I’m standing in a long line at King Soopers. I’m so hungry I am feeling light headed and I am doing everything I can to stay in this line because my instinct is to abandon this cart and instead drive through Starbucks or order something from my husband who has pretty much been my caretaker in all things food for the last several years. I have gotten out of the habit of being the kind of mom I started out as. The kind of mom who shopped and cooked and baked and was truly on top of all the things. THAT kind of mom. I am desperately trying to get back to being THAT kind of mom. I do know why it’s so difficult and I’m not ashamed to name the reasons, but I don’t have time for that anymore. And it won’t help me with the fact that I’m hungry most of the time and I do need some help if I’m to be the kind of mom my kids need me to be. The kind of mom I was so good at before…..my paid job got in the way.
It’s the getting the help that is the most difficult part. People don’t come out of the woodwork to run your errands or make meals or help you clean your house unless they are in it with you. Even friends and family have their OWN lives and professionals need to make a living wage.
And then there’s the lawyers and consultants REQUIRED to help you fight for your child’s right to equal access to a basic public education. Publicly traded private schools are taking over our public school system and private schools are a privilege that a majority of US cannot afford. The whole thing is horrifying for children.
When I was in my thirties and my children were young I became very ill. I looked fine to most people, but I didn’t feel fine at all. I battled insomnia hard for about seven years. I was exhausted and severely fatigued. I ran on adrenaline most of the time. At the height of my illness I once went 23 days with only a few hours of rest each night, induced by Ambien. The pain was almost unbearable. My kids saved my life. Being here for them kept me going.
While chasing down my symptoms I ended up with several diagnoses. Fibromyalgia, Epstein Barr virus, Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are the main ones that have stuck with me. Now I have learned that I am under the umbrella of conditions called dysautonomia. It took me a while, but I had enough doctors ask me about my level of stress and push prescriptions at me to understand that I just needed to biohack my body so that’s what I did. At some point I realized that my body had stopped sweating altogether. I found this to be more alarming than the extreme sweating I had been doing throughout my heart palpitating fitful nights for the few years before. Not sweating didn’t feel right at all. So I went back to the hot yoga my mom introduced me to when I was in college. It took me a few months of just going into the hot room and laying on my yoga mat three times a week before I finally broke a sweat again. I never really discussed it with anyone, but I knew that it was something important. Our bodies are made to hold and release water. I’ve realized through my biohacking that my body doesn’t always do that very easily on its own. I wonder why.
I’m the same way with crying. I just don’t do it very often. It is something I should probably start tracking because it can’t be good for me. I’m certain it’s as important for my health as being well hydrated or sleeping. I wonder if the sweating and the crying are part of my same wiring? What I know is that the sweating was something new that happened when I was sick and was never an issue before. But I’ve never been a crier. I’ve always been stoic. Sort of unflappable. I’ve become curious about the meaning of this part of my human design.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a robot. It’s not that I never cry or that I don’t feel things deeply. I absolutely do. I cry uncontrollably sometimes. Just not very often. During my sickness I experienced a kind of crying breakthrough. I remember being at a museum with my kids and our friends. It was winter break and we had a good time with our friends. I had nothing particular on my mind as I was driving us home and then out of nowhere the tears just came. There was no reason I could think of, but it became clear that my body just couldn’t hold whatever it was in any longer and the water was coming out in buckets. As it turned out, I did release a bunch of emotions that I had stuffed deep down. My thoughts about feelings I had over the years that I didn’t even recall at all came spewing out of my mouth in what felt like projectile verbal vomit all over my now ex-husband. It felt like a kind of out of body experience for me and an unwitting assault on him.
I think back on the few times I have cried hard like this because I wonder how the tears sometimes feel like they rush in with such intensity and without control and then other times not at all. I have experienced a lot of pain. Anyone who really knows me can see this. But the things is that I don’t feel like crying. Why? Recently I began wondering if there is a specific therapy that would release me from this human design feature that just feels wrong. Surely, I have enough pain stored up for a few weeks of uninterrupted bawling. But nothing until about a month ago when suddently every day for a few weeks I had tears running out of the corners of my eyes all day long. It was strange and annoying. Enough so that that I thought about chasing down the symptom. But then it stopped as suddenly as it had started. Fascinating. I interpreted this symptom as my body telling me that I better get more water out even if I wouldn’t cry. I haven’t found cry therapy, so back to hot yoga I go. It’s so good to sweat.
Today I sat with one of my teenagers as they wailed at the world that has been so cruel to them, especially the last few years. I listened and I loved my beautiful child struggling and I wept beside them. My heart ached as I listened to them wail about how humanity is lost. How they wish the world was just different. Given all we’ve been through over the last few years, I wish the same thing. What we have experienced and witnessed over and over again can make you lose faith in humanity. At least some of the time. I’ve been there. For me, I really just try to remain focused on the more immediate human problem rather than all of humanity.
What I see right now is that our school system is lacking humanity. So I pray for all of humanity that the adult human beings who are in charge of our schools will bring their focus back to the young human beings we are supposed to be educating. That’s all it really takes. Focus on the kids instead of the adults. In the meantime, I’m going to do everything I can to change it because there are just so many kids getting hurt. I know because I’ve got three of those kids myself.
I have faith that we can change the world if we can just focus on humanity.
1m3s = PEACE in the written code for my deaf language✌🏼
I don’t actually recall if anyone has said it to my face, but I know that some people think that it’s my own fault that I have so many problems. It’s impossible not to see that I have a lot of problems if you’re paying attention. I have three teenagers. And who doesn’t have a lot of problems? I’ve found that life comes with an endless supply. Some are more difficult than others and there are always solutions.
A good friend of mine recently explained to me that I have five karmic corrections. I don’t exactly understand that, but it does give me some relielf. My friend is able to see in me what I already know. My life is hard. Now I know that it’s in the stars. Karmic corrections. It’s a tangible reason that explains why my life is hard. Otherwise, it looks like a choice or it looks like it is my fault. And I always knew that it is not. Even if others don’t see it that way.
Sometimes I know that people assume that I make my life harder than it needs to be. I guess that is theoretically true and maybe even actually true, based on my own abilities and inabilities. I am not perfect. But what people are really thinking is, do I really have to fight so hard? Yes, I do. It’s my life and I don’t see giving up as a choice. I’m pretty sure now that my soul might just end up with a sixth karmic correction if I don’t fight when I know that I can. The truth is that not fighting is not something I would ever consider. It’s my life. They’re my kids. It’s my responsibility. They are my family. I am also intentional about always trying to do what I think is right. It is my foundation. And I was born this way. A fighter. I feel fortunate to be this way. And I am very aware that not everyone is able to fight the school system for their kids like I am. Not everyone can afford to. They can’t make the time. They don’t have the money. They don’t have the skills. They don’t know the law. Not everyone knows their rights. Someone has to do it. It’s the only way that change is made for others. It’s why I am a civil rights lawyer.
