capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Sometimes being in a wheelchair has a side benefit, if there's a hill, or a ramp anywhere in sight, you've got a toy under your butt!

From here:http://davehingsburger.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-toy.html
capriuni: a vaguely dog-like beast, bristling, saying: grah! (GRAH)
I know I've talked about this, here, before. But my recent decision to include the word "Spastic" in the title of this poem has brought the issue of how we talk about about cerebral palsy from my hippocampus to the front-left of my neocortex.

---

The following quote is the first sentence in the third paragraph on this page: Understanding Cerebral Palsy: Basic Information from WebMD.com-- a site which digests basic medical information for the lay public, and is thus often the first place many Americans go to learn about different medical conditions and symptoms.

In my Web searches regarding CP through the years, I've found this sentence quoted verbatim over and over (I swear: sometimes I think 90% of the Web is written by 12-year old boys, who think copying paragraphs out of their class textbooks = writing an essay). So that parents, on first hearing the diagnosis "Cerebral Palsy," anxious to educate themselves, and worried about their child's future will see this over and over:

(Quote)
Between 35% and 50% of all children with CP will have an accompanying seizure disorder and some level of mental retardation.

(End Quote)

But how does this enrage me? Let me count the ways (so MANY ways-- cut for length): )

And now, to my allusion to the Hippocratic Oath: Words are powerful. What they denote and connote shape our intellectual understanding and our gut reactions simultaneously. The passage I'm complaining about has only 21 words. These words were reviewed (and, I assume, approved) by a medical doctor [Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on March 10, 2014]. But those words are sloppy, and are skewed toward a frightening interpretation of their subject. Many children will have to live with (And try to find coping mechanisms for dealing with) adults whose preconceptions are shaped by these very words. That is harmful. That is bad medical ethics.

...
At the very end of WebMD's two-page summary of cerebral palsy, two sources are cited for the information in the article, but there are no footnotes telling the reader which bits of information come from which source.

The first is openly available on the Web: United Cerebral Palsy Association.

The second is a professional handbook written for doctors: Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics: A handbook for primary care (link to the listing in Google Books; there's no ebook version available, and Google hasn't "found any reviews in the usual places.")
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
The sound quality isn't that great; the gasps and comments from the audience nearly drown out the performer... And for some reason, the closed captioning isn't working for me (I see the text box background, but not the words ... Is it working for you?).* But it's still powerful.

Here's the comment I left on the video, when I rewatched it, a couple hours ago:

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about this is the gasps of astonishment from the audience, representing all the history we are never taught, because the points of view are from those we consider "unimportant" (the disabled, those of a linguistic minority, women... all of the above...)



[ETA: Okay -- Now, it's working. I wonder why it wasn't working on the YouTube page...]
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
... between narrative ethical messages in pop culture ...

Rented How to Train Your Dragon through YouTube Thanksgiving night as a treat:

Bechtel Test: Fail

Animal Rights: Fail (beautiful, intelligent, complex, wild creatures make the coolest pets!)

Disability Culture: Massive, Surprising Win: this is the first story outside my own head where the protagonist ends up with a permanent disability, that's seen as a happy ending - proof of having survived a real challenge and proof of a character's maturity.

If only if could have been a trifecta ...
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
A year ago this last May, here: More Geeking Out Over the Word "Geek" [...], I spelled out in a little more detail how I believe "Geek" is more an approach to thinking about our world and our place in it, thusly:

  • To a Geek, the sentence: "You're over-thinking this," is completely nonsensical. And --
  • A Geek tries to connect All the Ideas to the subject of the geek's passion (whatever that passion is).


