Monday, June 21, 2021

octopus vs crips

Crip Camp was nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars this past year.

It didn’t win, My Octopus Teacher took home the award. 

This did not surprise me because My Octopus Teacher was awesome. When Juliette recommended it to me, I watched it the next day.

It took me months to watch Crip Camp. mooonths

Every time I’d see my mom and sister, they’d both ask me if I’d watched it yet. 

Blair (only sibling, has cerebral palsy) had already watched it 3 times. 

“You’ve gotta watch it! It’s awesome. And so cool that the Obamas produced it!”

“I know I gotta watch it, I will!” 

And I was going to, but I kept putting it off. 

it had become an item on the Ugh, to-do list

I have spent so much of my life in and around the special needs universe, it is unlike me to voluntarily choose more of it. 

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For those that don’t know of it, Crip Camp is about ‘a hippie-like summer camp “for the handicapped” in the Catskills’ in the 1970s. It was a place where a group of teenagers with disabilities were set free. free and connected, finally. 

free of overprotective parents and rules! free of the society that overlooks them


Joe and I finally watched it.

One of the girls with CP reminded me so much of Blair - very similar "full body-affected" Cerebral Palsy with heavily slurred speech, smart, mischievous, funny with her one liners. 

There's a part in the movie where she says the proudest moment of her life was when a doctor told her she had contracted Gonorrhea.

The 2nd half of the movie follows the same group of disabled friends post-camp in their fight for basic accessibility in public places. The simplest of things - curb cut outs in the sidewalk, elevators in subway stations. This part of it was harder to consume, I became overwhelmed.

I felt deep feelings of guilt for not knowing about so much of it. Guilt is my specialty, it lives inside of me like an old anchor. I realized how new ‘accessibility’ really was. I hadn’t learned about the activists who occupied the San Francisco Welfare Offices for 28 days with help from the Black Panther Party. I felt ashamed for not knowing much at all about how the American Disabilities Act of 1990 came to be.

Anyway, I think about Blair and the monster feelings this movie must stir up for disabled people like her.

I think about the idea of dedicating your life to something so important, productive and impactful. Your cause

I think about what it would feel like to see the culmination of your life’s work fighting to enact change over the course of 50 years get beat by a movie about a man and his friend Octopus. 

I am not saying they gave the award to the wrong film. 

I'm not saying I think Crip Camp should have won because it's more important or because of the emotional weight it carries.

I can say Crip Camp is important without saying anything to take away from or minimize My Octopus Teacher. 

I can say My Octopus Teacher was wildly beautiful and meditative to watch and Crip Camp made me anxious.

I can say I think it would definitely be good for the world if everyone was made to watch a movie like Crip Camp and I also understand why people most likely won't. 

And I can say to myself, it is perfectly okay to put off watching movies you know will bring you anxiety.

Empathy for all

and to all a goodnight!

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

wild brains

I've had variations of a certain dream over and over and over through the years:
I am driving and I can't keep my eyes open. 

My head is bobbing all around as I try to open my concrete Benadryl eyes and steer the car on the highway. and I'm panicking because the car is swerving everywhere, people are honking and I'm in a seizure-like head-dropping trance, absolutely about to crash.
But it keeps going and it definitely makes no sense that I haven't yet crashed.
And I feel myself wishing that it would just crash and be over with because this feeling of trying to keep my head up and eyes open to do something as simple as looking out the window to steer is complete torture.
every moment of the dream is a feeling of struggle while bracing myself for the crash.

A couple years ago, I was meeting with my psychiatrist at one of our standard check-ins. She was conducting a classic game of 'Rate Your Depression' and I said something about feeling asleep at the wheel. 
I heard myself say the words, 'living asleep at the wheel'. my mind then left my body and my little tootsie brain just about popped off. 

no fucking shit
I couldn't believe I hadn't made the connection sooner.

and it feels so true, I am sleeping at the goddamn wheel, Nancy! 

life is happening to me, slapping me in the face, as I am not steering properly. 
10 and 2 bitch, drink some green tea and wake the fuck up

and if you don't continuously work on the things that help to lift a feeble mind and body above the haze, the struggle slogs on. 

an analysis of this dream from the internet: 

Dreaming about falling asleep at the wheel is a warning for some unresolved issue which you are not addressing. 
Your dream hints at your raging emotions which have been held back and repressed for a long time. You cannot always do everything on your own, you may feel on the verge of exploding. 