The truth is that my life looks like a mess because I’m open about it. I’ve never really been afraid to talk about it, but I am aware that sometimes it makes other people feel scared so until recently I have tried to keep it close. Only those closest to me know what is going on in my life. This is still true. I have a lot of people in my life who really don’t know anything about me. They see as much as they want to see. It’s just not always comfortable. I certainly haven’t often written or spoken about my experience until now, but I wish I had. Maybe I wouldn’t be so isolated. Maybe the trauma my family has endured wouldn’t have been so intense if we had more people who understood what we have going on and what we have been through. The truth is that is the reason I started writing and speaking. People need to know.
Another good friend says that now I’m living out loud. I guess that’s true, but it doesn’t feel loud to me. I just wasn’t born to be loud. I’ve always been quiet and observant. Stoic. And I have learned a lot. That’s what living a hard life does for you. I am grateful for this wisdom. My life is a master class I am here to share. Now I can’t seem to get my story out far enough or fast enough or wide enough. Or loud enough.
Because I am a well-educated, middle class white woman living in a good neighborhood, I live in a circle of people who can often afford private services, private therapists, private evalutators, private schools, private whatever their kids need. I’m not criticizing this. I can afford some of those things. I am fortunate. These things have become necessities that many people cannot afford. That’s why they suffer. I also live in a circle of people who were raised in a privileged environment themselves. They were fortunate in that way, but that has not been my experience. I know what it’s like in the public school system and so do my kids. Sometimes I imagine how nice that protective bubble must feel. I don’t have time for envy. I have to keep moving and fighting. Sometimes it feels like I’m treading water or running in circles. And I am known to take others’ hands along the way because I know they need the support. It is a lot and it is a choice, but I know that’s what I’m here for and I believe that we are all in this together. Privilege is irrelevant to me.
Here are the facts. The education and health care system data reports show that problems like my family is experiencing (i.e., trauma, illness, truancy, dropout) affects only those who come from challenging circumstances like poverty, homelessness, and addiction. I’m here to tell you that this is not true and that these reports give people a false sense of security. It makes people think that they are not susceptible to such unfathomable things. It makes people think that these things are only challenging for people who have always struggled with these things. People who are not white or middle class. People who are not privileged.
I’m here to tell you that no one is immune to these problems. I know that this is just part of life at the moment because I am living it. I know this because I haven’t met a parent with a school age kid in quite a while, particularly those in our public school system, who doesn’t have problems similar to mine. Perhaps I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but I want to make sure you do so I’m saying it out loud. Our systems are failing us and it’s because they have not been built to serve our needs and because they are only focused on money and not on people. Our public systems are not focused on you or me. This is the same world we are all living in together.
That’s all the time I have today. I need to get back to it. Be safe and take good care of yourselves.
I have not been paying much attention to the impeachment hearings. I know to some people that probably makes me seem like I am out of touch and maybe I am, but I know myself well enough by now to realize that I don’t need the impeachment hearings running through my head every day. Besides, my husband is deeply into it and he is a human being who is designed pretty much like a megaphone crossed with a tuning fork. That means that I am really not missing out on much and it still stresses me out. It also stresses him out, but he’s not as protective of himself as I have learned to be. I just hope it’s all over soon.
I don’t blame my husband for his curiosity. Back in the day I myself was devoted to following the OJ Simpson trial and I got caught up in the news scrum after the 2016 election for a few months, so I definitely understand the entertainment value. For the most part I have never really watched the news. It’s just not for me. I prefer to read my news. I just don’t have that kind of bandwidth.
But I do have a lot of respect for the whistleblower and for the civil servants who have been testifying this last week. I’ve heard the term whistleblower a lot lately, but I don’t know if there is much attention being given to who a whistleblower really is. The legal definition of a whistleblower is “an employee who brings wrongdoing by an employer or other employees to the attention of a government or law enforcement agency and who is commonly vested by statute with rights and remedies for retaliation.” This is what I found when I looked it up just now in the the Merriam-Webster.com Legal Dictionary. Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-Webster.com/legal/whistleblower. Accessed 23 November 2019.
What I think is that a whistleblower is simply someone who is willing to shine a light on something that they know to be wrong. Someone who is willing to put what they know on the record. What I know is that it takes an enormous amount of courage. I’ve heard enough of the impeachment hearings on NPR while I’m driving around town to know that these courageous people are being portrayed as hateful. I just don’t see them that way at all. From my perspective, these people have been called to action from a place of love, out of duty and honor.
There is also one thing about these impeachment hearings that is a constant reminder for me. It is something that has come up for me over the years whenever Rudy Guiliani is in the news cycle. You see, I was one of Guiliani’s lawyers.
This really isn’t a big deal. I defended the City of New York under Guiliani’s administration for a hot minute almost twenty years ago. I was just a baby lawyer trying to figure out how to practice law. Truth be told, my 29 year old self didn’t even think very much about my boss and I never even met the person. But over the years whenever it has come up that I was a lawyer under Mayor Guiliani’s administration it has felt awkward. There is something about revealing this truth that makes me brace myself for the person’s reaction. Just a smidge. It’s because I never know what kind of an assumption a person might make about me based on this professional association. Especially now that everyone is learning so much about him.
Oy. Guiliani really is a hot mess.
I realize now having worked under other administrations that my connection to Guiliani has always felt surreal to me only because he has such a high public profile and I am just the opposite. It is in my nature to fly under the radar. What I know is that everyone is connected a lot more closely than any of us usually stops to realize. I am one degree of separation from Donald Trump. If you know me, that means that you have only two degrees of separation. This is the kind of stuff that blows my mind.
The degrees of separation between human beings has long been fascinating to me. Pretty much ever since I saw the movie Six Degrees of Separation when I was still in high school. The theory of six degrees of separation is that any person on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries.
What I’ve come to understand about this is pretty simple. Our connections to people, no matter how distant they may seem, do mean something. The closeness of my connection to Guiliani and now Trump is a reminder to me that what I do does affect other people. It does matter. No matter how much you think it doesn’t, it does. We are all connected and we are all responsible for one another.
I just learned through a website about an organization called Transparency International and that June 23rd is World Whistleblower Day. Who knew?
I’m proud to be among the people who are called whistleblowers.
Anniversaries are a funny thing. Truthfully, I hadn’t even thought about the date today until a dear old friend posted a comment on my Facebook. Adam and I practiced law together in New York City and he is the one who reminded me of today’s anniversary. He is the one who reminded me to think about my own story from that day. Thank you, Adam.
