The news is depressing as hell.

Disabled people are literally asking politicians to not kill us and the politicians are asking why.

Nobody in my house is as clean as I would like them to be, including me.

My wonderful neighborhood pool has pipe problems and is delayed in its opening, and it is so humid you could cut the air with a knife.

And the entire country may be blown up by north korea, you know, any minute now.

So I slog on.  My back hurts.  My head hurts.  Everything hurts and there’s not much to do about it.

I look for jobs in my field to no avail, and in the meantime, in my part-time job, the world’s most adorable toddler has turned into a part-time demon.

I’m told it’s called being a Threenager.

Here are some verses I wrote about it.  I hope you enjoy.


I am a 3. I disagree.

I am a 3. I disagree.


I won’t get in my carseat

And then I won’t get out

I won’t ever be quiet

‘til it’s time to scream and shout


I’m a threenager, a teenager,

Who’s only 3 feet tall

Climbing tables chairs and railings

I know you’ll catch me if I fall


I vow I will stay naked

Until it’s time to take a bath

Then it must be time for snowsuits

And I don’t know why you laugh


I am capable and clever

Profound as a philosopher

But I lie on the floor screaming

‘cause I can’t eat the cat’s fur!


I’ve got the whole world’s future in the palm of my hand,

I’m trying hard to get it but I just don’t’ understand.

These grownups they just keep me down and keep me confined

They act as if I do not know my very own mind!


I’m doing acrobatics while I’m eating at the table

You say ‘please put your toys away’ but I don’t think I’m able

I hear it’s time to wash my hands but I’m too busy playing

I hear it’s time to go to sleep – I don’t know what you’re saying!


I kind of know my letters and most of my numbers too

I’m pretty sure my name contains an X, a Y, a Q

And though I may not know everything, it’s certainly more than you…………

Because I’m 3. And I disagree.


(note: this is actually a song and above mentioned three year old is in love with it and is now calling herself a threenager. but I can’t write music or explain and I’m pretty sure I borrowed the tune from five or six different places. I encourage you to make up your own tune and sing it to the toddler in your life.)


A Future I Didn’t Know Existed

In my state, it is not uncommon to see small, oval plaques on houses declaring that this house was built in 1790, or 1850, and that so-and-so lived here or did this then.  As I pass these plaques, driving my automatic car with heat and light and listening to a podcast, I sometimes think about how someone once peered out those windows of wavy glass to see horses and dusty roads and flora and fauna long gone from this region, and about the fact that the future I live in now was completely unimaginable to them.  I think of them as living so long ago, but it was really the blink of an eye.  Because just as strange as a car would seem to someone from 1825, so my daily life now includes technology and people that I wouldn’t recognize as a teenager.

When you don’t know something exists, when you don’t know that the possibility of something exists, then it is unimaginable and unattainable.  When you learn of the existence of a community that values you for you, you realize that nothing is impossible at all.

But for a long, long time – I didn’t know this.

You see………..


When I was growing up, we had nearby neighbors who were roommates.  At least, that’s what my parents told me.  Rosemary and Linda were roommates, who lived together (presumably in separate bedrooms) and mowed the lawn and gave out Halloween candy and had a friendly, black-and-white dog named Lucy who often escaped to play with our dog as a puppy.  At some point in my early twenties, however, it occurred to me that Rosemary and Linda weren’t roommates at all.

“They’re gay, aren’t they?”  I asked my mother.

“Yes,” she said, but she couldn’t explain exactly why she and my father had decided to make up the roommate story.  They just……thought it would make things…..easier.  To not have to explain.

In middle school, I was introduced to Ms. Nurey, who was openly gay at a time – the mid nineteen-nineties – when that was slowly becoming socially acceptable.  I remember looking at her and thinking that she didn’t teach any differently or look any differently from anybody else, and that confused me.  I wasn’t exactly sure what ‘gay’ was, other than that you didn’t date men.  Nobody explained to me that you could not only date women, you could fall in love with, have relationships and families, with other women.

It never came up.  I didn’t ask.  And since I didn’t ask, nobody answered.

I have a half-dozen cousins a decade or two older than I am.  Between them and a few of my parents friends, I knew what a wedding was: a church hall or a country club, the bride in a white dress, the groom in a dark suit, myself in scratchy taffeta or lace, panicked and hungry and inevitably dissociating the night away.  Nobody ever said to me, ‘you can live together without being married’ or ‘you can be married without having children’ or even, ‘you can marry someone non-white’ – because with one exception, (so remarkable to me as a teenager that I got in trouble for pointing it out) there wasn’t a single person of color at any of those weddings I went to. Nobody ever even said, ‘you don’t have to go to all these stupid weddings that you are incredibly miserable at’.*

Getting married to a white person of the opposite gender was right there in the solid line every single person in my world followed: college, career, a few relationships, a serious one, a wedding, kids.  At some point, you move from the city to the suburbs and buy a house.  These were not just goals; they were literally the only ideas about life that I was exposed to.  Yes, I knew single women, my mother included, but the divorce inevitably happened only after all the aforementioned stuff.

I knew of gay adults, but I didn’t know any myself.  In the same way, I knew of disabled people, I read books and watched television, but the only disabled person I knew was the kid with Down syndrome who I always envied for his ease with social pragmatics.  I certainly didn’t know any disabled adults.  I mean, they must have existed, but where did they live?  In their own, special suburb, maybe?

