun-starved, craving warmth, looking for spring. It hasn’t been the rainiest Seattle winter I’ve experienced, but by February, even four months of intermittent rain starts to drag on my spirit. So I eat mandarinas and cling to the memories of sunshine of the past. I stand over bubbling vats of lemon marmalade. I water my anemic bamboo and daydream about lush growth. I run my hands over citrus displays at the co-op, forcing whoever is shopping with me to stop and wait while I heft pomelos, too big to fit in my hand. I succumb to buying out-of-season strawberries, and feel a knee-jerk urge to cry when they taste dry and woody and of nothing. Even though I know the outcome will be this way, year after year, I can’t help it.

What do you do to create spring when it seems so far away?

There’s a woman crying on the bus. She’s trying to hide it, but the breathing gives it away. Not the sniffles of a persistent cold, or the snortiness of laughter, but the hitching gasps of a good sob. A sob that is straining forth, wanting to break free, but she denies it.

This is Minnesota, we don’t cry in public here. We come from sterner stock, virtuous stoicism in our Nordic blood. The thing is if we cry in public, people will look, and wonder why, and maybe think that we don’t have it together: we aren’t making enough money or we think our partners don’t love us or our partners really don’t love us and have been gone a year now. Or we haven’t had a date in a decade and there’s no cure for being so damn lonely. Or it’s mid-April and snowing with no whisper of spring.

I used to be afraid of crying in public. I held my tears in, clenched my teeth to stay quiet, bit the insides of my cheeks so that I could taste only physical pain. Years ago, on a night plane back from Vienna, leaving my girlfriend, I sobbed into a tissue until it disintegrated, waving away the flight attendant who tried to offer comfort. Don’t acknowledge me. Don’t validate my pain or right to exist.

Now, I let everyone see it: let my face scrunch freely, not hidden behind my hands; let the tears run without furiously wiping them as quickly as they can fall; let the snot bubbble from my nose like someone really uncivilized. Go ahead, look. Stare. Speculate. “What is wrong with that lady? Why doesn’t she go home and do that? Why doesn’t she have anyone to help her? Should I help her? I’m probably too busy, I have my own problems.”

If you’re crying in public, I’ll offer you a tissue. I’ll put my arm around you, if you want, I’ll ask you where it hurts. You can tell me, or you can tell me to leave you alone, or you can say nothing and just let yourself be held. You lay your sorrow on my back, I will bear it. It’ll be me who needs you tomorrow or next week or years from now, after all.

Hello Internet, and happy New Year! I just returned from freezing-cold Vermont and my second-to-last residency. I have a slightly heavy post planned about ableism in academia, particularly in progressive programs such as mine which work hard to be inclusive and whose students sometimes miss the mark. It’ll be all about “good intentions” versus actual impact, microaggressions, and how “judgment free” spaces can create permission for people to say unoriginal and problematic things. It’ll be mad fun, I promise. I can tell you’re excited!

Meanwhile, though, I thought I’d offer a few new year intentions and see how everyone else is welcoming in 2018. I know resolutions aren’t cool any more. Now, the general idea seems to be that making resolutions puts undo pressure on us when we are just trying to do the best we can. I affirm this, and no judgment here if you don’t make them. But I do have a few things I’d like to work on this year, and here they are, in no particular order:

I want to love something enough to stick with it. I want to love something so much that I am basically forced to stick with it. I’d like, even, to become a little obsessed. I think part of my downfall in this area is that I like to do a lot of things and try a lot of things: yoga, pole dancing, rock climbing, improv, different types of essay writing and poetry, recorder playing, canning, bread making, essential oil blending, etc etc blah blah blah. Yet, I feel somewhat unfulfilled by quantity. I don’t think I’ll ever quell my desire to always learn and dabble in new things, but I’d love to find something that I can really sink into.

I’ve also decided that I am no longer going to ask my friends and partners to bear the burden of inaccessibility when it comes particularly to agency and organizational incompetence. I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked to fill out paperwork, be it at work or at a doctor’s office, that is inaccessible. And therefore an employee will say, “Don’t you have a sighted person who can help?” I usually do, technically, but I am tired of always asking. I am tired of waiting for someone else to be able to help. Even if it takes the organization longer or someone working there has to assist me, I will insist on that. It is their job. They are getting
paid. My loved ones are not getting paid, and I have better things to do with them than paperwork.

Finally, I want to work on being gentler with myself. I renew this every few years, which is a bit frustrating. I’d like to just get it right already, but people don’t work that way. Things finally came to a head when a writer in a workshop told me that the discrepancy between the slack I cut for everyone else and the standards I hold myself to in my writing often verge on painful. Yikes. I know I am hardest on myself. I am hard on others too, certainly, but I save the worst for me. As cliched as it sounds, the first step is probably to recognize that.

I hope you all are having a good start to the year. Tell me what you have in store for 2018!

I’ve spent the last few years thinking about home: what makes it, who makes it, where mine is. I have spent A LOT of time on this, people. You would think, having spent so much time on it, I would have some answers.
I don’t, really. I’m in this quest for the long haul. There are certain things that make me feel home: a warm house, the smell of coffee or bubbling soup or baking bread, sitting at a table and leaning in to flickering candlelight enough so I can see it. The weight of my puppy lying on my bare feet. The sound of cars passing on rain-drenched streets. The sound of crickets.
There are certain people, too, who make me feel home.
I have yet to put all these together in any kind of cohesive way.
Now, I’m about to move into my new Seattle apartment, at the most dreary time of year here, and I’m thinking about ways to make it home as much as I can. It’s bittersweet. I want so much to feel settled for a while, to dig in, and I have no idea what being in this new place will bring. But I have my candles and my soup pot ready.
I want to close with a quote from the introduction of The New Laurel’s Kitchen, a hippie cookbook from the 70’s. The recipes are so-so, though they were influential to me as a twenty-year-old vegetarian cook. Though their influence didn’t last, (hello, I will never use low-fat cottage chees), this idea did: “Time was—and not long ago—if you wanted to live in such a way as to be warmly connected with other people, the world supported your efforts.
Today that really is not true. If you want community in any form, or family, or home, you just about have to invent it. Your version will be unique with you.
But the first and all-important step is to dig inn where you are and “make a place.”
May we all hold space for making those places, wherever we are.