Category Archives: elephant girl

badd: blog against disablism day

Synchronicity swirling around me again, I am having the Week of Addressing Disabilities. My supervisor recruited me to speak about the clinic at a middle school for a diversity workshop they held yesterday. I decided to integrate some talk about myself too, and it worked beautifully. I was able to start with my arm and then use that to talk about visible versus invisible disabilities, and then segued into what we do at the clinic. [Sorry, but I gotta leave some vagueness about work intact for Secret Identity Purposes to protect my beloved work place from being associated with a Radical and Highly Controversial Blogger and Purveyor of Subversive Ideas. *snort* Read: Mommyblogger with delusions of awesomeness who is so undersexed she thinks lists of hot chick crushes is somehow revolutionary;)]

I had dreaded the speaking part, but it was groovy. The kids had insightful, intelligent questions and there were a handful of kids with special needs throughout the day and that plus me equaled a successful discussion of various abilities and disorders that pretty much completely avoided “other-ness” language.

So, I survived my uneasiness with public speaking, which is not terrible, really. Just butterflies and a dry mouth. Then this morning I sat down with my cup of coffee at my neglected computer to read my poor ignored feed reader and saw that my beautiful Soul Sistah Lexie had written a BADD post. Having a bit of extra time this morning, I decided to write a post. Which, it now seems, has been quite overtaken by its own introduction. So quickly, let me repost, again, my sexy self portrait that was my own personal One Armed Sexy Witch Mama coming out party.

Only, wow. I do not have one arm. I completely negate my right arm all the freaking time! I have two arms, and two hands even. Meh… is it just shorthand? Because I could spend all day explaining myself into circles. Seven fingers, one long arm, one short.

And without further rambling, I give you my actual post:

Here is the state of my consciousness regarding my birth defect about a year ago:

It was seriously, asskickingly empowering to create and post this piece. I love that it ended up so sexy. It really was only revealing skin to show my arm off better but yeah. Owning my own image and really synthesizing my arm with its strange look and the sexual side of me was kind of huge. I’ve always had “sexual being” and “mutant arm chick” as wholly different selves in my brain, until that self portrait. In fact, I think mutant arm self had its very own tightly guarded box that was separate from everything, actually. You can see the entire original post here.

So forgive the indulgent reposting of the portrait, but I offer it in celebration of BADD and badass mutant hot people everywhere.

sketchcasting

Sketches about my arm & my womanly bits. Found my microphone. Too lazy to attempt to fight with embedding them. I notice that at least 75% of my sketch videos mention rum. Rum is yum.

Anatomy of Elephant Girl Part 1
Anatomy of Elephant Girl Part 2

metapsyche

Often I’m having this feeling that my psyche is finally coalescing and settling in. I’m more comfortable in this existence, and I’m owning my mental and physical space more. I feel at home in my body, listening to its complaints and pleasures more, intuiting its rhythms and tides. I’m more assertive about my choices- like smiling and assuring an old friend that “No, Molly’s not too old to nurse,” and deciding to use my real name on mine and Alexis’ parenting blog. I’ve started to acknowledge and celebrate my birth defects in my art and writing, and I’m starting to think less compartmentally in my projects, if I may (apparently- according to spell check- invent a word.) What I mean here is that I have the zine idea and the Cafe Press thing and some other sorta diverse plans in mind, and I’m fighting the idea of creating a million different sites and stores and things. Part of me is scared crunchy parents don’t want to see snarky dark stuff, and potential logo clients don’t want to see a zine with my boobs and funky arm in, etc. However, if I want to build a business from my creativity, it is best to just let it all out there and let the synthesis that is my brain groove be what it is. Trying to divide myself is both stifling to the creativity and kind of insulting, really, to the potential customers.

I always had this vague sense that in my thirties I’d come into myself. Maybe with that idea actually created this feeling myself, or maybe I saw other women become more truly them in their thirties. Maybe 3 is just so laden with mystic energy that everyone has thirties epiphanes. (And I’ve always been pretty obsessed with psychological transformations. My very first webpage was titled “Metamorphosis Psyche.” Holy shit; it’s still live! Images & half the links are broken, but still. Behold my early twenties angst.)

