November 21, 2016

Snow and comfort

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 12:39 am by chavisory

I’ve been wanting comfort food, well, all week, to be perfectly honest.  And then I stepped off the subway tonight into the first snowfall of the year.

Climate change doesn’t quite have us yet, I told myself.

I have one pork chop, and I just dredge it in flour, salt, and pepper like I usually do, along with the whole rest of a bottle of oregano I’ve been trying to use up, and pan fry it in a little butter and a dash of olive oil.  (The mother of one of my college roommates was the person who I first saw use butter and olive oil together for really good pan frying.)

With the pork chop done, I deglazed the pan with a dash of (really cheap) white wine, and when it mostly quit bubbling, just poured the result over the pork chop.  (There’s probably a cooking term for what I did wrong there, but I don’t know what it is.)  I added some more butter to the pan (I don’t know how much, sorry.  Some more), and cooked about half a sliced plain yellow onion and half a thinly sliced pear in the butter and browned bits, with some crushed dried rosemary, and about two dashes of cinnamon, until it was all soft and slightly caramelized.

And ate the whole mess with a glass of the cheap wine and some Doctor Who, whose writing quality has really recovered well in season 9.

(I forgot to take a picture of the food like a proper blogger or a Millennial, but it tasted prettier than it looked.)

“The Zygon Inversion” feels particularly important this week.

10/10 stars, would recommend.

November 10, 2016

I can’t fix this for you and I can’t tell you what you want to hear.

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:01 pm by chavisory

This is to anyone who has ever, ever said to me “You could rule the world if you really wanted to!” who voted for or in any way enabled what happened this week.

I am pretty sure that this statement has never meant anything but a combination of “I have no actual clue either how the political world works, or who you really are,” and “I just want you to fix everything for me without me having to take seriously a single thing you say.”

And I am tired of your excuses and I am tired of you not taking responsibility for your world, and no, I cannot help you now.

Likewise, I never want to be told, ever again, “But you’re the smartest person I know!” or “You’re the most articulate person I know!” by anyone who is not prepared to listen to anything I have to say in the slightest regard.

You already know what I think.  I’ve been saying it on loop since I was a child.  Justice matters.  Bigotry is wrong.  It did not make a difference.

Now you have to make it right, because I tried.

I also can’t protect you from the emotional consequences of your choices.  There’s something I’ve realized I do a lot, which is reassuring people that everything’s really all okay after they’ve screwed up and wasted my time or caused me a lot of hurt or extra work.  And I can’t do that right now.

I can’t pretend not to be upset right now.  I’m not going to pretend to you that it’s all okay.  It’s not okay.  It’s really bad, and I can’t tell you it’s not.

Now you’re baffled at the vitriol and the anger you’re seeing in your social media?  Now you’re sad at the divisiveness?

You chose this.  When you voted for a candidate relying on a rhetoric of violence against women, of open persecution of religious minorities, of expanding blatantly racist policing practices, of undoing hard-won civil rights protections for queer people, you chose this.  We told you exactly what it was going to mean to the marginalized people in your life whose welfare you claim to care about if you voted for this man, and in full knowledge, you still did it.  So you chose this.

You do not now get to expect us not to be upset.  Your choices have had consequences.  You don’t get to expect that I will hide those consequences from you.  If you helped this happen, I have no comfort to give you.  It is all going to people who are going to need it more.

This isn’t me giving up; this is me deciding to put my effort where I actually think it can do any material good.  I’d already given some thought to it even before election day.  First, I have a book to finish editing.  It’ll be out this month.  Then what I am going to do is figure out how I can best financially, concretely support the people who I know are about to be failed really hard by social safety nets and by the communities who apparently can’t quite decide whether some of us are fully human or full citizens or what, in surviving this.

This isn’t to make you worry about me.  I always get through.

But you broke this, and now you get to fix it.  I have other shit to do.