Truth be told, I have not often told even my closest friends or family about my experience with 9/11. Some people don’t even know that I lived in New York City at that time. There were other people in my life who had stories that seemed so much more important or interesting than my own. My boyfriend turned husband now ex-husband was the 9/11 story that I was living and I am a person who reaches out to help rather than for help, so after 9/11 I quite naturally disregarded my own feelings and quickly, without a moment of thought, stuffed them down somewhere deep. That’s what I do. That’s what I’ve always done. I know it’s not healthy. That’s why I write.
The truth is it took me a decade to finally begin to think my own 9/11 experience. And it required therapy. My therapist did not even realize I had been impacted by 9/11 because I had so much regard for his story that I disregarded my feelings about the experience completely. I had “not being there” guilt. My therapist called it survivor guilt.
His story really was powerful and it is also only his story to share. And at the time there were people in international media who thought the world wanted to know about his story. I can still recall hearing the voices of Katie Couric and Oprah on our answering machine at the other end of the line. They both called our home phone in Brooklyn in the hours and days after the 9/11 attack. Maybe that’s one of the reasons it has taken me a long time to process my own experience.
Fortunately for me, when the plane hit the World Trade Center tower I was still lazing in bed in our brownstone apartment in Brooklyn. That’s one reason why I thought my story was no story. I wasn’t actually even there at the scene. I wasn’t one of the people running away from a burning building, running through ash and smoke and chaos like he did, like my friends and my colleagues at the New York City Law Department did. And I wasn’t one of the people trapped underneath the World Trade Center, which is where I most likely would have been if I had gone into work that morning as I had planned to do. That was where I was pretty much every morning when I went to work in Manhattan. The subway underneath the World Trade Center was where I started and ended my commute to work.
I had been on a plane myself on September 10th. I had taken a sabbatical from the stress of my job as a defense attorney for the City of New York and I had rented an apartment in Paris by myself and spent a few weeks traveling with friends and then came back to the states where he and I vacationed with my parents in Hawaii. He went to work that morning, but I did not have immediate work to get back to so I was taking my time getting up. All of my active cases had been reassigned before I left and I had planned to go back into my office that morning to talk to Georgia, my department chief. So when the tower was hit, I was still blissfully unaware.
I was alerted to the tower being hit by my landlord, Alba, who is a sweet and kind hearted woman from Colombia who lived downstairs. She owned the brownstone with her late husband, Stanley. He and I rented the apartment, which was the top two floors. A small closet in the hallway of our apartment provided the only access to the roof. I was finally roused by Alba pounding on my door so she could get up to the roof. She told me the tower had been hit and she wanted to see it with her own eyes. I did not.
Everything about that day is a little blurry and always has been. I turned on the tv as soon as Alba told me what had happened. What I could see immediately was that the tower was leaning and it looked to me like it was going to break apart and fall over. I was worried because he worked in the World Financial Center across the street from the tower. He called me twice shortly after and these quick phone calls reassured me that he was okay even though the tower had not come down yet. People had not started evacuating other buildings at that point. But I had heard his voice and in my mind that meant that he was fine. It led me to the conclusion in my own mind that he was alive all day that day. As much as that made no sense at all that’s how I felt and what I thought as I moved through that day. He was okay. Everything would be okay.
I remember talking to a few people on the phone. His sister. My mother. Instinctively somehow I knew that I was never going back to my law office. There was no reason for me to think this so it must have been from somewhere inside. I remember wandering around Brooklyn on foot. I remember going to an office store to buy a fax machine because I was going to be looking for a job. I remember lugging that fax machine home somehow. I don’t remember how, but I didn’t have a car. All I know now is that I felt sure that day that my life was going to be different. I had no idea then how much.
I did talk to him again toward the end of the day, so I had been right that he was alive. He was trying to figure out how to get home. We talked about people he could contact. Places he could stay that night if necessary. I didn’t know then if he was coming home that night. Ultimately, he walked home and walked right through the door looking as he always did after work. That surprised me. He didn’t look disheveled or dirty and he appeared calm. The only difference was that he had walked, that he was not wearing a tie, and that he had quite a story to share. And I just felt numb.
What I remember now about the days following was that it felt as if someone close to me had died, but there was no process for the death. No funeral. No sitting shivah. No mourning or grieving process that I could recognize. I knew a lot of people who were there that day. Of course, there were a lot of people who died, but I didn’t know any of those dead people. All of my friends and colleagues survived that day.
Those first few days after 9/11 there were people calling trying to get in touch with him. Important people wanted him to tell his story. He said he didn’t want to discuss it with anyone. He just wanted it all to go away. He began having nightmares. Neither of us was going in to work because our offices had been damaged so badly. And we really weren’t talking about it much at all. We weren’t talking about anything. I think we probably just wanted everything to go back to normal. What was normal?
I wonder now if the death that I was feeling was a piece of myself that died during that time. I couldn’t talk about my own feelings because I didn’t feel like my feelings mattered. My only story was his story. And he didn’t even want to talk about it with me. I wonder now if the death that I was feeling was also a part of us that died, him and me together.
There were real, tangible ways that my life changed after 9/11. At least, in my mind they were direct results of my 9/11 experience. Most importantly, the unexpected conception of our identical twins and later, our youngest child. I have no doubt that they would not have been here but for 9/11. For them, I am eternally grateful for that day.
Hope has been on my mind a lot over the last week as I think about what it must feel like to be my 16 year old. Despite everything that has happened over the last few years at school, they have practiced forgiveness and patience and have continued to hold out hope that people will do what they promise and what is right. I have always been patient and I realize that I tend to be a hopeful person, too. I think I’ve always been that way and maybe that has rubbed off or maybe we were both just born that way. I don’t really know how that works. What I do know is that we are both people who can be patient and who look for hope. The way I see it, these are qualities that weigh heavily in our favor.
People are very curious about my child, but they don’t always seem interested in the ways we need them to be. Right now they’re more interested in my child’s gender identity. It’s the question I am most often asked. Even when I am in the middle of a conversation about what is most important in school. Deafness. I get it. Not everyone has a transgender person in the family and it must seem like the biggest deal in the world to a lot of people. I guess it is a big deal, but not to me. Not right now. My child is almost 17 years old. I’ve known that they didn’t fit quite right into the gender role that was assigned at birth since they were as young as six years old and I found them in one of my formal dresses adoring themself in a full length mirror in my bathroom. I have a whole photo shoot of that moment. I need to find those images on my computer. They felt beautiful and they still are beautiful. The labels are irrelevant to me. They are the same exact person they have always been. I’m not here to tell them who to be and I never would. People praise me for this attitude and tell me how lucky they are to have me as a mother. I appreciate that and I know that is true because I know that not everyone accepts their children for who they are. I just feel like their mother. I feel so lucky to have this child.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad that there are people who are curious who support them and accept them, but what I truly wish is that people would take an interest in the fact that they are Deaf and they are being discriminated against. It’s a big deal. It makes them really expensive to educate because they need an educational interpreter at school. They are entitled to it under the law, but we have to fight for it ourselves. The discrimination against my child as a Deaf person permeates every single crevice of our lives. We have been traumatized. It hurts every person in our family. It’s hard when hope falls out from under you and you feel hopeless. It wipes you out and makes you feel depressed. That’s just what hopelessness does. That’s why hope is so important to me.