Confusion, troubles, uncertainty and worry. Your recurrent dreams are a crash course in the dangers of leading a frenetic lifestyle. Being in the driver's seat is a sign of your drive and ambition and your unwillingness to put on the brakes. But trying to make an impact in life appears to be driving you to distraction. Perhaps you feel time is running out for you. Crashing is a symbol of your need for self-confrontation. You must face up to your reckless behavior and reverse course. You must slow down and assess the road ahead.

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The Brain 
All it's tricks and crevices. hidden passageways. a map with its own keys, rusty locks and trapdoors guarded by trolls. the smartest mush around.  the brain 
a real mindfuck, if you will. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

good to the last drop

Jay Keller

the legendary


Jay Keller was raised on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania where he went to a one room school house.

He moved to California in the 1970s and has been one of my mom’s closest friends for 45 years. 

Jay was the first gay person I knew. He was also the most fun adult I knew.

He once had a massive bale of hay delivered to my mom's front door so that it blocked the whole doorway and she couldn’t get out. 

Her and her friends later bought him an actual sheep as a gift and left it with him at his going away party.

I knew he was sick when I was little, but I didn’t know that it was because he had AIDS until I was 12 or so.

He was horribly sick in the early 90s, before the miracle drugs. He was rail thin. My mom told me that weed oh Holy Ganja saved his life through that time, it was the only thing that could get him to eat.


He continued on to teach 5th and 6th grade geography for decades in Hermosa Beach.

He was known to leave other teachers provocative notes 'from the janitor'. 

He’d take his classes on "field trips" to get Indian food for them to try new foods. He gave out “Goodie Two Shoes Detentions” and made every kid memorize the poem part of Thriller for Halloween. 

“Darkness falls across the land..”


I’d hang out at his house sometimes after school, times when my mom was in a bind and needed someone to take me. He never made it seem like he was doing her a favor. He genuinely seemed to want to hang out and talk and make me laugh. 

I’ll always remember a time we had to cancel a much anticipated Disneyland day because my sister had to go to the hospital. 

Someone dropped me off at Jay’s house for the night and I was bumming hard. 

He put a wig on and made me wear one too. We walked to get dinner at El Pollo Inka, I'd never had Peruvian food and I remember feeling so excited by the whole meal experience - the hot tea to start, then Peruvian soda and the best chicken i’d ever tasted. Then we watched Who Wants to be a Millionaire on his very exciting big screen tv until I fell asleep and someone came to pick me up. 

It's proven to be far more memorable than a trip to Disneyland. 

15 years later he took me to my first drag show in Palm Springs.

we smoked weed together on occasion, always with the long lighter from the kitchen, and always before dinner; we'd stand together blowing the smoke out the back window. 

sometimes there'd be a small group of French travelers he had met in town joining us for dinner.

He still called me Julia Harriet Webb, ever since my 3rd grade project on Harriet Tubman. 

Mail was always addressed to Julia Harriet Webb


I wish everyone could have known him.

I love you Jay Keller, I'm so happy I got time with you, we're gonna miss you so much.

You made everything more fun.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

You know you've exited the hopefulness of youth when you get the eyelash out of your eye and you just wipe it on your pants, no consideration of a wish. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

jan 26

I cried this morning, sitting in the same spot I was that morning, 

it's been one full year  

We tapped our phones like zombies all day, jumping from story to story, choking back the tears and disbelief, thinking about Vanessa

the grayest of gray in LA, the clouds were so thick outside. the same awful clouds. I cursed them. sludgy and frantic, This day. We broke our dry January that night and I cried through the egg rolls. 

It's been a year and I still have yet to address it personally. It's hard for me to explain everything Kobe was for me. The best I can do is remember the chronicles. 


1996, I was 8 when Kobe started playing in the NBA. This means I was in 3rd grade still singing Bananas in Pajamas (are coming down the stairs!)

Juliette and I would watch Laker games standing in front of the tv. We'd pick the noses of the other team and flick them (smudge central on the face of that 2 ft deep television) and we'd scream for Kobe. he moved like Spiderman and I was in love. 

1999 Phil Jackson became the coach, Kobe and Shaq, it was soon to become my everything. 
2000 2001 2002. it was so exciting. I felt like a part of it.

I spent a large chunk of these youth years sitting 5 feet from the tv screen by myself in the living room, eating Kids Cuisine dinners, zoned IN to those games

I had a knack for attaching my sense of self to things outside myself. My disabled sister stood out everywhere, everyone knew her and everyone loved knowing her. My sense of personal identity was heavily tied to being her sister.

The Lakers were my team. and they were amazing year after year, so fun to watch, so reliable. I was proud that they were mine. Proud that we'd become so tight, the team and me.

