Stranded (Also International Women’s Day)

Today I was stranded. I knew it would happen eventually, when the expensive repairs I still had to pay for did nothing with my chair’s working. I absolutely knew someday I would be stranded in my chair. I had plans in place in case this happened and every single one fell through. It was frightening. I was alone in this swirling mass of people. I knew I shouldn’t go out too but I felt pulled and it was WONDERFUL, up until my wheelchair stopped moving permanently… in a street with cars moving zip zip zip. I grabbed a man’s arm, and asked him to help me, explaining the chair was dead. He asked if I had a way home after we worked as a team to get me out of the street. His daughter called him Superman. He really was to me. I am still having images of pancakes shaped like me dancing in my head.

I was left with no recourse but to call my Mother. Mom maybe, today she was a mom. I saw that she is changing. Just as I am returning to who I am at my best. This day was full of sparks of potential. It all started when I woke up with energy for the first time in what feels like my entire life. I wanted to go out but it was too cold, so I fiddled online. I almost wrote something about that tug to go do, then checked the temperature. Twenty degrees warmer and I was out the door. There were no hesitancies in the chair like usually come before a death, it was smooth. It was beautiful. I went to the fleamarket, which is close enough that I only have to cross the street a few times, at least a major street where cars actually are an issue. This street is big, and I always scream my way across “I am going to die I am going to die I am going to die oh gods oh gods I am going to die please don’t let me get smushed” on repeat until I hit the other side of the street and merge into the slower traffic that leads into the flea market. pedestrians and cars comingle there. This is not the fleamarket that is at our fair grounds but is a smaller one, which means it is less diverse but still fun.

I just met with a new friend, who has an interesting past and felt connected to me because I looked him in the chin (fake eye contact is a go) and treated him like a person, being that he is one. He is from Jordan, and we met when he was struggling with acceptance in this country. He sells jewelry and I have been saving for this pair of earrings he made. I can wear them with my headset on even, they are the most comfortable pair of earrings I have ever had. They are solid silver with a silver cat’s eye. He charged me the cost of making them, and held them for me for a month. All I had to do was treat him like a person consistently. I promised him I would come to the fleamarket whenever I could and would say hello. It was there at his booth that I heard two people talking about a convention in a small building not far from where we were. The entire building was full of women celebrating International Women’s Day. I couldn’t believe it. I could go! Enroute to the proper exit that would spit me out right across another street to this event I even found another booth. There I bought $500 worth of Star Trek Geek Paraphenelia for $4. That’s right. The deal of the century.

I always get good deals at the fleamarket. I look for quality, I bring a limited amount of money, and I only haggle on items that I know are worth it. I also tend to know what I am looking at. There is an antique set of glasses that I want to get but thirty dollars is a lot despite their actual value. I am saving and hoping no one else sees them for what they are. Then, I ran into a friend who moved away years ago. Her son is actually double his size, and the DVD I never returned to her? I still have it. It was amazing. I felt almost high from the warm sun (not on my skin but the AIR was warm enough I didn’t need my coat for most of my day)

I made it to the celebration. I actually attended and performed at the first celebration Albuquerque had on this day. I stood up and read a poem. I remember trying to focus on not fainting, I remember though how good it felt to be a woman. To celebrate that. The celebration has grown. The building was actually a warehouse that is the size of an entire city block, and once inside I had to pay an entry fee (the exact amount of money I had left). The women at the door asked if i was allergic to the stamp AND the ink. The stamp was a silicon base and the ink is natural dyes which for me is a better shot than chemical. I wasn’t required to get stamped but I went for it. I will wear this turtley shape for about a week. It may be a sea monster? I am not sure. I started to explore. I talked, I advocated, there was plenty of advocating to do.

I spoke with women at a Domestic Violence Awareness Booth, and helped a young woman decide to get some counceling and potentially leave her abusive boyfriend. It was accidental. It was unplanned. She felt safer talking to me than the actual people at the counter. They supported this, and I let her talk. I am possibly going to give a speech at some of the local high schools now. The key that lead to this was my obvious first hand experience and the fact that I am recovering. I admitted to her it takes a long time.

