In late February, I decided to shutter HUP shortly after its seventh anniversary. It's not an easy choice. I believe in elevating the voices of disabled and neurodivergent creatives and started the blog as a hopeful stepping stone to an entire suite of non-profit activities that would assist my community. But things rarely happen the way we want.
I met Stacy after she submitted work to HUP. When I sent her an acceptance email, she asked if we could talk on voice; it was an unusual request, but I did it. Stacy told me she had to relocate to a different state after her home state was hit with a flood and she needed a specific medical treatment. She was staying at a random motel away from family.
Stacy was really going through a lot. She talked to me for almost an hour the first time, just telling me about her life and who she was. I thought she was kind of lonely. Her answers/stories always stayed consistent.
The real reason she talked to me is because she wanted the payment she was due, but she didn't want a record of it in email due to a court case. I thought it was a bit strange, but the system is often against disabled people when it comes to believing us. Apparently, the meager payment would've been used to say she could work when she couldn't. I've been paid a pittance for my poetry before, and I can't hold a job.
She said I could call the motel and put the money towards her stay, but I didn't want to give out my credit card information to some random place in Texas. I ended up sending her a gift card (for more than she was owed) in the mail to help her pay for food and toiletries. I thought the matter was done.
Stacy and I spoke a few more times after she received payment. She stated she wanted to be friends with me because it was "nice to talk to someone else intelligent and disabled from birth".* She'd occasionally talk about her court case but didn't ask me for more money. It just seemed normal... until her court date drew closer.
She started telling me we "needed to get our stories straight" because the people trying to say she could work were going to be asking me questions. She asked if I've ever been to court before. I told her no one was going to question me, but she was insistent.
In our last call, she said our story was going to be that I didn't pay her due to a death in my family. She rambled on about it... about how perfect the excuse was. I honestly couldn't believe someone would have the gall to use my family tragedy to lie. It legitimately made her happy.
I barely slept that night and told her off (in text) the next day. I was done with the cloak and dagger baloney. She tried to apologize and tell me she was upset a lot because she just lost her brother (I'm not sure if I believe her because someone grieving doesn't normally think about using someone else's loss for their benefit). But she was quite surprised my memory of our conversations was so clear.
I blocked her. She tried to get in contact with me a few times afterwards, but I refuse to engage. Stacy wasn't the main reason I'm closing HUP, but she's one that strengthens my resolve the most.
Identifying details were changed.
She never asked me for extra money or tried to guilt me out of more.
*Stacy disparaged those with intellectual disabilities more than a few times. I'd push back on it, but she claimed to have a background helping other disabled folks without anyone giving back to her. She spoke highly of my intelligence because she "never met another person with my disability" who was smart (she must not know many of us). Ableism in disabled people is definitely real, and I've used my IQ to shield myself from the ignorance of medical personnel more than a few times, but I've never thought of people with intellectual disabilities as somehow inferior. Her views felt gross. It would've been better if she was just trying to butter me up to scam me, but it's really what she thinks...
No one ever contacted me about her case.