Disabled Writers

I’ve read over this article on the Poetry Foundation website numerous times, mostly trying to give myself a jolt in my personal statement and also it’s rare to find an article on disabled writers (which is ironic because that’s half their arugment…the lack thereof).

Recently, I was setting up a few submissions and it crossed my mind, what if I submitted a non-disabled poem to a journal that’s focus was the disability community? Would they want it? If I wrote a poem about falling in love, wouldn’t it still be on a technical level about a woman with a disability, falling in love? Wouldn’t every aspect of one’s words have an underlining acknowledgment of the disability? If a poet of color wrote a poem about love, you wouldn’t strip away their race because the poem is about love and not skin color. I think it’s interesting that disabled poetry becomes a one-sided publishing endeavor but with gender, race, or class journals are merely there to support the authors.
I enjoyed what each writer pointed out, but I only wished they had more regarding other disabilities, besides the physical and deafness. (Funny the disability community ignoring its own community and leaving a chunk of us out.) Because I have my own set of problems and issues I deal with daily, along with the notion of hiding in plain sight. I don’t have a wheelchair or a missing leg to account for my daily struggle. People don’t see me as disabled right off the bat, but I go into panic mode when trying to count coins or trying to spell the word, “especially.” I fear cashier jobs and publishing jobs worried they will find out and think less of me. Teaching a tiring job of showing up an hour early to fix my spelling errors on the board, practice saying each word in the lesson plan, to hide my disability.
That’s where I disagree with some of the writers in the article. I do wish to protest, to talk about the pity moments because sitting down to write is a battle itself for me sometimes, because I will spend 20 minutes trying to remember how to spell a word, or going back and changing every “now” to a “know.” Same with “see” and “she.” So I’m sure the poet in a wheelchair, the deaf fiction writer and I all have a different set of struggles.
I guess I’m simply trying to say is, though the disability community has become a larger part of the writing community, I still believe most readers imagine only wheelchairs, sign language, and failing bodies when they see “disabled” across the page. When voices of the community also are writing about torn identities, hidden self and trying to make do with missing tools.
Plus how can I really make someone understand what it’s like not understanding language? It would be like trying to write a poem about taking one’s breath away, which is more an expression of feeling than a literal idea.

Beware: You May Fall in Love with Me

New York Times went over what psychologist Arthur Aron believes are 36 essential questions that can accelerated falling in love. Aron explores the idea of intimacy between complete strangers by having them ask each other a series of 36 personal questions and answers.

So I decided, like any rational woman trying to avoid editing her own writing to give these questions a shot. *You’re supposed to answer these questions with “a partner” but I have no stranger, I have no man to test this out with, so I will just write out my portion.

You’ve been warned, you may fall in love with me. (Not).

Set I

  1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? I’ve been wrecking my mind over who I would want to have dinner with. Between famous writers to my mentors (who I have dinner with at least a few times a year) If I’m going to be a genie with this dinner, perhaps I can say I want to have dinner with someone who would end up having amazing sex with me after dinner. That’s the choice I’m hoping for, knowing it ain’t happening anymore.
  2. Would you like to be famous? In what way? I don’t think I want to be famous. I spill food on my clothes and I like going to the bank looking a mess and buying food in questionable outfits. If I was famous I would be plastered all over tabloid covers with the caption “What was she thinking?” Perhaps in the most unrealistic idea of wanting to be famous, would be to have a collection of poetry sell well. That would be marvelous.
  3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why? Better question would be when don’t I? I always prep phone conversations. As a person with high anxiety and someone involved in the speech community, it’s important to prep my conversations. Plus if it’s an important phone call you’d be crazy, not to prep the conversation!
  4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you? Gosh, I’ve answered this before: Drinking tea, working on my writing, chatting with friends, eating some good food and some good sex. Watching a movie and cuddling with someone would be nice right about now. Or: Going on a hike, reading a wonderful book and lying out somewhere beautiful.
  5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else? Last time I sang to myself was yesterday driving home from work. I sang “Flawless” by Beyonce, “OctaHate” by Ryn Weaver and “Come And Get Your Love” by Redbone. The last I sang to someone else, umm probably when I was drunk  and it was probably “My humps.” Get me drunk enough, ask me to sing, I’ll probably sing.
  6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want? My mind, because once the mind goes its really hard to enjoy life, to enjoy who you are. If the mind goes how can the body really stick around? Or why would the body want to?
  7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die? Sometimes when I’m driving I picture a car slamming into me or I have these terrible dreams where a man tries to rape me. But no secret hunch, because my hunches are always wrong.
  8. (Can’t do 8, about a partner)
  9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful? For my learning disability. I’m not sure who I would be if not for carrying this particular part of myself. I’m aware my disability has given me compassion, empathy and the willingness to walk in another’s shoes.
  10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? Maybe to be less anxious and more of a risk taker. 
  11. (Can’t do this one….partner)
  12.  If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?  To only need an hour or two of sleep a night and to never feel drowsy. 