Anyway, with YouTube's "geek week" special just ended (on Sunday), that brought up memories of older ideas, about how "mainstream culture" mistrusts intellectualism -- I mean, really mistrusts it... Remember John Kerry's presidential campaign? The Bush people were actually saying that he was too intellectual to be president... And around that same time, too, there was a show on NBC called The Pretender, about a genius child who was stolen from his family (maybe?) and trained, by a secret government organization, so that they could use his genius to kill people ... I think. The four seasons it was on spent a whole lot of time writing the idea of a Massive Conspiracy Cabal, without ever actually working out what the cabal actually was. ...It didn't make much sense, really. And even though the titular character was definitely A Good Guy, the point was continually made that super smart people are dangerous, and the really good ones are the rare exceptions... And I think the reason geeks (nerds) are mistrusted is that:

  • They are intellectual. And --
  • The things they are intellectual about are obscure, and private ...


So, it's like they're a stranger in our midst -- some sort of idea spy, maybe, sorta. You just never know.

This is, I think, the reason sports fans are more easily embraced by mainstream culture: They may be just as obsessive over details and history, and just as enthusiastic in their willingness to be a spectacle in honor of their passion. But at least the thing they're passionate about is a symbol of "Our Community" -- you know they're on "Our Side."

So, over the last couple of days, the idea came to me that the reason terms associated with mental and physical disabilities (nut [nerd], Gek, Spaz...) get appropriated by folks in the mainstream and used to tease the intellectually swift and socially awkward, is that both geeks and PWD make folks in the mainstream uncomfortable in similar, related ways:

Our very presence is evidence that mainstream culture is not the only way to live (or even best way) for all people. Our presence reveals the cracks in the "just world" fallacy that makes those who are comfortable in the mainstream comfortable...

I dunno... still working this out...
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Context: Yesterday, in reporting on the story of Jenny Hatch, Dave Hingsburger pointed out that people with disabilities are the only ones who have scientists with clipboards collecting data on them to prove, scientifically, that freedom is better than captivity.

...There was a lot of push-back against that. Generally along the lines of: "But lots of people still have to fight for freedom, and human rights!"

In today's post, he defended his statement, and the point that talking about what is unique about the discrimination different minorities face is valid, and does not mean that we're trying to outdo each other.

This is the reply I was prompted to make, and I thought folks here would be interested in reading it:

[Begin quote]

From my experience (as someone with a congenital disabling condition), I've come to the conclusion that the discrimination disabled folk face is psychologically and socially difficult in two unique ways:

1) More often then not, we're minorities within our own families, so we often experience oppression from those who should be protecting us from it (the stories of Eve and Jenny both illustrate this).

2) And, unlike gay and transgender people, who are also often isolated within their families (and therefore, are subject to cruelty and injustice, as well), very few people with disabilities are able to "pass" as either able-bodied or neurotypical for the sake of their own safety.

Even if a disabled kid is lucky, like I was, and wins the "supportive parents" lottery, being alone in your family means sometimes going without the emotional and practical support you need. My mother was fantastic with helping me deal with sexism, because she'd had experience with that herself, and had figured out ways to get through it. But if I came home from school complaining about how the newly-waxed hallways made it hard to get to class on my crutches (for example), she was at a loss.

And, while this wasn't always the case (and was, itself, the result of hard-won battles for social justice), it's now recognized that children in racial, ethnic, and religious minorities need some contact with adult role models from their own minority to help them grow and learn. I've yet to see that same recognition for children with disabilities.

[end quote]
capriuni: multicolored text on black: "Quips and sentences and paper bullets of the brain" (paper bullets)
Two years and one month ago, I wrote the following in this space:

I was going to go on, and write further about geekery and disability. But this has taken up too much space-time already.


... and promptly forgot to post a follow-up. I only found it again because I was trying to remember what I'd said about hipsters vs. geeks. I've been puzzling till my puzzler is sore, trying to remember what I'd thought 25 months ago.

When I've had a thought and lost it, or a thought that's gone fuzzy, usually the best way to find it again is through poetry, rather than prose...

