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Anime Fargo!

A small group of people smiling at the camera. Text above the photo states “Welcome Back Anime Fargo! Class 2-A. September 18-20 2015. Doublewood Inn, Fargo.”

 

2016 was my first Anime Fargo. 2017 was my first year on staff, but I had to miss the convention because my body decided that it was the PERFECT time for mononucleosis. 2018 was my first year both on staff and actually at the convention the entire weekend. Anime Fargo, and helping plan it, is very important to me. I’d like to share some of the reasons why.

I like helping people. I like making things better for people. I like making the world a better place…even if it’s just a weekend at a small anime convention in North Dakota. The extent of my disabilities make it so there’s a lot I simply cannot do. Finding conventions gave me something to do.

Convention staff takes care of each other. Anyone who knows me knows I’m fueled by anxiety and caffeine. I get frazzled somewhat easily. Con staff looks out for each other. We help carry each other’s burdens. We become like family. Sometimes we’re dysfunctional and sometimes conflict happens. But in the end, we all band together to make an amazing convention happen.

I don’t like going outside my comfort zone. I like things to be just the way I like them. But at an anime convention? I’m forced to go outside of my comfort zone and do things that aren’t necessarily what I’d like to do. And that’s a good thing. I can prove I can do things that are uncomfortable. I can prove I can be successful and doing things I don’t like.

As you can see, our staff has grown. And our convention has grown as well. I’ve attended several anime cons over the last several years. But Anime Fargo will always be my favorite. Anime Fargo will always be special to me. I’ve found friends  through them. I’ve learned I can do things I never thought I could do. I’ve realized that my wisdom and passions can be channeled into something useful. I’ve found a place I belong…and that’s an incredible feeling.

 

A much larger group of people, showing how our convention has grown! Text states Anime Fargo V: Galactic Adventures 2018

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A Spoonie Review

My friend Brittany and her mom wrote a cookbook and were looking for people to review it. I was glad for the opportunity. Usually not one to review, I made an exception for friends.

I am not known for my cooking ability. I’ve melted blenders. Exploded Jello. Exploded mashed potatoes. The last time I tried to make homemade fries they were half crunchy, half mushy. And then there’s the infamous enchilada lasagna. Cooking is not my forte.

My roommate helped me with making the food (and of course, eating it) because I need help in the kitchen. We made grilled peaches and a baked chicken from  the cookbook.

 

What did we think of the cookbook?

 

The anecdote. Stories from Pam and Brittany’s lives feature in the cookbook, which helps gives insight on why that recipe was important to them. There’s modifications in so many of them – need a vegan option? Need a gluten free option? It tells you how to do it!

I really liked this cookbook. We’ll be making, and reviewing, some more recipes from it so stay tuned. I’m so proud of my friend for publishing a cookbook, and so happy to be able to share with you from it 🙂

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Can you hear the prayer of the children

Y’all. 

What’s happening at our borders isn’t okay. 

Y’all realize Jesus was an illegal immigrant too, right? Y’all realize he was fleeing his death? Y’all realize Jesus wasn’t white?

I don’t give a crap what your feelings about illegal immigration are and I’m not open for that debate here. Ripping children from their mother’s arms is wrong. Caging children like animals is wrong. 

Why the heck are we standing for this? Fellow Christians, why are we letting our dogma of love be fueled by a doctrine of hate?

We have to do something. Jesus wouldn’t be standing for this

so why the heck are we?

Adding lyrics from a favorite choral piece, as I feel it’s quite fitting. 

“Can you feel the heart of the children

Aching for home, for something of their very own?

Reaching hands, with nothing to hold on to

But hope for a better day, a better day

Crying, “Jesus, help me

To feel the love again in my own land;

But if unknown roads lead away from home

Give me loving arms, away from harm.”

Can you hear the voice of the children

Softly pleading for silence in a shattered world?

Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate

Blood of the innocent on their hands

Crying, “Jesus, help me

To feel the sun again upon my face;

For when darkness clears I know you’re near

Bringing peace again.”

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When I say I am autistic 

When I say I’m autistic I am not using it as an excuse. I’m not using it as a justification to act a certain way. What I am saying is hey, this is the way I am. This is why I am the way I am. This is who I am. I’m Nora, and I’m Autistic. My brain functions a certain way, and that’s okay. 
When I say I’m autistic, I’m trusting you with a part of my identity. I’m trusting you not to use it as ammunition against me. I’m trusting you to understand, be compassionate, and to treat me with respect. 

When I say I am autistic, I’m not glorifying autism. I’m not pretending it’s all sunshine and daisies and lollipops. It’s not. There as aspects that suck. But it does mean that I’ve accepted it all as a part of who I am – the beauty in it and the suckiness in it. 
When I say I am autistic, I am inviting you to see the world with the  filter uses. I’m entrusting you with the app that is installed in my core, the one that I literally don’t exist without. I’m letting you know who I am. 

