Tiny Ocean

I watch
as the tide laps up
on the sands of the shore
gently petting
tracing an impression of itself
on the suface
of the earth,
cool
and calm.

The sand drinks in
the shimmering wet
with a sparkling smile
slowly slipping
into the blue
under the coaxing caress
of the sea.

I follow the sand
with my eyes, to the horizon–

There
is the ocean
in the arms
of the earth.

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Lost Well-Meaning Birds

Recently, a new and wonderful friend of mine sent me this prompt in an email. At first I didn’t know what to do with it and I let it sit and marinate a while. At some point I was having an experience in which I was…mm let’s say aiding someone’s edification on queer-ness–yeah–and her prompt came into my head, and I realized some piece of the answer. I am so grateful for the frame it provided. Here it is:

“If God was showing off with you as the handiwork, what would unfold for you? Now?”
                                                                                                                                      –Jianda Monique

My skin
Would blossom
Into painful irritated blooms–
Pink asymetrical spirals–
And hummingbirds
Would sip blood nectar from my swollen ovaries
Gorging themselves
With the fruits
Of this laborsom love.

Weakening
I would wander
Offering fertile fluid to hungry pollinators–
Striped and feathered followers–
Heavy with the weight
Of flaccid dreams;
They, in partaking 
Would enlighten
And disperse.

My weight
Would diminish
And my bliss rise
Through the perforated membrane 
Of my being
Until one day, 
Well known by many yet wholely unseen,
My body
Would cease
To survive

The insatiable need
Of lost
Well-meaning 
Birds.

If Ever I Loved You

If ever I loved you:

You are in my veins. 
We have traded cells--a filament of my heart wrapped somewhere 'round your bones.
I sometimes feel your heart beat. 
It tickles me behind the ear or scratches my finger tips--a tingling sensation.
It catches me off guard, makes me blink. I send you love, joy, sorrow. 
Maybe you don't feel it.

When you die, a piece of me will ache. Forever.

I wish sometimes that I could gather all my pieces together and bind them in the shape of myself.
But, this would only serve to jail them--and me.

So, I am destined to lay--splayed open and bleeding--submitted to the frailty of love.
Each capillary cut or broken: a nagging bruise, a painful ache.
Each artery joyful and flowing: a life force.
Such abundance eases the pain of loss. Yet,

My heart lie open, trying to breathe air.

Interpreters for Social Justice: A Call to Action

Hello again it has been quite a while, and now this rambler is on a mission!

 I am in the process of establishing in the Seattle area, a cohesive network of qualified and committed American Sign Language interpreters prepared to work with grassroots social justice organizations in the movement for collective liberation. Over the course of the last several months I have been inspired by–among other catalysts–the Coalition of Anti-Racist whites in Seattle, #Black Lives Matter, INCITE!, and many of my magnificent and powerful friends both Deaf/Hard of Hearing (HH) and hearing (that’s what a person who is not D/deaf is called ;-), to start my work on this project. Accessible opportunities for solidarity in the movement are long past due, and it is a matter of accountability on the part of radical hearing and deaf interpreters that we provide access to a diversity of experiences. Out of these motivations and a strikingly conducive and encouraging grassroots climate, comes the beginning of the organization currently entitled Interpreters for Social Justice, Seattle. If you want to be a part of powering this organization as an interpreter, organizer, or in any other capacity you feel compelled to contribute, I would love to hear from you!

