Category Archives: Diary Post

Diary of a Staycation: Packing to go home

Diary of a Staycation: Packing to go home: With links to my adventures & accomplishments

I go home today. It’s been an amazing few days, with long periods of necessary solitude  pleasantly interrupted with tea and cake with my airbnb host, Vanessa. Last night localWatts Towers, Watts, Los Angeles, California airbnb host, Leslie also joined us, and we  went out to dinner at Locol a new burger joint in Watts and then we stopped by the Watts Towers.  We are the face of airbnb hosts: elder women on fixed incomes with varying health issues, using home sharing to keep our homes. We are among the many hosts who do this work out of necessity and who also love this work.  We are not reluctant. We are all activists fighting to keep our homes, jobs and community. We have all three been activists all our lives on many fronts. You may recognize Vanessa from the airbnb ad. Her home is gracious and elegant.

The Airbnb I run has 3 active listings, all in my own home. One of the contradictions of this economy is that I was able to qualify for a home loan and very little else, and the home I found that I qualified for, was a very rundown 1014 Craftsman home that needed years of work. So I do have a big house, and I can’t afford a big house. But I qualified for the loan on this very big house. It’s expensive, it’s a lot of work and if I can’t make ends meet my options are to sell and leave. And this is the situation many hosts are in.

Andy, my partner, didn’t join me for my staycation. We thought he might be able to get away at least one night, but he stayed home and took care of guests. People, when they are traveling, when they are away from home in unfamiliar environments  can get very needy. There is a lot of emotional labor in this work.

The purpose of this vacation was to refocus, meditate, write, work on my photography and my photography web page. Living and working in a 24/7/365 business means we never really get a break. I needed to get away and reflect on my life, my work. I am incidentally a business woman. I am essentially an artist and writer.  The craft of writing and art requires solitude, meditation, lots of time where nothing seems to be happening, but there is a deeper process at work. I needed to go and wander the corridors of my own mind and my own heart.

I hope I can bring some of this stillness back to DragonflyHill. I think it would be good for everyone I live and work with. I have a lot of unfinished projects, but I went into this staycation with two clear objectives: Get my photography web page back up. (A change in smugmug formatting had left it in disarray), and finish an article that Xeres Villanueva and I are coauthoring. I did accomplish both these tasks, though some last minute suggestions from Sylvia Posadas, my ever present, online bestie, who lives in Australia and whom I’ve never met, gives us the opportunity to go over it one more time before sharing it with the world. We’ll have it out probably by the end of the weekend.

The photography web page is ready for the world, though I will be adding to it in the coming days, weeks, months and years. Most immediately I will be adding a feature where viewers can purchase my photographs through the web page, and I will be adding images to the “This is Home” series.  Currently the photos of DragonflyHill are listed under commercial photography, and I will also be listing them under fine art photography as well. And as I attach links to this post, I notice a few remaining glitches I need to address, but most importantly, this page is up, and I’m more familiar with the format and will be able to make changes easily. It took me the better part of a day, complete with frustration and just short of meltdowns, to get to this point. I needed the isolation to do this work.

So Andy should be here soon. I’ll brew some tea now, take a shower, get dressed and packed up, and head back into the fray.

Diary of a Staycation: Waking up alone

I woke today alone.  It is cooler at Vanessa’s house in South Central, than in Echo Park. The breeze comes through the windows. It’s a bit warm for me, but not too warm. I will cool myself with wet scarves and iced tea which is brewing. My hair is a mess. I am wearing pajamas and a tank top.  I am slow to deal with breakfast or tea. There is no rush, no one else to consider right now. I can focus on craft and growth.

Vanessa had wanted to have coffee (tea) in the morning, but I messaged her to wait a day. I am also in a lot of pain, which is common with the fibromyalgia, especially after packing and moving yesterday. I usually give myself the first day on a trip, just to rest, as well as the first day back.  This systemic pain can be very limiting.