I am Nora. 

I am autistic. 

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NF Awareness Day 2017

My name is Nora. I am twenty-nine years old. And I have NF type one.

NF, or neurofibromatosis, is a genetic disorder. I was born with it, and I will die with it. The way it affects people is different – it’s what’s known as a snowflake disorder as no two people with it are alike. I only know how it affects me.

I have cold intolerance.

I have heat intolerance.

I get migraines.

I had a tumor….but I am incredibly lucky (or unlucky?) in that my one tumor actually wasn’t NF related. Yeah. I would have had it anyway. Luck. Skills. Or something. I have it.

I can’t regulate my weight.

I live with pain.

My immune system is shit (well, okay, this actually isn’t completely related. One of my doctors once told me my body doesn’t read the textbook…)

I am autistic.

I have ADHD.

I have a balance disorder.

I could go on and on.

There is no cure, no treatment.It’s just how I am. It’s just how I always will be.

I am low vision.

There’s so much of me that is who I am because I have NF.

All I want is treatment.

All I want is relief.

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Video Games & Me

I play a lot of video games. I recently worked my way through Mass Effect (currently on Mass Effect 3). I’m currently playing Persona 5. I recently played Tales of Beseria and Final Fantasy XV (yay for roommates with PS4s! 😉 ). I’m going to be working my way through the Dragon Age franchise next (I’ve only played part of Origins). My favorite games of all time include Fire Emblem: Awakening, Tales of Graces F, Persona 3 Portable, Final Fantasy IX, and Super Mario RPG. Video games are a big part of my life.

Part of it is due to being an introvert, part of it is due to just being able to CONNECT. I relate to the characters, deeply. I have a hard time explaining myself, a hard time defining myself. But games? They give me a way to connect. They give me a way to relate. They help reinstate that I am not alone, that there are others like me out there. And they can become beloved characters.

It’s funny – I’ve been told I shouldn’t waste so much time on video games. But video games have given me friends. Video games have taught me life lessons. Video games have been a positive impact on my life, and I’m so glad I have them.

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In which Donald Trump is, once again, a buttcow

Donald Trump has, shockingly, once again made headlines. At this point, I seriously expect Asthon Kutcher to pop out and tell us he is epically punking us and trolling us. The latest comments though? While part of me is all “Why am I shocked?” the other part is “Why are you still supporting him?”

If your answer is “boys will be boys”, you are normalizing rape culture. You are saying it is okay to degrade and talk down to and about women. If you say that all men talk like that, you need to find some new men to talk to. If your answer is “what’s the big deal? It’s just locker room talk”, I dare you to look me in the eye, as a sexual abuse victim, and tell me those same words. Because you are literally justifying sexual abuse. You are literally saying that it’s no big deal. and that is not acceptable.

When these words come up in our history books, do you want to explain to your children what they mean? That we normalized them? Is this the world you want your children to grow up in? Do you want to tell your children you voted for someone who is literally normalizing sexual abuse, or do you want to tell them how you fought against him?

Trump isn’t brave for saying this crap. He isn’t edgy. He’s a buttcow, plain and simple. You are literally justifying and normalizing the abuse of women. And don’t give me that “but it was years ago!” crap. He’s shown no remorse. He hasn’t changed.

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But the greatest is love

“”We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;
We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda

I am a Christian. I am pretty devout in my faith. My faith means a lot to me. I’m a weird mix of liberal and conservative, depending on the issue. This election cycle, my faith has been challenged like never before. People are flocking to a Cheeto-coloured overgrown toddler simply because he says the words they want to hear and he has an R beside his name. And me, with my gentle faith? I cannot wrap my mind around it.

When I was a kid growing up in the Nazarene church, we were taught that Jesus loved the unlovable. I remember belting out “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he! He climbed up in the Sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see! And as the Saviour passed that way, he looked up in that tree! And He said… ZACCHAEUS, YOU COME DOWN! For I’m going to your house today! For I’m going to your house today!”

Now, quick Bible lesson, Zacchaeus was a tax collector. In Ye Olde Bible Times, the tax collectors were looked down on. Cast out. Undesirable. In the same way, we look upon Muslims the same way. We cast them out. We try to deport them. We paint them as evil, sinister, villains. But I believe, with all my heart, if Jesus were here today, these are the ones he would be hanging out with. Not the white, cookie-cutter Christians… but the ones that society casts out.

Love.