Set II

  1.  If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know? The sane, logical, what how I know I should answer with, I don’t want to know about my future, we aren’t meant to. But the insane side of me, who peeks at season finals and awards shows online before I watch them would want to know about her future. I would never ask about myself because I’m sure I know all about my negative flaws and insecurities I mean I do spend 24/7 with myself. 
  2. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it? Not really. I want to travel more and I will eventually I want to get my masters and I will. Geez questions gives us a break, dreams are called dreams for a reason. It’s a work in progress. 
  3. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life? I’m never sure how to word this, because it’s not exactly receiving my bachelor’s degree. I want more than that now. How do you really explain to someone that your greatest accomplishment is overcoming everything you thought you would never could? The way I write, the way I read, the way I believe I can achieve so much more, that’s my greatest accomplishment.
  4. What do you value most in a friendship? Trust and honesty
  5. What is your most treasured memory? How can anyone just have one treasured memory? I treasure the memories I have camping and looking up at the stars. The national parks I’ve been too. I treasure each moment I get up on stage and perform my poetry. Actually, I also really treasure when I performed two of these Dramatic Interpretations. (Won’t give out the names) but I really felt like myself and another person all at once. That moment where you finally take a breath, magic.
  6. What is your most terrible memory? I have two memories that are so strong it feels like they happened yesterday: 1. When I was in kindergarten and I saw my dog get hit by a car. 2. IWhen I was very little I had a brain scan. It was terrible, dark, cold room. The cap on my head looked like a swimmers cap and the paste from the metal rods in my hair twisted and hurt my head. I knew why I was there because one of the teachers in the special education program wanted to figure out if I was autistic or not. One of the first times, I really felt like something was wrong with me, but I couldn’t see it or feel it, but I understood that I wasn’t like everyone else in my class. 
  7. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why? Of course, I would change how I was living. I would only have one year left. I would go do all the things I was putting on hold and spend time with those that mean the most to me. Which then begs the question, why are you putting anything on hold? Why not live life to the fullest! *Mind blown.
  8. What does friendship mean to you? It’s like a relationship without sex. I don’t expect them to be around me 24/7 or to talk with me every day, but its nice to know they are there and they care about me and they are thinking about me. Friendship is the give and take, the making fun of each other and drinking in sweats, watching terrible movies and picking up awful drive-thru foods like McDonalds at 2AM.
  9. What roles do love and affection play in your life? A very big role in my life that I continually try to ignore. 
  10. (Can’t…no partner)
  11. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s? My intermediate family is pretty close, but they stay out of my dating life, etc. I like it that way. But my parents are very warm and caring people. I’ve always been told by my friends and cousins how lucky I am to have parents like mine. I’m very thankful for the childhood I had. I may have struggled with my learning disability but I had great parents to hold my hand along the way.
  12. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother? It’s no Gilmore Girls relationship (thank goodness) But it gets the job done. We would clash when I was a teenager (I know, how unusual) But I have a great relationship with my mother.