These days, I rarely wake up alone. Aside from my partner Andy, waking up next to me, there are all the guests, my team members, neighbors and the cat in my home, and morning is the most sociable time at our bnb at DragonflyHill Urban Farm. Once the workday has begun, my bedroom turns into a hallway for team members going to and from the laundry room. Since I need to work from bed, we have many bedside meetings. The bathrooms are all shared in our home, shared between guests and team members. I do not have a private bathroom, so just going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I’m at work. I check my hair, wear sweats to bed, not pajamas and check myself before leaving the room.  Breakfast is wonderful, as everyone gathers in our dining room, but it is also a daily obligation. It is home, it is family, it is community and it is work.

Image of a crafstman house dining room, with a huge breakfast spread: tea, coffee, eggs, bagels, sausage, fruit, condiments

Breakfast at DragonflyHill Urban Farm

Before DragonflyHill, before Andy, I was dangerously lonely. Loneliness is a huge health issue. It is rampant with so many people suffering from isolation, unable to maintain or find human relationships. Most workplaces are dehumanizing and impersonal and one is expected to be “professional”.  It is safer not to reveal much.  Outside of primary relationships, there is little emotional intimacy, and there are many people who are not in a relationship who are desperately alone. It is especially hard with a significant illness and for single parents, who are not alone, but struggle alone to take care of themselves and their children.  I am not so desperate now. I love my life and the amazing people in it. This for me is a huge miracle. Time alone allows me to reflect on that when I am not caught up in the bubble of “getting it all done”.

Today is wide open. I want to work on an essay that has been in penultimate draft for over a year, and get it out. I also want to update my photography web page. That should be enough for one day.  If I have anything else, I’ll report it later.

Diary of a Staycation #1: New Meditations

Diary of a Staycation #1: New Meditations

My life has changed so much since I started this blog. I’m older, my body is not at cooperative as it used to be, added a few more diagnosis to the mix of my DISabled life. I was terribly lonely when I started this blog. Isolated in suburbia, a single mother on a very limited fixed income, I was dangerously alone. Today I live in community, with very little privacy. A life of abuse, the resulting lack of boundaries, and so many years of isolation and I accept my lack of privacy as a choice and a blessing. We need each other more than we need time alone.  My partner, Andy and I along with an amazing team, including Glenda, Xeres and Carlos, run a modest and wonderful bnb out of our home, as well as provide a variety of community services. (Read more at dragonflyhill.wordpress.com, a web page and blog I also manage.) I handle most of the social media, from our airbnb listing pages, to our blog, twitter, facebook, yelp and google.  I did most of the photography for our advertising and our blog and most of our writing. Guests come from all over to stay with us, and we start every day with a huge community breakfast. We rarely know who will be joining us, including local activists, community members and guests.  Xeres and Andy and I comprise the board of the newly form The WE Empowerment Center (theweempowermentcenter.wordpress.com)

There’s a lot of physical, cognitive and emotional labor that goes into this space and maintaining community.  I haven’t had much time to court my muse, to write creatively or to do fine art photography.  And on the way, I’ve lost pieces of myself.

So today I’m starting. Today I’m taking myself back. Leaving the home business to my capable team, I’m taking a few days off and staying in the bnb of a local airbnb host and dear friend, for a few days of meditation and creativity.

Here are some samples of food for thought and where my mind is wandering, a map of sorts. If you’ve been following me, (and if I don’t know you, please reach out), watch out. I’m going to be posting a lot of new material, much of which has been 90% finished for some time, and has just waited for the time to focus on it, and craft it to perfection.

Music for meditation

Black and white image of a samuri in a forest. The image is very soft and slightly out of focus. Text: A student said to his master: "You teach me fighting, but you talk about peace. How do ou reconcile the two?" The master replies: "It is better to be a warrior in a garden than to be a gardener in a war."

H/T Xeres Villanueva who posted this to her facebook feed.

Inaccessibility Fatigue Rag

7/16/17

I am tired of negotiating my humanity to strangers.

Or trusting friends who just don’t understand.

Of trying to fit my body into spaces that do not accommodate me.

Only to be told how difficult I am to those who fit in, just right.

I am tired of accommodations to fads and fashions, to power and privilege but that DISability access is too demanding, or we did that the last time, we can’t do that EVERY time.
I am tired of loving  a world that doesn’t love me back.

I am tired of patience and desire.

I am tired of betrayal when an apology would be enough—mine or theirs.

I am tired of excuses and abuses.
I am tired of pity and scorn, and entitlement and hatred.