November 1, 2016

What Every Autistic Girl Wishes Her Parents Knew

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 11:55 pm by chavisory

It’s Autistics Speaking Day, and I didn’t write anything, not only because my writing-on-command abilities have not been working quite the way I wish they were, but also because I have been proofreading and formatting the first anthology from the Autism Women’s Network, What Every Autistic Girl Wishes Her Parents Knew, which will be out this month (if it kills me. ; )

There are so many lines in this book that it’s been killing me for months not to be able to share or quote publicly yet.  Every single author has something important, wise, and necessary to say, and I couldn’t be more thankful to all of them.

Visit the book website to see our teaser video and sign up to be notified on release day!

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[Image reads “What Every Autistic Girl Wishes Her Parents Knew” and depicts three girls drawn in cartoon style:  One has blonde hair and blue eyes, wears a gray shirt and a bow tie and is using a cane.  One has brown skin, black hair, and green eyes, wears a blue shirt, and is sitting in a wheelchair.  One has olive skin, brown hair, and brown eyes, wears a pink dress, and waves at the audience.]

Art by Haley Moss, editing/design by Erin Human.

October 20, 2016

October Sky

Posted in City life, Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:33 pm by chavisory

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October 13, 2016

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 2:01 am by chavisory

I know it’s been quiet around here lately.  It’s not an intentional silence or hopefully an overly long one.

I could make the expected excuses about being busy (true), or that I went from unemployed to very employed in a blink (true), or that I’m working intensely on finishing up another project (true).  Which are all true, but not the whole reasons.

One factor is that I actually have a great deal that I feel like I need to write, but most of which I probably can’t publish.  Not now and possibly not ever.  For either personal or other reasons.  But they still feel like important things to say, and to commit to paper, so I’m dedicating some time to doing that.

I halfway considered getting a secret blog for some of it (yes, I use a pseudonym here, but most of my social network knows that this is me, and a very minor amount of research using information I’ve provided would probably tell you who I am), but honestly I’m just not up for the work of maintaining yet another internet identity and ensuring that it remains secret.

I’ve gotten bad at splitting my identity up into pieces.

Not unrelatedly, I’ve found myself irritated with a lot of my own writing.  Simultaneously with how much I feel compelled to over-explain, and how much I feel like I have to leave out.  I’m working on both of those things, with trusting my voice and my words, and saying everything that actually needs saying, with less concern for a potential audience.

The result is writing that I’m happier with, and also less able to publish.

The third thing is that I’ve been feeling a little futile about blogging.  I know that’s not really true.  I know I’ve written valuable things.  A couple of which have been republished and are actually now getting me paid on a semi-regular basis.

But I look at what’s happening politically, and…too many of my posts from four to five years ago are just recyclable.  I look at what’s happening in the world, particularly with regards to police violence and Black Lives Matter, and I just don’t even know what I can say to people who really don’t believe it’s happening.  Or don’t see a problem.  I feel like I’ve been saying a lot of the same things for a long time, and not very much is different.

And maybe that’s self-important, to think that it should be.  But it seems time to go in a slightly different direction, and I’m not entirely sure what that is yet.

September 6, 2016

Red sky at night

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:40 am by chavisory

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We didn’t get hit with a tropical storm.

August 16, 2016

Deprivation of privacy and other thoughts

Posted in Marginalization tagged , , , at 1:03 am by chavisory

{This post is adapted from comments made elsewhere.  Also there’s profanity.}

From this post (Stop Isolating Autistic Adults and Calling it “Community-Based Housing“):

“It is dangerous to reveal private details about disabled people online—in part because it reinforces the narratives that we are burdens, people no one would miss if we just disappeared, or it tells people that it’s understandable to abuse and kill us because we are such burdens, and let’s all sympathize about what burdens our kids are.”

I want to draw attention to this quote because…in the neurodiversity and self-advocacy communities, we often draw parallels between the kind of thinking that excuses revealing personal or humiliating details about a child’s life online, or other various ways that disabled kids are treated differently from typically-developing kids, and the kind of thinking that ultimately excuses more overt abuse, dehumanization, and murder.

I think that those parallels are often true and justified.

