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Poem: "Holding Hope and Love" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Holding Hope and Love"
This poem is spillover from the November 3, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from book_worm5 and DW user Dreamwriteremmy.  It also fills the "asking for help (and getting it)" square in my 11-3-15 card for the Disaster Bingo fest, and the "therapy" square in my 6-16-15 card for the Hurt/Comfort Bingo fest.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them.  The rate is $.50/line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: general fund, book_worm5, lone_cat, general fund, EdorFaus, mdlbear, ng_moonmoth

FULLY FUNDED
404 lines, Buy It Now = $202
Amount donated = $146
Verses posted = 81 of 100

Amount remaining to fund fully = $45
Amount needed to fund next verse = $.50
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $1



Holding Hope and Love


Cheersquad was the go-to guy
for survivors of zetetic incidents
and a lot of other challenges that
could complicate a soup's life.

He knew what it was like to get
nailed with something unknown
and have his whole life turned
upside down by superpowers,
then get nearly killed again
in an accident that left him
mostly paralyzed.

So people called him from
all over, not just Eastbord, when
they needed to talk about troubles,
their own or someone else's.


Fireheart wasn't even American,
was Canadian instead, but he was
a capable counselor in his own right
as well as a wilderness guide, able
to take most emergencies in stride.

He was considerably less confident when
it came to his baby girl, whose powers had
manifested before Aurora was even born.

"This kid is driving me daft," said Fireheart.
"She never wants to go down, only up!
She's strong enough to lift me, not for
very long yet, but she's getting stronger.
I don't know how I'm going to teach her
to put me back down again."

Since it was hitching her to her parents
instead of weightlifting discs that had
spurred her growth in the first place,
more weight obviously wouldn't help.

"Try making down more interesting
than up," Cheersquad suggested.

"How?" said Fireheart.

"Let Aurora get up to the ceiling,
bring out a favorite toy or food,
then tell her to come down for it,"
Cheersquad said. "She'll learn
what down means and that
it can be as fun as up."

"Why did I not think of that?"
Fireheart grumbled. "I have no brain."

"Nobody with a new baby has any brain,"
Cheersquad said. "That's what friends are for.


It was Anh Vaughn of Eastbord SPAZMAT
who first alerted Cheersquad to the clusterfuck
in Plymouth Township. "I have a whole batch
of victims with different issues," she explained,
describing the original incident with the lab fire.
"So the supervillain is down with severe dog bites
and some minor chemical burns, throwing a fit
because he didn't get new superpowers. Then
I've got a paramedic, a policeman and his K-9
sprouting telepathy, plus another paramedic
who isn't but is quarantined for safety's sake."

"That sounds challenging," said Cheersquad.
"How sick are they? Zetetic accidents suck."

"They're more injured than sick -- the stuff
was caustic rather than toxic but it's potent
as a metagen," said Anh. "I'm worried about
Wrex, the paramedic with telepathy."

"Struggling to cope?" Cheersquad asked.

"He's afraid of losing his mind, and his job,"
Anh said. "The policeman, Derreck, is
concerned about employment too."

"Hook them up with the Primaries,"
Cheersquad said. "Blue Law was a cop
and Yellow Jack was a lifeguard."

"Oh, that's a great idea," said Anh.
"The experiences should overlap
enough to help a lot."


Not long after that, an ordinary counselor
named Catalina Lodge phoned him from
the Plymouth police station. "I got
your number from Anh Vaughn at
SPAZMAT," she said. "I've been
counseling Officer Derreck Refferson
when he finds his job stressful, but
this incident is a bit above my pay grade!"

"You feel out of your depth dealing with
the super issues," Cheersquad echoed.

"Yes," said Catalina. "I have no training
in helping people cope with things like that."

"Ma'am, nobody has training for that,"
Cheersquad said. "We all just borrow
from ordinary counselor training and
our own experiences. There's not
much written about soup care yet."

"I don't have my own experiences,"
she said. "I'm not a soup!"

"Then leave the soup stuff to the soups,
and you focus on whatever you usually do,"
Cheersquad said. "What do you do that
Derreck finds so appealing, he's coming
to you for help even when he knows it's
outside your usual area of expertise?"

"Emotional Trauma Care," said Catalina.
"I handle the heavy-duty soothing, healthy touch,
sometimes cooking comfort food. When Derreck
needs help, we work with his K-9 partner Blitz --
grooming, playing, running around the park.
It shakes loose emotions, makes them
easier to work through then."

"That sounds great," said Cheersquad.
"You treat the emotional upheaval, and
let other folks deal with the superpowers.
Unless the telepathy bothers you?"

Catalina laughed. "Oh Lord no,
I've been all up inside that boy's head,
I'd be a howling hypocrite if I tried
to shut him out of mine!"

"That," Cheersquad said firmly.
"Even if you do nothing else,
that utterly accepting approach
to telepathy will help a lot.
Repeat it frequently."

