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Dear Netflix, thank you for the character of David on “Travelers”

9 Jan

Josh and I have been watching “Travelers”, a Netflix Original Series. He started watching it during season one because he ran out of “Continuum”, so this was suggested (as Netflix does), and I happened to be in the room when he started watching it.

We both got sucked in.

Be warned, there may be spoilers.



[Image description – River Song from “Doctor Who”, smirking, and the word “Spoilers”]

“Travelers” is about people who come to the 21st century from a much more dire future time, trying to fix what went wrong. There’s protocols, and The Director, and other such things. Travelers arrive seconds before a human in the 21st century is about to die, and basically take over their body with their consciousness that’s been sent from the future (it’s a fine moral like, as they’re not taking a life, but they are assuming one, friends and relatives included.)

One traveler is sent into the body of Marcy, an intellectually disabled woman. Marcy has a case worker, David, who instantly notices Marcy goes from an almost illiterate woman who speaks slowly (can we say verbal apraxia?) to a well-spoken, literate, obviously above normal intelligence woman overnight.

Marcy – and therefore David – become a storyline in the show. David is the nicest of all the guys who, when everyone decides Marcy must have been defrauding people for those sweet sweet disability benefits, jumps to her defense. He doesn’t think she’s a cheat or was using the system. He just thinks that obviously some sort of miracle must have happened.

By the fourth episode, I worried more about David, a secondary character, more than most of the main characters. Because they wrote him to be exactly who I would want to be working with and caring for Maura someday. They showed how he paid for things for his clients out of pocket. How he knew what would help calm them, what their favorite foods were, where they were sleeping on the streets. During a pandemic during the second season, he went straight to the shelter to make sure his clients were okay, were cared for – because someone had to, and that someone was him. When he won the lottery, he gave it all to the people he worked for.

He is, for all intents and purposes, a perfect human being. He is who we all should try to be more like. He is the guy I’d want as Maura’s case worker. And that’s saying a lot.

But last night, as season two was winding up, there was a scene where the one character who’s been an asshole the whole first season, and is a recovering asshole in season two, reverts to his asshole ways when talking about Marcy to David.

He called Marcy “the retarded girl”.

I held my breath.

“That’s a hateful word.” David replied.

And I may have yelled “YES!”

David didn’t let me down.

Yes, they used the world I dislike. But then they addressed its ugliness. It was said to be ugly, by someone who’s behavior was ugly in the show.

And then, it’s ugliness was called out.

“That’s a hateful word.”

And the next time the recovering asshole mentions Marcy – two sentences later – he uses a more appropriate phrase – “mentally disabled”.

He was called out on his ugly behavior and it made a difference. David, once again, showed how to make a difference.

There was no big lecture, no big drama around the use of the word “retarded” – just a simple but pointed addressing of it – “That’s a hateful word.” – coming from a man who devoted his life to the people society overlooks or ignores.

For all I’ve seen people defend the use of the word “retarded” in shows and music and books because “that’s just how people speak”, I’ve never seen where then the use of the word is questioned by another character. It’s usually dropped by someone and then life carries on.

But not this time.

This time, some writer for Netflix deliberately chose it. And then deliberately chose to call it out for what it was – a hateful word. And then showed the one who use the word choose a different phrase.

Because while it is a word some people use still, there are those of us who are willing to call them out for that use.

And apparently, Netflix is now one of us.

So thank you Netflix. I know it was just two lines in one episode of a show, but dang if it didn’t mean the world to this mama.

Note – I was totally not paid in any way to endorse this show. No compensation was earned. I do totally recommend this show if you are sorta into sci-fi and like well-rounded characters. 


Okay, I am now writing from the Great Beyond.

Because when sharing this on Twitter, I did what good social media gurus are told to do – tag and hashtag.

And I got a response.

I got three responses.

First, from Eric McCormack, yeah, the lead actor in the show (and also producer for at least Season 1.) 



[image description – tweet from Eric McCormack]  – “Great Letter, Phoebe, thank you. The writer was @ken_kabatoff, and @bradtravelers created David for @PatrickGilmore because there is no one better at being a great human being.”


And then Patrick Gilmore, the actor who plays David, chimed in –



[image description – tweet from Patrick Gilmore] “Thank you for your letter, @herdingcatsblog. That scene was all @ken_kabatoff & @bradtravelers. I was blessed to have an Aunt with Down Syndrome. I got into fights in grade school with anyone who used the “R” word. I hugged Ken when I read that line 🙂 @TRVLRSseries @netflix”

And THEN, this appeared from the WRITER HIMSELF, Ken Kabatoff –



[image description – tweet from Ken Kabatoff] “I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying.


So now I’m dead, but in a good way.

