Sunday, August 10, 2008

two very cute things and a question

Swee'pea decided to take his new bear with him on our walk tonight, the polar bear his Papa brought him from the Arctic. As he climbed into the stroller, he said, "My bear LOVES me." (It sounded like, "My bayo does me.")

He got out of his stroller once we were away from the traffic and had a ball jumping in and out of puddles. His shorts were quickly soaked, and I was sorry I forgot my camera. He took a break from the puddles and came running up to me, "mommmyyy!" He slammed into my leg and hugged my thigh. "I love my mommy!" (It sounded like, "My duff my mommy.")

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Question: have I been invading the privacy of the folks at the drop-in centre by blogging some of their stories? Am I betraying their trust? Or is it ok because mostly I do it sensitively? Thoughts?

13 comments:

Kyla said...

Those are two VERY cute things.

As for the third, I don't think so.

flutter said...

I think it's fine because you are keeping it anonymous.

cinnamon gurl said...

I guess I'm just worried I'm not keeping it anonymous. My town is small. It might be obvious who the folks are that I'm talking about.

Mad said...

That's a tough question, Sin. I have never thought that you pushed boundaries when it came to privacy and respect for the drop-in centre clients nor do I think Jen does. I did, however, work a clinic shift last week and had an interesting encounter that I thought said a lot about me and my inability to see beyond class/race lines. I wanted to write a post about it because I thought it was an important self-critique that had larger bearing with respect my community of bloggy readers. I didn't write the post, though, because I was worried about whether or not I was crossing a line in terms of respecting people's privacy in my capacity as volunteer at an abortion clinic.

So, uh, I guess I just don't know anymore.

Mad said...

"to my community"

I guess I just don't know how to write either.

Beck said...

I think the way you write about people is sensitive and protective of their privacy.
You have a cute little fella on your hands!

Mimi said...

on the q: that's a good one. and i'm reading a whole book on autobiography theory on the same topic: it's called _the ethics of life writing_, edited by paul john eakin. maybe check it out, if you can.

what are your motivations for writing? do their stories contribute in important ways to the story you're telling here about yourself? the conundrum of a/b is that 'my life story' is never just a story about the 'I' who narrates, but is built instead from our relations with others, who may not consent to appear or to appear as we describe them in our versions of our own lives. dunno.

also, you are a creative writer, sketching vivid portraits of times and places as you observe them, creating something new from that experience. in that way, the stories are yours.

but of course, you are very attuned to the differentials of power at play: literate, middle-class, educated, computer-owning you have far greater access to the means with which to write and an audience for that writing than the subjects you portray, however kindly. dunno.

cinnamon gurl said...

My policy about keep confidences in real life has always been that I'll keep other people's secretes no problem, but if it affects me or more specifically upsets me, I'm going to talk about it for my own good. But this doesn't quite translate to the bloggy world, especially since I can't just pick and choose particularly trustworthy or close people.

A lot of what I've written about people at the centre has been in the context of me, how it makes me feel, what I learn, etc. I guess in this case, I'm hesitating because it would really be telling someone else's story. It's about people I've already blogged about, more than once, and it would be sort of gratifying to have my early hunch shown to be pretty spot-on. But that's probably not the right reason, is it?

cinnamon gurl said...

Another challenge is that we don't get any orientation; there are no rules set out from the beginning, no confidentiality agreements or discussions or anything like that.

Lisa b said...

I think Mad and Mimi have covered my thoughts and own experinces in blogging. There is the line about what is your story to tell and what is theirs and I think ultimately you have to feel alright about the story you tell. you have to feel the right to tell it and that's about it.
I have had doctors tell me about other patients, clearly that is more a violation of law than anything you are doing here. I also had to grapple with this issue in my thesis when I critiqued people I work with - also something that you do not do here imo.
I think this issue is tricky as there are no hard and fast rules. I don't see what you do as exploitive and if that is not your intention, and your intention is to write about what the experience meant to you then I think you have every right to tell that story. Someone might challenge that right, there could be consequences, but I don't think that changes the fact that you have the right to tell your story.

am I making any sense here....

Jennifer said...

I have volunteered at a homeless shelter and I did not write about it, for just the reasons you're concerned with. But, when I hear you ask the question, I don't reach the same conclusion ("don't write") as I did for myself. Interesting. But, my thinking for you is this: people deserve to have a voice and deserve to have their stories told. If someone is incapable of telling their own story, I find it very legit for you to tell it for them. Assuming, of course (and I would thinking nothing less), that you do it with sensitivity and for the greater good of opening minds and hearts.

Are you able to ask permission from the people themselves, to tell any of these stories?

niobe said...

I don't really see any problems with what you've done or the stories you've told.

That said, what I do sometimes is change the details or merge two or three stories or characters into one, so that the essence remains, but the whole thing is fictionalized.

Aliki2006 said...

I don't think you cross any lines. I often write about my students, but I keep it all anonymous and try and be sensitive.