From there I went around to another booth, I was given some pretty roses, which I have one of on display. The other I sent with my mom, she loves flowers and she did rescue me. Besides, the roses were planted a year ago in honor of Women, and she IS a woman! There were a lot of booths. I am going to work with a breast cancer group and we are going to create a FREE seminar for women with disabilities, the seminar topic? How to adapt to the self exam. I also was given a great history lesson by the Census worker. She thought it was interesting I wanted to know the history as no one seems to ask that. Women did not used to be counted in the census, and in my state this is the first year SINGLE women (divorced, single moms etc) will be tallied. Last year the census estimates we were shorted by over 1 million people because of this “oversight”. I wish I could work with them more, but, no matter where you live get counted in the census. If you are low income, this will effect funding for local programs like foodstamps or even your transport system. This is a big deal.

Most of what went on swirled around me. I had brought my MP3 player, as sometimes crossing the street panics me and I need the music to calm down. So I used it as needed. I left Sprite at home, as I was only going for a few hours right? Right? (I was so wrong) I wanted to bring her but she wasn’t feeling as good as I was this morning. She’s fine now, and is clinging to me.

Advocacy I had abandoned was revived today. I did not abandon it because my passion was gone but because I could not advocate. The orphan goal did mature on it’s own. Accessible Mammography. When I needed a mammogram a year ago (I am due for another one this year oh “joy”.) I had to first fight for one based on age, then I had to find one where I would not be forced to stand, as you must stay still. It was unpleasant and at that point there was only ONE accessible mammogram machine. Now one of the hospitals I called has several mammography machines and… they went further. My concern was small as I had to start small to be heard. They have an MRI machine now, that is larger for the larger bodied person, and is a sitting/standing MRI! If you cannot lie flat, you can NOW get an MRI in my state without being in the very long list at the VA.

There’s more. There is a van, with a portable ACCESSIBLE mammography set up that will go to the low income neighborhoods and give FREE mammograms. That’s right. Free mammograms to the poor who cannot go to a doctor. I am sure that this was a long term goal to a degree for them but, this was what I was advocating for when things went badly and my life was ground to dust. Access for all. My heart is singing. Even the BMI and weight loss booths couldn’t bring me down.

I did something a bit horrible to the BMI guys. They were men, first of all. Second of all they were telling people they are fat with the BMI, which is not scientifically proven. It ignores things like breasts, bone density, hip and buttock size. It ignores genetics. It ignores a lot. they also were trying to get people to stand and walk in this really awkward way then telling them they needed the gym. I found out about this because they made someone cry. She’s very thin, and they called her fat. I went over and started laying out scientific facts, I blocked their booth with fact. People could come and go but I spread the word and listed my sources. Some still went but, before I left people were talking. Big impact there? Teenagers were excited by the idea that they don’t need to lose weight. I heard someone say “So, I am really okay the way I am. No one ever said anything like that to me before.”

Today I played pebble in the pond. it was beautiful. There were more moments. Every single moment was something impactful. I admit I avoided the rape crisis center booth. They were exuding sorrow. The women running the booth looked depressed, and sad. This was something I couldn’t face. I don’t feel the same stabbing pain in my chest when I say rape most of the time, but, they were breathing it. No one stopped there. I did a drive by snatch and grab of a business card but I couldn’t talk to them. Penetrating sorrow is just not my thing.

There was one other thing, I found something for me. There is a program for the disabled in my city, to socialize us. To get us out there. They provide transport, safe food if you want, activities, and the thing that they do is… they offer this to people with mental health issues, physical disabilities, developmental delays, and more. This company, as they do take insurance but do not discriminate on the cost of poorness itself (IE it’s free if you can’t pay) they saw the need for more than just children to have access to programs. There is a special program for Autism AND one for the depressed. The woman said often these groups overlap, and the company does not see Autism as a disability, but a different type of mind where at times things may be disabling. I am calling on Monday to find out what services I can get. this includes therapy. Therapy. At long last, the help I need for my depression GEARED for the person who has physical challenge and pain. Therapy… amazing, like fresh water from the earth, the idea flows over me, it refreshes me.

