Mourning

After writing my post earlier I left some voicemails with handy men, my friend M said he will pay for it so I can get my bed. I am tired, more so now but as I felt like I was going to scream and couldn’t find peace in my heart I needed to move. I felt pulled, and so remembering I had a ramp decided to risk the scooter breaking down leaving me out in the world. I took my cellphone, my keys, and left the cat at home. I went the way of the pulling sensation, and wound up outside of a beautiful temple. This Buddhist temple is just a block from my apartment. I sat outside and looked at the Lotus blossoms and butterflies, and realized, I belonged. I find that Buddhism has helped me keep calm and not give in to the darkness that pain makes so tempting. Buddhism is not a religion but a path and a way of living, as I was taught. It is compatible with my beliefs.

I sat outside for a half an hour before I decided to go in, and the Abott himself greeted me. He asked me why my heart ached and we talked. I had secretly hoped he would give me permission to continue my relationship with my mother but, “The poison of the heart can poison the soul. Such a pain as you endure was preventable. The poison of the heart will spread. You must remember that your heart is yours.” It wasn’t a way of saying to reject her but a reminder that it is my life and I must come first. Something I knew all along.

I was asked to please come again, as often as I wish, and to bring the cat next time. I ventured out and found the peace that I couldn’t quite grasp. I charged the scooter again while we talked, and decided to risk Walmart. Walmart is a half an hour with these batteries and once there I had to park and charge again. I had another encouter with englightenment. A world war two veteran saw my unique chair and decided to ask if I knew how to get one. I could see his pain, he proudly told me he forgot how old he was and we laughed a bit. I gave him guidance on how to get his wheelchair, as for any of us to admit we need the help of a chair is hard. He told me I reminded him of someone he met long ago in the war. My face, my eyes, but he commented that she had red hair. I didn’t tell him my natural hair is red, and felt a longing for it again. This is twice that I have longed for my hair back at the vibrancy of it’s nature. The black lets me feel safe and I know I look beautiful either way. It is merely difficult. She was a nurse, and he was injured. She was injured as well but hid it so she could continue to serve, her time with him was spent building a trust and she taught him to understand that the enemy wasn’t seeing us as we saw ourselves. It was an interesting story, frightening in some ways but he found comfort in me, and I in him.

I did some shopping, I got a copy of the key to the gate so that my caregiver can actually get in (oops) and a pair of padlocks for my gate. My batteries held so I looked in a few stores and found many things I need, so I took pictures of them with their prices. I bought the nail trimmer that I desperately had to get William, and found two jacket style harnesses one pink and one black on clearance. I sprang for both, and they rang up even cheaper than they were marked. I also got a bit of halloween decore, a little sign that was three dollars and made my entire day. “Wicked Wanda’s Witch Shoppe.” It’s green and a light orange. I named the stuffed witch I got at the dollar store Wanda and she is also green and orange. It’s too perfect to deny. So far this is also my most expensive decoration!

I feel good, if sore. The side walk only has two in accessible areas, one on each side of the road between the shopping center with a grocery store that carries gluten free food, three discount stores, and has everything I could need or want accessibly. I even found the curtains I want for the price I can afford.

I did notice a difference in this neighborhood, normally when I go out I feel invisible and in danger. This time drivers made sure that I knew they were there, and that they saw me. One man stopped when the scooter almost died on the way home and asked if I was alright, since it was going so darned slow. He watched me to the gate of the complex so that I could get home. Normally I wouldn’t want that but I cut it close because I had to backtrack for the gatekeys. Oh I also got some gummy bears. I just needed a small treat and my entire day became such.

Thank you all for supporting me, it gives me strength I cannot find with in myself. I may fear, I may mourn, but I will never surrender. This neighborhood seems very much handicapped friendly, as I found special access points for wheelchairs in areas where it may be more dangerous for a chair to be in the street or normal foot traffic. I’ve never even heard of these things! I dreamed of them. I know better ways around some of the rough spots for next time, though I will wait until the scooter is repaired, I shouldn’t have pushed it. It was stupid, and a mistake. I also feel way better for it. It seems doing what I want is a rarity, and that must change.