"All right, I will," Catalina said.


Zima Hartigan called from Onion City,
referred by the Muffler -- who wasn't
speaking with SPOON at present --
over an issue with one of the fosterlings.

"Her name is Lakia; she got a tail and
some kind of energy power from a boy
who was flickering," said Zima. "This week
Lakia is having nightmares, bad ones, about
something similar happening that would
leave her with even more abilities."

"Any idea what stirred that up?"
Cheersquad asked, frowning.

"Her brother Danso got called in
to SPOON and it went rather badly,"
Zima said. "I suspect Lakia is worrying
about them doing the same to her, and
that ties into her first encounter."

"You're not sure?" Cheersquad said.

He could hear the headshake in her voice,
turning away from the phone a little,
as Zima explained, "Lakia isn't
much of a talker, I'm afraid."

"Second traumas are harder to handle,"
he mused. "You think you've got a grip
on the first thing that went wrong, and
then pow! something else comes up
and just knocks you on your ass again."

"That would fit with my observations,"
Zima agreed. "I mean, I'm not a soup,
but the underlying principles must match."

"If Lakia doesn't like talking about
whatever bothers her, see if you can
get her to act it out," Cheersquad said.
"Even plain old repetitive motion helps,
doing something predictable that she
can control, like bouncing a ball, will
make her body feel more familiar."

"There's an idea," Zima said.
"I'll try that -- she's really attached
to a set of rings that she first found
at school. She likes carrying
them with the tip of her tail."

"Now you're on the right track,"
Cheersquad said.


Pointer sounded exhausted and
upset when he called from Easy City.
"You heard about the berettaflies, I assume?"
he said. "We've had dozens of people exposed.
Three of the girls are developing superpowers,
all something to do with insects. Oh, and Bugeye
got stung too -- no idea what it might do to him."

"That's a big footprint," Cheersquad said.

"Tell me about it," said Pointer.
"The whole city is going cooyon."

"Okay, that's a natural response to
an unnatural event," said Cheersquad.
"Let's concentrate on the soups who
are actually your responsibility."

"They're ... not in great shape,"
Pointer admitted. "All college girls,
with their whole life ahead of them,
and now it's just gone. Well, different
enough to be unrecognizable, which is
the same thing to them. I'm worried."

"See if you can get them together,
at least online if not in person,"
said Cheersquad. "Peer support
can really help in cases like this."

"It's on the list," said Pointer. "I think
some of the naries have gotten a circle
going, but Adalina is still pretty sick and
Ashley is quarantined because her power
is basically sweating a cloud of venom."

"That'll make it harder, not impossible,"
Cheersquad said. "Talk with the Primaries,
not just them but the civilian survivors of
their bombing. They can give you ideas
about how to interface two different
types of survivors after an incident."

"I'll give it a try," Pointer said.
"It's just hard to get anything done,
the way people are freaking out over
Mr. Pernicious and Stylet and
the fucking Spectrum."

"I just had a scary thought.
Is anyone looking out for Stylet?"
Cheersquad asked, trying to convince
the hairs on the back of his neck to lie down.
"I don't mean hunting him, I mean has
anybody checked to see if he's okay
emotionally? Because the last thing
we need is another Ethan there."

It was no secret that Ethan Wheeler
had been involved in a lab accident that
was manifestly not his fault, but blamed
himself anyhow, and proceeded to deal
with it very badly indeed. Nobody liked
seeing a medic running around with
that kind of self-hate in his head.

"I don't know, but I agree, we don't want
that happening again," Pointer said.
"As far as I know, nobody's heard
from Stylet since the Spectrum
cracked his lab. I'll ask around."

That would have to do for now.


"Hello, this is Dr. Bryson Roderstein
calling for Cheersquad, on a referral
from Pointer," said the voice, which was
so rich and mellow that it made Cheersquad
want to curl up in it like a blanket.

"This is Cheersquad. What's gone wrong
down in Easy City now?" he replied.

"I'm helping a client -- a couple of clients, really --
with a moderately strong aversion based on,
oh I'm not repeating the rude technical term,
let's say a significant facial variation,"
said Dr. Roderstein.

"That'll be Facet and one of the girls,"
Cheersquad guessed. "Yeah, he has that
problem a lot, can I borrow your phrase
the next time it comes up? Because
'gross facial deformity' really is rude.
There's nothing wrong with his face.
It just has parts that people don't
expect to see on a human."

"Yes, of course," said Dr. Roderstein.
"That's why I called. I wanted to know
if SPOON has any standard materials
for helping friends and family adjust
to someone of unusual shape."

"I think we have a few tip sheets, but
nothing I'd call professional level,"
Cheersquad said as he thumbed
his joystick to navigate the database.
"It's not a rare problem, we just haven't
had much luck getting expert advice."