It's been a while since I've written a poem for a poem's sake...
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
1) A wonderful piece of writing on sexual objectification, from [personal profile] kestrel: For Sale: The Joy of being sexually objectified (content warning: sexual microagressions treated in a satirical manner)

2) Any time I buy raisins, the package always specifies that they are "Seedless"... I know seedless grapes are a (relatively) new thing, in the history of agriculture... But is it even possible to buy raisins with the seeds in, anymore?

3) Songs originally written for the Hearing, and translated into Sign for the Deaf often make me go "hrm," because a) it often comes from the assumption that the Deaf are "deprived" of music (music, like language, resides in the human mind, and Deaf have their own forms of [visual] music, thank-you-very-much), and b) the qualities of a song that make it musical to the ear are usually lost when translating the lyrics into Sign. But this video gives me all the feels. For one thing, the signers are, themselves, Deaf, and each of the performers has translated the meaning of the English lyrics in their own way -- showing the flexibility and nuance that's possible in Sign. And also, the message of the song itself:

(BTW, at the very last line, the final two performers are signing "We support you.")

4) Oh! The most recent "Inspector Lewis" episode on Masterpiece: Mystery! passed my Disability Test... The young brother-in-law of the murder victim was paraplegic, and a wheelchair user, and he wanted: to get free of his overbearing mother! \o/

5) Another bit of writing that's not from me, but I wanted to share... This time, from Dave Hingsburger: Red and white
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I have some quibbles with how the story's told, but, overall, I really liked this. It was posted 5 years ago, when YouTube's time limit was 10 minutes, and this is just a smidge over, so it's posted in two parts:

These versions are interpreted in BSL with English subtitles:

Part 1:


Part 2:
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So -- the big television news for the coming season, here in the States, is that Michael J. Fox is coming back to television in a sitcom which is also writing for (I think), as a fictionalized account of his life since leaving television due to having Parkinson's.

On the one hand: yay! Disability as portrayed by someone who lives it, rather than fantasizes about it. On the other hand, I've been apprehensive, because the network it's airing on (NBC) has done some terrible shows, like The Apprentice and Biggest Loser.

But I saw the official trailer for the show last night, and I'm now more hopeful. For one thing, it looks like at least some of the jokes will be about "TABs say the darnedest things, don't they?" It also looks like it's both set, and filmed in NYC (Hollywood versions of New York are faker than Dick van Dyke's cockney accent).

Here's the trailer from YouTube:
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Listened to:
From WNYC's "RadioLab" -- A a segment from a show from December last. The first five and a half minutes or so of this 33 minute segment is about the joy of a man at the end of a three-month solo trek across Antarctica. And then, from then on, it's the story of a Holocaust survivor who tried to invent a new communication system that he hoped would end all war... That, it itself, would have been fascinating. I was not expecting it to end up revolving around children with cerebral palsy living in an institutional home/school/hospital in the 1970's in Ontario, Canada... but it did (Content note-- it ends on a fairly tragic, ironic note):

Mr. Bliss

For something completely different, also from "RadioLab": Liev Schreiber reads Italo Calvino's The Distance of the Moon; written in Italian in 1965, and translated into English in 1968... i.e., before we landed there...
(Content note-- one of the main characters is written as Deaf for metaphorical/symbolic reasons as a sort of Magic!wild-man/Innocent-Primitive)

Read:
Found by way of "Rolling around in my head": Reclaiming memory: Searching for Great-Aunt Sarah (Content note: institutional life and death in the early 20th century)

From "Rolling around in my head" Directly: The Better Way (content note: neither tragic nor ironic-- includes a crying baby)

Watched:
And a child shall lead them -- going-on-eleven year-old Stephanie leads a blue-grass band of adult white men... You can tell she's the leader in this particular set, because she sets the tempo for their playing, and signals the final chorus of the first song with a straight-leg kick (a standard signal in folk music):


(Content note-- precocious kid on stage and occasional out-of-focus camera).

