Put it in the deep freeze.

A deep freeze, my shrink explains to me.

She says I’ve been putting it in the deep freeze, like all good PTSDers do.

But it’s time to un-do. Our goal: EMDR, once it thaws a little more.

I enjoy this analogy, this deep freeze. I’ve Saran wrapped the tasty trauma to save for later: I put it in the deep freeze. Count on Saran™ for freshness that’s easy. Whatever it takes to appease me, to relieve me. Deep freeze: a condition of being held in temporary suspension or inactivity. Like a refrigerator, hard ice, a storage space to keep things for a long period of time. Store it in the back of the deep freeze and forget about it. It will keep there, hidden away, buried with ease. It will keep in the deep freeze. It will keep. If and when you take it out and let it thaw, like really thaw, be cautious and make certain it’s safe ‘cause when you take it out of the deep freeze it’s as good as fresh like oozing like no time has passed at all. Like you just stored it yesterday.

I enjoy this analogy. But letting it thaw makes me angry no matter how tasty the freeze promises it will be.

Anger can be healthy, says my psych.

Yeah well FUCK HIM, I reply.

Ten years go by.

Ten years go by.

Couldn’t even try to say hi. Keep it in the freeze.

I’m traumatized too goddammit, does he think he’s the only one?

Ten years go by and I’m finally done.

I can’t keep it in the deep freeze anymore, as good as fresh blood dripping knees to floor, fresh like thrift store fine china crashing against the back door.

He’s not the only one.

Dear god let me be done.

the night before

The lovers walk hand in hand, across the slippery and saucy super-sized saucer: her plate, they skate along like grace at a pace in sync with the swirl and twirl of fork fingers, of spaghetti noodles. Silverware and Bolognese combine, intertwine, to pluck her palette with pleasure. She eats, mmm, mmm, one romantic grandstand after another to a salacious ovation applauding on the tip of her tongue. In the back of her throat. On the roof of her mouth. Titillating her taste buds only for such a moment to be remembered with torment, with painful self-humiliation.

That fucking diet, again. I don’t know, maybe this is the second or third “official” time. She made an appointment with a weight loss counselor. She has her own chart, with waist measurements, ass measurements, and her recorded BMI. She can just hear it now: come on back, it’s time to weigh in! as her smiling Jenny Craig comrade waives her down the lone hallway towards the scale. Are your pockets empty? No, but my stomach is. The fork moves slower, and misses spaghetti noodles in its droopy scoop. She pushes some chunks of sauce atop the entanglement and dives—fork first—into the bite, scratching against the plate like motherfucking nails on a chalkboard. She drops the fork and the handle clangs against the plate and she gasps with her hands held in the air begging for amnesty. Oh dear Cheesecake Factory, thou shalt grant me amnesty with the power of thy mercy. Save me from my impending doom, from the fascist calorie-counting regime that awaits my starvation. I hate myself more and more each day, each weigh-in, each ounce closer to a size six.

Celebratin’ 35 Years: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

From Disability Awareness Month at The Ohio State University:

Thirty five years ago the Section 504 demonstration proved to be a watershed event for the civil rights of people with disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 adaptive the concept of reasonable accommodation that was originally applied to religious practices to people with disabilities. 504 established and still provides for accommodations in all programs receiving federal funds (education, transportation, arts programs, health care, and more). This landmark legislation was passed in 1973 but was not being enforced because the implementing regulations were held up in Heath, Education and Welfare. The disability community became increasingly frustrated until on April 5,1977, roughly 600 people assembled at the regional office of United Stated Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

The protest in San Francisco became the longest occupation of a Federal Building in U.S. history. After 28 days, Section 504 was signed which was a great victory.

  • April 5, 1977.
  • “The longest occupation of a federal building in U.S. History.”
  • “Malicious unplugging of motorized wheelchairs at night…”
  • Black Panthers sent in sandwiches.
  • 28 days later: 504 was signed.

Daniella Meads-Barlow, Rest in Peace

Daniella, type-1 diabetic, died in her sleep Tuesday morning, November 8th from low blood sugar.  Many blogs and JDRF advocates are clinging to her story and death with rhetoric that emphasizes the dire need for a “cure.”  I am also an advocate for the cure.  But I am also very critical of it when socioeconomic intersections and historical contexts are taken for granted in such rhetoric.

In e-mails that I’ve received in the past day or two, Daniella has been framed as a victim of chronic disease.  Words like “sad” and “too soon” are attributed to her death.  Phrases such as, “This is the reality of this disease.  It happens without prejudice…to families that are working hard to keep their children safe,” are circulating on Facebook and the diabetes blogosphere.  It is without question that diabetic experiences are marginalized, rendered obtuse and thus scary.  Here I would like to acknowledge Daniella’s life with the utmost respect, and I would like to try to imagine a way that we can think about and talk about Daniella’s death (and the thousands of deaths like hers that correspond to incurable disease) without embedding such deaths with fear and anxiety.