I’ve been thinking about these things lately because of a picture I saw on facebook of someone I grew up with, at a wedding shower with six other girls I recognized from grade school.  Although I’ve only snapshots to confirm it, most of them appear to have followed the path that our lily-white, wealthy suburban upbringing prepared us for.  I recognize them because they look the same as they did in high school; their brightly-colored, seasonally-appropriate dresses fall at the same length, they are all thin, all wear just the right amount of makeup, no visible tattoos, heels, and stand straight to smile with good teeth at the camera.  With few exceptions, I have rarely seen anyone I grew up with since graduation day.  We spent 12 years together, but at the end of the 12 years, because of my faceblindness, I still didn’t know everyone’s names, in my class of under two hundred kids.

The people that I hang out with today don’t look anything like my high school classmates.  I was at a party yesterday and people talked and ate and played games and told the children to please, don’t climb the bookcases, and within the ten or fourteen people there were at least three genders, multiple ethnicities and languages, skin from blue to black to actual-white-like-they-have-albinism-white, varying ways of being queer, varying sizes of service and seeing eye dogs, varying abilities to think and laugh and understand.  Nobody asked for any accommodation because accommodating strangers is as easy as accommodating friends, which is, as natural as breathing.  I admired someone’s full arm-length tattoo of sea creatures and listened to a mom describe why she and her wife chose a nature preschool for their daughter.  I accepted that skin color of the kid had nothing to do with skin color of the parent.

Every time I’m with these people, I fall in love, over and over again.  Not with the individuals but with the collective whole, the people who gather around and debate the merits of the special Olympics and German pronouns. I have a slightly different set of friends who, though lacking the outward diversity of the first set, are people I feel that I grew to be an adult with, people who I celebrate holidays with, whose kids climb on my lap unasked and uninvited and whisper in my ear, “unicorns and dragons”.  (I threw this kid a baby shower, how is she able to read?) Both groups – though there is definitely overlap between the two – know to ask before hugging or touching someone, know to label allergens, to wait for me as I stutter through sentences when words aren’t coming out.  They get the hilarity and the heartbreak of my daily struggles, and even as they commiserate with me over my latest doctor visit, they laugh with me when I grasp for a metaphor and come up with “the worth of your body!”

I don’t know if this community existed when I graduated from high school.  I do know that had I known it existed, it would have given me a hell of a lot more hope, because even then I knew that I didn’t fit the mold, that I wouldn’t ever be walking down an aisle in a long white dress.  I hated the prom but wasn’t smart enough to fit in with the true geeks and nerds in their AP classes.  In a place where raw intelligence was valued very highly, my learning disabilities were never mentioned in the context of adulthood.  I guess I thought that they would disappear with my (terrible, awful, seriously bad) IEP.

I remember in college being exposed to my first adults with disabilities, and the revelation I felt when I realized, “These are my people.”  Over and over, at community events, non-profit meetings, holiday parties, the adult disability world welcomed me and each time I felt awe as they drew me in.  It was the same way when I found Unitarian Univeralism.  Here were people who didn’t fit the mold: here were people like me.

“I have found my people!” I remember writing somewhere.  My people, as it turned out, didn’t look like my high school classmates.  My people were fat and bone-thin, used wheelchairs, crutches, Braille and seeing eye dogs.  My people were patient beyond belief, had a dark sense of humor, dated half a dozen people at a time, one person at a time, nobody and were content.  My people had biological and adopted and foster kids and cats that got more attention than any and all of the human kids combined.  My people are almost universally liberal, are often atheists, and nearly all of them enjoy a good chocolate cake that I’m more than happy to provide.  My people, in short, are amazing.  And being with them, just by extension, makes me feel amazing too.

A few years ago, I was not invited to my ten-year high school reunion, despite being not that hard to find.  I realized later that because of its location, at a crowded, noisy bar, I wouldn’t have been able to go, anyway.  And besides, what was the point?  What do I have to show for my years since high school? A few useless degrees, a lot of diagnoses, a body that is much bigger, a sense of humor that is darker?  I don’t have a real job, a real career, a real anything.  Those kids, whose middle-school clique I would have killed to be in, probably barely remember me, anyway.

Here’s the thing, though.  I have an autistic memory.  And due to that memory, I can remember every slight, every hurt feeling, every class I failed.  The people I grew up with?  They can’t do that.  They can’t look back at the years and rewind the videotape.  They have sepia-toned glass plates of memory, if they remember me at all.  And just as I am sure they see me in sepia, so I see them now.  They must all have their share of troubles and trials and challenges, but they don’t show up on facebook.  I must remember to have compassion for the people they have grown into now, if I expect anyone to have equal compassion for me.

I just wish……….I just wish that somewhere, somewhere along the road somebody took me aside and said, “you know what? You don’t have to………….” Which brings me to this essay.  Which brings me to now.

The whole ‘it gets better’ trope seems a bit odd to me, because I think that the idea of what ‘better’ is seems to be a narrowly defined concept.  I’m actually much worse off, medically, than I was just a few years ago.  I don’t know if my teenage self would have defined my life now as ‘better’ because I don’t meet any of her defined parameters of success.  Also, I’m still disabled – I never overcame it like they did in all the books – and I’m pretty sure 18 year old me would see that as failure.

So maybe what I’d like to tell my younger self is that life may not get better, but it does get different.  And there are so many, many, many ways to live life that you cannot imagine because you have never been exposed to anything because you’re in high school!  Sure, books taught me the best way to Narnia, but the best way to find a home was never mentioned.  And anyway, life isn’t about places, life isn’t about circumstances, life is about people.  It’s about different people living different lives in different ways.  It’s about jumping and trusting these people will catch you.  It’s about going to the edge, peering over, and seeing someone in the dark abyss handing you a flashlight.

I don’t know anything.  I don’t know if the world will end tomorrow in nuclear war, if healthcare will be gutted and my friends will die, if the seas will rise and drown the sidewalks I slowly, slowly amble down.  I only know that there is more than one road, more than two roads.  There are endless numbers of different roads, and I will choose the one where my people wait.  They are using their forearm crutches decorated in rainbow flags, they are wearing dresses with skulls printed on them, they have beards the color of their cute skirts, they are like nobody I ever imagined growing up.