This moved me not so much for the cuteness factor, but the aplomb and grace of one so young in front of an audience -- maybe that's her "un-cuteness"?
capriuni: half furry, half sea monster in wheelchair caption: Monster on Wheels (Monster)
Over at Rolling Around in my Head, Dave Hingsburger is asking a question that tickles that special lexicography geek place in my heart (It's another "What's a lexical gap in English that you would like to see filled?" discussion). And since I have people in my circles that identify with various forms of queer- and/or Disability Pride, I thought I'd share it here:

Begin Quote:
Several years ago George Hislop, who was a close friend, told me the difference between someone who was 'gay' and someone who was 'homosexual.' He said that a 'homosexual' was someone who had sex with others of the same gender but who did not identify with their sexuality, denied it as often and as loudly as they could and who did nothing to support the political movement regarding the rights for sexual minorities. A gay person, on the other hand, was someone who also had sex with others of the same gender but had an affiliation to the movement to the rights of others to love as they will that went beyond sex. Gay people, he said, identified with their sexuality and with their community. He saw the difference as the same as the difference between shade and sun.


[Snip]

Begin Quote:
Like the woman I spoke to in Maryland who wanted to talk to me about accessibility in Toronto. When this happened it reminded me of being in a gay bar in Milwaukee and being asked how safe it was to be gay in Toronto. In both cases, it was more than strangers asking strangers tourist advice ... both were experiences of the best of community. Where strangers aren't so strange, and where questions are understood at the deepest level of their asking. Community is community but community requires an entrance fee - identity.


So... while I'll be working on other things, today, this question will be running in the background of my thoughts... I'll probably have more to say about it later.

[ETA: Oops! forgot the link to the full post -- here: http://davehingsburger.blogspot.com/2013/04/take-notes-theres-quiz-at-end.html ]
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I meant to signal boost this. I failed. The Calender caught up with me. I intended to write something. I may, still. But at the moment, I am feeling speechless.

So I urge you to read this blog post from Dave Hingsburger instead:

http://davehingsburger.blogspot.com/2013/01/1440-international-day-of-mourning-and.html

A quote:

In a graveyard, not far from where I type, 2011 people were laid to rest. Only 571 have names. A full one thousand four hundred and forty lay nameless and forgotten. Even if you knew them once, you'd never find them now.

How could this be?

The is a graveyard that lay on the lee side of institutional walls. That institution is now closed. No footsteps echo down the long corridors, the smells of human captivity are slowly fading, the tools of segregation are growing rusty in the dark corners of back wards. Many people who lived there are now free. Many are now finding their way as full citizens, part of the community that once rejected them. Many will never know a moments surety that citizenship is an irrevocable thing.

Murderers serve less time than people who committed the crime of difference.
(end quote)
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The other day, [personal profile] dharma_slut posted this link to a TEDx Talk by Colin Stokes, about the correlation between our modern rape culture and the lack of movies that pass the Bechdel Test:

http://youtu.be/Nx8RRIiP53Q

Quick summary of his thesis:

A) It's not enough that we empower girls to protect themselves against the Patriarchy; we have to teach boys to fight the Patriarchy, too.

B) Adventure movies aimed at young male audiences that Don't pass the Bechdel Test have the following subtext: "The role of the True Man is to go out Alone and Kill the Bad Guys, and then come home and collect his reward: a woman who has no friends, and doesn't speak."

So:

C) It's time for fathers to teach their sons that it's a good thing to want to be on Team with the goal of helping others, instead of being a Solo Renegade, even if the leader of that team is a woman, and that Real Men trust their sisters.

And part of his talk was a strong endorsement, by name, of Pixar's new Movie "Brave."

Based on that recommendation, I did something I'd never planned on doing: Gave Google my credit card number, and rented "Brave" for 48 hours of watching over the Internet. I just finished watching the first time through tonight... May watch it again before time's up tomorrow.

Anyway: I wanted to report: not only does it pass the Bechdel Test (the whole movie is basically a long conversation between Mother and Daughter about How to Lead your King Queendom), it also passes the Disability Test I came up with a couple of weeks ago.