Underlying all of this, I am left thinking about Western medicine’s emphasis on the cure, and its stigmatization of incurable conditions.  I am also left thinking about Western science and medicine’s mission for longevity.  Some might call it biopolitics, or biopower.  Some might call it capitalism, and its heteronormative conceptualizations of time and place.  Well, if we center Daniella’s life experiences with incurable disease, if we center her death within her own experience of temporalities and spatialities, maybe she isn’t victim after all and maybe death isn’t so scary, after all.  A crip time and place, perhaps?  Rest in peace, Daniella.

Daniella Meads-Barlow

 “Most people are deeply reluctant to believe that bad things happen to people who do not deserve them, or seek them, or risk them, or fail to take care of themselves.  To believe this as a general proposition is to acknowledge the fragility of one’s own life; to realize it in relation to someone one knows is to become acutely aware of one’s own vulnerability.”

–Susan Wendell, The Rejected Body

So Happens to Be Made, So Happens to Be Offered

While Travis and his family and friends enjoy homemade lasagna, I nuke Jenny Craig lasagna in the rehab center’s kitchen and eat it out if its little black plastic microwaveable tray.  Finally visitors leave and Trav and I meander off to his rehab room.  Like a dorm room, kind of.  His roommate, just on the other side of the curtain, is Curtis.  Curtis broke his neck in a car accident.  Wasn’t wearing his seatbelt.  Rumor has it the seatbelt would have “saved” him.  Who knows for sure.  The seatbelt, the wallet, the seatbelt, the wallet.  Could be anytime, anywhere.

Curtis has a poster taped to the ceiling right above his bed.  It’s a blond bikini-wearing babe licking a lollipop.  Curtis had a halo strapped to his body and screwed into his skull for months.  It’s off, and he’s now in the fashionable neck brace like Trav.

Trav has a roommate named Curtis and they’re both quads in rehab together.  When Trav and I mosey into their room, Curtis is gone.  Probably off cracking the code to the nurses break room, or hijacking the hospital intercom system to report some sarcastic, nonsensical need for the whole unit to hear.

I’m starving because the non-homemade lasagna was maybe actually two bites of lasagna.  Portion control?  More like socially acceptable anorexia.  I’m starving and my stomach’s growling even though I just ate “dinner,” and I try to ignore it but by trying to ignore it I actually obsess over it as I set up the DVD for movie night.  I try to make our movie date special by popping popcorn for Trav.  I can’t eat any of it because my “diet” (read: socially acceptable self-starvation).  And I even made the butter lovers kind because it’s not for me, right?

I turn down the lights and snuggle next to Travis as we look up at the TV glowing above his bed.  I scoop my hand into the popcorn bag and flex my fingers like a claw crane prize grabber clutching all the wondrous colorful stuffed animal toys.  I pull my arm out slowly so I don’t drop my prize: a handful of butter lovers’ popcorn.  I hold my hand out to Travis’ mouth and he licks up the salty, tasty morsels with his lips and tongue.

You see the thing is, is that I don’t really care for popcorn.  I like the crunchiness, sure, and I do find pleasure in the greasy buttery goodness.  However, I really hate it when popcorn kernel pieces get stuck in my teeth, especially my back molars.  So I typically never eat popcorn by choice.  Only if it so happens to be made, and if it so happens to be offered to me.  And if it’s not non-buttered non-salted dry cardboard tasting popcorn.

In-between prize-winning scoops of popcorn, I feel my tummy aching.  I poke at my toned yet not-toned-enough abdomen, and squeeze my toned yet too voluptuous thighs.  I think about Jenny Craig (the corporation, not the person), and I think about my disciplining mom.

I reach deep into the microwaveable popcorn bag with my claw of glory to scoop up the biggest-ever popcorn prize to claim the high-winning score.  In the darkness amidst the flashes from the TV I shovel the hand full of golden glistening nibbles into my gaping mouth, pushing my flat palm against the popcorn and into my cheeks.  I chew and chew and chew and the crane reaches back in and the claw pushes into my mouth and against my cheeks and I chew and chew and chew.  I feel enormous guilt as I grumble and gulp yet I can’t stop shoveling one handful after the other into my mouth in the darkness with flashes of TV light in Trav’s hospital dorm room during our movie time.  The ambivalence is wrenching as my stomach twists in utter guilt and utter pleasure from my uncontrollable gorge.

Having some popcorn? Travis teases, well-aware of my suffocating calorie-counting fascist regime.  His rhetorical question breaks my zone.