Set III

  1. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “ (I’ll try to do this one) We don’t know each other. We may never meet. Yet we must feel close to this point of the questions.
  2. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “ Speech and Debate, books and writing with.
  3. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know. (No partner, but I can answer this out to space) I can’t cook, I’m too hard on myself, I worry I’m not good at sex or no one will want to be with me, in the long run. I hate being belittled or being put down. I’m terrible at taking medicine. I can be super organized or very messy. The most important part of love for me is having a best friend in the person I choose to date, to sleep with, to be in a relationship with. I want a best friend in that person.
  4. (Need partner)
  5. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life. I have to share just one. Gosh, I don’t even nowhere to begin. I remember one embarrassing time I was in the middle of anal with one of the guys I was seeing and he was at his mother’s large house (his house was being renovated) I’m sure she walked in for a hot second. He didn’t notice, but I did.
  6. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself? In front of someone: last month in front of my parents. By myself: Monday night.
  7. (Need partner)
  8. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about? Rape jokes and “you’re a woman” jokes. It’s hard to specify exactly want not to joke about in front of me. I think its just understanding and knowing the limits of a joke.
  9. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? I’m not sure if I can answer this one exactly how I would want to.
  10. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why? Only one item?! Damn! I guess this old copy of The Velveteen Rabbit. It’s a really old copy and books mean so much to me.
  11. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why? My little brother, because he’s my little brother. I would hate to know his life, was cut short. Plus I would miss having one of my closest friends around.
  12. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen. Ok, I was going to do this one but after a page worth of writing I realized no, too much. Wanna know about my problems, want to help? Email me: astirwriter@gmail.com

So, feeling the love yet? A warm feeling? Heart beating fast If so then you should get that checked out?

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The One Who Changed Everything

I’ve been avoided this post because this one was going to be next. He was my next boyfriend and I wasn’t sure I knew what to write about, to talk about. I feel nothing about this situation now.

“So many events and moments that seemed insignificant add up. I remember how for the last Valentine´s Day, N gave flowers but no card. In restaurants, he looked off into the middle distance while my hand would creep across the table to hold his. He would always let go first. I realize I can´t remember his last spontaneous gesture of affection.”
― Suzanne Finnamore

To Know the Start, You Must Begin at the End

It was August, but I don’t remember the sticky T-shirt feeling your suppose to have during this month, or the sweaty walk up his flight of stairs and the continuing question, “It’s too hot to not have air units.” But I remember the wind, his window was open, even though he was nowhere near. I had two more hours before I would pick him up at the airport. I had to beg and plead with him to pick him up, to spend time with him for the night. His texts were worse than a sigh, he wanted to sleep and didn’t seem to have any interest in having sex, even though we hadn’t seen each other in three months.

Did I know he was cheating on me? 

In many ways yes, I knew. My mind had already made many of the connections, but the rest of my body wasn’t ready to catch up and learn he had cheated on me for five months (longer than I assumed). He hadn’t just been sleeping with some girl, but he loved (maybe still loves) her. He introduced her to his family during a vacation they took together, he stole my car to see her, he took out the photos of me and filled them with her tall, skinny body, her red lipstick and every photo of her showed had a soft smile.

Walking up his stairs that night didn’t feel different. But it was colder, for an August night it was almost chilly. And he didn’t even try and hide the beautiful lacy cami folded up so neatly, so gently. It wasn’t mine and I was sure this wasn’t a gift. Her love letters laid out across his bed, his poems written about her, some sweet and most sexual poems describing her breast, her pale skin, the way she fucked the best.

This girl wrote poetry (at this time I didn’t even imagine I would want to become a writer), she was edgy and had the same dark sadness he carried. They were perfect for each other and they figured this out before I ever did. Before he decided to let me know. And I knew her, pretty well actually. I had hugged her a few times, stopped by her birthday (where they met, were my roommates pointed out an uncomfortable flirting vibe)She was an avid activist and feminist woman and she was best friends with my best friend.

Walking down his stairs was a completely different story. My knees shook, the room seemed so hot and I didn’t feel the need to cry. I met up with my brother to pick up my cheating boyfriend from the airport. I hugged my cheating boyfriend, I smiled at his return and he mostly spoke with my brother. I finally noticed the distance had been there for months.

His main reason for cheating on me: He was in love and he thought we had broken up already. When he dropped me off at the airport, we hugged and a got teary eyed. We said goodbye and he though this was our break-up. Even though I spoke on the phone with him, text him and told him I loved him.



Random Memories

I remember finding one thing, this “list” he wrote. It had all the names of the women he had ever been with or loved/cared about. We weren’t ranked with numbers but in more of factual way.Every girl had two things like, Betty: Pretty eyes, kinky, Mary: Nice hands, enjoys going out. 

Mine were: “Sporty” and “Can get men easy”. 