And best of all?  They are mine.



*for the record, I still hate weddings.  They are too loud, too crowded, and too confusing.  I spend the entire time hungry because of my food aversions and the cake is inevitably too sweet, over-dry, and much worse than something I could bake myself

The Learning Winter

This has been a hard winter.  It hasn’t been a long winter, time has been passing as it usually does, somehow getting faster with every birthday.  But it has been hard.  I am trying to reframe this in my mind as a Learning Winter, but honestly, some of the things I’ve learned? I could’ve done without.

Most of January was taken up with preparing for my back surgery, having my back surgery, and recovering from my back surgery.  The surgery went well – initially.  They sent me home (well, to my mother’s) on opioids that afternoon, after learning that I come out of anesthesia very violently. (This is apparently a common thing among autistic people. Who knew? More people should know this.) Very early the next morning, I learned I was non-reactive to opioids, and was in so much pain I could not move at all.

In the aftermath of my surgery, I learned that EMTs are really, really nice, even when you need to call them twice within a twenty-four hour period.  I learned – very, very, very important – that I am either non-reactive or allergic to most opioids, or at least, the four they tried on me.  I learned that ERs and hospitals in general are absolutely awful, hellish places for people, but for autistic people in particular.  After my mom finally went home six hours into ER visit number 2 and it was clear I was being admitted, I learned that it is perfectly possible to be lying in an ER room and not get any help for hours.  Also, that if you can move, the nurses will think your pain is better.  (It isn’t, I just really, really, really had to pee and nobody answered when I called for help repeatedly.)

I learned that I need to get that drug interaction into my chart ASAP because when you have a 103 degree fever and are hallucinating that you are on a boat people will not take you seriously when you say, “you know I think I’m allergic to that? It gave me this rash, earlier?”

I learned that there was absolutely no boat ride involved in my hospital stay, but I still hate boats.  (I hated boats before, though.  I knew that.)

I learned that if you can physically show signs of distress, by crying or contorting your face, people will take your pain more seriously.

I learned that I can survive enormous amounts of pain, and that the sooner you can leave the hospital, the better.  Also quite a lot about self-advocacy and care plans and how hospitals work, both little details like food and big details like I’m allergic to this thing, what do you do. I’m trying to impart this knowledge to medical professionals now through various measures, and in the meantime, life goes on, winter goes on, I keep learning.

We had a snowstorm.  It was cold.  I learned not to trust the guy down the street to jump your car for $20 because he might cross the wires and cause over $200 in damage to the steering controls.

I’ve been going to church, even though we have an interim minister I am not too fond of.  And I am learning that churches just don’t function so well under interim ministers.  I am learning to wait for the new minister.  This is a true lesson in patience. With interim ministers, things don’t get done.  Issues aren’t resolved.  Things happen, and I know for a fact that they won’t get dealt with, and there is nothing I can do about it. 

I was sitting in a meeting after church, trying to learn about an important social and political issue.  There were perhaps twenty or twenty five people listening to a speaker, most of whom I knew, many of whom I’ve known for years.  The speaker was very academic and spoke very fast.  I was trying my hardest to follow, and to keep my body still despite the flickering lightbulb above and the uncomfortable chair and I was eighteen days out from my back surgery. I guess two or three questions/comments weren’t acceptable to Kathy, (sitting next to me) because she stuck her arm out, across my chest, in the universal ‘shut up’ gesture and said, ‘shhhhhh!’

Like I was a baby.  Or an errant three year old.  Or a dog.  Shhhhhh.

I lasted maybe another minute or two before I fled and melted in a corridor and I learned, yet again, that PTSD fucking sucks. Because here’s the thing about PTSD: when Kathy ‘shhhhh’d’ me, my brain was in first and second and third grade, having so much to say but having the words come out all wrong.  My body was transported back to a summer camp I attended at thirteen, and hearing someone say, ‘I wish someone would tape Ekie’s mouth shut’.  I was once again the only college freshman actually excited to learn about something and eager to have political discussions in intro to poli sci.  I was sitting in the office of a faculty member at my fellowship last year, hearing her ask me, ‘Could you maybe try counting to thirty before you say anything’.

I learned that as I deal with trauma in my body, my mind is more susceptible to outside trauma.  I learned that when I am having a meltdown I am in absolutely no position to deal with an apology from the person who caused it. The only thing I can do after a meltdown is collapse while all of my past selves come slowly back from green college campuses and stuffy boardrooms and classrooms with cork-board walls, to coalesce into the functioning adult I spend my days pretending that I am.

I learned that I may qualify for a type of government benefit, but due to my learning disabilities I have a very hard time filling out the form. I spent a full hour on hold with the agency until they asked me did I want to take a survey about how satisfied I was with the service I received.  I never received any service. I called back later. I spent another full hour on hold before a computer informs me that the line is too long and I should call back…..later.  I tried calling again, and learned that sometimes if you transpose two numbers of a government phone number you end up on a phone sex line.

All I need is help filling out one form. 

It isn’t fair.

It shouldn’t be this hard.

But I am learning that it is, and it always will be.

And if it is this hard for me, a relatively privileged cis white woman raised upper-middle-class, how much harder is it for people who do not have my privileges?  I did not fear calling the EMTs, even though they were accompanied by police officers.  I had the safety net of my state and federal Medicaid to pay for the operation and all the medications.  I had a relative’s home I could recuperate at.  I have resources to access more healthcare as I continue to deal with the never-ending, energy-sucking, soul-sapping pain.