I wipe my oily fingers on my voluptuous pant thighs and laugh through my mastication.  I respond, Fuck it!  And together we enjoy the butter lovers’ popcorn that so happens to be made by me, that I so happen to offer to myself.

my very own new media artwork

Coming Out of the Closet

I’m eight years old, and Brittany is six.  Every Saturday since we can remember we spend the night over at Grandma and Poppy’s house—just down the street on Grover’s, on the west side of Tatum Boulevard.  Every Saturday we spend the night over at Grandma and Poppy’s.  There’s a spare bedroom just for us at the end of the long, narrow, dark hallway of the small, one-story house down Grover’s, on the west side of Tatum.  Our room is next to the garage door.  Across the hall from Poppy’s den.  Wonderful things happen in Poppy’s den.  He works in there for hours and hours, building model trains and cars.  He takes us to the Hobby Bench to pick out his next project with him.  He limps, a bad hip.  He talks unusually loud, his voice booming and almost startling.  Grandma back-hand slaps him on the shoulder, and screeches, Arnie, turn up your hearing aid!  Poppy’s eyes open wide and he shrugs his shoulders, implying, what can I do?  He’s mostly deaf.  Since World War Two.  World War Two—Poppy a lone veteran.  Ear drums blown out from the all-too-nearby blast of hand grenades.  Ka-plow-ee!  Off in the jungles of the Pacific.  Island hopping.  Hand grenades blasted and my poppy’s ear drums go ka-plow-ee.

He brings back a small sack of precious stones, gems, pearl-like beauties from his island hopping during World War Two.  I wonder my whole life where they are today, and how he got them.  A historical mystery of sorts.   We check out from the Hobby Bench with a new project.

Our room is down the hall, next to the garage door, across from Poppy’s den.  We have a pull-out couch for a bed.  We have a small walk-in closet full of random and incomplete toy sets, misplaced children’s books, and clashed items of clothing like an off-white and maroon ski jacket on a hanger next to a pair of bathing suit bottoms, draped over the corner of a coat hanger—tilted sideways from the imbalance.  Where’s the matching bathing suit top?  It must be somewhere in here, perhaps over near the shoebox with no lid, holding a pair of my dad’s old business loafers, wrestled in closet dust and placed rather queerly in the rectangle cardboard—one shoe lay sideways while the other shoe lay similarly pointed in the same direction yet completely upside down.  This is what I love about this small walk-in closet that is really no one’s walk-in closet in particular, just a walk-in closet that so happens to be in the spare bedroom that is kind of my sister and mine’s room that we sleep in every Saturday, across the hallway from my poppy’s den and next to the garage door.  I sit squarely on the floor in this small walk-in closet full of random and incomplete toy sets, misplaced children’s books, and clashed items of clothing—but actually I do not really sit squarely but queerly like the pair of dusty loafers in a rectangle cardboard box with no lid.  I sit queerly since my pigeon-toed legs demand I do so.  I close the closet door and sit on the floor alone tinkering through the trinkets and missing board game pieces and missing bathing suit tops.  Immersed in an absent presence, combing through what’s not there, curious and careful as I peruse and ponder.  Might I install a sense of order to these knick knacks?  I pick through one by one, flipping through an old hardback children’s book with pages torn and corners bitten off.  This is what I love about this small walk-in closet.  Full of random and incomplete toy sets, misplaced children’s books, and clashed items of clothing—these missing pieces, absent presents: refuse categorization.  Resist organization.  I’m enthralled by the unruliness and I embrace the unknown of the bathing suit top, the cropped book pages, the dusty loafers facing all directions wrong.

There is a light wrap at the door and it’s my sister’s six-year-old voice asking me to come out of the closet and observe as my poppy puts the finishing touches on his latest model car.

Hot wax drip over me

I blow out the tri-wick lemon-cream-colored candle,

cupped in the palms of my hands,

to say goodnight to myself.

My cheeks puff and my lips purse:

the flames flicker, they dissipate,

the slender smoke fills my face.

And the hot liquid wax

ripples like toes skimming an Arizona swimming pool,

smells like sweet perfume like champaca bloom like fresh fern like my grandma’s beach bungalow in San Clemente.

I hear smashing ocean waves, I see ripples in an Arizona swimming pool.

I can taste the salty Pacific air,

I can see the Sonoran sunset like water colors

streaking through the sky.

Where am I?

I almost dip my fingers into the hot liquid-soon-to-be-solid substance:

hot wax

bring me back

to reality.

Hot wax drip over me.

Hot wax

take me back

to Arizona swimming pools in the summertime

to Sonoran sunsets like water colors in the sky.

Where am I?

Hot wax,

bring me back.

Sonoran Desert Sunset, photo by Brittany Willock