Dr. Roderstein gave a heavy sigh.
"I know, I know," he said. "Everybody
wants to work on the big exciting stuff,
and phobias are exciting. Nobody wants
to deal with everyday fears, the stuff that
people just need a little boost to get by. It's
like doctors who go after weird diseases
instead of the common cold, but people
catch colds all the time and they need
help if over-the-counter stuff can't fix it."

"You sound familiar with the problem,"
Cheersquad said. "Okay, I found
our tip sheets, all both of them.
Get me your eddress and I'll
send you copies of them."

Dr. Roderstein gave his eddress
and then said, "See, this is why I
based my practice around helping
people to face their fears. I handle
the whole spectrum from worries on
up to phobias and panic attacks."

"Oh, that's helpful," said Cheersquad,
wondering if Groundhog had ever heard of
this guy. Groundhog had his agoraphobia and
acrophobia mostly under control now, but you
never knew when a new perspective could turn up
a useful technique. "Can I get your contact info?
We can always use more support crew who
think closely about stuff like this -- that is,
if you don't mind more soup clients."

"Of course," said Dr. Roderstein, and
rattled off his information. "I'm really
quite interested in this case, how people
adjust to gaining abilities and making soup friends."

"It can be challenging, but rewarding,"
Cheersquad said. "Right at first, though,
it's hard for most people to see the rewards
when they're mourning everything they lost."

"Well, that's what counselors are for, isn't it?"
said Dr. Roderstein. "Our job is all about
holding hope and love for our clients, until
they're ready to do it for themselves."

"Yes," Cheersquad agreed.
"That's what it's all about."


"Hey, Cheersquad, are you busy?"
Sunny's voice was as warm
and bright as his name.

"I'm always busy," Cheersquad said,
focused on the endless stack of paperwork.

"Yeah, I thought you'd say that," Sunny replied.
"You're always taking care of everyone else
and then you forget about yourself until
somebody drags you away from there."

"Well, it's not like I can go for a walk,"
Cheersquad said dryly.

Sunny blew a raspberry into the phone.
"You get around fine on four wheels,"
he said. "I've seen the pictures from
that robo-derby track, you know."

Cheersquad really should have checked
to make sure his geek friends were not
taking snapshots of him testing out
the terrain for their robotics contest by
driving his motorized wheelchair over it.

"Okay, you got me," he admitted.
"What do you really want, Sunny?"

"Come to the beach with me," said Sunny.
"We'll rent a sand chair, and you know
that I don't mind hand-feeding you."

Cheersquad felt tempted.
Sunny was one of the few people
who could feed him without dropping
half of his lunch in his lap.

"I don't know ... it's been
pretty hectic here," Cheersquad said.

"That's why I called," said Sunny. "The busier
it gets, the more you need a real break. We can
order hot dogs with all the toppings from a cart,
and ..." Something rustled. "... I made a batch
of peanut butter granola cookies. Don't
make me eat them all myself."

Cheersquad recognized the sound of
cookies moving through kitchen tissue
inside a tin. Just like Pavlov's dog,
his mouth began to water.
"I give in," he said.

"Yay!" Sunny said. "Log off,
and I'll send Tumbler for you."

So Cheersquad found someone
to take over for him, and logged off.

Tumbler popped in and said,
"Care to go for a ride?"

"Ready and waiting," said Cheersquad.
He liked Tumbler because, unlike
some teleporters, she never
just grabbed people.

They landed with a soft crunch
of gravel in the parking lot
at Sunny's favorite beach.

Sunny himself waited for them,
wearing a bright yellow t-shirt
that said Sunny side up.

He carried a picnic basket
on one arm and a bundle of
beach towels over the other.

"Huggles!" he said, and
they all exchanged hugs,
which for Cheersquad
mainly consisted of tucking
his chin over someone's shoulder.

"Wheel swap," Tumbler reminded them,
and they all trundled over to the pavilion
that rented dune buggies and other gear.

"Ooo, I want that one," Cheersquad said,
pointing with his chin at the far corner where
a snazzy aluminum frame sported thick wheels
and a broad rainbow beach umbrella.

While Sunny handled the rental,
Tumbler helped Cheersquad transfer
into the beach wheelchair and lock
his personal wheels into the dock.

"Today, I am a rainbow!" he declared
as Sunny returned, and then he
added hopefully, "Cookies?"

Sunny chuckled. "You get a cookie
when we are actually on the beach
and I am sure your phone is off."

Cheersquad resisted the temptation to floor it.

Soon enough, though, they reached
a mutually agreeable spot and
deployed the beach towels.

Cheersquad toggled his umbrella
to open, shading the area nicely.
Then he gave Sunny a pleading look.

"Cookie time," Sunny agreed,
popping the tin and carefully
feeding Cheersquad the first.