I suspect, however, that giving birth at age 30 had a whole lot to do with this. Motherhood does a bang up job of turning a body and mind inside out. Today I’m kind of a glowy, floaty mom feeling like it’s a crazy beautiful gift and the sacred/mundane nature of it is blowing my mind.

(I seem to have gotten a whole lot more out of that mini-retreat than I initially thought. I got tipped over totally into the mystical part of me and I feel like my thinking and writing is 1,000 times more clear and true this weekend. I’m actually excited today to translate that into the drawing. My model session was a hoot, what with the two or three beers we drank and the fake baby and yoga mat covered in Dharma fur. I have several good variations on the pose to look at and I also figured out a little problem with the framing/printing.)

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seven weird things

Via OhMyGoddess I’m So Jealous Of Her Hair Sugared Harpy:

Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. Yeah, I probably won’t. Do it if you catch this post. Or not if you don’t want to. I’m flexible like that.

1. I hate when my nails grow longer than just a tint bit of white showing. It feels dirty.

2. I have 12,543 weird OCD compulsions. One of them is that I have to check and recheck my alarm is set about 3 times.

3. I prefer odd numbers.

4. i prefer lowercase letters, and my signature is not capitalized. i follow the rules in the post on the blog because i admit it is easier to read capitalized sentences and i worry you’ll think i’m either pretentious or lazy. i do vent my lowercase love in my titles usually.

5. Another OCD thing is flexing my (freakishly long) toes against my shoes in rhythms that I see or hear: music, or mile markers on the road or whatever.

6. I have a fetishy desire to own Catholic paraphernalia- rosaries, saint medallions and cards… but I’m a shameless heathen.

7. Several lay people have theorized that I might have absorbed a twin in utero- they think that explains my birth defects.

Tagged:

Laura Without Labels
Heidi- Hortus Deliciarum
Lexie- This Wabi Sabi Life
Kathy- Available Light
Brooke- Urban Earth Mama
Coffee Betsy
Mere Mortal

inspire :: DNA

Inspire Me Thursday’s topic this week is Uniqueness/DNA. My first impulse was to repost my digital art piece which features a latticework of DNA.  Then I thought I’d repost this image about my birth defect. Then I decided I’d just link back to that (as I realized it wasn’t imported to the WordPress blog) and post the pregnant image. I keep forgetting and re-remembering that I’d made this. (I don’t have any prints of my own; I paid my doula with the one framed print I’d displayed at an art show.)

It occurs to me now that I could maybe create some digital pieces or altered digital pieces for that show in October. I’ve only very tentatively and quietly created real digital work, haven’t really emraced the medium as Fine Art (versus Graphic.) Time- and money-wise, it’s probably the best bet to actually follow through and create a small series for the show. It’s still costly, though: printing and framing.  If we can get caught up a little on bills, borrow what’s left  I’ll worry about making the art now; buying materials will follow.

 This was the one piece of intentional, “fine” art I made while I was pregnant. It’s called MotherLine. It was a pencil drawing, scanned in and painted in Photoshop then duplicated and layered with the (really beautiful) latticework of DNA I pieced together. I love the DNA in it- definitely my favorite part.

the strangest heart i’ve ever felt

Dream last night:

Bu and I have traveled to Alabama to stay w/ Lexie. The house is long and narrow. Very light in space and aura.

Her whole family is there; it’s a mad zoo. Her dad, granddad, cousins. I feel overwhelmed by them all. They all look like M’s family with his dark wavy hair. Remy = adorable! There is a very complicated diapering with small cut-outs pinned individually into his pants. Emsy likes him. She has a cousin who seems to hate me but then warms up; He reminds me of my step brother, to whom I have never really warmed.