I acknowledge all these privileges, and I acknowledge that due to my sensory and health issues, I have not gone to a single rally or protest and it is quite likely I never will.  Because even as I deal with my own small issues, at large, the country is in a constant state of implosion.  I honestly have no idea if the United States will even exist as we know it a year from now, or if it will further descend into fascism and anarchy, with the top-level government filled with people who don’t ‘believe’ in such basic facts as global warming, vaccines, or, you know, human rights.

I know so many amazing, kind, beautiful kids who are so full of potential it bursts out of them, and I am growing more convinced by the day that many of them will not live to grow up, or that the world they inhabit will be so drastically different from mine that it will be unrecognizable.  This planet is all we humans have got, and we humans are making it uninhabitable for life.  All life, not just ours.

I am learning to live with this fear and anxiety.  I am learning to take it day by day just as I always have.  I am learning – I continue to learn – to set boundaries, to know and listen to my own body, to seek out people who get it, to do what I can, where I can, when I can.  And if that means that social and political activism needs to take a back seat for a while so I can deal with my body, then I must learn to accept that as well.

It is all I can do.

It is all anyone can do.

We can only keep learning.

Please …..Don’t…… Pray For Me.

I’m having surgery.

The surgeon explained that, if my spine was a long row of jelly donuts, the bone would be the donut part and the discs would be the jelly.  And the jelly on one of my donuts – discs – is pushing out against a nerve and that is causing me pain.  He is actually the first doctor to say, ‘you must be in a lot of pain.’  Yes!  Yes, I am.  So they are going to go in and cut away the extruded part of the disc, and that has a 93% chance of eliminating my pain.

I like those odds.

I like the doctor.

I’ve been dealing with this injury for going on eight months now.  I’ve tried three different medications, chiropractor, massage, physical therapy and acupuncture.  Nothing has significantly helped, although I’ve recently discovered Tylenol with codeine and I’m kind of in love.

So anyway.  Surgery.  They’re being incredibly accommodating and I’m getting a special tour of where it will be happening and a meeting with the anesthesiologist and everything.  It’s day surgery and then I’ll go to my mom’s for a few weeks to recover.

I’m very excited and happy about this.  I post about it on facebook. One of my friends, a devout Catholic, posts that he will pray for me.

And now I’m having a dilemma.  Because I know that it is rude to tell other people to believe or what to do, but……but I really, really, really do not want to be prayed for.  Especially by a Catholic.

This makes me sound like a horrible person.  I’ve never doubted that I am, but I beg of you to please let me explain.

For an atheist, I have an awful lot of faith, just not faith in supernatural entities.  I have faith in human beings, in science, in rationality.  I have faith that my bones and tissue will be the same as the bones and tissue in other human beings, even though I cannot see them.  I have faith that the surgeon and his assistants have enough training and experience to do this procedure correctly.  I have faith that I can follow the limitations set for me after the surgery so that I do not reinjure myself.  I have faith that the painkillers and anesthesia will work.

So for me, when I hear someone say, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ when they mean that they will pray to a supernatural deity I know does not exist, what I hear is, ‘I do not have the faith that you have in science and doctors.  I think that something will go wrong, and that you can only be saved by divine intervention.’

I know, of course, that this most likely isn’t what they mean.  What they mean is that they will ask a deity that they really do believe in to intervene on my behalf, to ensure that things go smoothly.  My deist friends would say that god works through surgeons and through medicines too.  They would say that praying for me is an act of love, and that what they call god is what I know as love.

This may be true, but I’m realizing as I grow older that love and respect are not the same thing.  And I would much prefer to have both.

I believe very strongly that religions overall do more harm than good in the world.  People created the ideas of god and religion millennia ago because they lacked ways to explain the universe and the natural world.  However, we can now explain the vast majority of witnessed phenomena through science and scientific inquiry.  Last time I checked, there were no scholarly journals which affirmed that a deity exists.  (If there were, I would honestly be more than open to the idea of one.)

Religion causes wars and bombings and national and local policies that directly harm peoples health.  When abortions are outlawed, they do not stop, they just stop being safe.  The Catholic church has done an enormous amount of damage to the world by insisting that abortion and birth control are bad things.  They and other Christian groups have kicked people out of their groups for having a marginalized identity, like being gay.  I believe that religion, and especially religious fundamentalism, is a direct threat to the health and well being of this country. So when someone says, ‘I’ll pray for you’, what comes to my mind is not a smiling Jesus cradling children in his arms.  It is the centuries of hate and death and destruction that religions have wrought on people around the world.

I freely admit that I am not that well versed in world religions, and I know by far the most about the traditional Abrahamic faiths, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.  I have no idea if Buddhists and Sikhs and Hindus and Druids and all the rest have been as harmful as my research indicates other religions to be.

What I do know is that I would rather not be prayed for.  I would rather people acknowledge that my own hard work and persistence have been what pays off, not sending wishes upward to a nonexistent being.  My surgery will be paid for through government sponsored healthcare, which many religious groups are actively against.  If I lived in a state where the religious right has a stranglehold on the government, such as in Mississippi, I would be looking at living in pain for the rest of my life.  Instead, through the hard work of others who have come before me, I get a solution.  I get surgery.

And I am grateful.  I am so grateful to the lawmakers and ordinary citizens who made state healthcare possible.  I am grateful for the professors who taught my doctor how to do this procedure and for the high standards of the hospital I will go to.  I am grateful for the people who work to sanitize the operating rooms so I will not get an infection.  I am grateful I have family I can recuperate with.

I am grateful for people.  Not a deity, not a supernatural being.  Just ordinary people, working hard in their daily lives to make mine better.

