Dying/broken/forgiven.... now I begin

Born: 17-06-56....gemini.... monkey
re-born: 3-09-80
born again\found: 14-04-08
other notable dates: 10-03-68; 03-09-87; 23-03-96;
1-05-98; 31-01-02; 5-04-04

Interests: movement, stressed/transgressive embodiment, lived experience (body\space\time\relation)
expression ( word, dance, text, image, story, music, poetics)
learning, yielding......

Hopes for the blog:
offer up the wild intersectedness of lived experience and engage others in creative, expressive, perhaps irreverant, hopefully playful, and respectful encounters....
enact kindness
create moments of pause for disclosure, discovery, stillness

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The turtlehead

Mario recalls how he had willingly volunteered for this experience. He'd known what he was getting into... at least he'd thought he knew. His first week had been somewhat more difficult than he'd anticipated, but he'd adjusted, realizing that grunt work and dirty work and body work were tasks he didn't think he'd be doing but tasks that everyone was expected to do. So, he did them... he is doing them, and he figured he'd been pulling his weight. In spite of his long term commitments to kids with disabilities, this group was a tough group... high need, messy(especially with food and toileting), loud, uncooperative. The camp director had given him the look last week when he'd mentioned how much work these kids were. Of course they're lots of work, she'd said, they're autistic. I thought you knew that....

well, yes, he'd known that but he hadn't known what that meant, really; that he was going to be wiping noses and bums and helping kids get changed into and out of swimming attire and cleaning up spaces after the kids had blown through them. Thank goodness there were so many girls at camp... they were better at that stuff anyway.
He had decided to work with the older kids; who knew they would be worse than the little ones?! Four other guys were working with this older group, too. Pretty good bunch, Mario had to admit. They'd been around kids like this for years and seemed ok with all the snot and shit and mangled food and odd behaviours and noises... they even seemed to like the kids; they were patient and gentle. Mario remembered how he'd been impressed those first few days of camp.

Today had been a strange day so far. The other fellas had been in high spirits, lots of laughing and back slapping. He felt included today, like the guys were recognizing how hard he had been working, like they knew he had lots to offer; so, here in the boys' change room, he was unnerved by his awareness of his own growing unease. Everyone had been his usual efficient self, helping the kids dry off after swimming, getting the kids' stuff into their backpacks, doing the bathroom checks. So why was he, Mario, here with Jack, a tall, skinny, gawky, goofy 16 year old with a sweet smile and a finger pinch that could ( and, frequently, did ) draw blood? Why was Jack still naked, dripping wet and doing this strange little whiny groan and his own special version of the swirl and twirl dance? Mario suddenly notices he is alone in the change room with Jack. How has this happened? Mario is usually the one filling up the backpacks and getting them outside ready for the bus. Everyone seemed to appreciate this; yet, here he is, alone with Jack. Mario gets Jack dried off and gets going on getting him dressed and outta here. Jack is pawing at him and moving towards the toilets, pulling away from Mario's efforts to get him clothed. Oh, no... Mario is NOT going down the toilet road. Jack's got a pile of Depends and Mario is going to get one on him... right fucking now.
He calls out to his gang. Hey, fellas, I could use some help in here.
Keith, one of the guys, calls back. Sorry, man, we're totally busy out here; what's up?
Mario: Jack's heading for the toilets, he's starting to grunt and squat... I'm just trying to get a Depends on him...
Keith: sounds like he needs to go now, man; I'd say go for it.
Mario: awwww, shit, no... not that...
he grabs Jack around the upper chest. Jack's knees are still in the bent position and Mario's carrying him, kind of, moving randomly.... thinking, saying, over and over again, Shit, this is awful....
He glances down and around. Mario is frantic now. He yells: I'm trying to get him into the stall
Keith: he'll be ok once he gets in there.... he's quick once he gets started
Mario: I can see the turtlehead poking out ( he is screaming, desperate) ...Oh, god!!
he sprints to the stall, carrying Jack by the armpits. Jack is giggling madly, touching Mario's face and looking at him intently. Mario plops Jack down into a seated position on the toilet and steps into the next stall, puking while Jack is pooping.
Keith: stay in there with him, man, you don't want him playing with it....
Mario is horrified. Wipes his face. Dashes back into Jack's stall. Mario's all business now. He stands Jack up, does the paper work, gets him out into the change room, helps him into his clothes, giving soft encouragements, making sure his hair is tidy, wiping his nose.
Mario: put your stuff in the pack, Jack, and we'll get going.
Jack packs up his stuff, holds Mario's arm and they head for the exit just as Keith is hustling back into the corridor.
Keith: you ok?
Mario: I am now
Keith nods and pats Mario on the shoulder. You did good, he says.


  1. I thought about this young man, both of these young men, actually during the day. Made my job seems tame. I felt like i was rushing the turtle to the sea myself.

  2. People who do this kind of thing are angels.

  3. Christopher-- thanks back atcha; glad you enjoyed
    Punch-- funny how mundane contexts are such powerful sites for reflection; i am pondering the rushing the turtle to the sea notion
    Mr.C. thanks for that sentiment; mostly,though, i'd have to say that what is operating at the heart of work like this is a strong sense of social justice, that anyone of any ability is entitled to quality of life across all its dimensions.

  4. "I'm OK now"... Isn't that a good experience!

  5. Oyvind-- nice to see you!! that "becoming ok", is, I think, a form of incorporation that begs for more attention ... and I know you can relate to that!!
    thanks for the visit and the comment.