Today I have to buy a bunch of snacks for my girlfriend's kids' New Years party, before all the stores close. This entails going to several stores in search of the flavor of Taki's (a kind of Mexican spicy neon colored chip) that is (seemingly) vegan. I am happy to do it, would do it on foot or bike or bus for that moment when they see that boring old granola Katie has brought them their treasured “junk” food.
Cancer, cookies... and a little boy’s first time visiting his dad in the hospital
That Thursday was a day of transition. My husband Steve, whose colon cancer had returned six months earlier, had already undergone 28 radiation treatments and still looked forward to 5 months of chemotherapy. But Friday was going to be the Big One. Doctors at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia planned to completely remove his rectum and re-route his remaining colon to a permanent stoma in his abdomen.
A single mother lived upstairs with her seven-year-old son. I was a guest for the week in my friends’ new second-floor apartment in a sunny three-unit house. They hadn’t seen much of their neighbor, they told me, but they’d heard her. Screams, threats, curses, relentless wrath against her child. They laughed about it. She’d had the baby at seventeen; it was a hard life. A lot of times the son screamed back.
Well it's been a long time, but I am back, this time around I'm giving myself a mothers day present, this blog. I need mama-love, I need community. And hipmama was calling to me from afar.
Although I am not truly convinced that I am really hip-enough to be here, and I actually hope to find out a few things about myself in this journey such as....am I hip? am I really the supermom people think I am? Who am I am and what do I like to do besides clean the house and feed people. Is there in actuality more to me than that. or not?
We were talking about how much our lives have changed in the last ten years and I asked idly "I can't remember - how long ago was my book stolen?"
Byron answered "September 14, 2001."
"Really? Why are you so sure?"
"Because everyone thought the break-ins were political."
My mind has not retained the details but Byron sketched in the scenario: a series of punk houses robbed, a warning from friends that we might be next. At the time I shrugged off the danger. I owned nothing worth stealing.
At age twenty-five I was passionate, opinionated, adamant. I believed in an undefined Utopia, and that it could be created right there and then. In pursuit of that goal I had started nonprofits, finished graduate school, had two kids. I'd embarked on and abandoned a career in government when I realised the limits of service.
No, I don't want a hand out just 'cause I chose to have kids as a teen, but you know what? Some steady child support, a living wage, affordable healthcare, childcare, rent that did not cost a month's pay, and a gallon of gas or milk that did not cost an hour's pay would be nice. So you wanna applaud gals who choose life? Help them. Don't be a hypocrite like both the political parties who slashed support for us moms while praising our choice to carry a baby to term.
"I don’t know how you do it," my neighbor’s girlfriend commented. My five-year-old daughter Siu Loong was at her father’s house and I had taken advantage of my free night to attend and photograph a march against police brutality, then stayed out till midnight developing the film I had shot. "I dunno. I just do," I mumbled, not knowing what else to say. But that’s not entirely true. To simply say that leaves out the resources and community I’ve gained from years of being engaged in social justice work.
Fortunately, most people who have met my son can look past the labels and see what a beautiful, charming, and mischievous little boy he is. We can only keep friendships with people who are truly interested and respectful of him, friends who embrace him as Ulysses and not as Down syndrome. Since we cannot befriend the whole world and help them to understand that there is no tragedy in having a child with Down syndrome, or any perceived 'disability' for that matter, I have devoted my time and efforts towards work that will educate the general public. In joint efforts with other organizations, we can extend this education and change in conventional wisdom to the rest of the world. I hope that by the time that my son is an adult, he will live in a liberated society that does not impose limitations on him based on his appearance and perceived 'learning differences.'
I'd always get pissed off when, on IRC in a punk chat room, people would just assume I was white. Even when I gave them my pics, they'd think of every ethnicity but black to guess as my race.
When I would tell them, "Well, I'm half black and half white," they'd be shocked.
"You're black???" would invariably be the reply. "Wow, I've never met a black punk."