I am (not) the woman

I am not the woman that inspires sonnets or epic love songs
I am not the muse of artists that paint and sculpt
beautiful works of art for all to revel in
I am not the woman that is the object of deep affection
in the literary masterpieces that have yet to be completed
I am not the woman that arouses the love of another to be bestowed
Upon me

I am the woman that stirs up the internal rage of others
that they release Upon me like an unforeseen storm
I am the woman that inspires the need to give abuse-
emotional, psychological, physical, sexual
heaped upon me until i break
and i am left with nothing, but
my own self-abuse
I am the woman that arouses the literary prowess for hate mail
and sexual harassment
I am the girl that was planned, and yet, still
Unwanted
I am the woman that brings the wanderlust out in those
who walk through my doors
only to exit and never return

I am the woman left with self-doubt and
shame and
anger for them,
but
blame for myself
for not being the woman
that is
Loved

The Resulting Exhaustion from Living Under Thumb

i have suffered more abuse than i care to remember
i carry the weight of that trauma on my back like
a pack mule loaded down for the long haul

The pain is centered in me like a gun scoped for its target
Every word, every glance, every threat, every action
From Them
Makes me jump and flinch
To relive those countless moments again
Sleep does not ease the torment
For it only brings more

i am cut off from the World
The World that tells me that i’m not good enough
Worth enough
Valuable enough
to be kept safe
from rape and harassment and words that sting as hard as unwelcome
hands and dicks
from the body that has betrayed me with
one medical problem after another
from the racism and colonialism of white Amerika and
yes, even from the other “othered” folks of color
from the sexual binary loving hetero and gay folks that think i’m
an oddity, a farce
from the harsh reality of deciding if selling my body is the only way i,
with all my fancy degrees, can keep a roof over my head

Because being a woman
a native
a bisexual
poor and disabled
In this Great Land of ours
Means being Abused
In a continual cycle of
Wash, Rinse, & Repeat
By those with the Power to do us harm
To traumatize us so that we will stay
Under thumb

Because being a woman
a native
a bisexual
poor and disabled
In this Great Land of ours
Means being Alienated
With the assumptions and questions They sucker punch us with

“I didn’t mean it like that. Don’t be so sensitive. ‘In my day birth control was an aspirin between the knees.’ Well you shouldn’t have been out alone at night. You’re Indian? Tell me about your people! Can you be monogamous? Do you have STDs since you’ve had dick in you? Dude, you’re bi? Wanna have a threesome? You don’t LOOK disabled! Chronic pain isn’t real. You’re just trying to get pain pills. Food stamps are for the lazy. Get a job!”

Because being a Woman
a Native
a Bisexual
Poor and Disabled
In this great land of ours
Means being Angry

Because there is no community
No safe space
for us
We are in a world of struggle
For survival
For recognition
For the right not to merely survive
But to thrive
In the face of those that would rather see us kept in our place as mere bodies to rape, steal from, and labor for their privilege and to die unseen and unheard so as not to disturb the residents in the ivory towers

Because being a Woman
a Native
a Bisexual
Poor and Disabled
In this great land of ours
Means being tired
Tired of the abuse
Tired of the alienation
Tired of the anger
Just tired

I am
Oh so
Tired

I’m Alive, I’m Alive

I apologize for my unbelievably long departure. I never meant to be gone this long. I have repeatedly, and I do mean repeatedly, moved various blog posts on my calendar over the last four months. Things in my life have been haywire, hectic, shall I say hellish even? Oh yes, hellish is the appropriate word.

In the last week (or was it two?) I realized that I can’t make myself, or rather I don’t want make myself, write whatever is on my calendar. I set these goals for myself (finish the marathon piece, write about my fears of running for office, work on my book, work on a few other various pieces for publication), but the proverbial shit hit the fan a few months ago and I’ve been ducking from it for months. It’s rather hard to write when you’re trying to keep the feces at bay. Call this artistic blockage or nonsense, but it is what it is.

From here out I’ll do what I can to stick to blog pieces that are in an order that make sense to you, my readers, but I’ve come to realize that this blog is meant to be cathartic, not scheduled. I will finish blog pieces that I start, such as my last one, but sometimes there are other things that I need to write about. I’ve had so much that I’ve had to share over the last few months that I’ve neglected to write because I felt that the only post I needed to put up next was about the Boston
bombing.

I’ll finish my Marathon bombing piece soon enough, but here’s a taste of what I’ve dealt with in the last four months:

-Gave up my affordable apartment that offered me the only bit of stability in my life to find a place with my “partner”
-I’ve suffered from unbelievable amounts of stress living with my “partner”
-Ended up in the hospital for a few days with bacteria colitis
-Managed a City Council campaign until I finally had to leave because my candidate was a bad fit
-Have been through horrible ulcer pain
-Suffered numerous panic attacks
-Have drank a great deal more than I did before moving in with the “partner”
-Felt more alone yet more burdened then before the cohabitation
-Stopped caring for myself in order to care for my “partner”
-Became horribly ill again with another bacteria infection

This list could go on and on….