Lexie, her grandfather, M, Bu, maybe more, are all in a line with their hands on each other’s hearts doing some kind of divination or energy reading. I join in with Lexie’s hand on my heart. She looks interested, like concerned-interested. “What is it?” I ask. “This is the strangest heart I’ve ever felt.” I say something along the lines of “Well, it may well have a whole extra chamber. Who the hell knows with this body. I have missing parts, extra parts…”

The end. What a weirdly unsetting but poetic phrase. I woke with it resonating in my mind. I may have to wait ages for Alexis to come back from California to hear her reaction. (Do they have net access where you’re staying?)

five finger discount*

I have to share my take on this. Busha wrote today (so prettily I’m freaking dying for a pedicure now) about a lovely young woman who was having a mani pedi and who has both an arm and leg amputation from an accident. Busha confessed she was curious whether or not the woman was charged full price.

So a few years ago, like six, was my first and only manicure and pedicure. The now famous Souster was getting married and I had to be lurvely as her maid of honor. I had a very natural looking French mani and then very crass-like threw my legs up over the manicurist’s table to have him do his first French pedi on me (we are slow to catch on here in the hills. And we do shit like hiking our crusty tootsies up on to a table to make some dude paint our toenails.)

So the whole time I’m getting the toes & fingers made all shiny, I’m thinking… “Do I dare ask for half price for the manicure?” I was 99% sure if I had the cajones-what’s Spanish for ovaries?- to ask for it they’d be too embarrassed to say no. I didn’t want to be cheap or all in-your-face about the freakydeak, but that’s expensive pampering for a lowly art student barrista. So I sucked it up and asked. The chick who ran the register was very smooth and happy to oblige. She was also still laughing at my French toes.

* Sorry, couldn’t help it. Cracking up at myself. So the moral of the story is if you have the ovarios** to ask for a very practical discount on your manicure by reason of having less than ten nails, you’ll get it.

** Yep! Looked it up.

an epic post: the interview, mother of all memes

I latched onto this at Sleepless in Cologne, and Bine sent me these really insightful questions. If you want to play too, comment here and I’ll ask you five questions (in no timely manner at all, I’m sure.) Make sure to leave an email address if I don’t have it, or a blog link and I’ll comment back with your questions.

1. although you have blogged about this before, could you sum up how you felt/feel redifined by becoming a mother? how much of it did you expect before setting out on this journey and what took you by surprise?

Being a mother became a primal calling- some powerful blend of biological imperative and mystical longing. In one year (I was 25) I fell in love with Bu, lost my mom, and my best friend got pregnant. I started daydreaming constantly about how I would feel as a mom. I wanted it so much and thought about it so much I seem to have really gotten a grasp on how it would change me. There weren’t a lot of surprises. Being in the experience of course is different from dreaming it, but it feels pretty much like I thought I would: exhausting and wonderful, challenging and fun. I feel empowered and more substantial from a psychological perspective, and I felt the deep shift from maiden to mother in a spiritual context. The changes were actually easier for me than I thought- I was worried I’d have severe PPD, given the hormonal ties with my depression and anxiety, but the smallish increase in anxiety is probably within normal range for a new mom.

The one thing that shocks me is the hard-to-define feeling that I’ve joined some secret society that I didn’t think I’d ever be allowed into. It’s not that I don’t feel worthy to be a mom, or that I ever really worried I’d be infertile (given my anatomical anomalies) but more that motherhood is so real and wholesome and, what:normal? that I’m kind of still vaguely surprised to be living it. That feeling might come from the idea from thinking in my adolescence and twenties that I wanted to grow up to be a cool loner drinking homemade absinthe and painting in oils with a bunch of cats and variously gendered interesting lovers running around. (I’ve always been wilder and fringe-y-er in my head than out.)

I’m dazed to find myself in a thoroughly unremarkable lifestyle with a little house, a husband, a baby, and dogs. It’s a good feeling, though, to find myself abruptly an adult in pursuit of simplicity. I’ve found that I’m grounded and peaceful at my center- however much I may write about my anxiety. I’m a sun now, with a little new planet dependent on my gravity. It’s come time to own my power and grow into myself. There’s been a sort of Persephone, Ophelia, female Peter Pan thing in my life and I’ve refused to own adulthood until now. It would be a huge disservice to Emsy to not rise to the occasion now. I want more than anything in this world to be the best version of myself so I can model real womanhood for her.

2. how and when did you get introduced to wiccan faith and how does it influence your daily life today? how many people around you are aware of this and/or share this with you?