Both were night owls, but those weird night owls who like to walk around parks late at night. My EX use to try and get me to join him, but I hated walking in public places at night. I wanted to be at home reading books, working on papers, watching a film. I would later find out they would go off together for walks in the park less than a mile from our houses. Yes, crazy to think we all lived in the same neighborhood. I later would tell my best friend about this, the one who lived with this girl and she would be shocked and say, “I remember her telling the house she was going on a late night walk and it was a normal thing for her to do.” I would say, “It was a normal thing for him to do too.”

He and I would try to be friends. I would forgive them both, because that’s what a young lady does. She doesn’t show her pain, she puts on a good face. That’s what the stories show. “You don’t want to be the bitch” So you met her, you welcome her into your house, you hear him talk about her hair, how her body is thin in just the right places. How she loves poetry, loves writing and how she doesn’t fit in with the world. I would break ties with him a year after it all happened, because he wouldn’t admit that stealing my car was a bad thing. He blames me for getting him fired, for ruining his life, for making her leave him. So he kicked me out of his house screaming at me, cussing me out and flipping me off.

We never spoke again and I never want to but he did text me congrats when I graduated, he text all these nice words and a bit of me wanted to text him back, but I will never let myself forget how he treated me. So no I will never speak to him again. I don’t want to.


But no, I don’t feel hatred towards him, sadness or regret. I feel nothing. Not the numb kind of nothing. Like when the dentist injects the novocaine into your gums, but the numbing sense something is missing that was once there. Like you once had wings but they were clipped, or all your hair falls out at once. I have forgotten so much about him and our time together. It feels like I’ve been thrown into the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 

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Who am I now after three years? A young woman trying to get her shit together. I think it’s the best way to describe me. I have more trust issues than I can count and that I was aware of a year ago. The body issues I never had before and I’m scared another guy will call me stupid, put my down, grab me hard.

I spent a lot of time between other guys sheets trying to prove I’m not worthless

Today I sit in my room looking for old emails, letter, anything from this relationship to give me a jump start for this post and I realized I got rid of everything. It’s all gone and I just feel numb.

Questions & Answers

WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF PERFECT HAPPINESS?

Watching snow fall outside my favorite coffee shop as I write and drink green tea. Of course, my friends would be sitting next to me talking about books. Also, I would be wearing a comfy sweater, a pair of pants and cute brown boots. My hair well kept and not a lion’s mane.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR?

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

WHICH HISTORICAL FIGURE DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH?

California native Joey Chestnut who devoured 40 1/2 slices of pizza in ten minutes.

WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?

It’s hard to pick one living person to most admire, especially when I’ve only been alive for 25 years. I’m going to say the majority of my teachers throughout my educational experience, especially those in grade school and high school. I’m extremely lucky to happen upon such wonderful teachers. These Individuals encouraged my creativity, my imagination and my love for teaching.

WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN YOURSELF?

Over thinking previous conversations, especially those with attractive men. I tend to stew in the stupid conversations I create and fail at.

WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN OTHERS?

Self-righteous, overly critical, all around shitty listeners. Also, add objectification of someone’s body in the mix too.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE?

My book? I’m not sure I really have one. I’m a fairly cheap person and break things a lot. Like I cannot own a nice pair of sunglasses because I will break them within a month. I can’t have nice things.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE JOURNEY?

I’m not sure if I could pick one journey. I suppose as a whole, traveling as a child to the various National Parks. Also, more recently the few years I spent in the midwest. I miss my second home terribly and I’m well aware this second home has helped shaped my personality.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE MOST OVERRATED VIRTUE?

Virginity

ON WHAT OCCASION DO YOU LIE?

When I have slept in too late and I receive a phone call and they ask, “where you sleeping?” No I was not (lie) Or when I don’t sleep at all and someone asks, “did you sleep?” Yes, of course, I did. (lie).

WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR APPEARANCE?

My face tends to break out in random moments of my life. My face doesn’t realize I’m no longer a teenage. (I’m twenty-five face! Twenty-fucking-five)

WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST DESPISE?

Ugh Rush Limbaugh and any other man who think I’m a walking bimbo/baby making, pie cookin’ gal. Fuck you!

WHICH WORDS OR PHRASES DO YOU MOST OVERUSE?

“I’m hungry” “Come back to Jesus” or “It’s been a day.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST REGRET?