They wrote something the other day about what it feels like to be discriminated against. I read it. Yesterday they asked me if I know what it feels like. I don’t. But I know what it feels like to be the mother of someone who has been discriminated against. It is hurting me deeply. I can only imagine what it feels like to be them. Now at a time when they are most vulnerable, they have been betrayed again by the same people who have been hurting them all along. We just hoped they would fix the problem. It stands to reason since that’s their job. So far hope and patience haven’t worked out in this situation at all. Not for either of us. My child has been an educational refugee all year because they don’t have an educational interpreter. It is a struggle to find any benefit for them at all in our schools. And I know that we are certainly not alone. The people who have hurt my child were supposed to teach them. It turns out the child is doing the teaching. They speak up for themself. My child doesn’t hesitate to speak publicly about how they have been mistreated because they are deaf. They want to call the police. My child cannot understand how discrimination, especially against a child, isn’t a criminal offense. Why doesn’t the law work that way? My child filed their own complaint about how they have been discriminated against by the school system because it’s just plain wrong. The complaint was ignored because they are a child.
I was texting with my child the other day and they said that they are glad that it was happening to them instead of someone else. I actually know that’s not exactly true. I’m certain that there are other Deaf kids who are suffering in the same way, but I didn’t say that to them. They feel like the only one right now. Instead I asked them why they were glad it was them. They said that it has to happen to someone for things to change and that they know that not everyone can handle it. They said they knows they can because they have become so used to it. It felt like an arrow was shot straight into my heart. I am raising a leader and only a few of us can see that. My child knows it though. That’s the only thing that really matters.
I am amazed at their resiliency and so thankful for them. I wish to god they didn’t have to be this strong. I thank god that they are. They hugged me and thanked me yesterday for always being their rock. I am thankful that I am strong and that they know that, too. But it is the kids who are going to have to lead us out of this mess because the adults are just failing. We live in an adult world where we have to navigate through lawyers. I am in awe of my child’s simplistic power.
And there it is again. There is always more hope when I look for it. I love that about hope.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all worlds, who girds me with courage.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, sovereign of all worlds, who guide my steps.
These blessings speak to me, as I have experienced these things, and have chosen to walk down a path. I am a quiet person. I am not a ‘people’ person. It takes courage to be this way, as our society encourages people to be outgoing and I am not naturally that way. Our society does not seem to allow people to have time alone with the time to think. Our society does not seem allow breathing space. Because of this, people like me can seem odd or different, particularly at this age. We are known as outsiders because we are different in our society. We cling to each other for comfort. That is how we make friends. That is our social life. That is how we live.
But then sometimes we need the courage to leap into the unknown, to be a part of larger society. We stand together to fight the coming onslaught. I had a personal experience when I had to do this. Bravery is a big part of this too. Anyone can be brave. But it’s hard to be brave a just the right moment, when you NEED it. That’s why we have each other. One of us rises up, all of us follow.
When I was in the 5th grade I experienced a conflict with my friend Ryan. I was friends with another kid named Ethan. But Ryan and Ethan always had a bit of a rivalry. They would always get into fights and would fight about petty things. They would try to convince me to try and stay friends with only ONE of them. I would say no. The reasons I befriended these two was because I was the new kid at this school and I was always a lone wolf. An ‘outsider’. The kids at this school didn’t treat me like one, but I felt like one because I prefer to be alone. Being alone is… quiet. Ryan and Ethan were also lone wolves. The thing is, lone wolves like being close to people who’ve been through the same problems as them.
I became friends with Ethan first. He was a troublemaker, and was actually really funny if you took the time to think about it, but the other kids didn’t seem to think so. They didn’t like him. Ethan and I were good friends. We trusted each other. Then, along came Ryan. He was kind of rash and mean to the other kids. He was nice though, to me. I mellowed him a bit. Not much, but enough to prevent him from yelling so much. He then became quiet, and stopped being so mean. It was us, the quiet one, the troublemaker, and the rash one. But then, Ethan and Ryan changed, when they met each other. Ethan told me they didn’t like each other. They got into a lot more fights. I either got called over to stop the fight, or I went over there myself. Ryan told me that he hated me. That was the day I told myself, “I’m done with him”. I disconnected from him.
Then one day, Ryan was getting harassed by our whole class AND two teachers, homeroom and music. It was because he forgot his recorder and was whining about it. After class, Ryan was at the back of the line, silently crying. Everyone was harassing him. I noticed that a few weren’t, like Ethan. But the sight of everyone against him, and no one defending him made my anger reach my limit. I snapped. I yelled at them like my lungs were not there and I could breathe forever. Everyone seemed shocked. Like I said, I was always the quiet one, and never really spoke much. Then, something SERIOUSLY weird happened. They all CONGRATULATED ME. Then the homeroom teacher took us to our room, and we had a class meeting about what happened. This was near the end of school. When school ended, I successfully was still friends with Ethan, even greater than before. But then I saw Ryan. He smiled at me, like I had redeemed myself in his eyes. Then he walked away, still smiling. And right then I knew, we were still friends. He accepted that I was still friends with Ethan. And that there, is a good ending.
So I can relate to the story where Jacob finds that his brother is sending 400 men to attack the village. He helped his family and his flock get away in time. Then he stayed behind. He wrestled what was apparently one of the soldiers. Through a whole day, he did not break him. Then the soldier said basically, “ You have struggled long and hard. That is enough struggling”. What this represents is someone fighting for a certain goal, and then recieving it. My story with Ethan and Ryan describes bravery, common sense, and loneliness. That is my definition of a lone wolf. You have to be brave enough to stand alone, but wise enough to stand together.
Jacob was fighting for a worthy cause. And I was too. What my interpretation of the meaning of life is, is that there is no particular path of life. We made those paths over time, with our footprints etched in the soil. The roads were always completed. What I understand is that there is always a goal to work toward, as long as you believe it is worthy.
By the time I was 13, I understood this. I think that becoming a bar mitzvah, is the act of understanding, and then pursuing those goals, to do something great in the world.
My Bar Mitzvah
by Cole Tucker
You endow the human being with the power to know. You teach a person understanding. May You provide me now with intelligence, understanding and wisdom. Blessed are You, Life Unfolding, who graces me with knowing.
This blessing makes me think about all of the people who I am grateful to. I am grateful to my parents, for giving me a sense of right and wrong. I am grateful to my teachers (both past and present) for giving me skills in math and common sense (but mostly math). I am grateful to my friends for lightening the load on my shoulders, and making me happy. And I am grateful to my siblings, for teaching me how you have to take the good with the bad sometimes and that your family is always there for you.