As a child and teen I was very interested in fairy tales, the occult, and all the new age trappings- astrology, crystals, the Ouija board. I played with my mom’s Tarot deck. (She was a witchy-ish new age leaning Christian flower child.) In high school I was reading about paganism. I remember falling in love with the word ‘pagan’ in my English class. We were studying the Romantic poets (sigh) and one of the characteristics of the movement, according to my teacher, was a “pagan love of nature.” I quickly dug up stuff on neopaganism and decided emphatically that I was home. Initially, Wicca put me off as too organized and hierarchical- and too controversial (I had friends warning me it was “dark magic”- Ooh! Scary! Darkness Bad!). After I went to school in Pittsburgh, read Drawing Down the Moon, and found an informal class/forum in Wicca, I started identifying as Wiccan. I was studying pretty seriously for quite a while. After coming home to WV, I found the UU pagan group I refer to occasionally here. I met a priestess who was mentoring me in Pagan Universalism and who moved away as I got serious with Bu. My intent dissipated a lot, and since then I haven’t been active at all.

I’m definitely more interested at this point in being an active Unitarian Universalist than a practicing witch. They do overlap for me, and other pagan UU’s. It’s a lovely thing to have found a system that is so open and un-dogmatic that I have room to explore other traditions.

Having Emsy has really made me re-examine my passive approach to Wicca and UUism. I want to impart these teachings to her as she grows, and I am passionate about my faith. It does bring up the idea of openness again. I’ve never hidden my affiliation with Wicca, but I’m not as open as I used to be either. I rarely will be seen wearing a pentagram symbol (but I have one dangling from my rear view…Gaia is my copilot!) The grandies are aware that I worship God and Goddess entities of some sort and Bu’s used the word “witch” with reference to my faith. (Geesh- the word faith makes me really uncomfortable; just realizing this. I’m not faithful as such. I’m a “questioner” and don’t have dogmatic beliefs.) I do have some vague worries that Emsy will be denigrated by well-meaning, misinformed people if she takes to Goddessy-flavored UUism like her mama. Our neighbors and family are certainly not hip to earth religions by any stretch of this very stretchy imagination.

3. before you found out that your “birth defect” was non-genetic you were very scared that emsy might have inherited it. on the other hand i think you agree that it has made you special in a way. how did wanting her to be “normal” create a conflict for yourself?

It was a huge conflict. I lay awake in bed late one night early in my pregnancy, willing the little fetus to please, please, grow ten fingers, please. Every memory of self-consciousness was funneled into that moment and I just broke with it. I vented all the worries in that night and just bathed in tears. There was no brave child pretending to ignore stares from classmates, there was no haughty teenager telling herself, “He’s staring at me because I’m a hottie,” no snarky chick sporting a pirate hook on her tiny arm at Halloween and feeling like the Queen of Wild Beautiful Freaks. There was only a human animal feeling marked and completely isolated from her tribe and praying to her Mother goddess to please never, ever let her baby feel so odd and alone and conspicuous.

To allow myself to pray that prayer, I had to unblock a whole life of just stubbornly refusing to feel that primitive embarrassed difference. No, of course there is no shame or judgment intellectually, but there is a large and scary feeling to look this fundamentally different from everyone else I meet. Imagine something so much deeper than being fat in a room of trim people, or the ugliest girl at the prom. I know it’s not a disfigurement or a horror to look upon. I know I’m not monstrous or even that strange. But that awareness of not-normal just is. I never, ever allowed myself to feel that. I just didn’t let it be there. But I felt it somewhere, because I found it stored in me and projected onto my baby, and I couldn’t bear “inflicting” that on her. It would be my fault if she were deformed, because I didn’t get DNA testing. I would be responsible in a way my parents weren’t. They couldn’t have known or prevented it. I could have.

So it was a flood of relief when I found out about ABS (a probable cause, but not a conculsive diagnosis- it leaves unexplained the organ defects in my kidneys & uterus/cervix/vagina) and when the nurse pointed out two tiny vague hands with barely discernable but countable fingers on my ultrasound. Then, even better to hold her hands and touch ten tiny pink fingers. Now, I adore feeling her little left hand automatically grip onto the “handle” of the long finger on my strange right arm while my left hand grasps her right to lift her up. I love the way her head rests against the short little curve of my arm when she nurses like it was made just to cradle her.