 This organization will begin the process of revitalizing reciprocity on the part of Seattle interpreters, specifically in areas of great need with few ties to signing culture. I hope that it will be a step on the road to making actions like the rallies and protests in solidarity with Ferguson readily accessible to the Deaf community and building strong relationships between Deaf and hearing activists. At the moment access to these events in Seattle is reliant upon happy accidents like the one I experienced on Tuesday Nov. 25th. I was strongly compelled, for my own reasons, to attend the march and rally in solidarity with Ferguson in the streets of Seattle organized by NAACP and United Black Clergy. A Deaf/HH friend and excellent radical disability justice activist,  also autonomously attended; we connected at some point during the day and realized we would both be participating. Luckily enough, after a period of confusion and scuffle–you know, the usual standing on things up high waving at strangers, signing to…nobody–we were able to locate one another and I was able to ask my sweetie (a hearing non-signing rad activist) to relay the speeches to me, so that I could interpret the information. In many ways it was a beautiful moment of resourcefulness and solidarity. Ultimately, it is a testament to the severe lack of reliable interpreters for ongoing resistance and radical movements across the country! How many Deaf/HH folks who wish to stand in solidarity with the Ferguson protests forgoed this rally and many others because they knew they would be able to access neither the motivating and meaningful speeches nor essential instruction and dialogue at the action? Deaf/HH folks cannot generally attend a public rally, protest, or other grassroots action with any kind of assurance that they will have communication access, even those who have close and politically active friends who are interpreters, cannot rely on this kind of serendipity.

 As a field, American Sign Language interpreting is transitioning from the friends and family model into an era of the professional interpreter. We are  increasingly adopting what we call the ally model of interpreting and yet as our profession grows I see diminishing numbers of sign language interpreters working in spaces where they are not paid. I would caution that coming out of a period characterized by strong personal relationships and now pushing a work model invoking the ally (not only as a practice but as a noun or identity) in a profession which hosts much fewer of these close relationships, we run an increasing risk of encouraging the ideological myth of altruism. There are many of us who, upon a thorough self-examination will discover that we believe the work we do to be radical: a form of political or social reform affecting the fundamental nature of an oppressive system. But the systems which have been accessed are largely the institutions which reproduce the same systemic oppressions that disempower Deaf, Queer, Disabled people and People of Color. Between 1970 and 1990, as the right to communication access hung in the balance around Rehabilitation Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, the participation of interpreters in the movement may have been a radical act of solidarity. The success of this movement was the result of tireless work from Disability Rights communities and Deaf communities in Solidarity and resulted in a reformation of communication access nationwide.This access was hard won and a serious milestone for Deaf/HH access equality. It also began a period of secure paid work for ASL interpreters. What is radical or progressive even, about getting paid $55/hr (oh shit, they** said it…and that’s on average) to work for the state,  or corporations? We are becoming increasingly commodified and therefore a functional cog in the machinery of capitalism, reinforcing its hold on the vital resources of our planet and its human resources, now including communication access.This is not to say that our work is not valuable, it truely* is and we do deserve to be compensated. However, if we are truely revolutionaries; if we believe that our state has been corrupted by corporate interest and capitalist greed which subjugates the underprivileged and reinforces existing hegemonic power structures; if we desire the destruction of this broken system and revival of our society; if we believe in the untapped power of the enlightened masses, we cannot allow for our institutionalized work to outweigh the need for radical access! No one provides financial assistance for hiring (increasingly expensive) interpreting services for grassroots action against institutionalized racism, ableism, sexism, audism, continue the indexing… Access must be made available and apparent to underserved organizations, movements, and people who desire and deserve solidarity with Deaf/HH communities and do not have the means to pay. Our relationships with hearing organizations doing a diversity of radical work–some of which is familiar to the Deaf community and some of it quite novel–is tenuous at best. Those relationships can often be most effectively accessed through an interpreter! It is our responsibility as hearing individuals who sign and who cultivated our marketable skills in the hands of the Deaf community (quite literally),  to make access available in these spaces. This is the mission I am on: the formation of Interpreters for Social Justice, Seattle hopes to cultivate meaningful relationships with organizations doing radical work in Seattle and connect these organization with resources and services necessary to begin the work of coalition-building between organizations run by People of Color, Queers, women, Disabled/Crip people, hearing interpreters and the Deaf/HH community!