Thank you for being here with me to celebrate this truly special day.
Please try to remember that what you’re reading is about me, not you (unless you see your name here). I’m filled with rage and I really have got to find a different container for it because my body can’t handle it any longer. Don’t read it if you don’t want to know what’s eating me up from the inside. Thank you, kindly.✌🏼
This morning I’ve decided that it is truly in my own best interest to exorcise this demon that woke me up and then got stuck in my heart and is now stuck in my bra. As you can see by the screen shot of my text communication with my husband this morning that I included above, I am up and dressed. That’s a fresh selfie I took to prove to myself that I can pull myself together even though from approximately 2 a.m. until I got myself out of bed at 6:30 a.m. there were times when my heart was pounding so hard you would think that someone was standing at the foot of my bed with a hammer ready to slaughter me. Horror story style. Waking up like that is hard to handle.
The thoughts that woke me up made me furious and the truth is it’s probably in no one’s best interest that I direct my anger at the people who I was thinking about. To be honest expressing hate is fairly unusual for me. In fact, I avoid it. Over the last few years I do that by intentionally correcting myself when I use the word hate and then turn it into an opposite love statement to balance that shit out. I intentionally developed this habit so suffice it to say I have a strong tendency to stuff negative thoughts inside and then stew in it like the good American girl I was raised to be. Non confrontational. Conflict avoidant. Try not to make a scene. Keep your mouth shut. Grin and bear it no matter how bad it really is. What a load of crap. Hate needs to be expressed and flushed somehow or it just eats yourself alive.
I think that I am probably best known outside of my safe little circle as someone who speaks truth OR spreads love and peace. At least I hope so because that’s primarily what I do publicly these past few years. That’s why I became so “popular” on my social media. That’s the message I put out on the social media platforms. The truth is now I’ve slowed that way down because it is painfully obvious to me that my message on those platforms mostly just brings out the takers who become aware that I am a great giver. Inevitably, they turn into people who use me up and then I resent them. And I certainly don’t need to grow any more resentment. And I’m done being used and abused. Back off. It’s the persons who used me and my children (and their own children!) that I hate. They don’t even have the decency to try to make amends. That’s how they became 💯 trash. Karma is going to be a bitch for them. It takes twice as long to build bridges you burn.
When I was in law school in New York I had a study group friend named Andy Crouppen who had a list posted up on his refrigerator titled “People Who Are Fucked”. I thought it was hysterical then and I’ve thought about it often when I think about Andy. Now I just think it’s brillyent so I’m taking my cue from him. Today I am starting to purge my hate Andy Crouppon-style. I may even print it out and put it on my refrigerator.
So here it goes in no particular order and I will keep adding to this list as needed. Feel free to comment. Maybe I’ll be able to process your hate, too. Maybe I’ll give you that. I won’t make you any promises.
In solidarity and peace always. Please try to remember that the moral arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. MLK Jr said that. Amen to that.🙏🏽✌🏼⚕️🇾🇹
Carley, Daryl, Steve, Paul, Vance, Jennifer, Amy, Patricia, Lucinda Hundley, Katy, Paul, Candie, Jenny, and Lisa E.🙏🏽
When people hurt animals with no good reason.
That communication has to be so complicated.
The Denver Broncos.
Crooks and cons. Liars.
That so many kids have to be sent out of our state to get a decent quality education or rehab. And that most kids don’t actually have that privilege and become desperate.
That my son is dead and there aren’t more people who are furious about this injustice and that I feel so alone digging us out of this rut we got forced into by our public school system.
That my brother and my parents and all of my kids don’t live close to me.
That people relatives are the same as family. They can be, but they are not always one and the same
That I know so many people who know better and still won’t invest themselves to actually do better.
That people are so insensitive.
That adults expect kids to control their use of their technology without being able to control it ourselves. Stop expecting kids to be your technology teachers or to be at your beck and call by phone + not to be on their phone. Talk about STUPID. Oy.
Relatives who intentionally split up families by inviting only some members of a household and not others to family events like Thanksgiving. Every year. What is wrong with people?
Parents who abuse their children. People who disrespect children. People who shame children. People who blame children.
People who don’t even try to protect their children.
People who abuse animals.
Teachers who neglect their students.
People who work for agencies that profit off of the blood, sweat and tears of people with disabilities.
People who knowingly spread lies.
People who use other people for their own gain, especially when they use their own friends or children.
People who put their own shame on other people, especially their children.
People who are so full of themselves that they can’t apologize to people they have hurt.
Bosses who discriminate against people. Cowards.
People who think that children are political pawns or simply a means to build a business for profit. You disgust me.
People who uphold systems of oppression.
People who are two faced and exclusive. I think those people are the losers.
Medical professionals who uphold the inhumane standards dictated by their industry to the obvious detriment of people’s lives. I don’t even know how these people can live with themselves and they certainly should choose a different industry.
People who make fun of other peoples preferences, tastes, religions, identities, etc.
People who make false promises and create false hope.
Assumptions. It makes an ass out of you and me. Learn that.
Restrictive traditions and values that are now meaningless.
Criminals who don’t confess.
When people tell me to take out my earbuds or stop reading.
When people obviously feel sorry for me. I despise your pity. It’s the truth.
Feeling helpless, hopeful, powerless, and alone.
People who perpetuate the myths that sign language stunts language development or that Cued Speech is threatening or harmful to anyone. It’s absolute bullshit.
Non profits that started for good and end up perpetuating the very problems that they said they wanted to resolve. Shameful.
The obvious truth that most people don’t actually respect or care enough about children to focus on them. It’s destroying our present and future. Advice. Practice visualizing children as trees. Then hug them.
That I had to send my own children away to protect them.
Jared Polis for being in a position of power and influence over my whole state and he is giving advice that is only useful for affluent families like his own while most Colorado kids are being forced to endure hardships in schools that are inhumane.
The idea that ruthlessness is being perpetuated as a admirable quality. And that it is associated with Ruth Bader Ginsburg who was not ruthless at all. She was ruthful and relentless. Get your words right, people. Focus!
The persistent and unrelenting stigma associated with mental illness. WTF?!!
My inadequacies as a mother. Ugh!
That I have to share this to get it out of my system.
Greed and financial insecurity.
Hostile environments of any kind.
Feeling like a nag.
Having blood drawn.
The sound of my own voice. Sometimes.
When people think they’re right. All the time.
Being a warrior.
Children being victimized.
That there is such a huge gap for children in access justice for their rights to public schooling. I wish I could fix this, but I can’t.
That I really don’t know where all the good people go. I’m trying like hell to find the yellow brick road.👠
When people encourage children to drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. I’m here to tell you it’s not cool and it’s not okay. Grow up.
The fact that “special ed” attorneys in Colorado are charging families $750 an hour and maybe 1% of families can afford that.