I am tired of the modern versions of the ugly laws and the look of disgust and contempt upon seeing me, by strangers who have no idea who I am.

I am tired of ableist jokes and insults
I am tired of abuse substituted for love, because there are good quiet crrpls and demanding shrews who need to be tamed.
I am tired of character assassinations when their arguments are no match for mine or because they will not be held accountable for their lack of real solidarity.
I am tired of infantilization and being treated like a child.

I am tired of excuses and favors because DISfolx aren’t seen as resources in our own experience.
I am tired of offense taken to be out argued or out spoken by a person like me, uppity, articulate crrpl that I am.

I am tired of having to ask for accommodations only to be treated with hostility for even posing the question.

I am tired of assumptions and accusations of  people who know nothing but think they know everything, like why if I can walk up stairs one day, in one location, why I can’t another day in another location.

I am tired of entitlement of others to define for me the parameters of my reality.

I am tired of people deciding for me what I need, what I should be happy with, what I should like and how I should behave.

I am tired of people who never read a single book on DISability access, schooling me and ‘splaining to me how it’s going to work.

I am tired of people who seem to be allies, only to find out that they were keeping score all along, and anything they did to create access was weighed against my next request. I didn’t know you were keeping a running tab and that I was now in debt to you.
I am tired of pity and stares and stairs.
I am tired of “well no one else complained” or “there were other DISabled people there so it must be accessible.

I am tired of the assumption that if I’m the only one complaining that others must be comfortable when really it means that others may be silent because they don’t feel comfortable speaking up, and some people will harm themselves trying to fit in, and others won’t show up at all because they know the risk in asking.

I am tired of blaming the victim, of disparaging a complaint, of killing the messenger, of the cult of positivity, of silencing dissent.

I am tired of those who don’t need accommodations deciding without even a dialogue what access means.

I am tired of the expectation of gratitude for half a ramp, or one day’s effort or half measures in general.
I am tired of trying to fit into public spaces at all.

The Amazing Disappearing Emma

Or “Emma, Emma where have you been?”

Well I’ve not been here or my other blogs as much. Mostly I’ve been on facebook, where interaction is more immediate. I post my informal rants, which initially would have shown up here, on facebook, where I can have more interaction. People respond there. The comments here are not as interactive and not as frequent. There’s a hierarchy between blogger and reader that isn’t a factor on facebook. So facebook changed the way I use blogging.

And I got tired of writing up every, single. time. I. endured. humiliation. or. abuse.

With DISability, it’s everywhere, every time we leave the house, and often in our homes too.

I’ve changed the way I write DISability. I used to write it “dis-ability”, but write it “DISability”, now. Both writings emphasize the social construct of DISablement– that it is what is done TO us, that it is not what ever condition or nonconformity we have, but rather, the social construct of isolation, segregation, institutionalization, discrimination, clientization, infantilization, etc. But “dis-ability” won’t show up in an internet search for “disability”, and “DISability” does. So I think that’s an improvement.

I’ve also (going back to the indignities) added the lexicon that distinguishes caretaker from caregiver. How significant and curious that these two words are considered synonyms. Since when is “taker” and “giver” the same? So I use “caretaker” to mean an abusive person who is assigned or assumed the care of a DISabled person, as opposed to “caregiver” who is someone who gives empathic, attentive and loving care. Clever, huh? Thanks! I think so.

I’ve also been really, really busy, and focused on survival, the house, getting through the day, managing my health, dealing with the imposition of aging, staying closer to home.

Recently I’ve limited my social interaction, including on facebook, which is perhaps why I’m blogging again. The abuse of DISfolx is just so rampant, and socially tolerated, especially in social justice, human rights and educational communities and environments.  It’s just unbearable. As I’ve said before, I can expect a humiliating, dangerous or violent experience almost every time I leave the house. So I’ve withdrawn a bit. I go out when I have to, shop on line when I need things, work out of my home, create community closest to where I live, and budget the amount of abuse I have to sustain. Or so I thought. I was happy working here, at DragonflyHill Urban Farm, working with people I love, creating a supportive community, where each person’s needs isn’t seen as a burden, but an opportunity for greater sustainability. (For example, my inability to stand for long periods of time, means I need meals prepared for me, resulting in our huge community breakfasts, and everyone starting the day together, with a healthy meal.) And then the city proposed a home sharing ordinance that would wipe us OUT. I’ve been writing about that a lot on the DragonflyHill blog, and will be writing more, in the coming days. I’m especially interested in how the rhetoric against home sharing pretends it’s a violation of housing, human, DISability, workers, rights, when it is ESSENTIALLY about all of those. Home sharing provides jobs and housing for people, many of whom are outside of the labor force, including people with DISabilities, undocumented workers, formerly incarcerated and otherwise marginalized folx.