Personal Space

Before I set into writing the latest post, which proves of all things I am still alive and kicking I have a few updates. First, the biopsy came back, and I do not have cancer. Second, I just painted seven paintings in five days. My hands are sore. Why would I paint seven paintings in a week? One was for fun, six were for a contest. I really want to win, but, only time will tell if I actually do. I am certain a few of you will want to see these pictures. The contest was run by Overground EIC, and as I cannot draw yet, I used their line art. The seventh picture was drawn by a local comic book artist named Paul Ziomek. He’s a really nice guy too. So, here is a link to my gallery on DeviantArt and just in case you want to support artists who are local (to me) here is a link to 7000BC, a local comic book group. They have some really cool stories.

I am actually hoping to start a weekly web comic with someone, so if you know any artists who want to audition, let me know. I will be hosting a contest soon. I already have a few scripts, and it doesn’t take too much time for me to write. In fact, I might even update the blog more often if I do that.

Now, here is the actual blog post for today:

Personal Space:

The issue of Personal Space comes up frequently when we are children. We are taught boundaries, we are taught that we cannot just touch strangers. I was taught this at least, and reminded often that my own space was worthless, but I had best not encroach on anyone else’s territory.

As an adult this was the norm until I started using assistive devices. It was then that I learned another facet of ableism included touching these devices, leaning on them, and even hitting them. Would you ever touch a person’s purse? The answer is usually not without permission. Why is it alright then, for people to smack my chair, try and take the key, or even tell me just how cute it is that I use a wheelchair?

You are probably confused by their actions as much as I am, and you also probably experience versions of this as well. I am not sure why it has become the norm for people to tell me that my wheelchair is cute. I understand the perspective of another person who is shopping for a chair deciding mine is really cool and asking me questions, that is perfectly reasonable, and is something I have done myself. I understand a child needing to ask me what I am driving a miniature care for. I do not understand walking up to someone and smacking the top of their chair and telling them how cute it is that they have a sunshade on their wheelchair.

This happened at a Walgreen’s that is just a block away from my house. My Person and I were there, getting some snacks and were going to rent movies after. I was in glee as I had found lotion I could use with minimal reaction, my arms stayed red for only an hour and eyeliner that I was not allergic to, could use properly, and is hard to obtain. This Walgreen’s carries authentic Egyptian Kohl. I am so excited by this that I actually spent all of my extra money on make up. We were about to check out when the Cashier gushed at me, “Oh how cute your chair is.” I looked at her and told her, “Excuse me?” She repeated it. Then, another employee smacks my sunshade and tells me it’s cool. I decided then and there to put a stop to this.

“Do you really think it’d be alright to smack someone’s cane? Do you think I would go around telling you that your crutches are cute if you broke your leg or your cast is cute? Don’t patronize me, don’t touch me or my assistive devices. I happen to think it’s a shame I no longer get to walk through your store. I happen to think it’s a shame you think that acting like an idiot is going to make me want to shop here. If you touch my chair again I will report you to the management, and if you,” Gesturing to the other person, “Speak to me like a child again, I will also report you to the management. This is not how you treat a customer, or any other human. I am sure you think less of me for saying this, but I think much less of you for behaving in an inappropriate manner.” The woman looked as if she would cry, and the young man who had thwapped my chair had backed up considerably. It took a lot of will power to not curse at them. I wanted to. Instead the woman said, “But it really is cute.”

My person knows I dislike advocating. I don’t know anyone who really enjoys it or wants to spend all their time arguing with people about their own right to exist, but, he has accepted that I will and must. He also has accepted that at times, he must as well. He spoke up then, “Don’t patronize her. Trust me, you don’t want to continue down this path. It’s not a threat, it’s just a warning from a fellow Walgreens Employee, that she knows her rights, and you are infringing on them.” He used to work for Walgreen’s, and as a result I know that the staff are taught to be courteous. I am certain that these two people have never really had to interact with a disabled person.