The King loses half his leg in the first act (before the tenth minute), in a fight with a demon bear. And for the rest of the film, his peg leg is treated as proof that he Survived, rather than a reason to be pitied.

So it has a disabled character. And while he boasts about getting revenge against the demon, that's clearly for the sake of a good story; he spends all his actual energy trying to maintain the peace in his kingdom (mainly between his wife and teenage daughter), so it's clear that that's his real motivation. And the movie has a happy ending, even though (*gasp*) he still has a peg leg at the end.

Anyway, the movie's page on YouTube has snippets of reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, and while the majority were positive (overall 78% positive), even the good reviews were kind of lukewarm. Now that I've seen the movie, I think a big reason for that is what I call: "Mashed potatoes Vs. Vanilla ice cream Syndrome;" they may be the best mashed potatoes ever to come out of any chef's kitchen, but if you gobble down a mouthful expecting ice cream, you're going to hate them.

The number one thing that I noticed about this film, in comparison with all the other Pixar movies I've seen is that it is so much darker.

First, it's literally darker. Every other movie from them has been "candy-colored:" the worlds of children's toys, and tropical fish in coral reefs, and crayon-colored monsters in closets. This movie was set in the Scottish Highlands, in the Middle Ages, and its color palette is dominated by fog, and stone, and deep, dark forests (still image from the film of the heroine riding her black horse through a fog-shrouded ring of standing stones). I, on the other hand, love those forest/earth tones. But I still recommend watching the 2-D version, and turning the brightness on your screen all the way up.

Second, it's thematically darker (and that may be what dampened reviewers' enthusiasm most of all). Usually, these kinds of "kids' movies" get their happy ending from the moral: "Free spirits just have to be Free!!. But this movie gets its happy ending from the moral: "Free Spirits must learn to temper their Hearts' Desires with Responsibility Toward Their Community." The soaring ballad during the closing credits is "Learn me Right," and it's all about owning up to your mistakes: needing, seeking, and earning, forgiveness.

According to Box Office Stats (unfortunately powerful), this was the first Pixar movie to fail to come in the Top Ten of the Year (it came in #11). I can't help but wonder if it would have done better as an autumn movie-- it certainly had an autumn feel, rather than summer vacation and cotton candy... you know?

Anyway, I liked it.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
So, last night, between a long, hot, shower and getting ready for bed, the question of this whole test clarified (as happens), and this is the revised version that's circling in my head, now, after sleeping on it.

[personal profile] jesse_the_k. [livejournal.com profile] lilacsigil, [livejournal.com profile] kittenmommy, [livejournal.com profile] elettaria, and [livejournal.com profile] prydera all disagreed with my inclusion of the criteria that the disability be "Actual" and "have consequences," since that would likely lead to "disability policing." And I see that point -- I also realized that, since "A Quest for Cure" is irrelevant in this test, "Cause" is also irrelevant. So that part is simply out.*

I realized that what makes the Bechdel Test so strong is that it is completely free of jargon -- using words that even those who never studied literature or writing get intuitively:

Stories have people who talk to each other about... stuff. The Bechdel Test point out: Unless those people are women.

I (and many folks in my circle) are comfortable with terms like "Conflict resolution," "story arc," and "motivation," but these terms are still jargon to many (and they have lots of syllables). [livejournal.com profile] elletaria also pointed out that it would be nice just to have random people with disabilities Show up in the background scenes whether or not they're actually part of the story. It's so rare that they're even in the background.

So-- this is the hot-water-drenched version:

1) There's a disabled person visible
2) Who wants something, and tries to get it,
3) Other than: Death, Cure, or Revenge.