Before Adolf Hitler rose to power, did Christians feel the same way I did? They didn’t have the luxury of watching history repeat itself, but did they feel the same fear?   And what was the result? A mass genocide of Jewish lives. Of disabled lives. Of Polish lives. Of Roma lives. A mass genocide of lives that didn’t fit Hitler’s mold. In his very own words: “If I can send the flower of the German nation into the hell of war without the smallest pity for the shedding of precious German blood, then surely I have the right to remove millions of an inferior race that breeds like vermin”

I would have been put through cruel experiments and murdered in the name of medical science had I lived back then in a Nazi-controlled country. I would have been considered a mercy killing. Many of my friends would be murdered in cold blood for things they cannot control. And as a Christian? Seeing the chance of my friends being murdered? Exiled? Deported? NO. This is NOT the love of Christ. This is NOT a man Jesus would stand behind.

When Jesus was angry, he didn’t stay silent. He spoke words of truth. He flipped tables. He, to take one of my mottos, kicked ass and took names. He stood up for what was right. And he did it all with words of love.

That is what we are called to do, my friends. To reach out in love. To speak the truth in love. Love should guide our every thought and our every action. Is this was Donald J. Trump is doing? Is this the message he is spreading? Donald Trump shouts out words that propel a doctrine of hate.

At the very core, the Bible is a doctrine of love. As the lyrics to a song from Rent state, “give in to love, or live in fear.” I let love guide every aspect of my live. Love is how I make decisions. Love is how I decide what is right. Love is the guiding force. Love is the strongest force of all. When I look at Donald Trump, I see no love. I see someone who uses fear and hate to boost his message. I see someone who is racist, ableist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic… and completely void of love.

 

1 Cor 13:4-7 (New Living Translation)

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

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‘Cause there ain’t no doubt, I… wait, what?

Call me a cynic. Call me unpatriotic. Call me a party pooper. But I really don’t like the fourth of July. Don’t get me wrong – I am grateful for our veterans and think they are heroes. I bawl whenever the news tells a story of a soldier surprising their family when they came home. And I am grateful for those who gave the ultimate gift.

And yet.

People say that we’re all free. But we’re not. Women are paid less than men. A black man can be shot for just walking down the street. An autistic child can be murdered by their parent and the parent walks away. This isn’t opinion, this is fact. In our very pledge we say “with liberty and justice for all”, but where was the justice for Tamir Rice? Where was the justice for the autistic children who were murdered by their caregivers in the name of mercy?

We live in a country where racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and ableism are rampant. We live in a country where disabled adults work in sheltered workshops  to profit off their disability. Disabled people have to fight for the right to marry. Muslim hate crimes are alive and well. When we say “But the flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away” like the song says? Or do only some have freedom? The ones we deem good enough? The ones that fit a cookie cutter mold?

“And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the mean who died, who gave that right to be
And I’ll gladly stand up, next to you, and defend her still today
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt, I love this land… God Bless the USA.”

I don’t particularly love my country. Not when we have the current presidential candidates. Not when my voice was literally silenced, because the caucus is not handicap accessible. Not when people are trying to strip away my rights and freedoms because I’m disabled. Not when my friends are given death threats (yes, it happens) for being advocates and activists. Am I free? In some sense, yes. In other senses, we have a long way to go.

I’m autistic. I’m physically disabled. My brain is alphabet soup. And I am not free. Do I have more rights than I would in other countries? Well yes, it would be absurd to claim otherwise. But I am oppressed. Every single day. My friends are oppressed. We are not free. We still have to have a disability day of mourning, for god’s sake, alongside a transgender day of remembrance.  Not even a month ago, there was a terrorist attack on American soil inside a gay night club.

We sing and speak about freedom and we make noises about liberty and justice. When the truth is, these things are just for a select few and many more are denied these same things every day.

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To the Stanford rape victim

To the Stanford rape victim,

I am so sorry that you are a fellow member of this club. I’m so sorry you’re a fellow sexual abuse victim. You did nothing to deserve this. There is NOTHING that you could have done that would have warranted this. Nothing. There is nothing that deserves rape. Full stop.

I’m sorry that he won’t see justice. I know how that feels. I know how soul-crushing it is to have been hurt and to know that the perp was barely slapped on the wrist.

I don’t know your name and you don’t know mine and I don’t know what you look like and you don’t know what I look like. But I know we’re both strong as fucking hell and we both went through horrifying trauma. I was a child and you were an adult but we’re both victims. The people who hurt us never saw justice.

But I will fight for your rights and I’ll fight for your voice. And I know you would do the same for me. People never stop saying it was your fault. It’s not.

People never stop saying you have to forgive him.

You don’t.

People never stop saying that you hold all the power and if you don’t forgive, you’re an ass hole.

That’s not true.

If you can forgive, if you want to forgive, if forgiveness brings you healing, do it. But if you’re not ready…that’s okay. You don’t own anyone anything.

People never stop being judgmental assholes.

You are innocent.
I was innocent.
We are innocent.

And we will overcome.