 So, if this post has made you think, opened your eyes to an opportunity you didn’t know existed, made you angry, made you hopeful, or told you all the things you already know–contact me! We are moving now, gathering motivated minds and hands Deaf and hearing alike and moving out into the streets with these organizations. Let us know you want us, or want to be one of us, reclaim your power by making access a reality and giving hands to all voices in the movement for collective liberation!

 

This post is a brief and passionate display of my intent and energy. It is by all means open to your criticism, questions, and other feedback and is by no means perfect or comprehensive. I welcome discussion, questions, ideas, and refutations of all kinds. Please be respectful of those who may read your comments and be aware of using explicit or provocative language or subject matter which may be triggering to your audience. If you are interested in joining this group in any capacity, you can contact me at socialjusticeterps@gmail.com.
*don’t question my spelling of ‘truely’ friends, that’s how I spell truely. It’s prettier ;p

**gender neutral pronouns (for me!) thanks. confused? look it up. And/or look for future posts on personal pronouns.

Legacy

I will leave a legacy
NOT of my body or mind but
Of my spirit.

I will NOT be your architype:
The White Woman — head, eyes,
Heart throbbing… bleeding.

I am my own self:
Caring,  critical, mutable, flawed.
Real.

Used, for years by the bodies-NO-
minds of men
For their ends:
Marriage$ for all [men] equal
Under the eyes of…

*[white men, moneyed men]

YOU pay for your reformation.
MY formation does not need
Reification.

I will leave a legacy
Of neither money nor blood.

I will build a legacy with Love.

Poly Position

So, at the risk of exposing myself to new friends and lovers as the sentimental and melodramatic girl I am and in the spirit of my recent experiment in my own vulnerability, I embark upon another long delayed and very personal post. I never can seem to keep up with myself on a blog. I find that my meandering intellectual interests and ramblings are often also my most surreptitious, for they feel almost spiritual.  I feel a bit exposed in expressing personal theory online–it lends itself to the illusion of permanence or importance, neither of which do I seek for myself or my ideas. Still, I do desire the sort of fantastic sense of correspondence I get in writing and then publishing these posts. While importance is of no importance to me, dialogue and exploration is. And so, here is where I timidly seek support, criticism, and yes probably validation in the form of discourse. -Sigh- just a short reflection on why my blog has been on the back burner for the last YEAR!

In any case, being polyamorous has been the most recent emotional and intellectual adventure in my life, which may also contribute to my lack of blogging since this exploration has been significantly more personal than previous. It has become increasingly more real and practical over the last couple of years. Conversations with poly and monogamous friends and acquaintances have shaped my thoughts and actions as have romantic and near romantic encounters with individuals all over the poly-graph -teehee- (by which I refer to a very real if comical vendiagram to which I was recently introduced).  I have encountered countless reactions to and interactions with my polyamorous declarations from varied individual positions over the past several years and in recent months–in part due to these communications–the importance of my identification with poly inclinations has become abundantly clearer. I’m certain that I will have much more to say on this subject as a read and explore further my own poly disposition, but I suppose this post is a sort of coming out for me. The following are a couple of paragraphs pulled directly from my personal journal which are likely the culmination of many years of monogamous, and non-monogamous relationships, observations of my own and others’ blunders,  and finally inspired by recent experiences which have confirmed for me the real possibilities of a polyamorous life. An epiphany of sorts. 🙂 I often think before I publish something like this that it needs to be annotated: definitions, expositions and explanations, caveats etc. Today I think I shall submit it in its raw format, perhaps understandable as free verse; because frankly, it’s just how I feel, and that discovery has been profound.

I believe that the love we make between us has too much energy to be contained by the boundaries of a (single; traditional; defined; etc.) relationship. Its energy is so expansive and infectious it must be shared  with everyone in our lives. In sharing this we allow for it to grow to its full potential, reproducing itself exponentially and creating love and joy in our own lives as well as in our communities and the world.