From here out I promise to do my best to finish blog pieces that I start, but I also promise to stay true to myself and write what moves me at the moment.

I may post some old writings here and there that I put together over the last few months as well. I hope you enjoy.

-Jen

There Simply is No Catchy Title to Give

When I decided to create this blog I told myself that I would not use it as a forum to critique events, political or otherwise, unless I felt that they had a direct impact on me and my path to wellness. This has been difficult for me because I can see the impact on myself in many of life’s events, but I’ve tried to keep this blog in the direct state of I. These last few weeks, however, have left me in an emotional land of limbo where I’m simply not sure if this Alice will ever wake up.

I am still, one month later, in a state of disbelief that not one, but two bombs went off on Marathon Monday. It seems unreal to me that the city that I have always viewed as one of the cleanest and safest of the urban landscapes I’ve called home was also home to people that would cause such destruction and devastation. It’s no secret that there is no love lost between Boston and I, but overall I’ve felt much safer here than in other cities I’ve lived. The finish line area of the Boston Marathon is in a neighborhood that I love and the idea of peoples’ limbs flying through the air and lives taken there is just too ghastly to comprehend. I still have not visited the area.

April 19th was another shocking day for those of us in Boston. I awoke to find out that my neighborhood of Brighton, the neighboring areas, and the city of Watertown were on lockdown due to an early morning carjacking, a bomb throwing and gun fight with the suspected bombers, and the search for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. This all led to the injury of MBTA Police Officer Richard Donahue, Jr. and the death of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier and suspected terrorist Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

The entire city of Boston was eventually placed on lock down with baited breath full of fear. For me this made the memories of 9-11 and the Oklahoma City bombing come rushing to the surface of my consciousness. I was living in Los Angeles when 9-11 occurred and the planes that struck the towers were bound for LA. I recall LA was rather still and quiet that day as well. I was 15 and living in Abilene, TX when the OKC bombing occurred. Being an Okie though it felt as if the bomb went off in my own backyard. Despite these personal links to such horrid acts of terrorism I had never been directly in the panic zone before. I spent most of the 19th watching the news and giving updates on Facebook. The one positive that came from this tragedy-what a trite, smug, and maddening descriptor to be left with-was that I heard from friends I hadn’t spoken to in ages. Their outreach of concern was a nice reminder that I’m loved.

Eventually the lockdown was lifted and the T-slang for the MBTA system- began to run again. I did not leave my apartment until much later that night.

Part Two to come.

The Recent Disappearance of Jen

I recently suffered five weeks of miserable neck pain that ran down my psyche, my emotional well being, and left me mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted from the pain and the lack of sleep. It wasn’t long before I was snapping at people and that old feeling of hopelessness began to creep back.

In early April I underwent new Cervical and Lumbar MRIs that found my back has become worse in the last two years. Thank the Goddesses for small favors though my neck has remained the same.

Only a week before these results were delivered my physical therapist informed me that she fears my knees have plateaued. According to her I should be able to walk and stand for forty five minutes to an hour before the pain in my knees requires that I sit. I laughed when she said that. My neck and back are so bad that I can’t go ten minutes before I have to sit down. She thinks my neck and back problems are interfering with knee recovery. I could have told ya that my entire body is connected and not just a series of independent parts.

This now takes us to my appointment with a new chronic pain management doctor at Brigham and Women hospital in Boston.
Same ol’ story different day. He wanted to do steroid injections and had no other new suggestion. Blah blah. I’ve already tried them and the cost benefit analysis is not in my favor. They made me lose my hair. They fucked up my skin more than it already is. I’m currently covered in a rash that won’t go away and that is making me miserable. I don’t need to be more miserable due to skin issues or other health problems simply because I’m trying to manage my pain. Now that I’m diabetic steroids sky rocket my blood sugar and make me very sick. They run my immune system down and make me more prone to catch every virus and bacterial infection out there. A run down immune system also means that I’ll get more yeast infections than I already get. All of this and I only get moderate relief for six weeks and I can only get the shots every three months. It’s absolutely not a long term solution given how it sucks the bones of calcium and does Goddess only knows what else.

I asked about neck surgery and par for the course he was against it. He felt I wasn’t really a candidate; that my neck wasn’t structurally bad enough. My neck isn’t bad enough? My quality of life is shit. I’m in horrible pain and it just gets worse with every year and no one seems to have any new remedies for me. I’ve been living with pain since I was 14 and I’m only 33 now! I’d like to have a long, healthy, happy life. MY NECK IS BAD! Fucking fix it or find an excellent way to really manage the pain or I’ll take a goddamn knife to it myself!

