There’s so much to say. I’ve barely written on this blog in over a year, due partly to the shut down of the blog site, but also to my own need for retreat and reflection. I’ll summarize a catch up here, and give more details in future posts over the next few weeks.
The events at UTLA where I was essentially blacklisted for my position on Palestinian human rights, and purged within the Human Rights Committee ostensibly due to conflicts over disability rights, in what was the perfect storm and an example of the strangest bedfellows, caused me to step back from activism for a while. Personal anguish, burnout and isolation were overwhelming and matters in my personal life required much of my attention. Andy and I were able to move in together, after three years of dating and commuting 32 miles to see each other. We found a sweet but small two bedroom apartment in Echo Park, with his cat, my dog and most of our books, computers, clothes etc. We had planned to be here only six months and to start looking for a more permanent place, but days turn into weeks, turn into months. In September, my son, Leon, home early, from an educational program, joined us, with his life and his stuff. With the dining area set up as a study with our desks, Leon’s desk in the small living room, our clothes in two small closets and much of our furniture still in storage, we’re pretty crowded and unorganized. In December we started house hunting and now we’re in a very difficult, creative and what promises to be a rather long escrow for a house that will provide us with much needed space for home, books, art, dance, activism, family, house guests and life. Over the summer, Andy and I traveled to Philadelphia for the NEA convention and onto Berlin for Education International. In both circumstances we experienced even more marginalization and ridicule of disability, making my participation at a breakfast, or a dinner, as simply the partner of a delegate, impossible. Travel, fascinating as it was, was difficult with disability. Germany was amazing (more on that in a later blog!) After Germany, we went to spend a week at a spa in the Czech Republic.
The move to the apartment was exhausting and my health was very poor. I spent much of the winter spring and summer (at the spa) getting my strength back, buying fruit and vegetables at the farmers’ markets in the area, cooking healthy meals for me and Andy (and later, Leon,) organizing our stuff, reading and reflecting.
The constant attacks on women’s bodies in our society is difficult enough. Every billboard, t/v/ show, feature film, magazine cover bombards with unattainable perfection, the realization of which is itself a threat to health and well being. The constant attacks, innuendos and ridicule by the leaders within the teachers’ union; allies some of whom I’ve known for over twenty years, was devastating. So little on the left resembles the human rights agenda we claim to support. The way activists treat activists is so defeating to the cause, so self serving much of the time and inexcusable.
I’d like to say I rose above it, that it made me stronger but the extreme marginalization of disability has been quite overwhelming. It is hard not to take it personally. Older trauma issues rose to the surface as all of this was transpiring. It’s been quite a journey.
Slowly I am venturing out again, building allies, finding activity and community that is supportive.
While it is true that many doors are closed to me, the world is vast and there are small cornes in which I can live out quite an exquisite existence. I’m living in smaller circles and casting narrower nets.
I’m serving on the Boards of one local organization and one statewide committee, where disability rights and human rights are not incongruous. Andy and I are looking forward after the move, in bringing activities and services to the community though The WE Project and Café Intifada, and I’ve returned to school to study graphic arts, web design and photography.
My health has been good. I am on an effective regimen of supplements and medications that seem to be allowing me to pace myself and finish my course work. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it, and I am much relieved that I can.
And I am learning the difference between what is private and what is public. Once burned, you know….
These are difficult times, too dangerous to live one’s life in the open. I’ve really had to contemplate how to blog honestly without putting myself or the ones I love in the kind of danger I found myself a year ago: my name on hit lists, death threats and few allies willing to step up and defend me.
I think my current condition requires a quieter life, without surrender to the machine; a more creative way to deconstruct divisions, build community, justice, possibility and health.
Andy is a wonderful partner. In ways that terrify me, our lives are coming together and I can foresee potentialities that in the past would have been impossible to imagine.