Cheersquad wound up with
powdered sugar all over him,
but it didn't matter because Sunny
didn't mind having his fingers licked
and Tumbler had lost about a teaspoon
of the fluffy white stuff down the cleavage
of her bathing suit. It was the only way
to keep the cookies from sticking
to each other inside the tin.

A breeze ruffled his umbrella and brought
a quartet of dragonflies racing by.

It was a good day.

* * *

Notes:

Cheersquad -- Chuck Collins has short sandy hair, green eyes, and tawny skin.  His body is crumpled and mostly paralyzed from an accident, so he uses an electric wheelchair to get around.  He has very limited use of his left thumb and forefinger, not much else.  Given his current job as a counselor, he knows many other people with superpowers and/or handicaps.  Most people pronounce his code name as "Cheer Squad."  If you listen closely, however, you can hear that he says "Cheers Quad."  If asked which it is, he smirks and says, "That's a state secret." (It's the Hellspark joke.)  Chuck is popular as a charity auctioneer, one of the few ways he can still use his super-speed.
Origin: Chuck started out as an ordinary college student studying linguistics.  While on a field trip in Guatemala, he was struck by a mysterious clay pellet from a blowgun that left him shivering and delirious for weeks.  Chuck emerged from the ordeal with super-speed and a new interest in emergency medicine.  So he got his Class Z license and drove a zoom ambulance, sometimes also serving as a translator.  His girlfriend Jocelyn, a cheerleader at the local college, threw a fit but stuck with him.
 Then a drunk driver T-boned the ambulance at an intersection, killing everyone but Chuck.  He broke his neck and a bunch of other bones, leaving him mostly paralyzed.  At this time Jocelyn finally dumped him.  Chuck fell into a depression, but eventually started to claw his way out.  A local charity contacted him, intending to put him on their list of recipients.  Instead, he proved such an engaging conversationalist that they hired him and trained him as a counselor.  Now he works primarily over the phone, helping people deal with personal trauma, especially things related to superpowers.  He has subsequently begun working at the Eastbord SPOON Base as well.
Uniform: Light blue jumpsuit with a red cross on each lapel, modeled after his old ambulance uniform.  His electric wheelchair is a bright metallic blue with the same emblem on both sides and the back.
Qualities: Master (+6) Cheerful, Expert (+4) Ambulance Driver, Expert (+4) Constitution, Expert (+4) Counselor, Expert (+4) Contacts in Soup/Disabled Circles, Good (+2) Games, Good (+2) Linguist, Good (+2) Science Fiction Fan, Good (+2) Trivia
Poor (-2) Mobility
 As a linguist, Chuck is fluent in 9 foreign languages: Esperanto, French, German, Japanese, Láadan, Latin, Nahuatl, Russian, and Spanish.
Powers: Average (0) Super-speed (Spin-off stunts: Auctioneering, Speed-reading)
Motivation: Keep your chin up and do your part.

Fireheart (Atka Lecoeur) -- He has tinted skin, golden-brown eyes, and long straight black hair. His body temperature naturally runs around 100ºF and he needs extra calories to sustain his powers. His heritage is primarily Native Canadian (Inuit and Anishinaabeg) with a little French and British ancestry. He has worked as a wilderness guide and a counselor. He fell in love with Jackie Frost, and they have a daughter, Aurora, who is already showing superpowers.
Origin: As a teenager, Atka went camping with some friends, and a terrible storm blew up. They almost died of hypothermia, but then his Fire Powers manifested and saved everyone.
Uniform: Usually warm, durable clothes suitable for the wilderness.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Woodslore, Good (+2) Family Ties, Good (+2) Mediation, Good (+2) Cold Tolerance
Powers: Expert (+4) Fire Powers, Good (+2) Phasing
Vulnerability: Copper shorts out his superpowers with a painful shower of sparks.
Motivation: Keep the home fires burning.

Anh Vaughn -- She has golden skin, almond-shaped brown eyes set level in a heart-shaped face, and long straight black hair. Her heritage is primarily mixed Asian, including Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese, plus a Welsh grandfather. She has a huge, mostly happy family but some members were trapped in North Korea and she's sensitive about that. Confucianism emphasizes good behavior, education, and respect for hierarchy -- all things she admires. Anh enjoys carving blocks to make art prints, a traditional Vietnamese hobby, and makes a lot of cards which she donates to gift shops at hospitals and other places. She also makes fermented foods such as kimchi, do chua, and tofu. Anh works for the Eastbord SPAZMAT department, and she has kept in touch with many former clients.
Qualities: Master (+6) Compassion, Master (+6) Smart, Expert (+4) Family Ties, Expert (+4) Qigong, Expert (+4) SPAZMAT, Good (+2) Block Printer, Good (+2) Confucianism, Good (+2) Fermented Foods, Good (+2) First Responder, Good (+2) Limber, Good (+2) Zetetics
Poor (-2) Touchy About North Korea

