Posted in Being human, cats, joy, Uncategorized

Friendship and Love and Resonance and CATS! A closer look at that picture.

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Anne, Mel, and Igor, all with the same expression somehow a bit and looking kinda cattish.

It’s good to see friends.

I remember what’s underneath the visit.

I remember pain and stuff.

I remember emergency speech.

I remember what’s underneath though.

And that’s what matters.

Underneath there’s me and Anne and everyone.

I love Anne.

I love Cal.

I love Joelle.

I love Ruti.

I love Laura.

I love lots of people I haven’t named.

I rarely get to talk to my friends. Even online. We rarely keep in touch. We all have huge trouble doing that. It’s the worst part of inertia.

I hate the myth that we don’t or shouldn’t need friends. It’s fine not to. But it’s totally okay to want and need people in your life and most people do, even most loners.

I hate the community norms in some places where it becomes almost a macho one-upmanship thing to show how unsocial you are. Like… I once described it as “A whole bunch of people socializing by competing about how much they claim to not need to socialize.”

It’s okay to want to socialize.

It’s okay to socialize.

Never let a label determine what you think you should want.

Not even a label you like or that is useful to you. If it starts ruling you instead of you using it something’s wrong.

Someone once told me “You’re allowed to want people in your life, you’re just not allowed to need them.”

I knew where she got that. And it was not from someone who said “allowed”. It was from someone describing their own experience only. But somehow other people turned it into “allowed”. And that’s bad.

Anyway.

It’s okay to want people in your life.

It’s okay to need people in your life.

Both of these things are equally okay.

It’s okay to like people.

It’s okay to love people.

It’s okay to socialize however you want to as long as everyone involved is really okay with it.

There’s a terrible kind of isolation very few people admit exists.

In systems like the developmental disability system sometimes all the people you ever see are staff.

For those unaware staff doesn’t mean what it seems to mean to most people. For DD people having staff means having people with lots of power over you, it’s the people who are supposed to be taking care of you. But they may or may not be. And whether they’re amazing or terrible and helping or hurting or whatever — they have power over you that you don’t have over them. Nobody can wish that away or make it go away just by wanting it to or trying. The power is built in to the job.

And sometimes every single person I interact with for months is staff.

I actually usually like staff.

But.

They’re not the same as friends.

Not the same as strangers either. It’s a personal relationship and pretending it’s not doesn’t work any more than pretending it’s a friendship works.

But it encloses you in the agency.

It wraps around you.

If all you see is staff.

All you see reflected back at you has an agency distortion.

Even if every single person individually sees you as a person.

This still happens.

It’s just not the same as having friends.

And.

I started having friends again.

Ruti. Joelle. Cal. Anne.Paragraph

And.

I was a person again.

And.

I realized I wasn’t anywhere near a horrible a person as I thought I was.

Lots of other things too.

I realized my love meant something to other people and that other people loved me.

Both of those things are important.

So many things about myself and my friends and friendship and being human.

And I started to feel human.

A little bit.

I felt like I’d woken up from a weird sleep.

It’s how I feel around people who just want to be around me and I want to be around them.

That’s why Anne and Igor and everyone are so important. Even when we don’t see each other online or off for years. We want to but we can’t always and sometimes it hurts. But knowing each other at all counts for something. And I wish we could all communicate with as many others as we want to as much as we want to in the ways we want to. Because I’ve missed years of contact and I’m sure the others can say the same or more.

This picture isn’t just about pain, it’s why I wanted to post it again.

It’s about love.

It’s about being human.

I have a different kind of relationship with each of my friends.

With Anne it’s partly built on so much of our lives and brains working the same way.

If you ever read the book Loud Hands I have an untitled chapter. It’s about Anne. I can’t do us justice here but that’s the closest I’ve come to doing our friendship justice anywhere.

Anyway we read each other underneath everything. The words almost don’t matter. We exist and resonate.

And for that friendship that’s how it works.

So the picture is about resonating and friendship and love and humanity and all kinds of wonderful things.

And CATS.

Those are all in there too just as much as pain is.

I want to post that picture to celebrate knowing Anne and friendship and love in general and the amazing luck of finding those things at all, for a lot of us who never expected it or even really knew what a friend was. And the importance of all this when you have it.

And so many more things I can’t name.

There’s a lot in this picture that’s really beautiful about friendship if you know what you’re looking at.

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Anne and Mel and Igor in Mel’s apartment.