But persistently violating someone’s privacy over time also just establishes a standard (to both that person and everyone around them) that it’s acceptable to persistently violate their privacy over time.

And that might seem like a small thing, comparatively speaking, but it is actually a harm in its own right, to set a precedent that a certain person, or that a certain kind of person, isn’t entitled to the same privacy and respect that other people are.

Teaching someone that they have no right to basic privacy is its own harm.

I think, having been at this a few years, that a lot of parents feel that drawing parallels between very common blogging practices, and (relatively) rare occurrences of murder or outrageous physical abuse, is hyperbolic and unhelpful and tars most frustrated, lonely, exhausted parents who are really trying the best they know how with too broadly incriminating a brush.

In some ways, I think that they are right. I know that the very vast majority of parent bloggers would never dream of deliberately harming their disabled children, don’t think of them as burdens who they wish would just disappear, and are horrified, not sympathetic, when abuse and murders come to light. No one has to convince me of that.

Not that I don’t think that the relationship between those things, and far more mundane mistreatment and ways of talking about autistic people isn’t real or isn’t dangerous; I think it is.

But often I think that jumping straight to the most rare and extreme consequences predictably inspires defensiveness and dismissal of what feel like ridiculous accusations, because most parents do find them unthinkable. (This isn’t a criticism of the author of this piece. This is a community-wide tendency, which in many cases is justified, and in some cases, I think, is less effective as a first line of argument.)

And what also gets lost is that these seemingly little, daily, constant violations—having physical discomfort or boundaries ignored, or having sensitive information revealed to an audience of strangers without your consent—are themselves a significant harm, even if an unintentional one. They don’t have to lead straight to overt dehumanization and murder in order to be wrong. They teach people subjected to them that they should not be able to expect the same level of consideration and respect as other people do.

Depriving someone of privacy over time—even in seemingly mundane and insignificant ways—erodes their sense of their own right to privacy over time.

That has consequences for the whole rest of a person’s life. That alone should be enough to be objectionable.

There are a couple of things I want to say about the comments on this article as well:

  1. “I am glad that you are a vocal self-advocate. I applaud your ability to do this. However, there are many who do not have a voice or are unable to convey their feelings and views. The person in the article is one. My daughter is another. And there are many, many others. So, what is your solution to help these individuals seek life opportunities?”

This is not a remotely new question, and yet people still throw this in our faces as if we’ve never heard it or thought of it before. As if we’ve never considered this, never encountered people more significantly disabled than ourselves, or even as if some of our fellow self-advocates aren’t, in fact, the very people they’re talking about, who have high support needs and can’t easily make their needs and desires understood.

As if we’re suddenly going to go “Oh, wow, we never thought of that! You’re right, some of us have more intensive needs than others, and that just undermines our whole entire belief system about the civil rights of disabled people.”

As if the self-advocacy and neurodiversity movements haven’t been answering this criticism for decades.

Parents, please, please take a little bit of time and read about the history of the disability rights movements. This discussion is not new, and some of the people who have been having it for many years have won some really important advances for people like your children. Read Jenny Morris’s Pride Against Prejudice, read about the history of isolated, planned farming communities and the Olmstead decision. Read Cal Montgomery’s “Critic of the Dawn,” and the discussions that happened here (the whole series, and all the comments, are well worth it) and here (again, all the comments).  There are a lot of instances in which we don’t want the same things, but there are a lot where we very much do, but I see people who seem to just not know the history of these issues trying to reinvent the wheel.

I have been following this very same debate since about 2004, but it has been going on for longer than I’ve been alive. Please familiarize yourself with it. You’re wondering how it’s possible that someone like your child could ever live in the community without you? Well, some of the people telling you it’s possible are the ones who have been coming up with solutions and insisting on her right to access them for a very long time.

You’re right, I’m very lucky to have the capabilities I do and relatively few support needs. I know. I’ve also come of age looking up to the activism of people who can’t speak, can’t live on their own, can’t manage their own personal care needs, who have been institutionalized or narrowly avoided institutionalization. We know that such people exist. Our positions about the housing and self-determination rights of disabled people include them. In many cases, were pioneered by them.