Blue Law (Veril Edinger) -- He has azure skin, sky blue eyes, and Yale blue hair slicked back. He is short and slight, but physically fit, and quick on his feet. His low tolerance for alcohol means that it takes very little to affect him and soon makes him sick, so he doesn't drink and prefers to avoid foods made with alcohol. Veril has a master's degree in philosophy. That and his mellow personality made him a good cop. After developing superpowers, he retired from police work in favor of freelance public safety. Veril handles public relations for his team because he's good with people.
Origin: Someone bombed a First Responders training camp. He was one of the three people to develop superpowers as a result. Their shared origin and Telempathy give the Primaries a team link which helps them make plans and coordinate their powers.
Uniform: Azure dexflan speedo and shoes.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Policeman, Good (+2) Calm in a Crisis, Good (+2) Fast, Good (+2) Observant
Poor (-2) Alcohol Intolerance
Powers: Expert (+4) Moral Compass, Good (+2) Telempathy
Motivation: To keep the peace.

Yellow Jack (Jackson Collier) -- He has dandelion skin, amber eyes, and no hair at all; he's completely bald over his entire body. He has to wear prosthetic eyelashes to keep debris out of his eyes, along with talcum powder and special underwear to avoid chafing. He is tall and muscular. Jackson has a bachelor's degree in psychology. He used to work as a lifeguard, then after he developed superpowers he retired to do freelance public safety. Jackson does most of the work booking events for the team and keeping their records.
Origin: Someone bombed a First Responders training camp. He was one of the three people to develop superpowers as a result. Their shared origin and Telempathy give the Primaries a team link which helps them make plans and coordinate their powers.
Uniform: Dandelion dexflan speedo and shoes.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Lifeguard, Good (+2) Organized, Good (+2) Psychology, Good (+2) Strength
Poor (-2) No Hair at All
Powers: Expert (+4) Forcefields, Good (+2) Telempathy
Motivation: To keep people safe.

Catalina Lodge -- She has tinted skin, brown eyes, and wavy brown hair that falls just past her shoulders. She curls it with a curling iron, but it uncurls itself by evening. Catalina is short and fat. She gives big squashy hugs. She is not fast at all, but otherwise in pretty good shape. Catalina has two children, an older daughter and a younger son. She is also raising her nephew, currently a toddler, after her sister and brother-in-law died in a car crash. Her husband Edward stays at home with their nephew, although actually they alternate and next baby it will be Catalina's turn again.
Her family has a widespread tradition of service, including many military and police veterans. Catalina grew up helping her relatives with PTSD, and then came to work for the Plymouth Police Department as a job trauma counselor. She is very popular there and has many friends on the force. Derreck Refferson and his K-9 partner Blitz are among her favorites.
Qualities: Master (+6) Counselor, Master (+6) Emotional Trauma Care, Expert (+4) Friends on the Force, Expert (+4) Unflappable, Good (+2) Comfort Food, Good (+2) Immune System, Good (+2) Extended Family, Good (+2) Lovingkindness, Good (+2) Mother, Good (+2) Pennsylvania History, Good (+2) Self-Love
Poor (-2) I Am Not Fast

Zima Hartigan -- She has toffee skin, brown eyes, and long straight black hair usually twisted up in a bun. Her hair is not relaxed; it's naturally straight, coming from the Chinese side of her ancestry. Zima also has African, German, and Miami Indian heritage among others. Although her fine dexterity is normal, she is clumsy with large-body motions and often trips or bumps into things. She lives in Onion City.
As a counselor, Zima specializes in children who have attachment issues or other social problems. She helps them form healthy connections through a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy, emotional techniques, and play therapy. She finds it easy to develop rapport with people, and if they can't work her way, she can adapt to theirs. One of her clients is Lakia. Zima's hobby is sculpting air by means of soap bubbles or balloons, which she can fashion into fanciful shapes.
Qualities: Master (+6) Emotional Intelligence, Expert (+4) Child Therapy, Expert (+4) Rapport, Good (+2) Air Sculptor, Good (+2) Optimist, Good (+2) Stamina
Poor (-2) Klutz

Pointer (Poindexter Duval) -- He has tinted skin, brown eyes, and curly dark brown hair. He speaks both English and Cajun French. He enjoys physical activity and is a pretty good lacrosse player. He also makes floats for Mardi Gras. Poindexter is studying public relations at Loyola University. He works part-time for the Easy City SPOON base, helping them locate soups and identify what superpowers people have. He also does some activism for soup acceptance, interfacing between different groups.
Origin: His superpower grew in gradually during adolescence, when he was most intent on finding other people like himself.
Uniform: Street clothes.
Qualities: Expert (+4) College Student, Good (+2) Athlete, Good (+2) Craftsmanship, Good (+2) Public Relations
Powers: Expert (+4) Power Identification
Motivation: To find other soups.

