I promised I'd write about how our girl's dad helped her increase her Regents* exam score by 22 points. I promised I'd write about her fledging friendship and her trip with her class to the Grand Tetons. I promised to write about our work doing neighborhood organizing. And I didn't do any of that. Nothing. Not a word.
I'd say that I let you down, except I probably didn't. You'd probably figured out long ago that I just wasn't going to be blogging much. You'd watched my blogging dwindle to one post a year over several years' time. There'd be the weeks, and then months, of dead air, with any new post an apologetic explanation of absence, like this one — sweeping leaves off a nearly abandoned site.
|It wasn't just the time-consuming work of fighting the|
construction that has stolen our sunshine
and disrupted our sleep.
Where did we go? It wasn't just the time-consuming work of the neighborhood organizing. Or the full time job. Or continuing the work of getting our girl through high school (she's a junior now). Or the visits to Dementiaville (aka LA) to take care of my 89-year-old mother. All that that might have been enough to induce this silence, but that wasn't it. It was other things.
|Or the flying back and forth to LA to deal with my|
mother's declining memory and cognition.
There was (and is) the nagging feeling that things are different now that she's a teen. It's not just that she can read whatever I write — that's been the case for years now — but also the feeling that I want her to be telling her own story. You know the disability rights motto of "nothing about us without us."
The goal is hearing the autistic person's story, not just the autistic's parent's story. I take that seriously. And she has started telling her story, with an Instagram account. But I don't know if I should link to it or not. There is her privacy. And besides, she has more than a hundred followers there anyway: other folks who love Pokemon, My Little Pony, and Hello Kitty. It seems also that there is a place for our voices — for parent and caregiver voices — even as we cultivate our girl's voice.
And then there was (and is) the occupational hazard of over-thinking things.
Some of the colleagues that I've been reading argue that the work we do of sharing on the internet is just a way of participating in communicative capitalism, or platform capitalism, or what other people have long called the spectacle. The argument goes like this: We write, post, share, click "like" and engage via social media that capture our attention and our affect — our love itself — and sell them to marketers. Every corner of our electronic lives helps someone turn a profit. The logic of these analyses is irrefutable: fortunes are being made off of our free content, off of our desire to connect, off of our desire to share.
But still, do we want to share less, live less, love less, just because Google, or Facebook, or Twitter or Instagram or Tumblr executives are riding high on the profits they turn from our attention?
I don't have an answer to that question just now, but I'll be working on it this year, writing here and elsewhere. I don't know if the gift economy of blogging has any chance of succeeding when the platforms are siphoning off so much at the top, but I'm going to see where the gift of writing with and about our girl takes me in the year ahead. If I pick up any momentum, I hope you'll come along for the ride. We may stall, or sputter, or just run out of steam. But let's see how far we get in the year ahead.
*Regent Exams are the standardized tests that New York's kids have to take to get a high school diploma.