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Submersion.

It is Monday night, and almost a holiday. I thought it was still the first week in November. It may be true that I think more about timelessness than I do about time. Perhaps I am still rebelling after four years in a cubicle, countless counter-productive meetings, and constant noise. I am surprised, always, by what can be done in an afternoon, in a few days.

After the workshop on Thursday, I spent the entire day Friday at the National Association for Social Worker's Summit. I went to workshops on social media and technology in social services, the state of hunger in my state, and it was the first time I felt momentarily content to still be in this state. I listened to former Senator Rebecca Rios suggest the simplest, most effective shifts to provide revenue for public education and health services. Our state has received quite a few devastating blows in the past few years. I know, in early November, when Jan Brewer and Jon McCain were re-elected, many heads were lowered. So when Rios spoke I knew I was in the presence of an empowering woman and leader of our community. Later in the afternoon, a panel with Rios, and Katie Hobbs from the House of Representatives, offered even more light as to how we can change policies that will allow social workers to truly advocate for client needs. Both Rios and Hobbs have professional backgrounds in social work. I never realized how many social workers are effectively working with state policies too.

Later in the day I attended Hunger 101. I learned so much about St. Mary's Food Bank. Did you know one American dollar given to the Food Bank equates to 7 meals? They offered us satchels at the end of the workshop and suggested trying to go to a store and filling it with as many non-perishable food items we could find for a dollar, and then donate it.
I will eventually type my notes in because while attending the workshop on social media, I wrote down so many resources that I think will be helpful for the VOF correspondents, as well as anyone else on WP. Many have to do with helping processes of book keeping, small business organization, general technological organization, and the fast-pace we are heading to the main source of web access being a cellular phone. Some phones can even scan barcodes now! :O
I had no idea...but last year someone left a Blackberry in the men's bathroom at work...and the director sent out an email saying it was found. I was wondering the whole time why someone would want to go get their single berry from the office after it was on the floor of the men's bathroom. I had no idea a Blackberry was a phone. I know we are all at different levels of understanding with technology, but for the society I live in many would expect me to know such things.

The notes will be beneficial to us all. The following day I went to a Transgender Inclusion Training and spent the afternoon hopping from one workshop to the next, listening to and seeing amazing activists in Washington D.C. communicate progress we have made with passing the Matthew Shepherd Act, and the outrage over TSA body scans. My notes from this adventure are lengthy. There were so many things I didn't know and I realized how under-represented the transgender community and how much assessment and support needs to be implemented to meet them. I listened to a woman speak about her experience marrying a man who transitioned to female. I cannot even relay the relief and empathy I felt for her. She listed so many emotional transitions, ebbs and flows that she went through individually and how her relationship changed. It was validating because my last partner had transitional ebbs and flows, only we never really articulated the differences between gender identity, gender roles, transgender, gender queer. I think for what we had: One book called Gender Queer, and I am sure a multitude of fragments from different books on my bookshelf, we did pretty well.

All of that – the entire past few days – I have continued to meet amazing women leading my community. Ang Soliz from GLSTEN taught workshops on how to be an ally and she is affiliated with many organizations locally that education professionals about the LGBT community.

Another amazing thing! And this I will elaborate even more on at a later time…the female-to-male transsexuals seemed to have a heightened sense of empathy for women, being that female is the gender they may have been assigned to at birth but never felt at one with. One man talked about his transitional experience and how once he was fully transitioned to male he noticed that he had to make some changes in his behavior. For example, he learned that if he approached women at a bus stop late at night, they reacted with a sense of fear he had not been accustomed to experiencing prior to transitioning. I heard that a lot, in different ways, and I want to research this to see if it is a behavioral reaction recognized. I feel doubtful I will find much at this point. Curriculum and training is sparse which limits the support in areas such as education, health care, professional development, and an assortment of other services.

Sunset at the Capitol on Sunday and a candlelight vigil to commemorate the people we have lost in the trans community within the past year. I heard of a 16-month-old boy being beaten to death by his caregiver because he was not acting “masculine enough.” Another death occurred when a trans woman told her husband that she had previously been a male. He reacted by murdering her. I believe in total human equality, I can’t deviate from that which means I cannot advocate for you to be equal, but not them. And by you and them I mean anybody and anybody.

From sitting at lectures, pacing city streets from registration to hummus sandwich to another workshop, I have felt incredibly stiff. This led me to believe digging holes in the garden was a good idea today. Tonight we are meant to get our first frost, which seems silly to say in Arizona, but it gets cold here too! I put white alyssum along the bed with the light blue pansies (whose flowers are edible) and deep purple petunias mixed in with basil and broccoli. My friend Pam showed me how to re-seed marigolds, how long to keep lilies going until the seed pod turns black and that I’m not allowed to plant everything right away just because I want to enjoy how lovely it is. It turns out the bougainvillea cannot go into the ground until I dig a hole three times its size! This requires softening the earth and digging. I have four holes soaking, awaiting rosemary roots. I was in a friend’s garden over the weekend and saw what twenty years of care can yield. I don’t plan on living in Arizona or this house, for twenty years – but how sweet it would be if the next person who moved in respected the earth as well.

All of that to say – I have been submersing further in the community, and making sure I do the same with the space I have. I think one of my greatest aspirations could possibly be to tend to my community as gently and lovingly as the garden. Oh the possibilities!

I promise more concise, fragmented and headed posts soon. For now – too much to write, can’t wait too long or I might forget something wonderful, but can’t sit still in this chair when I can smell alyssum outside and watch the not-quite-full moon rise.

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