Ethan Wheeler -- He has pale skin, brown eyes, and short dark hair. He can't always get to the facilities he needs, so he often has five-o-clock shadow, and his oily hair soon sticks into messy tufts. He enjoys music, especially buskers. He carries cheap paperback books to trade with other people, and will read pretty much anything.
Ethan serves as a street medic, going along with whomever will hire him. He often works for supervillains and other people of questionable ethics, but he's just as willing to work for superheroes. People on both sides have repeatedly offered him permanent jobs, but he keeps turning them down because he feels unworthy. He is even more attached than most people to medical neutrality, and he refuses to take sides on cape politics or any other moral issue. He's gotten burned badly enough that he doesn't go there anymore. He just wants to make up for the damage he's done. Other people tend to view him as a tragic figure. He gets into a lot of rough situations. Ethan is not a combat medic in the military sense, but neither does he have anything like a sense of self-preservation.
Origin: Ethan started out taking premed in college, where he got an excellent job working as a lab assistant on a zetetic project designed to enhance human health in hopes of making the world a better place. A terrible lab accident happened, quickly killing several of the assistants and wounding others. Ethan's bench partner Hermanigildo managed to drag him to safety before triggering the alarm, which sealed the other nonmobile victims inside, where they all died. Hermanigildo died in the hospital a few days later.
Ethan recovered swiftly and now bounces back well from almost anything. However, he blames himself for the accident because he was the safety supervisor for the assistants, he had reported several concerns but not pursued them more vigorously, and the problem started at one of the assistant benches. More fault actually lies with one of the senior researchers, who falsified some of the data in attempt to attract more people to the project. Since that scientist also died in the incident, the truth is unlikely to come out. Ethan left school and became a traveling medic, purposely seeking out dangerous people and situations where most medics refuse to go.
Uniform: Typically supplied by whomever he's working for at the moment, so it can vary a lot. At minimum, Ethan always wears an armband with the red cross (or other local emblem) for medical staff, and carries a backpack that contains a heavy-duty first aid kit. He favors practical clothes and dark colors.
Qualities: Master (+6) Friends on the Street, Expert (+4) Neutral Stance, Expert (+4) Soup Contacts, Good (+2) Busker Fan, Good (+2) Compassion, Good (+2) Endurance, Good (+2) Medic, Good (+2) Reader
Poor (-2) Traumatic Guilt
Powers: Average (0) Healing, Average (0) Regeneration
Motivation: Atonement

Dr. Bryson Roderstein -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and short curly brown hair. He lives in Easy City, where he works as a counselor specializing in fears, from annoying distractions on up to life-wrecking phobias. He understands negative emotions and the positive role they can play in personal growth. Dr. Roderstein helps Adalina deal with Facet's unusual face.
Qualities: Master (+6) Emotional Intelligence, Master (+6) Insightful, Expert (+4) Psychologist, Expert (+4) Soothing Voice, Good (+2) Campfire Singer, Good (+2 Networking, Good (+2) Thinking Outside the Box

Sunny (Noam O'Brien) -- He has ruddy skin, blue eyes, and reddish-brown hair buzzed short although his eyebrows and body hair are a lighter red-gold. His heritage is mostly Irish with miscellanous American thrown in. He is large and strong. Noam has Down syndome, and is completely comfortable with that aspect of himself. He enjoys making food but has difficulty with hot or sharp things. So he specializes in recipes that do not require equipment such as stoves or sharp knives -- torn salads, sandwiches, no-bake cookies, etc.
Sunny works at the Onion City SPOON Base, providing comfort to traumatized empaths or telepaths who need someone with rock-solid positive emotions to lean on. This also makes him popular in general, because he tends to project a field of positive energy around himself unless he concentrates on containing it.
Origin: Noam was born with his power, although it has gotten stronger over time.
Uniform: On-duty he wears the Onion City SPOON uniform of navy blue shirt and pants with the SPOON logo embroidered in silver on the chest pocket. Off-duty he likes casual, comfortable clothes in happy colors, often with cartoons or funny quotes on the shirt. He buys a lot of things from fashion lines catering to people with Down syndrome or other developmental disabilities, so that the clothes fit well and are easy to put on.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Emotional First Aid, Expert (+4) Cheerful, Good (+2) Big Beefy Guy, Good (+2) Emotional Intelligence, Good (+2) Loves Animals, Good (+2) Simplified Food Preparation, Good (+2) Soup First Aid
Poor (-2) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
Powers: Empathy (Expert on projection, Average on reception)
Motivation: To help people feel better.

* * *

"Keep your wishes like a tattoo on your heart, keep holding hope and love to survive."
-- Jar of Quotes

Peer support can be crucial for facing challenges, especially for survivors of trauma.  Its unique benefits stem from the input of people who have been there, done that, not just professionals with academic understanding.  For superpower issues, little professional study has been done, so peer support is almost all there is.  Here is a toolkit for establishing peer support groups.