When they won, we had won! It would then be a great night
When they lost, I'd go cold. as if I had lost something in my own life

Early 2000s. Middle school and High school, I was obsessive and emotional.
I’d write the schedule of games in my planner. I'd read the sports section in the newspaper the next morning, I'd memorize stats. I formed little mental relationships with the players.
I was so attached. 

2003 Colorado. I was so UPSET/MAD/CONFUSED. I became engrossed in the case.
I was so angry at him. How could he do this to himself!? to Us?! He ruined it

I would continue to support my team. Kobe and I would take it one day at a time. It would take time to move forward.

2005. Junior year of High School. I didn't love school. Always an outlier type, that's where I was comfortable. I had a couple close friends, but in general felt terrible at connecting with people. Every day was another day to get through. 
Joe and I exchanged our first words this year: "I have that shirt."
He was walking past my desk in AP Bio and was wearing a Cheeseburger in Paradise t-shirt. He responded, saying something about Hawaii, we looked at each other for the first real time and he smiled the most engaging nice smile and part of me melted.
He had a girlfriend.
I went to prom with one of his best friends.

2006. Senior year of high school. Joe comes out of nowhere. I'd later find out that he began to crush on me the previous year before we ever spoke, when he saw that I had the Laker game schedule written out in my planner. We'd hang out for the first time at Coffee Bean the night before Thanksgiving. It was instantly right, a "holy shit, I am going to be with this person now" kind of knowing. There was a lot of smiling, I was completely at ease with him.
Nothing so good has ever landed in my lap quite like that.

He invited me to a Laker game on our 2rd date and I met his parents. At this point in my life, I had been to 2 Laker games. His parents had season tickets. I couldn't believe this was happening. 
I was in heaven.
it was the best year of my life. I felt fun and weird and wanted, secure for the first time.

2007-2010. the Laker love affair continues through our college years. Kobe was insane. the shedding of skin. the focus, the precision, the heroics, the face. we'd watch as many games as we could get on the east coast

2010. we've just graduated college and moved back to LA. 
with an absurd twist of fate, we get tickets to Game 7 of the NBA Finals Lakers vs Celtics. It was one of the greatest days of life, We lost our goddamn minds


Years later when Kobe retired, my personal investment in basketball retired too. I had little interest in continuing to dedicate so much time to watching and following a team
It really was all because of Kobe for me.

20 years of his life, growth. drive. A force of nature
20 years of our lives, of being a constant in our homes and our memories. through our own growth.
20 years on one team in one city.

Signed off with a poem and 60 points. his daughters cheering in the corner seats
It was all so special

Thursday, June 25, 2020


This is the house i grew up in. 
1990 Manhattan beach, CA my parents buy this shingly 1940s house on a culdesac street right up from the beach.
They were 38/39 years old. My mom had me at 36. Blair was born 2 ½ years later. 
Due to a large fuck up when my mom was in labor, Blair’s brain was damaged from lack of oxygen and she came out with a whole lotta cerebral palsy. 

i never felt proud to live in the house, it wasn’t a big nice house. It wasn’t a shithole, it was meh. Behind the nice orderly living room, it was random, disheveled. piles of paperwork/mail/magazines. bulky wheelchair equipment everywhere. It always felt unfinished, an incomplete home. 

After i moved back home after college, into my bare, former room space, I never decorated it. It felt pointless, makeup on a troll. I didn’t like anything about it, why try to make it look nicer, or worse- my own. No, I did not want this to be mine. 
Besides, I was going to get my own place eventually. 

we had become a family of isolationists, living together, existing in loneliness next to each other. Everyone's shells so strong. robotic tense purposeless interactions. it felt darker than I remembered.

[I now see that] My continuing to live there was like dropping myself into a bowl of (thicc) depression syrup, and every day not rescuing myself. letting myself flail around til I lost enough steam that I didn’t care about anything, let alone pulling myself out. 

What a damn bowl, my special weird home bowl, extra slippery sides. 

The other night I stopped over there to pick up my dog. It was the perfect time of eve, just past sunset pre-darkness, when you can really feel the ocean in the air. I was putting stuff in my car about to leave, and I stopped to look back at the house
And I loved the way it looked. Character and age, one of the last old beach houses that remain untouched. The red door has been there from the beginning, my dad built the deck when i was 6ish. I like how the shingles look now that the paint has worn off, it used to be dark gray. 
My mom says the reason the house is still standing is because all the termites are holding hands. 

It’s been almost 7 years since I’ve lived there. 

[I now see that] I had to step away from it to notice its value, to realize that there are things i actually like about it.  
If only they’d let me help with the inside.