Now everyone, go watch this show. Because it obviously is made up of a bunch of really decent human beings – and because I already need Season 3.







Can we discuss being able-bodied?

27 Jun

My daughter Maura is able-bodied. Her legs work fine. Her muscles are pretty strong. Her organs are doing awesome. Even her epilepsy has cleared up, gone into remission or whatever epilepsy does when it stops occurring. Sure, there’s some low muscle tone and some far-sightedness, and she’s not amazingly coordinated. But all in all, Maura is quite healthy.

But she is also disabled.

But she would be considered able-bodied.

But she’s actual disabled.

But she’s healthy.

She is a conundrum. She doesn’t appear disabled. She has what’s known as “invisible disabilities” – hers can’t be seen at first glance. And that’s what’s getting me worried, what with health care back on the auction block.

Kellyanne Conway said (and I reluctantly share) –


don’t bother clicking the play button, it’s just a screen shot


Does this mean she expects someone like Maura to see what her options are?

“Don’t be silly Phoebe, she doesn’t mean her, obviously.”

But obviously, Maura is able-bodied. And Maura’s been considered “not disabled enough” in the past, by the state of Michigan when we applied for a children with special needs Medicaid program.

You can be able-bodied and unable to work. Maura a prime example. But there’s also those who are working so hard to just stay alive mentally that they can’t actually hold a job. Should they seek “other options” because they have PTSD or depression? Should they be denied Medicaid because they are working to figure out how to live with schizophrenia right now? I mean, they might be as able-bodied as Maura. Are they just all slackers undeserving of health care?

Meanwhile, V.P. Pence said this –


First – why the rush? Why does it have to be by the end of summer? Why can’t we take our time and do it right?

Second – what’s this “personal responsibility” you speak of? Can you define it more?

Because, Mr. Pence, your platform is a pro-life one. And one would think that being pro-life means you’re willing to help all lives, not just congressional ones or political ones. But when you say “personal responsibility”, it seems that you are putting families who do choose life – whether it’s the couple whose unborn child has been diagnosed in utero with Down Syndrome or the woman taking care of her elderly parent – off to float alone.

That isn’t the American way. It may have become the Republican way, to smack a person on the ass as you shoo them out the door while yelling “Good luck! By the way, there’s holes full of bears and snakes!”, but as Americans, we pride ourselves on coming together and helping each other. That’s why there are so many people sharing Go Fund Me campaigns to pay for someone’s child’s new wheel chair (that isn’t covered by insurance) or wife’s cancer treatments (that have left them bankrupt).

You say “personal responsibility” like we all haven’t been personally responsible for our health care bills. Newflash – we already are. Too much so. But the way you say it has people worried. Do you expect my disabled daughter to be personally responsible for her health care bills when she can’t be left responsible for brushing her teeth daily without supervision?

“Of course not Phoebe.” you may say. But what you’re also saying is that we as her parents, who are being pro-life, are personally responsible. And not to expect help. Ever. Because that’s the Republican way.

So here I am, with my able-bodied daughter, wondering what the future holds. What the future is going to expect from her. And I don’t know.

What I do know is that something like health care shouldn’t be rushed. Something like health care should have lots of input from people whose lives it affects. Some things, like the phrases “able-bodied” and “personal responsibility” shouldn’t be thrown about carelessly. Health care shouldn’t be broken down into sound bytes and tweets.

And I definitely shouldn’t be told I’m overreacting or that it can’t possibly happen when there are congressmen who are willing to vote on a health care bill they haven’t read.

I have enough to worry about and plan for Maura’s future. I don’t need to worry about what kind of job will give her health benefits because she’s deemed “able-bodied” and able to work.

If you live in these states, please call the listed senators. If you don’t live in these states, pass on this list to people you know in those states. A call script is below the list. Copy and paste for widest circulation. Call EVEN IF they said they are voting against the bill. GOP Leaders are looking to offer $$ for votes right now.

Alaska – Lisa Murkowski (202) 224-6665
Alaska – Dan Sullivan (202) 224-3004
Arkansas – Tom Cotton (202) 224-2353
Arizona – Jeff Flake (202) 224-4521
Colorado – Cory Gardner (202) 224-5941
Florida – Marco Rubio (202) 224-3041
Louisiana – Bill Cassidy (202) 224-5824
Maine – Susan Collins (202) 224-2523
Nevada – Dean Heller (202) 224-6244
Ohio – Rob Portman (202) 224-3353
Pennsylvania – Patrick Toomey (202) 224-4254
Wisconsin – Ron Johnson (202) 224-5323
West Virginia – Joe Manchin (D) (202) 224-3954
West Virginia – Shelly Moore Caputo (R) (202) 224-6472

“Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from [CITY / STATE].

