Stories we tell. All of you were very insightful about narratives we tell. I edited Telling Stories Out of Court for Cornell’s University Press, though I knew nothing of Landrieu’s analysis, as some students shared and discussed, indicating too that narratives exist everywhere, including finance and law. Indeed, Telling Stories Out of Court was a follow-up book to Voices from the Edge that got so much play and helped me launch not only Writing Politics at the GC, which the University of Michigan wanted to copy (my PS advisors voted against me helping, so I did not help them create a similar program) because there are nothing but stories where power resides — like in law and with money (think Trump).
Telling Stories was dedicated to both my sons, who had been critical of Voices. They were too young, but I told them the methodology here was about people who faced discrimination — in this book it was as a PwD (person with a disability), whereas with Telling Stories I limited it only to my own experience of Title VII discrimination against women in the workplace.
I had others tell the stories that, first with Voices, I set to law; and then with Stories another person more familiar with Title VII wrote, having won the battle to reverse Cornell’s discrimination against her for being a woman seeking tenure at the ILR school.
My sons teased me about the first book when I showed them the fan mail and got the conference behind in English and the law school at Ohio State. They said, “Mom don’t dedicate this book to us, unless it means you’ll be the next J. K. Rowling.” We all laughed at that one.
But when it came to Telling Stories, at first it was too raw. My first husband ran off with his subject, as some are wont to say. The only difference in the rather trite or tawdry narrative after 23 years of being together was that he traded up, and by up I mean older. She had older children and was a grandma. Our sons were just 7 and 9, and trilingual, since their Dad, being white blue-eyed Dutch, never spoke a word of English to them. He banned all media — English was out there. So they were raised watching the same Disney “crap,” just dubbed in Dutch or German.
My own mother thought our sons sounded so or too Anti-American. But then if you overheard them with their friends, they never spoke of going to Holland or summers I took them to Germany, where they could be the only Americans in the German youth camp that took two cheap trips to the Alps per year (four hours from their “earth parents’” apartment in Stuttgart).
No, my sons wanted to belong in each state and society and so were very very careful not to let one life bleed into the next for fear of rejection. The American camp in New Jersey cost so much more than the one in the Alps that I could only afford to send them to one 9 day stint there, giving me time to run around to the EU to do research on how Europeans view Americans.
After he ran off with socialite Fariba Amini she had Fariba’s wedding photos.pages to prove the wedding to all in the United States and Iran, but our sons. (Their German “earth parents” found the wedding photos and called me asking me to asking why the American family court system didn’t think this might be hurtful to our young sons. New Jersey family court said no.)
They got married, before the ink was dry on the divorce (he wrote the Property Settlement Agreement and had initially suggested I might not want to be so humiliated so I could say there was no other woman). The mediator flipped out that our sons then 8 and 10 or so were excluded when other children were included.
The very rules of mediation he explained to both of us (no yelling, take out pictures of our sons, hold hands, light a candle — no candle but all the rest we did). When the mediator walked by me down the hall to go tell the judge medation failed, he sidled up next to me and told me to tell my lawyer this University of Delaware Matthee DP.docx should go to a therapist. I looked at him like how “funny.” How can any court impose therapy? Let alone on someone who didn’t think to invite his young sons to his wedding. The mediator dismissed me and I watched my former partner show pictures and yell obscenities about me as he showed Fariba’s wedding photos.pages. At least he didn’t or jump up and down about our boys (who I determined were safe every other weekend with him.)
Over forty frivolous lawsuits later (which are now ended since there is no more chance to sue me as I’m out of family court jurisdiction), and three tri-state TROs (Temporary Restraining Orders) for cyberstalking later, I’m free. Family court couldn’t be bothered saying hurtful wedding photos should be scrubbed, and every judge they sure as heck would reward me and my sons, who still see them to this day — but at least I am out of ear shot or cyber-shot, or am I? J
While not a younger woman, she was a wealthy woman, a socialite — so they could live on love. In fact, her former husband, a very wealthy Persian in Import/Exports, gave her alimony after her marriage and babysat our sons, being 7 and 9, as long as they would play with their son (who played violent, and sexually violent video games — this was hard to hear “get in the ditch bi***h”).
In any case, with Telling Stories Out of Court being too explicit (that I would tell the facts of infidelity, garnish wages, when he sued my lawyer (who was later Katie Holmes’s law firm when she sued Tom Cruise for divorce)). One son hated my narrative and the other one loved it. With the book being dedicated to him, one told me to get it out of his room, the other put it up on his bookshelf and even more so, read the book that preceded our divorce very slowly while in college. This book, Bodies in Revolt, he kept and keeps telling me creates an ethic.
In realty I was only re-articulating an existing ethic, the Three Musketeers, all for one and one for all, the only difference was that the different — those with physical disabilities got to lead the way as they were agents saboteurs. Now this book didn’t get so much fan mail, nor did it lead to Writing Politics, I found that Pw/outD don’t like to think, or don’t think, let alone regard PwD as having not only any power or agent provocateur powers, but they don’t even think PwD have fun. (How silly is that? Blind man’s bluff, Wheelchair wheelie, I just crashed my pedal assist bike, which is more akin to a wheelchair for me, and survived having crashed into a pedestrian listening to music so loudly she moved right as I called right and so it was a hell of a crash.
All this sharing is to say that whenever there is power there is narrative. Whenever there is conquest, there are stories. Even better (or worse) this is why we have national stories, and national characters, and when other nations don’t like us or at least don’t trust us as Pew Stats about U.S. falling.pdf now tell us. Don’t you think we will reinvent another story? The Current blog.pages certainly did.