There’s also the illusion that it’s passive income, when it is not. We work so hard here–all of us– essentially domestic work, which is why those pretending home sharing is taking away jobs and housing, can get away with that assertion. Shame on them for perpetuating and exploiting devalued and essential domestic labor as easy and valueless.

Getting this business off the ground has been a daunting task, and what little strength I have has gone into this. I think we’ve finally got to a point where I can clear my head enough to even consider blogging again, more regularly. Social media is mostly my job on the farm, and I think I’ve finally found my groove.

Andy, Xeres, Glenda and I have also launched, are launching The WE Empowerment Center, to make the benefits of nonprofit status and the nonprofit industrial complex, more accessible to ordinary folx. We’ve streamlined the application process and made it easier for people who may not have the organizational social capital to get in the game.

We have facebook pages, blogs, web pages, and EVERYTHING!
https://twitter.com/DHillUrbanFarm
https://www.facebook.com/DragonflyhillUrbanFarm
https://www.facebook.com/weempowermentcenter

And, I’ve updated my photography page, complete with images of the house and everything we did to get it ready for where we are today.

emmarosenthal.smugmug.com

And yes, I COULD get my own URLs for each of these, but I like giving credit to the interface I’m using. It’s more of a commons, a gathering place. So smugmug, or wordpress, brings it all together.

So see you on my other sites, and here, between the sheets, In Bed With Frida Kahlo.

Sickbed ennui in the land of banana leaf hope

  1. Another twitter storify: http://storify.com/emma_rosenthal/sickbed-ennui-in-the-land-of-banana-leaf-hope
  2. Share
    i wish i had more energy to do more with my life.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 15:58:43
  3. Share
    this constant fatigue provides little strength fortasks i feel give meaning, purpose and healing to this broken crying world.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 15:58:48
  4. Share
    strong winds blow in the southland of the angels. making stop motion blur on silver film.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 15:59:56
  5. Share
    i want the wind to carry me, lift me up, take me somewhere else away.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:00:26
  6. Share
    away from this sick bed ennui. the tedium of cellular efforts. the hard work of waiting waiting waiting for strength.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:00:51
  7. Share
    i want to fly on a banana leaf, to some other place, where sick gurl dreams become something more than fear and loss.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:01:25
  8. Share
    there is so much to do to heal this wounded crying world. i have so much shuffled away in other world plans.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:02:13
  9. Share
    plans, wishes dreams, stored in boxes, cabinets, bell jars and the corridors of my mind.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:02:48
  10. Share
    i wander empty spaces of time. days that are marked only by disappearing cups of tea
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:03:24
  11. Share
    and the march of the shadows of banana leaves on neighbor’s walls as this corner of earth spins to and from rays of our local star.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:04:14
  12. Share
    hope is dangerous territory. my most feared neighborhood,
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:05:00
  13. Share
    where ideas are washed away faster than the fleeting work of stealth artists on alley walls.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:05:05
  14. Share
    i am writing again, without fear or hope of publication. wordpress and storify are my hogarth press. i have a room of my own.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:07:11
  15. Share
    the world moves around me. i am more like the sun than earth. it only looks like time revolves around me, from my perch overlooking hills
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:09:02
  16. Share
    i feel like it all spins without me, in this box in the center of the storm. waiting waiting waiting. unlike the sun i am nothing immobile
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:11:02
  17. Share
    lists to do scatter like dust, pollen and bird feathers from broken winds. i want my banana leaf wings.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:15:44
  18. Share
    i want this wind to take me somewhere where my dreams can fly.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:15:51
  19. Share
    but tomorrow the walls will still be peach against a purple trim. banana leaves will flutter against the green garden walls
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 23:17:51
  20. Share
    and i will still be plastered to flannel sheets. wind provides the illusion that change is sweeping thru,
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 23:18:39
  21. Share
    that stagnant air makes way for new possibilities. that opportunity is there to be grasped.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 23:20:10
  22. Share
    that i could fly away on a banana leaf and not look back.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 23:20:15