Obviously I told the Doc no steroids. I want to try Botox injections next. He referred me to a Neurologist who does them. Of course I can’t get in to see her until July 11th. It occurred to me after I left though that she may not even do Botox for neck pain given that she’s a Neurologist. It may not be a good idea to do Botox for neck pain given that I get it for my migraines too. I’m going to do some research and call my current Neuro and this new one.

I was also referred me to a psychologist who does Biofeedback to help control my pain on the mental health side. Of course I can’t get in to see him until June 11th. He reluctantly gave me the name of a surgeon too.
In the mean time I’ve also faxed my MRI reports to a neck surgeon at Mass General Hospital. I don’t even get an appointment with him until he has reviewed the MRIs and decides if he thinks I’m surgical. If he doesn’t think I’m surgical then I get sent to the physiatrist in the office.

Thankfully I heard from Dr. Shin’s office telling me that he wants to see me. I have an appointment on May 17th. Here’s hoping he has some better options for me.

Welcome to the bullshit of trying to manage spine problems and chronic pain. It’s a broke down journey with a broke down body across an endless dilapidated swing bridge that’s hanging on by threads over the deepest of canyons. At least this broke down body is possessed by a woman smart enough to pack a canteen full of top notch vodka and all her trusty meds. It makes the fight across much more interesting indeed.

Coming up in my next posts:
My feelings surrounding the Boston Marathon
Thoughts on running for office as a woman in my position

See you then!

Ableism: The other -ism to Bitch Slap in the Face! Part Two

Tucker Max I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell Promotional Posters

Alright so I promised Part Two would come the day after Part One. I do apologize, but feel free to blame my neck. She’s a cruel mistress that I’m desperate to bound and gag and certainly not for any kinky kicks. Next time I’ll start with the beer and my weeks long neck flare up will be swirling down the drain *read previous post*

So here we are at the concluding part of my Ableism piece. Last you read was the definition of ableism and how it impacts disabled peoples’ lives in everyday discrimination and invisibility up to larger institutional oppression. I also began the discussion of the stereotypes that disabled people face and the two in particular that are personally enraging for myself: paternalism and desexualization, fetishization, and victimization of disabled women. In Part Two I’ll be delving into the later three. Buckle up readers, it’s going to be a furious ride.

Women=Sex. Right? Isn’t that what we’re told everyday through a variety of ways? Well not all women equal sex. If you’re a disabled woman then some make the assumption that you’re not up for the task. If you are physically able to have sex then you probably won’t be any good at it because of any limitations you suffer from. Women are devalued to the worth of our sex abilities, but as disabled women we lose all value because we are seen as unable to sexually perform well if at all.

I was on a bad date-shocked as I’m sure you all are-a few months ago and after a brief description of my knee surgeries the gentleman had the audacity to ask if I still had my “mojo.” Yes folks, my “mojo.” Not only was he enough of a cretin to think it was his right to ask this question, and on a first date no less, but we apparently time warped into the 1970s when a word like “mojo” was used. I was so taken aback by this that I wasn’t able to form a pithy come back and instead sort of sputtered a “yes” and changed the subject. Despite my attempt to move onto another topic he kept at it. He then went on about how he needed to have sex often and he just wanted to make sure I was up to fulfilling his needs. Yes, you read correctly, his needs. I soon said it was time to call it a night. During our goodbyes he invited me to his place and after being shut down flat he then repeatedly invited himself to my place. He went home to play with his “mojo” solo.

After my first knee surgery I was stuck at home for quite some time. I spent the first month primarily fading in and out of consciousness with brief moments of lucidity to painfully hobble to the bathroom, have a bite or two of food, and pop more pain pills. Around week 6 I was finally able to hold my head up on my own while still taking my all meds. As you can imagine it wasn’t long before I was pretty stir crazy. I had sparked an online conversation with someone and once I had the green light from my surgeon to go out and I felt ok enough to take a cab somewhere we made a date.

Upon telling my mom about the good news, leaving my place being the first and the date being the second, she instantly told me to be extra careful with a bit of an ominous tone to her thickly Okie accented voice. This wasn’t something she had said to me in a long time. At this point in my life she’s usually more of the vain of a plain ol’ “Be careful. Love you” than a somber warning. I followed up a flip response and asked her what the deal was. She replied that I was especially vulnerable because of my knee surgery and that he had a better chance of hurting me if he wanted to. Of course this didn’t need saying. As a woman I am aware of my vulnerability to rape and sexual attacks, and as a woman with disability said vulnerability increases greatly. There are many who would take advantage of this. Coincidentally, it was after my first knee surgery that my PTSD flared up and I began having nightmares every night again. If any woman didn’t need a reminder of her vulnerability it’s this one.