Normally this much would exhaust me, I was a bit sore but had enough energy. I checked my battery. It read a full charge. Actually it still reads a mostly full charge right now, so we know it’s not the battery that left me stranded… I heard it, as I was about to leave. This music from my past. The dancing twitch hit me, and I followed it. I got to stand (well sit) with the dancers, as this was the access area. I was far from the only person in a chair as well. It was beautiful. There were Irish Step Dancers. I left before the belly dancers went on. It was a bittersweet expierience. These women, 3 years old to 53 were dancing. I could feel the music. I rememebered every step. They were flawless. Even the one who fell (the stage moved, it wasn’t her fault) got up and fell right back into step. She was far from adult but had the perfection of skill of the adults. Even the three year old was moving as if born to it. Likely she was. The pain was from my memories so I tried my best to shut them out. I got to thank the dancers, and that was when I left.

After things like suggesting planned parenthood give out latex free condoms (just an idea, and they did ask) on through finding out my victories, I was satiated in ways I have not felt in what has been a year, but a year that encompassed a life time. I left, the music swirling in me. I went back through the fleamarket and just as it was safe to enter the street I zipped out then… WHAM… a hard stop. My chair was completely dead. The light was changing color, as I would have been across. A man was about to cross and I grabbed his arm. I hate that, but I was desperate. “I need your help.” He looked startled. This man wasn’t exactly approachable. Given the type of people who frequent this market, I would call social cast offs, non typical, and sometimes scary (but only in cliche ways, not actually dangerous). I think as he looked at me he was just stunned. No one asks for help here. It was help or die.

I told him how to put my chair into freewheelmode, an idea that he said was the best invention ever. He offered to push me home. It was too dangerous, and too far. I considered it. He made sure I was safe and I put into action my plans. Plural plans. No one was home, no one answered, and one is highly contagious. I called my Mom. I explained what was going on and we brain stormed. We found a way and she drove the two hours to get me home, then raced back to get my stepdad to one of his mandatory do this or go to jail things.

The man I stopped for help was so wonderful and kind. I love my neighborhood because I feel safe here. On the outside it looks like a horrid place with violence and gangs but, appearances lie. It is like a small town in the big city. The man’s wife and kids were going to wait for the next light, he was showing his daughter how to cross the street. I did not know this as my chant had begun. His daughter said the most amazing thing. “Daddy, that was just like superman!” It was too. He saved my life. Cars were coming, it took a moment of choice, and he chose what i would say is the right thing without batting an eye.

I rested and ate, and Sprite yelled at me for a while for being out so long. She was really loud, so it was definately yelling. She then forgave me and won’t leave my side. I cannot go out until I get my new chair, but, man waas it worth it.

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4 Comments

  1. Wow.

    It’s good to know that Mother is changing.

    And your chin-looking mate.

    Latex-free is definitely under-rated isn’t it?

    And freewheeling? I have to agree. Particularly if you sing Bob Dylan while you do it.

    Have a great therapy talk tomorrow. Your city is good.

  2. “When the body is not more linked to our mind and seems to be an useless weight to manage, art provides with an immense flash of purity.”

  3. How odd, when I clicked the video to preview it, my first thought was “Ahh this one!”

    This is one of the most beautiful dance pieces I have seen, thank you for the reminder to watch.

  4. My city is improving. I would say it’s good when the side walk is actually safe to use. I am a bit nervous about the call but at least I have the chance to make it. That alone is freeing. As far as the Latex goes, all the local hospitals removed all Latex years ago. I think only a few places aren’t latex safe zones. Sadly, condom manufacturer’s still think this is a niche market. I wouldn’t wish a latex reaction in your genitalia on ANYONE. (It burns just to think about it)

    I was actually listening to Bond and some of Pendant Audio’s Supergirl series. I should’ve thought of the Bob Dylan. That would’ve been a bit funny/creepy/spectacular!


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