(This might be the main character having story-type adventure, or it could just be someone in a wheelchair, in the crowd, buying a paper at the newsstand, while the lead couple make googly eyes at each other in the foreground)


*(Incidentally, I included "consequences" mostly as a note to myself. I originally wrote my NaNoWriMo novel as a script for ScriptFrenzy!, five and a half years ago, and back then, I only had my prince character suffer a missing eye and facial burns to break from the trope that the heroic prince is now and must always be "A Handsome Prince."

But, in revisiting the story this time around, I realized: "Oh, hey! having only one eye is going to change how he moves through his palace, isn't it -- especially all those steep, uneven, lit-by-torchlight, tower staircases? That's probably something I should address, and not have him capering up and down like he used to, when he was twelve..." [He's also relatively newly disabled -- within the last year -- and he hasn't, yet, gotten completely comfortable with his changed body])
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A link to Dave Hingsburger's post in honor of today: International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Three Stairs

(Begin Quote)
Later, much later. I stepped into a 'special school' for kids with physical disabilities. There was noise, noise, noise, kids laughing, kids fighting, kids racing pell mell down hallways. The noise was so distracting that it was hard to notice as you walked through the school, even from the old part into the new part that there weren't three steps. The school was accessible to itself, but closed off from the world up three steps.

No one ever asked me to consider.

Where they were.

Why they weren't there.

Who decided that they could be disposed of in other towns, other places.
(End Quote)

Here's the reply I left on that post:

Thank you, Dave. I will post this on my personal journals to signal-boost within my circle.

But I find myself asking:

"Why didn't I know this date was coming up (or that it even existed)?"

If I had, I would have planned, in advance, for ways to spread the word, and celebrate.

But I guess, in many ways, we are still not considered.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
(I've also posted this to [community profile] disability, where it is waiting in the moderation cue, and I mentioned this at the end of my most recent post about my NaNoWriMo novel [under a custom filter], but I also thought it might be good to open this question up to everybody, so... here it is [ETA: Also, I realized, just now, that I can cross-post it to [livejournal.com profile] crip_crit, so I will do that]):

So, you know about The Bechdel Test, for evaluating certain aspects of gender bias and sexism in fiction, yes?

Well, there has been some talk in some circles, about how one could come up with something similar for depictions of PWD in fiction -- the discussions that spring immediately to mind are these two from Dave Hingsburger's Blog: "Rolling Around in My Head," from March of this year:

The Dave Test and The Rolling Test (I think he updated the name in order to honor all the comments to the Rolling... blog, not necessarily the little wheelchair stick figure).

Anyway, November is freshly over, and I'm still recovering from this year's NaNoWriMo marathon, and my head is still buzzing with my story. Cut for rambling about my story ) I realized I've created some disabled characters that do not embarrass me, and that feel as though they do reflect something of what I experience as a disabled person (even though I did not give either of these characters my form of disability). And, in the process, I think I've hit on my own "Disability Test" for fiction (movies, TV, books, etc.):

1) There is at least one character who has an actual disability (with consequences)
2) The character is in the story to resolve a conflict of his or her own
3) Curing the disability will not resolve that conflict.

notes with more rambling )

The thing is, the strength of the Bechdell test is in its simplicity: 3 points, 15 words. So-- any tips or feedback on how I can simplify this test? And, perhaps more important, do you think this test "covers" the biggest weaknesses in fictional depictions of disability?
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Another cross-post from [livejournal.com profile] naarmamo:

---

Two, today, to start catching up on my missed days -- both done free-hand in ballpoint, because I couldn't quickly find a pencil that wasn't a stub.
And today's theme is "Disability Pride."

Ever since Na'Ar'Ma'Mo '10, I've adopted monsters as my personal metaphor for disability -- as I explain in this post from February of last year: On Monsters: Stigma, Shame, and the Medical Model of Disability. But the problem with making any and all monsters a symbol of disability, is that it still reduces "Disability" to a symbolic lesson for the "normals" (Irony quotes).