The fact that there
Talking while wearing a mask.
Telephone hold music.
Liver and onions.
Dropping my phone.
Being dragged onto a dance floor against my will.
Hurting other people.
Talking on the phone most of the time.
That I will never be able to spend time with Cole again. I miss everything about him. OzShalom
Crowds and large events.
Having to always be so strong.
The expectation that kids need to go straight to complete independence at 18. I couldn’t have done that!
When people pressure sick people to get to work.
But people expect me to grieve differently.
When people try to shame me for eating Chick-fil-A. 🏳️🌈
When people shame others for having addictions.
Dealing with health insurance companies and their stupid red tape.
When I feel too tired to take a shower or shave my legs.
When I can’t remember the dream I just had.
That kids are generally no longer encouraged to read for pure enjoyment.
When people I love just disappear without an explanation.
How people actually think that they get to determine someone else’s value. That’s all bullshit.
That “partying” seems synonymous with getting drunk or high. Why did that have to happen?
That sometimes I can’t stop myself from thinking in codes.
That half of my motherhood seems like it was wasted fighting for my kids.
That some people assume that I choose to fight. I never choose to fight if there’s an alternative. Seriously. What kind of a mother do you think chooses to fight a whole school system just because she can?!! It’s the law to educate your kid and our schools aren’t doing that at all.
That there are so many adults who weren’t raised properly.
To all of the people who fall into the numbered categories above I say fuck you and shame on you and may god have mercy on your souls. Stay away from me and stay away from my kids. I don’t want to know you anymore unless you are actually going to apologize + correct your behavior.
I know I’ll be back soon to keep building this hateful list because I know that I have to do it or I might actually die sooner rather than later. I’ve learned that the hard way now. Too many times. I think some people know it as burning in hell. I experience it as medical conditions called chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, and misophonia. These are some of the unwelcome gifts I’ve received as a neurodivergent and highly gifted human being with a tendency toward being too ruthful (that means filled with compassion).
I’m going to sign off with a Mike Tyson quote that I’ve been stuck on for a few weeks now. “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Think about that for a moment.
Despite the reappearance of my lifelong sleep disorder over the last year and the shock to my heart last April (https://feldmanmortuary.com/tribute/details/4452/Cole-Tucker/obituary.html), I still have never had much trouble getting myself out of bed in the morning. I love life and I always have. I truly have not experienced much depression in the traditional sense until now. I’ve been questioned in my past about depression due to my diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, but I really could not relate. I just couldn’t. But lately I am starting not to feel like myself. My sleep is a crapshoot and I want to stay in bed as long as possible. I have a pure hate relationship with alarm clocks right now. I’m operating with a sleep deprived body. In the last week I have been advocating for myself to receive EMDR treatment and I now know that I am currently Depressed.
So anyway, I need trauma treatment and I want to try EMDR. Here is a good link about EMDR for you if you don’t already know about this health treatment. https://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/ Trauma is actually my nemesis. Not my alarm clock. I had two EMDR screenings this past week and a conversation with my psychologist and I feel pretty certain that Depression is at least one of the diagnoses caused by my trauma.
Loss of interest in activities: Taking less pleasure in hobbies, sex, and other interests that the individual usually enjoys.✅
Social withdrawal: Avoiding social situations and losing touch with friends.
Fatigue: Daily tasks, such as washing up and getting dressed, may feel more difficult and take longer.✅
Feeling agitated: Agitation, including restlessness and pacing.✅
Changes in sleep patterns: Insomnia or excessive sleeping.✅
Changes in appetite: This can lead to weight gain or loss.✅
Increased irritability: Getting annoyed more easily than usual.✅
Feelings of worthlessness and guilt: Thinking over past events.✅
Concentration and memory problems: Thoughts and speech may feel slower.
Physical aches and pains: Unexplained headaches, stomach aches, or muscle pain.✅
Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts: This may signal a severe depressive episode.
I’ve written before about the different faces of depression. I don’t commonly succumb to the big D, but sometimes I do and I have a feeling there are very few people in the world who haven’t become depressed at some time or another. And that’s okay. There is nothing to be ashamed about and blame does no one any good. There is also no reason to ask me why I’m depressed. I am getting myself some help so it won’t take me all the way down. That’s my advice to myself.
That’s what I got for you today. Depression and EMDR for trauma + I’m at the vet with my stressed out dog, Daisy.
Since Cole’s death in April I have been doing a few things differently. One of those things is trying to have a lot more fun. Fun is something that’s been missing from my life for quite a long time now and that’s mostly because I became consumed by responsibilities. Unspeakable responsibilities that no one should have to deal with, but I don’t really want to write about that right now. The point is that I need more fun. I know a few kids who have been on Tik Tok (TT) and they laugh their assess off. I also know that some kids have been bullied pretty hard on TT. Seems to me that’s a pretty rough playground for some of the kids. Anyway, last winter one of my LinkedIn friends who is my age pretty much dared me to try my TT game. And being a daredevil, I knew that I would eventually do it. Now I can’t remember exactly when I starting on TT, but that’s beside the point. Over the summer (at about the same time I started teaching preschoolers again) I started posting on TT. A lot. And it was mostly just a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it was also causing a lot of stress for some of the people who saw my posts. Here’s the thing. I was having the kind of fun that I often have at home, mostly at my family’s expense. That is, I turn my voice off and I say and cue things silently to them. (I also sometimes spontaneously speak in pig latin and write cued speech code all over the house.) And sometimes someone in my family will play with me. And oftentimes they just ignore me. It just depends on how busy they are + how much they want or need to understand what I’m saying. Anyway, this is the version of myself that I played on TT for a few months and it was fun + I was actually starting to make some new friends. It was a good time for me just being myself. But the thing is I was also starting to make some new enemies. You see, most people have never actually seen someone like me out in the big wild world. Someone who is mute and uses Cued Speech or ASL to silently convey ideas. But I’ve been doing exactly that for most of my motherhood, so it’s just my second nature. It’s my mother nature. And it’s my mother nature that triggered some people on TT. Roughly one thousand people if I’m counting. And I was counting how many people I triggered. Because it became very obvious to me as I fielded the sometimes furious comments to post captions and stop cueing or pretending to sign. Sometimes it turned into arguments as I explained what I was doing and sometimes posted to defend my cueing and my muteness so that I could keep on playing myself on TT. Most of the time, other people were jumping in to my defense. Some of the time people were not furious at all, instead they were curious and making specific requests for me to cue phrases. That was the best! People were learning from my TT! Sadly, I am now off TT completely. It was brought to my attention by one of the kids and then processed through my therapist that TT is a social media space where I am just not welcome right now. And that’s not because I am mute or because I am cueing or signing. It’s simply because I am too old. My first clue early on that I was too old should have been the number of people who called me “Karen”. What a ridiculous insult. That’s all I can say about that. Go ahead. Call me Karen. I really don’t mind at all. For all the real Karens out there. I’m sorry “they” have tried to weaponize your name. I think it’s a perfectly good name. But my name is actually Lisa. It’s Dick Rudofski if you’re nasty. And I am definitely a player and I already know I’m cool. So there.