This is because the love we make is not a novel creation, it is old. Its source is as unknown to us as its end, and I believe it to be cyclical like all energy and matter in our known universe–constantly recycling itself in different forms. Therefor the only way to make sustainable love is to continue to return it to its source. This then, results in an individual as well as cultural state of flux: energy looking and moving inward, then outward and inward again until we reach a state of utter bliss where all is one and this love we seek, discover, and share is pervasive–ubiquitous.

The Plight of the ‘Terping Cyclist

So, I think I’m finally going to start writing again! It is certainly the result of many factors all of which I probably cannot name or do not recognize. One of which, I’ll say, is certaiiy the recent activity on the blogs and vlogs of both friends and strangers. Some of Those wonderful folks are linked to in my side bar. Give them a look-See!

while there are no doubt dozens of unsung motivators behind my writting in general, there is no question what sparked this particular entry: frustration! Any bicycle commuter will tell you that becomming one, is a lifestyle choice. It’s not for everyone. It requires a person to be particularly punctual–you can’t make up 30 minutes in 10 on your bike; resilient–that hill that kicked you in the pants yesterday and made you change your shirt before stepping into the office, it will again today; patient–it’s a long ride, but not only that, cars do not necessarily know how to use a round about or understand when a cyclist has come to a complete stop in order to give them the right of way at a four way stop. A cyclist must be prepared for flat tires, rain, sun, traffic accidents, and oh yes…work. So why do it?

Oh! Let me count the whys! Aside from the fact that it allows a world citizen to avoid the unpredictable and unrealistic price (both financial and ethical) of gasoline, and participation on the bottom tier of a world wide Ponzi scheme…-ahem- not that I could rant for hours on this subject… there are many reasons to ride (or take some other form of kinetic mode of transportation) to work. It builds character and promotes responsibility (see above character requirements for a commuter), it promotes fitness and in conjunction with healthier eating habits (I promise riding with a big ol’ doughnut in your belly is not much fun, I’ll take a grapefruit any day!), it’s financially responsible, there is a social aspect to cycling and meeting/riding with others, and oh yeah.. it’s Fun! Most cyclists will tell you that they enjoy their ride to work, this ‘terp is no exception. Waking up in the morning to the crisp coastal air, the wind rushing past my face, down into my lungs, and kick my brain with insta-oxy infusion! Shake it off, breath deep, start to feel your rhythm, settle in and enjoy. Music for some, thoughts for others, and always beautiful scenery. Perhaps the excitement of the morning commute, or more likely the still of the early morning city. Maybe the domestic suburban neighborhood, simultaneously stirring and nostalgic. For me, it’s the bay at high tide to my west, the rolling redwoods to my east and a scattering of artful abodes along a steady winding path; red, brown, green and blue are the shades of the morning.

Of course the life of a bike commuter is not all sunshine and flowers (although we like to think so). The world does not seem to understand this particular psychosis and certainly does not nourish the desire to move! Provide a small locker room for the staff and a slightly longer lunch hour giving folks the time and space to freshen up from their commute, take a walk or a ride between shifts, keep clean extra clothing, encourage your employees to commute with a cyclist reimbursement (a relatively new tax code for bike commuters and their employers) and suddenly  you are equipped with well fed, intellectually efficient, happy workers rather than the lethargic sugar coated caffeine pills you would normally receive at the onset of the work week. I am not entirely certain why corporations and small businesses haven’t grasped the concept that encouraging this kind of activity before, after, during work would–to speak a bit of their language–likely result in a happier, more productive workforce with a longer life expectancy and work-life expectancy. AKA: more profit. (while I disagree with this mentality of money as an end, it seems that in some cases, this is the only way that people understand the world.– a topic for another article.)

And so, in a world consumed by greed, self-absorbtion, and convenience your average cyclist has to ask Oneself several questions daily. Some of these questions may be:

– what are my responsibilities at work today?
– will I need to change my clothes after my commute?
-if so, where at work can I do so without offending my boss and/or co-Workers?
– where can I park my bike near work? If there are no bike racks, Can I bring my bike in? lock it to a sign?
-what is the best route to work? Shoulders? traffic? distance? pleasure?
-if my employer reimburses for milage… how do I qualify? time?

