s.e. smith’s clips and work samples.
here are some things i've written recently, things i've written well, and things representative of my larger body of work.
Gig economy jobs often come with lofty promises of profit and are marketed with language used to describe independent contracting, such as the ability to set your own hours and select your customers. Earners aren’t paid by the hour in many cases, but by the job; the more jobs they can rack up, the higher the pay.
Unwittingly, critics of “useless products” are sitting at the core of a battle the disability community has been engaged in for decades: The right to live in their communities, and to receive the services that enable them to do that. If you can’t use your hands to open a jar of pasta sauce, does that mean you should live in an institution? Republicans attacking Medicaid funding have HCBS squarely in their sights, a policy change that could be devastating to the disability community.
There’s a popular myth that mass shootings are the work of “madmen,” and that keeping guns out of the hands of mentally ill people via discriminatory policy decisions will resolve the ongoing epidemic of gun violence in the United States. This misconception persists despite the fact that it’s blatantly inaccurate: Mass shootings account for less than 1 percent of gun deaths in the United States (by the FBI’s definition of four or more deaths in one incident). Moreover, a 2015 analysis of 235 mass murders, including shootings, found just 46 mentally ill perpetrators; factors like “rage,” “hostility,” and being “disgruntled” were more common than mental-health conditions.
But while some corners of the greater food movement seem fascinated by small farms and their “beyond organic” farming practices, it’s often from a privileged and limited perspective focused on supporting individual farmers. The growing farmer rebellion pushing a shift from exploitative methods to more humane ones moves the conversation to an institutional level rather than limiting it to individual participants in the farming system.
"An Unquiet Mind" (Column)
Excerpt: "How Disability Helps Me Find Life In Death"
I mark the passage of time not in weeks or months, but by deathbeds and funerals. A trip to a far corner of the state to visit a dying friend at his home, where he is surrounded by people who love him, who will then carry him to the nearby green burial park and dig his grave when he passes. A voyage to the heart of a grim, echoey hospital, where a friend is dying alone, isolated, and forgotten. A journey to a saccharine memorial service at some state park or another, where I accidentally crush the origami flower handed to me by the funeral director. A “celebration of life” where people I barely know talk about the deceased in ways that make me wonder if I ever truly knew them. A vicious fight in a crowded kitchen packed to the rafters with funeral casseroles about whether people can, just this once, perhaps refer to their child by her actual name and gender. “Would it kill you?” I ask, thinking viciously that their refusal in life almost certainly killed her.
One of the most common emotions that seems to haunt people with dying pets is guilt — guilt that they didn’t catch whatever it was sooner, guilt that they didn’t do enough, guilt that their aggressive treatment is causing more suffering, and, in the end, guilt that they waited too long. Veterinarians tell me this over a procession of dying pets, that often their clients seek not just a miracle cure, but absolution, too.
High-velocity weapons carry a lot of kinetic energy, which can cause huge amounts of blood loss, Cannon says. And that's not the only problem. "When they strike tissue, it just creates a tremendous amount of destruction," he says. The full extent of such injuries isn't always apparent, complicating treatment. For instance, tissue death that may not be apparent on initial evaluation can cause serious, even fatal, complications. Survivors may deal with a lifetime of acquired physical disability thanks to bullets that cannot safely be removed, spinal cord injuries or limb loss.
But My Absolute Darling fails on several levels: It is a poorly crafted novel with overwrought prose and an overeager attempt to demonstrate that Tallent has done his research, particularly with respect to guns. Excessively ornate descriptions of loading, cleaning, shooting, looking at, listening to, thinking about, and handling guns litter the narrative. Turtle and her father are rarely found without at least one in their presence, an exaggerated mockery of gun culture that is evidently supposed to impress readers with its grittiness and meticulous detail. Like many new authors, Tallent mistakes showing his homework for evidence of literary superiority. The heavy reliance on purple prose also leads to truly bizarre metaphors, à la: “She raises her head and ropes of muscle stand out from her mons pubis to her sternum like a bread loaf.”
Mailing human cremains (and pet cremains, for that matter) is legal in the United States, if you use the United States Postal Service, which has a detailed guide on how they should be packaged, labeled, and shipped. Parcels of cremains have to be very securely packaged to prevent leakage, with internal labels in case the exterior label is damaged, and they must be prominently stamped "HUMAN REMAINS" to ensure that they're readily identifiable. No cheaping out on postage, either—they need to go Priority Mail Express.
Changes to Medicaid could end up pressuring more people into institutional settings, Evans says, because caseworkers and states may decide that they aren't eligible for community-based services as part of cost-cutting measures. Research shows that home-based services are actually less expensive, but policies that effectively force people into institutions are a perennial problem. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has previously demonstrated a poor understanding of disability rights, making many in the community fear that he won't enforce people's right to live at home.
The reality of situations like these is extremely complex, and it’s simplistic to say that this is just about the right to die, and that there are only two sides to the question on physician-assisted suicide. There are a myriad of contributing factors: Disablism, and the notion that life with a disability is not a life worth living; racism, and the judgments made about a black child and her family; the history of usingdisabled children as pawns and objects of debate.
Silicon Valley’s income gap also falls along stark racial lines, which is one reason Jesse Jackson has become involved in labor organizing there. Derecka Mehrens of community-labor coalition Working Partnerships USA describes the situation as one of “occupational segregation.” Black and Latino workers are heavily underrepresented among programmers and other top-paid tech personnel, and they’re heavily overrepresented on the flip side of the coin: that is, the people who drive these staffers to work, clean up after them, feed them in lavish corporate cafeterias, and keep them safe.
In These Times
In the pages and pages of court filings associated with Parsons versus Ryan, the class-action suit brought by the ACLU and the Arizona Center for Disability Law in the name of Arizona prisoners suffering from poor conditions, the same themes repeat themselves from expert opinion to expert opinion.
We are all hustlers, but we are not all equal. Statistics show that 75 percent of unpaid interns are women, and in 2012, 55 percent of freelancers in the digital economy were women. Many argued this was a positive development, allowing women to set their own schedules, control their income sources, explore alternate careers, and engage in the economy.