Final thoughts. I’m almost always curious. And I’m working out the furious. TT was helping. Now I’m seeking out other creative outlets that are just as much fun as TT since I’m now banned. I’m getting there. One day at a time. The truth is it’s never too late.
Are you curious or furious? I guess that’s my final question today.
This is a writing in progress subject to additions, edits, and updates. I welcome comments.
School refusal is a term used to describe the signs of anxiety a school-aged child has and their refusal to attend school. Let’s cut to the chase. Children who refuse to go to school are unable to attend. They are protecting themselves from a hostile environment. The term school refusal is designed to direct the blame and the shame at the children and on the parents. It assumes ability. It is an ableist term, in Cole’s opinion and in my own. It is also called school avoidance or school phobia. School refusal can be seen in different types of situations, including a complete drop out of the traditional school system (i.e. homeschool, unschool, no school). To put it bluntly, kids are scared of school because it is not safe or good for their overall well-being. It’s the opposite. In the workforce world it would be akin to a hostile work environment and we would be able to file civil rights claims and sue our employer in court for this adverse action. But children don’t have the same rights as adults. That’s a problem.
This hostile school environment issue should be obvious to anyone who has school age children. If it’s not, please wake up now. And spend your lifetime fighting for children to be safe out in your world. And in my world.
The truth is that most children are highly mentally aware of the world that is all around them. Many are sick or in the process of becoming sick. Others may not be sick, but they are not well because their fundamental rights are being violated across the board. And then they are blamed for not being able to hang in there OR hanging in there and fighting with their oppressors. Then they go to jail, and on and on. It’s called a school to prison pipeline and it isn’t just THOSE people’s children. They’re your children. They’re mine. They’re all of our children. That’s the truth. That’s reality.
In my school expert opinion, it has reached epidemic levels. We can all see the crisis, but few are calling it what it really is. I think of it as an informal, unorganized, unrecognized, children’s school strike and it is high time that the adults in our world take responsibility for our school system failing to work for our children so that they can keep their executives and lawyers employed. It is high time that we stand up for our children. In Colorado where I live and have been a policy expert at our State Education Agency I know that the actual impact of school trauma is not only leaving our children inadequately educated, we are experiencing an alarming volume of children who SHOULD BE identified in the special education process with serious emotional disability (SED), but instead we are a beautiful, sunny and visibly family friendly state filled with fires and uncontrollable violence (including gun violence), homelessness, substance use, and ultimately premature death. To me it looks and feels like a genocide.
At the heart of the matter is the fact that our children are being shamed and blamed (pushed) into dropping out of school. The children themselves are being wronged for their perceived failure to fit into or be able to tolerate a system that is not serving their needs. And their parents are also being blamed and shamed. We all need to wake up. The failure is not the children. The failure is the adults. Specifically, the failure is the adults running the schools. In Cole’s case, it’s a team of administrators led by a lawyer who oppressed him while a bunch of well meaning teacher stood by and let it happen to him.
Shame on us all.
For myself and for my own children, we understand that it isn’t just us (even though it feels like it is). This is a straightforward systemic children’s rights issue. Something must be done to turn this train all the way around. Our own individual advocacy for our children is inadequate. Children’s advocacy is being completely disregarded. Kids are being beat down. We are all getting a beat down. And the truth of the matter is that in our state it is common practice for our school district lawyers to settle special education violation cases for lump sums of money (if your family is privileged enough to be able to retain counsel). This is perpetuating a system of human rights violations.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Back to mourning my beautiful, brilliant, and wise child’s tragic death.
These phrases have come up time and again over the last many years in conversations with my teenagers. The truth is that these phrases do not commonly come into my own mind. I don’t recall my parents using those phrases too often so I guess they weren’t drilled directly into my own psyche. Thank god! And anyone who really knows me knows that’s really not my gig at all. I don’t pretend to be anyone but myself. Almost 💯 at this point in my life. I am shameless and I own my life with pride.
Some people may not see me this way. That’s fine. I’m a person that some people might just call a hot mess. Yes. Others probably describe me as cold or sharp. Sometimes I am those things. And then there are some people who just call me authentic. It really depends on who is making the judgment call. I accept it all. I am who I am, as Popeye said. 💪🏼
The point is that our kids have plenty of influencers in their lives other than me and these well intended phrases got a little stuck in their psyche. They have received plenty of unsolicited advice over the years, as we all do. It’s difficult to filter it all, especially when we are young. And they know exactly who their mom is. They know I am tough as nails, kind of nuts, and am wholehearted. And I imagine that they may have thought all the things themselves about me. I guess I don’t really appear to be the norm in our circle. They know I don’t have my shit together all the time. But really…how can a person like me have all of my shit together? It’s not a simple life. Lots of moving parts. I think of it kind of like a freight train. The destination is always the key for me.
Destiny is all, as Uhtred says. I will keep praying and working hard to make peace. And I think you may be right, Cole. Peace may just be the devil’s aim. I’m coming to terms with the devils. Rest in All of Your Power, sweet boy. Now you are a real angel.
FEARS ARE EDUCATED INTO US, AND CAN, IF WE WISH, BE EDUCATED OUT.” KARL A. MENNINGER
Evidently some words are for sale. Or at least a few I recently learned. “Deaf” “Deaf Education” “ASL” and “dDeaf”. WTAF?!✌🏼
Last night I watched the movie CODA for the third time. The familial conflicts and the hurt and distrustful feelings expressed throughout cut close to the bone. Really close. Every time I watch a movie or a show like CODA I can relate and I find myself longing to step inside their world to expand my own family’s world. This time when I watched CODA I tried to focus more closely on the brother’s character, the actual words, and the sibling rivalry and overall relationship.
CODA is getting a lot of attention. As it should. The actual lived experience of families like ours may seem exotic and scary to most people. We are quite naturally misplaced into a “standard Deaf” cultural box. Believe me I know. I have lived experience now raising a child born deaf. I have a deaf heart. The truth is that the question I dread is the one I am asked most frequently. “How do you sign _____?” I actually have a trauma response to this question. Please God (7SF1s) make it stop for the love of OZShalom and peace in our own family.
The truth is that I myself have been saddled with the responsibility of being a resource for all things deaf related for almost two decades now. Much like Ruby who is the CODA character in the film, this is because I am a ModYA in real life and it is quite apparently a commandment. I must do this job…or else. I suspect this label ModDYA that I’ve given myself will piss some people off. It’s unavoidable, so let’s see how that acronym flies out in the world. ModDYA = Mother of a Deaf Young Adult. Please understand that I am trying really hard (as I have been for several years) ONLY to relate my OWN experience and perspective, especially when it comes to the BIG D. I am only human. So here’s my take.