Not being single enough as a teenager and not letting relationships end sooner. I’ve spent too much time and energy dating shitty people. I let a lot of guys treat me like shit. I’ve wasted a lot of my time, money, and heart on guys I thought cared for me.

WHAT OR WHO IS THE GREATEST LOVE OF YOUR LIFE?

What: Tea, Netflix, Poetry, reading, Laffy-taffy, Mac, my cats, work

Who: I have none, I am single, sexless and hanging out with my cats

WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU HAPPIEST?

Ugh, I hate when these things ask in the past tense sense.

 My poetry workshops classes. I loved those classes to pieces and most of my week was spent waiting for those classes to roll around.

WHICH TALENT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE?

Is flying a talent? But, I would love to know how many licks it would take to get to the center of the tootsie roll pop. I think that’s a prized talent.

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT STATE OF MIND?

Stressed out, hungry and pondering my non-existent love life.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Learning to let go of stress and frustration.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOUR FAMILY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Oh god, they’re all crazy, no one wish could fix that crazy.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?

Majoring in English. It’s a bit unreal if you ever knew me as a kid. I was always below my reading level, couldn’t spell for shit and never thought my writing would ever be of value. To have graduated and now to be teaching English is something my younger self would have never imagined.

IF YOU WERE TO DIE AND COME BACK AS A PERSON OR THING, WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE?

Knowing my luck, a goat.

IF YOU COULD CHOOSE WHAT TO COME BACK AS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

A butterfly!

WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION?

My stuff dog patches. He still lives in my bedroom at home. I’ve had him ever since I lost my stuffed elephant Buddy. Long story, but when I was very little I had a stuffed elephant named Buddy but somehow I lost him and I have this vague memory of my dad carrying me around Toys R Us to pick out a new little friend. That’s how I got patches.

WHAT DO YOU REGARD AS THE LOWEST DEPTH OF MISERY?

Having nothing to eat.

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO LIVE?

I would love to see the East Coast! I miss the snow, the leaves changing. I would love to try out another home with snow, colorful leaves and wonderful coffee houses.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE OCCUPATION?

My old job teaching high school speech and debate. Gosh, those kids had the biggest hearts.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST MARKED CHARACTERISTIC?

My adorable clumsiness.

WHAT IS THE QUALITY YOU MOST LIKE IN A MAN?

Can cook and enjoys a good whiskey.

WHAT IS THE QUALITY YOU MOST LIKE IN A WOMAN?

Enjoys a good beer and can converse about more than hunky men and their diets.

WHAT DO YOU MOST VALUE IN YOUR FRIENDS?

Trust.

WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE WRITERS?

Joan Didion, Margaret Atwood, Terry Galloway, Sharon Olds, Bob Hicok, Mary Shelly, Andrea Gibson, Jane Austin, Lucille Clifton, Truman Capote, Richard Matheson, Franz Kafka, Anne Rice, Gillian Flynn, Sherman Alexie, Simon Ortiz, Emily Dickinson, Roald Dahl, E.B White, Margery Williams, Jessica Valenti, Elizabeth Gilbert, Hilary Winston, Mike McGee, Anis Mojgani, George Watsky, Carrie Rudzinski, Sam Cook, Tony Hoagland, Amy Gerstler, Mary Szybist, Kim Addonizio, Stephen Dunn, J.R.R. Tolkien, Joy Harjo, Azra Tabassum, Keith Desserich, Derrick Brown, Staceyvann Chin, Suheir Hammad, Sonia Sanchez, Kenneth Arkind, Mayda del Valle, Bassey Ikpi, Carlos Andres Gomez.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE HERO OF FICTION?

Charlotte, from Charlotte’s Web 

WHO ARE YOUR HEROES IN REAL LIFE?

My teachers

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE NAMES?

Avery, Adam, Cameron, Colette, Linus, (Ok, Linus for a cat) haha…imagine a child named Linus. Nope. haha

WHAT IS IT THAT YOU MOST DISLIKE?

Feeling sticky. Yuck! And the sound of someone biting into a wet towel! Dear god! I hate even thinking about it!

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO DIE?

Knowing I did everything I wanted in life and in my sleep would be nice.

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?

“Hold onto the rail going down stairs”

“You can wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up first.”

“Eat whatever the fuck you want”