The women’s vulnerability issue of ableism feeds directly into rape culture. Anytime a woman is seen in a compromising situation society deems it appropriate for her to be taken advantage of. She’s not attacked, she’s not raped, she’s simply getting what she wanted, deserved, and asked for by being vulnerable. The promotional posters for the wretchedly misogynistic movie I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is a glorious example of ableism meeting rape culture. The posters had the tag line “Strippers Won’t Tolerate Disrespect (Yeah Right). Blind Girls Never See You Coming.” I’m going to save my comments about the stripper sentence for another time and focus solely on the blind girls remark. Let me start by saying “WOW!” These posters might as well have had a picture of a blind woman holding a sign saying “Rape me; I’m easy prey.” This is both fetishizing and victimizing.

Rape culture defines women as less than human and nothing more than a victim responsible for her own demise. Ableism defines disabled people as less than human and childlike due to their illnesses or low mobility. Through the meeting of ableism and rape culture we disabled women are seen as nothing more than easier prey than the average woman. We’re easier to attack and based on the ableistic and misogynistic notions of our culture people would not believe that sex was possible and as a result rape would not possible. Our government, schools, media, and residents cannot even decide on what rape is or if and when it’s possible for able bodied women even when it is clearly videoed, Facebooked, Tweeted, and texted in front of their faces. Even in the aftermath of such vividly clear wrong doing our media displays empathy for rapists rather than the woman who was attacked as we saw in the aftermath of the Steubenville case. If our ableistic society believes that disabled people can’t have sex and our society can’t decide on what rape of a woman is then this clearly leaves disabled women in a highly vulnerable place.

Another notion that we disabled women battle is the societal belief that no one would rape us because we’re undesirable. If we are believed when we bravely and publicly tell of our ordeals then we are met with the twisted idea that we lowly disabled women should be happy that someone cared enough to rape us because we are less worthy than an able bodied woman. The thought of being less desirable than what society deems as a so called normal woman is quite often a disgusting form of double misogyny and fat phobia that fat women face when they’ve been raped. The idea that anyone would rape a fat woman is so far fetched because culture has deemed her unattractive because she’s fat that no one believes she was raped. In the off chance she is believed then there is the sentiment that she should simply be happy someone did find her decent enough to rape. It is as if she won the big prize of a pity rape. “Dear Diary, I was finally raped today. I feel so much better about myself!”

Desexualization, fetishization, and victimization of disabled women are all part of a larger system of ableism and sexism that form together with misogyny to perfectly fall into line with America’s rape culture. Throw a dash of paternalism into the above mix and you have the perfect recipe for ableism stew. The most infuriating aspect of ableism for me is the literal and figurative invisibility from the world, including other disabled people and my so called leftist, feminist, bi, etc family. I don’t appear disabled, but I am. I cannot, we cannot, be pushed aside into disabled ghettos and forgotten. If one suffers then we all suffer. I’m suffering and I know that I’m not the only one. This is a fight for the many, not merely the few.

I’ve attempted to write with both the clarity and ferocity that these issues deserve. I’ve also attempted to channel my own personal pain and the resulting rage into two constructive posts that hopefully have given my readers further insight into the issues of ablesism and how it crosses paths with other -isms and oppressions. Obviously there are a great many more facets to ableism and the multiple forms of oppression that the many 1 out of 5 disabled people in America face everyday. I strongly encourage you to educate yourself on these issues in a respectful manner that is empowering to those of us who have disability. Now get off your ass, learn more about the issues, the policies (today Obama’s budget called for $400 mil cut to Social Security. SS pays disability!), and begin advocating!

My Neck Flareups: Will I ever see my left shoulder again?

As of today I couldn’t turn my head to the left at all. I mean not even an inch without searing pain. I woke up several times during the night thanks to the pain. This flareup has gone on for about two weeks now. Surgery sounds more amazing with each nerve shattering minute.

At 11:30pm (April 2) I was finally able to turn my head to the left almost to where my chin was aligned with the middle of shoulder without any pain. What did it take for this glorious dare devil act to occur you ask?

Step into my parlor and find out…

Throughout the day I used:

1. Ice packs on both shoulders and neck for 2o minutes

2. Heat on left shoulder for 10 minutes

3. Lidocaine patch 5% on left shoulder for 9 hours

4. 600 mg of Gabapentin

5. 2400 mg of Ibueprofin

6. 20 mg of Oxycodone

7. And lastly 1 Harpoon Celtic Ale

Clearly #7 backs up Benjamin Franklin’s claim that “beer is proof that God loves us.” Sheer genius right there.

To answer the unspoken, but powerful question on all your minds: No, I haven’t been holding back on Part Two of the Ableism post just to keep your panties wet. The literal pain in my neck has made the thought of sitting at my laptop seem akin to the torture those human rights loving folks of the Spanish Inquisition were down for. Never fear though dear readers, you’ll get Part Two when I’m damn good and ready and you’ll like it too ;)