Dreaming of a hot breakfast

  1. Share
    still not out of bed after several days of total bed rest. hoping to do something productive today.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:20:37
  2. Share
    dreaming of a hot breakfast– bagel creamcheese, w egg, maybe. and bitter green jasmine tea, but i can’t get to the kitchen.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:21:13
  3. Share
    i’ll make breakfast when the hunger exceeds my fatigue. until then i’ll wait in bed hungry. this is amerikkkan health care.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:21:43
  4. Share
    and i have health care coverage. it’s even what they call cadillac care. but it doesn’t cover in home support when i can’t get up.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:22:15
  5. Share
    my health care doesn’t cover much of what helps me manage my illness. it pays for lots of tests test test. but no actual care.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:22:47
  6. Share
    i need regular massage, chiropractic, reiki or acupuncture, but none of that is covered. what’s covered? medication– which helps some.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:23:26
  7. Share
    what else is covered– tests and more tests. dr.s appts. treatments that don’t help. treatments for other conditions some other people have
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:24:35
  8. Share
    therapy is covered, because if i talk abt it enough the illness will go away and i’ll fly to the kitchen on my self actualized wings.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:24:56
  9. Share
    @emma_rosenthal and that just made me laugh so hard I peed a little. Omg
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:36:53
  10. Share
    .@AureliaCotta they tell me i keep my sense of humor thru the worst trials. i try. i’ll be performing here all week!
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:39:51
  11. Share
    not that therapy doesn’t help. but how much good can come from talking about something that can’t be changed?
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:25:48
  12. Share
    getting hungrier. the sun is out. i saw it hitting the banana leaves. but no shadows yet, it has to pass over the house to the back yard.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:26:33
  13. Share
    i’m so hungry. trying to get up. really trying. this is so fucking frustrating.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:42:39
  14. Share
    tho now,just getting out of bed & to the kitchen is overwhelming. i just can’t command my body to do what it needs to do to make that happen
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:46:10
  15. Share
    of course,once i get to the kitchen i’ll have to remember how to toast a bagel and make tea. sometimes i can’t think things that complicated
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:43:13
  16. Share
    and if something is out of place, one aspect of the routine that takes additional thought, i’m lost. this is fibromyalgia brain fog
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:43:47
  17. Share
    like if there isn’t a clean tea pot. then i go nuts. the idea of having to clean the tea pot, that can be too much sometimes.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:44:25
  18. Share
    i do however have the capacity to get a tweet from -40 characters down to 120. ha ha ha . go figure.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:46:54
  19. Share
    i’m hungry. i’m very very hungry.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:47:20
  20. Share
    anyone who says “we don’t realize how easy we have it in amerika” doesn’t have a clue abt what most ppl in amerika deal with.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:47:50
  21. Share
    .@Farese9190 @TodayHIRING no fucking way! i tweet abt how sick i am and i get spam telling me to get a fucking job?? see– amerikkka!!!!
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:49:04
  22. Share
    .@Farese9190 @TodayHIRING i would get a job if i could. right now i can’t fucking get out of bed.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:49:37
  23. Share
    got damn fucking spam bot, thinks this is an appropriate rsponse to chronic illness! typical @Farese9190 @TodayHIRING
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:50:06
  24. Share
    i really hate this level of helplessness. all i want is a fucking bagel and some hot tea.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:53:03
  25. Share
    okay, i got breakfast. hope i didn’ t leave the stove on. ugh. back in bed, with a tray of wonderfulness.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 13:14:43
  26. Share
    i just fell. i was in bed and i fell. no i didn’t fall OUT of bed i fell in bed. how does someone fall in bed?
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 13:25:58
  27. Share
    okay, i’ve been sitting up long enough. this has been a lot of work. can’t type lying down. so, i’ll be back later. time to rest.