Special needs actually refers to everyone  outside the middle of the bell curve, both disabled and gifted.  It just means they need accommodations outside the usual.  Superkids are special needs by definition, and keeping them safe often requires extra creativity and adaptation from their parents or other caregivers.  Aurora's generation is far enough along that many of them have at least one superpowered parent, and people have had long enough to adjust culturally that more solutions are thought of in a timely manner.

Trauma survivors often show worrisome symptoms of decompensation as the extreme stress overwhelms their coping skills. Trauma-informed care offers compassionate, effective ways to help survivors.

cooyon -- southwest Louisiana slang for crazy, stupid, ignorant, dumb, educated fool, ridiculous, foolish.
Dat boy ain't got no sense ... he cooyon!
-- Urban Dictionary

Gross facial deformity typically involves changes so drastic that the bone is involved, not just surface tissues. In Facet's case, his eye sockets changed to support the much larger compound orbs.
-- Surgical Correction of Facial Deformities

Enjoy some No-Bake Peanut Butter Granola Cookies.  This recipe requires no use of hot stoves or sharp knives, making it ideal for novices or people with disabilities.

See Sunny's T-shirt.

Beach wheelchairs now come in many models, the best of them designed with user input.  These are available for sale, but more beaches are offering them for free or for rent.  Cheersquad rents this awesome electric sand chair with big beach-buggy tires, a rear basket, a rainbow beach umbrella, and enough battery life to last all day.  In places where tire traffic could damage delicate wildlife, or areas that are simply impassable on wheels, a sedan chair may offer access instead.

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Current Mood: busy busy

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Comments
thnidu From: thnidu Date: April 13th, 2016 02:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Goo-ood.

«Most people pronounce his code name as "Cheer Squad."  If you listen closely, however, you can hear that he says "Cheers Quad."  If asked which it is, he smirks and says, "That's a state secret." (It's the Hellspark joke.)»

Heh heh heh. I used that as a question one time when I was on the Trivia panel at Arisia. "What is the correct pronunciation of 'Hellspark' in Hellspark?" I think somebody did get it right.

I reread Hellspark (the book, not the language or the planet) recently and enjoyed it as much as I did before. Sociolinguistic sf!!

Edited at 2016-04-13 02:30 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 13th, 2016 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

>> Heh heh heh. I used that as a question one time when I was on the Trivia panel at Arisia. "What is the correct pronunciation of 'Hellspark' in Hellspark?" I think somebody did get it right. <<

"That's a state secret." ;)

I've done it live in panels. On a good night, I'll get an earsplitting squeal out of someone who realizes what I'm doing.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 15th, 2016 02:37 am (UTC) (Link)

cheering for Cheersquad

Oh SNAP! The link for "worrisome symptoms" has gone 404.

Given the types of calls he's been getting, and who from, this reminds me of tiered Help Desk support, where Cheersquad is the type of back-line gurus who knows a bunch of things off the top of his head, or can figure them out very quickly. :-)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 15th, 2016 02:52 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: cheering for Cheersquad

>> Oh SNAP! The link for "worrisome symptoms" has gone 404. <<

Fixed, try it now.

>> Given the types of calls he's been getting, and who from, this reminds me of tiered Help Desk support, where Cheersquad is the type of back-line gurus who knows a bunch of things off the top of his head, or can figure them out very quickly. :-) <<

Yep. SPOON has emergency and non-emergency numbers. The people who work the emergency lines tend to be able to handle pretty much any kind of superpowered mayhem. Some they can fix themselves or explain how to fix, and for others, they know who to connect to fix it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 15th, 2016 07:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Continuing to greatly enjoy this! I think Cheersquad is the needed ingredient for connecting some of the people in different threads who can help each other. If this was a comic series, I'd want to see his own special double issue of all-crossover shorts! --alatefeline
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 16th, 2016 08:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> Continuing to greatly enjoy this! <<

Yay!

>> I think Cheersquad is the needed ingredient for connecting some of the people in different threads who can help each other. <<

Agreed. Any community tends to have some people who cut the chain of contact from six degrees to three. If they don't know the person, they know someone else who does. Back when I was editing magazines, I was like that for the Pagan community.

>> If this was a comic series, I'd want to see his own special double issue of all-crossover shorts! <<

That would be so awesome. This poem could be worked up exactly like that.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: November 15th, 2016 07:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Aha. That reminds me of the function in myself that I call "infonexus". I seem to have a great deal of semirandom* knowledge and a lot of specialized knowledge, and passing it around to people who want it gives me pleasure.

* No relation to Semiramis.

Edited at 2016-11-15 07:26 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 15th, 2016 07:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

:D I have in fact described myself as an "information dispensary." My job as a bard is to compile, correlate, and distribute data. I've had readers tell me that they use my blog as a newsfeed.

