Saturday, July 23, 2011

Facing Myself

I haven't posted regularly in what feels like forever, because I've been going back to school while working full time and raising two kids and helping my son navigate autism and finding a new job and ... well, acquiring significant material for this blog just by living my life. Now, I need to share. But I might ramble. And you might not want to follow, but I've got to get it all out, just for my own good. It might not seem like it, but I'm writing about autism, and the thread it stitches in indelible patterns throughout all the backdrops in my life.

So I'm in my first week at my new job, a chaotic event week at my new workplace that takes place once each year and coincided with my arrival, and so far I've attended a seminar about context in documentaries (there are inherent choices behind each cut, frame, shot, and edit), a live testimony from a survivor of the Rwandan genocide, and a presentation by an expert in the Holocaust. Now I am in line to get a plate of food, which I will eat during a working lunch on a topic I have not yet mastered. It would not surprise me if I looked a little pale, and if I had smudges under my eyes. The lady behind me said something like, "What moving, amazing... what stories... it's so hard, but so important..." She looked pale and had smudges too as we exchanged a few more convoluted thoughts, and I don't recall the transition, but I came around to full alertness when she said, "My friend told me after my family recently experienced our own tragedy that I was experiencing my own holocaust... You see, we lost my three and a half year old grandson..."

At some point she said she had no idea why she was sharing this with me, because it was not typical for her to do that, especially in a buffet line. At some point after that, she said, "He had autism. He wandered off... "

Every life is a story, every story is all about context. You cannot document a life without making choices of which context to include and which to leave out, because life is too big and messy and layered.

Our lives can seem so random, so disconnected, so different, but that's just costuming, just the cover art.

You see? I have not been writing much here at Rooster Calls, but I've been thinking about you, this, IT, quite a bit.

And now this is going to seem like a tangential explosion, but if you have come this far, hang on for a moment. I have not changed workplaces in 16 years, when I was a BABY, and I feel a little scared as I tackle my new responsibilities. My son got accepted into a new public school through a lottery system and we celebrated because it has such a good reputation for special education, and then that school said, "Oops, we missed the fact that he has autism, and we already have enough of 'those kids' so we are rescinding his acceptance" As my husband pursued legal recourse, I felt torn between wanting to fight and wanting to run from any school that wouldn't want my beautiful boy. Someone I love just had her heart badly broken. I turned 40 and worried about aging.

So all this to say I think it's a really good (scary, overwhelming) thing I made a career change that will help me remember things like CONTEXT, that will help me with the perspective I've been begging for on this blogging journey.

From my own bias as storyteller, through my own lens, via my own filters, this is what I heard this past week, in various experiences, and what I carry with me:
Life is hard. There is no justice. Life has no undo button. Memory is powerful. We live for our children - they are our hope. It does no good to compare suffering. Giving testimony can help a survivor go on. Some atrocities are very hard to fathom, and we must stand in the way of anything like it. Music can transport you. Our memories, stories, context change over time. Silence does not help. To choose not to choose is a choice. Choices have consequences. Never be a bystander. Time will pass. Hate hurts everyone. In the end, we have to live with ourselves alone. Stories teach. Writing matters. Live another day. Assume nothing. Show respect. I am a humanist.

I have no idea if I'm doing what I am supposed to be doing, and I mean that on global and granular levels, and I mean it about my career, my family, my blog, what I wore today. I do know I'm listening and learning, and my instincts tell me I am doing what I need to do. I don't claim to know if there is a reason that I met that grandmother in line for food, but I do believe that our stories mattered to one another, that we had something to offer one another. If you got to this point in this post, I hope that what I wrote today mattered somehow to you, had something to offer, something you can take away with you. My story is a patchwork, shot through with countless colors and threads, autism among them; just telling it helps me find the beauty in this messy life.

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