I am not proud of having to put them in their place or making sure that they feel a little bit less than but, I am still reeling with confusion at their actions. It has been almost a week but I cannot figure it out. This isn’t the first time people have told me just how adorable it is that I can shop, or function in society. Each time I have explained, to the best of my ability and as calmly as I can. I have also learned that it is alright to show anger. Any ‘normal’ or ‘regular’ or able bodied person would be angry if I told them how cute their flaws were, or how cute it was that they were absolutely stupid. I am learning that I have the right to anger.

I will go back to this Walgreen’s. It is a very nice store, and they actually measure their aisle displays for accessibility. I caught them in the act, the manager was correcting an employee on the placement of a standee that held some make up, “You can’t put this here. People will be unable to pass.” The employee walked around it, “I can get past it just fine.” The manager then said, “What about people who can’t walk or use a walker? How about this, if you don’t move it, using this measuring tape for a 28 inch radius, you lose your job. I don’t want anyone to sue me over the ADA or anything like that.” He added something else too, “Oh and what about customer service? It’s gotta be a pain in the (censored) to have to ask for help to reach a bottle of lotion.”

I hadn’t had to advocate to them, but I was watching. I was paying attention. I know that the management at this Walgreens cares. If when I return this patronization happens again, I will bring them into it. I will also offer to train their employees. The only reason I did not have to fight them more was that I had left Sprite the Service Cat at home. She wasn’t feeling well and I wanted to go out.

It was still a lovely afternoon, but, it left me chewing over the concequences of their actions and my reactions. I am proud to state that I did not punch the man who touched my chair. I almost did, but I managed to catch my impulse in time, and used my words instead. I have been having a lot of trigger issues with men and my chair lately. They come up behind me and I want to run them down to make them go away. I haven’t given in yet, but, when the strange males who trigger me then touch my chair, all bets are off!

I haven’t much else to say on this matter, beyond, advocate for your personal space. I didn’t at first. When I used the walker and my abusive roommates would pile heavy objects on it so that they didn’t have to carry them, or when they kept dumping things into my chair so I couldn’t use it when it was brand new, I at first kept my mouth shut. I was so used to staying silent so that they wouldn’t punish me or decide to expose me to even more allergens. At first I let people do things like this out of the house too, because I was afraid. I feel less fear when I advocate. I also worry at times that I am being too sharp, too harsh. There have to be times when I am the gentle advocate, and there are. I worry over it even when I am putting in extra effort to not hurt people’s feelings despite their refusal to let me have my basic human rights. It sounds preposterous when I say it or write it, but it feels right to try for extra kindness.

I am also learning that my Autism may factor into my need to not be touched. I have always been extremely sensitive to touch and texture. I like to control what things feel like around me. I once could not adopt a very adorable and well behaved puppy because his fur felt too stiff. I found him a good home but, I couldn’t cope with the texture. Sometimes texture can even cause nightmares. This adds to my unwillingness to let strangers touch me. I don’t hug people often. I do make sure to touch my Person, but sometimes it takes massive amounts of effort. He is understanding when it comes to my reticence, but I also want to make sure he has nothing that he wants or needs for.

What about you? When you advocate does it help your anxiety level or make it worse? Do people infringe on your personal space? This goes for those with sight issues or hearing issues, do people at times touch you just to try and make you function the way they want? What are your reactions? If you are an Autistic, do you also have touch issues? What forms of contact ableism are you familiar with?

Updates and a Contest

I updated the Catnips page. I finally found some people who merit the Accessibility Awareness Award! This award has been gathering dust for over a year. I hadn’t given up on it but I had stopped actively hunting. I found both places in one day, and there is a third that is pending processing. (This just means I am making certain the company approves of their being posted online with a write up, to respect their image.)

Each business gets a subpage in the Catnips section, linking on both the side page or you can find them via the Catnips Page.

This brings us to the second order of business, the contest.

First, what I offer you. A page about you on the side bar, permanently. Linking to your website if you have one, or when you get one, and finally spreading access and awareness of you. If you win, I will also post an interview on this blog about you.