I've also been known to respond to questions with, "You have just pushed the lecture lever on the Bard-O-Matic! Stand by for data download."
thnidu From: thnidu Date: November 16th, 2016 10:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

(chuckle)
starcat_jewel From: starcat_jewel Date: October 16th, 2016 12:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Interesting. Based solely on your description of Dr. Roderstein's voice, my mind's eye pegged him as black, and dark-skinned black at that. Apparently my first association for that kind of voice is James Earl Jones. :-) But I've heard it out of white guys too, and it always makes me perk up and take notice. That salesman may or may not realize why I'm paying such rapt attention...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 16th, 2016 01:33 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> Interesting. Based solely on your description of Dr. Roderstein's voice, my mind's eye pegged him as black, and dark-skinned black at that. Apparently my first association for that kind of voice is James Earl Jones. :-) <<

Come to think of it, Morgan Freeman can do it too.

>> But I've heard it out of white guys too, and it always makes me perk up and take notice. That salesman may or may not realize why I'm paying such rapt attention... <<

For some people it's innate, for others a learned skill. I've found tips on developing a soothing voice for hypnotherapists. Like singing, you can train whatever you've got to start with. I suspect that Dr. Broderstein's high level in this area comes from a good base talent plus good skill development -- useful for someone who specializes in treating fears.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 15th, 2016 03:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Ahhh, yes. Who heals the healer, indeed. Thank you, Sunny. *bows to the bard* --alatefeline
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 15th, 2016 03:41 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you like this.

:D You haven't seen anything yet. Wait until Sunny really gets going!
cflute From: cflute Date: December 30th, 2016 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)
So glad to see the rest of this! It's been a fascinating tour-de-force all along; the final payoff is just wonderful, and that rainbow umbrella beach wheelchair/buggy is pure hammered awesome!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 30th, 2016 05:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>So glad to see the rest of this! It's been a fascinating tour-de-force all along; the final payoff is just wonderful, <<

Yay! It's taken a year. Wow.

>> and that rainbow umbrella beach wheelchair/buggy is pure hammered awesome! <<

I love that thing too. The user input really shows.
tigerbright From: tigerbright Date: December 30th, 2016 07:56 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd be fascinated to hear more about Sunny's supports and how he manages the executive function issues and apparent IQ level issues of Down's. In his line of work, the tendency to ramble on rather than stay on task could be useful sometimes and not others.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 30th, 2016 08:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Okay...

>> I'd be fascinated to hear more about Sunny's supports and how he manages the executive function issues and apparent IQ level issues of Down's. In his line of work, the tendency to ramble on rather than stay on task could be useful sometimes and not others. <<

Feel free to prompt for that! :D

The basics:

* He has a defined job, schedule, and routine. This is helpful for Downs and many other people with mental issues. Emergencies have their own protocols, likely based on finding a supervisor to assign him a task and a space to do it in.

* His general job is taking care of soups, and his specialty is soothing upset telepaths or empaths by providing a solid emotional wall for them to lean on. It's more about being than doing. For the doing part, he memorizes some checklists for making sure that basic needs (food, dry clothes, etc.) are met. This meshes with the work he's done to learn self-care. It's also why he notices when a friend has forgotten to eat, take a break, etc. -- he's running that list in his head.

* The ability to ramble is usually an asset. Upset psychics need someone who can wander from "the weather" to "my dog has a new toy" to "this weekend's movies are" etc. for hours on end. Not everyone can just sit down and blather about safe topics while the shit is hitting the fan. But that part isn't Sunny's job; his job is taking care of people. So he's not as distracted by, say, a T-rex in the street; he can keep chatting up the freaked-out telepath.

* He has a support network of people who help keep him on track. As he is quite popular this is easy to maintain.

So Sunny's work isn't primarily about executive function or intelligence; he just needs enough to follow a plan. Many Downs can learn that, although it takes practice. Beyond that, he relies on his support people. This is pretty typical of how disabilities are managed in T-America: find a job the person can do and use community support to keep them steady, with professional assistance here and there as needed.

This is based on what I know of Down's syndrome from personal observation and previous research, including ways to manage disability in community. If you prompt me for it, I'll probably do more, so details may change.
From: technoshaman Date: December 31st, 2016 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
COOOOOOKIE.
*grabs recipe for later*
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 31st, 2016 10:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

It's interesting how some of my characters just have "Cooking" as a specialty while others are more specific like "Italian Cuisine" or "No-Bake Food."
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 3rd, 2017 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)
This was a fun one, it's interesting to hear all the different perspectives on the events from other poems & Cheersquad's advice all seems pretty solid
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 3rd, 2017 05:52 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>This was a fun one, it's interesting to hear all the different perspectives on the events from other poems <<

I'm glad you enjoyed it.

>> Cheersquad's advice all seems pretty solid <<

Yay! He's behind a lot more of SPOON than many people realize, just because so many people talk to him.
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