Karrie Higgins

The morning after the presidential election, I was lying in an MRI machine at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, hypnotized by clang clang clang, like the drumbeats when I marched in the streets my last time in DC. Two weeks after 9-11, anti-war protest, surrounded by riot police in Edward R. Murrow park, paddy wagons parked on the periphery, me, Manic Pixie Epileptic Girl on high alert: seizures look like resisting arrest, motor deficits like non-compliance, like drunk or drugged or dangerous.
Karrie wearing a long, red wig, lying naked in a white, tiled, walk-in shower as though she has fallen. On her legs: bruises. Pink disposable razors are scattered around her, and in the corner sits a pink suitcase. On the soap shelf sits a prescription bottle with the cap removed and lying next to it. White text overlaid on the image reads: Not Your Manic Pixie Epileptic Girl.


That day, a fellow protestor leapt in front of me, shouted, “I KNOW YOU ARE FBI!” I was weird, slept in a hotel. I couldn’t crash in their activist center: no sleep means seizures. You tell people shhh, they call you uptight. So I made my own accommodations, literally.

Disability accommodations make you suspect. Make you not committed. Make you FBI plant.

“I’M GONNA PUBLISH YOUR PICTURE ONLINE AND EXPOSE YOU!” My mugshot, criminal epileptic, just like Lombroso made me.

They throw bricks, safe in their able-bodied armor they don’t even know they are wearing, don’t understand why Manic Pixie Epileptic Girls back away when the tear gas clouds bloom: chemical exposures mean seizures mean death.

They say: You don’t lay it on the line like we do.

[MRI nightmare: President Trump shoving me in the machine like a dead girl in a morgue drawer. A million women marching in DC clang clang clang are they coming to save me? No.]

In 2001, I was fast, not like now with walking cane and hole in my spinal cord, the one NIH is studying. I saw an opportunity for escape, an unlocked door in a building on the edge of the park, and I leapt through it like a paratrooper out the airplane hatch. Three or four of us ran down a hall and out the other side and escaped the paddy wagons and the police, and the Manic Pixie Epileptic Girl lived another day.

And she no longer attends your fucking marches.


Karrie Higgins is an Intermedia artist and writer living in Boulder, Colorado. Find her work at karriehiggins.com

4 Comments Add yours

  1. lauracalonso says:



  2. Julie Duhigg says:

    Wow. Thank you for this beautiful piece.


  3. ahimsa says:

    Thank you for writing this piece!

    I have brain fog today, and I’m not an expert (no links or citations to share), but I will try to write a comment that makes some sense.

    People really don’t realize that disabled protestors risk so much more at the hands of police. It’s like folks can’t see (won’t see) that having a disability increases risk of police violence. There are statistics out there to show this if people would only look.


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