The pain isn’t separate from it either. It’s not some extra thing. If it’s part of my body right then it’s part of the picture too. But so is the love and the resonance and the catness and all the other things. They’re all wrapped in together because that’s how life works. It’s all there underneath if you know how to look for it.

I love all my friends whether I named you or not and you’re all important to me and I care about you and wish we could interact more in whatever way worked best for us.

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Posted in Nature, poetry

Through Our Roots

I keep my boughs from growing
On the side you stand
So our branches won’t clash
Or fight for the sun

Your branches batter mine
Demanding more, more, more
We live in a state of siege
We strive for a state of love

I can only love you through our roots
Which nourish and protect
Without hindrance or distraction

I turn away
So I can love you
Where your grasping limbs can’t reach

And still
Hard and swift
Your branches grasp

And still
Swift and sad
I turn away
And dig deep

Mel Baggs, written gradually in hir mind & on paper between roughly 2013-2018, for someone sie’s known most of hir life
A large network of roots underground below larch seedlings.
A large network of roots underground below larch seedlings.
Posted in Being human

Everyone has a right to decide what’s private to them.

Mel with hands hiding face.
Mel with hands hiding face.

Everyone deserves privacy.

Everyone deserves to decide what we will discuss about ourselves, and who we will discuss it with, and when, and where, and how.

Everyone deserves to decide what we define as private in a certain situation.

You don’t give up your right to privacy because you have discussed something before.  You have no obligation to discuss it again.

You don’t give up your right to privacy because you have disclosed something most people consider highly private and personal information.

You don’t give up your right to privacy because you consider something highly private and personal that most people would not.

Example:

I find it relatively easy to discuss the fact that I have been molested, a thing that most people consider highly private and personal.

I find it harder to discuss other abuse that most people would consider less serious and also less personal.

Because sexual matters are generally considered more personal, and non-sexual abuse is usually considered both less personal and less severe than sexual abuse.

But this is not how I experience these things, and I have every right to choose which one of these I discuss.  And where I discuss it.  And with who.  And how.

I have a right to discuss information about myself that most people would consider private and personal.

I have a right not to discuss information about myself that most people would not consider private and personal.

I have a right to choose when, where, and how I will discuss any of these things.

I have a right to change my mind on things like this.

And so do you.

Why am I writing this?

Lots of reasons.

But one is that there’s a culture online of making you disclose certain information about yourself, or expecting that you disclose it.  Not even as a matter of discussion, just as a matter of course.  You’re supposed to put it right up on the front of your blog, in some circles.  And it’s a problem.

There’s a thing where you’re supposed to list in which ways you are marginalized and in which ways you are privileged.  I’m not going to get into the assumptions made here about a shared vision of reality in which you can sum such things up in a word or two.  But even disclosing this information can be private for some people.  Failing to disclose this information, and having to explain why, can be private for some people.  Discussing why they do or don’t agree with the entire system of seeing things can be private for some people.  Discussing the complexities of the person’s actual position with regards to some kind of oppression can be private for some people.  All of these things and more can be private, and the expectation itself can create invasions of privacy, as well as a sense of obligation to disclose private information.

Asking people’s preferred pronouns can be an invasion of privacy.

Demanding that everyone present tell their preferred pronouns can be such an extreme invasion of privacy that some people will never show up or will go away.

Discussing gender can become an invasion of privacy when people are expected to disclose anything from our actual relationshp to gender, to our relationship with our bodies.  Some people don’t want to be open about such things.  Some people know it will endanger us to be open about such things.

And sometimes what we want to discuss requires the disclosure of private information in order to discuss it in a way people will understand.  And sometimes we decide to do so, and sometimes we don’t decide to do so.  Sometimes other people’s expectations play into this.  Sometimes they don’t.  This can prevent us discussing certain topics altogether, or prevent us discussing them in a way that really shows what we think.

At any rate, you have every right to decide what is private information for you right now, and not to discuss or disclose it except when you want to.  You have a right to decide whether you will discuss it.  You have a right to decide in what manner you’ll discuss it.  you have a right to decide when you’ll discuss it.  You have a right to decide who you’ll discuss it with.  You have a right to decide how you’ll discuss it and what you’ll discuss.  All of these things are part of your right to privacy.  And you’re allowed to exercise that right.

Posted in poetry

Thirsty

lemonade springs
Child-Mel sitting on rocks by a mountain spring with a cup of lemonade & a goofy expression

I’ve learned to sustain myself
In tiny drops of water
From oases so small
They’re invisible
To the naked eye

You flow over jagged rocks
Like a mountain spring
That reminds me
I’ve forgotten how
To be thirsty