I would like to acknowledge here that I am a bit of a hypocrite, saying that religion is a bad thing, because I myself identify as religious. However, and yes, this is probably even more hypocritical, I do believe that Unitarian Universalists are one of the few exceptions (there may be more – Quakers come to mind, but I don’t know, I’m not a religions expert) to the religion-is-more-harmful-than-good rule.  This is because UUism has no creed, has no fixed belief system beyond ‘be kind to the earth and each other’.  People are free to believe what they wish.  We do not impose our agenda on anyone nor cause direct harm to come to people who do not share our beliefs.

This is where UUism and many other major religions differ.  To go back to the example I gave above, the Catholic church has for decades been an instrumental force in forbidding access to safe, legal birth control in many countries.  As a result, women have more children than they want, and they are not able to provide for them properly.  They and their children may die in childbirth.  As another example, some religions do not believe in global warming.  They are so firm in their belief that this life is temporary, that we will all be happy in heaven soon enough, that they willfully ignore the real science that tells us our planet is in grave danger.  This leads to people losing their homes as sea levels increase, to animals and people dying as the weather grows more extreme, to the extinction of entire species, like polar bears, and, most probably, to the extinction of human life itself before too long.  I have not found any examples where UUism has caused direct physical harm to come to entire groups of people or other living things.

I understand that saying a few words to an invisible deity makes many people feel better.  But instead of talking to a deity, why don’t you talk to people?  Talk to lawmakers and ensure better access to healthcare for all.  Talk to your doctor and if they don’t accept Medicaid (as *many* doctors don’t) ask them why and put pressure on them to do so.  Talk to your town about fixing the broken sidewalks that make it hard for people with disabilities to get around. Talk to your bus driver about turning on the darn announcements so that blind people can know where to get off. Talk to your family about being more accepting of people of all abilities and diversities.  Talk to your friends about making social events more accessible to all.  Talk to me about what I should watch on Netflix and amazon while I recuperate from my surgery.

Just, please, don’t talk to your god, or any god, for that matter.  Not on my behalf.


The Racist’s Guide to the Magic Cabin Catalog

So a few years ago I bought the Little One a Fancy Toy from a Fancy Catalog and got on a few mailing lists.  One day when I was home sick I was leafing through it and realized that, hey, you know what? Some of these toys are really rather racist.  Thus this post.

This list is meant to be satire and funny.  It is meant to recognize the ridiculousness and absurdity of some of these high end toys.  It is meant to make fun of the holier-than-though attitude written into the product descriptions.  And it is meant to point out the casual yet horrible stereotypes this company promotes and produces.  Don’t get me wrong, if I had endless money I would love to give (and heck, receive) many of the toys in this catalog.  They have some really, really cool stuff.  The selection below is merely the most egregious examples of hipster-toys-gone-too-far. And also, you know, white people who see nothing wrong with the fact that it’s 2016 and they are selling play tomahawks, for crying out loud.

Full disclosure: I got this idea from this post,  And all the images in this post were taken from the Magic Cabin website at

Pirate Ship and Pirates


Ahoy there!  If you’re raising children of color and want them to have positive role models in organic wooden dolls, look no further than these pirate dolls, which feature one of the few play figures of color in the entire catalog in the form of a swashbuckling (what the feck does that even mean) sailor who is out for blood and treasure.  While you’re at it, throw in the only disabled doll this company offers in the form of a captain with a peg leg.  Two stereotypes for the price of six!

(image of a wooden pirate ship and 6 wooden/cloth pirates, one of whom is  person of color, in colorful felt clothes.)

Price: $32.98 – $259

Eco Bricks



In case it is not apparent from the description and photos: these are legos (trademarked).  They are fancy, eco-friendly cherry wood legos, to be sure, but when it comes down to it……they are legos.  Some time ago, some brilliant Danish person came up with the great idea to make tiny, attachable bricks that adults and children love.  Today, you can get legos in every shape, size, and color imaginable.  If you have a fandom, they have a lego set for it.  The only problem with legos, however, is that they are – gasp! – plastic.  How you could even consider letting Mildred and Tobias play with something plastic is beyond me.  Sure, the original legos are colorful and these are all the same pale blonde wood which matches the children’s hair, but the kids can color and paint these so that you can be reminded of how terrible their fine motor skills were for years to come!  And if you isolate them enough so that they do not know media exists, you can also hold off on the begging for the Star Wars sets or the Harry Potter sets or the Women in Science sets (which is pretty cool.)

Real question here: do the eco-friendly cherry wood non-legos hurt when you step on them with bare feet?  If so, maybe they are worth the cost.

(image of pale blond bricks that look exactly like legos, but wooden.)

Price: 19.98-64.98

Deluxe Wool Felt


Is it made of wool, or is it made of diamond unicorn droppings?  I don’t know.  But at eight dollars a piece, or less when you buy it in sets, I’m betting there’s something special about it, besides the fact that it is 100% wool and imported from Europe.  Sure, you could get the same thing on amazon for next to nothing, or get (gasp!) synthetic felt at the craft store for 30 cents a piece, but this is real wool.  From real sheep, not plastic sheep.  Can you imagine giving your children anything else to cover in glitter and tear into pieces?  I certainly can’t.

(image of felt in a variety of colors.)

Price: from $7.98 for an individual piece of 18 inch felt, to much more for packets of it.

Food Truck Play Set


Although ultimately losing to the above Eco Bricks, the wooden Food Truck Play Set was a runner-up for the winner of the Most Hipster Toy Ever contest this year.  It’s not enough for children to just use ordinary blocks or playgrounds to pretend to be today’s consumers of street food, no, they must also have this Food Truck set.  Despite the fact that the majority of food trucks sell ethnic cuisine from around the world, this food truck set reinforces the idea that Americans should only eat ice cream and pizza* by providing tiny wooden examples of each.  Don’t forget your ethnically-ambiguous servers to go with them.