Here is what I ask in turn, I am asking for artists to draw, paint, photomanip, and create one of two images, you can enter with both. Either draw Super Cripple, defending justice and advocating for equal rights or the Cork Screw of Justice! If you want specifics from me, ask, and I will post them here for all to see to keep the contest fair.

If you aren’t an artist feel free to pass this around to someone who is. If you are, I am not worried about skill level, just do your best and have some fun!

Now, the first person to draw Super Cripple did so on request, so, I present access to the art page of a friend of mine. Rich also known as Realmis also known as Soulstarisborn draws some really unique work. I hope someday to buy his comic books. In honor of the Watchmen Movie he offered free Super Hero drawings so I dropped him a line and he drew Super Cripple for me. He renamed her Libra, partly because he understands the concept of isms, and how some words can only be used by people they were once used to Oppress.

Super Cripple as drawn by Rich

Super Cripple as drawn by Rich

Edit: I forgot to put the deadline in. You have until May 1st at Midnight to enter, and, to submit either post a link to a DeviantArt Page or email the images and your personal details to Textual Fury and include the words Art Contest in the Subject!

The Doom Ship

Not everyone gets to ride the Doomship. I ride, others ride, and yet I often take it for granted. What is the Doomship you ask? The Doomship is the Ship of Life, riding towards the birthday of Death. It sounds horribly dramatic and is.

Children born with serious illness are often told, “You won’t live to be 21,” Or something similar. I have a list of birthdays that have passed, my next is another Doom Birthday. When I broke my back, and it was first diagnosed I had a series of doctors tell me that my organs would fail by 25. My birthday isn’t for a few months, I was reading blogs off of the Disabled Blog Carnival and started reading Temporarily Disabled. Not only is this a great read, though with each post I tend to cry just a little for the child who was aching and the pain she has been through. She turned 26 and posted about the Doomship, sailing past into the great unknown.

With Doomship Birthdays past, it is like looking at a precipice of great unknown. I know I am going to live past 25. I am confident only due to surviving so long. These waters are familiar. I am pensive too, due to my Annual Cancer Scare. I get one a year. This time it is my reproductive system. I had my annual blood work done and my white count is high. My pap came back with abnormal cells. We’re redoing them both to verify before any panicking is done.

I waited three years before getting a pap, because no doctor would accommodate my need to not be in their perfect position, or to even help me balance on the table. I can’t do it myself. I need someone else to help heft my carcass around. I know if I do have cancer I won’t die. I will just get over it. My doctor is more worried than I am.

Right now I am surrounded by everything I have ever wanted. Not the things like the toys I never had, but the love I most desired. On my right I have Sprite, the service cat, curled up and purring against my back. She is helping me to not spasm so I can type the words out. My body is rebelling. I have on my left William drooling into my shirt, and every so often poking the keyboard with a paw to see what is so fascinating. He sleeps, then paws then sleeps a bit more.

In the other room my Person is puttering around, doing the dishes after making a meal of my choice. I had spaghetti with sausage meatballs. I haven’t had meatballs in a long time, but he made them for me, tolerating my lewd jokes. My home is clean, my bed is comfortable. My friends and family are far enough away and close enough at the same time. I even have high speed internet to keep me amused on those days when movement is unacceptable.

The Doomship sails on, the waves splash, the thunder crashes, and my life flashes before my eyes, but, it is the life I am living that I am proud of. Not the memories, not the past. It is my future that holds me in it’s sway. I reach for it, sitting in the prow, praying to my gods, listening to the world, and taking part in changing it.

I write something every day, and each time it is self discovery. I discovered I can write non fiction. I never knew I could. I know the mechanics of writing are sound, as I sell fiction periodically, and write it almost daily. It is merely the fear of my life that has held me back. I feared upsetting those with the power over my life and death. I am now the Captain of my Doomship. I mutinied.

So, as I rest, my ship swaying, I look out and see that everyone else is in a Doomship too, they just do not know it. They do not prepare, they do not adapt. They aren’t aware that they have to. Red sky in morning sailor take warning, the storm is coming and the night is humming… wait not for the red sky at night, for on the Doomship there is no Sailor’s Delight.

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