Dear readers,

When I write a letter, I expect a response. That's how I define responsibility: ability to respond. So that's how come there's a Guilt Box. It's next to the desk I inhabit in late evening and it overflows with letters I just must answer.

After a long day of putting the magazine together at the big kahuna computer desk, I answer half a dozen letters by hand—ones that came in this week's mail. And it's four a.m. before I get to bed. So if you wrote to me when I was on deadline or on a trip, or if your letter requires me to do some actual thinking, then it's probably in the Guilt Box.

Meanwhile, some folks are still emailing me! —please don't do that!— but in care of Cal. See, I ditched my email address long long ago. People still email questions like, "How can I get Olmstead enforced in my state?"

It takes sixty seconds to ask that question, ten years to answer it. Sorry. See our website and connect with the other advocates listed there, okay?

Desperate people write needing help with problems like is there a lemon law in Iowa on power chairs, as if I knew, or who's a good disability rights attorney in my state, as if I knew. Sorry. Call your IL Center or some other advocate near you for what-they-call information and referral. We don't have a department like that. Mouth is a magazine.

Think I'll repeat that, just for the record: Mouth is a MAGAZINE.

Anyways, you get my drift. It's late. What I'd really like to do right now is put some time into the Freaks, Monsters, Maniacs book. Or another article for a mainstream magazine. But there are news pages to get ready before I'll be doing anything silly like that.

Back to the Guilt Box. Some of the letters in there are wonderful but no kidding two years old. Meanwhile, the box sits there glowering at me, night after night. "No excuses," it growls.

So please, all you Guilt Box inhabitants (who surely didn't ask to be there), please just give up on a response and forgive me if you can. It's a heavy old box and tomorrow is trash day.

Out it goes.

Some real incoming starts here:

Hello Mouth,

When I first met the Mouth my kids were in elementary school. Now they are about to be college freshmen. They are the future, right?

Yes, I am always learning, growing and re-looking at how, why, and what we are doing in our service delivery to folks. I am trying to look outside the box, but frequently getting pulled back in as if there is some major gravitational force. (I think it is called government bureaucracy.) I am starting to get more and more pissed off and weary. No, I am not willing to risk it all and quit. Then who would keep up the fight the way I want it fought?

Arnie Dordick
Annapolis, Maryland

You did a good job exposing the helping hands [Mouth #70]. Everyone should hear Kathie Snow's story. It may be good to walk but not if it will be painful or at a snail's pace.

A lot of what passes for "help" and "therapy" is merely cosmetic, making someone look good while setting them back. There was, when I was in my teens, more emphasis on my grinning than on whether or not I was calm or had something to do that I enjoyed.

Some change isn't worth the cost and no one should be forced to change at high personal cost to please someone else's whims.

I used to ask people every day if I had done okay, hoping I wouldn't be told I had done something wrong. I would desperately fish for compliments and approval. I'd beg for it. Now I want to tell everyone who will listen to be kind to people who are different. If we were all alike, like Barbie dolls, no one could tell us apart.

Barbara Moran
Topeka, Kansas


I wish Mouth all success in comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable since of course what's afflicting the afflicted is the comfortable.

I give the Mouth to friends, asking them to pass it on to anyone who might be willing to read it.

It is so hard to turn around a basic assumption that most people don't even know they have. I had it too.

The first time I read Mouth, in fact all through the first year, I wondered What are they so angry about? Then little by little my own experiences came back to my memory. Then I knew.

Everything you know is wrong. [She refers here to the title of a new book we mentioned last Mouth.] I remember when I taught school in Seattle and one student said, apropos of something atrocious he'd just learned, 'Is it all lies?"

Joanna Russ
Tucson, Arizona



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