*seriously I’ve seen a ton of food trucks, they are wicked popular in my area, yet they don’t ever have a pizza food truck because good pizzas require huge ovens.  Pizza is just not part of food truck culture, period.

(image of 4 dolls, two with light hair, two with dark hair maybe meant to be Hispanic, posed around a blue wooden food truck with wooden ice cream and wooden pizza.)

Price: $59.98

Frontier Fun Dress-Up Sets


Are you tired of not being able to buy high-quality culturally offensive toys for children?  Well, look no further than Magic Cabin, which has decided to bring back the 1950’s with ‘frontier accessories’ made in Germany, where at least some people are following in their ancestors footsteps with the demonization of certain groups.  Let your child pretend to scalp their friends with the tomahawk or the knife!  Conveniently ignore the fact that feather headdresses are part of sacred cultural and spiritual rites to certain groups of Native Americans – laugh as your lily-white child dresses up and makes ‘war whoops’.  Don’t forget the bow and arrows to shoot the ‘bad guys’ with.  Not included are blankets infected with smallpox or any evidence of the genocide white people committed against Native Americans.  Also not included is black oil that your children can smother their brown friends with as they explain that an oil pipeline is more important than Native graves and Native lives.

(image of a blue wooden knife/sheath, a wooden bow and arrows set, a tomahawk, a feathered necklace and a feathered headdress.)

Price: $24.98 – $39.98

Wee Wild Westerners/ Lil’ Log Cabin



Magic Cabin would like you to know that it is totally okay to mix up separate nations and cultures and treat them as one indistinguishable group, so long as they all wear feathers as part of their costumes and you call them Native American Braves, instead of Indian Brave.  They’d also like you to teach your children that white people was the only acceptable color of pioneers, and that they made cute furniture our of natural Baltic birch and solid pine.  Magic cabin boasts that the accompanying ‘Lil’ log cabin’ will last for generations, ensuring that a hundred years from now the same tired stereotypes can educate and inform your descendants.

(Image of a ‘Native American’ family in some odd mash up of clothing and feather headdresses as well as a white family in traditional western garb, and a wooden cabin with tiny white people and tiny wood furniture inside.)

Price: $12.98- $149 (for all the dolls) up to $359 (for dolls, cabin, and furniture.)


How do you raise a white child to not be racist?  How do you raise a child of color with their self-esteem intact?  How do you explain to children of indigenous people why it is okay for other kids to take the sacred objects of their culture as toys?  I have no answers, only more questions.

Why is it that there are baby dolls of color and some dollhouse dolls of color in this catalog, yet many of the playthings have to do with magical beings such as elves, fairies, and gnomes, and none of them – none of them! – have darker skin?  Why do they have diverse models and not diverse dolls?  Why in the world is their doll nativity set all white, including the three kings?  For gracious sakes, you have a black child model playing with them!

In order to raise consciousness, in order to raise community, in order to raise the world up to the level on which we are all recognized as equal human beings, we need to start small.  With something as small as a doll or a playset.  We need to acknowledge racism when we see it, and call it out, and say: this isn’t right.


Some of my friends were posting something they were thankful for every day of November.  I’m not that disciplined.  But I did decide to take the idea of the Thankful Thirty Days, and here it is.  All at once.  as I am.

A very incomplete, rather random, list of things I am thankful for.

In no particular order:

  1. My mom.  I’ve come to discover that my mental health may be a bit too dependent on seeing her at least a few times a month.  She has supported me and advocated for me as best she could since I was five months old and she took me to the doctor and said that something was weird with me.  She has always known me best.  Her house is a clean, cool safe haven.  She takes down the wind chimes before I come over.  She buys organic milk because she knows I can taste the difference. She defends me to relatives.  We love to walk together, watch television, and gossip.
  2. Thea-the-therapist.  Another big part of my support system.  I honestly don’t know what I will do when she retires in a few years.  She has helped me to come to so many realizations about who I am and where I am going in life.  When I am panicking over anything she will text back at 11 pm at night.  She teaches me about the world and about how we should never expect too much of a stupid people.
  3. Medicine.  Specifically I am grateful for ibuprofen, without which I wouldn’t have gotten through this year.  Psychiatric and pain medications enable me to live my life.
  4. Medicare/state health care.  It pays for the above medications, and doctors appointments, and specialists appointments, and even acupuncture, which is the only thing I have found that will relieve my pain so far.  It doesn’t pay for Thea but for everything else, it is pretty awesome and I am grateful.
  5. Children. The kids that I am lucky to know are so amazing.  I love watching them grow, learn and develop.  We have so much fun together.  The only problem is that they grow up all too fast, but at each stage of their life I find something new to love about them.
  6. Chocolate.  Any kind but white.  It makes me happy and it tastes good.
  7. The country.  I live in the city but with a quick 30 minute drive I can be in a facsimile of wilderness.  I can breathe in the deep, raw smell of the earth and the leaves decomposing.  I can hear birds and insects and feel connected and grounded.
  8. My car.  I’m very well aware of how I’m killing all the polar bears with all the driving I do, but my car makes it so much easier for me to get places and not have to deal with people.  It gets me work, it gets me play, and it’s been a lifesaver this past year when I haven’t been able to walk more than a block or two due to back pain.
  9. Plumbing.  I’ve seen outhouses.  I’ve used outhouses.  I am so, so grateful that I do not have to use outhouses on a daily basis, and that clean, drinkable water comes out of my tap whenever I turn it on.
  10. Books.  Reading was my first love and although I probably read more on the internet than on paper these days, I remain a devoted patron of libraries and revel in the smell when you crack open a new one.  Books educate and entertain me and enable me to escape.
  11. Jess.  Jess is just so damn wonderful.  We met through autism but we became friends because we have so much in common besides autism.  We connect in a way that I connect with few other people.  I feel comfortable with her and relaxed. Her entire family has embraced me and shown me that a family can be happy not just in spite of autism, but because of it.  Because of her, I have learned that I do not have to put up with anything or anyone that hurts me, and that there are people out there who can both accommodate, accept, and respect me.
  12. Water.  I love pools, ponds, oceans, bays, beaches, you name it, I would like to be in it.  Water rejuvenates and reenergizes me the way nothing else does.  When I am in the water I am one with the world.
  13. My friends.  I’ve got some amazing friends.  I can’t name them here because, well, anonymity.  But they are pretty – I’m running out of variants on amazing.  They just are.
  14. Unitarian Universalism.  A religion that guides my life and provides a firm footing on which to base it in the form of the Seven Principles.  A church that welcomes my militant atheism.  It isn’t perfect, no religion is, but it is where my soul ever shall reside.
  15. The autism community.  I’ve met some pretty awful autism parents, yes, but they are far outweighed by the wonderful ones.  I love meeting their kids and being able to explain why something is going on.  I love finding commonalities beyond autism.
  16. The autistic community.  In the autistic community, meaning, people who are actually autistic, and not just connected to autism, I can relax like nowhere else.  Local self-advocacy meetings are kind of like hanging out at that perfect bar in television shows, except that many of us are face blind so we probably don’t know your name.  I will never forget being in a room about half autistic and half not.  An autistic person made a joke and every single autistic person laughed and none of the non-autistics did.  That memory would spark my Patronus.
  17. The disabled community.  My friends have every kind of disability you’ve ever heard of, and many that you haven’t.  And yet they are all kind, hardworking, genuinely good people that you want on your side.  They are all on my side, and the community that is disabled people grows stronger and our voices are raised higher each year.
  18. Queer people.  LGBTQIA, the acronym that seems to be growing longer all the time but all I know is that they are awesome and I love them.
  19. Politics.  In four years, no matter what happens, we will have a new president.
  20. Music.  For whatever reason, ever since I can remember, I have always, always had a song running in the back of my mind.  Luckily for me, most of the time it is good music, because there is so much good music out there. Right now it is ‘happiness runs’.  Christmas music and folk music and show music and a cappella music.  Clear and bright and calming.
  21. My bed.  Sometimes I really want to explain to people that I am in a very serious relationship, and it is with my bed.  Cool in summer, warm in winter, just the right amount of everything.  Where I retreat to.  Where I meltdown.  Where I ride out pain both physical and psychological.
  22. The swing in my dining room.  Matthew brought it with him when he moved in here.  It is a hammock swing.  It is beyond awesome.  When I was young I used to dream about my dream house and it had a swing in it but I knew that was just a fantasy, real people did not have swings in their houses.  Well, guess what?  I do.  I have a swing.  I have a swing in my house.
  23. The internet.  I just love the internet.  I read, read, read all day long on it.  I explore worlds and have discussions and lose myself in fantasy.
  24. Social media.  Some people think social media is a bad thing because it diminishes our connections with other people.  I disagree.  I think social media is amazing.  It has enabled me to strengthen my ties with others and socialize in a medium I am truly comfortable in.
  25. Texting.  Like many autistic people, when I am very stressed out or exhausted or close to a meltdown I can lose the ability to speak, or my ability to speak diminishes greatly.  Texting solves this problem.
  26. Dairy products.  Cheese, milk, ice cream, yogurt. Many humans, maybe even the majority, lack the ability to digest lactose, but I am really glad that my ancestors developed this ability and I still have it.  I will never go on a casein free diet because I would starve.  I have yet to have a truly excellent dairy free cake and you know what drink goes best with cake?  Milk.
  27. Baking.  My baking is a lot like me – it often doesn’t look that great, but it is what is on the inside that counts.  I get a lot of satisfaction out of knowing that people like eating what I have made.  Sugar and flour and butter equals happiness, even if only for a moment.  It is a way I can contribute to almost any event.
  28. Holiday decorations.  I truly think the best part of a holiday is the anticipation of it, and a big part of the anticipation is decorating.  I love making baubles for the Christmas tree and untangling lights (which I’m really good at for some odd reason) and carving pumpkins and blowing eggs at Easter.  I delight in all the wacky, over-decorated houses around town.  Despite how awful it is to clean up, I am firmly in the camp that the more glitter, any time, anywhere, the better.  (It may be my fault that glitter is now banned in my church.  I am truly sorry for this.)
  29. Writing.  I am so grateful that I have the ability to set words down on paper (or on screen) and have other people read them.  My writing is a way that I can express myself without worrying about how people will react right then.  I can say things in writing that I would never, never in a million years, say aloud.  I can be myself.
  30. Right here, right now.  I am grateful that I live in the place and the time I do.  I would never have so many rights and resources as I do if I lived virtually anywhere else on earth.

On Sewers and Superheroes


(image is of a murky London sewer with an indistinct human figure in the background. I promise the image does relate to this post.)

In my experience, there are three types of people who work in the disability field.

There are those with disabilities who got into it because they want to advocate for themselves and others, who want to give back to this wonderful community, who may have trouble finding a job anywhere else.

There are parents – let’s be frank here, it is mostly mothers – of children with disabilities, who saw a gap in services or supports and decided to fill it, or who took their advocacy for their child to the next level, and the next.  This group also includes siblings, cousins, other family members of PWDs.