Luckily for some commuters, many of these questions will have to be asked only once-Although some may be met with blank stares or annoyance at having to “accomodate” an eccentric employee. For a freelance interpreter, for whom each gig over the course of one day (maybe 2-5) may be in a different location with different requirements, travel times, co-workers, these questions repeat themselves multiple times daily. How many times am I commuting today? Is there enough time between each to bike to every location? Will there be a bus involved and what is the fare? Do I have it? Will I have time to change at each location? There is no reliable way (aside from monitoring my perspiration levels on climbs and over long distances and comparing them to google maps’ terrain layers -does it sound like I’ve tried This?;) to gauge if l will be able to wear my “work clothes” to work (imagine your interpreter walking in to your medical appointment in black spandex and a bright yellow spandex halter top!). And so I generaly do not. This of course means I’ll have to find a place to change into traditional garb before I go into my assignment. Unlike those who work in an office, I have no way of knowing if the building to which l am headed will house a bathroom in which l can change before I am expected to work. So, l will have to find a restroom to change in… okay, there’s a Starbucks on the corner maybe I can sneak in there, or a grocery store even better! Now, if there’s nothing with a sneak-able restroom I might have to ask a local business owner or just buy something, there go $2 bucks, or $5…does food count as fuel when I’m a cyclist can I put this redundant breakfast on my bill? And so I order, and slink away into the restroom clearly marked “for customer use only” and swap out my day-glow coat for a blazer, my skin tight work out top for my fitted button down, pull on my khakis over my cycling leggings…check the eyes, hair–is this a fancy one do I need make-up? think…think…stare at face…NO I hate make-up–wash hands (wait why am I washing my hands? I didn’t…-sigh-), step back out into the world. Is it me or does the server not recognize me in this outfit? I am handed my, coffee, bagel, muffin, egg, ice-cream, scone or whatever I’ve had the pleasure of splurging on today, and I’m out the door. Eating…

And so it’s a bit of a circus being a cycling ‘terp. When asked what I “do” I respond, “I’m a sign language interpreter” and most people react first with confusion, recognition, an then manic  hand gestures meant to mimic sign language (-cough, cough- hint hint heary friends). When people ask where I work…I tell them about my unusual, irregular, unpredictable schedule–more confusion. Then they see my neon jacket and ask: “did you bike here?” Cue image of bright green-yellow gal rolling along down the highway, upright, hands flailing in the air!! Well actually, I suppose that’s not too inaccurate. And that’s part of the fun really isn’t it.

The major struggle with the lifestyle is simply that people don’t get it. They call and ask you to work a gig that’s 20 mins after your last one and 45 minutes away and don’t seem to know that you would of course be very late for that assignment, why did they call you first? Good, now ask them if you can bring your bike into the ER, cause you already know the hospital doesn’t have a bike rack. Why are they surprised that you are asking them to call someone else and let you know if they are desperate (“I can go late if you really need someone”) They have to meet to decide if your mode of transportation is worthy of compensation. (Luckily, I work for one company with a relatively green heart!) They laugh…they question, the give advice about things they know nothing about: “you should take the highway it’s shorter”, “your commute is 45 mins”, “you should go clipless!” ok…I’m actually considering that one–he’s a cyclist at least. Perhaps one day there will be enough love for the self and health and joy that folks will make cycling, walking, running (I did this the other day, SO MUCH FUN!), boarding, skating, skipping, jumping to work the standard. Perhaps this will lead to a time ethic that reflects the needs of those who live under it rather than the masochistic desires of the money god. Perhaps one day no one will care if my clothes are yellow or black, jeans or khakis or spandex! Perhaps one day we will do what we love because we love it and the fact that we are there doing it will be enough. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…

Until then, I’ll remain the slightly eccentric, totally ecstatic circus freak on wheels! Just you try and stop me.