When I became a mother to a deaf baby I was automatically thrust into a no win situation. Damned if I do ____. Damned if I don’t ____. It’s been a horror show, quite frankly. AND I SAY FUCK THIS. 🖕🏼✌🏼⚕️The politics in the Deaf Elite/Mafia circle are FEARSOME and FEARFUL and FIERCE. The truth of the matter is that I feel very confident that I made SOLID decisions based on our family’s circumstances and the support and information I had at the time. The ONLY decision I now regret is the cochlear implantation at such a young age. It wasn’t necessary and I sincerely wish I would have been counseled to take more time to consider the cochlear implantation when my deaf baby was not even three years old. We could have been supported to commit fully to learning how to communicate more effectively and inclusively as a FAMILY. I needed much more counseling and personal experience before making that decision and I do regret that I didn’t have enough of those BUT looking back the professional recommendations and a PERVASIVE AUDIST world that overvalues hearing privelege heavily weighed against me and my deaf baby on that one decision. I can say now that at the time it really seemed like a no brainer. Now I know much more through my OWN lived experience. I can also say that my child who is now a deaf young adult has assured me and even thanked me for giving them all of the opportunities I could, including the cochlear implants (which I’ve had to fight medicaid like a laywer/mom for recently). All of that said, I wish now is that I would have waited on the implant. Waited until there was more information about my child’s development. I wish I would have trusted my own instinct to just stay the course and keep learning and using English and ASL and Cued Speech and written words and and and and. I’m a good mom. I am an inclusive person. These things I preach. In fact, I have been labeled EVANGELICAL about linguistic FREEDOM. I ACCEPT this. That feels true. Because I know that hearing is unnecessary. It’s the whole world’s FUCKED UP views that is the problem. That’s how I see things anyway.
Last night after watching CODA again I was recalling my own babies. One born deaf. Two were not. The twins were learning ASL before we even knew we were in a dDeaf world. My kids were being raised almost singlehandedly by me. I was their first and full time teacher. When we weren’t making our usual rounds to storytime at the library or bookstore, swimming, playing at the playground and gardens, reading and singing, doing puzzles and traveling around with friends and family, we were watching Sesame Street, Blue’s Clues, and SIGNING TIME videos. Truth. I have frequently credited SIGNING TIME videos created by another mom just like me with not only teaching us some ASL, but with also inspiring my children to learn to read. By the time we got the dDeaf identity the twins were both already fingerspelling and using and making up their own signs with each other. And neither were speaking. And then when I began cueing fluently the whole world opened up wider because now they could both understand what their own mother was saying. At the same exact time. Naturally. Only one without access to the actual sound of my voice. Cueing came easily to me (THANKS TO THE MAX OZSHALOM) and I still think it’s brilliant. It’s also ingrained in our family culture. It is the way in which we communicate whether our deaf family member is present or absent. I think and dream in CUED SPEECH. Truth be told, I have raised three Cuers. Two who are native Cuers. One deaf. One not. Many of the people we know who are deaf are Cuers and signers. It’s our community. https://stuckinmybra.com/2021/07/12/its-called-cued-speech/
I’m in Houston, Texas today sitting down outside the central library at a public reflecting pool resting and gathering my thoughts. My twins are now nearly twenty years old and are separated and both far away from home right now. The truth is I am grieving their rough childhood and our damaged family life. The truth is I am disappointed in the world. The truth is I am disappointed in myself because I couldn’t keep them safe from life and that is my primary objective. To keep my children safe. I wish I would have known how hostile it would really be when I had my babies. I’m also not sure that it matters how much I knew. It only matters that people are hostile. That’s the problem.
Much gratitude to a sweet and spiritual man named Larry who sensed my pain and stopped to pray for me right as I was photographing this tree. I loved that. A perfect stranger stopping to focus his prayers on me. Now I am off to daycation by myself before I head back home to my youngest and my husband who I love dearly. I have a beautiful fractured but loveable little family.
My one last thought is that I hope that my kids love and care about and will be able to support each other to grow and stay connected in love. That’s what I saw on that screen watching the movie. CODA portrayed a rough life for a good little protective and isolated family. And I hope that film will change the world for the better. Tangibly. Not fleetingly. We certainly need it.
Today Rudy turns 52 and this is his year in review. It’s a birthday gift for my fool because I am proud of him.
Last year around this time Rudy stepped up and supported our mixed family and friends to organize Solid Ground Denver, which started out of sheer necessity to support a small group of DEAF and Disabled students who are 15-21 in order to continue their formal education and develop employment skills. This meant becoming a vendor of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Division of a Vocational Rehabilitation. This proved to be a Herculean advocacy and paperwork effort in order to serve clients of this corrupt government agency. The learning curve was brutal BUT what has come out of it are solid community partnerships that have been valuable and are growing. (We are no longer doing business with DVR.)
Rudy invested our family into a membership with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. He jumped right into leadership training to become a project leader and he co-led his first project last August on land owned by Mountain Area Land Trust in Fairplay. We worked together with one of our twins rebuilding public trails. https://www.voc.org/
Rudy led our Solid Ground Denver family to learn farming by joining up with an organization called Grow Local Colorado last spring. Under his direction and never ending supply of personal manpower, we have now turned our little homestead in Park Hill into a Grow Local Community urban farm. He even built us a chicken run so that we can eat fresh eggs! http://www.growlocalcolorado.org/
Last spring Rudy decided to embrace life with more optimism and joined Optimist International. He was immediately tapped for the position of President in a new club called the Joint Venture Virtual Optimist Club focused on supporting the children of Firefly Autism. Here’s the club website that just went live! https://www.jvvoc.com/ PLEASE DONATE AND JOIN!
Rudy jumped in to help friend, Chef Cliff Trubowitz, to startup his new restaurant called Turnover Darling in downtown Denver. He made all of those yummy turnovers, including my favorite “French” turnover. Yum!
Rudy journeyed inward last spring under the guidance of Bud Wilson with Deep Nature Journey. He led me and our twins in a three day solo camp in the Canyonlands of Utah. Not easy or comfortable, but very worthwhile. We grew ourselves and learned a lot together. https://deepnaturejourneys.com/
Rudy joined on as a cast member with a theater troupe called Spackle The Crack which is producing a new live show at the People’s theater in Aurora, Colorado. Come watch them in live action on April 30 and again in May! Tickets and info here. https://www.denver.org/event/spackle-the-crack/88582/
Rudy also did the regular old family guy stuff that only our little family witnesses. He seems most proud of replacing yet another garbage disposal, but I appreciate his true life partnership in one of my most turbulent and trying years. I am grateful for this man and I love this peacefool with all of my hearts. That’s just the truth.