And then I remembered an aphorism in Disability Culture: "If you're lucky to live long enough, sooner or later, you will be disabled." And, remembering all those stories where dragons defeat hundreds of knights before finally being defeated, themselves (only the dragons that get killed make it into the human stories), it occurred to me that it would be very unlikely that they live their entire lives unscathed. So I give you "Survivor" -- the one-eyed, amputee, dragon:

survivor
(not exactly happy with the empty eye socket)

---
ETA: Oooh! Just had an idea: When a Fire-breathing dragon "licks its wounds," would that instantly sterilize and cauterize said wounds -- thus making it less likely to die from infection and blood loss? Thus, making it more likely that a dragon could survive in a prolonged, disabled, state, than, say, a wounded stag (or even human)?
---

This second one is a sketch for how I wish pitchers and jugs where designed, to make them easier to pour out of with greater control, and less strain on the wrist and forearm:

pitcher idea
(I drew the side view twice, because I wasn't happy with my first attempt at the handle -- the dots are where the ink bled through from yesterday's heart)
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One thing I learned in high school math (besides the fact that I prefer learning math outside of school), was that it takes plotting three points before you can be certain of your line. It wasn't until I finished up the third poem that I recognized the connections I'd already made between them, in the form of recurring motifs. This one starts off at the point almost at the end of the last one, right before the closing couplet ("So our identities, are fragile, caught/Between what's in our dreams and what's been filed."); I wanted to be clear that I meant the complex, shadowy dreams of our subconscious, and not the saccharine substitute for "fondest wish," So that's where I began.

THE MONSTER'S CHALLENGE OF IDENTITY

Just as a rowboat scrapes the pebbled beach
I drift back from my sleep to feel the bed.
Receding like the tide, just out of reach,
A dream slips, half-remembered, from my head.
The nightly riddle posed, always the same:
It asks me who I am, beyond my name.

The question's asked again out in the crowd
Reflected in a stranger's troubled glance,
As though I were an insult spat out loud:
A portent for the fickle whims of Chance.
Philosophers in centuries long past
Wrote cunningly and well of God's good plan:
Which creatures were the first, and which the last,
The proper rank and order meant for Man.
And creatures (like myself) who can't belong?
{We were the curly brackets of their set}
To demonstrate, by living, Right from Wrong,
So all remember God, and not forget:
A belief that's set in stone, or so it seems...
Although it cracks, a little, in my dreams.


[Edit: I bet the middle quatrain of the main part seems like a non sequitor to anyone outside my brain, huh? Let me try a fix -- How about:

Philosophers of centuries long past
Wrote cunning answers all about God's plan:
Which creatures were the First, and which the Last,
The proper rank and order meant for Man.

Better?]
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Has it really been over a month since I last posted for this mini, two person, meme? Eeep! I've not given up on it. Really, here's proof:

Monster Poem #1 (revised from its first posting here, on March 31st) )

Monster Poem #2 (Slightly revised from when it was first posted here April 4th) )

And finally (for now), poem #3 (\o/):

THE MONSTERS' ANXIETY

"The Campus Registry for 'Special Needs'"
(Protected from the mainstream's quickened pace):
We're gathered here like flotsom in the weeds
United, simply, by coming to this place.
As different from each other as from those
Who tell us where to sign, and where to go.

Some Deaf, some blind, "mobility impaired" --
No two needs the same for getting by.
We know the pain, and try hard not to stare
But in the face of Difference, we are shy.
We know that we are lucky to be here,
And neither locked away, nor even dead.
And yet, in spite of Love, we still have Fear:
The knowledge: "I'm a monster" in our heads.
For we, as well, have learned what elders taught
About what makes a Man, and makes a Beast,
And our identities, in Limbo caught --
Put us on shaky ground, to say the least.
But we are here, and will be here again --
Perhaps becoming allies -- even friends.

-------------
(I'd decidedly "Meh..." about the closing couplet -- it's bordering on the too-cozy-sentimental. But I can't think of any better conclusion at the moment)

For now: Dinner Time!

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Ann

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