None of which means that solutions are easy or magical. But it really is not the case that we never thought to ask the question and it just destroys our whole position.

  1. “With us parents, it is our lifetime experience with our loved ones that gives us the right to plan their futures for when we are not there to advocate for them.”

If autistic/neurodiversity advocates were the ones saying “Because their disabilities are more severe than ours, your children deserve fewer rights to self-determination than we do. Your children don’t deserve to live in our communities, don’t deserve legal protection from wage and housing discrimination, and you should be forced to make all their decisions for them for the rest of your life…”

Parents would have a shit fit.

That would never, ever fly with you.

But we mostly aren’t the ones saying that. And it goes mostly unchallenged by non-disabled parents when other parents all but say just that in mainstream media coverage of autism and developmental disability.

Why is that?

I’m afraid I already know the answer, but I’m curious. Why is that?

July 29, 2016

I’m not addressing this to Trump supporters. I don’t think there’s anything left I can say that I haven’t been saying that will matter to you.

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 3:34 pm by chavisory

I’m addressing this to mainstream moderates and conservatives who don’t like your options right now.  This is brief, but something that I’ve been thinking for the past few weeks about how to say.

I will not ever tell someone to vote against their own conscience.  I don’t think I have that right.

But…If we were in some kind of inverted situation from that in which we find ourselves presently, in which there were no viable liberal or progressive candidate, and Trump or someone much like him were running in the general election against a more traditional conservative or Republican… Just for instance, Jeb Bush or Lindsey Graham or someone much like them…  Someone with whom I had really serious ideological disagreements, but someone who I thought had a basic core respect for the American democratic process, for Constitutional government, for civil rights… Someone who undoubtedly had the experience and temperament necessary to be President,

I would vote for that person.

Given the choice between a conservative with whom I had very deep political disagreements but who I believed, at the end of the day, had a conscience and an ability to govern, and an honest-to-God authoritarian with neither…

Not without a sense of conflict, but I’d vote for the person whose decisions on behalf of our country could even be subject to the effects of legislation, protest, advocacy, evidence, and rational debate.

Just… think about it, is all I’m asking.

July 9, 2016

Silhouette

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 9:53 pm by chavisory

FullSizeRender

View from the Ethan Allen Express, stuck just outside of Albany, NY earlier this week.

June 29, 2016

So many books, so little time…

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 4:03 pm by chavisory

My current book list.  It’s like a to-do list but worse in how it always gets longer but never shorter.

I think it’s hopeless, y’all.

IQ84—Haruki Murakami
The Quiet American—Graham Greene
Neuromancer—William Gibson
The Jungle Book—Rudyard Kipling
Darwin’s Cathedral—David Sloan Wilson
Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay–Christopher Benfey
River Horse—William Least Heat-Moon
A Treatise on Atonement—Hosea Ballou
Art and Fear—David Bayles and Ted Orland
Gender Shock—Phyllis Burke
All the Light We Cannot See—Anthony Doerr
The Introvert’s Way—Sophia Dembling
Theater of the Mind—Neil Verma
The Last Days of Dogtown—Anita Diamant
Angelic Orders—TR Hummer
Black Hawk Down—Mark Bowden
Gay New York—George Chauncy
The Lost Estate—Alain-Fournier
The Cellist of Sarajevo–Steven Galloway
God Help the Child—Toni Morrison
Mapping Charlie—Jane Meyerding
Room—Emma Donoghue
Saga—Brian K. Vaughn
Lagoon—Nnedi Okorafor
What We Have Done—Fred Pelka
River of Shadows—Rebecca Solnit
Saving Alex—Alex Cooper
Starvation Heights—Gregg Olsen
Burial Rites—Hannah Kent
Hugo & Rose—Bridget Foley
Cold Mountain—Charles Frazier
The Life of Elves—Muriel Barbery
The Lynching—Larry Leamer
Marrow Island—Alexis M. Smith
One Dead, Two To Go–Elena Hartwell

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