I’m calling to urge Senator [NAME] to vote against the Better Care Reconciliation Act. As the CBO analysis of the bill makes clear, this legislation will cause millions of people to lose their insurance and will raise premiums for millions of others, yet does nothing to resolve the Affordable Care Act’s shortcomings. I hope the Senator will do the right thing and reject this bill, even if there are modest changes. Reforming the ACA should be done in an open, deliberate way with public hearings and input – not rushed through the Senate with only days to consider the ramifications.”



Yeah, I know you’re judging me

19 Jun

I can feel your eyes watching me. See the frowns, hear the whispers to your mate, feel the weight of your glare.

I know you’re judging me.

You don’t know what is going on, or what the reasons are, you have just chosen to go to instant judgment of my parenting skills. And I’m found lacking.

You can’t wait though to go online and tell people about the person with subpar parenting skills you encountered. You can’t wait to show your superiority by exclaiming you would never do such a thing, because you care about your child. You don’t let your phone distract you. You would never give your child an iPad in public. You only feed your kids healthy snacks. Your child wouldn’t dream of throwing a fit in public. You wouldn’t spoil your child like that.

And when I say “Except we’re dealing with an extraordinary circumstance.”, you’re quick to back peddle.

“Oh, I didn’t mean you!”

Didn’t you?

Because you’re judging complete strangers that you may not have even spoken a word to. Because not every child with a disability looks disabled. Because the things you’re judging these bad parents for are things parents like me go through every day.

“Listen, I know you’re going off about parents making special meals for their kids and that we shouldn’t be short order cooks, but my child with food aversions/allergies only eats 15 things, and I’ll be damned if I’m eating chicken nuggets again in this century.”

“Oh! I didn’t mean YOU! I just meant this other parent I don’t actually know!”

“Yeah I gave her my iPhone to watch a movie on while we were at the coffee shop with friends. I actually wanted to talk to my friend and my kid thought we should leave as soon as he swallowed his last bite of cookie. I was desperately trying to milk out another fifteen minutes because I only get out of the house twice a year.”

“Oh! I didn’t mean youuuuuuuuuuuuu….”

No, you didn’t mean me. Except you kind of did. Because you don’t know, when you’re instantly judging that parent you see in public, the background of that parent and child. Because you don’t know them. You have taken the time to judge them, but have not taken the time to learn about them. That could be my daughter and me you’re judging.

And then you go home, you get on the internet, and you proudly proclaim that you’re totally judging that parent you saw handing their kid a device in a restaurant, or promising their daughter a treat if she’d just stop screaming.

And yet…and yet…if parents like me didn’t do all the things we were judged for above, then we’d be judged for not being able to control our kids. We’d have people in the next booth complaining to waiters that our child was being too loud and annoying. We’d be told that we shouldn’t bring “kids like ours” out into public where other people are trying to enjoy themselves. We are told how “a good spanking” would solve our kids behavior issues. Which is why your judgment of me falls on deaf ears. I stopped caring about what you think of my parenting child a decade ago and just do what I need to do.

I get it – we all judge people. Sometimes, those judgments are spot on. Hitler? Bad. Traffic? Annoying. Puppies? Adorable. Judging me a bad parent because you see my three-year-old in a stroller and feel the need to tell me so without knowing why I needed a stroller for my daughter with low muscle tone? Which really did happen to me? Rude.

Listen, I know not everyone is always going to pick up on my daughter’s differences, because they aren’t on a billboard above her head in flashing neon lights. But she happens to be my fourth kid, and I know I’ve been judged on the behaviors of my other three offspring as well. And people are so quick to judge. They don’t know if the kid is having a bad day because they were up late the night before. They don’t know if mom is dealing with post-partum depression. They don’t know dad is letting the kids ruin their dinner with ice cream because mom’s in the hospital being treated for cancer. They don’t know that those three kids with devices in their faces are only allowed those devices while waiting for their baby sister to go through yet another therapy session or doctor’s appointment, and those three kids are dragged to every appointment because dad’s working and mom can’t get a sitter. And mom knows how boring it all is. So got them devices to play on to make sitting in waiting rooms and hallways easier on everyone.

They don’t know.

You don’t know.

I don’t even know.

How about this? How about instead of judging parents, or defending your judgment, or trying to excuse your judgment…how about you just don’t judge those average everyday parents who are just trying to get through a store or a meal? Or maybe, you can judge them a little in the privacy of your own head, but keep your mouth shut and your fingers still? Maybe don’t broadcast that judgment to the internet.

Because everyone has an off day, and that parent your judging may really really not need that extra crap loaded onto them on that off day.


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