4. you think your fear of making art is at least in part a fear of facing your “real self”. could you imagine treating this as a kind of therapy, for example choosing a fixed date every week like a doctor’s appointment you couldn’t call off or postpone, retreating to a studio and working for a couple of hours?

I’ve got intentions to do this. I need it, a little routine to break open the barrier I have made. I’m so intimidated by the time “wasted” by not making art. Like I have to start conceptually from scratch. I feel enormous pressure to be amazing, because I have seen hints of true, exciting beauty in my past work and I know it’s in me to be amazing. Instead of feeling blessed to know I have talent, I suppose I’m worrying that I really won’t find that spark if I dig for it. Part of it, honestly, is a fear of success. I’m scared the ideas or the energy are too big for me. It’s a weird mystic feeling for me- like I’m meant to channel something that’s too big for me or something? Gods, it borders on psychotic. It’s. Just. Art. It’s beauty and communication. I have to let go of this crazy obsession with the Artist as some powerful wizardy figure and just be a maker of lovely objects.

I want to start with art books, because they are safe and small and enclosed. Familiar and comforting. It doesn’t matter now what I make or how or the medium I choose. I just need to make, for me. Perhaps I’ll just think of myself as an artisan rather than an Artist and get down with the zen of creating tangible stuff.

I have to carve out a physical place and some time for it. Stop making it a big deal- clean the room and draw some pictures! I loved this question- I’ve always seen art as a therapeutic process. If anyone else is looking for a therapeutic or introspective approach to art, or just has a simple creativity block, The Artist’s Way is a great tool. That said, I may mount an archeological expedition for my copy and use it as a map.

5. if you had a fairy wish granted, what would you wish for? what would you really wish for?

Oh, this is so difficult. This was my nursing marathon brain occupation last night. Came up with very little in the way of concrete answers. What I want is to see is more empathy and tolerance in the world. How specific does this fairy need me to be? I thought of other vague responses: For everyone to have enough. World peace. Global Enlightenment.

What I want most, in this moment is a huge, cold glass of very lemony water and a large serving of pretty pink sushi. (Caught fresh, prepared, and served by a shirtless Captain Jack Sparrow, if it’s a very nice fairy.)

*Edit* I’ve just gotten a big kick out of this: I’m Jack with his compass and no idea what I want most;)

circumcision article

I was thrilled to see this article up at CNN.com. I’ve seen statistics on circumcision and natural birth and breastfeeding lately, but I’ve never, in mainstream press, seen any reference to this being a trend toward people taking back control of and celebrating the natural human body:

“The trend has also accompanied a change in Americans’ attitudes toward medicine and their bodies…the rates of drug-free labor and breast-feeding all rose during the 1980s, while the initial declines in male circumcision rates began during the 1980s as well,” said Katharine Barrett, an anthropology lecturer at Stanford University. “It may have been part and parcel of the wider effort to reclaim bodies — adult female and infant male — from unnecessary and potentially harmful medical interventions.”

Veeta (my darling cousin) can testify that I lost more sleep about the endless debate about a hypothetical foreskin than anything else when I was pregnant. Bu was pretty adamantly for it (fore it, haha) and I was arguing against it, tearfully. In the very end, when we were as sure as you can be that we were having a girl, he came around, I think.

Speaking of Veeta and natural bodies & such, here’s a nursing photo from this past Christmas. Emsy & M’Ello snuggled up with their mamas. (You can also see the funky arm really well if you’re a curious new reader.) It’s a low rez cell phone image, so I threw some [mystical misty mojo] blur filters over it. It was so cute. We had a couple of male cousins hanging out with us and being all non-freaked out- unlike my stepbrother on Christmas. (That was hilarious, by the way. He stopped mid-sentence and gaped when I whipped out the nips…lol.)

Thanks all over again, Veeta for being such a wonderful support:) I’m hereby reinstating Friday check in. Coming soon: M’Ello Bday cake cuteness!