Like most people who start a new blog, I’ve had moments when I felt unsure as to whether I could write enough new material. There are always plenty of things going on that might be worth writing about; the challenge is in finding meaningful ways to describe and relate to them. It can seem overwhelming at times—so many experiences and perceptions to draw from, so much going on in the world, and the inevitable doubts about what has been overlooked and whether one’s small efforts really have any meaning to others.

When I stepped outside a few days ago to bring in the mail, I noticed that the crocuses and other spring bulbs in my front garden had started to come up. There were no flowers to be seen, but only the blunt green tips of the leaves, pushing their way through the hard snow-dusted ground. The garden was quiet and still, except for a slight breeze that moved the tips of bare branches almost too slowly to be noticed. This scene left me with a strong feeling that if I had been closer to the ground, and if my ears had been sensitive enough to hear what was going on below the surface, there would have been a tremendous amount of life and activity to which I could listen.

Many of the people I’ve met online are social change activists of one sort or another. Sometimes they feel that it is an overwhelming struggle and that the world is too full of injustice for their work to make much difference. They despair of ever being able to get enough people to understand their point of view. They wonder how they’ll find the energy and resolution to keep on speaking out regardless.

Both anxious bloggers and overworked activists can benefit from a slower pace every once in a while, rather than struggling to be in control of the narrative at all times. We can’t control everything that goes on around us, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it’s enough, like the crocuses, just to send up a few hardy shoots into the sunlight while waiting for nature to take its course. Sometimes it’s enough just to stand still amidst birdsong and gentle breezes. Take a breath, taste the changes in the air, feel the energy of life all around, and listen.


This scenario will be familiar to many writers: You start working on a story, but it doesn’t unfold the way you had in mind. Some parts of it resonate very well, perfectly expressing the feelings and ideas you wanted to get across. The other parts aren’t right, but you can’t spot the reasons why. Although you know that the story needs more work, the details of what’s wrong with it are unclear.

So you put the half-finished draft away in the bottom drawer of a file cabinet, if it’s written out by hand. If it’s on the computer, you drop it into the folder where old incomplete stories go to die. Then you move on to another project, kind of thinking that you’ll come back and finish it after a while, but knowing that there is a high chance you’ll never look at it again.

Time passes, and you don’t think about the story at all. One day you’re cleaning out the file cabinet or deleting old files from your computer, and you discover the story again. Now all of the flaws that eluded you before are embarrassingly obvious. Scenes you once thought hilarious look silly and juvenile. Those brilliant insights on the world are trite. There’s a factual error here and a clumsy ungrammatical sentence there. You used a word or phrase that all your friends were using ten years ago, but now it is widely seen as ignorant and offensive. You wonder what you were thinking when you wrote it.

Even with all its flaws, though, the story has some good points. There are descriptive paragraphs that create vivid mental images, fantastic settings that make you wish you could go take a walk there, and — even after all this time — a lively cast of characters who pop right out of the story and have a few things to say to you about their world. So you decide it’s worth revising. You chop out the stuff that doesn’t work, and you write new material to bring together the parts you like. When you’re finished, the story may not look like you first imagined it would, but you’re pleased with the results.

I believe that our society goes through a similar process of revising its cultural stories. We have lots of faulty assumptions, stereotypes, and outdated models of how the world works; and they’re all stuffed into the collective bottom drawer, right next to the bogeymen and scapegoats that go along with them. On the rare occasions when the drawer gets opened far enough to let a bit of sunlight and fresh air into its dim musty depths, we may notice that something in there doesn’t look quite right. But often it seems like too much trouble to find out what’s in need of fixing, so we just push the drawer shut and keep on doing the same old stuff we’ve always done.

We can go on like that for a very long time before an unexpected event prods us out of our complacency. A new scientific or technological discovery shows just how far wrong the experts had been on a particular subject, or a disadvantaged minority group starts advocating for equal opportunity loudly enough so that they can’t be ignored anymore. Then we’re faced with the difficult task of rewriting cultural narratives long taken for granted. But after we’ve owned up to our mistakes and invested the resources needed to fix them, not only do we find that it was worth the time and effort — we wonder why we never got around to it before.

Outside the train a desert landscape darkened toward nightfall. In the glare from the overhead lights, the window reflected pale gleams of color from Laila’s headscarf, patterned in dusty shades of green and brown. She had been born not far from here… [Read More]

Welcome to my blog/story website! A little about me: I live in Vandalia, which is a suburb of Dayton, Ohio, in the United States. I have two grown children, who went away to college in other cities—both within driving distance, but far enough away to develop some independence and not hang around too much with their friends from high school. My husband and I thought that was just right. (Update, May 2014: They’ve graduated — YAY!!)

I work in the legal publishing industry and have a law degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Although I’m originally from Southern California, I came to Ohio in 1983 because I received a scholarship to law school. I met my husband while he was an engineering student at Case, and we have been together ever since.

I’ve always had an interest in how changing cultural narratives shape the development of our society, weaving together various aspects of history, law, sociology, cultural anthropology, psychology, philosophy, politics, religion, mythology, folklore, and the arts. On the occasions when many of these strands intersect and align, that’s where to find a place to stand with the lever to move the world.

One such change took place when the neurodiversity movement spread across the Internet several years ago. As with other civil rights advocacy efforts in the modern era, it calls for acceptance and accommodation of human differences—in particular, autism and other neurological differences. I expect that some readers will have come here from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, where I serve on the Board of Trustees, or from another site that focuses on neurodiversity and disability rights issues. My personal website may touch on these topics occasionally; however, I don’t intend it to be specifically about neurodiversity or autism politics. I’m not writing it to change anyone’s views or to promote any particular agenda.

Rather, it’s meant to reflect my impressions of life in a society that is changing more rapidly than any other in history—a society that is just beginning to discover the vast diversity it contains, to understand and feel comfortable with differences instead of suppressing them, and to draw strength from our shared stories and traditions in positive ways while navigating this complex cultural shift. I hope that my readers will find it meaningful when seen from this perspective.