And then there’s the third group, who stumbled into working with and around disability and disabled people because they took a class in college and liked it, or volunteered with X organization, or met a kid at church and wanted to help, or for whatever reason decided that disability services of some type would be their chosen career.

I was in a group yesterday and it emerged that a woman in said group had come to disability via the third route, and immediately, did she get accolades or what.

“I really appreciate what you do,”

“I mean, when people without any connection -,”

“It’s so admirable.”

“You’re heroic.”

My stomach turned sour then.  I looked at the woman.  She had not rescued any kittens from a burning building.  She had not invented new vaccines or stopped a war or done……or done anything heroic or exceptional at all.  She just…….chose to work with disabled people.

The logical conclusion that I reached was that all the people admiring her thought that working with me and with people like me was so bad, was so difficult, that she must have some extra-special quality that allowed her to do so.  Because why would ordinary people ever choose to work in such an unforgiving job?

Please pretend I’m Amy Pohler here when I say REALLY?


You know who I think is heroic?  People who run sewers, and who deal with sewage all day, and ensure that we have clean drinking water and that what goes down pipes stays down and who unclog the massive clogs in huge city sewer systems.  They deal with bacteria and germs in the infinite, they deal with rats and bugs and body parts and throw up and probably alligators – I mean, WOW.  To do that all day, and keep coming back?  THAT is fucking heroic.

Or urologists.  You know what urologists do all day?  They deal with pee.  Or gastro-enterologists, who deal with poop.  Most adults spend as little time as possible thinking about either of these things – we train kids to use euphemisms like wee-wee and b.m. – we as a society are incredibly ashamed of these things that our bodies produce – and these doctors, voluntarily, stick cameras up our bums and look at smears of it on microscopes, to make sure that people are healthy.

If that’s not heroic I don’t know what is.  Except for maybe being the camera.

When I call these people heroes, what I am saying is that their jobs are harder than most jobs.  They require more skill, more education, more sweat and concentration than your average job.  They also require a body that does not throw up every two seconds when dealing with things like sludge and sewage and urine and vomit. 

But last time I checked, the majority of jobs in the disability field (personal care excepted, and even then it’s usually just one person’s caca, not a whole city’s worth) do not require dealing with bodily fluids.  They require concentration and education and hard work, but no more so than an accountant or architect or anteater-zookeeper requires.  Maybe a touch more empathy?  But lots of jobs require that.  I don’t know.

I do know, however, that I do not particularly admire these people, and I do know that when our society admires them just for doing their jobs, it is basically saying, WOW, we’re messed up.

Because this idea is not just wrong, it is damaging on both a personal and on an economic scale.  This idea that people who work, not just in the disability field but in fields like childcare, social work, teaching – are somehow intrinsically motivated and have a heroic bent, it causes us to value their very real, very physical, work less.  A lot less.  And they get paid a lot less.

                This relates to the idea that because someone enjoys their job, they should not get paid at all for doing it.  There is a lot of unpaid labor that goes on in various circles, but I am thinking specifically of the disability world because, well, that’s where I do my own unpaid labor.  As a writer, I have been asked to contribute to various publications and anthologies where I will not see a penny of profit.  For most of my life, I did this without complaint.  The exposure and the thrill of seeing my name in print was enough reward for me.  However, in recent years I have started to say no more often.  I have chosen to give my writing to only two or three selective places; for everywhere else, I ask for payment. 

                Last year, someone wanted to, as they said, ‘pick my brain’ about a business they were starting having to do with autism.  Certainly, I would be glad to, I said, and then quoted my hourly rate.  “Well, I’ll just ask someone else, then!” the person said, and went off in a huff, astonished that I had the gall to ask for money for a service I provided. 

                I have had occasions now to get paid for the disability advocacy work I do.  It is usually not much, just a stipend, really, but somehow, when money enters into the equation, the whole situation changes.  I am not just a volunteer.  I am not just another out-of-work disabled person showing up to a meeting because I have nothing better to do.  I am a professional.  I am not invited to be a guest at the table but a vital part of the discussion.  I had one such meeting this past week.  It was indescribably joyous for me.  I left the meeting feeling proud and competent and equal.

                Yet, no one would ever call me a hero for the work I do, because I am disabled.  My entry into the disability community was automatic.  When someone who isn’t disabled and who doesn’t have an automatic connection to the community chooses to do the same work I do, it is seen as heroic.  I believe that society creates these narratives of heroism in order to justify to ourselves the economic hardships we force people who work in ‘hero’ fields to undergo. 

                The fact is that people can love their jobs and they can love the people in their jobs.  Childcare providers undoubtedly love their charges in a way that I doubt a graphic designer loves their computer.  But love doesn’t pay the bills, and the emotional labor that many fields require is greatly undervalued.  This is why the idea that you need to be a ‘special’ person in order to work with people with disabilities is so very wrong on all levels.  It devalues both the people being served and the person serving.

                I heard a story once about a guy in London who had to break up a ball of grease in their sewer measuring many feet across or risk the entire system breaking down.  In fact, right now, many sewer systems in the US and Europe are about 100-150 years old and are steadily crumbling and decaying.  The men and women who ensure that I can continue to use the bathroom in peace and not have scary alligators and things come up the drain?  They are heroes.  Make no mistake.  They are heroes just as a teacher’s aide working with autistic children or a self-advocate visiting a legislative office or a nurse in a hospital is a hero.  Yet for some weird reason, our society has decided that all of these works of emotional and physical labor are worth different amounts, and some are worth nothing at all.

                It should be noted that I have absolutely no answers to any of the questions I raise here.  I have no solutions.  I only have myself and my keyboard and screen and my rather annoying inability to ever shut up.

                Work is work is work.  Sorry, teacher’s aide, you are not my hero.  I’m saving that title for the people in the sewer drain.